Posts tagged ‘zero waste week 2013’

fixers banner update: Fix it!


AfterΒ  much ironing, picking up and removing of the furry one, and very little pinning (hurrah!) due to the nature of the components, I thought I was ready to start sewing.

But then I couldn’t find my embroidery hoops…a vague memory of lending them to someone hovers uncertainly… so I had to wait until Suella brought round her 18″/45cm hoop, the biggest I’ve ever used, but great for this project.

STA45640The shower curtain hooks were mindblowingly difficult to attach and Nonie had them out by the next day…whitelipped silence!! That cat leads a charmed life and has me wrapped round her every paw…see the “oooh, look, it bounced” pose ?

Inspiration struck and I reached forΒ  the remnants box and made an easy T from the leftovers of a football kitbag I made out of a charity shop pillowcase for a little Hartlepool fan. The ice lolly sticks can wait for another section – I need to drill holes to make them easy to attach, an ideal thing to ask someone to do at the Fixers stall on Saturday πŸ˜‰

Instead out came the giant straws I saved from the Nottingham Contemporary Class visit to the Asiana bubble tea cafe (I had iced coffee, a close second to the best iced coffee I ever had, which was in North Korea in 1989, when I was speaking at the World Festival for Youth and Students, I had one everyday – 35p, when a packet of 20 Korean cigs was 27p!! ooh, and worth every penny πŸ™‚ )

That zip is indeed the spare zip from the tutorial on how to 100% upcycle a pair of trousers, if you spotted it.


As you can see, the weight is very uneven and the stitching on the back is not as neat as I would like it to be…so I have added a reinforcing panel, which hides some ugliness and helps with the drag as it has extra quilting lines to be added – I chose a ‘new leaf’ satin stitch automatic pattern.

I should have ironed it all again, you can see the hoop mark, but ironing is one of those things that has me in bed for two days, so instead I’ve hung it on a noticeboard to let the creases drop out πŸ˜‰

I added the extra dot on the i, because the stitched one didn’t seem to show…but now it does, so I think it’ll have to come off…I’m no perfectionist, but I do have some standards πŸ™‚



zero waste week 2013: bookbag tutorial


How to make a book bag from a trouser leg:

Cut leg off above the knee (unless the trousers are from someone 6′ or more, then cut at or just below the knee πŸ˜‰ )

Choose how you will make the strap – I have leftover curtain tops with tape to use up, but you could cut lengths from the upper leg, use rufflette tape or an old belt.



Curtain tape is wide, and this is a narrow bag, so I have cut the tape in half so one curtain top will make straps for two bags.

Curtain tape is also scratchy, so I’m lining it with some leftovers from random plank quilting. First attach the lining with pins, then a running/lock stitch seam, so it will be easy to edge.



I use a zigzag on widest stitch, half length for the first round, then close to a quarter stitch gap, and I take the chance to use up odds and ends of bobbins and reels to make

a mixture of colours πŸ˜‰ by running the zigzag to/just over the edge of the fabric, it creates a buttonhole edging that prevents fraying, but also looks attractive πŸ™‚















Turn the leg inside out –Β  according to which side you like best! – and fold the base edge down to make the reinforced base, this is probably 3″/10cm, but if it is a very wide leg, may be 5″/ 15cm. On a narrow leg the base is the knee, on a wide leg the base is the ankle – cut away any torn bits, that grunge look typically walks through the hems.

How can you tell the right amount?

When you hold the base turn in and make a straight line across the base, you have a capital I but with top and bottom straights at right angles and it meets without bunching…adjust till it feels right for you πŸ™‚

STA45633If you need to take tucks, then do it just after a seam, it will show less and your sewing machine foot will still be high.

I go round twice, to make sure the stitching is as strong as the cloth, and if the edge looks likely to fray, then make an extra zigzag row over the raw edge.

Now put the two folded edges together and stitch with triple stitch or 3 times running stitch, again, this is for strength.

Turn the leg inside out and fold the top over if it needs it – some ankles will look fine at this point, so don’t bother with those.

Position the straps an inch away from the side seams – this saves a lot of stress on your sewing machine, and makes the bag hang better on your body, I’m always surprised

STA45634factory made bags don’t do this…

Finishing touches: sew a large button on, remembering to wrap the thread round the ‘stem’ holding the button – saves a ton of wear and should be done on every button that gets worked a lot. I sewed a loop of pretty cord on instead of making a buttonhole (confessions, my buttonholes are dogs dinners, to my shame! πŸ˜‰ ) but a piece of shoe lace or string is fine.

And now you have a super simple bag that will hold books, bottles, heavy marketing without a problem πŸ™‚


for a messenger bag, cut one side above the knee, and the other another 4 – 6 “/12 -17cm above. Hem it and sew the button where the edge falls on the bag, and the loop on the edge of the flap.

for a sports kit bag, cut two trouser legs open and stitch as a blunt triangle, with the straps attached at neck and base of bag, to go over the shoulder.



Zero Waste Week 2013: Alfalfa and Cropping Compost

STA45181This is a repost from June about double cropping your summer compost heap by growing potatoes in it, and the ultimate zero waste food, sprouted seeds.

I recently had some tests at the doctors to do with mineral levels, and the doctor asked what my secret is, because my levels are so good πŸ˜‰

I think eating alfalfa (the mother of all foods) and drinking smoothies that are 1/3 blended fresh fruit and 2/3 chilled herb teas (organic ginger and mandarin is a favourite πŸ˜‰ ) keep my levels really high…having fibromyalgia, I can’t take any exercise as such, but I have a lot of experience from having worked in vegetarian catering, so I do make good food and then freeze it for the days I can barely stand.


I also swear by sitting out in the sun and getting my hands in soil every week – the probiotics in soil are really, really good for mental and physical wellbeing, there was a report in the Lancet a couple of years ago on a study showing health improvements for a range of illnesses by simple gardening therapy.

I really like my new doctor, he is very supportive, and we laughed at the results, because apparently no one has results this good – so WHY am I ill? The mysteries of fibro, eh?

Vegans, be aware I mention using egg shells to grow cress in to engage the littl’uns – of course there are alternatives, draw a face on a soya-yoghurt pot instead πŸ˜‰

Zero Waste Week 2013 – an upcycled banner for Nottingham Fixers

So Greg from Fixers thought I “might like to make an upcycled banner for Fixers”… and though I have plenty of other things to do, it appealed, so I agreed, subject to the group giving me the wording and leaving the rest to me. Leaflet/ flyer by committee was sufficiently teeth grinding to make me set that boundary πŸ˜‰ The group has a board they put up at the stall, which I like, it uses a bicycle chain for the e and duct tape for the x, so I plan to build on that style, using what I have to hand. 5 minutes gathering produced this:


– yes, he did ask the right person πŸ˜‰ there is plenty more where this came from….it’s not that I hoard, but I can just see too many uses for things to throw them away πŸ˜‰ I was given the gutterhooks by the Making Waves project who were given loads and asked me for ideas – I explained they’re used in greenhouses, but have snowflakes on, cos people use them to hang xmas cards on πŸ˜‰ and suggested some uses in their garden and workshop room, and was given a packet from the mountain as a thank you…

So funky lettering on… mmm…what have I got lurking…and how big is it going to be…out with the squared paper:


The middle fix it! will be in brighter colours to make it jump out and bring eyes down to the stall.

It looks very plain, but remember each letter is an assemblage of buttons, hooks, screws, or an ethernet cable or some other funky thang…

The stall top is 3m x 1.5m (10′ x 5′) and luckily I have 2 curtains and a deconstructed duvet cover that will give me 3m x 1.3m and some fabric for ties. The duvet cover was home made by the way and lasted over ten years, but got holes in the top from someone dropping a lighted cigarette on it!! Eek! Being very dense cotton it didn’t flare up, but I cut it back into its blocks and cut out the holes in the top, washed it and put it away, for, as it turns out, this project πŸ˜‰ The steel blue suits the off navy really well and is a good dark background, both fabrics are strong and can take the unusual drag of the lettering being done this way. The whole thing could have been a patchwork quilt, that’s an 80litre tub in the picture (I’m not sure if that’s what they expected) but that, my friends, is an enormous amount of work compared to this…I have plenty of fabric in my upcycled strips (left over from cutting for my ‘random plank’ duvet cover ( yes, to replace the other!) but will aim to use more unusual things where I can, I want it to be a talking point, as I notice some people come up to the stall and don’t quite know what to say, so it could be an ice-breaker… πŸ˜‰


darning socks, an upcycled post for zero waste week ;)

richer by giving




I have been managing a little making again, and started with an engagement present. It is for the sister-in-law whose husband died the year before mine (yes, that is a little complicated!) meaning, our husbands were brothers. I am really pleased she has found someone new to be happy with and wanted to make her something, as although we are very different people with different tastes (she is much more elegant, and has a degree in the philosophy of science) we both enjoyed being able to have intellectual conversations at family gatherings and discuss books when the mainstream of the conversation was what third cousins were doing 150 miles away πŸ˜‰


When making a gift, I always have a think about whether I am giving a reflection of myself, something purely for the recipient’s taste or some combination. This time I leaned more towards what I wanted to give, a piece that rejoices in her happiness with a touch of sympathetic magic (wellwishing) in the making.

Then I said in the card I hoped it wasn’t too eccentric for her πŸ˜‰

As it is only 7cm square it won’t be too dominating… but it has some of my current concerns in, mandalas and fibre bundles.

I started with a collage background, and two possibilities, one plainer, so I could go with ideas as they came up, and by decision time, they were very different.


Comparing the two side-by-side helped me realise the first was too clumsy, and I cut the beads and button off, and put it all to one side (yes, you will be seeing it later πŸ˜‰ ) I still liked the second, so on I went, choosing tinier and tinier elements, oh my…


Final touch was a machine cord loop for easy hanging, and that was secured by stitching the bead loop on the front at the same time.

Why? It is a little more fiddly, but it means the weight of the elements are braced against each other, with less drag on the twinchie canvas, which as you will see from the shot of the back is… more of a bargain than a quality product πŸ˜‰

The Japanese, the Hindu, the Tibetans all haveΒ  ritual mindful sewing, and many contemporary slow stitch groups are connected to the prayer and good hope Christian church sewing circles, where women met and stitched quilts and baby clothes for the needy…the idea is that by consciously investing the process with good wishes, the recipient will feel loved and energised in themself as well as receiving the physical aid of the item.Β  Of course it also bonds the community and makes the group focus on positive action for the good of everyone, so it really is a shame the groups fell out of favour, with fundraising for bought goods taking over in some places.

I use this mindful technique a lot, as among other things, it helps overcome self consciousness about making, the worthiness of what you are offering as a gift etc – all good to pass on to anyone you know with social anxiety or low self esteem!

Making for others, even from patches and leftovers, often makes people feel very aware of how rich they are, and this ties in nicely with linking to zero waste week, which runs from 2 – 9th September

for which I will be trying to post everyday with zero waste ideas – as the focus this year is food, and I have already posted about sprouting seeds, there will be at least one upcycled post – but how appropriate is that?!!