Sea Green and Sapphire

A blog about a love of colour, addiction to fabrics and joy of crafting…


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Making New Things from Old Jumpers

With all the spinning and dyeing, my crafting activities are getting slower and slower, and it is becoming a rare event that I actually have a finished product to show you. But for once I have been working on something that didn’t take too long to make.

The inspiration came from a sustainability workshop I took part in recently. A part of this workshop was a challenge to make a project with things that you already have at home, without buying anything new. This was an ideal opportunity to finally make something from a pile of old jumpers and cardigans that I have been storing for a while.

Here’s what I did.

Before

The green jumper was too small to make a decent cushion out of it, so I unravelled it into yarn that I can use to knit something else. I felted the cardigans by washing them in the washing machine at 60 degrees cotton cycle. The white cardigan had a nice texture so needed no further embellishments, but I decided to embroider the light brown cardigan with some naturally dyed yarns from my stash.

After

Cardigans turned out to be ideal for making cushions because you can use the button panels at the front of the cardigan to make an opening at the back of the cushion. My cardigans had pockets at the front, which I was too lazy to try to remove, so my cushion covers now have pockets at the back too. Now I just have to make a small cushion for the brown cushion cover.

The cardigan button panels made a handy opening for the back of the cushion covers

I really enjoyed making something so quick and easy – it was fun having some instant (well relatively speaking) results for change!


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A Surprice Parcel

Vintage Lace

Isn’t it great when you receive a surprise parcel in the post? Someone sending you something nice, just out of the blue. This happened to me the other day, when I received a beautiful collection of vintage lace from my mum’s cousin.

She had seen a tablecloth and a laundry bag I had made for my aunt which had been decorated with bits of lace rescued from my grandmother’s old bed linen. It turned out that she had a stash of lace rescued from worn out pillow cases and bed linen and some that she had crocheted herself. Although she’s very artistic (she’s a painter) she’s not into sewing and so didn’t really have a use for them. So, to my immense delight, she decided to send them to me!

Aren’t they just beautiful! Although in general I’m not into a really frilly romantic style,  I do have a soft spot for some very old-fashioned things like vintage lace.

Because they are so decidedly romantic and feminine, it’s not always easy to think of a modern use for them (and this is probably the reason all the ladies in my extended family send them to me!). Combining them with plain white cloth seems to work best, as it keeps it simple. In some projects though I have gone then unashamedly romantic route and combined them with Liberty prints and other vintage style florals.

Vintage Lace Collection


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New Things from Old Shirts

Recycling Old Clothes

I have always admired fabrics men’s shirts are made from. They often have nice patterns and the fabrics themselves are lovely and smooth. So for the last couple of years I have been hoarding my husband’s old shirts as I’ve been planning on making a patchwork quilt from them.

In the last couple of days I have finally got on with it and started chopping them up. I’ve also been cutting up a few old tops and dresses of mine that have nice patterns. It’s not a very quick process, but at least I can feel smug about the free fabrics I am getting.

Now I am eyeing Hugh’s nice new Thomas Pink shirts and hoping that they will wear out really soon…


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A Needle Case from Vintage Fabrics

Patchwork Needle Case from Vintage Fabrics

I’ve been on a slight crafty detour over the last couple of days. I was hoping to sew some patchwork projects for the garden but these projects are still in my head (although I have managed to wash and pre-shrink the fabrics so they are now ready to go).

Instead, I felt a sudden need to organise my needles – this has never happened before (I’m not one of those enviable people whose craft tools and materials are kept neatly organised) so I thought I’d better follow the inspiration before it goes away….

A Patchwork Needle Case from Vintage Fabrics, detailMy inspiration came from a  mini-patchwork needle case I saw in a magazine. It looked so cute I wanted to make one for myself. I used tiny scaps of vintage fabrics from my recent quilt project. 

I did not cut each square individually, but I first sewed long thin strips together before cutting them the other way, saving lots of time and effort.Patchwork needle case, detail from the back

I also decided to add a little pocket for my tapestry needles at the back, as they are too blunt to go through the fabric. In the end I fixed a piece of leftover ribbon to the front so that I can keep a pair of scissors in the case too.

Unfortunately I must say the sewing itself doesn’t look very professional. When you are working on such small scale, even small wonkiness in sewing means that the edges of the squares are not really properly aligned. And my sewing is always a bit wonky even on a good day! And this one was made on a day I was feeling tired and impatient (not a good mood for crafts I admit…). 

But this needle case is just for myself rather than a gift, so it doesn’t bother me, at least it looks home-made! Making such a miniature project was a lot of fun. It’s great to be able to complete a piece of work so fast. A real quick-fix dose of crafting!


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Shabby Chic Curtains

My grandmother had a linen cupboard full of old-fashioned white cotton bed linen, decorated with lace and embroidered initials. When she passed away, my mother, aunt and I inherited these sheets. They’re of excellent quality, really thick cotton that is not easy to find these days. But after many years (decades even) of use,  some of these sheets have worn out.

Being a hoarder of all types of things that might come in handy one day, I’ve kept all the lace, stored in a box which is full of romantic and feminine things such as lace, doilies and handkerchiefs. Things that I’ve either inherited or found on eBay, things that I often take out and admire, but never really use for anything.

That’s because as much as I love the contents of that box, I have found it a little bit difficult to think of what to do with them. Some of them are very fragile and not in a very good condition. And on the whole, my taste in interior decoration is not very frilly and feminine, so lace doesn’t really go with it.

But when I needed curtains for my sewing room, I thought something old-fashioned and feminine would be just the right thing. The main body of the curtains is made of old lacy handkerchiefs and I’ve used different types of border lace to fill in any gaps. I hand-sewed the pieces together, which wasn’t nearly as slow as I originally thought. In fact I found it strangely soothing and almost addictive. Despite the shabbiness of the lace, I quite like the results as the curtains  suit the little attic room perfectly.


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The Slow Life Quilt

 There’s a side of me that likes all things old-fashioned. So when I decided to make a quilt just for me (rather than a present to someone else, as my crafts usually tend to be), making it from vintage fabrics was a natural choice. It was great to be able to pick fabrics that I love (as opposed to trying to think what sorts of fabrics someone else might prefer). Vintage fabrics have a wonderful softness to them, both in terms of texture and colours which you only get once the fabric has been washed many times. 

This quilt has some classic English fabrics from Liberty and William Morris, as well as some wonderfully worn-out pale green fabrics that look like they come from a 1970’s duvet cover. The backing fabrics are new (woven stripes designed by Kaffe Fassett) but the brown and ochre colours have an old-fashioned feel to them, and the fabric is beautifully soft, so I felt it was a good choice.

Because this was my first ever quilt, and the fabrics were so beautiful in themselves, I decided to keep the pattern very simple, just traditional squares. I kept the darker fabrics to the edges, with the lighter ones in the middle, but I mixed them up a little bit to avoid any sudden colour changes.

I tried to machine-quilt it, but that didn’t work properly as the backing fabric kept being crunched up. Instead, I decided to knot the layers together, rather than try to hand-stitch it. I like the resulting “unquilted” look.

I call this quilt my “slow life” quilt, because it has taken me over a year to complete. It’s my biggest craft project during my illness that I’ve attempted so far and although I worked on it very slowly, with long gaps in between (for moving house and working on other projects), I’ve enjoyed every minute of making it.  On the whole, it looks like a very traditional quilt, one that could have been made a long time ago, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve. So, all in all, I’m very pleased with the first attempt!