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Archive for the ‘Frugal Living’ Category

Tiny Phoenix Projects

Sometimes, rescuing small things and giving them a new life is even more rewarding that a larger project, because you get to see the results very quickly!

I picked up the top half of an Indian silk jacket from the $1 bin at Sewing Basket Balmain…

It became a long-strapped tote for my friend Dotti…

This particular set of welding gloves were faulty – the heat went straight through the fingers, making them of limited use as oven mitts. But the leather was glorious and thick, so I’ve been using it for patches and to make safety guards for my thread snips…

The end of a vintage roll of Japanese silk that I picked up from Cash Palace Emporium years ago was printed with manufacturer’s markings. I know from past experience that these wash out, so I couldn’t use the piece for clothing (not that I make clothing). Instead, I made a tiny bag for my crochet hooks. The West German (as it was labelled) satin ribbon was from a roll I picked up from Reverse Garbage…

And finally, I turned some rescued broder embroidery cotton into a dishcloth…

It was nice to have all my baby phoenix projects on the dining table at the one time!  What have you been working on lately? ♥

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A couple of weeks ago, I picked up $3 worth of quilting fabric scraps from the Sewing Basket in Balmain. At 10c per piece, this is what they looked like…

I’m not a quilter, but I was keen not to waste them, so I turned some of the pieces into pincushions. If you’d like to have a go at making your own, here’s a step-by-step tutorial I wrote a few years ago

My ever patient Pete walked into the dining room while these were in progress and just stared at the mound of stuffed pillows. “The trouble with tribbles is…” I quipped (it’s a Star Trek reference)…

I’m sure a few of you will understand this feeling…sometimes you just need to do “quaft” until your hands hurt. There’s something incredibly rewarding about filling a table with pretty creations in cheerful bright colours. Being able to do so without buying any new resources (the scrap fabric, broder cotton, buttons and polyfill were all purchased from donated and rescued stock) makes this a sustainable and guilt-free pleasure.

I gave a few of these to friends and donated the rest to the Sewing Basket Balmain to sell and/or give to their volunteers. All funds raised by these stores go to Achieve Australia, a disability support and housing charity…

So if you’re looking for a quick project, give these a go. You might find them as addictive as I do! ♥

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At the moment, many international students in Sydney are struggling.

The Covid19 crisis has wiped out their part-time employment and most don’t qualify for government assistance. As this wonderful video I posted a few weeks ago shows, it’s been left to charitable organisations and the wider community to provide them with support during these unexpectedly difficult times.

I was chatting to a friend about this recently and wondering if there was anything I might be able to do to help. She pointed me to the Addi Road Food Pantry, based within the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville, which is also home to Reverse Garbage and The Bower. Not only do they offer low cost, rescued food to the community at highly affordable prices, but they also support literally anyone who needs help by supplying them with Food Relief boxes of essential groceries for free. The  photos and information in this post come directly from their website…

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I popped in yesterday to ask if I could bake for them but it wasn’t possible – they can’t take home cooked food from folks who aren’t certified by the Department of Health. But there are two ways in which we can help.

Firstly, we can donate food and toiletries – here’s the wishlist from their website…

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Secondly, we can make small donations (I’m not sure these are tax deductible), and by small, I mean really little. For $10, you can donate a box of groceries to a family who might otherwise go hungry this week. That’s what it costs to buy two takeaway coffees here in Sydney. The cash is used to buy groceries from the Food Pantry, which I think is how they manage to fill a box for so few dollars.

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Pete and I made a donation last night and I wanted to share this with any fellow Sydneysiders and Inner West residents who might be interested in supporting them.

In these crazy times, it’s a blessing to have organisations working so hard to ensure that people in need are given as much support as possible! ♥

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Fabric Book Covers

Sometimes (ok, often) I come across a piece of donated fabric that I can’t resist, despite having no idea what to do with it.

I don’t sew new clothes – ponchos are an exception, as are alterations and the occasional pair of pj pants – so I almost never buy new fabric anymore. But gorgeous vintage table linen from the Salvos Store? I couldn’t leave it behind. These placemats were made in Czechoslovakia which dates them pre-1993. They’re made of 100% linen and the colour appeals to me enormously…

I decided to turn them into fabric book covers!

I don’t like paper dust covers (which always get trashed pretty quickly), but I love the feel of cloth ones. The only tricky thing, as my friend Kim pointed out, is knowing which book is which…

The covers were easy and fun to make – I just cut the fabric to size (allowing a hem on both the top and bottom) and then sewed a couple of sleeves to hold the book in place…

I recently covered my new quilting book, The Fabric of Society, in the same green linen (I’d bought a set of six) and I’m honestly enjoying it even more as a result. I initially tried leaving the dust cover on underneath the fabric one, but decided in the end to take it off…

This cover started as a quirky hand embroidered table mat that I rescued from the Salvos for $1. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give a second life to someone’s hours of hard work…

And finally, this piece of fabric has been sitting in my sewing room for a while now. I picked it up from the bin area of Reverse Garbage for $2, but it’s not great material – it has a plasticky texture which makes it both difficult to sew and unsuitable for clothing. But the print was too fun to pass up – who can resist aliens brainwashing children through television sets?

A couple of days ago, I realised it would make the perfect book cover for my copy of Em’s Artisan Sourdough Made Simple. If you’re a sourdough baker, I can’t recommend this book highly enough! I own two copies – a paperback and a Kindle iPad version – and the hard copy is now well-used and getting a little tattered…

Here it is in its new fabric cover…

So..that’s my latest project! What have you been up to this week? ♥

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I have a thing about ponchos.

I love them.

I probably love them more than hats.

And I love hats.

Ponchos let you secretly wear a blanket when you go out and get away with it. They let you overeat at a dinner party and undo the top button of your jeans without anyone noticing. You can throw one over your pyjamas when people drop in unexpectedly. And they keep you warm and cosy, while leaving both hands free to crochet or stitch.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I own well over a dozen ponchos. I have several that Maude crocheted for me…

Over the past year or so, I’ve picked up a couple of vintage suede ones from the 1960s…

In addition, I’ve sewn a stack of them following these truly brilliant instructions from Threads Magazine.

I’ve made them out of vintage silk kimonos..

…old kantha quilts…

…repaired embroidered Indian shawls like the one below, and just about every pashmina I’ve ever owned…

My favourites though – the ones that take me from the supermarket to casual drinks with girlfriends – are made from hemp shawls that I bought from the markets years ago. They’re getting a little soft and shapeless these days, but they’re still incredibly comfortable – perfect for travel wear.

If you’ve never owned a poncho, grab an old pashmina out of the drawer and give it a go – it literally only takes one seam. Here’s a link again to the instructions.

As Noel Fielding said in The Mighty Boosh.. “It’s impossible to be unhappy in a poncho!” ♥

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