Enforced holiday stitching

embroidered patchwork

I took advantage of some enforced isolation over the holidays to do some stitching and a spot of machine sewing. Our broadband internet dongle (USB thumb drive) short-circuited a couple of days before Christmas; added to the internet deprivation was a cyclone that threatened to hit Darwin around Christmas Day (and was exhibiting many of the same movements and characteristics as Cyclone Tracy, which pretty much flattened Darwin in 1974)…

that meant strong winds, rough seas, staying home, tying everything down (the old “Batten down the hatches” routine), and getting the emergency anchors, heavy-duty chains, and everything ready, in case things got really bad.

All I remember of the Xmas week is that it was grey with rain, the boat pitched and rolled, we had no idea what the cyclone was doing because we had no access to the meteorology website, and I spent some solid time stitching and reading.*

I have begun another batch of crazy patchwork panels to use as journal covers…the bright colors and wiggly vines of chain stitched leaves were a nice way to evoke gardens in happier climes.

faux doily

Also started an embroidery of a faux ‘doily’…it would probably have been easier to crochet the thing (I learned crochet in 5th grade, but I cannot stand doing it, it bores me to tears) but I like the way I can replicate the ‘doily look’ without having to link the elements to each other or follow the usual rules. My rosettes will hang, frozen in a ‘space’ of blue fabric, untouching and untouched by the other elements of the doily, forever. Hello, Miss Havisham.
Salty's Bag

And I tried my hand at a canvas shopping bag, for the first time, ever!

Using remnants of the upholstery fabric that I used to make Salty’s curtains, enclosed seams, and adding a crazy patchworked pocket to one side, this bag is crazy-strong, and won’t fall apart after three uses, like those idiotic, so-called “environmentally friendly” made-in-China shopping bags that the Evil Supermarket Conglomerate, Woolworth’s, sells by the thousands for 99¢ apiece, and is trashing the planet with. Those things are no better than the crappy plastic bags they replaced; they take even longer to break down, and they are damn ugly, besides.

Get real, mate. The fact that the fucking thing is colored green does NOT constitute a valiant move on your part to help the environment. Selling millions of cheap, rubbishy bags, and then patting yourself on the back for making a donation from the proceeds, to a charity, is corporate wankery.

Anyway, I’m giving this shopping bag to Salty, to thank him for his patience and his generosity. It took me forever to finish his curtains; so much time, in fact, that I didn’t feel right asking him for any money for the job. I felt like I was ripping him off. But he paid me, anyway, and he wasn’t tight about it, either. What can I say? He’s a first-rate guy.

A pattern for the shopping bag is coming up, as soon as I do the diagrams. Because it was a slight pain in the arse to figure this bag out, from scratch and total inexperience, I may as well pass on what I managed to learn. I don’t claim product perfection, just another pattern for yet another shopping bag.

I actually own some bag and tote patterns that I purchased off the internet, but upon looking more closely at them I decided there were some specific features I wanted in a bag, that the “quick-and-easy” kinds of patterns had avoided:

I wanted a bag where the only seams were in the natural corners of the box…no seams running down the centers of the bottom or side panels, and which become weak spots in shopping bags. Also, I wanted the front, bottom and back of the bag to be made from a single, continuous piece of fabric, so that the weight of the grocery load is distributed between the reinforced hem around the bag’s opening, and the handles…not on some seam that connects the bottom to the front and back.

So that’s what I did over Christmas…a time of the year made special only by the threat of a killer cyclone, and the fact that the pub was closed. 😀

*Julian Barnes‘ The Sense of An Ending, and Haruki Murakami‘s 1Q84


5 thoughts on “Enforced holiday stitching

  1. A co-worker got a Soda Stream for Christmas and only half-jokingly said it was eco-friendly. What a load of rubbish! He said it was eco-friendly because he wouldn’t have to drive to the store every time he wanted a soda. New, unrecycleable, made in a third world country garbage. All because he won’t try to shop in an organized manner. Feh. It makes my brain hurt.

    Sorry. Sorry. Don’t mean to be Debbie Downer. Even though we don’t know each other, Happy New Year and I’m glad you and yours are safe!


  2. Egads woman I will never make a bag (but I love what you have done) and would happily put in an order for two from you … we all know that my talents don’t stretch to sewing … *chuckling* … and how much would said fabulousness cost me ??? Ok so I’m already starting to think of people’s birthdays and things this year … I’m a little over shop bought items.


  3. I love the fabrics and colors of the patchwork in the top photo. I’m going to use your “low-brow patchwork” tutorial to make a cover for an art journal I’ve put together containing the things my kiddo and his cousins have drawn or otherwise made in paper form over the years :-).

    That’s a beautiful tote. Good idea about make the back, front, and bottom be one continuous piece of fabric.


  4. Ahhhhhh, now that’s cool
    you have done well, not sure I could cope on a boat in a cyclone with no idea of whats happening….do you have a little radio, so you can listen to the ABC and get a handle on things ??? I realize you guys know how to look after yourselves and your beloved boats.
    christmas was good here but far too commercialized. I did support the local shops and not the bigger conglomerants…Christmas brings big problems for some, terrible memories and issues pop up. We had some of that in our busy household of 7 but we made it through and hopefully as time passes things will get easier…….We keep the gifts simple- just a K/Kringle and some homemade biscuits and things for my uncles….I love to see everyone and just sit, enjoy a chat, play scatagories with the girls while sipping red wine….
    You had A very productive holiday Nat and my best wishes for 2012 keep up the interesting chatter …love it…..Shazz


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