Eco friendly experiment to find an alternative to cotton wool balls

Eco alternative to cotton wool ballsOver the last few years there has been an enormous increase in ‘single use throwaway items’ that not just have an impact on the environment but also our purse.

I like the idea of more self sufficiency, of reducing costs and living more simply, it is the smallest things that make a difference. It also gives me a little satisfaction in believing that I can help the environment.  When I was removing my make-up the other day I noticed that the cotton wool balls I reach for, were getting low. I decided to seek out an alternative that could be reused time and time again.

Eco make up remover pads

I like the idea of something pretty and useful – sewing is my first love so I decided to investigate making little make up removers using Terry bowling and left over scraps and some pretty crochet cotton.

Cut a circle of scrap fabric and another circle a little bit smaller out of Terry towelling. It is more cost effective to use a face flannel as they are cheaper than purchasing towelling by the metre. I had this green towelling in my stash so I used it, but the quality was not as good as I would have liked.

Simply stitch the two circles together, turning a tiny seam allowance as you go. Then use blanket stitch all round the edge followed by a single crochet trim.

The pads were very effective –  it takes only a few minutes to wash them under the tap and leave to dry.

However, I did find the quality of my towelling meant the pads were a little scratchy, best for exfoliating rather than make up removal.

Fabric alternative to cotton wool balls

The second experiment was with a cotton wadding – it seemed to have a similar softness of cotton wool balls but when it was washed it began to bobble – so it wasn’t going to last through repeated washes.

Eco cotton ball alternatives

So I turned to a crochet version using lovely fluffy wool called ‘coats virtuoso’ – they look pretty similar to cotton wool balls and feel delightfully soft.

This one is made by creating a 6 chain, then inserting two double crochets in each space, to increase the second round, followed by two treble crochets in each stitch in the third round.

However, it does make your ‘cotton wool ball alternative’ have big gaps between stitches so the best method is to simply single crochet as it creates a denser group of stitches, and a better pad.  Pattern as follows:

Its round -6 chain,

2nd round 12 single crochet into ring.

3rd round 1 single crochet into first stitch, 2 single crochet into next stitch (repeat to end of round)

4th round, 2 single crochet into each stitch.

finish and weave in loose ends.

Eco cotton ball alternative

As you can see the ‘alternative cotton wool ball’ looks very similar, and is delightfully soft to the skin. I used coats Virtuoso – it is a chenille type of cotton – that has just the right amount of fluffiness and is not too expensive.  The downside is that it is so fluffy you can’t easily find your stitches, but it doesn’t really show in the finished ‘alternative cotton wool ball’.

As it is 100 percent cotton these alternative cotton wool balls can be washed at a high temperature. I would recommend giving them a good wash and then letting them sit in boiling water for about 10 – 20 minutes every now and then to keep them sterilised.

They are very soft, and unlike real cotton wool balls – they don’t push fibres into your face and they can be re-used time and time again.

They are so quick to do – you can have a whole pile made in less than an hour.

Advertisements

A Spring Chicken… fabric panel Sweet tweets

Spring Chicken

I saw this cushion made up at my local fabric shop the Jolly Stitcher – I loved the combination of colours and I thought this fabric panel would be good fun to sew. I decided that it would make a lovely addition to my spring decorations.

The instructions were very clear – and easy to follow and pretty soon I was looking for ways to personalise it.

Sweet tweets bird cushion

I thought the pattern of flowers over the bird could do with a bit of embroidery – it would give me a little practice to hone my skills and try out new stitches.

Spring Chicken

I decided to quilt and embroider at the same time, as I wished to outline some of the pretty leaves as well as embellish the flowers. It was a fairly easy task accomplished in a few evenings while watching TV.

Sweet Tweets

I used a combination of weaving stitches, chain stitches and buttonhole stitch – trying to match the beautiful colour combinations as much a possible. I think the colours used was what excited me most about this project.

 

I thought the little fabric yoyo/ Suffolk puff came out beautifully when made, however, I wasn’t to sure about covering up the pretty eye design on the fabric.

Eye detail for cushion

In the end I opted to embroider the eye rather than cover it up with the yoyo/ Suffolk puff.

Sweet Tweets eye

It looked so pretty with the lovely colours and a nicer detail. I also struggled a little with the bird wings – they also covered up the pretty flower design but they looked so nice when they were sewn on.

Sweet Treats Embroidery bird cushion

Matching up each side of the cushion was tricky on the sewing machine – and the beak ended up virtually impossible to match without some white showing – so I ended up hand sewing the beak.

Spring bird cushion

this is the un-embroidered side and it looks lovely as it is – maybe I didn’t need to do all that embroidery after all – but then I always like to add a little bit of my own design into everything I do.

This was a lovely panel, easy to do and nicely put together – there is a smaller bird to go with this one – that I will make at a later date.

 

Rest – all is well Vintage linen Mini Quilt

Mini quilt - from Vintage Linens Relax all is well

I don’t know about you, but I simply adore vintage linens. I have a piles of white doilies and placemats as well as pretty tea trays and tablecloths.  I love the romantic notion of eating meals on white crisp linen, and have even used pretty napkins – until I saw someone spread the delicate white with tomato sauce!

Inspirational embroidery of gentlework

I came across the delightful embroidery of gentlework on Pinterest and followed the link to her inspirational blog. What bliss! The soulful embroidery made me feel inspired to make a little message of my own. I had felt rather poorly in the last few weeks, and a little burnt out so I decided to make a little wall hanging.

Vintage Linen mini quilt embroidery

I discovered a pack of lace pieces in a bag in a charity shop a few years ago – I snapped them up. Despite having piles of linen I simply cannot bring myself to cut them up but this time someone had already done this for me. The linen was white and fresh, it felt like sacrilege to age it so I left it white. I wrote the words using a blue wash away pen.

Vintage linen mini embroidered quilt

I added a few more embroidered flowers – daisy stitches and button hole rounds. The whole thing was approximately 6 inches wide by 10 inches long.

Hand Embroidery on Vintage linen

I used variegated thread for the word rest, but I could not decide how to do the all is well. I had to re-write it as the writing was too small to embroider effectively.

Mini Vintage linen Quilt Embroidery

The word ‘is’ ended up lost, so I whipped stitched it. I kept on unpicking and re doing – in the end I decided the pink was too pale.

Mini embroided quilt

I had a lovely piece of scalloped edging which I used to connect the top piece – it was a little different in colour, but I liked the effect. I then quilted it with various stitches using white Perle – I loved the way they created texture without detracting from the coloured embroidery.

Making tassels for edging - mini quilt

I crocheted an edge and decided to add tassels – it gave the quilt a little weight to change better.

Vintage Linen quilt

It is rare that I allow myself to simply play around – but it was enjoyable letting the little quilt evolve. I didn’t like the ‘All is Well’ part. I think next time I will use cotton Perle quite thick rather than embroidery floss.

It has been a soothing exercise, and quite addictive!

 

Moon Gazing Hare – Ostara Celebration

Moon Gazing Hare Embroidery

The Spring Equinox will be on the 20th March this year – it has felt like a long slog from January to Spring and so it is delightful to be looking at the signs of new life everywhere. This little embroidery was so quick to do, yet satisfyingly pleasurable – I am really getting into slow sewing!

The inspiration came from these two little hares in my Pinterest feed – the delightful movement of Angela Daymond’s Running Hare is beautiful in its simplicity. The embroidery is called Kantha stitching – comprising mostly of running stitch. Angela produces a number of kits that are simply wonderful.

While the design was stunning – I did not want to simply replicate someone else’s design so I came up with my own. I love the concept of the Moon Gazing Hare, there are images all over the internet right now – because it personifies Spring so well.

Moon Gazing Hare Embroidery

I bought a cut up vintage table cloth in a charity shop – the linen is well washed and is a delight to embroider on. I roughly traced my design with a blue washable pen and simply stitched round. It’s like colouring in – such a lovely meditative practice.

Moon Gazing hare outline

There is a delightful sewing shop not far from me called the Jolly Stitcher they run knit and natters on a Tuesday evening – I am hoping to go along soon because the shop is a delight. They had a wide range of Anchor and DMC threads – I wanted the circles around the moon to deepen in shades of blue. They had the most beautiful silver DMC E168, that was just perfect for the centre of the moon. I used Anchor blues ranging from 178 to 120 although I had to be careful – I picked out a lovely shade from another section – but it was more of a green blue and did not match the others at all.

Moon Gazing Hare Embroidery

I began stitching with a two strand thread, as you can see from the picture above but it idd not really give the effect I was looking for – so I ended up doubling up with four strands. I kept the stitching quite short and did a sort of back stitch on the wrong side, because I wanted the stitches to be quite close to one another.

Moon Gazing Hare Kantha Embroidery

I used the darker blue for the curls in the sky and filled it with a lighter blue in between. It gave the piece more depth of colour. I found that the direction of the stitches were important – especially spiralling around the leg of the hare.

Backing embroidery hoop

I used one of those hanging display hoops – and simply glued the fabric tightly against the inner frame. Once dry, I was able to trim the fabric back. I decided it needed a felt covering at the back to give some protection for the wall.

moon gazing hare embroideryThere are some elements of it that I feel could be improved, I would like to explore further the effect of closer stitching has on the overall tone of the piece. As a first project of this very effective stitching – I am pleased with the results.

Spring won’t be too far behind – hopefully!

ttfn x

 

A valentine’s gift – a Man’s Kimono

Simplicity pattern 8318

The simplicity 8318 pattern is part of the costumes section – I think as a response to the film the last Samurai. I chose this because I wanted a more authentic style of kimono rather than using a dressing gown pattern.

Technical drawing

A kimono is virtually made up of rectangles – I did contemplate drafting a pattern myself but as it was a valentine gift for E, I wanted to ensure I had the style right.

A great tip is to use a photocopy of the technical drawing to record your measurements – it gives a great reference sheet when you are creating the garment.

The pattern was very large and unwieldy, the difficulty with this project is that E’s measurements were not rectangular – I needed a certain size at the waist but had to scale it down at the shoulders. So it became more of a trapezium with the bottom edge slightly wider than the top.

Geometric fabric blue grey.

One thing I will adjust in the pattern next time is that there is a back seam – my fabric was fairly geometric, but the pattern itself was tiny, to have spent time matching would have taken an age!

If you are using this pattern, cut the back piece on the fold, there is no shaping – it is a straight line. I was not making the long version of this Kimono so there was no need for a back opening (which is why the back patten piece is in two).

kimono simplicity 8318

As this Kimono was not lined – I did not want the interior to have overlocked edges showing. So I did a combination of French seams – and a lapped seam. (I might post how to do this soon). As you can see from the photograph this creates a seam with no raw edges showing. It is also a very strong seam – usually used on jeans.

I used bias binding for the sleeve edge and the bottom edge of the Kimono. It gives a flash of contrast but also gives a crisp finished edge.

Kimono male Simplicity 8318

The neck facing was odd, the pattern suggested a double faced edge that was velcro’d together. I could not see any point to it (perhaps it is what authentic kimono’s detail). I decided to make just one neck edge – but I gave it structure with a firm interfacing.

The obi belt is a lovely feature – it does finish off the kimono nicely. E was rather delighted with his kimono and it was all ready for Valentines day!

Happy sewing x ttfn x

Montessori Mobile

montessori mobile

At three months a baby is able to see things further away- so bright mobiles that move easily in any breeze are advocated for visual tracking and concentration.

Montessori mobiles are expensive, but you can make something that works just as well with a few feathers, light cotton and an embroidery hoop.

The great thing about this idea, is that you can re-use the embroidery hoop for a different mobile once this stage has ended.

Simply tie the feathers to a length of light cotton thread and then loop around an embroidery hoop. Attach hanging threads to the top to suspend from the ceiling.

It is a good idea to place the mobile near a breeze or open window so that the feathers turn slightly.

 

 

Baby blanket finished at last

baby girl

This is my beautiful grand-daughter Effie. I began making a baby blanket when my daughter told me she was expecting – as you can see she is nearly three months old, but I am glad to say the blanket is finally finished!

IMG_2946

I used baby bamboo cotton – I loved all the lovely mix of colours and it is practical it can be washed easily. I used several different stitch combinations – making up each row as I went along.

stitching close up

I liked the combination of triple stitches, shells and trebles. One thing I did discover is that my tension varies! One side grew a little more than the other and I ended up with a rather odd shaped rectangle.

IMG_2939

I added a single crochet border to add stability and it brought the tension under control.

baby blanket 2

She seems to like it!