Category Archives: Sewing

Bohemian Flags

I came across these recently on Pinterest. Putting aside any patriotism or nationalism, for me these flags demonstrate the essence of a bohemian outlook on life. They embody the philosophy of recycling and reusing materials, and I love their spirit of insouciance and their hint of rebellion. 

Plus, of course, they are just so darn pretty. 

Bohemian, crafty, artisan, shabby chic, patriotic, prayer flags, banners, Ibizan flags, country, homespun, handsewn, ribbons, lace, pom poms, feathers, sequins, embroidery, beads, tassels.   

Artist Inspiration: Akiko Ike

Akiko Ike of Niigata, Japan, is a gentle, unassuming lady with immense talent in the Japanese art of Sashiko embroidery. Her technique is not strictly Sashiko, it encompasses and incorporates the principles of Boro, and the stitches she uses are identical to Indian Kantha, or running stitch. 

Akiko teaches workshops around the world and is happy to share her knowledge and expertise with a growing number of devotees. I’ve never met Akiko myself. When she was in Australia last year conducting workshops in Brisbane, I hadn’t yet discovered my love for Kantha. But I would love to meet this Master of the art someday soon, and if she ever comes to Western Australia, I’ll definitely sign up for one of her workshops.

My own embroidery technique is what I myself have termed “Kantha-Boro”. It uses scraps of fabric, in line with the Boro ethic of reusing/recycling/no waste, or “Mottainai“. Some of my pieces are patchworked in the Western sense, but most are more accurately described as simply appliqued over using running stitch, without being sewn onto the backing fabric beforehand. This is the technique Akiko Ike uses.

Maybe someday I’ll be famous, like Akiko Ike! 

Anyway, I couldn’t find a website dedicated to her, but I did find Akiko Ike’s Facebook profile. Within this are 2 blogs showcasing her work…but they are both in Japanese, and I don’t know how to read Japanese 😕.

I’ve created a Pinterest board dedicated to Akiko Ike, called “Akiko Ike – Chiku Chiku“. Chiku chiku is an onomatopoeic word coined by Akiko herself, which emulates the sound made by the yarn she uses going in and out of the cloth. You will notice that her stitches are bold and huge, and she uses thick yarn to sew her stitches. (I myself use crochet or embroidery thread, and a darning needle).

Here are just a few examples of Akiko Ike’s Chiku chiku work, taken from Pinterest:

 

Kantha + Patchwork Quilt Project

Here’s the result of my latest sewing efforts. I’d found someone’s unfinished patchwork project in one of my local thrift stores. It was basically just some square patches sewn together, without a backing. I liked the uneven, slightly wonky, amateurish feel to the piece and knew I could do something with it. At just $5, it was a real steal. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right?

Inspired by my fascination with Indian Kantha quilts, which are fashioned out of layers of vintage sari cloths sewn together using simple running stitches, I decided to try my hand at making my own Kantha + Patchwork quilt. 

I had amongst my fabric stash a Queen-sized duvet cover in a lovely blue stripe, which would work perfectly with the patchwork piece.

First, I lay the duvet cover right side down on my bedroom rug. (This unassuming rug, a recent purchase, is around 6 x 8 feet and has become my workfloor for my bigger sewing projects, as well as providing a handy template for sizing quilts). 

Next, I lay the patchwork piece right side up, on top of the duvet cover. The duvet cover is larger than the patchwork piece. After making sure all the sides were equally balanced, I trimmed, folded and pinned the excess duvet cover fabric over the patchwork piece.

The laying out and pinning took a long time to get right. 

Next, I took the pinned piece to my sewing machine and sewed along all the edges, to secure both pieces together. Then I pinned the patchwork piece to the duvet cover at regular intervals, to prevent it slipping out of place when Kantha stitching.

The reason I chose the striped duvet cover as the backing for this project was so I’d have a handy guide to sew the running stitches along. 

I decided on a 4+3 pattern, i.e I’d sew along 4 rows of stripes and skip the next 3, then sew the next 4, skip 3 and so on. I used white crochet thread, which is strong and smooth at the same time. 

3 weeks of nights spent “watching” TV while sewing, rolling and unrolling this humongous swath of fabric on and off the sofa, et voila! I give you my first Kantha + Patchwork Quilt!

(Showing the front)

(Showing the back)

Now to show this off outside, in natural sunlight! The previous photos were taken at night, indoors, and don’t do justice to the vibrance of the colours in this quilt.

I draped it over Meep, my little Kia Cerato here, so you can see just how big a project this turned out to be!

This photo shows the rows of stitching and how they simply go over the patchworked squares on the other side. I just love the crinkly effect Kantha stitching produces!

Now for some close-ups:

Here’s what it looks like folded up. I love it! ❤❤❤

I intend this year to sew up a whole batch of Kantha-inspired items, ranging from little to large. These will be my inventory and stock for when I start selling my crafts later this year.

So, watch this space for more Kantha-inspired projects!

Patchwork Sofas 

I’m in love with the idea of having a patchwork sofa in my home. Problem is, I’m not sure where I’ll find the space for it in the living room. There IS a battered armchair  recliner that my dog Shelagh uses as one of her daybeds (yes, she’s very spoilt 😄), I could try my hand at re-upholstering it, or maybe I could donate it to a charity shop instead, and buy another armchair that I Could do up myself. 

The armchair that I have is not vintage or even beautiful, but it serves its purpose. It IS bulky and creaky, though, and the reclining part has barked my shins several times OUCH! So, I’m going to go for Option Number 2 – change it for a better one.

I’ve been researching upholstery techniques online, and I’ve browsed through a library book on upholstery. But, to be entirely honest, it looks very time consuming and labour and parts intensive. 

So, I might just have to save up and try to get a readymade patchwork sofa. Or ottoman, or bench, or stool. Or, maybe just do a simpler project with easier, straight lines. I DO have a piano stool that needs recovering, hmmm maybe I could start with that?

Meanwhile, in the land of the rich, here are some patchwork beauties from Pinterest, to whet your appetite.

Floral Block Print on Saffron: a Kantha-Boro story

This item can be purchased from my Etsy store through this link.


Description: This item is entirely handsewn, using fabric remnants and other recycled/reused/repurposed elements. My Kantha-Boro pieces can be used as scarves, table runners or wall hangings. Owing to the nature of handsewing and the Japanese Mottainai principle of “Waste not, want not”, each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind, with any imperfections in the fabrics or stitches forming part of the Wabi-Sabi ethos of being perfectly imperfect.


Colours: I found the backing fabric as a fat quarter, which I cut in half and sewed together to form a long and narrow piece. The other side is a beautiful vintage piece of saffron fabric, the colour of which attracted me from the start, and which is echoed in the floral fabric. Owing to the vintage nature of the saffron fabric, there are a couple of tiny tears in it, which I find adds to the beautiful Wabi-Sabi nature of this style of slow stitching. I have used an off-white crochet thread for the Kantha running stitches, to unify the whole.


Dimensions: 60 x 19.5 inches (152 x 50 cm)


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Bird On Saffron With Purple Pompoms: a Kantha-Boro story

Another of my Kantha-Boro projects, which is available for purchase from my Etsy store here.

Description: This item is entirely handsewn, using fabric remnants and other recycled/reused/repurposed elements. My Kantha-Boro pieces can be used as scarves, table runners or wall hangings. Owing to the nature of handsewing and the Japanese Mottainai principle of “Waste not, want not”, each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind, with any imperfections in the fabrics or stitches forming part of the Wabi-Sabi ethos of being perfectly imperfect.

Colours: Predominantly magenta, orange, medium blue and green. The design consists of stylised birds around stylised flowers, possibly Indian or Middle Eastern in origin. The piece comprises 2 pieces sewn back to back, the front being the fabric with the Bird motif – a scarf in its previous life, the back being a piece of vintage saffron-coloured fabric. Edged at both ends with royal purple pompoms. Kantha running stitches are embroidery floss in various different colours, complementing the colours of the Bird fabric. This piece is super soft and tactile.


Dimensions: 56 x 23 inches (142 x 59 cm)

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Dreaming Tree on Black Velvet: a Kantha- Boro Story

​”Dreaming Tree on Black Velvet” is available for purchase from my Etsy store here.

Description: This item is entirely handsewn, using fabric remnants and other recycled/reused/repurposed elements. My Kantha-Boro pieces can be used as scarves, table runners or wall hangings. Owing to the nature of handsewing and the Japanese Mottainai principle of “Waste not, want not”, each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind, with any imperfections in the fabrics or stitches forming part of the Wabi-Sabi ethos of being perfectly imperfect.

Style: Kantha-Boro. Indian Kantha running stitches in parallel rows, embroidered over Japanese Boro-style fabric remnants, which are simply pinned in place before oversewing.


Colours: The backing for this piece is a thrifted Oriental black velvet scarf. Oversewn Boro fabric remnants in shades of red, dark and light blue, yellow and cerise and white with sweetpea floral elements. 4 light brown Chinese knots edge the ends of the piece.


Dimensions: 54 x 10 inches (138 x 26 cm)

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Modern Floral on Ombre Velvet: A Kantha-Boro story

Last year, I threw myself into sewing a series of Kantha-inspired items. I’d blogged about a couple of them, then got a wee bit sidetracked by The Universe and immersed myself in the Law of Attraction and the practice of Gratitude. That was followed by Thirty Days of Gratitude, for which of course I am most grateful for 😊.

And now the time has come once again to pick up the threads where I’d left off previously, excuse the pun.

You can purchase this handmade, handsewn piece of Kantha-Boro, directly from my Etsy store here.

Description: This item is entirely handsewn, using fabric remnants and other recycled/reused/repurposed elements. My Kantha-Boro pieces can be used as scarves, table runners or wall hangings. Owing to the nature of handsewing and the Japanese Mottainai principle of “Waste not, want not”, each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind, with any imperfections in the fabrics or stitches forming part of the Wabi-Sabi ethos of being perfectly imperfect.


Style: Kantha-Boro. Indian Kantha running stitches in parallel rows, embroidered over Japanese Boro-style fabric remnants, which are simply pinned in place before oversewing.


Colours: The fabric for this piece reminds me of Amy Butler’s designs, a colourful and fresh take on florals. I’ve used a thrifted ombre velvet scarf as the back, it graduates from black through silver and back to black again, with black fringing at both ends. Very bohemian, indeed!


Dimensions: 70 x 7.5 inches (178 x 19 cm)


Colours Make Me Happy

Just sharing some of my favourite photos, curated from Pinterest. I appear to have come down with the dreaded ‘flu. 😢

But hey, I made a commitment and promise to myself nearly 4 years ago, that I would write something every day, and I’ve more or less managed to do that bar a couple of mishaps and accidental deletions. 

So here’s today’s offering to you all…a variety of colourful, vibrant scarves. Because Colours Make Me Happy. Colours uplift my spirits, make me feel cheerful and inspire me to go create my own splash of psychedelic combinations. I have some rather sweet pillowcases that I mean to turn into cute patchwork scarves, I might just start doing that.

Or..maybe wait til I feel a bit better.

Enjoy today’s Pinterest curated offerings!

Yeah, and scarves make me happy too 😄!

Kantha Haiku: A Kantha-Boro story

​”Kantha Haiku” is available to purchase from my Etsy store, here.

Description: This item is entirely handsewn, using fabric remnants and other recycled/reused/repurposed elements. My Kantha-Boro pieces can be used as scarves, table runners or wall hangings. Owing to the nature of handsewing and the Japanese Mottainai principle of “Waste not, want not”, each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind, with any imperfections in the fabrics or stitches forming part of the Wabi-Sabi ethos of being perfectly imperfect.


Style: Kantha-Boro. Indian Kantha running stitches in parallel rows, embroidered over Japanese Boro-style fabric remnants, which are simply pinned in place before oversewing.


Colours: Predominantly blue and white, to emulate Japanese indigo Boro, with splashes of vivid purple, orange and red floral accents, interspersed with a green and black fabric bamboo fabric pattern representing fields. The backing fabric is a thrifted pillowcase, with a pattern of chrysanthemums and morning glory flowers repeating all over it, again with purple, orange and red to complement the other side. The running stitches are an off-white crochet thread, which resemble falling snowflakes.


Snowflakes on flowers

Blanket their winter slumber

Spring is still a dream

Dimensions: 66 x 16.5 inches (168 x 42 cm)


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