Category Archives: Techniques

Welcome To My Boudoir

Over the last 3 months, my bedroom has had a total transformation. Not an expensive, interior designer priced transformation, but rather a series of furniture rearrangements, lucky thrift store finds, items that I already owned being repurposed, and objects I “manifested”. 

First, the Queen-sized bed was turned 90 degrees and pushed into a corner. Originally, there were 2 bedside cabinets, one on either side of the bed. I gave one to my son Jack, and put the other one by the bedroom door. 

I had a Queen Anne dressing table in the junk room. It had been given to me by a neighbour in our previous estate, and although I’d given it a new coat of white paint, it had simply languished in the junk room of our present house. But this time, after several coats of gesso and varnish (I couldn’t find the white paint), it’s not taken up residence at the end of my newly positioned bed. And it houses my collection of Affirmation, Positive Thinking and Law of Attraction cards, as well as some books that I keep meaning to read, and some crystals.

I bought a rug to fill up the now empty space between the bed and the door. The dogs like to lie on it. It also makes a great work surface for my sewing projects.

I bought some cushions from thrift stores to place on my bed against the wall. They’re the colours of jewels – purple, teal, orange, and at the foot of my bed is a dog-themed cushion and my dog Shelagh’s 3 favourite toys – Gorilla, Tiger Tiger and Lion Lion. 

Where my bed had been before, I’d had a large romantic canvas print on the wall, flanked by 2 bird-themed canvasses. I’d found a modern abstract canvas for $20 at a thrift store. It now has pride of place on the wall.

On the smaller wall above my bedhead now (in the photo above) I have put up 2 canvasses which are actually cheats. 

The abstract on the left, with the line drawing of a woman’s face, is actually a T2 wrapping paper, from when I bought my “She Loves” limited edition teacup and saucer 2 years ago. It’s simply been Blu-Tacked and duct-taped (shock, horror! 😆) to a homemade wooden box frame. 

The canvas on the right, featuring peacocks, is actually a wallpaper sample stapled to an IKEA wooden frame. I’d bought it as such from a thrift store, for $3.25. 

For some reason I dislike hammering nails into walls, so to attach these 2 canvasses to the wall I used Command Hanging Strips (by 3M). Basically, Command Hanging Strips are a simple combination of flexible sticky tape and velcro. You can remove them from walls without leaving a trace. No need to fill in nail holes and then have to repaint the whole wall afterwards.

Here’s the rest of my “boudoir”:

The chair is a dining room chair in mock leather, picked up from a thrift store for $10. I’ve covered it simply with one of my Kantha-Boro quilted pieces. The 2 Totoro plush characters are actually sitting on top of a radiator heater, that I use in winter. The bookcase hidden under the blue cloth houses my collection of Tarot and Oracle cards. The blue canvas with the deer silhouette came from KMart, $15. And the “N O W” letters on the wall were made by me using Gelli-printed paper glued to wooden letters, then varnished.

The large romantic canvas atop this Queen Anne hall table is the one that used to grace the space above my bed. It was moved to make way for the modern abstract you now see on the main wall of my bedroom, flanked by the bird canvasses.

The Queen Anne hall table was a lucky find at a secondhand furniture store. I just love its sexy, curvy shape. Below it is my old piano stool, simply draped with another of my Kantha-Boro pieces. 

The striking turquoise artwork on the wall in the photo above, is one of my own creations. I created it on my Samsung Galaxy S4 mobile phone, then uploaded it to my computer, ran it through a Print-on-Demand service, chose the format (print on wooden/MDF panel) et voila! 

The black cloth with white circles and broken lines is a remnant I picked up from IKEA, over an IKEA tall chest of drawers. I like to call this spot my “Altar”. 

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!

Musical Chairs

…Well, Musical Furniture, actually.

As in, having a good old clear out of my son Jack’s bedroom. All in one fell swoop.

I’d been meaning to get the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo, hoping it would grant me an insight as to how to tidy up my house once and for all. The book was $20 at Big W, but before purchasing it, I checked ISSUU on my mobile phone, to make sure it wasn’t already available there for free.

Well, surprise, surprise, it WAS available to download on ISSUU. Not just preview pages either, but the book in its entirety. Completely FREE. Hurrah! I just saved $20. Yay, happy dance!

One of the main principles taught by the KonMari technique (a play on words invented by Mari herself, based on her name), is to NOT and I repeat, NOT, tidy things up a little at a time. No, one should rather go whole hog and tackle everything at once. Be brutal as well as swift. 

So today I tested out that theory with Jack’s room. His is a double sized bedroom, but over the years he’s somehow accumulated so much stuff aka junk, that it resembles a cave. A very messy, cluttered and dare I say it, smelly cave.

So this afternoon after school, we basically moved most of Jack’s things out of his room, and then played the furniture version of Musical Chairs.

The results are most encouraging. But man, am I knackered! 😄

The state of Jack’s room…and this is its “natural” state! 

So much junk on every surface! 

Jack’s bed used to be a single, then when he outgrew it (he’s 6′ 4″ now at just 14 years old and still growing at a phenomenal rate!) I swapped his single for the sofabed that was languishing unused in the spare room (aka the “Junk Room” where everything gets chucked). When my finances allow for it, I’ll get him a proper Queen sized bed.

Mid-way through Musical Furniture. The metal shelves have been moved from one side of the room to the other. The white chest of drawers needs to move across to the opposite side of the room.

Nearly there. There’s still a lot of junk to throw out or donate to charity, and Jack knows he only has til Saturday morning before I get the removals people to come pick up what we no longer want to keep. The posters have to come off the wall, and all the Blu-Tack removed. So much more cleaning up to do!!

Originally, Jack had 1 Dreamcatcher each on opposite walls. I simply used a stick I’d picked up from a park, balanced both Dreamcatchers on it, and used a purple chain Jack had to hang it on the wall above the bed. Hey, it works! 

Ahhh! So much roomier now! 😄 Jack’ll sleep well tonight, I reckon!

My Valentine

To those feeling lonely because you haven’t got a Valentine date, I say: Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Love yourself first and foremost, and if you love your own company, you will never feel lonely or alone. You don’t need some consumerist faux celebration to appreciate your own company or revel in your own awesomeness. 

Yes. 

YOU. ARE .AWESOME. JUST. THE. WAY. YOU. ARE.

I bought this white painted rattan heart decoration at a local thrift store for $3.

I found these skeins of feathered pom-pom yarn while clearing out my junk room. I remember buying them cheap, about $1 each, from a discount variety shop many years ago. I love the bright colours and the combination of different textures.

So, with Valentine’s nearly here and no beau in sight, what’s a girl to do but weave and wind some colourful yarn around the rattan heart and make her own heartfelt present to herself.

I started out weaving the yard through the gaps in the rattan, using a dowel. Then I realised I didn’t really need to do this at all. I could just wind the yarn around the heart, covering up all the white.So much easier! And at the end, I just had to use the dowel to push the end of the yard through one of the gaps, to bury it and secure it.

Et voila! I tied the ribbon back and now it’s hanging from a drawer in my bedroom. 

A soft, fluffy, vibrantly coloured heart ornament, perfect for Valentine’s Day. ❤

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)