Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Refashioners 2016

Sometimes when you haven't blogged for a while it's hard to know where to start again.  I have always used my blog as a means of documenting finished projects which has set the timetable for posts, but as I haven't done a lot for the past six months I haven't had a specific reason to write.  If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed I am pregnant, which is why I haven't been up to much!  Specifically, without boring anyone with the details, this is an IVF pregnancy after 6 years of secondary infertility which has resulted in me taking things very, very easy - to the point of practically no sewing at all.  This has been very strange for me as, like a lot of people, I have been using sewing as a means of escape from life's little problems and sometimes it has been the thing which has kept me going. However some minor problems early on meant forced rest and by then I was out of the swing of things a bit.

Luckily Portia's brilliant challenge, The Refashioners, forced me to start thinking and sewing again.  I took part last year and it was one of the highlights of my year so when Portia asked me to participate again I was very excited.

I had so many ideas to start with (my initial reaction was to make a dungaree dress, which sadly would not have been practical for pregnancy so has been shelved for a while!) but I soon settled on making something I will need soon, and something I know will be used a lot – a travel changing mat.  I had one of these when my daughter was a baby which was a freebie from a magazine and it didn’t last but it was so useful for carrying a small changing kit around, and meant that any bag could become a changing bag.  

I started with a pair of jeans which I probably bought about 8-10 years ago and which were still a lovely dark indigo colour which was what I was looking for.  They also have some stretch in which isn’t ideal but hasn’t affected the end result.

Before starting, I looked at a tutorial to get a basic idea of construction and also borrowed a friend’s changing mat to get a rough idea of size.  I was obviously constrained by the width of the leg of the jeans but luckily I managed to cut the mat out whilst avoiding the leg shaping in these jeans.  Obviously this would have been easier if I had used a pair of men’s, non-stretch and unshaped jeans but these were sitting unloved in my cupboard!

I cut my jeans up the outside leg seam, leaving the inner seam intact, and lay the fabric out flat. I then made a quilt sandwich of denim, batting and soft furry plush fabric before quilting all three layers together in a diamond pattern, using basting spray and a walking foot to stop the layers shifting around while quilting.  To make the pockets, I cut two rectangular pieces of denim from the remaining leg and two pieces of flannel fabric half as wide again as the main pocket pieces.  I gathered the bottom of the flannel to fit on the pocket, and sewed a channel for elastic along the top.  I wanted bigger, roomier pockets than my last version as I am intending to use cloth nappies again which take up more space than disposables, but they will also be useful to put a spare change of clothes in too.

Using a faux leather bias binding I bound the pockets first before attaching them to the mat then bound the whole way around the mat.  The binding was really quite tricky to work with so I kept the walking foot on my machine and took it really slowly.  It isn’t perfect but I am happy with the outcome.  The last thing to do was to stitch the buckle on the front, which has a magnetic closure, and done! 

The only thing I had to buy to make this changing mat was the binding, everything else I had in my cupboard.  The plush and flannel were left over from making new baby gifts, I can’t even remember why I bought the buckle but I am so pleased it has been put to good use and obviously the jeans were taking up space and feeling unloved so I am delighted to have turned them into something which I know will be so useful to me in a few months’ time.  Thank you so much Portia for organising such a brilliant event.  I love seeing everyone’s projects popping up and how other people interpret the theme.  Good luck to all taking part in the community challenge - the deadline is 30th September so still plenty of time to enter!