I don’t know about you, but I always find myself hanging onto all my old denim jeans. Jeans are my comfort blanket, I live in them.
The ones with holes in get stored in my craft room while I find ideas on how to re-purpose the fabric, while the ones that are still in good nick get delivered to the local charity stores.
Every so often I will find myself on Pinterest wondering what I can do with all the left over denim. We have several boards with ideas pinned ready to inspire our creative spark. You can find book cover ideas, up-cycle projects, interesting finds and quick sew projects all here.
Just recently I revisited one of our early workshops with our Home educators sewing group. It was the Japanese folded patchwork project bag that was created for us by Craftier The Second Time Around. You can find the project printed in our book, Unravel & Unwind, here.
The bag is large enough for an A4 diary or even a laptop. I quite often use mine when I go on a workshop or a meeting as it is just the right size.
Above are just a few of the design ideas that the group, aged 8 to 12, came up with for their project bags. I particularly liked seeing them using the embellishment features of their jeans in the final design.
A few years back I went through the fashion phase of skinny jeans. I easily had a dozen pairs. More recently though I have gone back to straight leg and boot cut jeans because skinny ones were causing me pain and discomfort in the knees. That meant I was left with perfectly good jeans that still fitted around the waist. I didn’t want to just cut them up and use the fabric for something totally different. On this occasion I wanted to still be able to wear my denim. Another route around Pinterest gave me the spark to try something totally out of my comfort zone. I’m a yarn loving crochet addict – but just for one day last summer I became a seamstress extraordinaire!
Well, not quite! But I did manage to convert a pair of skinny jeans into a lovely knee length skirt. It was fairly simple really. You just break the seams of the inside legs, cut off the excess length and do some magic around the wedge seam that sits just below the zip. Okay, that was where I got stuck but I found this great tutorial to follow.
One BIG thing I learned that day, was to never use cheap shoddy machine needles that I picked up in a pound store. They bend, break, blunt and invariably waste several hours trying to fix the machine and repair the fabric.
So what ideas do you have for re-purposing denim? One future project I think I would like to try will involve using the old down cushion pads from my last leather sofa. We reclaimed the cushion backs and the leather. They are lovely and huge and will make great floor cushions.
“I am sure that you are all with me on saying a BIG Thank you to “The E Team”. Faye, Heather, Lesley and Moira have provided amazing support and I could not have done this without them. Thank you ladies.🍸🍸🍸🍸for all of you and your favourite waiters.” – Helen
It goes without saying that I don’t think any of the team could have survived the CAL if it hadn’t been for the encouragement of dear ole Johnny and the support from the handsome Jason, who did try and join the group. Unfortunately we didn’t let him in because he hadn’t bought the pattern.
As someone who asked many questions, thank you all for your patience….even if you are answering the same question for the 4,375,987 time 🙂. All of you (Helen included,) did a great job, many many thanks 🙂 – Moira
Do you feel like you may not be experienced enough to make the Secret Garden? Here are some words of encouragement from those who have finished.
I’d only been crocheting a year when I started this. Explanations are step by step. Read it really carefully stitch by stitch and you’ll be fine. You’ll learn loads and have such a sense of satisfaction when done. I found it more fiddly than difficult, easy stitches just in peculiar combinations. Honest. Good luck and have fun xx – Holly
Not difficult, very time consuming but the result is amazing! Read the pattern carefully, count every single stitch and don’t be afraid to ask for help! 14 weeks, a couple of headaches, a letter to the tail fairy, offerings to the tail goddess and a few voodoo dolls and voila…. this little piece of art is done!!! Thank you Helen Free for this beauty, it’s been an incredible journey!! Cannot wait for Space Odyssey! Helen Free…. it’s Fall yet!- Rosanna
You ‘can’ achieve it. I’ve been crocheting for less than a year and completed it. It’s amazing. Follow all the advice above and ask for help if you need it. Best of luck and enjoy the learning journey x – Anne
I’m officially finished. My one bee I’ve made looked horrible, so I’ve cheated. Good luck to everyone on this beautiful journey and best wishes to all those done. This was a wonderful project. – D’Juana
Finished. Thank you, Helen for a delightful ride. Now I have some beading commissions to do before my next CAL. – Sandy
Slowly, slowly my garden starts to blossom 😊 – Mary
This week Sy is introducing the method of using multi medium materials to decorate the front cover of a canvas notebook. This will be the focus of one of our Girl’s Night In events later in the year, so do keep an eye out on our calendar and Facebook page.
Watch the process in the video below. Sy takes you through every step of the way.
Sy goes live every Tuesday afternoon over on Twitch to bring you papercraft tutorials and more. This week we are sharing her two-part video stream. We hope you enjoy them and if you want more content like this please do let us know.
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Helen is choosing a new cover photo each week for the Secret Garden Facebook Group
First up was Ruth’s. Helen particularly enjoyed how the butterfly blocks were laid out with the butterfly mobile.
Tracey’s photo is this weeks cover image, showing her mini gardens in her own sunny garden. This has certainly been warming us Brit’s up.
Seven days into the Secret Garden CAL
31 Days into the Secret Garden CAL
Even pets are getting in on the action
Have your pets been helping you with your blocks? Please do share pics with us
What do we do with all our ends?
Here are just a few suggestions that have appeared on the group;
Helen from Swansea shared a link to maRRose – Colourful Crochet & Crafts for a yarn bowl that has been sculpted using all the ends that she had saved up from her crochet projects. I love this idea and I hope to do something like this with my ends. If you’ve done something similar why not share your photo’s with us.
Our Helen (Rainbow Valley) saves all her ends and gives them to a couple of her students. Why? Because they breed canaries and they use the ends for making nests. That’s such a sweet idea.
I have heard from one of my students in the past would leave her ends hanging from a bush in her garden for the sparrows to use when they are nesting. She would also supply them with the fur that her dogs & cats had shed.
There are now more than 500 participants making the Secret Garden CAL and naturally not everyone is using the same yarn brands, so there are some beautiful colour and texture differences.
But the most creative change has been from Tracey who has chosen to do the crab stitch round of the big flower in one of the colours from the centre.
This blanket is a unique design by Helen Free using Stylecraft Special DK for a Crochet Along. There are six blocks, each made in the four different colour ways giving a total of 24 blocks. The finished size is about 140cm x 95cm.
There is no minimum donation. For every £5 you donate, you will receive one entry into the prize draw. Please make sure you leave your full name and email address to enter.
The draw will be held on April 28th when the Crochet Along is over. The winner will be published on Facebook and notified by email.
This week Helen released the second block pattern, it’s a dragonfly, my second favourite animal. My first being the butterfly and I’ve made loads of those already. I haven’t been able to take part much this week as I have been working on a commission, so I am sharing lots of feedback from the Facebook group instead.
The mini butterflies block was released a fortnight ago and progress has been great. With now more than 450 participants across Facebook, Ravelry, Instagram and email.
Helen and the team have been excited and enthralled by the photographs and feedback.
The community that is evolving on Facebook is a lovely space to share progress, and everyone has been supportive of each other. With participants from 11 different time zones there is pretty much always someone online to talk to. The group have been very supportive with the more experienced crocheter’s offering help, hints, tips and support to those who are just starting out in the crochet community.
Block 2 was released at the beginning of the week and many have already begun creating it. But before I share any of the progress on the new block I wanted to give you a look back over some of the other mini butterflies along with feedback from members of the Facebook group.
Just when Barbara was all but ready to give up, everyone all pulled together and helped her along, and what a great job she made on her first butterfly block.
Well done for sticking at it.
And Barbara isn’t the only one to have found the new skills and techniques a little challenging. Holly also made good progress and finished her block.
There have been a large number of new crocheter’s to join us on the journey, but I am so pleased that they have persevered. I am also very proud of all those who got together and helped out by pointing people in the right direction towards the support photographs and videos.