Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Stitched Squares

2008 I moved to India- I had a lot of time on my hands and so each day worked at a Street Kids Project. Idea was to get kids off the street and into school, after school each day we would help with homework, play games, and then have a nutritious lunch.

Parents were so grateful, and I came to know quite a few of them.

Illiterate parents face a mountain of obstacles trying to get their kids into school- financial – paying for uniforms and books, loosing a helper to earn money is the most obvious one, but think about it, you can’t read, you can’t fill in the forms to get your kid into school and you are embarrassed, some teachers are not supportive….


I was helping as I could and then saw a guy go by with a huge load of saris- I followed and met the neighbour who was a tailor and turned second-hand saris into garments.

Ohh boy, what could I make from them?

I started an Etsy shop, I thought if I taught some of the Mum’s to stitch it could become an income stream for them…

After some wins and many dramas there came a day where I had these stitched panels.

I thought they would be great components for Crafting People to turn into treasures.

All the wonderful colour from silk saris and amazing hand stitch would work a treat.

Then I made a few samples to give people ideas of what they might do.

This jacket was the first thing, then pillows, quilts….and soon I had a mountain of stitched panels to sell.  

I realised the women could not sell them, but I could in my travels and teaching venues…. somehow this all lead into what The Stitching Project is now.

We still upskill people- especially women, we upcycle saris and our cloth offcuts, we make gorgeous clothes based on Hand Made components. Hand made cloth, hand blockprint, hand stitch, natural dyes.

The jacket idea took off, but people wanted a finished garment not the pieces to make one, so we followed that direction.

When I recently moved back to Australia, I found a stash of things I used to sell at Textile Fairs, and these were in the pile.

So, hoping to clear them out and send them onto good stashes to be used up….

Here are a few suggestions- I am sure you can think of many more 😊

1.     Biscornu Pillow- google the name, they are quite magical to put together 2 squares for a bigger one or 1 square cut carefully to make 2 smaller ones

2.     Kindle stand. 1 square- stitch it into a tub, about one third along stitch 2 lines a cm apart- this is the fold. Smaller end fill with rice.

Tricky bit to explain- the other end you are folding vertical compared to the horizontal end. This will make it sit up when you stuff it.

Just make the tube and when it is in your hands you will see what I mean.

3.     Dowry Bag- over lock the edges or pipe them, turn in…. then lash stitch the edges together to make an envelope shape, add a long string for closing- needs to be long enough to go around purse twice and tuck in. corner tassels or beads to be pretty? Great to store kindle, electrical bits when travelling, small sewing kit. Magnificent wrapping for gifts or all your gold and jewels.


4.     Quilts- we stitched panels together and piped over the seams- would work just as well if you stitch together, overlock the seams tightly and then stitch them flat.

I have always wanted to put these squares amongst black velvet squares to make a quilt- an idea to try.

5.     Garments- assemble the panels with a French seam, overlock and stitch  or cover with piping. Cut to shape for jacket- AS LONG AS you assemble the jacket using 2 close rows of stitch it will not fray.

My jacket is 11 years old, well worn and I can’t see the stitch fraying our where we cut.

 You will find these squares in our shop soon- looking for a good home and to be used in creative ideas. They were stitched with love.


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Hand stitched Jackets


Waste not, Want not Jackets


Option 1

Cut the jacket out of your base cloth [lining]

Hand stitch the patches in place

Use machine to make up the jacket as you would normally.

This makes it easy to do collars and get a polished finish.



Option 2

Completely hand stitched jacket

This started with the idea of making a garment completely without electricity

Hand spun, hand woven cloth

Hand dyed indigo or blockprint off cuts and then hand stitch to patch

And assemble the garment.

I love to handstitch not machine 😊

My black & white jacket is about 5 years old, worn a lot and been through the washing machine multiple times- it is a hard wearing jacket- not delicate at all.

1.    Cut the jacket using a normal pattern

2.    Patch surface of jacket

3.    Along seam lines- where you would normally machine turn fabric to the inside and blanket stitch in place.

4.    Join pieces together with small ladder stitch




Friday, May 07, 2021

Ohh the Pause

 I am more a bull at a gate type person

all this Pausing is driving me nuts.....

freaked me out really, especially now with India and my people there, my Praveen....

what to do?

Actually the rest coming from being here in Oz has been really good for me, I think perhaps if I had kept up at the pace I used to run I might have snapped real soon.

Good lesson- The Pause does have a silver lining...

and I do see people starting to consider their priorities, I see governments being questioned about just what their priorities are. Keep that going!!

So I am here in Oz, 

re-inventing myself in a way.... still me, still the same passions but at a different time and place.

I am back in my old neighbourhood

and must admit I love the landscape and being able to wander up the road and have a good chat. My place in India i love and am loved by many but am the outsider, Madam and a good chat is difficult with language restraints and such a different cultural background.

Didn't know how much I missed being able to babble in Ozzstralian until I had it again 😊

Getting to Australia took me a month or quarantine- first in Delhi, then in Darwin....I knew I would get out eventually but even that felt like it could go on forever being constantly watching for the virus....

I thought of all those people in limbo stuck because they could not stay where they came from and wanted somewhere safe to live.

I admire the work of entities like the ASRC - 1 month being locked up was horrible, how can indefinite detention for just wanting to be safe feel?

I like to cook- Feasting for Freedom sounded like a good way to reconnect to my community and be positive. Menu here

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Grid print stitching

 Recent Obsessions

This print urges me to stitch into it. 

Years ago we made dresses, they had a natural dye background and this print on top, then on the yoke I put little white stitches in some of the squares.
My secret urge is to make a jacket in this print and stitch all the squares- how cool would that be? I don't often mention that to myself because I have a lot of other projects underway, but one day....
I was lucky enough to have a piece of this cloth at home when Covid struck. The lockdown in India was intense, I went to sleep planning my next day in the workshop and woke up to be informed I could not leave my house AT ALL.... I made Covid animals for all my little ones.
No sewing machine at home I used blanket stitch to join the edges.
My littlies have been giving them a work out and they are lasting just fine.

Shapes of the Covid Creatures are just flat cut outs and when I was joining front to back I inserted the skinny legs, arms and ears into the seam before joining.
Send me a message if you want to see a picture of the pattern pieces.

Just got a new stash in the shop  and I think a manageable project would be to make drinks coasters.
A plan- square shape, colour with stitch
find something a bit heavy to layer in the middle and then blanket stitch top to bottom.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Silk Sari Afghans

Lovely, luscious afghans 
fancy up your sofa
I might even use mine as a wrap in winter....
15mm worked very well- golden afghan was 100 stitches cast on....

then I found 20mm needles and tried the peacock colours out, result a little looser but still a nice feel to the result and bigger needles means less yarn needed to get the same size result

Golden afghan is about 640gm

peacock about 580gm


Silk Sari Bags

 Hello all, 

here is a simple recipe for Silk Sari Bags.

I made my first one years ago and used it as a handbag for a while, so I wanted it to be firm and not let stuff drop through.

Being back in Australia at the moment, where SAY NO TO PLASTIC is really a thing now, I realise we need a lot of bags for shopping on hand, so I have reworked the Silk Sari Bag to be lighter and looser, it uses less yarn.

First though the long tale of making Sari Yarn

1. find your saris

2. check for silk by burning a corner

3. rip into strips

4. hand out to our home based Machine Ladies to machine stitch the ripped lengths together

Saroj Madam, has one of our machines- it does take up a significant part of her house's space but she is happy to have it. She machines for us and makes clothes for the neighbours as well.

Yarn is joined by a continuous thread, makes it strong and no lumps when using it.

5. wash and dry

6. roll up into 100 gm skeins- ready to go to you.

Silk Sari Bag 1

weight of this one is 280 gm so I would estimate 3 balls of yarn enough.

Silk Sari String Bag- version 2

Weight 200 gm so 2 balls should just about do it. Sorry these are guestimates because each ball whilst being 100 gm might a have a metre or so more or less depending on the saris. Last row around top of bag could be in a different yarn to finish it off if you run short.

Friday, February 05, 2021


 Gamcha obsessions

Bengal is famous for its handweaving and every home has a few Gamchas around- they are a Bengal bath towel and favoured dress of workers everywhere in the tropical heat.

Bright and bold colours- they are a favourite with our guests when we are on tour [Creative Arts Safaris- our reason to slip out of the workshop on occasion].

Since the first one I spotted I have wanted to make quilts, here is our first batch. I don’t know when we will have more, we have to wait for the Great Pause to finish and let us travel again. Cosy throws for the sofa or a picnic blanket these lightweight quilts will be loved for years to come.

Our first pile of quilts
Rickshaw puller dressed in gamcha
Gamcha seller in the Sundarbans- after a day out looking for tigers a little gamcha therapy is fun
This guy with his shop on a pushbike did not know what to think.... he was totally in shock at first to see all these foreigners and then we were accosting him and wanting to see his gamcha... and there was a little gentle scrambling over some of them too.

He was so chuffed by the time we reduced his pile by half, I bet he is still thinking of us.

Day wear Gamvha
The amazing flower markets of Kolkata all the vendors wear gamcha, I have a few dresses I made out of gamchas and I always wear one on the day we visit the markets- it is noticed and get the thumbs up 👍