Seams and Scraps

What do you make with jean seams and aloha shirt scrap? I made a trivet using hand-stitching. I also taught myself how to use a thimble. It helped a lot with all the stitching on denim.

I love the look of all the ends but decided against leaving it as is. It would probably get too dirty.


I lined the back with a large scrap from my whale project to hide the rough edges and give it a little more support. I tried out the blanket stitch technique from the Zen Stitching workshop from Mirjam Gielen .

In the end, there really isn’t a front or back. I guess whichever you prefer. This project took longer than I expected. Stitching through denim is tough. But I liked the finished product. More to come.

Three Whales

I’ve been working on several upcycling projects, and I’m proud to show you what I’ve done. I worked with a couple of jeans and a batik print dress. I started out with the jeans, one dark, and one light denim. I decided to try out the denim whale I’ve seen on Pinterest. I got the pattern from FourSixtyTwo.

The Denim

Mom’s capri jeans

I had two pairs of jeans, mom’s capri jeans and old pair of acid-washed ones. Yes, acid-washed, and it had a high waist and pleats. It was straight from the 80s. The first task is to take apart the clothing. I cut the legs off on the jeans, getting as much of it as possible. I’ll save the top of the jeans for later for another project. I then rotary cut the seams and put them aside to see if I could come up with a use for them. I also took off some buttons from the darker jeans.
I used the darker jeans for the top of the whale and the acid-wash for the belly. I started out machine sewing, starting with the tucks on the stomach. So far, so good. Then I started on the fins and tail. It was a no-go when turning it to the right side [for all the non-sewers, you sew the pieces together with the right sides facing together, stitching on the wrong side]. The pointy tips looked bulky and bumpy because of the thickness of the denim. Boo!
Instead of fighting with the seams, I ripped out the stitches and decided to hand-stitch the tail and fins [for the hand-stitching, it is sewed right side out]. Then I continued with the hand-stitching with the top-stitching on the tail and fins, and to be consistent, the body, once I attached it to the body.

Tah Dah! Whale #1: with pleats on the belly

Wow! I liked the look of the finished product. I decided to do another whale because I had enough fabric. I made a few adjustments to the pattern to help the points of the tail and fins lay better. I also decided to try eliminating the pleats on the belly and machine-stitched the underbody instead. And for Whale #2, I hand-stitched the entire whale except for the top-stitching on the underbody.

Closeup of the machine-stitched underbody

Batik Dress

batik dress from the 80s

I thought the whale would look great in a print, maybe an aloha print. I liked the gray and navy section of the dress for the whale and thought the bleached pattern looked like marks on the whale. The fabric was rayon; it was soft and flowy. I lined all the pieces with some lightweight material to give them stability.

The lined pieces were lighter than the denim, so I decided to use the machine on the larger sections of the whale. I added top-stitched the underbody where the pleats should be, then stitched the underbody together. I handstitched the fins and tail together to keep the points sharp, lay flat, and added top-stitching.

Hand-stitching

I took a stitching workshop in May through Zen Stitching to get inspired. It was five days of classes. I was able to take almost every session I wanted to. I loved that I found others who combined upcycling, boro, and hand-stitching.

I added a few techniques to the whale. I added groups of running stitch using a bleached print to inspire the pattern. I also added French knots. I like how it came out. Now, if I can only get these posted on my Etsy shop.

Patches and Stitching

I love Hawaiian-style patchwork blankets. This blanket style is made up of many different prints and is lightweight for the weather in Hawaii. My Grandma Kiyo (my dad’s mom) sewed many of these blankets. We only have a few of these blankets left as time has taken its toll on them. They are well-loved.

Grandma Kiyo’s blanket was a masterwork of patterns. She used many patterns within the blanket. I assume most of the fabric used on the blanket was scraps or old clothing. Most of her blankets had a red backing with a self-binding.

My Grandma Kiyo’s blanket needs repair of all the fraying from being older than me.

At the Kuakini thrift shop where I volunteer, we have started to sell these Hawaiian-style blankets. The blankets were made by the hospital craft group. They would make craft items for use in the hospital and for sale at their rummage sale. This rummage sale turned into a Kuakini thrift shop, and now we are selling some of the blanket inventory. All of the fabric is donated and created by this craft group.

Here are a few shots of the blankets that I liked. Many of them are full of prints; they are just so fun.

These are from the latest batch of the quilt in the shop. They were full of prints, lots of them vintage from the 60s.


I finally finished my stitching sampler on a pillowcase I made a long while ago. Oh well, I think I decided to put my needle down. I added fabric patches to where there were holes and added the stiches to blend the patches into the pillow. I’m enjoying the stitching, it gets me out of my head and it’s quite meditative.

Looks a little crazy, but I was trying out the stitches.


And now . . . my aloha shirt blanket. I finally finished it. I learned a lot. I know there needs to be bit more planning for my next quilt. As you can see, I have a lot of inspiration. I most definitely will be doing some hand stitching.

I figured out how to hide the know midway through working on the blanket. Next time, hopefully they will be hidden.

Quietly Stitching

The holidays were a cold (in Hawaii temps) and wet one. I made use of being inside by hand stitching projects that were waiting for their patiently.

This current wave of hand stitching was brought on by the book covers I stitched in my post; I forgot to add a cover. I started stitching more patches with the same fabric as the book covers and added more stitching. But now I’m stuck about what to do next and what I should become.


I decided to let the patches sit while I figured out what it needed. I picked up my aloha shirt patchwork quilt. I needed to finish the rest of the interior stitching (diagonal lines) then work on the border. The half triangles are machine stitched with interior quilting and border handstitched.


The quilt looked a bit empty; it needed more than the diagonal lines. I decided to add some stitching around the white flowers on the green triangles. Slightly smaller stitching than the diagonal lines makes it stand out a bit. More in the style of the book covers.

Working in tandem with the patchwork quilt, I picked up an ancient project sitting in my project pile, a Hawaiian quilt kit I started. I don’t even know when or where I got it or created it.

I did a really crap job attaching the applique. My Quilting Yoda would not have been happy. I restitched the applique, adding many more stitches to lay flat. Some of the corners were pretty awful; the turn-over edges were coming apart. The stitching was close enough. Ugh!! But the more I worked on it, I got into a rhythm, and my stitches were more consistent. So satisfying. I like it now.


All the while, as I hand stitch, I’ve been binging Silent Witness on Prime Video. It’s like a CSI, UK version, focusing more on the pathologist up to the season 16 when they combined department with forensic. It has 24 seasons, more than enough to keep me company while I stitched away.

I finished this while I was writing this post. I’m so proud of it.

Oh, by the way, I finished the my Hawaiian Quilt Patch. What began as forgotten project, turned out looking better than I expected. I’ve decided to turn it into a pillow. Now I need to find the perfect backing for it. I’m hoping I have it in my stash.