Using Scrap Fabric – Making Beeswax Wraps

Clearing out a large, overflowing box of scrap fabric earlier this week, I decided enough was enough.  Wasn’t this the box that I’d swore to empty by Christmas??  Yeah right!  All I’ve managed to do since coming home from holiday in May is to carry on filling it!  This box will never empty itself – I need to commit!  Soooooo

I started with a few things, mentioned in the last post, like making bunting and some sort of patchwork piece.  I still am not sure of what direction that’s going to take, but I’ll get there.  I also unearthed a load of pretty cottons that would make perfect beeswax wraps.  So I decided to get on with it and stop procrastinating.  Down they went to the sewing room and I cut a load of 30x30cm squares (perfect for sandwiches) 20x20cm squares (perfect for covering bowls or halved avos or the cheesy part of an Edam cheese), and a couple of 40x40cm squares which is the perfect size for wrapping my bread made in the breadmaker.  Then I went looking for the beeswax – and found it wrapped in 20 or more pre-cut pretty cotton squares – of different sizes!  Oh dear!!

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Different sized cotton squares and beeswax bars from the local beekeeper’s association

I decided to start with some of those.  Now, there are loads of tutorials for beeswax wraps online, you just need to pick the one that you think will work for you, and the same here.  I’ll show you how I make mine, and it’s up to you to give this method a try and see if it works and you’re happy.  I’ll be honest and say I tweak the “recipe” each time, still looking for the “perfect” result.  The fabric needs to be 100% cotton, and please pre-wash it, the wax will not penetrate the fibres properly otherwise.

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Sandwiches wrapped up and in the bamboo lunchbox!

 

Now, where to get the stuff, and what stuff to get?!  I use beeswax and coconut oil.  Some say to use pine resin, but all I find that stuff does is leave a sticky, gungy plug at the bottom of the tin, and it’s nasty.  It doesn’t seem to mix in with the wax and oil.  It’s supposed to help make the wrap slightly sticky so it sticks to itself or the edge of bowls, but I can’t say it’s worked for me so far.  My current recipe is to use 100g of wax and about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.  The coconut oil is easy to get hold of, I use the one from Aldi, it’s cheap and comes in a glass jar.  Beeswax you can get online, Amazon do a roaring trade, you can also get from The Soap Kitchen, who also do a vegan substitute.  They will send everything out wrapped in nice big thick plastic bags, so if that’s not your thing, you might want to go elsewhere.  They do, however, have the largest stock I’ve seen.  I am now buying the wax bars from the local beekeeper’s association, I like that it’s local and supporting local people and trades/hobbies!  You can find your local beekeepers on this site, UK only.  The normal beeswax will make white areas of fabric go a yellow shade, so if you want to keep the fabric white, look for the white wax pellets.

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My little double boiler system, small saucepan and old tomato tin

Right, you’ve got your stuff, now you need to melt it.  The double boiler system is needed.  I use an old tomato tin (because it gets all waxy and gungy) for the wax and oil, and a small saucepan with about 3-4 cm of water in it.  Get the water in the saucepan and start the water boiling.  Meanwhile, measure out the wax and put that in the tin, followed by the coconut oil, or the other way around.  It takes a while for the wax to melt, it has a high melting point, so if you’re using pellets, bonus, this will go quickly.  If you have the bars, get a large chopping knife and a chopping board and make those bars smaller!  Then put the kettle on, have a cuppa and get the rest of the stuff ready.  (DO NOT BE TEMPTED MELT THE WAX IN THE MICROWAVE!)

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Wax is ready!!

You’ll need two large-ish baking trays and at least three pieces of BAKING PARCHMENT – works way better that greaseproof paper, the paper needs to be bigger than the trays.  You don’t want the wax getting on your baking trays.  You’ll also need an old paintbrush that will only ever be used for this purpose from now on, or a silicone pastry brush, the wide flat ones are better.  I also have a wooden kebab stick that I use to poke the wax and stir the goo in the tin.  Also grab a pair of tongs, a clothes horse or trouser coathangers – the kind you get from the dry-cleaners, and a cooling tray.  And the fabric.

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Large baking tray with baking paper and fabric square

Once the wax has melted you can begin.  Put the oven on to 100C, place a piece of paper onto a tray and grab a square of fabric.  Pop the brush into the tin and start spreading the melted wax onto the fabric.  It will not go far at first.  The fabric will soak it up, and the wax will start to set as soon as it’s removed from the heat so work quickly.  You’ll find as you make more that it gets easier to spread.  That’s because the paper will have residue wax on it from previous squares, the tray is still hot, and you’ve got used to how it all works!  So, spread quickly, but don’t stress if every millimetre of fabric isn’t covered.  Now put the brush in the tin and put the tray with fabric into the oven for 1 minute.

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This is my first square of the day, the wax cooled quickly on the cool fabric and tray, and the fabric is the quilting cotton kind.
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You can see the wax cooling & setting before I’ve got a chance to spread it too far

Remove from the oven and place on the cooling tray, check to see if the wax has spread over all the fabric.  This is when you can to a little top up with the brush if you need to.  Then, with the tongs, lift the square of fabric and drape over the clothes horse, or clothes hanger to dry.  Then make your next square.  I start the next one as soon as I get one in the oven, it won’t kill anything if they’re in the oven for more than a minute, promise.  The quicker you can work, the more get done and you can move away from the hot stove and hob!  You’ll find that thinner cotton fabric like lawn doesn’t need as much wax and oil as the thicker quilting cottons do.  So if you have a pile of quilting cotton squares waiting, the 100g of wax might only do 10 or so squares.

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Lift the slightly cooled square with the tongs and place on the hangers or clotheshorse to cool and set

If you’re making a wrap with a piece of fabric that’s bigger than your baking tray, brush wax on about half of the piece, then fold the fabric in half, or quarters, and brush the unwaxed areas with a bit more wax.  Pop it in the oven, and when you take it out, cover with a piece of baking parchment and get your oven gloves on.  Rub over the paper, pushing down on the waxwrap to encourage the wax to get absorbed through the layers.  Open it all up and check that the wax has gone everywhere.  Any areas that are still dry can quickly be filled in with your brush.

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This is a large, 40x40cm square, folded in quarters before placing in the oven

Once on the clotheshorse, or hangers, the wax wraps dry and set quickly, so you don’t need loads of space.  They can be removed as soon as they’re set and cool, making room for more.  If you’ve been heavy handed with the wax, don’t stress.  Wait for the squares to cool, then heat up an iron, place a piece of paper, either greaseproof or baking parchment on the ironing board, then the overly waxed square on top, and put an un-waxed piece of fabric on top of that, covering with another layer of paper.  Heat the iron to high and iron the layers.  The excess wax will penetrate the unwaxed fabric, and you might get two for the price of one!  Or you might need to repeat the process with another overly waxed square.  The point is, you can’t make that much of a boob here, too much wax can be used on another square, a square with too little wax can be topped up in the same way.

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All the pretty wraps, cooling on my old clotheshorse.

You can use these wraps to cover just about any food, but not on meat, raw fish or chicken, etc.  Washing is easy, put some cool-cold water and a little dish washing soap in the sink and wash them as you would a plate, rinse with cold water and drape on the drying rack to drip dry.  Don’t leave the wraps folded up in lunch boxes or on the side of the sink to wash up, this becomes a breeding ground for mould.  Open them up, dust out crumbs and wash as soon as you can.

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Today’s 120g of wax and 3 tablespoons of coconut oil made 9 20x20cm squares, one large 40×40, 4 30×30 sandwich wraps and 3 25×25 squares.

 

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Folded up and ready to use. I sense a theme with today’s effort…

The wraps can be topped-up by placing them in a 100C oven for a minute or two, or sandwiching between two layers of baking parchment and heating with a hot iron.  If you have managed to grow mould on your wraps, pop them into your council green waste bin, and they’ll decompose in the heat of the council composting process.

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I wrap my baby courgettes in the beeswax wraps to keep them fresh longer if the fridge
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Also good for storing allotment grown lettuce!

 

White Waves

I’ve finally been able to photograph a number of items I’d made for Daughter No2 this year.  I’ll try not to do it all in one go!  This first project is a top I made back in March, she’d marked it as interesting back in 2018 – February, to be precise.  The pattern is the Layered Back Blouse 111 from Burda February 2018.  She bought the fabric, an off white cotton with white spots, from Croft Mill Fabrics.  They’ve since sold out of that fabric, but it’s the right sort of weight, it has some body but is lightweight enough to cope with lots of layers.  This is a petite pattern, but we decided to make it up without any adjustment, having taken a finished back measurement and pronouncing it a suitable length.

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Blouse 111 Burda 02/2018

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The pattern is relatively easy to make, the magazine has detailed instructions for this blouse, so it’s easy for a non-experienced sewist to construct the front placket.  We eliminated the piping and I sewed the sleeve bands on the inside, rather than on the outside.

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That pretty, wavy back

The back, while looking tricky is ok if you make sure you have marked the stitching line on the back carefully.  I trimmed the seam allowance of the flounce piece to 7mm and overlocked the raw edge, before folding it over to align with the stitching line.  I then pinned (with the pins in the stitch line) the flounce onto the stitching line, making sure the matching points were lined up.  I think that’s the only tricky part – stitching slowly and slightly stretching the fabric to get around the corners and not get any tucks.

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Daughter No2’s favourite part is not just one.  She loves the wide sleeves, the wavy back – naturally, and the front placket.  The fabric is cool and light and being white, she can – and does – wear it with everything!  She’s had a few compliments while out and about in it, and has therefore decided she’d like another, and has earmarked a piece of black broiderie anglaise we bought while in South Africa.  But – she also wants a pair of shorts with that fabric, so I’ll be cutting the two out together just to be sure there’s enough fabric!  Fingers crossed…

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Birds for the Summer

So, this post should have gone live last week, but it seems I’m unable to use the scheduling tool properly….

Burda skirt 106 5/2012

It’s another make for daughter No 2 to take to Madeira.  The pattern is Burdastyle, #106 from May 2012.  She’d put this pattern on her list of “wants” for this year.  Luckily she’d had a good wardrobe clear-out, helped by her sister, last summer.  So now, instead of me just making what I think she’ll like, I’m sticking to The List.

While routing through my fabric stash at the same time, she chose this grey bird print cotton for the skirt.  It was what was left over after making a gorgeous vintage dress I’d made a couple of years ago.  There is pretty much nothing left of that fabric now, so I’m chuffed that’s another piece properly used up!!

We love the high waist on this skirt, and the pockets have received the thumbs up as well!  The skirt consists of front and back panels, as well as side panels, all gored to provide a decent amount of fullness that ends below the knee.  The centre front consists of a concealed button stand, the instructions for which were a little odd – the next time I make this I’ll be doing it very differently.

 

The pockets are a doddle, the welts could provide for a design feature, using an alternative grain or fabric to emphasise them would look good.  Piping could also be inserted at the join.  I used black buttons from the stash for the majority of the (hidden) buttons, and two grey buttons for the visible buttons at the waist.

It’s all in the details

I took the waist in to make it similar to the culottes I’d just finished, but for some reason although that works just fine, on the skirt it’s a little on the tight side.  Of course, we only realised that after she’d taken the skirt away!  So when it comes home with her before she heads off back to Uni in September, I’ll let the waist out again.  I’d love to make another version of this pattern, that mustard in the original photograph is still lurking in the back of my brain…

 

I need to get on with photographing all my June makes, I’ve been quite happily wearing them all, but no photos just yet!  In the meantime, The Monthly Stitch will be kicking off Independent Pattern Month again in July and I’ve decided to take part again.  I’ll do anything to get through my stash faster!  Anyone else interested?

True Blue

Sky-blue summer dress

Another day, another dress!

As the Olympics draw nearer, I think we have a winner!

This dress uses the basic shape of the pattern used for the Simply Red dress, but I have eliminated all the panels and cut on the bias to take full advantage of the stripes.

The fabric is a fine cotton sent to me as part of an estate sale haul by a friend who has abandoned me moved to the States.  (Her busband blogs here – an online diary of his aclimatisation) I had to line the dress, this fabric was a trifle too transparent in the light – ok for a shirt, not so good for anything with a skirt!

Plain cotton lining with a blue broiderie anglaise trim

To give it a little more interest I added some blue broiderie anglaise to the hem of the cotton lining, just enough to peek out at the bottom.

A happy Daughter No2 showing off her handywork – a totebag embroidered, beaded and sequined by her own fair hand as a birthday present for a friend

I will be making another panelled dress, I dug out another piece of fabric sent by the same friend, this time a black and blue print that will look just stunning!!

Just like a Stole – Tea for Two

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Just Like a Stole

So, another Pattern Magic pattern done, and I like this one!  The name comes from the fabric print, ladies who shop, and ladies who do tea!  I like the neckline, might just need to get used to it, it feels like the shoulders drop back a bit.  It might need a couple of hand stitches just in the front a little to hold it together, but we’ll see.

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View from the back

I used French Seams throughout with this lightweight cotton.  The buttons were rescued from one of husband’s worn out Red Herring tops, and I used a coral-red thread for sewing them on.  The pattern in the book has the dart into the front seam, not practical for me.  I changed the pattern to have the centre front button opening and moved the darts to their normal position in the front.  But I wanted something interesting there.  I converted the one BIG waist dart into 3 smaller cluster darts.

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Front pattern showing dart clusters

Ok, so it’s really messy, but this is the working pattern.  Initially I had the darts narrower, but on the toile I didn’t like it, so made them wider, and then wider again.  When I am finally happy with a pattern, I trace it out so there are no scrappy bits of paper, there’s no magic tape, and only one set of pencil lines!  This is the rest of the front working pattern:

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Like a Stole adaptation - front

I don’t wear high rounded necklines, unless I really want to give the impression of having a mono-boob, so I made a v-neckline, but it is rounded a bit to make it softer.  I also cut a facing to support the front, buttonholes and the neckline.  As the pattern is so opened up the top part of the bodice sits on the bias, which will stretch in a second if you look at it sideways.  I stitched about 5cm along the valley fold line from the end of the neck dart to stop the stretch there.

Admiring my dart clusters..

“So what’s next?” you ask…  weeeeellllll.  I still want to do the flip-turn, the twisted tops, the drape with twist…  You get the picture!  But.  I have been making husband some pattern blocks so I guess the next thing just might be a shirt for him.  Maybe.  😀

Happy with my new Pattern Magic top!

 

 

 

 

Liberty Dress

Another project done!  😀  I have finished putting together the Liberty Dress, at long last!  Many things conspired against me this week, but there you go, that’s life!

Inspiration picture - dress from Anthropologie
Reception Dress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the exact same pattern as the Reception Dress, see how the different weight fabrics affect the hang of the skirt – as well as not having the copious amounts of tulle underneath! All three fabrics are Liberty Tana Lawn, the dress is lined with a white cotton lawn.  I interfaced the upper sections with Gill Arnold‘s polyester fine sheer fusible for strength, but again like the Reception Dress, I didn’t bone the bodice.

So here are the shots of the finished garment, I’d love to hear what you think…

Liberty Dress
Liberty Dress
Liberty Dress

Sweet Disposition

Liberty Knot Dress

Here we go, the Knot Dress has a new image!  Imagine the difference there would be if this were made in a plain linen…  Perhaps that’s the next job.  So, here it is – made up in the Liberty Tana Lawn I bought yesterday at Fred Winter in Stratford.  What do we think??

Happy Customer

I used French seams throughout, there is an invisible zip in the centre back seam and I bound the neck and armhole edges with self-bias.   I turned in 5mm on the hem before turning up 3cm, and machine stitched.  It was actually easier making this version than the toile, simply because the fabric was so much less bulky. I like the little tucks in the back. There are two 5cm long tucks to catch in the bulk of the fabric and stop it from being too tent-like.  I am glad I removed the extra fullness in the centre front, it definitely wasn’t needed.

Bow and Knot Detail

I encourage you to give it a go if you are so inclined, the pattern wasn’t hard to draft.  There are lots of little things to do on it, so just keep focus otherwise you will lose your place!  Overall, I am really pleased, as is daughter no 2!

Knot Dress