Monday 26 October 2015

Going Berserk!

The word berserk is Scandinavian, it means to tear off one’s shirt. A berserker was an ancient Norse warrior who fought with frenzied rage in battle, possibly induced by eating hallucinogenic mushrooms! Having just borrowed a couple of craft books from the library, I am wondering what the word is for “being tempted to tear off one’s husband’s shirt” [for craft purposes, you understand!]

bawden shirt book

Juliet Bawden’s book “the shirt off his back”  is full of some wonderful ideas for re-using men’s shirts. She says it was inspired by the banking crash and the start of the credit crunch – what would all those city types do with their old smart Jermyn Street shirts? This has 30 projects with clear tutorials.

As well as an informative introduction about the history and development of the man’s shirt as a garment, there is a section on the eight components of a formal shirt [yoke, placket. cuffs, sleeves, collar, pocket, front and back] She uses some of these sections incredibly creatively.  Yes, there are the usual things you would expect – a cushion cover using the buttoned front, and a quilt made of rectangles from a collection of shirts – but other ideas too…


The book cover is made from strip-work made of plackets, the apron incorporates the collar, front and part of the back [no seams, just nifty cutting and hemming] The reversible bread basket uses a denim shirt paired with a floral shirt. The cute teddy night-shirt utilises the end of sleeves with cuffs in a clever way. There are also baby shoes, bunting, bags, chair covers, hats and more. As well as formal business shirts, she recycles Hawaiian florals, heavier cord and plaid shirts, rugby and polo shirts.

A lot of Bob’s heavier shirts have gone off to the refugees in Calais – but I am eyeing up some of the other older ones still in his wardrobe…

clare young xmas book

My second book is Christmas Crafting in No Time by Clare Youngs. I own her Scandinavian Needlecraft book and blogged about that a few years back. And I made the owls from this Christmas book when Prima magazine featured the project. I’d not seen the book before, so was pleased to find it in the library. More lovely ideas – sewing, papercraft and cookery

clare youngs xmas

Clear instructions and templates – lots of ideas I would like to make, if only I had the time. The patterns on the stockings and the dala horse clearly show Clare’s love of Scandi stitchery, and she has a lovely fruity, spicy chutney recipe, and some novel iced biscuits.

Some of the projects are complex and would take ages- others are simple yet effective- the gift tags on the book cover [heart, gingerbread lady etc] are simple card shapes, on which lines have been sewn on a sewing machine, using decorative stitches with red thread. [TOP TIP Clare doesn’t say this, but sewing paper blunts your needle. I keep a machine needle specifically for paper stitching- and I have painted its shaft with bright nail varnish for easy identification]

Both of these are lovely books to sit and read with a cuppa and a biscuit, and full of inspiration and ideas. If any of these ever come to fruition, I will post some pictures! I rate them both *****


  1. Thanks for this; I've just reserved both at my library.

  2. Both are v interesting! I like the ideas and your use of word origins!

  3. I am going to put the book about shirts on my Christmas list.

    btw the serk element of berserk, drifted on for a while and into sark so you get the Cutty Sark - the short shirt. You probably know that. I just find it fascinating. x

    1. Thanks! I had completely forgotten about the Cutty Sark/short shirt connection. Words are so fascinating aren't they?

  4. I am off to the library to book these, if I like them they may just end up on my wish list. I admit to having a small stash of men,s shirts squirrelled away for emergency use, ie when my budget is blown.


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