If you’d like to skip straight to the creative project and learn how to tie dye and make a new ironing board cover then then scroll down until you see Blue’s paw print below.
This episode is subtitled: ‘Jaz, please take a shower…’
‘Anyone seen Jaz yet this morning?’ I asked. No one had, although it’s not unusual for her to go unnoticed in the stockroom while she’s rummaging for florist foam or sticks of glue for the glue gun.
‘Sorry I’m late,’ she panted, scooting through to the back whilst taking her coat off, flinching as she flicked her sleeve into a new piercing in her eyebrow by mistake. She didn’t look quite herself. Her clothes were crumpled and her hair looked unwashed.
‘Up late partying with your new flatmates?’ I teased.
‘No, but we were up late,’ she replied. ‘We were planning a protest to save the library. Then I had to queue for the bathroom this morning. Sorry.’
To be honest, it didn’t look as though she’d spent more than 30 seconds in the bathroom. And she didn’t act like her normal self throughout the day.
‘Come on, Jaz – what’ve you done with the glue gun?’ I asked in jest that afternoon. I knew it would be around somewhere and it was probably me who’d had it last.
‘Why do you automatically think I’ve had it?’ she snapped.
This wasn’t like Jaz at all but I put it down to the late night and didn’t react. Maybe she needs a little distraction, I thought.
‘We’re low on change, Jaz. Could you go and ask Old George whether he has any to spare?’
Old George is the most cantankerous person I know but Jaz seems to have a way with him. He doesn’t take exception to her crazy hair (orange this week) or her nose stud, as some of the older generation would. Even Kim asked me what Jaz was thinking of when she got her eyebrow pierced. I thought it was quite sweet – a sliver bar with a moon at one end and a star at the other. George wouldn’t bat an eyelid and I was sure she’d come back in a better frame of mind. I don’t know why those two have such a connection but it’s lovely to see – the rest of us usually come away from an encounter with George licking our wounds.
‘He said no,’ reported Jaz when she returned. ‘Bit my head off, actually.’ And I detected a wobble in her voice.
‘What’s wrong, Jaz?’ I asked tentatively.
‘Noth..ing,’ she squeaked. But there was clearly something amiss so I got Beryl to cover our counter while Jaz and I sat down and had a chat.
‘George is horrible to all of us,’ I said. ‘Don’t let him upset you.’
‘It’s the flat,’ she croaked. ‘It’s horrible. Everything’s filthy. And I have every sympathy with the homeless but I can’t see the value in us sleeping on the floor just to empathise with them. It means I don’t sleep at all.’
The tears started to flow and I scrabbled round for something useful to say. ‘What about moving back in with your mum and dad?’
‘They said they were delighted for me that I was moving in with friends….. but really I think they were just delighted for themselves,’ she sobbed. Beryl brought over a box of tissues and made a hasty exit. Jaz continued, ‘They’ve already been out looking at paint and wallpaper to turn my room into a ‘guest room’ so Auntie Margaret can come and stay. I..(sniff)..I bet they change the locks next.’
Oh dear, she was really feeling sorry for herself. ‘But you like the girls in the flat don’t you?’
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘kind of… And I love what they’re doing. The flat is like a campaign headquarters and we’re right in the centre of making a difference for so many people… It’s just that…’
‘Ah, you didn’t think you’d miss your home comforts so much?’ I suggested.
‘I didn’t think I’d miss my freedom so much,’ she replied with half a smile but a tear rolling down her cheek. ‘There are so many rules.’
‘It’s just getting used to living with different people,’ I said, knowing that my days of tolerating living with other people are well and truly over. But then more came flooding out.
‘Mags went mad with me because I scraped the tiniest piece of broccoli off my plate and into the bin. Apparently it should have gone in the blue bucket. She pointed to it in the corner of the kitchen and there was a slug sliming its way up the outside! There’s a bucket for this and a bucket for that. I just wanted to clean everything up but there’s a strict policy on water and electricity usage so I’m not even allowed to do that until next week. So many rules!’
I was trying hard to sympathise with her without offering her a bed at my house. I wouldn’t have minded for a couple of nights but not indefinitely. ‘Why don’t you take Blue out for a bit? It will help clear your head,’ I suggested. My dog is a ‘cure all’ for me but I wasn’t sure Jaz felt the same. Anyway, she humoured me and disappeared for half an hour.
‘Ooh, you look better,’ I said when she returned. ‘Blue always does the trick for me.’
‘Actually, I took him to Mum’s and had a chat with her. She thinks I should stick it out for a month and then come home if it’s not working.’
Great idea, I thought. I was relieved to see her get back to work with a bit more enthusiasm. We have a big wedding with a fussy bride coming up at the weekend and I needed her on top form. I just hoped she be allowed to have a shower and iron her clothes before then. ◊
How to Tie Dye Your Way to a New Ironing Board Cover
There may not be an ironing board at all in Jaz’s flat but I have one and the cover was so bad it was embarrassing. I’d got glue from Bondaweb all over it and goodness knows what else so I decided I needed a new one. And why not make it less boring and have a go at tie dying the fabric? I found an old cotton curtain in my salvage box. I wonder who gave me that – I get all sorts of things given to me and sometimes it takes a while for me to find a use. But this old curtain was perfect for dying and easily big enough for an ironing board cover. This is Dylon’s Tropical Green.
I washed the curtain and let it dry, then cut off what I needed. I wanted a lined effect rather than circles so I folded the fabric into a concertina and added elastic bands at intervals along it.
The dye instructions say to wash it and dye it whilst it’s still wet but I’d decided to let it dry first in case it encouraged the dye to go where I didn’t want it to (I don’t know whether it would have done!). Everything else was done according to the dye instructions.
I was really please how it turned out.
Now for the pattern. I taped some pages of a brochure together to make a piece big enough. Then I laid the ironing board upside down on top of it and drew round it. To ensure there was enough fabric to extend over the sides and underneath, I drew the same shape, 5cm outside the original line.
After I’d cut it out, I zigzagged around the raw edge. Then grabbed some elastic from my haberdashery box (5mm wide). I measured round half of the perimeter of the fabric (measure from the middle of the stubby end to the middle of the end you keep the iron). This is about how much elastic you need because you will stretch it as you sew, in order to make the gathers. I found it reassuring to have a bit extra that I could cut off at the end if need be. Also, I’m quite a novice with elastic so I marked it at the start, then quarter, half and end point of the measurement, leaving the additional few centimetres as contingency. Then I did the same on the fabric so I could gauge whether I was stretching it enough as I went.
Here it is being stitched, with the elastic stretched taut as I zigzagged it onto the edge of the wrong side of the fabric.
And here it is once I’d got all the way round.
I padded the board with an old sheet and added the new jazzy cover. What do you think? It’s not as slippery as my old cover so the clothes don’t slide on and off as easily but I’m really proud of it.
- If you’re tie dying lines instead of circles try to make sure they are straight when you cut your board cover out.
- Old curtain
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