Wintry Making

I’ve been in all sorts lately thinking about my craft practice, and how to prioritise what to make first (I can hear everyone laughing). I’ve been working through a few things in my mind and my problem has begun to emerge: I began making and creating things when Nell was born, nine years ago. I was inspired to begin by a combination of things, mainly a deep desire to be creative and carve myself out from within the daily confines of motherhood, and secondly a growing unease around the amount of “stuff” brought into our lives with the introduction of a baby. I knew I was having an impact on the environment, I knew the decisions I made and the purchases I invested in made a difference to our footprint. I knew that my daily decisions around clothing and food (however tiny) made an impact on real people, many of whom are being exploited and underpaid just so I can have my kid wearing a pink unicorn cardigan. Watch this documentary on fast fashion and I’ll step down from my soapbox. I wanted to make some of Nell’s clothes to avoid having to purchase things that were made unethically, and to try to utilise materials that were no longer being used (I first started sewing with secondhand sheets). I quickly learned that craft was not only improving our home lives and increasing the ethical choices we could make on a daily basis, it was also enormously beneficial to my mental health. It was (and still is) my meditation.

Fast forward a year or so and suddenly I could sew and crochet and I was selling my handmade items. That was nearly a decade ago now! Looking back I can’t believe I once lived a life where I outsourced everything – food, clothing, gifts – and I didn’t know how to make a single thing.

I have reached a crossroads though, where I am still making on the daily, but the balance has shifted and my family aren’t always benefiting from these skills I have acquired. For example, if I have plenty of custom orders, and I usually have enough to keep me busy in the small amount of time I have to pursue such projects, then these orders take priority over say, mending, or making new school leggings for the girls. I have been caught out a number of times and have had to purchase something that I have the skills to make, because I am lacking in time.

On one hand being able to make and sell things has created a lovely little channel of pocket money which helps to support my family and for which I am very grateful. I’m also promoting the environmental benefits of purchasing handmade and allowing other families an opportunity to purchase locally and ethically made items. On the other, I am not always able to make the choices that I promote, and that first drew me to learn these skills, if my time is being taken up making things to sell to other people.

Add to this jumble part time work, writing projects, and general life and craft seems like a real luxury.

So. I’m setting myself a few priorities and getting my craft organised. Number one on the list is fairly obvious… When I fold the washing I see holes in the knees of 90% of the leggings we own. So this pattern is a must for me this winter (and I just noticed it is currently on sale). They are so fast to whip up, and when you really examine it, I dare say it would be faster for me to stay home and cut and sew three pairs of these than it would be to get in my car, go to the shops, search and be distracted and blinded by the white lights, purchase and come home again. I should time it and see.

Secondly, in May I had every intention of making myself this dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding which has now been and gone. I bought the pattern and this material (swoon!) and it is still sitting in my mending basket of all places. So by Spring I’d like to see this dress hanging in my wardrobe, please. I also have this coat pattern ready and waiting, but realistically this might be one to make over January 2020 so it’s ready for Autumn next year.

Other than that, I have this pattern sitting in my studio, along with a few metres of this luxurious linen. I promised to make these pants for my Mum in January 2018. I reckon I should work on getting these ready for her birthday: December 2019… (sorry Mum).

Then there are gifts. I had a sweet period where all my gifts were handmade (amazing how many kids’ parties you need to buy gifts for when you have three kids!), and going back to work along with other stuff sent this little rhythm to the bottom of the basket (I know I don’t have to explain all this, you guys get it!). I spoke to my aunty on the phone yesterday who also loves making all her Christmas presents and said we should get together to plan our our Christmas makes (don’t kill me for mentioning Christmas) so that we can make it a reality to give handmade gifts this year. I’ve also got a few friends who have just had babies and have managed to make a couple of things for those new babes. Being ahead of the game is surely the way to go here.

This list is enough to keep me busy until the end of the year, along with custom orders and life. What are you making this Winter? Do you have lists that you write for each season or do you just make whatever it is that takes your fancy?

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I’m Sewing Again

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I haven’t felt the urge to sew or make lately. My creativity has a will of its own. It comes and goes whenever it bloody feels like it (read: never when I want it), it’s not always constant. When I want to make something or write something I WANT TO MAKE AND WRITE EVERYTHING and then it slows down again until the next burst. Is it like this for you too?

We have a family wedding this weekend and I was determined to make my own dress, partly because I am breastfeeding little Peach and I need to be able to feed her without getting naked at the wedding, partly because it was a goal of mine to make more of my own clothes this year, and partly because I have been thinking more and more about my wardrobe over the past few years. So I bought a pattern a while back and then… did nothing. I wasn’t feeling creative and I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. It has button holes which I have never done before. Then my Gran suggested press studs instead and all of a sudden I wanted to make something and I WANTED TO MAKE EVERYTHING. Unfortunately the urge came at school pick up and I immediately made the executive decision that instead of going home and preparing dinner and bathing and doing all those sensible things like the Good Mother, I was going direct to Spotlight with three children to get my material and press studs. Insert straight faced emoji here.

We moved slowly through traffic. Peach is screaming in the back seat, the girls are hungry, I’m trying to calm everyone down (don’t they get that I need to make something and I NEED TO MAKE IT NOW?!). We round the corner to Spotlight and I reassure them that we have arrived, there is no problem and we’re all ok and everything is well in the world. I look up to see a cheerful sign saying:

WE HAVE MOVED! 9KM THIS WAY!

With a friendly arrow pointing me in the right direction. Nooooo! I rarely go to craft shops as I have a lot in my stash at home and I mainly use vintage and thrifted fabrics. I had no idea it had moved! (Apparently months prior.) I’ve been driving for half an hour, I’m so close, we have to keep going. Girls, we’ve got this. Onwards! (Can you tell I’ve been watching MKR?)

Two and a half hours later we were home. But it was all ok because I got my material and my sewing mojo!

It took me another two weeks to then print the pattern and stick it together, bit by bit in between motherly duties. I carried it around in my bag, unravelling it at people’s houses, on the floor in my kitchen, at my Gran’s, until it was done. And then, I sewed. You can see a picture of the final product here.

Once I had had enough of looking at myself in the mirror wearing an actual dress that I made myself, I just kept on sewing. The picture above is Bird in this dress, using some linen from my stash along with some floral cotton from Gran’s stash. I’m so happy with how it has turned out.

I’m pretty stoked to say that four out of five of us will be wearing handmade to the wedding this coming weekend, two out of five made by me!

What are you making at the moment?

wardrobe chit chat

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Heading into winter it is becoming glaringly obvious that I have two girls who are very quickly growing out of their wardrobes! Coinciding with this realisation I’ve been inspired by all the #memademay tags I’ve been seeing on instagram and have been thinking (thinking) about how long it has been since I’ve used my sewing machine. (I’ve been doing a lot of crochet as you’ve probably realised!)

I’ve also started thinking about my post-baby wardrobe. I’m completely overwhelmed by the amount of clothes I have – stacked away in boxes mostly. Over the past six years of growing babies, breastfeeding, shrinking and growing again I have been everything from a size 10 to a 16. And I have clothes in every one of those sizes. I have worn so many different styles of clothing depending on where I’m at in my motherhood gig – breastfeeding, on the floor playing, running in and out to kinder drop offs, returning to work, spending time outdoors and so on. I’m reluctant to start cleaning out now while I’m heading towards the end of this pregnancy (always a dangerous thing as my pregnant self is an obsessed thrower-outerer, whereas my non-pregnant self is an obsessed hanger-onerer…), but it has got me thinking about how to consciously build a new post-baby wardrobe around all the things I have come to value: good quality, ethical produced, handmade, and suitable for life with three (Did I say THREE!) small kids.

I just read this post (thank you!) and have become seriously inspired to think more about what I am hanging up in my wardrobe, and how to go about getting from A to B. At the moment I am in that place where I just make and/or buy things based on a whim, without any real thought as to whether it is something I need or something that would be valuable over the long term, or whether it fits in with any of my other clothes (let alone my values). I also wear things out of necessity, rather than wearing things based on a style I actually like or think suits me. I have no idea what my style really is underneath all these maternity garments.

Over the coming months as my body slowly works its way back into it’s (new) normal state I am going to expand on these ideas. I wonder where it will take me! Join me on pinterest if you like, I figure that is as good a place as any to start brainstorming.

doilies

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We had a birthday party this morning for a friend of Birdie’s. I’m always searching for new things to make and sew for small people – post toddlerhood, pre school years. This skirt has been a bit of a go-to pattern over the last six months. This time I sewed on some doilies of my Nana’s my Aunty was – shock, horror – about to throw in the bin. I gratefully snaffled up an entire garbage bag of these gems and they have found a place in my overflowing sewing cupboard. How could she! Now aged in her seventies she was both bewildered and bamboozled that I wanted anything to do with a doily, and still can’t really understand what I wanted with them.

Well, here is one reason why I wanted them. A good reason, no? I also use them to wrap presents, to give faces and wings to my felted chooks, to put hot cups of tea on, to put vases on, to throw around the place and let them rain down around me… no, not really.

I do like a good doily. Do you?

sewing: little cloth books

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IMG_4587IMG_4581First things first, a confession: I have developed a Big Brother addiction. Now we are nearing the end I have begun crying when housemates are evicted each week. You may find the word “tully” in my internet browser search history. Gah.

In other news, I am in a flurry of first birthdays and when not watching Big Brother I have been spending many an hour in front of my sewing machine. It’s been oh so lovely to be sewing again. I can’t remember the last thing I made… but in the fresh spring air my creativity seems to have been given a little boost.

I have made two of these little cloth books for friend’s babies, and have four more to make by the end of the year. They take a long time but are awfully fun. It’s been the first thing I have made it a while that I have actually had to use my imagination for, instead of just cutting a pattern and tweaking here and there. I have so enjoyed the process. I have also loved using bits and bobs from my ridiculously fat scraps bag.

Would you like to make one for your baby? I used this tutorial. I know it is more than straightforward but I am not very good at the practicalities of sewing when you have to flip things around and do this side then that bit to match that side and so on… bias binding – kill me. I just can’t get my head around it. So I found it great to have a visual. You can also find lots of pictures on pinterest which helped give me some ideas for the content. The book above is an “L” themed book for a little L bub. I’ve since done an “S” themed book and have two more “S”‘s, a “T” and an “O” to go!

In amongst this Big Brother and cloth book frenzy I have also been sewing a wiksten tank dress for myself. If it works out I will post some pics next week.

What are you sewing, making, cooking, creating this spring/autumn?

 

to market, to market to buy a…

Pixie hat?

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I took a few things to the Kongwak Market on Easter Sunday. I didn’t think it would take me so long to prepare, but it seems that nothing is very consistent around here, so I worked very hard in the week leading up to ensure I’d have enough to fill the table. I don’t think I will be going back to market to market any time soon, without the help of performance enhancing drugs (uh, joking).

What didn’t get sold at the market is now available in my etsy store. Feel free to have a squiz.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig.

thinking about: a wintery wardrobe

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The door slightly ajar to let in the Autumn breeze, warm lavender and bergamot oils drifting in the air. I find myself on the couch, tired of my bed yet still needing rest and recuperation from this nasty bug. Forcing myself to rest, trying not to look down at the floor littered with blocks and puzzle pieces and abandoned dolls and teddies.

I have been thinking lately about the cooler months, about leading a smaller life while I’m on maternity leave, cutting back where we can and making do with what we have. It’s inevitable though, that small children grow. Suprising fact, is it not? As such, I have been looking in Birdie’s drawers, realising that she is going to need a wardrobe upheaval to ensure she is kept toasty warm over winter.

I’ve been scouring the web for patterns and tutorials and ideas, deciding that perhaps this year will be the one that I attempt to make staple seasonal outfits for the girls, and maybe even myself. They have many a pair of homemade pants and pyjamas, and of course hats, but I’d like to expand the repertoire.

These are just a couple of the things I am considering for the girls:

:: An upcycled top into a dress

:: A girl’s tunic

And for me:

:: Wiksten Tova (after having made the Wiksten Tank I would definitely give this one a go)

:: A wrap top (please note, I am not pregnant, I just really like wrap tops!)

:: Two hour tunic (I doubt this would take me two hours with kids around but a weekend, perhaps!)

Even if I just made one of these things along with some new pants and pj’s I would be happy.

here we are

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Home again, home again. Here we are. Sandy and smelling of the sea. Warm and pleasantly tired.

I have come home a little bit sick, but for the first time in a long time I feel truly well rested and at peace. Excited about what 2013 will bring. I am a firm believer that New Year’s resolutions should begin on February 1st… and end somewhere around the end of November. Or at a stretch, mid December. Do you agree? January for me is about family and rest and holidays and rejuvenation and deep, deep thought and consideration. About your life, your loves, your hopes, your expectations. Your habits, your ideals. I take a notebook everywhere I go, and its thin spine has become worn over these holidays. Buttery pages are falling out in every direction, corners torn and scuffed. My notes are almost illegible, but there they are, in black and red and blue and green and purple. Finally the time to think and breathe and scratch down words on paper.

Now we are back to our real lives, the sea air behind us. There is some change and adventure on the horizon for us, we have had the chance to talk to each other and pen out a little plan for ourselves and our girls over the next few years. I’m sure when the time comes, you will be the first to hear.

This year will be a busy one, I will be back at uni come mid-year [oh dear, how to fit in homework between my babies and my crochet…], we are planning a few market stalls, a few mini-breaks. We are de-cluttering and minimising [for REAL this time], and spending more time at home to tickle our girls, play with our dogs and bunny, and tend our slowly improving veggie patch.

What is in store for you this year?

P.S. The last photo, I just love! Two men, two baby slings. One holding a [very old] dog and one holding a baby. Deep in conversation down a winding bush track. My step-dad and my love.

skirty, skirty, skitty, skirts

I’ve been all about the skirt the last few weeks. As my tummy [and the rest of me] expands nothing seems to beat skirts and some leggin’s. Well, just the leggin’s on their own would probably suit me better, but unless I’m going out walking or have my runners on I just can’t bring myself to wear leggin’s solo. It makes me feel all naked.

Weekend before last I went to the market and after much deliberation and a few laps around with Baby wondering whether we were at the market or the grand prix, I finally lashed out and bought an amazing denim and ELASTIC WAISTED a-line skirt. The lady who made them was a fantastic help and patiently listened to me explaining the trouble with my enormous bottom and what I needed out of this particular skirt. She helped me try on a whole load and didn’t try to make me buy the most expensive one she had. It reminded me as to why, if I am going to buy something new – which is rare these days – it is so important (and a much better experience!) to support local, handmade products.

I came home and decided I should make myself a few more elastic waisted skirts. Over the last week I’ve made two…

This first one I made up by cutting a pattern from the skirt I bought and winging it. It didn’t turn out as I had hoped, the waistband is huge and the skirt is a funny shape which you can’t really see in this pic as I wanted you all to think I was fabulous.

The second one I finished over the weekend and I actually spent a lot of time *strictly* following the pattern which is something I am often lax to do.

I was browsing the world wide web on Saturday night (after watching the second episode of Homeland… we are hooked!) looking for the perfect skirt to make on Sunday. I found this milkmaid skirt tutorial, but decided the waistband probably wasn’t going to suit my somewhat rounded waistline of late. To make the waistband I used the waistband tutorial from this skirt. Bring the two together and… voila!

A milkmaid-come-yoga skirt for huge and ever-growing tummies. I really didn’t think this was going to work. My track record making my own clothes is pretty dismal. Lots of attempts… lots of fails.

It’s slightly on the large side… for now… but I’m happy!

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