Functional Creativity :: Clothe

by contributor on 19/04/2013

in Fashion, Guest Editors 2013

During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Mary Jo for the month of April :: The theme for this month is functional creativity.

Mary Jo :: Five Green Acres

Regardless of your hemisphere, the change of seasons is here, bringing with it the inevitable Wardrobe Changeout. Surely I’m not alone in dreading the task of switching out all the cold-season clothes with warm-weather ones, or vice versa. If you have growing kids in the mix, this task also becomes a reckoning: what still fits? What wardrobe holes need to be filled? And if you have a penchant for filling those voids with even the slightest handmade touch, this quickly becomes a very busy transitional season indeed. But there is strength in numbers, and the brilliant voice behind the Elsie Marley blog has found a way to unite us in our common goal. Formerly called Kid’s Clothes Week Challenge, Meg has streamlined the name of the semi-annual event that gets us cranking out clothes for our kids to KCW (Kid’s Clothes Week) and has also given it a shiny new website. The next edition of the challenge is nearly upon us — April 22-29.
kids clothing week
Meg and I recently had a quick chat about it all — check it out for yourself and see if you’re as fired up to start as I am.

Mary Jo:  The participation in KCW seems to grow with each season, highlighting the universal need to clothe our kids in a way we can reconcile with our own creativity. Can you tell us a bit about how KCW has evolved?

Meg: Kid’s Clothes Week started because I found myself in front of the tv too many evenings in a row. Most nights, I’m wiped out after I put all the kids to bed and the couch calls me. Then the next day I feel awful because I haven’t made anything, or engaged my creative brain in any way. I thought if I can get my tired self into my studio, my creativity will wake up a bit. So, for one week I made myself work on sewing kid’s clothes for one hour each day after everyone was in bed. And it worked! I felt better, I made things, I had amazing creative momentum!

I think all we need is a little push: off the couch, off the computer, out of our own brain and into our studio (even if it is a tiny corner of your dining room table, it’s your studio). That so many people have jumped on the KCW train only strengthens that idea. With so many people sewing at the same time, it makes the experience so much more enjoyable. You might not think that because someone is sewing kid’s clothes in Australia the same week you are would make any difference, but it does! They are excited about what you are making, which makes it more exciting to make things, which just makes everything better. More than 300 people had already signed up for this spring’s KCW by the end of March, with many more expected!

kids clothing week

Mary Jo: Your design aesthetic is so clean and inspiring to your readers — where do you find your inspiration?  How has your aesthetic changed over the years?

Meg: Inspiration doesn’t come easy to me. Yes, there are a million things on pinterest that are amazing and that I want to make… sort of. But that real, I need to make it now — I can’t go another minute without making it! kind of inspiration is hard to come by. I have to work to get it. That work is simply paying attention. Paying attention to the things in my real life and on the internet that move me. You know that feeling where you immediately are drawn to something–a color, a combination of objects, the light, some random photo on pinterest. All of those things can be explored and turned into something new.

I don’t know if my aesthetic has changed so much. I have always been drawn to simple shapes and clean lines, but I don’t think simple has to be boring. My children like big, bold prints and colors. I try to find a simple silhouette that will show off a huge print or crazy color. I have realized over the years, that the simpler the clothes, the better the fabric needs to be. You can’t hide behind a thousand ruffles on a simple a-line dress. Move beyond quilting cottons, and discover double gauze, voile, jersey, twill. They will transform your simple dress into something amazing.

kids clothing week

Mary Jo: What have you found yourself making again and again for your kids? Do you have a favorite pattern or silhouette?

Meg: I find myself drawn to Japanese sewing books again and again. The clothes are simple and modern. Yes, the patterns are in Japanese, but there are many pictures of the process. For a visual learner like me, I find the photos much more helpful than the poorly written directions in English patterns. Happy Homemade Vol. 2 is probably my favorite one (if you read my blog, this is no surprise). But there are many out there. Cherie from you&mie recently did a week long series on Japanese sewing books. It is an invaluable resource for working with them–and I’m not just saying that because I wrote one of the posts!

Many of my favorite patterns come from that book, but I have also fallen hard for Rae’s Flashback Skinny Tee pattern. It is an amazing basic pattern that can be made into sweaters and dresses and all kinds of tops. It is a great way to really get comfortable sewing with knits.

Mary Jo:  What new features are on the docket for this KCW?  What do you plan on making for your own kiddos? 

Kids clothing week

Meg: I am working with Dorie from tumblingblocks on a new site for KCW. Instead of toiling away in secret and then surprising everyone with the big reveal, we are working with the KCW community to build the site. It’s great to involve everyone in the process, so we can make it work for everyone! The new site is going to be a place where you can come and hang out: share projects, look up patterns, talk about what went right and what when so very wrong. For now the new blog is where all the action is!

>For this Kid’s Clothes Week, I’m think of making one shirt. Usually I over do it and make waaaay too much stuff. This time, I’m going to take 7 days to work slowly on one shirt and share each step along the way. We get so hung up on the end result (pretty pictures! pretty pictures!) that sometimes we forget to share the process. And really, for sewing nerds like me, the process is the best part!

Thanks Meg! I’ve already signed up to participate in the challenge. Who’s with me?

{images from Elsie Marley blog}

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 melissab April 19, 2013 at 9:59 pm

i’ve enjoyed all of these posts by mary jo: great subjects and nice writing!

what a super cool “skater dress” in the photo. i hopped over to elsie marley blog and am inspired, to say the least.

thanks, ladies :-)

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