Green Crafting

TASSEL trashy glittery Dec2014

I’ve been looking at a LOT of Pinterest images in the last few days – there are some very pretty things out there!

Specifically I’ve been hunting for things to hang around the house instead of on a Christmas tree since we probably won’t have a live one this year.

I LOVE the smell of pine trees – it reminds me of childhood Christmases and really brings the season into the house like nothing else. I might put a few sprigs around to do the job, but our house is way too crowded with stuff to manage an actual tree. In fact, I’m not sure we have wall space enough to trace a tree on the wall or hang anything at all. Really, I should declutter. After Christmas maybe…

Christmas tree 2008- Jane Schouten - atlitwIngrid Jansen tree 2012 via atlitw

I’ve seen some wonderful alternatives to Christmas trees. The two above come via the photostream of Jane Schouten (of All the Luck In the World). Thanks Jane for letting me share these images!

The first was made by Jane in 2008, a tree-shaped hanging of  (useless but pretty) objects  to use Jane’s description.

I certainly have a lot of useless but pretty, even useless and quirky, or weird, or where-did-this-come-from objects collected over the years. If I had enough wall space I could have a pretty fabulous tree and feel vindicated for collecting (um hoarding) them all this time.

The second tree, made from salvaged recycled timber is by Ingrid Jansen of woodwoolstool. This particular one was made in 2012, but Ingrid has some similar assemblages in different colour themes available from her Etsy shop – along with some other gorgeous things to drool over…

There are hundreds of non-traditional Christmas trees out there in Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr, but I haven’t yet found my tree – the one that’s taking shape in the back of my mind…

In the meantime I am busying myself with making the ornaments and hanging thingies that will eventually be my tree. One such hanging thingie – a tassel really – is featured at the top of the page. It’s made from that shiny plasticized packaging that crackers and biscuits, crisps and chips come in. That stuff is FABULOUS to make sparkly glittery things from. I tried to describe my process over on my occasional blog habertrashery, but I’m not sure I was very clear. So I’m posting here as well with a few pics:

  1. Get your shiny plastic packaging, open it up and cut the stiff seams off – these can be used for making another hanging thing later.
    Christmas2014-bag seam hangy 1 low res
  2. Roll up your piece of packaging longways and then snip it up into strips – about half a centimetre or quarter of an inch wide.Trashy glittery tassel - cutting Making2-Dec2014 copy
  3. Unfold the strips and lay them together in parallel. Using some thread – sparkly is always good – tie the strips securely together about half way along the bunch. Looks like a big glitzy spider or a scrappy bow tie.Making-3 -trashy glittery tassel Dec2014 copy
  4. Fold all the strips down so they are hanging down vertically and use some more thread to tie them together near the first knot – the top of the tassel. Now it looks like a proper tassel – or a shiny person in a big sparkly dress. I’m now finished – TA DA – but you could add some wings by using a wide ribbon instead of thread for that last knot and make an angel.TASSEL trashy glittery Dec2014
  5. With the leftover stiff seams of the packaging I tied bows together for another hanging thing. Trashy glittery hangy thing Dec2014
  6. And finally all those left over scraps of packaging and sparkly thread was cut up into DIY glitter for future emergency glitter projects!  Trashy glitter Dec2014 low res

That was a lot of fun to do – but I have a lot more hanging stuff to make before I have my tree finished.

Back soon!

 

 

 

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About: Sarah writes the Blog Sewing Parts Online and makes video tutorials too. She loves inspiring others to create and challenge themselves through crafting and sewing. Her guest post fits in perfectly in our Functional Creativity themed month.

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We live in a world where goods are available so cheap, that it’s standard practice to simply buy ‘new’ instead of fix or extend the life of an older object. When I became a parent, I realized I’d have to buy new clothes every 6 months. To me, this was absurd. I’d been wearing the same clothes for years. I refashion and alter to get the most wear possible. It didn’t dawn on me until my son was a year old that I could be doing the same thing with his clothing. I might not get years, but an extra 6-9 months is good enough for me!

I buy long sleeve shirts and pants at the end of every summer to last my son through the winter. I buy jeans and athletic pants as well as long sleeve jersey shirts and long sleeve button-ups. They’re slightly big, to last through fall and winter. By the time the weather starts warming up, I set aside a weekend to alter the majority of his winter clothes into summer attire by simply cutting the pants into shorts, and the long sleeves into short sleeves. If I have extra time, I’ll draft up a pattern by tracing his ‘new’ shorts and shirts.

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Over the years, I’ve found the ‘assembly line’ method to be the most efficient way to tackle this project. Instead of finishing one pair, then starting all over to do the next pair, I do all the alterations step by step. Do all the measuring at once. Do all the cutting once, etc.

I use a seam gauge and measure the inseam of some that already fit. Then, I use that measurement for shortening the pants. Same goes for the arm seam. So simple and easy. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. Thankfully, young children don’t care if the hem is a little off, they just want to get back to playing.

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Then I can get creative! Who doesn’t love some rainbow thread? My son loves the colors and it’s a small detail that say’s “Mommy made this for you!”. It’s so rewarding to see your child wear something you made for them not just because you wanted to make something, but because they needed it and you fulfilled that need.

I ended up adding the rainbow thread to all his pants and shirts. It’s so magical when they are young and love things as simple as rainbow hems. When I finally show him his “new” clothes, we’ll probably talk about what colors he sees and which ones are his favorites. It’s those simple moments that make motherhood and creating so memorable.

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All that’s left is to cut the thread tails and add a couple snaps. In one weekend I was able to dress my son for another 6 months without spending money or adding to landfill. When he outgrows these clothes, they will be donated or reused for something else.

Doesn’t it feels good to fulfill a need without buying more junk? Until next time — Thanks for reading!

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Nichola, founder of Nikkishell and creator of Wardrobe Refashion, was also the co-creator of Mixtape Zine and was Australian representative for BurdaStyle. She has been profiled in various publications including The V&A, The Guardian and The Age, and has done extensive work in the craft sector. Leisl, founder of Jorth! has worked in the textile industry and also as a content writer, specializing in craft and food articles for publications such as Whipup.net, Mum’s Business and Mixtape Zine. They are the founders of Handmakers Factory.

Handmakers factory

Floral Etro Dress :: This is a dress Leisl made using a gorgeous Etro remnant. We are huge fan of remnants – often from designer labels, the quality is usually excellent, and by purchasing a piece of remnant fabric, you are ensuring that nothing goes to waste and that the fabric doesn’t end up in landfill.

Our world is overrun by consumerism. Everywhere you look, there are signs, ads, magazines, celebrities exhorting you to Buy more! Spend more! You can only be a better you if you own this! It’s a vicious cycle, and one that had sadly become so normalised that escaping it feels nigh near impossible. Never mind the impact that our consumerist ways has on the planet – just spend, spend, spend!

Handmakers factory

Refashioned T-shirt:: Nichola had previously sewn up this top as a long-sleeved batwing design. While it look pretty darn fabulous, the batwings drove her crazy, and were always in the way. So she refashioned it to become this beautifully fitted t-shirt, which has now become a firm summer staple.

Thank goodness, then, for the internet, and the ability to find people who are striving to think outside this mandate and who share their philosophy via their blogs. That’s how myself, Leisl of Jorth and Nichola of Nikkishell met. At the time we started our blogs, we were both stay-at-home mums who shared a fondness for making our own clothes with a determination to tread as lightly as we could environmentally. We began to bond online over things as diverse as our favourite knitting patterns to making our own laundry detergent. Soon we began to meet up regularly in real life, and would regale each other with our latest attempts to be as green as possible. Look! Leisl is going plastic free for a month! Hey! Nichola has pledged to make her own clothes for a year! We were fun-loving crafty greenies, and proud of it!

As the kids began to grow up, we both ended up working together on a lot of projects outside the home, and also were colleagues at a fabric store. The more we learnt about the textiles industry, the more concerned we became about the impact our clothing choices can have on the environment. We soon realised that making your own was the way to go. A lot of clothing companies run on the back of ill-paid labour, and the environmental cost of this cheap, mass-produced clothing is huge. The worst part is that because the clothing is so poorly made, it is often only worn a few times before being designated to the bin. When you make your own clothes, however, you tend to seek out good quality fabrics. You take a lot of time to ensure that the fit is right, that the style suits your body shape. And then after you have  put all that hard work in, you wear it and wear it and wear it, because you are proud of your creation, and you appreciate the effort that has gone into it. Plus it usually looks totally amazing, and nobody has anything like it anywhere. And if a seam rips, or a hole appears, you can mend it.

Not only do you have the pleasure of creating something with your own two hands, but you are no longer contributing to fast fashion, and it’s many hidden costs.

Handmaker factory

Japanese pattern “Drape Drape” dress :: We are both huge fans of Japanese pattern books. The designs are timeless but often with a twist, which appeals to our sense of fashion enormously. These are clothes that will always look stylish, and will see you through many years, which checks many of our sustainable boxes!

It was one thing to come to this realisation by ourselves, but we soon decided that we wanted to share it. Imagine if all those marvellous garment creation skills – from sewing to knitting to crocheting to refashioning – were lost, simply because they were no longer taught and passed on as in days of yore? Something had to be done, so we decided that we were the people for the job! Nichola had already run a website called Wardrobe Refashion that focused on refashioning old garments into new. We decided to take this website, do a bit of refashioning on it and relaunch it as Handmaker’s Factory.

At Handmaker’s Factory we aim to have a strong focus not only on refashioning, but on general sewing/knitting/crafting skills, empowering people to make their own garments and give them a chance to opt out of the fast fashion merry-go-round. The website is a place for people to share images and information about the garments they have created, be inspired by others, learn new skills and find out more about sustainable fashion. We will also soon be offering classes, and hope to inspire many more people to make their own clothes.

It’s been said before that if everybody took small steps often enough, we can make a huge difference environmentally to our world. So we are here to help you save the world – one fabulous frock at a time!

Handmaker factory

Texture Cable Hat :: Leisl’s best friend can often be found proudly wearing one of the many knitted garments her grandmother knit for her over the years. Her grandmother sadly passed away recently, so these items hold an even greater significance for her – it’s a way to keep the memory of her grandmother alive and close to her. Recently she moved to a colder climate, so Leisl knew that if she knitted her a beanie it would serve two purposes: it would keep her head warm on chilly days, and give her another garment made especially for her with love. We know she’ll use it forever!

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

Mary Jo Borchardt is an Artisan, Farmer, Momma, and Wordsmith keeping a small homestead in the US near Madison, WI.  It is her life’s work to achieve the distinction of Renaissance Woman, whereby she will expertly wield a sheep shears, needle, frying pan, ax, design code, and pen, but perhaps not simultaneously.  She is the voice behind Five Green Acres  – a blog to capture some of the great material that is spawned by such an undertaking, and a mercantile to offer her homegrown :: This is Wool. yarn and original pattern designs.

Intro.spinning Intro.sheep

For the month of April, we’re going to explore the theme of Functional CreativityMaking to fulfill a specific need.  I’d wager that much of the making we already do falls under this category, yet I suspect that we can gain a lot of useful perspective if we examine the whole thing more closely.  I’ll go so far as to say that Making under the guise of Problem Solving vs. making for the sake of Art or Beauty allows us to bypass many of the creative blocks our brain uses to sabotage the process. I speak from experience.

I graduated from college with badge in Art and a vague idea that I’d make and sell it for a living. To get that art into a gallery, I understood, it must convey a brilliant new perspective, must shake up the status quo. I quickly set about making… absolutely nothing. For years. I collected materials, took full-time jobs to sustain me until I could made it big, moved the ever-growing stash of materials from home to home, and cultivated a hearty collection of plans for the pieces that I’d create. Setting out to make these pieces was, for me, each and every time mired in the realization that the ideas were not profound enough, not original enough. So for years I continued to make absolutely nothing.

A number of things came together at the same time to change this: I became reacquainted with my sewing machine, my exacto knife, and glue, ditched the idea of making art and focused instead on making things one could use – us, you, anybody at all, and opened a small shop to sell these things. The impeding birth of my first child inspired me to learn how to knit so that I could make my own woolen cloth diaper covers that I was convinced she needed. I never did knit a single wool soaker but added to my bag of tricks the skill of knitting and the conviction that wool was a fiber I wanted to explore. This trickle of Making that had started slowly over a couple of years quickly exploded into a mushroom cloud of pent-up creativity after we moved to the Five Green Acres homestead and then made another child. A whole house to fill with handmade things, and a new person to adorn – just imagine the force of all those years of stifled creativity coming to a head to meet these needs. That pent-up energy is still propelling me today.

So, make something because you need it. Because you’re cold (Hearth). Because you’re hungry and all you have are three things in the pantry (Feed). Because your kids’ sleeves are too short (Clothe). Because you need a place to live that houses you from the onslaught of the world (Shelter). Set out to make what you need and I promise that beauty will find its way into that thing without you even trying hard to put it there. The things that we make with intention, by hand, that surround us in our everyday are what add to the quality of our life; every Maker knows this. For me, Making is a need only slightly less urgent that breathing. As such, the muscles that support it need to be exercised regularly to keep me sane and balanced and happy. (and Fed, Clothed, Sheltered, and Warm) Letting go of the intense pressure to make lovely, perfect things and instead focusing on making what you need is such a liberating way to approach the Making process.

Let’s do it. For the next four weeks I will be focussing on :: Build the Hearth :: Feed :: Shelter :: Clothe.

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

Introducing Abby and Stacey for the month of March.

Guest editor: Abby Glassenberg :: Blog :: Twitter: @abbyglassenberg

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I’ve stocked much of my sewing studio from local thrift stores and rummage sales. Reusing materials you find secondhand is eco-friendly and usually much cheaper than buying new. Here are my best tips for a successful shopping trip to the resale shop:

1. Don’t buy thread
Thread becomes brittle over time. Old thread will fray and snap so you can’t sew with it. Because I love wooden spools I buy old thread, but just for display purposes.

2. Find the “holiday décor” section
People who organize rummage sales often stick the fabric and sewing supplies in the holiday décor section. Search for the Santa figurines and Christmas ornaments. I’ve found tons of awesome fabric shoved in bins under the holiday table.

3. Look under the table
Fabric is bulky and hard to display. It often gets shoved into garbage bags or cardboard boxes and is underneath the table at the sale. Be sure to pull the bags and bins out and have a thorough look inside.

4. Head over to the “linens” section
Large cuts of fabric are often mistaken as tablecloths and may be hanging with the linens. Old linens themselves are also awesome sources of fabric. Vintage cloth napkins, linen placements, and tablecloths make great fabrics for tote bags and all kinds of other craft projects.

5. Check for stains, weak spots, holes, and smells
Items often end up at a thrift shop for a reason. Be sure to look things over carefully. But just because something has a stain, or a moth hole, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it, but do assess how much of the piece is usable before making your purchase.

6. Finish what other people start
Half completed needlework canvases, quilt squares that have been sewn but not assembled, embroidery kits that were never begun… these are all wonderful treasures! Don’t feel limited by the work that has already been done. You can disassemble or cut up what’s there and use the materials in a new way.

7. Don’t buy stuff just because it’s cheap
Having too much stuff crammed into your studio space is demoralizing. Just because fabric is cheap doesn’t mean you need to take it home with you. Evaluate your finds and try to think clearly about them. Do you need 3 yards of zebra print canvas at a $1 a yard? Maybe not (or maybe yes!).

Soft Toy Sewing Books

8. Don’t forget the books
I learned to sew stuffed animals from vintage soft toy books. Be sure to peruse the book section of any thrift store before you check out. Craft books are often shoved in with the gardening titles and cookbooks. Vintage craft books are like gems, full of crazy color combinations, antiquated language, and terrific inspiration.

9. Keep an open mind
Thrifting is a treasure hunt. If you have time, look at everything that’s for sale. Those leather gloves could be cut up and used as teddy bear paws. That skein of yarn would make awesome doll hair. And the funky fleece scarf could become an excellent elephant. Think broadly and embrace the thrill of the hunt.

Do you shop secondhand for craft supplies? If you’ve got story of a great find, we’d love to hear about it! And please share your tips for successful thrift store shopping.

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