Green Crafting

Tootgarook front door tinsel and coathanger ornament 2014 ed

It’s Christmas Eve.

We’re down at the beach visiting my Mum who lives at Tootgarook. It’s about an hour and a half’s drive south of where we live in Melbourne. The quirky tree ornament greeting us at her front door is made from coat hangers covered in tinsel. Yes, she’s my mum and all that crazy packaging-repurposing and scrap-hoarding crafty goodness has come down to me through her genes.

Just as well she keeps all that stuff – we haven’t wrapped the presents yet so Mum’s stash will have a good going over before the end of the day. I feel quite odd if I buy new wrapping paper. Like I’ve suddenly changed bodies with someone else. It doesn’t feel right somehow. I blame Mum for this. And I thank her. Thanks Mum – love you, love ya work.

I thought I’d spend a little time linking to other lovely crafty mums and not-mums who are great with the re-craft.

Decorations…

Top of the tops for me is my gorgeous friend Julianne who is a mum who crafts and blogs and loves both types of music, country and western. Check out her re-purposed, upcycled craftiness and her glorious re-styled pre-loved vintage glamourousness at Sister Outlaws. In particular I’ve been loving her Coffee Sack Stars ornaments and her shiny shiny Glamtastic Disco Wreath. I should have linked to these earlier – but they’re worth checking out for a little late eco Christmas gawking!

Wrapping…

The Crafty Crow is a fabulous hunter gatherer of the kid-crafty kind. I’ve followed the linky links to Buggy and Buddy’s tutorial on printing your own furoshiki - Japanese wrapping cloth – and a feast of re-crafted wrapping from the Rockin’ Art Moms. I really like Pink Stripey Socks’s interactive poppable wrapping paper made from bubble wrap. That’s my kind of wrap! Follow the Rockin’ Holiday Pinterest board for more.

Presents…

In my Christmas Letter to Santa I directed him to Betty Jo Designs and suggested he make special note of Petal Seasons necklace and the ‘I still call Australia Home’ wall plaque. These glorious creations are made from pre-loved Linoleum off-cuts. I totally adore them, they make me smile. I hope Santa gets my letter on time. I really have been a very good girl. Truly. Betty Jo blogs at the Lino Forest, but sadly her Gleaners Inc shop has closed it’s doors so browsing is online only.

I love finding new uses for the discarded, post-consumed and pre-loved. Wrapping presents, that crazy festive exercise in crafting the most ephemeral of artworks (one excited exclamation, one look, one touch and it’s gone) seems a very appropriate place to use (and reuse) those bits and pieces otherwise overlooked or thrown away.

So today, as we hide in the spare bedroom sorting through the collected papers and bits of ribbon and string and wrapping the odd-shaped presents oddly, we – Mum and I – salute all the parents and not-parents out there who’ve passed on their out-of-the-box craftiness to us all.

Happy Holidays everyone!

 

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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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