Sunday, May 31, 2009


It's one thing to lounge around at home in the special new outfit that mama made. It's quite another thing to be forced to wear said outfit in public.

Wislki reluctantly models girly-striped fleece pant and tunic-style top. 'Pattern' drawn freehand onto fabric, cut and sewn, unpicked and resewn, all within half an hour.
Ahhh, fleece. The most forgiving of all fabrics!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My creative space...

Today it's all happening on my lap. Or not happening. Mostly, I'm trying to knit a wee scarf for Betrand the Robot Bear, one of the creations that arose out of last week's creative space.
Currently I'm taking a break because, as you can see, the knitting needles were extracted from the stitches by my lovely creative helper the Fifth Wiggle, who requisitioned them in order to do a bit of Wiggly concert reenacting.
Visit the other (hopefully less thwarted) creative spaces via Kirsty!
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Death by Wiggles.

I interrupt this craft blog to bring you a Wiggly Announcement.
Anthony, Sam, Murray and Jeff would like to welcome to their team Wilski, the Fifth Wiggle.
His specialty is Fake Guitar, which he has variously played on saucepans, egg cartons, cricket bats, juice boxes and diggers. He is also adept at Fake Keyboard, which he plays on a similar array of household items. If required he can also rock out on drums (boy do I regret bringing THOSE home from the op shop), do a bit of Wiggly Dancing, or provide some bass guitar grooves (if his mother lets him near her precious Leroy the Bass).
When not faking out to the Wiggles, Wilski enjoys singing Wiggles songs, going Wiggles logo-spotting in the neighbourhood, and forcing his parents to reenact Wiggles scenarios with Plasticine. Honestly.
Today Wilski will be joining the Wiggles, Live in Concert, at the Dallas Brooks Centre in Melbourne.
Kill me now.
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Goodbye tablecloth... hello skirt!

My first true Wardrobe Refashion:

When I took The Pledge* a few weeks ago I thought it would take me quite some time before actually making an item of clothing (apart from scarves or aprons) I'd wear in public. Largely because I'm a 'sewbie', and don't know how to do tricky things that clothesmaking requires. Nor does my machine - no zipper foot, no buttonhole foot, basically cranked by hand...
But thanks to the combination of a fabulous thrifted vintage tablecloth (yay for eekos) and this patternless Lesley skirt how-to from BurdaStyle, I'm thrilled to be getting around in something wearable made by ME. Miraculous.
*The Pledge
I pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoted, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that my thriftiness brings!
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Friday, May 22, 2009

The tale of eco-fi felt

(image via Pedrosprout)

Given that I've had so many comments about the eco-fi felt, I thought I'd do a separate post about it. But first some eye-candy, check out those cuties in the Pedrosprout shop made from eco-fi felt. They have heaps of cute shoes, lovely!


What is eco-fi felt?

Eco-fi is a polyester fibre made by recycling used plastic bottles. Eco-fi felt therefore differs from regular acrylic felt (which is also synthetic, but not made from recycled materials) and also from wool felt (made from sheep!). Eco-fi felt is manufactured by the Kunin Group in the USA - visit here for some good information about the product and how it is made.


Eco-fi is only produced in the USA and most supply is from there. There are numerous big groups who supply (e.g. Feltorama) but I bought mine very reasonably from an Etsy seller (see kandcsupplies or GreenDepot) just to try it out and support the small guys.

I haven't seen any in my local stores in Australia (Spotlight and Lincraft). But I just googled it and it looks like Arbee are selling Kunin felt here, although they don't give details about what it is.

Edited to add: Michelle from Pedrosprout has pointed me to an Aussie supplier, The Thread Studio : THANKS!!

Use and quality:

Eco-fi felt is machine washable, non-fraying and according to the manufacturers gets softer after each wash. Basically it is like any other felt and can be used for any textile application. Personally, I have limited experience with felt in general and have only just received my eco-fi, so I can't comment about using it, except to say that it is thick and durable to sew with.

Whether you want to use it or not will come down to your crafting priorities. Wool is generally superior for look and feel and is a natural fibre, but is not necessarily produced in a more sustainable way. Vegans, others concerned about animal exploitation and those with wool allergies are excited about eco-fi felt. See this article at Crafting a Green World for more (heated!) discussion.

Personally, I just like the idea that some of the billions of empty drink bottles out there are being reused for good rather than evil. Upcycling, hurrah!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My creative space...

Today's space contains:
One freshly felted old jumper
One new batch of eco-fi felt (made from 100% post-consumer plastic)
Some old pillowcases
One book full of inspiration
One head full of ideas
More spaces via kootoyoo - I'm off to have a look right now!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Confessions of an Eco-Jerk - Upcycling anyone?

Up until the last few years, I've been crap at recycling, let alone upcycling. Mostly that was due to laziness (sometimes it felt like a long walk from the bathroom to the recycle bin, ok?), and also cynicism about whether it really makes any difference.

Well, a lot has changed. In the past few years I've become a diligent recycler, and even a precycler - trying to avoid products with excess packaging, choosing things that have reusable or at least recyclable containers, and so forth. I've got a long way to go, but I've made headway...

Now I'm into 'upcycling', at least in theory. By upcycling I mean taking something that's truly destined for the junk yard or the recycling bin and giving it new life, function and durability. (I don't count refashioning or using reclaimed fabrics as 'upcycling'. As others like Angela have pointed out, that's just good old-fashioned thriftiness, another skill I'm learning).

I'm driving the Beloved mad by insisting that we save our milk bottle lids, toilet rolls, dead appliances (e.g the old computer monitor) and containers of all shapes and sizes.
BUT... I've got nothing to show for it. Well, apart from piles of junk, a few lame kiddy-craft activities (egg carton caterpillar, cereal-box robot, both trashed within minutes of being lovingly crafted), and that pathetic pincushion with a plastic lid base (yep, that's it in the picture above).

So tell me, who is REALLY doing the upcycling thing? Are YOU?
I'd love to see what other people are doing with their junk. I admire people who really are doing the sustainable-crafting thing, and want to support them and get ideas for myself as well. Here are some inspiring examples:
1. The folks at Haul (aka Urban Boomerang) make funky commuter bags out of recycled billboards and old truck tyre inner tubes!
2. Rebound Books are onto a great thing, and as long as no readable books are harmed in the process, I'm loving their book-binding concept.
3. There are some creative Etsy artists making 'soda pop art' jewelry, bottle cap accessories, coffee-sack bags, and other fun stuff.
And now - do you want to 'get your upcycle on' (?!) and join in this new upcycling challenge I saw posted on Crafting A Green World today? You know you do!

(photo via The Junkstop)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pay It Forward!

Pay It Forward - you're familiar with the concept, right? (We probably all are thanks to the c.2000 movie with Spacey etc). The idea that, when someone does something nice/helpful to you, you are inspired to do a similar thing for someone else in turn? I'm so used to reciprocal kindness, almost to a point that, when someone is generous to me without expectation, I still feel indebted and like I need to repay them. And that's not always a bad thing, but 'paying it forward' requires branching out a bit from that mentality - learning to receive without feeling indebted, and also learning to give without expectation of repayment.
Well the PIF concept has been floating around in Crafty Blogland for a while now, but I've just been inspired by Ms Urban Craft to join in. I'm going to be the happy recipient of one of her funky creations, and in turn, I'd like to make YOU something. Anything, really. You can choose. I don't have any original creations but I like sewing stuff, as exhibited in the collage above.
(Yes, I also make children, but I'm not offering one of those creations up. Well, not today, anyhow...)
Are you interested? Would you like a 'clutterpunk original' of some description? Here's the rub. You need to:
1) Be a blogger (so that the PIF concept keeps going online), and
2) Be willing to handmake something for another 3 people
It doesn't matter what you make for others, it's all in the spirit. It can be small. This isn't a swap, so there's not going to be a comparison of skills or materials. I'm not going to know what you make for someone else anyway.
OK, the first three people to say you're interested and willing to pay it forward, let me know via the comments. And then we can have some fun figuring out what I'm going to make you!
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

My creative space...

You may remember my wonderful op-shop score from a few weeks ago, the super writing cabinet. Well I've decided that the top section is going to be my dedicated 'small craft' area. I mainly like to sew, but as suggested by the various jars of beads, buttons, scrabble tiles, stamps, tags, minature whisks (?!) etc, I also like to fiddle with other stuff. So this is my 'bits and bobs' creative space, where I can tinker with making embellishments and cards, do a bit of embroidery or random beading, and otherwise keep small, swallowable objects away from the two little guys.

A few items of inspiration are sitting inside waiting for me to open out the cabinet door. In the frame is a print I just received from the talented Blossombird. It makes me so happy! Keeping the cabinet smelling divine is a lavendar sachet I scored from Flickettysplits at a recent market (just for being a fellow blogger). Then there's this wonderful object, a bit of sewing ephemera I found a few months ago:

It's an old spool holder. I was in a quirky Brunswick second-hand store and the bird caught my eye. When I was told what it was, my delight grew, but I decided I wasn't in the market for any more kitsch. And THEN... I noticed the writing. It's from Marysville. The Victorian town that was so recently devastated by bushfires. I bought it immediately.

Thanks Kirsty for the opportunity to peer into everyone's creative space again this week...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Once apron a time...

So the pillowcase bug bit bad, and I just had to extend my repertoire. The two top pictures are of a pillowcase apron. I used the project found in The Crafter's Companion, which was great. About half an hour is all you need for one of these little babies - a very gratifying project indeed. I particularly liked the technique used to make the pockets, which was new to me.
I've become an apron maniac this week, wearing them everywhere and even trying to force them upon my beloved (yep, that is his hairy wrist protruding awkwardly from the sunflower apron pocket). Gosh darn it, they may be seen as a symbol of oppression but they're very useful, not to mention flattering on a less-than-washboard stomach.
I decided to make myself a snazzy 'going out' apron too, this time featuring some of my favourite feature pieces that have been waiting in my stash for a special project. It's reversible, padded and slightly odd but I'm loving myself sick in it. The patterned fabrics are c/o Aunty Cookie and Ink&Spindle, and the bird print is the work of Red Seed Studio. A bit of an homage to our fabulous Australian textile designers, if you will. They're all very eco-friendly, too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Scarf obsession II + how-to

After making some scarves for other people, I decided I wanted to get in on the scarf action for myself. But it's still a bit mid-season here in Melbourne at the moment, so I wanted something on the light side.

Enter the pillowcase scarf - the perfect project for the time/money/skill- challenged among us!
I'd been looking at this lovely leafy vintage pillowcase all week wondering what to use it for. I don't think I've worn green in years, at least not in these shades, but it's the perfect addition to my mostly black/denim/red/brown wardrobe, and furthermore it's very soft pre-loved cotton and just the right weight for autumn.

Don't you love pillowcase craft? There are a million tutorials out there which do all sorts of fancy things with pillowcases. (Check out kootoyoo for some very cool projects). Funnily enough I didn't see one for scarves, so I've done one myself. I'm not claiming originality, but I figured I might as well show you how simple it is.

NB This little tute goes out to all the people who think you have to have a pattern, great sewing skills or fancy materials to make something. Well you don't. Get off your butts and make one of these, people! You could even hand-sew it. Go, steal your grandma's best pillowcase and get to it!

(If you are already a sewing genius, you can toddle off now and get on with flat-felling your selveges on the bias... or something).

Pillowcase Scarf How-To

1. Choose yourself a lovely soft old pillowcase. (Any will do, but this project will work best with cases that are made from one continuous piece of material).

2. Take a pair of scissors and hack open the two side seams. (Genteel seamsters may wish to use an unpicker. I say 'bah' to that!) You will now have one long piece of material.

3. Fold the scarf in half along the long edges, right sides together, and pin. This pillowcase was fairly wonky so I marked a line to sew along rather than aligning with the edges.

4. Sew up the long edge. Then sew up one short edge - but leave open the thicker edge formed by the original pillowcase opening, so you can turn it right-side-out! (Optional but recommended for longevity: zig-zag stitch along the seams and trim excess fabric).

5. Turn scarf right side out and press. You can then hand-sew the final side closed, or leave it open like I did (mine sits well anyway because of the pillowcase lip/facing/whatever-you-call-it!)

6. Find yourself a cutey-patootie to test out your scarf. Loop it once and secure with a brooch (and a bit of dribble) for a lovely mid-season look.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Scarf obsession I

'Tis the season for neck-warming in Melbourne. Out come the knitting needles, crochet hooks, skeins of gorgeous, textured wool, and funky scarf patterns.

Well, for those who have time, patience and skill, anyway. As for me, I figured I'd just sew a scarf or two. I have grand plans to learn to crochet, but I'm still a sucker for the relatively instant gratification provided by the sewing machine. Some wool fabric, favourite fabric scraps and a bit of noodling about on the sewing machine produced this for my Ma:

I went for some simple piecing for my mother-in-law, using scrap fabrics from the quilt I just made, which she saw and admired a few weeks ago:

I made another for a friend, this time with a bit of vintage pillowcase. Found myself a super-cute model too:

The scarf bug has bitten, and is still going. I'm in the middle of using up my last two lengths of wool, but I've also been making pillowcase scarves. More on that later, I'm off to read the wonderful backlog of blog posts that I've missed desperately in the last week...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Technical difficulties

I had hoped today to post some pretty pictures of things I've been working on for the mother and mother-in-law. Sadly, our computer monitor, which has been on the blink for a month now, has finally given up, and no amount of tech support (read: frantic jiggling of monitor's power cable) is bringing it back to life.

Thus, I'm banished to the ancient, plodding laptop until the computer fairies do their thing. Given its tedious slowness I think I'll take a little break from blog reading and writing and use this opportunity to do some more sewing. Hurrah!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Taking the Wardrobe Refashion plunge...


Yesterday I submitted my online form to officially take this pledge. For SIX MONTHS!

I feel a little bit nervous. Not about not buying new stuff, but about actually making something from the old stuff I have, or making from scratch. I have a bomby old machine, no overlocker, no space and very minor skill in the sewing department. But what I DO have is enthusiasm and a creative eye.

Anyway, I'm waiting to hear back about whether I made the cut-off. And wondering if I'll really do enough refashioning to be able to post about it ONCE A WEEK. Or will all my posts be about op-shopped finds and what I bought from Etsy??

Time will tell.