Friday, April 30, 2010

I'm outta here...

Just for a few weeks.

Following the (working) beloved to far North QLD for a bit of sun and sand.

I've packed pretty lightly...

(just the essentials)

And even though I'm still full-time parenting, I am optimistic that I'll get some more reading in.
(Not a fiction girl...)

Well folks, it's a funny time of year to be taking a break, what with all that's happening (particularly in Melbourne) during May: stitches & craft, Sew It Together, and various other things that I'm a bit sad to be missing.

Oh well, I'm embracing the opportunity and in many ways this is the perfect time for me to go and stick my head toes in the sand!

See you on the flip side...

Monday, April 26, 2010

How do you manage your scraps?

For those of you who like crafting with fabrics, I have some questions.

Do you intentionally manage your scraps?
What do you keep and how do you keep it?
When do you throw something away?

With my growing interest in patchwork and quilting, I'm realising that even the smallest of fabric scraps can be used to great effect in projects big and small, and that I should use up every last bit of fabric or preserve it for further projects down the track.

The reuser/recycler in me is in absolute agreement. The romantic/creative in me thinks of all the Depression-era women making stunning quilts out of discarded undergarments and nods her head.

The lazy, disorganised crafter in me thinks 'too hard, just bin it!' and 'I'm SO over that fabric I can't use another jot of it' and 'I could always buy scrap bundles or charm packs if I need them'. Particularly when I see something like this scrap below, which is a fabric I've never liked (I didn't buy it!), has already been hacked into and is a horrid mess:

(See below for its fate... it has not gone to waste).

SO... what am I doing about my scrap issues? Taking a challenge or two, of course, and setting myself some scrap-management ground rules which will hopefully serve me and my patchwork obsession well for the long term.

Well, here are the ground rules I'm setting myself:

1. Thou shalt not hoard. Buy fabric for specific projects and use it up with pleasure! Fabric will always be available: if I like something particular I can probably chase it down when I need it or if not, find something else I like. There is no fabric shortage at present. I will not miss out.

2. Keep anything from a fat eighth or bigger neatly folded in your cupboard, in size piles. Ha ha ha.

3. Cut and sort smaller pieces into the following categories
a. 5" or 6" squares and rectangles 
b. Strips (any length but no thinner than 2.5")
c. Scraps that could be used to make 1" hexagons or 2" squares (e.g. pieces approx. 3" high and wide)
d. Scraps that can be used for 1/2" hexagons (e.g. pieces at least 1.5" high and wide)
Everything else that is left is allowed to go into the bin with a clean conscience.

My scrap sorting is pretty specific, isn't it? That's because I'm joining in with this:


This piece-along gives me a real motivation to carefully look after my scraps. In fact, I'm kind of joining in twice. 

I'm committing to a 2" hexagon charm quilt, which will require 297 hexagons in unique fabrics (if I want to make a 50" x 60" throw). I'd like to see this pieced by the end of 2010. A 2" hex can be cut from a 5" square, and I've cut 30 so far - Kate, most of these are from the scrap pack you sent me, thanks SO much!

I've also opted to cut 1" hexagons while I'm at it. I prefer the look of 1" hexagons in a quilt, but after cutting out the 60 pieces below, I realised that I might struggle to cut, baste, piece and quilt 1,173 hexagons in unique fabrics within, say, the next decade. So I'll just add to this lot slowly. Maybe I'll end up with a charm cushion, maybe I'll throw a few on a skirt, maybe they'll be discovered by a great-granddaughter who will lovingly make them into a dolly-quilt.

And - just because I'm going a bit mad with all the scrap possibilities at this point - I'm cutting up those really little, annoying scraps of just over an inch in width and adding them to my 1/2" hexagon scrap bucket. 

Here are the scraps from that horrid pink fabric... I know they'll look great once they're blended in with other tiny hexagons in some form or other.

OK. So I have a bit of a hexagon thing going on. 

You might not be hexagon obsessed. But how do you manage your scraps? I'd love to know.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My creative space... brickwork

I've been into the manual labour this week, laying me some bricks:

Actually, it hasn't been labourious at all. This is the pieced top of the 'scrap management quilt' I mentioned in my creative space a few weeks ago. I'm really excited by the way it has come together and am itching to quilt it down to a backing, add a border and bind. (Yes, in that order... I'll explain when the process happens!)

I wish I could get a better picture, but here's a bit more detail anyway. There are some really fun fabrics in there. Some fabrics make it in over and over again... others only have one small guest appearance.

It has passed inspection from my ultra-critical woolly-headed ruffian William, who has found various pops of boy-themed fabrics.

The man of the house is rather approving too. This is a good thing as I intend the quilt to be our lounge-room lap quilt. I suspect the frequent occurrence of Moda's Authentic In The News newsprint fabric, which has become something of a 'neutral' in the quilt, may have been an accidental stroke of genius on my part. I could see Justin's thought process... Boy that's an ugly quilt... oooh, look, a bit of newspaper print. I love reading the newspaper... If I could I'd sit around all Saturday morning reading the newspaper, but Gina hates how they take over the whole living room. And render me incapable of conversation or parenting for hours on end. Maybe if we have a quilt which camouflages the newspaper, Gina won't notice I'm reading it and avoiding reality... hmmm... "Hey honey I love that quilt!".

What's happening in your creative space today?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A bit of pea-green clutter

I think I may have recovered from the green quilt of death* because I've been noticing quite a bit of pea-green popping up around my house recently.

For example my M* jug cover, which I purchased out of adoration for both M* herself and her gorgeous crochet. (Currently NOT covering, but complementing perfectly, the little jug I found in a pile of hard 'rubbish' on the kerbside yesterday.)

Another kerbside 'rubbish' find, these pea-green 'I heart Billy' shoes which are in perfect condition, my size and everything. (Note: I do not go combing the hard rubbish. Apparently it's, um, illegal. Both of these items were found within a block of my house, sitting among the mounds of old TVs and broken flower pots... what is wrong with people?!)

My new pea-green lemon squeezer, not a thrift find but when my plastic one broke this week I decided to get something a bit more industrial. Especially now that I've made friends with the neighbour over the fence, who has a very, very healthy lemon tree. These bad boys are going to be pulverised tomorrow and made into lemon curd... yum.

*And where IS the quilt of death, I hear you ask? (Well, I hear Meg my sister ask. You've probably forgotten!). It's still sitting around, seams ironed flat, backing made up, waiting for me to take notice of it. I've been busy working on less lurid projects... but perhaps, just perhaps, I'm ready for a spot of greenery again.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What a beauty...

This is my new pincushion. Isn't she perfect? 

I was just a little thrilled when I received my swap package on late Friday afternoon and saw the sender's address: the textured leaf. Wendy's blog drew me in a little while back with her beautiful op-shop-chic, and the pincushion she has made for me - yes, for ME, hurrah!! - is sublime. (You can find some more detailed pictures on her blog here) .

My pincushion has already been employed this weekend, distracting me with its gorgeousness - oh, and doing a fine job of holding pins of course - while I've been sewing up a little stash of coffee-sack 'clutter buckets' for swaps and gifts.

I love that this pincushion has a pleasingly functional chunkiness, meaning that I'm no longer being lacerated the long pins which used to poke through the bottom of my last one.

 However, it is a triumph of function AND beauty, which is important in my flat as I basically make my sewing notions earn their keep as objets d'art among the books, in our dining/lounge/sewing/living/room: 

Thanks Wendy.
Thanks Kate.
I hope my pincushion (sent a few weeks ago) is received with as much enthusiasm - but if not, oh well, I got my dream version!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ethical clothing pledge: a review.

Six months ago I started reading isismade, became interested in Isis's ethical clothing pledge and 
decided to join in on behalf of my family.

It's time for a review... so here goes.

The GOOD. 
The best thing about taking the pledge is the motivation it provides to stop. and. think. about wants, needs, and who might be affected by my consumer choices. There is much I can be happy about.

For six months I've clothed and shod my weight-fluctuating body and my growing boys almost solely in second-hand items (the beloved has just kept going in all his normal clothes, apart from one op-shopped sweater and a starashan t-shirt).

I've put some mending, resizing and refashioning skills to good use.

I'm emerging with a flexible, trans-seasonal, and rather eclectic wardrobe, which I plan to have a very long-term relationship with!

I haven't saved lots of money, but I have put my money where my mouth is, and that if far more important to me. I've made some expensive choices by opting to buy vintage,  handmade and quality items, and not hunting around or trying to make things myself. I could've saved money, and in the long term I will, but more by learning not to buy rather than by bargain-hunting I suspect.

The BAD.
Yep, I've broken the pledge on a number of occasions, mostly in a premeditated fashion, but at other times out of laziness and poor planning.

These are my sweatshop confessions: several non-maternity bras for my ample bosom (after 3 years of breastfeeding and daggy-bra wearing... BUT I added in some rather unnecessary matching underwear), bathers (for the boys and I), socks (for my beloved), and my running gear.

I also went into a really horrid chain store after Christmas and purchased a $10 drapey vest thing, which I seriously could've made in ten seconds, even with my paltry sewing skills. I don't even love it, and haven't worn it much. Really, that purchase was a moment of rebellion, a binge. What a shame I didn't binge on something classy or good-quality instead!

There have been some interesting side-effects in taking this pledge which potentially straddle both good AND bad categories for me.

The first is my newfound fearlessness with wearing what I would have previously considered to be strange outfits:

Whose granny did I mug for that cardigan? WHY am I wearing skinny jeans when I swore I never, ever would? Because they were $5, fitted, and tuck nicely into my thrifted COWGIRL BOOTS, another fashion faux pas I knew I would never touch. Oh well, I'll just throw some Suffolk puffs around the neck, that'll make me fade into the background.

I just asked the beloved if he could sum up my 'fashion style' in a few words, and his verdict was 'Betty White meets Snoop Dogg'. 

Ouch. But fair call.

The second grey area is my growing penchant for vintage clothing: 

For example, my new favourite outfit. The dress is vintage and cost $45, the cardigan I bought for $3, and trimmed the pockets with old lace. (In fact I'm very much into trimming stuff with lace and doilies at the moment. I call it granny-punking. Justin prefers granny-pimping. Both sound just a LITTLE dodgy, no?)

This is partly good, because I think it's healthy to wear good flattering clothing in good condition and to find creative expression in clothing oneself, to a degree.  But it's partly bad, too, because I can see that too much interest in fashion, whether sweat-shop or op-shop, encourages consumption by creating a dissatisfaction with what I have and a desire to replace it with something new, different, better. 

And SO...

I'm going to keep at it! Permanent, like.

As expected, it's been a learning curve. I've struggled, but as we know, these are not *failures* but *opportunities for growth* (thanks, pop psychology!).

Here's what I'm going to work on:

1. Shopping in my wardrobe: Enough is enough. I think I've run out of excuses (post-pregnancy, weight gain, weight loss, wedding to attend etc etc) for buying new clothes. I have plenty. I hereby declare that I am going on a clothes-buying-fast for the next 3 months. I will not buy any new item or accessory for myself from anywhere for 3 months. It's not very long, but that's ok, I need to be gentle and start small. I'll push it out to six if I'm feeling brave in July.

2. Upping those sewing skills: If I want to be in this for the long-haul I must learn to install a zipper, make a button hole and NOT just randomly hack a hole in some fabric and call it a skirt. I have a Thread Den voucher, now I need to make the time to use it.

3. Stay aware of reality: I heard the other day at my church that if you own more than three changes of clothing, you are in the top 5% of the world's richest people. Hmmm.

Let me not complain about 'having nothing to wear' ever, ever again.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's scarf weather

... and very conveniently, I have just finished hand-stitching 26 yo-yos onto a piece of felted woolen jumper.

I decided the fate of my floral yo-yo collection on Sunday night after realising that my recent haircut has left a bit of a gap twixt collarbone and ears, a growingly noticeable gap given the recent chilly Melbourne winds.

Of course, I do have many lovely scarves already. But this scrap of felted jumper was looking so lonely, and was definitely asking for a bit of floral-pimping.

So today, I leave the house with a cosy neck.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The truth about clutterpunk... and giveaway winners.

OK guys. Thanks for amusing me much with your giveaway comments and your theories on why I named my blog clutterpunk. 

Without further ado, the at-random winners are:

#1 Patch Andi - first comment, first prize. Huh. And she made a good fist of articulating what clutterpunk is, so yay. Andi, the bag is yours, and will come with some bits and bobs to add to your groaning stash. 

#4 James - harrumph, not happy. James, friend and neighbour who joins us for pizza and mocks my offspring every Sunday night, succinctly summed up my blog as 'Cluttered, punk'. And he would know. So anyway James, I'm not really going to count you. I already take up your trousers for you. OK, I will grudgingly make you an item of your choice, but I'm drawing two other winners anyway.

#62 Cathie (m.e) - lovely! I'm already making you stuff in my head as I write this post. And dreaming of eating your cupcakes.

#57 apronstringz - oooh, an international entrant wins a prize! And from one of my favourite new blog reads. Clearly, it is going to be very tempting to send you an apron... let's talk first though.

So there you have it. Now for the truth about clutterpunk...

Of course I'm struggling now to be able to explain, in a pithy sentence, this choice of
name for my blog. It is a name which has many layers of meaning for me, all rather pretentious! Here's a bit of insight:

My beloved and I. Yes, I do have a grey-tipped right eyebrow, and no, I did NOT bleach it to be that way. But I do flaunt it proudly. 

The clutter: I was the messiest child ever. The year-old-moldy-sandwich-under-the-bed type. Once I hit my twenties I started figuring out the connection between my state of mind and my floor, and got working on the mind bit. The floor is gradually improving.

Creatively, I quite like the cluttered, eclectic look and the cosy vibe it evokes. I think it's healthy to cope with a bit of mess, and I'm not terribly interested in keeping a neat house for the sake of appearances. But I just can't get away with the moldy-sandwich-as-art bit now that I'm all growed up, you know what I'm saying?

The punk:  Who is Sid Vicious?!!! I'm a classically-trained cellist. So not punk. But I have played with various bands (try-hard punk) and now also play bass guitar (punk that!). Err, mainly at my church though (punk fail!!!).

But... insofar as being a punk suggests rebelling against the established order, I'm certainly finding my inner punk when it comes to consuming, fashion, homemaking and all that. Not to mention my preference for rebelling and punking things up when it comes to following any type of sewing pattern :)

And clutterpunk? Well, apart from combining the above ideas, I did just like the sound of it. As Nic said, it sounds like clunking away on an old typewriter. Lovely... particularly because the font I chose for my labels and stamp is called mom's typewriter.

Thanks for playing!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My creative space... scrap management

I'm making a little progress on my 'scrap management quilt' and hoping to let it dominate my creative space today.

Over the last month I've gathered four paper bags' worth of rectangular scraps cut into four different widths. The scrap lengths are quite varied, depending largely on how much of the fabric I've had. Yesterday I started sewing the scraps together into strips (columns), ironing the seams flat and slinging them over my ladder. I'd like to finish that today. 

I'm not thinking about placement too hard. I figure that once all the columns are roughly the same size, I can lay them out together and start casting a critical eye over the balance of colours, textures and sizes.  I'm already sensing that I might need to add a few more pops of bright red to this quilt. But we'll see...

I'm really liking what I see so far - it's so fun looking at these very disparate scraps which have made it into my stash in lots of interesting ways. A jelly-bean for you if you can identify a fellow-creative-spacer's fabric design in there ...?

Looking forward to visiting some more of Kirsty's creative spaces a bit later today with my afternoon cuppa...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A bean bag chair (of the not-so-beany-baggy-OR-chairy variety)

OK, so what I'm trying to tell you is that yesterday I made what is in essence a large floor cushion, only I can't call it a floor cushion because I used this (very excellent, helpful, easy, FREE) pattern, which quite specifically calls the end product a Bean Bag Chair. 

Actually, it's kind of tuffet-esque, or at least what I imagine a tuffet would look like.

I'm on a big stash-busting bender this year. I don't have a massive stash, but in fact I've decided that 'stashing' is not the approach I want to work with any more. It just feeds my consumer mentality at both the op shop and the fabric store.  So recently I've been pulling out the fabrics that I already have and seeking out projects that will suit them. I'm very happy to buy fabrics, new and old, but in future I will try to gather materials for specific projects rather than 'just because'.

Anway, these half-yards of Echino (Etsuko Furuya's Flower Bed) were originally purchased (from here) with the intention of making a bird-themed quilt. I've since decided the prints are too big and bold and look best in big pieces, so I hunted around for a project which would use them well. Given the weight of the fabric, a home-dec project was the way to go.

I think the Echino looks great teamed with the large piece of dark denim I scored from Savers.

I chose not to stuff mine with beans - apart from being environmentally disastrous, those little balls would find their way out of the inner bag and into my boys' nostrils faster than you could say 'death by polystyrene'. See, William was already checking out potential hidey-holes...

Instead, I've stuffed my cover with several old pillows, cushions, an eiderdown quilt and our sleeping bags, so it's actually doubling as storage. BONUS!

Turns out it's a great place for a kip, after the hard work of tackling one's younger brother.

PS Giveaway is now closed, I will draw a winner tonight. Thanks for playing!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Very Significant Refashion

I love a good refashion.

Of all the projects that I've done in my year of blogging, its the ones that take old stuff and give it new life that I feel most thrilled about. And in spite of the fact that I have lovely new materials to play with, and various from-scratch projects planned, I continue to find myself distracted by the large pile of unloved clothing and discarded fabrics that are sitting patiently in the corner of my bedroom, waiting to be renewed.

Today my family and I are celebrating something that is at the absolute heart of who we are: the resurrection of Jesus. Or, as I have taken to calling it around this household - no doubt offending Christians AND Refashionistas around the world -  The Great Refashion.

You might wonder how the rumours of a dead preacher guy coming alive in the Middle East two millenia ago can have any bearing on our lives today. I'm not here to convince you that it happened - that's for you to weigh up for yourself. Over a decade ago, I (rather reluctantly) decided that the evidence was compelling enough, and chucked my lot in with the disciples. I believe.

But what I believe is about so much more than just Jesus getting a shiny refashioned body (bully for him, you might think). According to Jesus' own teachings, his resurrection is to give the rest of us hope, proof, a down-payment if you will, of the reality that one day his Father, the Creator, is going to take this broken world that he loves and give the whole thing new life. 

Imagine... a renewed earth. One with restored beauty, harmony, peace, meaning, creativity. One where injustice, pollution, illness, even death, have no place any more. 

Sounds pretty good to me. My husband jokes that his big question about this refashioned world is whether I'll finally have time to complete my pile of refashioning projects... or whether they'll be made redundant! I prefer the theory that there will just be even more time to amass works-in-progress...and no deadlines :)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away...
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One year of clutterpunk... a 'thank-you' giveaway

I started this blog one year ago today. (April 1st - foolish, no?!).

I just went back to read my first post, in order to remember why I started this blog. And, unbelievably, I discovered that my core aims for blogging have indeed been the ones I have focussed on! These were:

1. To live more creatively
2. To live more sustainably
3. To create more sustainably.

Now the ways in which I have been exploring, and fulfilling, these aims during the past year are many and varied, and I will save for further posts a more detailed round-up of my growth (or not) as a crafter and a sustainable homemaker. 

The main point of this post is to say thank you! I did not at all expect to have so many readers join me on this blog, nor did I at all expect the astounding level of interaction, community, and real life friendship that has come from blogging.

So here's a little thank you giveaway for you. It's open to readers of this blog from anywhere.

The main prize will be this coffee-sack market bag, which I had great fun making last week:

This bag will come to you with some goodies included, but these goodies will be tailored to the winner and will depend on who you are, what you like and where you live.

There will be two other prizes as well, but you'll just have to wait in suspense to see what those are!!

To enter, leave a comment, and answer me this: why do you think I called my blog 'clutterpunk'? Do I like clutter or hate it? Am I a punk? Do you care? This post might give you some clues. Don't worry, I will not choose the winner on the basis of accuracy...most likely I will employ But I DO want something interesting to read in the comments!

Anyway, thanks again... without you guys, the journey so far would've been a whole lot less satisfying.