Friday, July 31, 2009


I'm 32 today. Yes, it's an unremarkable milestone, but as is my birthday tradition in recent times I have allowed myself some reflection on the year behind me. And it occurs to me that this past year has been one of the most significant in my life. To celebrate, I'm holding a giveaway. As a child I used to love assembling the party bags to give to my birthday guests - essentially, this is my Big Girl's Party Bag equivalent.

I would have liked to preface this giveaway by indulging in some public navel-gazing and a retrospective of the paradigm-shifts and growth that has occurred since my last birthday. Navel-gazing in the areas of ethical consumption, sustainable living, contented and generous living, and other soap-boxes! But, as usual, life with two small insomniacs has rudely interrupted, and so you are spared my rantings. But just you wait, dear reader... just you wait...

Meanwhile, A GIVEAWAY. OK, so there are three party bags up for grabs.

The first is a one-year subscription to Mixtape Zine.

Most of you are probably already familiar, if not already subscribed, to this great little zine about making time for the small things. In its creators' own words, mixtape is 'a collision of craft, eco-cool and pop culture kitsch'. If you're not, then put your hand up for this one! I love it, and I want you to love it too.

The other two 'party bags' will receive a share of the following loot, and a few other little crafty bits and pieces that I didn't have time to photograph...

Some great vintage patterns:

This felt brooch:
This KeepCup - an eco-friendly reusable coffee cup, to keep your coffee hot and your planet cool!

A set of fabric 'envelopes' in lovely vintage fabrics:

Some thrifted serviettes and a vintage French scarf:
To enter, leave me a comment and tell me something YOU'D like to get on your soap-box about. It can be anything, really - I'm interested to know what makes you all tick.
OOPS, forgot to add that this giveaway is open for a week - will pick the winners next Friday Aug 7th, at random :-)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My creative space...

My mind is abuzz with ideas at the moment, but they're fragmented and a little incoherent. I almost feel as though I'm working on a creative Rubik's cube in my mind, and as I go about the mundane tasks of home life I'm puzzling over myriad materials and techniques and colours and pictures and trying to get them to click together. The picture above may give you a taste of what's going on in there... and if you can fit the items together, let me know!

Meanwhile, back in the land of productivity, I have managed to make progress on THIS creative space of a few weeks back:

I mulled over all of the advice offered - thank you, contributors! I even received gorgeous material from Leonie of Raglan Guld, most of which I decided in the end was too nice for this crummy skirt, and is destined for greater things (saved for another creative space!!).

So I decided to do two things to the skirt:

1. I made a panel from vintage floral material and sewed it onto the skirt, which covers up the ugly front seem and warped hemline.
That panel makes a surprising amount of difference to the look, so I'm happy with this for a summer skirt. But I also wanted to add a bit of weight and warmth and funk for winter, so:

2. I made a DETACHABLE overskirt from some of the material Leonie sent, a lovely brown flocked fabric:

I didn't really know what I was doing but I wanted a bit of an off-kilter look. So I sewed together two panels of slightly different lengths, and did some pleating on one side. It connects with hook-and-eye and I guess it can really be worn any which way over the skirt, but I'm yet to experiment. I think it needs a tie-up closure, maybe some embellishment...

Yes, it's supposed to be uneven, looks better in reality...

Anyway, enough of the refashions. What are you still doing reading this post?! Get a move on and head over to Kootoyoo to see who else is a Spacer this week.

Monday, July 27, 2009

More hack refashioning

Why yes, I AM trying to lure you into reading this post with a gorgeous but irrelevant close-up of my beautiful new Curlypops Brooch!

Since the warm reception of my recent felted jumper refashioning experiment (still blushing from all the nice comments... shucks!) I've been really enjoying the synergy of the virtual craft room. Nikki and Tania have flattered me, and gazumped me, with triumphant refashions of their own, and I've been inspired anew with possibilities.

After failing to find any decent woollen tops ripe for felting in my local thrift stores last week, I decided to branch out and try refashioning a thrifted men's cotton knit top, pictured below:

I love the peppery look, and the warm, draped feel. Very much the kind of jumper you'd borrow from your man-friend to snuggle in when feeling vulnerable. Not, however, the height of fashion to which I have grown accustomed (ha!):

Anyway, I decided to go for the old 'hack the arms off and add some reverse darts' refashioning trick again, but this time in a different way. So I:

1. Hacked the arms off

2. Turned inside out for that deconstructed look

3. Went for some horizontal reverse darts, in one long spiral around the bottom a few times, to bring the length up. Interesting effect. This caused the stretchy material to flare out a a little more.

4. Did another horizontal line at what I hoped would be my true waste, but ended up being across my bust... oops, not so attractive.

5. Gave a bit of shaping with some vertical darts to emphasise waste and detract from the nipple-crease I'd created!

The upshot:

Sorry about the chest thrust, don't quite know how to do the clothing pose yet! Oh, ok, I'm just so very proud of the nipple-crease...

I'm not 100% sure that I'm finished this one yet. It feels lovely to wear - it still has that baggy cuddly feeling but now has some shape. However, given my *ahem* buxom state, perhaps I should lower and widen the neckline to reduce boxiness? That would, however, require slightly less of a hack sewing job, and thus it will probably never happen...

Your feedback is welcome. And if you're getting into this top refashioning thing, don't be shy, show the world... I for one would like to see it!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Quick and dirty sewing... long and rambly posting!

Sometimes I just need to get something done. It's a therapy thing - it's soothing to be productive, even at the expense of good technique, or the 'to-do list'. That was me last night. (Oh, Masterchef, how I miss thee!)

Sure, I could have cut out the pieces for my pippijoe overskirt, or blogged about either of my new jumper refashions, or done some more loom knitting, or finished the last of the Swineys, but actually I wanted to make something in bulk, something to help me de-stash, something useful - something quick and dirty.

Et voila. Badly-made bags! I intend to use these as gift-wrap bags, or small produce bags, or just 'whatever' bags, to replace plastic or paper bags.

These are made from pillowcases. I originally wanted to use up some pretty fat quarters in my stash, but was finding myself getting stuck on choosing, and questioning whether I really wanted to waste nice material on such a simple project (do you find yourself getting hung up on that one too?)

Using pillowcases made the whole thing even lazier, which was great. I took four pillowcases, halved and quartered them, then sewed up the sides/bottoms and 'hemmed' the tops (for those that didn't have the original pillowcase hem still there). I started off zig-zagging the seams for longevity, and folding the top hem twice before sewing - but then I just thought 'stuff it' and did the bare minimum. Ooooh, it felt so good.

[Off-track ramblings... It occurs to me that, if only I had an overlocker, something like this would take me half the time, would look neater, and would last longer because of the finished hems. Hmmm, this phrase is going around in my head more and more these days... if only I had an overlocker. Tell me, do YOU overlock?!]

Anyways... there have been a bunch of posts showcasing various reusable bags recently, go check 'em out:

the Yum Bags showcased by Rebecca,

and the market bag and produce bags at 3Birdies

All really simple, cute, sustainable ideas. I'm feeling the need to do a bit of 'churning out' of sewing projects, largely to reduce my stash.

Any more ideas for some quick and dirty sewing?

Edit: PS Do you have a cute little girl poppet in your life? Then get yourself over to little grubs for a first birthday giveaway, you could win this really sweet dress. Sadly I doubt my boys would appreciate being decked out in this, but it could be YOURS.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My creative space... c/o Raglan Guld

This week my space is full of refashioning possibilities and excitement... tempered with a fair dose of impatience as I wait for material to wash and dry, visitors to leave and children to sleep so I can get making.

In last week's creative space I asked for some advice and inspiration for a skirt refashion.

But advice wasn't the only thing I received...

On Tuesday a parcel arrived for me from Leonie.

A very special brown-paper-package-tied-up-with-string. And inside:

Generous amounts of lightweight denim fabric, sturdy brown fabric, a fabulous button, this amazing piece of pippijoe which I have long coveted...

... and some top-notch suggestions for what might be done with them to aid in my skirt beautification!

How could I not trust the creative instincts and suggestions of the woman behind the gorgeous pants of Raglan Guld?
I'll be taking Leonie's advice, and hope that I'll be able to show you the fruits of my labour some time during the week.
Thank you Leonie for your generous, encouraging gesture, I'm absolutely stoked.

More creative spaces over here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Craft crush: more blog loot!

Like many of you, I'm an arduous supporter of handmade goods, to the point where my Beloved wonders whether I'm attempting to support handmade singlehandedly.

Admittedly, my swag of handmade loot may have increased ever so slightly since starting to blog. Well, gosh darn it, you all make such purdy thangs! And now, having taken the handmade pledge, I do feel that I require a bit of a gift stash for the times I can't or won't make something myself. (What do you mean... of course they're for other people. Well, maybe. Eventually. OK, I'm lying).

So, here's a bit of a loot list, some from recent times, some from a while ago, all stuff that comes from crafty bloggers whom I read regularly. I've been saving them up for a mention. Or hiding them away from the Beloved. You choose.

WON: Alice in Wonderland Sunnyboy bag and Bloomin' Buttonhead Brooch from Jetta's Nest -
A fabulous haul - sorry about the photo Samantha! As well as the brooch and sunnyboy (which has gorgeous lining) Samantha included a great set of cards with her original artwork on them - thank you, they're really delightful. Jetta's Nest goodness available here.
When I saw that TinnieGirl is moving on to other artistic endeavours, I decided I wanted to experience a bit of bloggy history and get myself a Tinnie quick smart. I chose the beautiful vintage tin above, which is now home to favourite postcards and paper goods. The inside was chock-full of vintage goodness - fat quarters, buttons and notions - which Cathy chose for me:
I have various projects a-brewin' with these gorgeous items.
BOUGHT: A vintage doilie needlecase from Selina's Vintage:
My other needle-storage methods just weren't cutting it, and this little needlecase won my heart, it's so beautiful Selina. P.S. Selina's closing down her Ebay store and there's a lot of funky chenille for the taking if you're in the market for it...
BOUGHT: a bunny and a brooch from Edward and Lilly -
I've long admired the sweet stitches of Rebecca, and these items fill me with joy every time I look at them. I'm wearing the brooch today. Thanks to Rebecca's work I'm now an embroidery fan... I hadn't really thought much of it until I came across her stuff, but now I'm obsessed! These pics are from her etsy shop - can you resist?
Finally (for this post, anyway)...
A GIFT: this brown paper package tied up with string from Raglan Guld -

The exceedingly generous Leonie sent me this package which arrived yesterday - contents to be revealed tomorrow in my Creative Space. Leonie, the brains and beauty behind these gorgeous pants, gave me this gift to encourage me in my refashioning efforts. Encouraged I am!! Thanks so much, Leonie. Go check out the Raglan Guld store here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My creative space... advice sought

Thursday again (wow, it's like it happens every week!) and I'm off to join in Kootoyoo's Creative Spaces. I'm hoping that other 'spacers' this week might be willing to put their creative thoughts into mine...

Today I'm hanging out in my bedroom with Mrs D, my DIY mannequin. Together we're putting our heads (?) together over how to refashion a thrifted cotton drill skirt, with minimum effort and technical skills.
The yoke and side-zip already fit me well at the waist (better than Mrs D actually - boy she should really lose some weight!) so I want to keep those elements of the skirt.
Things that I'd like to work on are:
  1. the weight of the material - I think some heavier material or added layers would help add structure and get rid of some of the flare and ripple that occurs around the hem line. Plus make it wearable for cooler weather.
  2. The icky details - seams down front, back and two sides (which add to the kind of warped hem look) and big pockets on either side (which emphasise Mrs D's saddlebags!)
  3. The colour/texture - a good base colour but a bit bland and pale for me.
My thoughts so far have revolved around some type of semi-attached overskirt or apron which might help skim over the shape, cover most of the details and add some weight and colour/texture.
Maybe attached to one side, then tied up over the zipper?
Or attached at the back, and tied at the front?

Do you have comments or suggestions? A completely different idea, or some advice on the idea I have?

I've asked Mrs D's opinion, but - between you and me - she's a bit of a dummy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Satisfying refashion moment

See that there outfit - the fingerless gloves and vest? They used to be a horrid men's turtleneck jumper. Some maltreatment in the washing machine, and a bit of impromptu slashing, sewing and tweaking later, and we now have a quirky little ensemble.

OK, before I go any further, I must acknowledge that this refashion was greatly inspired by the (far funkier) work of Mim, a talented and original textile artist who is part of the Olive Grove Studios retail co-op in Brunswick, VIC. Check out THIS gorgeous piece. Miriam, I do hope you're flattered by my 'MIMic'.

So anyway, back to the turtleneck. It was a thrifted top, and I'd bought it to experiment with 'fulling' and refashioning. After putting it through the wash a few times, I realised it had shrunk beyond usefulness for a person of my voluptuousness. So I hauled in my teeny, tiny friend and neighbour Sonia (I call her 'pocket Sonia') to be a part of my refashioning experiment.

Here's a short description of what went on:
Arms hacked off, taken in and converted to fingerless gloves (complete with the 'L' and 'R' scrabble tile brooches for the directionally challenged):

Body converted into a collared vest by making an off-centre cut from top to bottom. Front completed with a spare piece of felt concealing a hook-and-eye closure.

The back needed to be narrowed and shaped a fair bit, so during the ad-breaks of Masterchef on Sunday night I sewed a series of reverse darts/tucks (no idea of technical name here!) at random. I liked the asymmetrical vibe (and the lack of measuring and precision required). I just kept going, fitting to Sonia occasionally, until it narrowed enough and draped nicely. It still needed a bit of shape so another piece of spare felt was attached to cinch in the waist.

I'm really happy. It's all new territory. I'd love to be wearing it myself... but I'm happy that a good friend can enjoy it for me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Random acts of craft

It's all been about the quirky, the new and the instantly gratifying for me in my snatched moments of craft these past days.

Some scrabble-tiles-turned-brooches, a witty little addition to the fingerless gloves I've made for a friend. (Part of a refashioned felted jumper ensemble, to be revealed when a few finishing touches are done).

A bit of molecular embroidery. Of course. I embroidered an isoniazid for my Beloved (don't ask me, I just do the stitch-work!) but then liked it so much I decided to stitch up a molecule close to my own heart. Can you guess what it is? Any takers?*

And finally this lovely flower, fashioned from old sewing pattern paper, some hair pins and a coat-hanger. It is, of course, from the Book of Mike.

Happy Monday, world.
*Caffeine. Mmmmm, pure caffeine.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Wowzers... I just had to show you these beauties.

These two spunky elephants, designed and handmade by my brother's girlfriend Emily, arrived in a box on our doorstep last week. They and were welcomed with curiosity and delight - and although they are intended as gifts for the boys, I secretly think of them as ALL MINE. We have named them Frank (the bigger orange one) and Ernest (his smaller, more instrospective sidekick). Wilski immediately decided that Ernest was his. And who were we to argue? Frank, the larger, more sanguine elephant, is definitely a better fit for his brother, the little Pudding, anyway.

I'm thrilled with Frank and Ernest. Funny thing is, we haven't had the chance to meet Emily as yet, and she had no idea that I like to make stuff. Yet she took the time to design and hand-make gifts for the boys. AND they're made from recycled materials! What a champ. I simply had to show them off to you...
Thanks Emily.
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

My creative space...

I've been painting this week!
Oh, ok, so I painted a rectangle of chalk-board on the kitchen wall. It felt good, rolling that black gloop on the wall. It's next to the fridge, and I'm telling myself that if I have a big space to write down a meal plan, perhaps in colourful chalk, with pretty pictures, then I might actually begin to plan meals. But of course, this is to be a shared creative space...
Hmmm, I think I have a little Fred Williams landscape artist in the making. Yes, of course I'm sure all those angry lines are Gum trees, stark and ghostly in the moonlight. No, the artist is not chucking a tantrum because I want to take a picture of his masterpiece instead of drawing faces on his 'Wiggles'.
See some actual creative spaces at Kirsty's place!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Round in circles.

Ever get the sense that there's a bit of a theme lying behind everything you're doing?
For me, it's all about the circles this week. They're going around and around in my head...

My new fingerless gloves - upcycled jumper sleeves embellished with layered felt circles. Coffee credits go to this girl who operates out of my favourite haunt, Toby's Estate in Brunswick VIC. I'm trying their new Sustainability blend... right up my alley.

More embroidering of yellow felt discs for my last batch of Swineys. (Ugh. I'm sick of them, and I bet you are too!!)

A wee beanie made from left-over wool, my first completed project on one of my new circular knitting looms... thanks Liesl! Dreaming of the possibilities...

The Aunty Cookie embellishments on my giveaway scarf (which has now become 2 scarflets, another story entirely but a vast improvement in my opinion, especially as I get to keep one!!)
Yep, I'm beginning to feel a wee bit dizzy...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Feeling the love from Blogland!

This week at chez clutterpunk:

5 hrs sleep on average
4 fraying tempers
3 hacking coughs
2 snotty noses
and a mother going off her tree.

Yet in spite of the illness, sleeplessness and additional cabin fever (due to rain and a broken bike spoke), I've been in generally high spirits and had many moments of delight. And here's why:

1. The arrival of this very awesome cassette coin purse, a PIF gift from urban craft. Karen is one cool, feisty, irreverent crafter and blogger. I love the stuff she makes and the things she writes make me think. And laugh. Thanks Karen, love it.

2. This fabulous Babel Fish softie which arrived from Jodie of Ric-Rac. *SQUEEEEE*. I stalked Jodie a bit at last week's blog love-in and professed my undying love for her Babel Fish creation, which I'd seen at a friend's place. And of course, being the lovely, nutty lady she is, she decided to give me one. I love Jodie's work - her selvedge obsession, her fabulous softies, and the humour and generosity that shines through in her craft.

Now if you don't know the origins of the Babel Fish softie, get your geek on and go read this book.
3. I was awarded the 'One Lovely Blog' Award from Sayraphim of Page 63 of your manual, Tania of Myrtle&Eunice and Bec of Marjoryjane. Nawwwww, shucks guys. Thanks for reading.

Now the deal is if I'm to accept this award I should also pass it on to some other bloggers I love in return (15, actually, but I'm not going to do quite that many I think... as this award has really been doing the rounds!). Check out these lovely crafty blogs for yourselves...

3 Red Buttons - Angie makes lovely clothes for kids and is the upcycling champ!

3 Sheets - Multi-media artiste Kylie shares her creations and inspiration.

August St - I'm closely following Jenaveve's adventures into sewing. Hurrah for her sewing classes!

Bear Among Bees - Love Clairebee's blog header illustration. And check out the stuff this lass has made recently in her '30 things in June' post.

Crafty Girl with Ruffle - Anne Marie is a delight PLUS she makes awesome Melways purses!

Little Grubs - Abi shares NZ green/family/craft inspiration with humour.

Little Eco Footprints - Tricia is a great source of info and thoughtful fodder for sustainable living, plus she makes these amazing reclaimed cloth nappies.

Thanks guys for your inspiration. Feel free to skip passing the award on - but know that I'm enjoying what you do!

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