Craft, stitchin' and sustainable living

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Christmas wrap-up

Happy Boxing Day all! I hope that you have sufficiently recovered from your Christmastime overindulgence, and are finding some time to take it easy.

I can now share with you some of the gifts I made for people this year. Firstly, above are the mini bloomers that I made for some close friends of mine. They are really, really cute (and comfy!). There is a free pattern here, if you would like to make some.

I also sewed and screenprinted some small bags for a few family members, and put packets of seeds in them.

Boyfriend had (jokingly) complained that I (being a tea lover) had a teacup ornament for the tree, but he (being a beer lover) didn't have a beer ornament. So I crocheted him one. Turns out pretty cute! If anyone would like me to write up the pattern for a little amigurumi beer, just let me know.

And yes - the dress! I did get it finished in time to wear on Christmas day. What do you think? I'm pretty darn happy with it!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The zip

It came the time in the making of my Christmas dress to put in the zip. I have put zips in garments before, but had always sort of winged it. This time I decided that I was going to put the zip in properly, which of course meant learning how to do so first. The pattern instructions offered absolutely no help (I'm sorry Burdastyle, but what on earth does "Place sewing foot onto the zip so that the spiral in the notch lies to the right of the needle" actually mean?). So I consulted my Step-by-step Guide to Sewing Techniques book and even my sewing machine instruction manual. It was at this stage that I realised how much information there is in the manual, and how many times I could have referred to it rather than fudging my way through a button hole, slippery fabric or other sewing challenge.

With my new zipper know-how, I got out my zipper foot and, while doing so, realised that I actually have a bunch of other sewing machine feet which I have no idea what they're for (pictured above). Any ideas, stitchy peeps? It was then that I decided that my sewing goal for 2011 would be to actually take time to learn how to use my sewing machine properly. After all, I've only owned it... 9 years! I want to know what all those feet do. I want to read the instruction manual from cover to cover. And I want to use the techniques to make better sewn items.

In the end, I put my zipper in successfully. Ok, so it was probably 80% by the book and 20% fudged, but it looks very neat and proper. More photos to come soon.

BTW, I have continued to post my Christmasy crafts over at the Crafty Christmas Club, but I will do a wrap up here late next week when it's safe to do so (i.e. when it's too late for people to "accidentally" discover their presents).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Christmas dress

Well peeps, only 2 weeks and 2 days until Christmas day! And while I have been busy buying and making gifts for my friends and family, I've also been doing a bit of stitchin' just for me. Everyone needs a nice Christmas outfit, right? And considering it will likely be hot here in Sydney-town, I've started on a lightweight dress for the occasion.

The dress is based off Burdastyle's Danielle dress, and the fabric I picked up in Copenhagen earlier this year (the print is particularly Scandi, don't you think?)

Work is finally starting to wind down for the year so I should get enough sewing time in before the day to finish the dress. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stitchybritt's thoughts for a more sustainable Christmas

It’s no secret, everyone knows: I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I love cooking, baking, eating, drinking, sewing, gluing, wrapping, decorating, writing, sending, giving and all the fun stuff in between. But I’m also very aware of the crazy amount of unconsidered consumerism that happens at Christmas time, the amount of waste this creates, and the impact this has on our planet. So, I thought I would put together this little list of ideas for a more sustainable Christmas.

Before I get into the stuff you need to buy, what about the stuff you need to get rid of? Earlier this year, I pledged that for every thing I acquired, I would get rid of something else. So, knowing that I’ve probably got a couple of gifts on the way, I’ve been giving away loads of old stuff on Freecycle. Freecycle is an online community, with groups in thousands of cities and towns, specifically set up to give and receive stuff for free. You just list your item on the site and people will email you to come and collect it. Easy! This week I got rid of a VHS Video Player, a pasta roller, a towel rack and a bunch of other stuff that was just collecting dust. Consider using Freecycle AFTER Christmas as well, maybe there’s someone out who would really appreciate the bright pink towels your great aunt bought you : P

Christmas stockings I made last year from eco-friendly fabric

Ok, so most of you are probably rushing around like crazy at the moment trying to think which gift to buy what person. It’s not fun, is it? And the other downside is that most of the things you’re going to buy in your average shopping centre are mass-manufactured in another country, in factories that create massive amounts of pollution, out of unsustainable materials, and the items had to be shipped here, creating even more transport pollution. Yicky. The solution? You can make gifts (yes, you can!) or you can buy gifts handmade by other people – in your town! If you’re unsure about your making ability, or you’re not sure what to make, visit the Crafty Christmas Club for stacks of great ideas, many that don’t require much skill. If you want to peruse lovely handmade gifts online, of course Etsy is your first point of call (and you can shop by your location too). If you’re in Australia or New Zealand also check out MadeIt, Blue Caravan, Georgie Love, LeeLoo and Felt. Christmas shopping solved! And you didn’t even have to find a car park.

Next: how are you going to wrap those gifts? Not in that awful santa print cheap wrap from the supermarket! No! You can do it cheaper and prettier. Here are some top gift wrapping ideas:
This blog shows you how to make gift bows out of magazine pages
• Wrapping in fabric, especially for people who like to sew, is a neat idea. You could also wrap in a tea towel, scarf or even a face washer and tie it up with some ribbon.
• If you think wrapping gifts in old newspapers in going to look naff, think again. Look here, here and here.

Finally, what are you eating and drinking this Christmas? If you’re eating meat, is it free range? Look up free range butchers in your area and pre-order your ham. What about the chocolate, is it fair trade? And the wine, organic? Making some smart food-and-drink decisions earlier on will make your Christmas day a lot more ethical.

Christmas decorations (this angel and the snowflake, above) I made from felt a few years ago

There are actually loads of other things you can do to have a more sustainable Christmas, - just think before you buy, cook or throw things out and you will find plenty of opportunities.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's that time again...

That's right people - four weeks until Christmas! And while my overlocker has been in the fix-it shop, I've been doing a type of crafting other than stitching - cardmaking.

I started by drawing some patterns on some thick paper, then painting them using good old acrylics. I just made up the designs - in fact I sketched them whilst on the phone to someone at work (very important business call, obviously).

I bought some blank cards from the craft shop, cut the painted patterns up (actually I gave them that rough edge look by ripping them along a ruler) and stuck them on.

And there you have completely unique, homemade Christmas cards. I need to post mine out soon because I have friends scattered around the globe, and I'd like them to receive their cards before Christmas eve.

Oh, and if you're having a slight panic attack about Christmas approaching and what you're going to make for people, there are LOADS and LOADS of ideas at the Crafty Christmas Club.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tea Cozies Galore

The Stitchybritt sale continues, but only for one more week! I have sold out of a couple of popular mug cozies, but there are still plenty to snap up so get in quickly!

Meanwhile, there is something I've been thinking of doing that many would consider crazy but I'm going to do it anyway... promote other tea cozy makers! The fact is that there are some awesome tea cozies on Etsy, and they're not all made by Stitchybritt ; ) I know this is probably a big marketing no no, but something I've always loved about the handmade community is the willingness to help each other, so why not promote other sellers? Afterall, our tea cozies are handmade and thus unique, so if you are looking for a tea cozy and none of the Stitchybritt ones suit, you should definitely check out these other cozy-makers.

The first tea cozy maker that I am going to promote is What's The Matter With Maryjane? These beautifully knitted tea cozies (like the one pictured above) come in a range of colours, complete with ribbons and rosettes and all things nice. Maryjane (based in Melbourne) says "knitting and afternoon tea are two of my favourite things" - hey, me too!

The second tea cozy star that I would like to mention is Tractor Girl. Tractor Girl (based in Wagga Wagga) uses upcycled fabrics and makes a range of homewares - but, of course, I particularly like her tea cozies (one shown above).

Now, we all know a tea fanatic, so shop Aussie Handmade style this Christmas. You will not be disappointed!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Signing up

This week I signed up for two stitchy challenges.

1. Remember the knitted cardigan/shrug that I started, oh... I don't know, a year ago? Well it's still going (above). Hey - it at least has sleeves now.

Anyway, the lovely Sofie from Fia Lotta Jansson is having a blog challenge to show your unfinished knit projects and finally find that motivation to get them finished.

My goal is now to finish the shrug by the end of this year.

2. I signed up for Wardrobe Refashion. If you haven't seen this site, it is A-MAZ-ING. Stitchers all over the world have pledged to refashion old clothes into new ones or make new ones from scratch, rather than buying them. I just signed up for a 2 month pledge.

Unfortunately, Nikki who runs Wardrobe Refashion has decided to discontinue the site and move onto other things. Nikki has done a brilliant job of running the site for a number of years, but many of us will be sad to see it go. It has been a source of inspiration and ideas for me for some time.

Regardless, I am going to stick to my pledge. So during November and December, there are a few home-made or refashioned items that I want to finish:

1. The shrug mentioned above
2. A dress I am making to wear on Christmas day
3. A purple top that I have the pattern and fabric for (fabric from Reverse Garbage)
4. A shirt-dress out of a men's business shirt that was given to me
5. Something out of some over-sized t-shirts
6. Some cute softie toys out of old jumpers

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lavender Lady Tutorial

Hi All! I put this tutorial over on the Crafty Christmas Club page, but as it's not something I'm actually planning to make for people this Christmas, I thought it was safe to post here.

These sweet little lavender ladies are a modern take on the old fashioned lavender bags that go into your underwear drawer or under your pillow. They make perfect gifts for friends, teachers, colleagues or ‘secret santa’ (Kris Kringle) gifts.

To make a lavender lady, you will need:
Fabric of your choice (approx 2 x 20cm square)
Felt to make the face
Embroidery thread
Needle for embroidery
Sewing machine or needle and thread
Dried lavender (you will find it in craft shops or health food shops)

To begin, fold your fabric over with the wrong side showing. You don’t need a pattern, just draw two overlapping circles straight onto the fabric (use chalk or pencil though, I used a marker so that you could see it in the photo). For my lavender lady the big circle’s diameter is 12cm and the smaller circle’s diameter is 8cm. It doesn’t need to be perfect though! Cut out your little lady and put aside.

Next, cut out a little round face from the felt. Again, just draw the circle straight onto the felt and cut it out. Mine is 4.5cm in diameter. Stitch on some little eyes and a mouth using embroidery thread. If you are making a few lavender ladies, try stitching different expressions on them.

Stitch the face straight onto the head of the body.

Now, lie the two body pieces right sides together and pin them securely. See those two pins at the bottom? They are very important! This is the gap you are going to leave so that you can stuff the body. Stitch the two body pieces together using a sewing machine or hand sewing. Don’t stitch across the gap.

Turn your lavender lady inside out. Looking cute, isn’t she? Start to stuff your lavender lady, alternating between stuffing and spoonfuls of lavender. All up, I put about 5 tablespoons of lavender in mine.

Once she is all stuffed, hand sew the opening at the bottom together.

And there you have it – a very sweet little lavender lady. I tied a little ribbon around her neck to make her look a bit more festive.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Good news! The Stitchybritt November sale is now on! 15% off everything in the store!

Do you always leave Christmas shopping to the last minute, running around, trying desperately to think of gifts that people will really love? Save yourself the panic, buy a Stitchybritt Tea cozy, Mug Cozy or Tea Party Set now, and save yourself some $$$ at the same time. If you are buying for people that love tea, coffee or just pretty things in general, I guarantee they will love it.

Buy Aussie Handmade this Christmas!

Sale runs until the end of November. After that you have to stress out AND pay full price. Hardly worth it, is it?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crafty Christmas Club

Oh boy, am I excited. Two of my favourite things together at last - craft and Christmas. Maybe, like me, you've always associated the two and made your own Christmas gifts since you were a kid. I remember making great gifts such as the coloured-in bit of cardboard with the safety pin taped to the back (brooch - for my Aunty) and coloured-in piece of paper taped around a glass jar (vase - for my Uncle).

The good news is my crafting skills have come around a little since I was 8 years old. The even good-er news is that Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons has started up a Crafty Christmas Club, a blog to share Christmas crafting ideas, gift-making ideas, tutorials and the like. And I am part of it! Yes, I will be blogging lots of gifty ideas and Christmas crafty things in the lead up to the big day.

Now, before I give you the link, there is one condition you must adhere to. You see, I will be posting my handmade Christmas gifts on the blog, so if you are a close friend or family member of mine (i.e. you would usually get a Christmas gift from me) you are not allowed to look at it! Because that would ruin all the fun surprises, wouldn't it?

Ok, now that we have that out of the way - peeps, I present to you: the Crafty Christmas Club.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Business shirt refashion

I picked up this business shirt from the op shop for $4. It was actually fine and I could have worn it as it was, but it just seemed like every other plain business shirt and I wanted to make it a bit more fun. So I cut off the ends of the sleeves, used the fabric to make some ruffles and stitched them back on. Voile! Very easy refashion, very happy Stitchybritt.

P.S. That is our attempted veggie garden in the background. We are having terrible troubles with snails and slugs eating everything! Does anyone know a natural way to stop them eating our seedlings? I tried the beer-in-a-jar-lid trick but so far, no luck : (

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fairtrade fabric (and a bit of chocolate)

This week I signed up to be a Fairtrade Champion and pledged to spend at least $2 per day on fairtrade products. After stuffing my face with Cocolo and Alter Eco chocolate, I thought I would look at buying some fairtrade fabric, being the stitchy person that I am. Turns out that fairtrade fabric is actually not that easy to find! I have had to do some real hunting online, and so far have come up with the following results.

Those awesome girls at Ink and Spindle have some beautiful prints on certified fairtrade cotton.

Fabric of Life have a range of fairtrade fabrics from around the world.

Organic Cotton are based in the UK but will ship to Australia if you ask them nicely. Their fairtrade fabrics are labelled as such.

Bishopston Trading Company are also UK based. They have a nice range, and again, the fairtrade fabrics are labelled.

Another British company, Fairtrade Fabric.

If you know of some other suppliers (especially Aussie ones) please let us know by posting a comment!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Crafty Power Hour

Well, I have finally emerged from the chaos of moving house, and I am pleased to say that I am slowly getting myself back into the crafty community. I missed a whole bunch of cool Sydney crafty events recently (boo!) but managed to catch the last lunchtime Crafty Power Hour put on by Knitty Gritty & Loopy. Crafty Power Hour had been part of the We Craft This City event which was put together by a whole bunch of cool crafty peeps.

At Crafty Power Hour I was taught the very important skills of making plarn (plastic yarn, or yarn made out of used plastic bags) and weaving it into baskets and other cute vessels.

This is the very beginning of my kawaii-sized plarn basket. It is basically made by spiralling the plarn around and holding it in place with blanket-stitched twine.

And here is the finished piece. It's quite small (about the size of an egg cup) but would you believe this is a whole plastic bag worth of plarn? What a great example of recycling, not to mention a super fun way to spend a lunch hour in the city.

Oh, and just a post note: it occured to me recently that many lovely people follow my blog (some through RSS feed) and I don't always get to know about you and your own blogs! So if you read this, please leave a comment with a link to your blog or site, so that I can get to know you too! Thanks xx

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thoughts from amongst the boxes

I think there comes a time in everyone's life, particularly when they're moving house, when they ask themselves "where did I get all this junk from?"

Staring into the cardboard abyss that was my dining room up until last night (pictured above), I certainly asked myself this question. I mean, really, what is in all these boxes? And do I need all of it?

I'd much prefer to live a simple life with less stuff, so I have made myself this promise from now on - for every thing that I acquire, I will get rid of something else. That way, I can't end up with more stuff than what I have now.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New mug cozies

Hi everyone! Just a quick note to say that we are moving house, so I will be offline for a week or so while our internet provider does the big swap-over, and while we pack and unpack our house.

I've just finished a few mug cozies which will be showing up in the Stitchybritt shop over the next few days. Two beautiful Ink and Spindle prints (the blue one I've had in store before, but sold out) and a cute teacup and teapot print that I couldn't resist from a craft shop in Copenhagen. Pop on over and snap them up fast if you would like one.

Take care all!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

It's finished!

Finally the baby blanket for little Jack (who is due tomorrow - so in reality, any minute!) is finished. It will be sent off this week with one of Pepperstitches' cute Antler Boys. Yep, this kid is gonna be the envy of the playground.

The unfinished projects pile still includes the bunny wool cardigan and a dress pattern that I got from BurdaStyle, the pattern cut out but the fabric yet to be touched. Oh well, I suppose two ain't that bad.

Happy Sunday all!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


As Bianca from Goodnight Little Spoon would say - incoming!

I have received my second parcel of amazing goodies in a week. Can you believe it? I entered a competition run by Monica at the Creative Beast, and lo and behold - I won!

I've gotta say - this crafty woman is incredibly generous. Not only was she giving away vintage crafty goodies from her grandma's collection, but she went to a massive effort to package it up beautifully - and pay the not-so-cheap price to send the box all the way from the US to Australia.

First, everything came in this red carry bag, as pictured above (uber useful).

The prize I won was vintage knitting needles, some yarn and some other knitting related goodies. This wasn't even all of it!

As if that wasn't kind enough, Monica looked at my blog, discovered that I have an undying love for tea, and added a whole bunch of tea related gifts to the box.

So, considering this and my last post, I'm feeling pretty spoilt right now. If it's any consolation to you empty mailbox owners out there, it is my birthday week, so I'm just counting these as 'extra' birthday presents.

Oh, and if your mailbox is empty, consider writing to Bianca at Goodnight Little Spoon, she is bound to write back and with decorated paper and envelopes to boot.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

DUST are go!

I have blogged before about the sheer awesomeness of the Etsy Down Under Street Team (DUST) which I am a member of. Just to quickly recap - these are a super supportive and helpful bunch of crafters who are scattered across Australia and who work together to promote each other's work and assist each other with all crafty business endeavours.

You may also remember that I made some teeny weeny crocheted teacups to go in the goodie bags for the DUST Conference, which I was unfortunately unable to attend. Well, those wonderful folk who organised the conference didn't forget me. This week, I got this very exciting package in the mail.

What's in it? Well, let's take a look! Firstly, this DUST carry bag (which is great, coz I use these bags all the time until they wear through and I have to throw them out).

And inside the bag? Goodies! For me!

Check out all these fantastic things! I couldn't believe how generous those DUSTers are! There's a notepad from Wiccked. There's a necklace from TashaChawler. There's earrings from AndyJusty. There's the cutest hairtie from VanillaPixie. And then there's a whole bunch of discount vouchers and other generous offerings from other DUST members.

Needless to say, I was extremely chuffed to receive all these little gifts in the mail. Just goes to show what a wonderful community of people they are. You should so go check out the fantastic things they make. Go on. You know you want to.

Meanwhile, I've got a few new mug and tea cozies which will be added to my etsy shop starting tonight. Here are some in the making.

Adios for now!