Craft, stitchin' and sustainable living

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Sun Hat

With summer coming up here in Australia, and an outdoorsy friend's birthday around the corner, I decided that a sun hat would make an excellent handmade gift.  The hat has rows of stitches around the brim which helps to keep it sturdy, and has a contrasting fabric for lining.

The pattern for the sun hat comes from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing book, and the fabric is Cloth.  I actually won a sampler of Cloth fabrics from the Crafty Minx blog a few months ago, and this was the perfect opportunity to use some of it (by the way, if you love a bit of crafty vintage, you'll love the Crafty Minx blog).  As the gift was from boyfriend and I to our friend, he helped to cut out the fabric, fuse interfacing and stitch it together.  Go crafty boyfriend!

In other news, I've started blogging at the Crafty Christmas Club blog again, alongside many others who are making rather than buying gifts.  It's a great resource for handmade Christmas gift ideas, and a fun place to check out what others are making.  However, if you are a close friend or family member of mine I will have to ask you to refrain from visiting the Crafty Christmas blog - you wouldn't want to spoil any surprises!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Making sauerkraut in pictures... start with a cabbage and an apple...

 ... it's ok if you find little fellas like this, it means the cabbage wasn't drowned in pesticides.  Just pop him in the garden (or feed him to the chooks)...

...finely chop your cabbage and apple...

...pop it in a bowl and salt it up!...

...then mash!  Mash for your life! (or at least until the juices are coming out)...

...spoon it into a sterilized jar.  It's ok to get some on your hand (and the bench and the floor)...

... cover with cling film, put another jar on top (you want to make sure it is all submerged in juices) and cover with cling film again...

...pop it in the fridge and wait a couple of weeks.  Then you will have yummy sauerkraut to have with your sausages, your mash, your veggies, your rice.

Oh, and a quick update on Buy Nothing New Month.  Day 22 and all going well.  Only slight error I might have made was to buy paper kitchen towels while I was picking up some food supplies the other day.  I'm not a big paper towel user (tea towels all the way!) but occassionally there is a need for paper towels, for example, when the kitty vomits.  And now that I've put you all off your dinner, I'll be off!  See ya!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jersey dress

My sewing machine and overlocker are finally back from the repair shop - hurrah! - and the minute they came home I wasted no time in getting to work stitching. One of the October projects I promised myself that I would finish was the Burdastyle Jersey Dress, made from patterned jersey that I bought in Amsterdam.

Like many Burdastyle website patterns I've encountered, the instructions were unfortunately fairly vague, but thankfully this pattern is relatively simple so I just used common sense to put it together. Most of the seams came together very quickly with my overlocker (I love that about jersey).

Really the only problem that I encountered was the neckline. I started with some of the same fabric to make binding, but it wouldn't sit right, so then I went for facing with top stitching. The first time I put in the facing the neckline went very warped and gapey, so I dutifully unpicked it all and pinned it in again, stretching the facing slightly as I went. This seemed to work better, but there's still a bit of gapey business going on - as pictured below. Experienced stitchers - any suggestions as to what I'm doing wrong? Do I just need to stretch the facing more as I stitch?

The dress is wearable in its current state, but I don't want it to become one of those items that falls to that back of my wardrobe being overlooked everytime I remember its gaping neck. So your advice would be much appreciated! What to do with a gapey neck?

Monday, October 10, 2011

A pardon

 Less stuff, more happiness TEDtalk by Graham Hill

After my accidental Buy Nothing New Month error, I tweeted about it and got this response from the @Buy_Nothing_New twitter account:

u'll be pleased to know tixs to circus oz is not a fail. Buying a brand new outfit to see circus oz however wld be epic fail

I'm taking that as an official pardon!  Yay!  And no, I will definitely not buy a new outfit to see Circus Oz!

(By the way, you can follow me on twitter @stitchybritt if you so desire)

Since then, all I've bought is food, drinks and a train ticket.  That's it.  I've actually been quite busy, so I haven't really even looked at any other kind of shop.  Only a few minutes ago I bid on a second hand jacket (for work) on eBay and won.

In the meantime, check out the blogs of these other awesome peeps who are also participating in Buy Nothing New Month:

Thrify Household (even though Buy Nothing New Month is promoted as an Australian thing, that didn't stop this UK lass from joining in)
Isis Made
The Byron Life

Are you doing Buy Nothing New Month and I missed you?  Comment and let me know, I'd love to read all about it!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Granny squares

While my dear sewing machine AND overlocker are at the service shop, I've had to start a new crochet project to keep my hands busy.  I started crocheting these blooming granny squares with some old yarn from my stash, then realised that I could turn them into a cushion cover for a friend who is having a birthday is a few weeks.  I need to crochet 16 (!) of them to cover one side of the cushion.  I'd best get busy!

I'm a bit concerned about my end of October goal to have my jersey dress and high-waisted shorts finished, given that my sewing machine and overlocker will both be at the service shop until next weekend.  Looks like I've got some stitchy weekends ahead of me.

In other news, I made my first (and hopefully last) Buy Nothing New Month error.  I bought something new.  It was only two little tiny bits of paper, but it's still new.  It's tickets to see Circus Oz in January.  I could try to justify the purchase by saying that it was a limited release special, and that they are amazing performers who deserve public support, and that they are an ethical company who support a number of charities... which is all true, but the truth is - I was not supposed to buy anything.  And I totally didn't realise until AFTER I bought the tickets.  Ok.  Lesson learnt.  No more new things for October.  I promise!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Buy Nothing New Month

Vintage blue sandals I picked up from LaFemme Vintage on Etsy
It's October peeps! (Holy crap - I'd better start thinking about Christmas!) And did you know that October is officially Buy Nothing New Month?  I have pledged to buy nothing new for the whole month.  What's it all about?

It's about slowing down rabid consumerism.

It's about buying second-hand, so less stuff goes to landfill.

It's about saving money.

It's about rethinking the way we consume goods, the impact these goods have on the world, and the way we dispose of them.

The website explains that you can still buy new food, drink, medicine and hygiene items*, but my 'allowed' list will be food, drink, (hopefully no need for) medicine and train tickets.  But anything else will need to be sourced second hand, borrowed or home made.

"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy crap we don't need" Tyler Durden

I love that the Buy Nothing New site quotes Fight Club, my most favourite movie ever.  And while we're talking Buy Nothing New, why not take a ticket from the thrift-fashion icon herself, Marla Singer?

Marla Singer in her $1 thrift-shop dress (image from here)

Honestly, I don't think Buy Nothing New Month will be that much of a challenge for me, because I rarely buy new stuff anyway.  Most of my clothes come from op-shops, or are homemade (and really, I have so much fabric I won't be needing to buy any new for a while).  I have Ebay alerts set up for items I'm particularly looking for, like books and kitchenware.  I used to frequent Freecycle, but now I only use it for giving stuff away.  In fact, whenever I think about buying something 'new' now (for example, we are planning to buy an air conditioner to survive the summer) I think about where I can source it second hand, rather than where to buy one new.  I also have the added advantage of being crafty, so if someone's birthday or another event springs up, I should be able to pull something together.

But we'll see!  Maybe there'll be unexpected challenges?  Maybe something will break and will need replacing?  I promise to keep you updated.

October reading: a book about the unsustainable nature of the fashion industry, lent to me by a colleague.
*If we're talking about women's hygiene/sanitary items, then I won't need to buy those because I use a Lunette Cup.  These are not well publicised in Australia (but you can buy them in health food stores and similar) and they are so much better than the supermarket options - for your body, for your wallet, and for the environment.  Ladies, I recommend trying them out!