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The Girls’ Guide to Homemaking

29 Aug

There is no better way to spend a bank holiday Monday than with a good novel. And if the novel also happens to be full of crafting inspiration, then what’s not to love?

Now I know that chicklit is far from everyone’s cup of tea and the cover of this – The Girls’ Guide to Homemaking – does make it seem like it’s going be pure (and therefore unbearable) sweetness and light throughout. But I was happily surprised, there’s a good plot, a likeable main character with a not-so-happy background and a passion for making retro aprons using her grandmothers’ books from the 1950s, and Amy Bratley does have a rather clever writing style with more linguistic twists and turns than your usual chicklit author.

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finding space…

28 Aug

Some people are addicted to storage solutions. I might be one of them, or it might just be that I NEED to be addicted to good storage when my flat is rather small and certainly not big enough to happily double as a crafting workshop. It took me a while to realise that my boy-o was actually rather annoyed that we could never eat at the dining table because the sewing machine and all of its many accoutrements lived there. Now that I have realised that this could be a little irritating, I’m trying to find ways to incorporate my sewing equipment into the living space without it looking untidy or unwieldy…

I found this wonderful cake stand in a charity shop for £3.50 (I know! BARGAIN!) and after deciding that it was highly unlikely that it would ever contain actual cakes (unless I have another Marie Antoinette party), I thought it would look equally pretty if I filled it with my threads and tape measure and other bits and bobs. I think it looks good in the middle of the table, and doesn’t take up any more space than a vase of flowers would, and I don’t see anybody complaining about flowers!

Tell me, do you have any clever storage solutions for your crafty stuff? I’d love to borrow a few ideas – especially when it comes to storing fabric. I’ve been stashing it in my wardrobe and it’s starting to grate…

Craft Politics

22 Aug

I didn’t start crafting in order to ask deep questions… I just wanted to make things. Or so I thought.

More and more, the big questions underlying domestic craft are taking me over. The history, the sociology, the politics of craft are drawing me in while my sewing machine gathers dust in the corner. Why? Well, I guess I’m a student at heart, and even sewing a seam comes with a fervent desire to weave a theoretical backdrop for what I’m doing.

And why am I doing it? What’s the real reason behind the crafting ‘renaissance’ of the last 5-10 years, and why have so many women (for it is mostly women) re-engaged with domestic life in this way? Is it a move away from feminism, or as I would hope, a move towards it? Is it a way of reclaiming ‘home life’ without becoming trapped in stereotypical expectations?  Is it less about gender, and more a comment on the state of capitalism? Is it a way of combining commerce and community?

Interest in these issues does seem to be growing. There was, for example, an exhibition at the Women’s Library last year (Handmade Tales) that focused on the role of crafting in definitions of womanhood, past and present.

But what about the crafters themselves? How do you see your wonderful projects of making and remaking clothes, interiors, gifts and more? Do you ever ask the big questions about what you’re doing, and if so, what conclusions have you come to?

Sashimi pays her way…

11 Aug

Some of you will have met my dress model before – if not, her name’s Sashimi and she came into my life one happy Saturday when I was strolling around in Angel, London. I’ve never used a dress model before, but I was really excited at the idea of using one since I hate patterns. Here are some of the things I’ve been using Sashimi to make recently…

At the moment I’m pinning together a super slinky halter neck top in a kind of stretch velvet in navy blue that I found remnants of in my local junk shop. As you can see from the picture below, it will require a rather daring mood – but I’ve worn tops of this kind before and  since I’m on the petite side, I found them to be really flattering, especially this kind of softly plunging neckline, so I went with what I thought would work.

I also made this cool little dress. It was originally this maxi dress that I got in a cheapo shop for just £3. I had to have it since I thought the material alone was worth that, but the dress was very poorly designed (for £3, not a surprise) and it was put together very strangely. After a couple of years of sitting in my projects drawer, I’ve finally had a moment and more importantly, the resources (I don’t think I could’ve done the re-style without a dress model to be honest) to get it changed into something I might actually wear!

hello sewing machine, it’s been a while

7 Aug

I’ve finally finished my temporary teaching work, which means I can get back to the psychology phd (which has been hideously neglected so far this summer) and also to crafting. How wonderful. This means, I hope, stepping up the frequency of not just making things, but also of writing about them.

I’m off to a good start at least. I’ve been busy sewing quite a few cushions stuffed with old fabric scraps. This is a wonderful way to not just use up the odd bits and pieces, but also to clear out all the unwanted clutter from your sewing corner. Suddenly I have so much more space now that I’ve made use of the scraps I’ve been stuffing into plastic bags.

These lovely little russian dolls started off life as a coaster from Accessorize given to me by one of my closest friends for Christmas (it was a Russian themed Xmas party). But it makes such a fantastic stencil, I’ve been using it over and over again. It’s not just good on fabric (using fabric paint), it also works well if you want to make fancy wrapping paper from brown paper and normal spray paint.

And ta da, next up are those speech mark cushions that featured a while a go on here but as cushion covers. After a couple of weeks of trialling them as cushion covers, I realised that my envelope backs were not going to be a good enough design to stop them from slipping off the cushion and looking a little messy, so I turned them into smaller, stuffed cushions instead. Much better.

I’ve now rectified my envelope back design (two overlapping pieces of backing fabric, rather than simply a flap to feed into the back of the cushion) so they’re a lot neater, and these cushion covers were made in the new way. I’m in love with this floral print – its one of the ones I found in my local junk shop, but I think it’s really charming. I’d love to know more about where it came from – it looks a little 80s to me, especially when I pair it with the black and purple stripe down the middle.

 

Ah, it does feel good to be back to making things and taking pics and showing them to all of you. It will also be really nice to get back to reading my favourite blogs – most of them crafty, some of them quite random (baggage reclaim in particular, a friend showed it to me as a joke, but I’m completely hooked!). One thing I’m afraid I’m not so looking forward to is getting back to the whole Etsy side of things. I have to say that as the site just gets bigger and bigger, I’m feeling more and more lost on it, and less and less inspired. It’s probably just me, but it does seem like selling things face to face would be a lot more rewarding. Maybe it’s time to organise a local craft fair!


photos = effort

25 Jul

I’m so tired!

After just a few hours of taking photos/choosing the best/editing them/uploading them to my etsy shop, I’m ready for bed. While it’s a creative task, I find it quite draining to keep thinking up new shots and to persevere until you get the right one – especially when it involves climbing trees (see below). What about you? Any tips for great and effortless (wishful thinking) photography??

Meet Sashimi

5 Jul

I’ve been dreaming of her for years, and now she’s finally here in my life! I’m so excited. Please meet Sashimi Boss… Sasha for short.

 

 

I found her after dilly-dallying with the boyo around Angel in London. We’d had some wonderful sushi at a little restaurant on Upper Street (it’s shocking to admit it but this was basically my first sushi experience… yummy but a bit scary at the same time) and then took a little walk on some of the back streets where all the vintage shops and markets live. I’d seen this shop before but every time I’d gone by it had been closed… This time, fantastique!, it was open and there was Sashimi standing outside of the shop and waiting to be bought for a mere £39. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her – just think of the hours I can spend pretending to be on Project Runway!

Getting her out of the shop required a battle with the eccentric (cough… plain evil) shopkeeper who only really wanted to sell to retailers and not to poor members of the public such as moi, but I came out victorious and Sasha’s the prize. I can’t wait to design something a little bit crazy on her – something that would never come in pattern form.

Do you have a dress mannequin? If so, what’s their name?