Monday, 31 March 2014

Papercut Forest

Aargh! I hate this messing about with clocks! My system seems to tolerate it less and less as the years go. Today I feel jet-lagged and feeble. I slept enough, but my body isn't really happy about the change in the rhythm and the disappearance of the light in the early morning.  I don't mind if the powers to be want to leave the time into summer time mode for ever and I technically would lose an hour of my life, just stop changing it. (That is rubbish of course, because I live the time I live, it doesn't really matter how it is measured).
I love papercutting. The forest was inspired by a card I received, but the idea of making a papercut for this shadow frame was there already. There is very little to say, the pictures tell it all.

The "door" open,  so you don't have the reflection of the glass, but you will see also bits, which are not on the show when the front is closed.

 I wish I could get myself doing these some more often, so I could get better at it. A good papercut is a fantastic piece of art in my opinion. (Mine is not really art, just craft).

Friday, 28 March 2014

White wardrobes, printing corner and a bit about paints

Yesterday evening I came home from my yoga class to the news of Elf Son having chicken pox. He has managed this suitably for his birthday weekend. Maybe he takes after me...I had it even older and to my birthday too! At fourteen the experience was mind-blowing for all the wrong reasons, but  at least I am in no doubt that I have had it!

Our bog-standard fitted wardrobes from IKEA from our last house were brown and not very nice brown at that. We decided to take them with us, as buying new ones would have meant a big dent into our small budget. To make them nicer to look at, I decided to paint them white. For this job I chose "Annie Sloane" paint. It is a chalk paint and comes in various colours. Mine is "old white".  The good thing about this paint is that it does not have any nasties in it. It does not stink and as a bonus you do not need to sand or prime otherwise the object you are going to paint. The downside? Well, you have to wax and polish it to make the surface withstand usage. There are a lot of different layering techniques too, to make the result to look "shabby chic". As I was not that interested in the effect, I just used a good synthetic brush to get quite even result.

The result is by no means even, if you compare to a "normal" wood paint. I like it as it is, so everything is fine. I also used it in the outside of our shoe rack. If you want to repaint, you do not need to take the wax away, just paint over it.

This is the "missing corner" I did not show from our bedroom. The trolley has our two printers and a scanner and place to put a laptop on. It is a really useful feature as it means that we don't need to have these space hoggers on our desks. You can see my "printer cover tablecloth" on the lower shelf.

My visitors mentioned that the bedroom did not look nearly as big in the pictures as it is in reality. I must make a series of pictures, which showcases the floorspace.

Do you have favourite "natural" paints? I would like to hear, since the doing-up our house is not even nearly done and I am always on a look-out for good products. I have a post brewing about ur experiences with paints and floor treatments. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

2014 Edited List of Organic and Fair Trade Fabric Suppliers

I wrote this post  a good while ago and have now edited it a bit. Some of the traders have stopped and there are new places I have found since the first time around. In addition, when I have cast my eyes on the stats of this blog, this seems to be the post getting regular hits. I deduct that there is a need for this type of a list.

The debate following Sarai's post here brought up an issue many a home seamstress has undoubtedly thought about; what is the pedigree of the material I am using? I don't have shops to choose from where I live. There is a fair drive to the nearest shop selling dressmaking fabrics and I can get a very limited range of quilting/craft cottons in the town I live, so most of my fabrics come via internet.

I would like to choose better, although there are times when needs or artistic requirements must. It is no get-out clause, just being realistic about how much choice there is about. My recent internet research shows that the choice is far greater than just a few years back.

It is not all about organic-not organic either. Just by buying linen instead of cotton, if it is practical, saves the environment. Linen has a shortish growing period from seed to fibre and doesn't need as many chemicals. It is also a plant, which grows in colder climates.

Wool is of course great, it comes from animals, which grow it again and again, although the process of making it to fibre- yarn- fabric is not necessarily so.

There is also bamboo, growing at an unimaginable speed. I do not know how environmentally friendly the process of extracting the fibres from the bamboo is. Many eco-friendly firms seem to market the fibre, so I hope that it is OK.

Here are some links to the shops I have found. If you have others, please add in the comments and I will edit my list. The list is UK centred with a clear intent, but the shops send to other countries too.

Fair Trade Fabric sells fabrics and habedashery, both organic and fair trade! Good place to start.

Organic Cotton sells of course cotton, but also bamboo and linen fabrics. You can also buy organic sewing thread. They know personally the weavers of their fabrics! The site lay-out is slightly old-fashioned in my mind, but I don't care, they have great stuff to reasonable prices and it is fairly traded.

Ecotale sells linens sourced from European factories (less airmiles, no labour exploitation). They have a very informative site about how to choose the linen for your project.

Eco Earth  has a vast array of undyed organic fabrics. There are a few coloured ones in between as well. You can even buy silk, which is made without harming the larva inside the cocoon. If you want to make your own cloth nappies, this is the site to visit. They have all the things for it, also FOLD OVER ELASTIC! I have had such hard time trying to find anybody selling this in the UK. They also sell fabric dyes suitable for the fibres in fabrics, so you can have these things with some colour.

The following shops are not dedicated organic/fair trade shops, but have in their collection organic fabrics.

Just put "organic" in the search box, so you don't need to trawl through all the collections to decide which ones qualify.

Ray Stitch  has a good choice of different types. It also has 100% wool felt in three different thickness and bamboo jersey.

Merchant And Mills has some organic fabrics and in general fabrics I love. They are oldfashioned, great quality fabrics in pretty muted palette. This is the stuff the classics are made of. 

Celtic Fusion fabrics 
They have organic prints to die for. I had to speed navigate away from their site as I was in dire straits on temptations. You are warned!

Frumble Fabrics
Very geometric and modern vintage inspired prints this year.

The Eternal Maker 
Here you need to go "type of fabric" and choose organic.
There are over 200 different prints, so you are spoiled for the choice.

The Wool Felt Company
has not organic felt, but has a selection on 100% wool felt, also some handmade!

For readers in the US and of course others as well

Simplifi Fabric  has a great selection of both fabrics in different fibres and baby related items. Brilliant place.

The fabric illustrations in this post are all organic, as far as I remember. Most of them are out of print, but there are equally cute things on the offer out there. Monaluna is responsible for the animal ones and they tend to have this type quirky prints, which melt my heart.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Pondering about the bathroom

This morning felt crispy when I set my foot in our back yard. The drinking water for birds had been frozen overnight. Nothing at all unusual for this time of the year. The surprising bit came when I heard in the weather forecast that the night had been one of the coldest of this winter. That says a lot about how mild this winter has been.

We knew from the word go, that the bathroom in this house needed doing. I was all for having it done before we moved in, but the best laid plans and budgets and so on...

The renovation is going to happen over the Easter holidays as we are staying at home and can be smelly without assaulting other people's sensibilities. The plan has always been to replace the odd beige coloured suite with a basic white one. Nothing fancy as such, easy to change colours and styles around it and it does not date that easily.

We (or rather I ) have been pouring over the selections of tiles, being mindful of both the budget and longevity. I ordered some samples:

They were all pretty, but it is funny how in situ the tile I least expected to choose was the best one. It is actually huge and could not fit the picture above.

As we both liked this one best, I started to work on the additional tiles I wanted for the sink area and the vinyl for the floor. This is what we decided:

The greyish background is the big tile for the bath/shower area. The patterned one is for surrounding the sink with.  It is a part of a "patchwork", so there will be a selection of six different patterns in the same colour. The dark piece is the vinyl for the floor and the white paper is there to represent the white sanitary ware. I am starting to get excited about this!

I tried to be smart with the picture, arranging the colours in their respective quotas. It didn't quite work. The walls will be white as well, so the dark vinyl and grey tile should cover approximately the same with lots of white.  The patterned one will be a drop in the ocean.

I admit that I despair with the amount of necessary, but "invisible" stuff we need to buy; the aquapanels to make the stud wall, the pipes and screws and such. We are doing this on a little budget, but I would not call it cheap...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Ehm...What's that?

It is a waterproof cover for our newly installed washing line.

 The line is actually meant for indoor use, but as we had it, we decided to use it as long as it lasts in our yard. To prolong its life, I sewed a cover for it against the UV radiation and water. It is used when the line is not in use.

This is the type of sewing is what I probably do most; mending, altering and making stuff, which is not necessarily pretty, but useful. It might not be the most inspiring to show, but it is very satisfying for me to know that I can do these things and prolong the usage.

It pains me when I hear that people don't know how to sew a button back on their clothing. In sewing terms it is equal of "I don't know how to boil an egg". Even if your needlework lessons were useless or in worst case non-existent, you can certainly find instructions on YouTube and other places on the net. A packet of needles and a reel of cotton lasts long and is a low cost investment to keep your garments going.  Sorry. I think I might be preaching for converted. I just could not believe this "cannot sew a button" statement, when I first heard it uttered, but had to revise my beliefs when I had heard it several times.

Hopefully you can sew a button on. If not, here are the instructions:

Happy Mending!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Cushion Cover Remake

We have couple of BIG cushions on our bed. They are handy, when we want to read in a more upright position. One of them is covered with red polka-dot fabric and another has had this very wild turquoise number on it. It was never intended on our bed with those colours. I had a plan to use a lovely old, square, white tablecloth. This I planned to use to make the front with. When I dug it out from my stash, I noticed that it was bigger than this cushion. The embroidery and all the work on it was far too nice to sacrifice by cutting, so I reverted to plan B.

Plan B was to use an embroidered tablecloth I had bought from a charity shop for a while ago for this type of use. It has been covering our printers. The cloth was actually big enough to make a cushion cover and printer cover, so now I have unintentionally matched textiles in our bedroom.

I chose to leave an opening and fasten it with ribbons. Quite often I use a zip (which I did not have, while the mood to make this took me) and  sewing it shut was to make too much of rod for my own back for later as a white cushion cover will need frequent washing.

It sits nicely on our colourful bed with all the polka-dots, gingham and the mad bird cushion.

Have you been up-cycling or re-purposing old textiles? I would love to see! Leave a comment and a link, if you have.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Three reasons to be happy

As a mini gratitude meditation:

My long desired cast iron teapot, which not only looks fab, but brews my green tea magically to perfection.

My new, old home. I love our house. There are a lot of things to do before it looks as we would like to, but it does not matter. I have noticed how much better the air is in an old building like this compared to our last home, which was built in mid 80s.

Three succulent plants on our bedroom window sill. The picture gives vibes of quite minimalistic, Scandinavian  interior, which happens not to be the case. I enjoy my window sill minimalism! Actually in my head I have two separate dwellings; downstairs with its dark stained floors and quarry tiled kitchen, not very Victorian, but rather earthy and upstairs whiteness with splashes of brighter colours and lots of light. Love them both!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Take two of the jacket

I made a jacket a few years back out of Ottobre pattern, although I did change it quite a lot. I loved the jacket and wore it a lot. A while ago I noticed that I had not been wearing it this winter and wondered why. The colour? Model? No, it was still a lovely jacket, just so worn out that I could not wear it out of the house! Time to make a new one, I thought. I am trying to sew from my stash as far as possible and I had been marinating a lovely herringbone patterned wool for quite sometime. This is not boiled wool, so sewing was a bit more difficult.

 I decided to bind the edges to make a neat finish inside the jacket as I did not want to have a lining. I use these jackets as one might use a cardigan; for warm clothing during the winter and instead of a jacket in the summer. I am not so sure about the summer bit with this one as the fabric has a  very wintery pattern.

This time I chose three buttons, like the pattern recommended.

As a first I also made bound buttonholes. (Certainly not in the pattern).

I used lining silk around the neckline and front opening to decrease the bulk. Admittedly I was very proud of this as the woollen fabric is not the easiest material to bind the buttonholes in.

 The sleeves were altered to be long again and I dropped the satin ribbon on the pockets.  I did install them on a slant like in the pattern.

I am pleased with this jacket and hope that it will serve me maybe even longer than the previous one due to the better quality material.

Have a lovely weekend! I am looking forward to a family visit from afar, so will be busy entertaining.  I love having guests and squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of the occasion when anybody makes it to our shores. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


I made these socks to use some of my odds and ends of woolly nature. Even when using up yarn, I still need to make the socks pleasing for my eye, silly, I know. I do use them at home all the time and they are "on the show", so I am not hiding them in my wellies out of sight.

These were the first ever socks I have made with the front of the sock knitted smooth and the back with knit two-purl two. It makes the pattern on the ankle visible and nice, but allows some stretch as well. That means that the socks don't need to be too wide around the ankles, I like them snug fitting.

I got so carried away with the pattern that I managed to make them a tad too long for me, even after I made a very steep and inelegant reduction in the toe part of the sock.

Do you have any good useful  ideas for using up left over yarns? Any ideas gratefully received!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Baggy gifts

This is a bit of a catch-up post. In my post from December I said that I had not made any gifts and didn't intend to. Well, I didn't until it was almost too late. "I just have to make at least one", I thought and produced these: Make-up bags for our twin nieces.

 A tote bag for their big sister.

All well and fine and not too difficult or time consuming...and then the devil took me and I suddenly had an urge to produce a shoulder bag in plastic coated cotton. I don't know where this urge came from, maybe from seeing too many people carrying their Cath Kidston plastic covered satchels.

So my poor sister-in-law was given this thing, which I made a pattern for

and sewed in a day as a prototype!

And as you can see, there is room for improvement. Dear S, you won't be gifted another one, I will make something nicer next time, I promise!

Have you had odd urges of making recently?

Friday, 7 March 2014

New life for jewellery

I have a confession: I have an awful lot of jewellery, far more than I need. I am all for purging one's box and taking it to the goldsmiths, but what I have, I like.

In the process of buying stuff for bag making I was visiting a leather shop. They had a bagful of leather  thongs going cheaply as they were not the prime wares. I bought the lot to play with. One of the first things I did was to try some of my pendants hanging from them. And WOW! They looked totally different and equally lovely as been hung from a chain. I felt as if I had doubled the amount of pendants I have. (And no, I did NOT need the doubling). I have now used some of the pendants first time in a very long time, because they look fresh in my eyes.

Do you have any cool ideas for the bunch of leather thongs? Please leave a comment, I love to play with leather, the smell is heavenly!

Thursday, 6 March 2014


in shirts are Elf Son's favourite. I could buy my son a top to the price of making one, but the quality of the material would not be this good. They wash without piling and look as new after heavy use. And as before, no Mums were harmed in making of these garments!

 I bought the material for these in here. Although the material needs to come all the way from Germany, it is really worth the wait. I generally wait until I have a need for  several things and then order "in bulk". Many of the fabrics do have the "oeko-tex" mark. The 100% cotton jerseys are thick and really good quality.  Their viscose jerseys are nice too, just much more slinky to handle, naturally. I made a grey skirt of it last year.

I don't make all my son's clothes, not even nearly. We get some hand-me-downs, I buy some second hand and few new. All in all he doesn't seem to need or want too many clothes and wearing a uniform to school takes care of the everyday clothes. Obviously he changes when he comes home, but a set of clothes can be worn several days at this age.

Confession: I took the black and white shirt off the son's back and artfully folded one sleeve as to hide a food stain on the sleeve. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

E Coli Happens or Ei menny niin ku Strömsössä

Just to keep things real. It is not all crafts, baking and sunshine here in the hut.

I was struggling yesterday to make our ten day food plan. This is by the way one most effective ways of reducing food waste and keep the budget under control in my opinion and experience.  I was begging suggestions from my family as my brain just wouldn't yield anything interesting and easy enough and made it in the end with a herculean effort.  I even compiled a shopping list for this morning. Pleased with my staying power I ripped the old menu off the fridge and threw it into the kitchen bin, put the new one on and used an extra magnet to hang my shopping list overnight on the fridge door. Or that is what I thought...
This morning, almost ready to roll I was grabbing my list just to realise that it was the old menu. The new one was where it should be, so the shopping list was naturally in the BIN! And as  I was a lazy bone last night, I threw it in the mixed waste bin.

AAARGHHHHHHH!!!! I had to fish it out under tealeaves and other waste, so that I didn't have to do all the thinking and checking the ingredients again. (I did copy it out rather than using the manky copy for shopping!)

 Note to self: Use recycling bin for ALL writing paper waste.

Twin Gifts

As per usual I have been making gifts for our twin nieces. This time a short consultation with their Mum resulted in making things for their room, cushion covers to be precise. I cannot remember when I have last panicked this badly about something reasonably simple to make. The sewing stars were not aligning themselves at all. I had an awful time deciding the design, did not ever get a result which I was totally happy with, but as I was yet again very late at it, had to push on with what I had in mind.

The twins' Mum tipped me off with colours they favour at the moment, so that was at least decided for me. This one was easyish as the spotty fabric was readily available on the local high street.

Making the pink one was tough a journey. I suddenly realised that I had practically run out of pink material as I don't often use it for my own things. I managed to dig out a few pieces from my assortment of left over materials, but had to go and buy a bigger piece for the back and for the background of the "flag". My local shops seemed to have only a piggy and brownish shade of pink or the desired shade but in a design destined for the nursery. (And not very nice ones). In the end I made a lucky find in the charity shop of a pink cotton shirt, which was in good condition. That saved me from sewing one set of buttons and button holes as well!

The covers ended up all wonky, but hopefully it is not too noticeable when they are plump with a cushion inside them.

Crafting against the clock on Saturday morning I put together these cards to go with the presents and got them to the post office with fingers sticky with glue. I made it, but I am traumatised for life!

Have the sewing stars been aligned for you?

Sunday, 2 March 2014


When we moved to our new house a lot of stuff got re-arranged and many of the baskets ended in the kitchen holding food in the open shelf arrangement. We used to have an African basket for our paper bin. Now it houses a lot of dry goods in the kitchen.

It was a frustrating thing to have to carry all the paper waste downstairs, so quite a lot of it ended in the mixed bin for a while. I decided  that enough was enough and certainly I could make one with what I had at home.

I used old IKEA black and white cotton canvas and some heavy weight interfacing and made this:                                                                                                                             


It has worked very well and even though I was slightly worried about Husband's reaction to the psychedelic pattern, he was cool with it.

I think this was a pleasing way of decreasing my stash and solve a sorting problem.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Life, Universe and Everything

 Long time no see. Well. I have been humming and haring about what to do to this blog, to my life and the Universe. I am back and intend to blog more about the life in general and keep this as my personal diary of what I am thinking and doing. You are welcome to read it too, if it interests you.

Lately I have been in process of making patterns for a line of bags I intend to make and sell. Deciding what type of materials and models I am producing has taken quite a while and I have been bothering both friends and family with questions and musings. I hope to show you soon the first fruits of the production.

My philosophy of making things for sale is in line with my own values; they need to be simple, practical, durable and hopefully beautiful. I have had qualms of whether I can justify to produce more goods into the world, which is already bursting with things. By making bags and dolls, both something pretty personal and useful, I hope that I can persuade a few people to buy with thought of sustainability.

Personally, I use both my bags and clothes until they are not fit to use any more. When I make or buy new, I try to choose well-made and good quality natural materials. I repair, re-use and recycle, in that order. I just patched up a couple of flat sheets, which had holes in them. To my surprise I could still remember from the school needle craft lessons how to do this. I doubt that very many people do it any more or even know how to.  A quick look on Google didn't reveal an article or video on this! That's a first. Maybe I should make one.

We have used fabric napkins for a good while and this has a big effect on how much paper kitchen towel  is used in our kitchen. Washing of the napkins is no extra load as the white washing they go into, would have been done anyway. We have tried a number of different napkins, but my favourite ones are made out of IKEA tea towels by cutting each towel in four pieces and hemming them. I have just sewed a new set as our old ones are quite grubby.

Now that I am back, I will show you some of the things I have made while it has been quiet here on the blog. Stay tuned in!