Monday, October 26, 2009

Screen printing fun

Not as much sewing in the last week or so, although I do have some things traced off and cut out ready to put together. Just have to get motivated again.

Here, finally, are pics of my two yr old's complete outfit - you've seen it in bits.

On Sunday I went to a Prints Charming screen printing workshop. I printed this fabric - which will probably become dresses for the girls - something simple to show off the print.

I'm so use to having co-ordinates to sew with though that now I'm finding it hard to get motivated to sew; I just keep thinking of co-ordinates I could print to go with this fabric. As soon as the rain stops I'll have to have a few printing days.
You may know that I've done screen printing before, but mostly finer, detailed stuff, and mostly printed as a border or similar - as shown in these posts (note - right click and chose "open in new tab" or page if you don't want to lose your spot here). I have done one print (scroll down to the butterflies) that has different colours and overlapping bits, but it still has some detail stuff.
It was fun to just do the large simple prints and not to worry about spending too long getting the drawings exact, etc. I will definitely do more fabric in this style - probably with co-ordinates next time though!
I also have a few other fun screen printing ideas that I hope to try out in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned ...
To finish, a few pics from the garden.

Hopefully I'll be more productive in the next couple of weeks - my "list" is so long at the moment that I really need to get going with it all.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

How do people find time to blog every day?

I don't know how so many people seem to get so much done AND still they manage to blog about it regularly. I don't seem to have time to blog and sew in the same evening. I keep trying to do quick updates, and not write much, but by the time I crop the photos it's getting late.

Look at this blog - it's one I use to visit quite a lot. When I first started visiting it, there were SIX YEARS of posts, with almost one post a day!!! It's a food blog, so just about every day they took a picture of their dinner and wrote about it. How do you do that?!

Anyway, here is another round of pics. I may not write much then for a few days (we'll see).

Here's the tee I made for myself. Excuse the dreadful pic.

Here are a couple of little needle felted cups I made for our play kitchen. My 2 yr old has been playing with them since they were made. The first (with the heart) was a bit thin but I've added more wool since taking these pics. I was rushing a bit when I made them so I'm sure they could be a lot better - more wool and then felted more would be good. The star one is already a lot better then the first one.

This is a little needle felted bunny. It's in brown wool because that was the best that I had, but it means that the features don't photograph well. It was fun to do. Now I want to make a whole host of animals. The two pics look quite different colours but that's just how they happened to turn out - it is the same bunny photographed on the same table. Remember, I'm still just practicing with my felting - I've only made a very few things - in fact, 3 birds (well, 2 big birds and a nest of 3 babies) and the cups (and the balls, but they are a completely different technique) before these bunnies. I am not completely happy with the bunny - it isn't perfect, but I still really like it, and it was fun. And best of all, my daughter likes it.

Trying to decide if the pink had can go with the cherry dress. Hmmm ... might need to make a few more hats!

The felted bowls - you saw them prefelting - when just knitted, in a previous post. These have been through a hot wash and dry twice, and then dampened and shaped over containers, then left to dry for a couple of days. I have the next size up knitted ready to wash, and the next are on the needles but not with much knitted. Not sure if I'll do these again, only because I have too much other knitting to do. I do really like them, but they are just a lot of work. I will be really pleased when I have the whole set done though.
First two pics are the group of three - waiting for three more to make up a rainbow stacking set for the kids' play shelves.

This is just a set of two that will go in the play kitchen. My daughter has already been using the smaller one to serve me pretend soup (and lots of it!).

And a denim skirt for my 8 yr old. Ottobre, 1/03, #21. She asked for a denim skirt - I was thinking of something using lovely quilting fabric, but this is what she wanted. I think I'll still make her a fancy fabric one, but just after I get the summer basics all done for all the kids (and maybe even something for me and my fella).

Just thought I'd throw in a pic of our pizza. I don't think the picture does it justice. It was a simple one - mostly to just use leftovers. It used the dough that I've talked about before and shown pics of before - that you just keep in the frig ready to use. I love it - so quick. Sometimes I make a quick pizza before school for the kids to take for lunches, it's so easy. The school one is particularly easy because they only want cheese and tomato paste!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 09

Today is Blog Action Day, which means that lots of bloggers are taking time out from their usual topics to write about the environment. I've been pondering exactly WHAT about the environment I was going to write about, what I could encourage readers to think about and perhaps to take action on. My topic of choice was going to be food. If you know me well, you may know that I'm vegetarian. There are many benefits of being vegetarian, with one of them being a smaller environmental footprint. I had decided that my aim from this post was to encourage readers to try and cut meat out of just one of their meals a week - if you eat meat regularly 7 days a week, try and cut it back to 6. If you currently eat meat 4 days a week, cut it back to 3. I still want to encourage you to do that.

But I went looking for figures - something that showed numerically the difference this would make - so that I could say something like "If just 50 people reduced their meat consumption by one meal a week, then ... (insert fabulous result here)." In the process of looking for this information, I went through an Ecological Footprint quiz.

Do you know, that even though I had a smaller footprint then the Country Average in all categories (especially food), the results were still disheartening. If everyone in the World had a Global footprint the size of mine, we would need three and three quarter worlds to sustain us. This actually is no surprise, considering how our affluent lifestyles are so dependent on other people living in such poverty and oppression.

This is something that I think about a lot. So many of the consumer items we buy are only cheap for us because they are "expensive" - in quality of life, environment, etc - for others. We have cheap clothing because of sweatshops; we have cheap electricals because of environmental and labour exploitation; etc. I feel upset (upset isn't the right word, but I can't think of a better one)when I hear about what a bargain there is available somewhere - some cheap clothes - t-shirts for only a couple of dollars and similar. How could anyone have been paid properly in the stages of creating those clothes. People don't always understand why I sew all of our clothes - apart from the few clothes that we buy from "ethical" stores - organic, fairtrade items, and the like. Especially it can be hard for people to understand why I make basics like t-shirts when they're so easy to buy.

It is a similar situation with toys. There are good quality, nice toys available. They are even available in natural materials - fabrics, nice wood, etc. But being mass produced and cheap, I have to wonder who is paying the real price for a lot of these products - especially when there are so many hands that these items have to go through, all skimming off their share of the $$$, to get to me. How can the few dollars that I pay for these items really pay the full "cost" of them? I'd rather buy a few, more expensive (and usually more beautiful), handmade items, direct from the craft person, then have lots of mass produced items. Or I'd rather buy the materials and learn how to make some interesting toys myself. Or we can do without.

There are lots of toys in my house. There are lots more toys then we need. Over the years we've been given lots for presents, hand-me-downs, etc. I'm trying to cut back. If you know me personally and have been in my house (particularly in my son's room!) you might not believe me, but it's hard when the kids have grown up accumulating all these toys.

How can we live like this?

Please don't think I'm judging any individual people. I'm judging all of us. How did we get to this stage? I'm judging myself mostly. How can we think this is all okay? How can we not even worry about it? How can we continue to just consume at such great speed, without even giving a thought to the impact?

I really was just going to talk about food, but now I've wandered way off that topic, so I'll pull this back now briefly again to my food discussion, and try and give you a few ideas and links.

This is the Ecological Footprint calculator that I used (click anywhere on the sentence). One of the things I liked about it was that it asked questions I could easily answer without leaving the computer, so I actually completed it. For some of the other calculators I had to go and find electricity bills and similar, so I didn't get through them. I'm sure they introduce a further level of accuracy, but what I wanted was a quick snapshot of how I was doing and the difference some changes might make.

So with the calculator that I used, there were multiple choice options. I could chose each option and see straight away the impact it would have. Here is an example. This is copied straight from the calculator, which I hope is okay to do as I'm referencing it.

On the food footprint page it says:

"Next we estimate your food footprint. Your food footprint includes the area needed to grow crops, fish, and graze animals and absorb carbon emissions from food processing and transport."

And this is the first question:

"13. What best describes your diet?
Vegan – plant based foods only
Vegetarian – primarily plant based foods, but some dairy
Omnivore – an assortment of meat, seafood, vegetables, dairy and grains
Carnivore – meat, seafood and dairy several times a week
Top of the food chain – meat, seafood or dairy at almost every meal"

Now, I played with my answers. The country average on this is 26.88 gha.
When I marked
*Vegan, my food footprint was 13.40 gha
*Vegetarian, my food footprint was 18.20
*Omnivore, my food footprint was 26.88
*Carnivore, my food footprint was 35.57
*Top of the food chain, my food footprint was 40.37

So I could see clearly the impact of the different diets.

There is also an explanation link if you want it ... "A plant-based diet is significantly less land and energy intensive than a diet with a high proportion of meat, seafood, and dairy. A recent study found that a low-fat vegetarian diet needs 0.18 hectares per person per year while a high-fat diet with lots of meat needs 0.85 hectares because animals need so much more room. And because meat production drives deforestation and requires high inputs of energy for processing and transportation, it also comes with a high carbon footprint price tag. Globally, it has been estimated that up to 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions are associated with animal product consumption."

There are other interesting food questions too.

So go and take the test yourself, and play around with your answers to see if making any changes would make much of a difference. Don't be scared off by an all or nothing mentality though. You can just cut back a bit on the things that are harmful, and do a little more of the things that are helpful. It would be good if we could all be 100% perfect, but that just isn't going to happen, especially if we're too scared to take a little step to get started.

I have another link for you. If you haven't already seen it, you must watch this online video - The Story of Stuff. If you can't find a link there to view it online, you can download it if you scroll down the page after following the "downloads" link.

Try and buy items that have less stages in their production before they get to you - like food that is nearer its natural state or toys and clothes direct from craft people/made by people who work from home. There are plenty of people selling their stuff online, or you can go to stores that sell fair trade stuff. Just think about where your products come from and what impact their production might have on people and/or the environment.

If you are visiting this blog because you actually know me in life outside the internet, I have DVDs about clothing and food production (that sounds really boring, but their actually very interesting videos) and the like that you are welcome to borrow, or talk with me about any of the other stuff.

Finally, back to my initial aim. How about having a vegetarian meal (if you're usually a meat eater, or perhaps a vegan meal if you're usually a vegetarian)? There are heaps of recipes online.

Here is a suggestion that my kids love. I often make them "balls" - these are like meatballs, but of course contain no meat. My favourite version contains nuts, but these days I make them nutfree so they can take the leftovers to school. The recipe varies depending on what I have on hand and how much trouble I feel like going to. Basically, the nut free version is Brown Rice and Lentils, with other things added.

Cook up some brown rice and brown lentils. Just do about half and half, rinsing them all first and putting them together in the pot. You can use a rice cooker for this or do them on the stove. Add whatever you like - raw or sauteed onion, garlic, leftover mashed vegetables, etc. I generally use mashed veg to hide them better from the kids, but you could grate in some carrots or zucchini or whatever you have. You can add some curry type spices if you like, but I tend to keep these quite plain so the kids will be happy with them. Mix in the food processor so that your lentils and rice get a bit pureed, but keep some texture. Add breadcrumbs (put leftover bread in the freezer ready to use for breadcrumbs before it gets mouldy) and then add something for "glue" - I use "egg replacer", but you can just use egg. Depending on the texture you may not even need the "glue". Shape into balls and roll in flour before frying. Make heaps and freeze some for a quick reheat later to save buying a packaged frozen meal or getting take away. Save some for school lunches. When you get sick of shaping and frying them, make the rest into burgers and freeze ready to take to a barbecue or use for another quick meal. I serve them with tomato sauce and some veggies on the side.

If you want a "proper" recipe, you can find one at "Dance of the Vegetable Patch".

This is a lot longer post then I intended, and if you've read this far, congratulations! Thank you. Leave a comment if you like. Don't forget to head on over to the Footprint page and also to watch The Story of Stuff.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where can she wear this outfit?

I finally cut into my lovely Andalucia fabric, making this outfit for my 2 yr old. It's a twirly top and pants - all with lots of frills. I haven't sewn much frilly stuff since last summer.

Here she is the next day, wearing it for the first time. I'm not happy with the size around her arms - would like it smaller.

This is her with her baby sister - my 1 yr old here is wearing clothes that I made for her sister last yr. I love this outfit. It's so nice to be able to use clothes another time around.

And I know that you can't really see the 2 yr old's outfit, and I generally keep this blog pretty much focussed on craft/clothes/etc, but I just had to put in this pic anyway - just because it's so cute. The 1 yr old is currently at the stage of just pulling herself up. She isn't in a rush to walk, but does stand a lot and still get's stuck - so she stands, and then gets upset because she can't work out how to get back down or what to do next. The 2 yr old is playing shop with her - no doubt handing her an ice cream.

So, with not particularly liking the fit around the arms, and with wanting something a bit warmer for spring anyway, I moved the buttons to make the arm holes a little bit smaller, and made this peasant top which can go underneath it.

Of course, the outfit wouldn't be complete without a hat. This is another from the Nicole M designs pattern.

So here is the whole lot assembled. I know that I overdo the pictures a bit, but I just couldn't decide which to put in. And I'll probably add another pic of this outfit when she finally gets a chance to wear it.

Which brings me to my dilemma of the day. Where can she wear it? Do I have to stop making frilly clothes just because we don't really go anywhere that she can wear them? Would they look silly if she just wore them to the grocery shop (we could pretend that we were going somewhere important afterwards!)? Could I dress her in this for school pick up? Or would it look too show-off-y? I love seeing her in this outfit (although of course, I haven't seen it all assembled yet!) but I've got a feeling that she wont get many chances to wear it unless I just don't worry about whether it is appropriate and put her in it. I do think the kids should wear whatever clothes they have (frilly or not!) when they're the right size, otherwise they just grow out of them.
It's so much more fun making frilly stuff for the two little ones - I'd love to make them a heap more. Will have to find places for them to be worn though.
If you have any thoughts on this, feel free to post a comment!
I didn't put in a pic of this peasant top the other day. Made it a couple of wks ago. It was in a pic that had the matching hat I think. I love peasant tops - as easy to make as a t-shirt, but so much nicer.

I did some more decorated, felted balls. The plain balls were made a couple of weeks ago (when I did the others) but have been waiting for the time and inspiration to be decorated. So here they are. The first is my least favourite of the three, although my 2 yr old says it's her favourite. It's some chickies. As usual, I've put in way too many pics, so you'll see each ball from a couple of different angles.

This is a rainbow one. The colours go from red to purple, and then back to red in the middle on the other side. I've decided that covering the whole ball is a good idea, both for the look (better then a white background) and because it is easier to then felt on in the washing machine, rather then needle felting it all on. I just needle felted it a very little bit to hold it into place before putting the ball into a stocking and into a hot wash.

And finally, a sun.

I couldn't resist this picture of all the balls together when I packed them into the basket to go on the kids' play shelf, although I think a bigger basket would have been better.

Here is my 1 yr old having fun with the balls this morning.

We made some kite stars together to decorate the window. It was a good project to do with my oldest daughter. They look really effective - completely not shown in this photo. I'll have to try a few different ways to take the photo. They are beautiful colours and the light shines through them.

This is something I haven't tried before - knitting something specifically to felt it (or is the proper term something else?). I'm a very slow knitter and I always have a few knitting projects on the go - kids' jumpers, knitted pants, etc. So I don't feel that I can spare any knitting time for "unimportant" things. But over the past couple of days I decided to give this a go. It uses big needles and I used two strands of wool. I found some Panda wool that was actually called feltable wool, so I decided to try that, although in the future I'll just dye up some of my stash of organic wool.
My aim is a set of stacking bowls. This is the first one - my tester. It's been hot washed and dried, then I dampened it and rubbed a bit and shaped it over the bottom of a jar and left it to dry. After a day and a half it is still very wet, and I'm wondering if it will felt MORE and shrink and firm up more (although actually, if it doesn't, it is fine as it is), so I've just put it into the machine a second time with the rest of the bowls that I knitted ALL TODAY! Look on ...

I have very sore hands now as I try to knit anything else, so that's it for me knitting for another day or two. I just knitted when I was chatting with the bubs, when they were eating (after I'd finished - better then eating more anyway!), etc. And I got four bowls done. I did another one to go with the first one, then decided I should have made the red one smaller so that I could do the whole rainbow without the last one being huge, so I did another red one and the two sizes up from that. I still have green, blue and purple to go.
Here are the freshly knitted bowls ready for felting.

This shows the two bowls that have been knitted the same size, with the red one already having been through the wash and dryer once. Just thought it was interesting to have a comparison photo.

And finally, the three bowls that will end up as part of a set - after felting.

Now they should actually have finished their time in the washing machine so I can go and see how they are, but I'm not going to show pics today. I have a heap still to do tonight. The babies are in bed and I want to sew a skirt for my 8 yr old. I am trying to get through the Wardrobe Challenge on, but I haven't registered yet because I keep working on other projects. I was hoping to sew up a "wardrobe" for my 6 yr old and my 8 yr old (ie do two entries) by the end of November, but I'll see how I go. Even if I don't end up entering, end of November is a good deadline to have most of their summer basics done.
I have been asked for a tutorial for the poncho. I'll make another poncho in the next couple of weeks and will take photos as I go then - so it's be coming.
Tomorrow is "blog action day" so I will write then, although it may not have any craft in it (or I might post twice if I want to show off the felted bowls). Catch you then.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Starting on some warm weather sewing

Time to start sewing for Spring and Summer properly. My toddler urgently needed some warm weather clothes, so I did a couple of quick things to get started.

This dress is Simplicity 5222, but without the elastic at the waist. The method for putting the elastic in the neckline wasn't what I would usually do, but I followed the instructions and was unhappy with the result - too big, and a nuisance to adjust because the elastic is put into each part (front, back and each sleeve) separately, so I had to adjust it in four places to get it smaller. I did it though, as it was pretty bad as it was. This photo is the original - doesn't look as bad here as it did in real life.

And this is adjusted, but here you are only getting the back view - sorry, no clear pic of the difference! What I'm hoping you can see here though is the elastic added to the back. She's reaching up so it's a bit hard to see the shape. The whole thing was too wide, and it was particularly bad at the back, so I added elastic and now the dress is really quite cute, and a bit different. The elastic at the back is a really nice feature.

Fabric is from Heather Ross's Mendocino line. I absolutely love it and wish I had bought miles and miles of it. I'd really like a beach quilt/rug out of it now.

This is another dress that may look the same, but actually has lots of alterations to the pattern to make it a better shape and fit. Fabric this time is Sandy Henderson's.
I've made quite a few hats and this is my favourite so far. I love it and will probably not make any other pattern up for a while, but will make this one over and over. It is from Nicole Mallilieu (hope I spelt that correctly, I'm in a rush). I would definitely recommend the pattern. I've followed quite a few hat patterns, and there were really great tips in her pattern that I've never read before. I love this hat. Not sure who designed the fabric.

Here it is with a matching top. I want a hat to match each of the girls' outfits!!! This top is just a made up pattern peasant top. I love how easy these tops are to sew, how great the look and how comfy they seem to be.

A bit more felting. This was from a kit I purchased from A Toy Garden. Excellent kit, although I did do it a tiny bit differently. I've hung this spring fairy above our spring nature display.

Also made these felted wool balls. I'm extra pleased with them for a few reasons:
*I love how they look
*it used up some wool that I really was hating using for shaping doll heads, so now I can buy the wool I really want for the next doll head
*they were super easy to make
*the main part was done in the washing machine (hot wash) and dryer so I'm not worried at all about them getting dirty, as they can just be washed and dried again by machine
I did the main ball part in the washing machine so it is solidly felted. Then I needle felted on the design. This was quite slow and difficult as the balls were so firmly felted. Then I put the balls back into stockings and back through a wash and dry again to try and get the design more firmly attached. I have three more plain balls to decorate so I'll play with how I get the design onto them.

This is a peasant top for my oldest daughter. Just a super quick sew because she is short of summer clothes.

And here are her new jeans. I should have made them at the beginning of winter as she's been desparately in need of them for ages. Love how they turned out. Ottobre 1/04 #33. The fabric is hemp denim (non-stretch)

When she put them on the first time to wear out, we realised she had no jumper to match, so with 15 minutes before we had to leave I made a quick poncho out of some polar fleece that I have had for ages. I added the hood after we got back home. I think she'll be getting more ponchos to match more outfits (as will the little girls too) as this was such a huge success. She has worn it almost every day since. Quick, easy, convenient (over a jumper if needed, or just over a tee).
I just made up the pattern. Maybe I'll write up a tutorial some time. Let me know if you're interested.
Photo shows it over her new jeans and top.

Made a tee for my son. For almost all tees now I use the Ottobre special pattern pack. It's such a good t-shirt pattern.

Also made myself a tee - cutting up an old baggy style one completely and cutting a new one out of it, but forgot to take a pic so I'll be back with that pic when I get around to posting next.