Here is a fun tutorial to jazz up something old into something new! A little fabric paint, and some snipping and I turned an old used gap tee into something unique. I am really enjoying the mid-west and aztec trends and so I went for triangles and fringe…of course you can do what ever you fancy.
I love to have something new, but since I am really really trying to be a conscious consumer, I am curbing my shopping ways (did I say really really trying? Oh it is hard for me!). I have not ever been a big shopper for myself, but since having the girls, I have often bought the girls clothes. Like many of the children I know, our children have a lot of clothes. More often than not, buying them clothes is not because they need them, it is more about me wanting the excitement of a purchase and of having something new and cute and pretty. Less often it is because they outgrow or wear-out clothes (babies and hard playing boys excluded). A dress or skirt can last for years. Even if they grow 2 inches like Elle has just done, we still have enough clothes for six little girls.
I have reached a point where I ask myself why do I do this? Why do I keep shopping for them? I have touched on this before, and I know many of you can relate. I see a cute item, it is little and not very expensive and I think “I want it” and then buy it, without a second thought. Generations before us have not done this to the extent that we do this now. Why do I do it? Because I can, because I want to, because I like pretty things. Because it makes me happy. Because I am privildged, and I think I am entitled. Because things are cheap. Because I am addicted and because of my values. With all of these reasons though, if I am honest, not one of the reason are great. I know that any feelings of joy are temporary feelings, and next week I want another new pretty thing…which is actually kind of sad. I want to be the person that is balanced, and not constantly needing to buy things to feel like my life is good, and beautiful and exciting…oh it is a hard one right?
For many of you shopping is not a thing, but for lots of us it is. Recently I have felt my values shifting (or maybe just intensifying). I felt like I had to apply some self control – and this is not for any other reason, than to feel like a better person. It just does not seem balanced when there are children in the world that struggle to go to sleep because they are cold, and somehow I am able to ignore/forget/deny the facts while swooning over a j-crew catalouge. Along with the fact the environment needs us to live lightly – Owning 20 pairs of shoes, really is not living lightly is it?
It has become increasingly obvious to me, that the more I buy, the more others want to buy. I have noticed that if I buy something new, it makes my friends want something new too. Likewise when I see something fun that they have purchased. It creates wanting and needing in us all. I commented to a friend this week that she was a shopaholic and she responded that it is like a “sport” for her, which is a pretty spot on metaphor of shopping for many. I have another friend that feels she has to buy her daughter a new outfit for each family occasion because she can not be seen in the same dress twice. I can relate to both of these friends…and then I feel the rising consumer conscious.
So, with clear goals in mind that I have talked about before – to make, and create rather than just buy, I was inspired to re-invent some of Maya’s old clothes into new updated clothes for Elle. Doing this gives me the thrill of a new item, along with a good feeling for giving an old stained tee new life. I recently talked about a jacket, that I took the sleeves off to make into a vest. I am sure given time there will be more examples. I would love to hear what you make, create and re-invent, or how you stay empowered to go without! Some words to ponder…Define yourself, not by what you have, but by what you choose to go without.
Here is list of suggestions instead of buying something new.
Spend time on Pinterest instead of Internet shopping. sometimes just pinning the thing you want it enough!
Draw clothes in a journal. Drawing is great for so many reasons!
Learn to sew. Design and sew your own clothes. Sewing is a wonderful skill.
Re-invent and alter clothes you already own, the possibilites are endless. Remove sleeves, change hemlines, make pants into shorts. The internet is full of sewing tutorials, both by hand and machine.
Add OR remove details like lace, embroidery, beads.
Dye clothes a new color. Shoes can be colour changed too.
Re-arrange how your clothes are stored – seeing them in a new order or space changes how you choose to wear them.
Iron clothes. Ironing is a great way to improve an items appearance – show clothes love.
Repair and remove stains as they occur, rather than discarding. If you have a child that wears out knees, use iron on knee patches.
Swap clothes with friends.
Op-shop, buy clothes second hand, it is a great way to be unique. The Op-Shop is a good place to source fabric for sewing too.
Save buying new clothes for Birthdays and Holidays, waiting increases the pleasure and joy, and adds to the special occasion.
I was inspired last week with an image I saw by friends at Papeir Mache Magazine and so I went to work making a collar for my girls. I combined this idea with hand painting fabric - another idea that had been floating in my mind. I started hand painting fabric when some of our screen prints were less than perfect. If the print was not solid, I would touch it up with a paintbrush…and of course this led to me just painting onto fabric with the fabric paint and brush for fun. I was imagining these swirly loops along the bottom of a skirt. Once I cut out the collar in chambray, realised this was the perfect combination of ideas and so painted the swirls around the collar.
I lined the collar in a pretty floral cotton so it is completely reversible. I used velvet ribbon for the ties. I love how it turned out and think it is a successful combination of contemporary and classic. Plus, it looks really cute on the girls. My plan was that it would be worn over a sweater with a full skirt, adding a little creative drama to a plain outfit. I had Elle try it on after I finished sewing it, and LOVED how it looked over her pajamas…she looks like a harlequin doll. I asked Elle to point her toe like a ballerina, and up her toes went to meet her head with effortless ease and grace…it was like her hidden talent was revealed…I think our girl needs to dance.
I went into Over The Moon this week, the boutique that sells our Mini Tote Bags (which I am pleased to say have sold!). I am making Wheatgrass Baskets for them for Easter, and while there working out the details, I showed them the collar. Instantly the owner said “I love them I will take six!”. As you can imagine I was very excited to have this project. I get to buy gorgeous fabric and design cute things for children, AND make some pocket money. They want the collars for Fall 2013, and they also said they would like some of my Hot Water Bottle Covers for next Fall too. Looks like I will be busy sewing this Summer!
This week (in the midst of our bathroom renovation process) I made a quilted vest for Maya. I drafted the vest pattern off the little red vest that you may recall Elle wearing. The vest was once a coat (see photos of the girls wearing it when they were little) that I made into a vest at the beginning of last Autumn. I was really sad to see that Elle had outgrown this coat and I was having trouble parting with it, so I unpicked the sleeves off and sewed on some matching navy bias binding around the arm holes. This has potentially given us a few more years of wear out of it as a vest. In both coat and vest form, it has been one of my most favorite and versatile items of clothing. It always looked so cute on the girls. I purchased it second hand for $5 when Maya was about 18 months old, not long before we moved from Byron Bay to Manhattan. $5 well spent!
With foresight of Elle eventually growing out of the vest, I decided to draft a pattern off it and make Maya one slightly larger. Maya said she did not want the mandarin collar and so I left it off. This was my first time quilting, and I really enjoyed the process. I am pleased with the job I did – Mothering small children has done wonders for my sewing skills, the result being I am so much more patient at sewing! This vest was hours worth of work, but every day this week I was excited to find time here and there to work on it. In fact a few afternoons I was wishing someone would come and cook my family dinner so I could keep sewing. I did not want to stop. It was quite the process…but worth it! I literally sewed until my fingers bled. Lots of hand tacking was involved and it is tough to push a needle through six layers. Time for me to own a thimble I think!
I am so glad come Spring they will each have a cotton quilted vest – cuter than a puffer vest right? Hopefully Maya will wear it as much as Elle wears hers. Looking forward to seeing my beautiful daughters wearing my handiwork over the years…I am sure to be a sentimental Mama about this item of clothing too.
A while ago now our family friend Nicole inspired me when she said that I should print Maya’s drawings onto t-shirts. I loved this idea, and it has sat with me as a really fun thing to do since she suggested it. My first visualisation was of a multi colour detailed print like you would see at Gap or Crewcuts, and after a brief search for both tees that I liked and printers, the cost and commitment put the idea out the window.
When Maya’s 6th Birthday rolled around, I suggested Art supplies as gifts to anyone who asked. One of the things Maya received was this Screen Printing Kit. I had Maya work on a drawing specifically for printing, by explaining the print should be simple and only one colour for our first attempt. With my suggestion, Maya drew an embellished heart motif, like many she had done before. I then traced over her pencil lines with a black marker, making them bolder and thicker. The image was them transferred via photocopy onto acetate, which is required for the photo emulsion screen printing process. There are three ways to screen print, and photo emulsion is the most complicated, but gives the best results for fine line images and text. With the experience of having studied printmaking at University, I dived in with excitement to this project. It was so much fun to screen print again. I followed the kit instructions, which were basically the same way we did it at University, but without large scale professional equipment.
Today I prepared the screen to print, which involved applying the photo emulsion, exposing the image under an intense light source, then hosing out the image negative. Once that was all done and the screen was dry, I tapped the screen to avoid paint bleeding. I then waited patiently to collect Maya from school so she could have the pleasure of doing the first screen print. I set up a cardboard matt on the floor that we thumb tacked the fabric into. Both Maya and Elle alternated printing the fabric squares until we had printed all that I had prepared. It was then that Elle said “Can I print my t-shirt?” and proceeded to take off her top. Maya ran up stairs to her drawers and selected a tee to print as well. I was impressed that Elle printed her own tee shirt. We now have two white tees with blue hearts, and a nice pile of printed fabric squares that I already have plans for. Feeling very proud of our creative girls, we make a great team. Next we plan on printing in pink!
Today I finished sewing this tee for Maya. I brought this knit fabric home with me from cleaning out Mum’s house. I recall this fabric being in our green sewing supplies chest of drawers when we lived at Darcy Drive, which makes it maybe 20 -25 years old. I am not exactly sure if this was fabric picked out by me, or whether Mum bought it to make something, but either way, it never got used…until now. I recall pondering over it many times as the colours and pattern of the fabric appealed to me (seriously love the 80′s hot pink!) and obviously I still liked it enough to bring it half way across the world. This really says something as it made it through the over-packed suitcase cull. It was a very small piece of fabric, maybe 1/2 a meter, and so it could be nothing more than a tube skirt or tee for the Girls. I generally sew for Maya, as there is a second chance if I make it too small, that it will fit Elle. Then of course Elle gets it as a hand-me-down anyway. I was feeling tired of making skirts…and then felt a burst of bravery and went for a tee. As usual, this project was commercial pattern free. It was created by my pattern drafting and design. Another sew-as-you-go project, which means I really have not idea what I am making exactly until it is finished. Along the way I kept Maya’s style in mind, which is why there was the addition of the belt. Maya likes to tuck her tops into her skirts as she likes to have a waist. I get tired of her doing this ALL THE TIME (even though I also like it too!) and so made this shirt with a belt so that maybe she will wear it un-tucked??? If she wears it at all that is!!! Either way, this project feels like an accomplishment as I generally stay away from sewing knits and tops. I am completely satisfied for using knit fabric, using old fabric, and making a top instead of a skirt. Looking forward to seeing it worn…when the days get warm.