Friday, July 29, 2011

Upcycling Book Review

Two of my latest reads:
"Sewing Green" would be a good one for people with a limited craft library.  It has a lot of projects in it that I already have plenty of patterns for (tote bags/market bags, napkins, and cushions and the ubiquitous pillowcase dress!)  There is a VERY cute baby hat and puppy softie that is definitely on my "to make" list and some recycled sweater slippers that I would like to try.  Unfortunately the author does have rather a thing for felting cashmere sweaters, and even more unfortunately, my local op shops don't often have an abundance of cheap cashmere sweaters.  The book has quite a few "Eco Innovator' profiles on different designers and eco-friendly project groups like Alabama Chanin and Mors Bags which were an interesting read.
All in all quite a pretty, inspirational book but I am just a jaded old bookworm who already has a lot of patterns for similar projects!

One lovely surprise has been Pip Lincolne's "Sew, La, Tea, Do" which I borrowed from my local library.  I have Pip's first book, and love it, but was reluctant to buy this one until I had first seen how many projects I liked in it.  Not because it isn't a lovely, quality book, but because I do find that Australian titles can be pretty expensive (and that is a reflection on our publishing industry not on the wonderful authors that get a pittance for their work!)  Once again, as with her first book, "Meet Me at Mikes" it has a lovely vintage, retro, nostalgic feel and quite a few simple reminds-me-of-childhood sewing patterns.  Very suitable for beginners.  It also has quite an "upcycled" feel to it as a lot of the projects use patchworky/scrappy bits and/or repurposed clothes.  I like the shirt front cushion covers and the cute kids clothes.  I like the simplicity and the unfussiness of this book, and I like Pip's learn and pass it on mentality.  I now have my local patchwork store ordering it in for me!

Have you been following the artsy ants upcycle week?  I liked their idea of lengthening t-shirts as I have quite a long torso and a flabby tummy and frequently tshirts seem just a bit too short to not show my flabby midriff!
I was thinking this morning about the amount of repurposing/upcycling my parents and grandparents did.  As one of four adventurous little country kids, my track suits often wore out on elbows and knees and my Mum's solution to this was to "patch" the holes with applique.  I remember a blue tracksuit with bunches of bright balloons on the knees, and one that had a kite with the kite string as little ribbon bows all down the leg.  I remember feeling very special wearing my designer trackies!

My grandmother's garden was, and still is, an upcycling fantasy.  She has planted into old boots, sinks, bathtubs, worn out teapots, and barrels from the inside of washing machines.  Inside the house, potplants grow out of recycled port or sherry bottles (and I remember my Mum had a macrame hanger with plants in green wine bottles too!)

I wonder why we have lost the ability to repurpose and make do along the way?  My dear friend brought me back a key ring from the Vic and Albert and it is a big metal button that says "Make Do and Mend"  I love its constant reminder.

On a totally unrelated topic, I am hoping to bind two quilts this weekend. Emma from has just finished quilting three tops for me (she has them up on her website)  Her work is just exquisite.  Hannah is very excited that her quilt is so close to being finished (finally!)
Have a great weekend,
Keep smiling,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

When is it an official addiction?

I think I am officially a craft-book addict?  This ikea cube storage was bought specifically to hide/store my Creative Memories albums and stock but I find that it is increasingly taken up with craft books.  I just can't help myself.  I love the inspiration that I get from my little book stash (even if I cannot actually say that I've made projects from each book!)  Ooh, now that could be kind of a fun challenge...sort of like a Julie and Julia journey except with one project from each book?  Oh come on, who am I kidding?  Anyway, just wondered whether anyone else has it this bad?

I suppose it doesn't help to say that I am waiting on another instalment from the Book Depository?  And after I had ordered them I remembered that I still didn't get the knitting one that recommended! Doh!

Hope you are enjoying the school holidays as much as we are.  Today was Spinning and Weaving with a play in the park and hot chips for lunch.  Yesterday was quesadillas for lunch (homebrand tortilla in frying pan with corn, ham, sundried tomatoes and cheese, another tortilla on top, fry, flip, cut in wedges -yum!), caramel popcorn (not using that recipe again as it was more like toffee and took 2 goes and far too much time to get it right and then I had toffee from one end of the kitchen to the other LOL) with the neighbourhood kids as a footpath picnic for afternoon tea, and wooden castle painting and making (would have been easier had someone not lost the instructions!!!)

Tomorrow will be catching up with Mum's group friends - it is definitely easier to keep the cherubs busy!
Happy thursday,
Keep smiling,

Monday, July 18, 2011


I have just recently discovered this blog and was excited to learn that they are having an "Upcycling" week.

I really love the idea of repurposing and reusing and quite a lot of my kid's wardrobes are "upcycled" (normally from opshop finds!)  Because I am not particularly good at the finer points of sewing (zips, facings, plackets, etc) I find upcycling a great way of not having to deal with the fiddly bits.

Probably my 2 favourite ways to upcycle are:

1. My girls are both fans of cute strappy summer sundresses (the kind with the ribbon ties on the shoulders and maximum twirl factor skirts)  When they outgrow the top bit, or the dresses get a bit too short, I cut the top bit off, turn over a casing, thread through elastic, and, ta da, one maximum twirl factor skirt and one very happy little girl who gets a few more years out of her favourites!

2.  I look out for adult summer dresses or skirts that can just be taken in at the sides and the sleeves to become lovely dresses for my tall 7 year old. 

The best thing about upcycling is that when the kids rip it, or stain it, or outgrow it, I don't feel like it is the end of the world.  I also LOVE that it is that real something-from-nothing, make-do and mend feeling!

If you are looking for books with an upcycling message I can recommend Amanda Blake Soule's and also "Craft Challenge - Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Pillowcase" - and I really should hunt down some more for inspiration too!
So go on, I dare you, have an upcycling week!
Keep smiling,

p.s you may have noticed that we are fans of the unironed, slightly wrinkled look LOL but I hope you didn't notice the crumbs on the floor next to the skirt LOL

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beautiful Darwin

We have just returned from a fabulous Darwin getaway.  We went to Darwin for James' cousin's wedding, and while the wedding was just beautiful, we found that there were lots of other exciting things to do in Darwin too!  The kids were very excited to hold a snake and a baby crocodile at the Crocosaurus Cove Centre.  Later in our holiday they even got to eat crocodile!

Darwin's waterfront precinct is stunning and very family friendly so we spent quite a few hours in the Wave Pool.

The wedding was at the Darwin Sailing Club - the perfect venue for looking for crocodiles..and pirates...
the perfect spot for playing on the beach... and for watching the sunset over the water..
The very best thing about Darwin?  The weather was perfect! Between 19-30 degrees the whole time.  Just what I needed to break the long, wet, Adelaide Winter.
And now we are home, and it is Day One of the school holidays.  We have lots of plans (most involving cooking or crafting) but today has been slow paced and lazy!
happy Monday,
Keep smiling,