Slow Fashion October: Worn

Sashiko: A Japanese form of decorative reinforcement stitching (functional embroidery), traditionally used to reinforce or repair garments.
Sashiko example found  via Pinterest

Sashiko example found via Pinterest

One of my favourite pieces of mending has to be my Reworked Jeans project. Patching, over dyeing and adding a little Sashiko, saved jeans destined for the charity shop pile. There was a real sense of achievement in making my clothes work a little longer rather than just giving up and buying more. It's 3 months on and I have worn and worn these jeans. Not only has the patch held but I really love the little detail on an otherwise plain outfit. (I am a plain tee, grey scarf, jeans and sneakers kind of girl)

Reworked Jeans - pin for later

Reworked Jeans- pin for later

The project was such a success that I've been inspecting another pair of jeans with glee because I think they could be much improved by some visible mending too!

This time though, I'm thinking I might not dye the jeans but work with that faded denim glory. There's something really amazing that happens with the embroidery as visible mending on denim. I'm not sure if it's the fact that jeans are so utilitarian and quite tough but I am really drawn to the way Sashiko and denim work together. 

I recently fell in love with this image of Sashiko and patching jeans that I saved on Pinterest:

Sashiko Image  via Pinterest

Sashiko Image via Pinterest

In my first attempt I didn't widen the hole that I was patching at all and went a little freestyle to stitch around it. I was being cautious of making a hole worse but I think if I want to make the best of the detail, I can snip the worn knees wider and trim back the edges a little so that I can really show the patch. Then it's an evening with some good tv and a darning needle...

Have you got any good Sashiko examples? I'd love to add them to my Pinterest Board. Please don't feel bad about feeding my current obsession. I'm *almost* entirely harmless. 

Guest Post: Martine’s Motifs

In this month of slowing down I've thought a lot about new skills, dwelling on simple tasks and enjoying a good fling with being polycraftual. Someone I've followed in her polycraftual exploits is Martine, the queen of crafts as far as I'm concerned. I asked Martine to guest post for me this month and amazingly, she found time to pop in and say hi! It's an honour to host Martine here, she's bursting with ideas and inspiration.

Martine hosts the iMake podcast from her Guernsey based home and writes for several publications. I first fell for her amazing ability to write tutorials- I found myself wanting to branch away from knitting and get seriously into soap making and crochet! 

Here's her thoughts on a little motif work...

Martine of imake

The word “motif” doesn’t seem be used in conversation very often, which is a shame, as it’s rather a lovely sounding word with a variety of meanings. A motif can be a decorative design, or a pattern, or sometimes a symbol. It can also be a reoccurring or dominant theme in writing, artwork or music. For example, Guernsey (my island home) is a motif featured often in my podcasts and photography.

Whatever your incarnation of “motif” is, it seems that in most cases, motifs are not just decorative they can be meaningful. Here are a few examples of where I have used motifs in my creative endeavours. 

My Favourite Things

In August 2014 I hosted a knitalong and our chosen project was the “My Favourite Things”  Infinity Scarf by Jill McGee. It’s a stranded colourwork/fair isle scarf knitted in the round as a long tube, then grafted at the ends. The utterly joyful part of the making process is choosing your own motifs to feature in the scarf (the idea being that they represent your favourite things). 

My scarf included coffee cups, flowers, squirrels, sheep and an Apple logo. It also included a number of traditional fair isle bands ­ those bits weren’t particularly meaningful, I admit, but they looked pretty!

This scarf is, without a doubt, the best thing I’ve ever made. The design process was incredibly enjoyable and the constant pattern changing meant that the project was completed quickly. Seeing KAL participants’ pattern choices, and learning about the reasons for their choices, was also quite wonderful. 

Read more about Martine's Cowl  here  on her website

Read more about Martine's Cowl here on her website

Cross Stitch

I’ve had a love affair with cross stitch for years, but, try as I might, I cannot seem to finish a large project. Small -projects, though, are totally achievable and completely satisfying. There are lots of free resources online for cross stitch motif patterns ­ alternatively grab some graph paper and felt pens and design your own. One of my favourite cross stitch projects was creating and stitching my own QR code ­ it’s both meaningful (it’s a link to my website) and functional (it works!) 

Martine's tutorial  How to Cross Stitch a QR Code can be found on her website,  here . 

Martine's tutorial  How to Cross Stitch a QR Code can be found on her website, here

Doodles

I’m a compulsive doodler. My doodles invariably feature a whole host of motifs, often relating to the situation or my feelings at the time. Doodles aren’t just a tool to pass the time in meetings though. They can look fantastic on handmade greeting cards, scrapbook pages or as part of your website (scan them, tidy them up in your photo editing software of choice and then you’ve got completely unique, personal motifs for your website). Here are a few of my doodles.

Doodles

Over To You...

Do you use motifs regularly in things you create? Are they meaningful, decorative or both? I’d love to know.

Thanks for reading, TTFN.

Martine XOX

 

You can find Martine on her online home iMake as well as sharing her ideas on Pinterest, FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Thanks so much Martine!

Creative Identity... Fluffy Fibers

It's wonderful to round off this month's exploration of Creative Identity with a guest post from someone who has really inspired me creatively. Today, I would like you to meet Isabelle of Fluffy Fibers:

Feature: Isabelle of Fluffy Fibers

Feature: Isabelle of Fluffy Fibers

"Looking back at the past ten years since I started building a handmade wardrobe, I realise my creative life and my personality have been nurturing one another organically from the start. It really goes both ways. Building a handmade style may start with a certain idea you have of yourself; but when you give your creativity free reign and allow yourself to gravitate naturally towards certain shapes, certain colours and styles, what you end up making turns out to be more truly you than the story you might have more or less consciously be planning to tell about yourself.

Before I started making my clothes, I believe I had a pretty standard style for a young woman of my age and cultural background (i.e. France in the early 2000s). I didn’t have many distinctive pieces that truly defined me, except for a dress that my grandmother had made for my mum when she was my age, and that I adored wearing... I was utterly awed by my grandmother’s ability to create beautiful shapes out of a piece of fabric. That handmade dress is of course where it all started.

Anna Dress By Hand London

Anna Dress By Hand London

Creating a handmade wardrobe has allowed me to define myself in a way I had never achieved before. I have long stopped to feel self-conscious when I wear a handmade piece – because that happens about every day! With time my sense of style has fine-tuned itself to reflect exactly the way I wish to appear. It is only in retrospect that I can say, I am all for simple lines with one or two special details; I gravitate towards solid colours rather than prints, with the exception of florals. There can never be too many botanical motifs in my book - and in my wardrobe!

I was recently inspired by the Design Along and the #aninspired2015 to design a shawl that I had been dreaming of for a while... What makes me happiest about it is that it conveys so perfectly the style I feel is my own. 

Creative identity does not just stop at the aesthetics. For me, it is also part of an ethics. Building a handmade life for yourself is certainly about creating beauty around you - and I am utterly convinced that contributing to the world’s beauty is a kindness of its own. But it can also be a means towards a more responsible, sustainable life. Our relationship to artefacts, to things, is so different when we have created them. We care for them differently. The pieces I made ten years ago are still like new, and remain among my favourite to wear today. I love the continuity they offer me in my creative process and self-construction - because one is inseparable from the other. They may not be as well finished as my current projects, but I cherish them for reminding me of the path covered.

As time goes by, I have been increasingly concerned about finding supplies that are ecologically responsible. The wonderful thing about producing your own clothes is that you get to control everything from the very start. This year I knit a cardigan out of British Blue-Faced Leicester that I had spun, and left undyed. It is safe to say this piece is entirely biodegradable!

Feature: Isabelle of Fluffy FIbers

Feature: Isabelle of Fluffy FIbers

One of my creative goals for this year is to learn how to dye yarn and fabric with plants, to guarantee a raw material that is ever gentler for the Earth. The journey is endless... and the wonderful encouragement and stimulation we can find within the fibery community allow us to always find more inspiration, and to feel increasingly confident about making individual choices."

Do you have any thoughts on #Creative_Identity? Join the conversation (@aplayfulday)

Minikrea- Kjole

This sponsored blog post is brought to you by Ray Stitch. and views expressed here are my own. To find out more about sponsorship opportunities, please email me. 

 

I've become polycraftual. 

There, I said it. I have been wanting to tell you all for a long time but today's finished item means that I can't hide it any longer. I still love knitting but we have agreed to see other crafts and knitting seems ok with that. In seeing other crafts, I've come to the conclusion that it actually makes my relationship with knitting stronger. Learning to sew has taught me an enormous amount and I am so thrilled with the results. 

It all started with last month's focus on a Handmade Wardrobe. I decided it was time to take the plunge and just commit to sewing something. I was daunted by the idea of an adult garment so I spent some time looking at simple patterns for childrenswear and reached out to Ray Stitch for some ideas. As always, they were amazingly encouraging and full of helpful suggestions to get me on the right path. 

I had the pleasure of living near Ray Stitch in my North London days. I would regularly go in to soak in the inspiring fabrics, notions and samples, all presented in a way that was uncluttered and appealing. By the time I got a sewing machine though I was already heavily pregnant so it's only now that I have found myself with fabric, machine, pattern and the determination. 

Minikrea kjole- 2002 using Birch Fabrics Organic Cotton

Minikrea kjole- 2002 using Birch Fabrics Organic Cotton

The details:

Pattern Minikrea Kjole 20002

Fabric Birch Fabrics Serengeti 100% Organic Cotton (Giraffe family, shroom)

Making this dress for my daughter was such a learning lesson. Curved hems, pinning accurately, cutting the fabric correctly (with huge thanks again to Rachel for rescuing me when I cut wrong and wept the first time), lining , armholes, placing button loops... 

I've since realised that a mini person sized pieced dress is ambitious for a beginner like me. I think the fact that I had made the commitment thanks to the talented help of Lisa and Rachel from Ray Stitch meant that I stuck with it when I might have been otherwise tempted to put it aside and make something that felt less complicated for me to achieve. This isn't a hard pattern but there was a lot more steps than I had in my skill set at the start. I chose all the easy options with the exception of the button loops as I wanted cute buttons. There are options for puff sleeves, bubble hems and all sorts that would be fun one day but for now, simple lines is perfect for this newbie. 

Minikrea kjole- 2002 using Birch Fabrics Organic Cotton

Minikrea kjole- 2002 using Birch Fabrics Organic Cotton

Still, I now have a dress that is hanging and waiting for the Playful Tot's return and I can't wait to show her. We've already tried it on at the midway point so she's been asking ever since for her new giraffe dress. I am slightly concerned it might fall apart the minute she starts twirling around in it but you know what? I wouldn't mind because this feels like a huge step forward for all of my making. 

Minikrea kjole- 2002 using Birch Fabrics Organic Cotton

Minikrea kjole- 2002 using Birch Fabrics Organic Cotton

Lessons:

Plan ahead- When I knit, I tend to jump in and figure things out on the needles because I have the safety net that I can unpick if I make a mistake. That's simply not an option in sewing so I know that from now on I will be less resistant to researching a little so that I knit just once in the first place. It's ok to take your time!

A good start saves time- On a similar note, reading the pattern thoroughly each time you have a bit of time to sew as well as setting yourself up with all the equipment and information you need, leads to a much more successful crafting experience. I tend to have an extremely limited amount of time to make these days so using some of that time to get organised has been a revelation for me. I zipped through tasks on the days I did this rather than fumbling about and getting frustrated. 

Room to Create- I live in a smallish London home. We don't have spare rooms to make and create in so everything has to be contained in a way that I can stop and start whenever I feind a spare few moments. I have a new found appreciation for knitting fitting between those times in our lives when I can just put in a few minutes of stitching while my daughter brushes her teeth or we wait for a bus. Dedicated craft time can then become a little more extravagant in comparison if I remember the first two lessons. 

I could really get into this polycraftual thing.


With huge thanks again to Ray Stitch for setting me on my garment making path! Ray Stitch is a ‘fabric boutique’ selling a carefully selected and wide range of designer prints, plains, weaves and knits. The range is underpinned by a fully comprehensive range of high quality tools and accessories and a plethora of seductive buttons, ribbons and trims. Committed to a conscious approach to product sourcing, many of the products they sell are organically or sustainably produced.

Review: Makery Sewing

Kate Smith is the owner of The Makery in Bath, a creative hub that focuses on skills needed for making and specialises in sewing. With The Makery's commitment to helping people improve their skills, 'Makery Sewing' is a good basic book to help you take the steps you need. Inside you will find over 30 projects divided into sections 'Home', 'To Wear' and 'To Give'. 

A review of Makery Sewing by Kate Smith

A review of Makery Sewing by Kate Smith

The Highlights

The book is beautifully styled so it's a delight to pour through and get in the mood to make. Each project has a clear picture at the start of that section with an arty styled shot of the materials you'll need sandwiching the instructions. The instructions are clear and I like the fact that each new project starts with a little info bubble on how long you should expect this to take you. 

Beautiful styling inside this basic sewing book

Beautiful styling inside this basic sewing book

The projects are not costly as they are mostly quite small and easy to achieve. They shouldn't need a great deal of specialist equipment and in fact, hand sewing instructions are given for the really easy to achieve projects. This would be a good book to take nibbles in sewing before splurging on some fabric for a bigger make. 

Tools and materials are really clearly laid out at the start and there's plenty of diagrams and schematics, simply drawn, should you need. They remember to tell you to trace the patterns at the back of the book so you can use it again and there's a tips and techniques section at the back of the book too. Very user friendly for a novice like me. 

The Projects:

I really liked a lot of the simple items in the 'Home' and 'Give' sections. Highlights include the Foldaway Bread Platter, the Sweet Tin Footstool and Hooped Laundry Bag. I was a little less convinced by some of the 'To Wear' projects as there could have been more simple modified tees, upcycled skirts etc. I suspect the aim was to keep things to a very small yardage of fabric without sizing so that it was a really entry level book. Lots of bags and a dog collar was a little uninspiring though. 

Patch Pocket Tee Project from Makery Sewing

Patch Pocket Tee Project from Makery Sewing

I do think I will have a go at the Patch Pocket Tee project to help me familiarise myself with my sewing machine. I think many of the projects would ease you through the skills you'd need to eventually progress to dress making should you wish. 

Food For Thought:

Something that might have worked well would have been a rating system or suggested progression of skills. It's arranged by inspiration which makes for a happy flip through and to dive in wherever whimsy takes you. I know I'm guilty of biting off more than I can chew when excited though so would love something within the book to help me pick a project by skills needed too. 

Advice and Tips from Makery Sewing

Advice and Tips from Makery Sewing

I would recommend Makery Sewing for novices and those looking for cute ideas for materials they might already have and wish to use up. It's very sweet and I'd be interested to see more from The Makery. They have a good eye for cute projects and simple but effective technqiues that appeal to those new to sewing. 


My copy of Makery Sewing was sent for the purposes of review by the Octopus Publishing Group. Views are entirely my own.