Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Waiting for something makes it more exciting.

http://www.warholstore.com/sites/warholstore.com/files/imagecache/product_full/products/39755.jpg


Maybe not everything, but he's got a point.

If you can't (or decide not to) buy everything immediately but waiting a set amount of time (1 week, 1 month) or maybe though sheer self-discipline or by setting a budget. And then you know - is it really that important to you? Is it worth wainting for? Does it get even more valuable for you?

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Update on "Make and Mend" II



A word on the "making" side of the make and mend project. 

I noticed that  I like to try things out and sometimes I tend to get lost in new projects. While it is not wrong to like to learn new DIY things, it is not great to always start something new and then somehow you are stuck with it. Because it costs a lot of money on material and it usually uses up space. :) Also it is very rewarding to actually finish a project or acquire more skills than just starting one thing and the next and the next and so on.

So, to avoid more UFOs (unfinished objects) and make myself to revisit said UFOs and get more into things I've already started, I have limited my monthly "hobby" expenses. I have 20 Euros per month now for hobby projects (I transfer them to a separate account), so if I want to do something DIY, I can't just start something new, I have a set budget. Or I revisit projects and material I already have. :) 

A list of  projects to revisit:

I still have material and tools for making silk flowers. (But the instruments are so hot, I am a little scared of working with them, so I am wearing leather gloves while using them now. Also I have to wait until the kids are out of the house or in bed, because it would be so dangerous if they touched the instruments. I did enjoy it though, so I am defintely going to revisit.

Another example is the hat making. I have a lot of ideas and all the materials for it - only we've switched to an induction hob now, so my kettle for the water steam (essential) won't work on it, because it is made from aluminium. That's a bit unfortunate. I can now either buy a new kettle or a single electrical hob. I am probably going to go with the latter, because the kettle is perfect, and I can move a single hob around and also work outside. Again, the steam is really really hot and the kids shouldn't be around.

I recently discovered, how much fun dollmaking is.

And of course there is still my sewing and pattern drafting, a plan for an embroidery project (whitework), ... so much to discover ...

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

"And what if I don't?"

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

So imagine, if you are one shopping trip or in the supermarket and you pass shops and windows and - you don't. You don't buy anything one the list. You don't buy anything impulsively.

"And what if I don't?!"

Effectively, I dare to say, nothing bad will happen. Unlike advertisements make you believe, you won't start having depression or look any worse if you don't buy the product. It also won't make you less attractive. You will stay who you are. No joke. :)
On the other hand, not buying impulsively, will have a lot of positive effects:
You will save money
You will have less clutter in your house
You will save the environment more rubbish
You will find, that after maybe a few hours or days, you'll most likely have forgotten about ever wanting that "thing".

Why not try it out - just buy what's on your shopping list of "needs" and leave everything else where it is - in the shelves. And see how you feel about owning it in a week.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Nora - My first attempt at dollmaking

I think she looks a lot cuter in real.






Because I always need something to do and create, I ventured into dollmaking. I can't exactly remember how that happened, but I thought I'd try out to make a Waldorf-style doll for Little Miss No 1 myself.
Anyway, I found this lovely homepage (in English and German)
http://www.mariengold.net/
http://www.mariengold.net/english-2/

And as it happens this lady not only makes dolls, but she is generously sharing her knowledge. She's teaching dollmaking and you can purchase pdf patterns and material kits online (on etsy and dawanda).

I got the instructions for "Baby Twink" and a set with material and then set of and enjoyed every second of making Nora. And Little Miss No 1 absolutely loves her, too. Which is great, because she usually doesn't go for toys...

The instructions are clear, very precise, with a lot of helpful pictures and graphics. It was no problem to follow them step by step. And there are a lot of useful tipps and techniques in it, too. The pattern includes 5 different dolls: 2 babies (30cm and 45cms) and 3 children (30,40,50cms).

The material kit was great, enough of everything available, more on the generous side (much appreciated here).

I also got the "Oh girl" dolls clothes ebook, so we could dress Nora immediately. Plenty of knitting, crocheting and sewing projects. What I particularly enjoyed was the fact, that Little Miss No 1 actually helped making the dolls clothes. She cut AND machinesewed the entire shirt.

Oh and the colours are a choice of Little Miss No 1, too.

If you ever toy with the idea of making a doll like this - these are brilliant instructions.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Diderot Effect


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/63/Denis_Diderot_111.PNG


I thought this was a very good read!

http://jamesclear.com/diderot-effect

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Best girls' summer dress ever!!!

the bias tape is not neon orange. it's a nice warm orange. never mind what the camera saw.


Summer has finally arrived and it's superhot (35°C in the shade). The girls go through their summer dresses so fast I decided they need some more (I am always amazed with what speed and ease the children soil their clothes...). I used a supereasy pattern (basically a square with armholes) and the children love the dresses. I've made nearly all of them in 2-year old and 5 year old version. So the can go "hers and hers". For a bout 30seconds. Apart from the one pictured above (made from two old pillowcases) I made 4 white ones from a remnant of my regency Blitz-dress, 2 light yellow dresses from linen fabric I had in the stash (no idea what I intended to make from that originally...) and 1 for litte Miss No 1 from an old shirt from my natural minimalist. Apart from the one pictured (which I happened to finish today), they are ALL in the wash basket or drying on the line.

The dresses are quite wide at the top (with an elastic) and have big armholes and are nicely adjustable with the bias tape straps, so I just assumed they will fit for quite a while. I made them all as long as possible and added an extra wide hem and a few folds above it to let out length when the children grow.

The pattern has simple instructions and 3 variations for the straps. There is not much more you need  in a summer dress for superheat.  You can get the pattern here  (German):
https://de.dawanda.com/product/30464413-haengerchen-lotte-ebook-anleitung-schnitt

____________________________________________
Time: about 4 hours for 9 dresses (done on several days...)
Cost: Nothing additional. Had all in the house. Some of the material was given to me. Fabric requirements are minimal, 1 pillowcase (80x80cm) is enough for a dress for a 5-8 year old.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Everything is relative.


I originally wanted to write this article about how we consume. and then i stumbled across a homepage which was all about frugal living. Or so it said. The thing is: The way I understand frugality, they didn't really seem especially frugal to me.

And then i suddenly dawned on me, how very different our perspectives are (the one in the blog was a north-east American one, mine is a southern German one). Our lives are so different, our surroundings are different, what we consider normal or luxurious is influenced by our upbringing, by the views we acquired during our lives, on circumstances of living, income, culture, where we live, if we have maybe seen and/or understood other ways of living ... it's amazing. 

Just to give you one example: One comment on the blog was that electricity was rather expensive - per kWh about 9 cents. The going rate for a normal household in our region is about 20 cents. (Both come with a monthly meter rate that is comparable, at least something....). To me those "expensive" 9 cents seem ridiculously cheap. nevertheless, what is important is not only the price of the energy, because obviously there is not much you can do about hat, but how much you use on a regular base. We are a family of 4 and we use about 3000kWh a year. That is about average. 
"The national average monthly consumption in the US is 903 kWh/month, monthly residential electricity consumption in the U.S. ranges from approximately 531 kWh/mo. to 1,254 kWh/mo." (source U.S. Energy Information Administration (2012))." 

Now, that is a difference and that is also normality. We have a homepage in Germany called "initiative for saving electricity" that is aiming at private households. If you speak German, here is the link: http://www.die-stromsparinitiative.de/   It gives really good advice on how to save electricity. 

And saving electricity means saving funds AND using resources responsibly. 

But this was just an example. Everything we do, we see from our own context, from our own way of living. But everything can be seen with different eyes and with a different mind. 

I did a litle experiment today,  it is called "What if I don't?" and it is meant to make me (and anyone who wants to rethink their everyday routine) think about what I could do differently.The rule is very simple. With everything you do, you ask yourself "and what if I don't?" an evaluate the consequences. I found it very liberating. But I will tell you about that another day. until then - try it out yourself and switch of the light in the rooms you are no using. :) 

Monday, 26 June 2017

one happy oven glove




Today's small DIY is one happy oven glove. I still had so much thermolam (link to company) left, that I though I'd make some oven gloves. Yes, I did make an pot holder just last week or so but to be honest: we don't use potholders. We use this kind of oven glove.

So I sat down and made a quick pattern, which you can download (including short instructions) here (it's a pdf). The pattern has added seam allowance (the thick black line), about 1/2 inch.

https://goo.gl/Mab4IK

It took about 2 hours to make them and I've had all th necessary material at hand. The green "grip area" is made from wool felt, about 2,5mm thickness.

Here are some pictures from the "making of"

inside cotton layer quickly quilted on one side of thermolam

all layers pinned, right sides together.





Alternative usage for the pattern:

A hand puppet (just add eyes on the top and maybe some wool as hair and if you want a tongue hanging from the mouth).

this is not my arm. :)
_________________
Cost:
No additional cost, I had all the material at hand.
If you can get the exact quantities, it would be about 5 Euros, I guess.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Satsuki dress (Victory patterns)



Quite a while ago I was given this wonderfully mad fabric as a present (thank you Rebecca!) and although I usually don't go for tie-dye (had a very intense phase when I was about 12 or so...), I immediately loved it. I shortly after stumbled across this blogpost with Victory Pattern's "Satsuki Dress" http://sallieoh.blogspot.de/2013/02/stargazer.html (she's made another one in black, also awesome!) and knew immediately: It's going to me totally mad, but that's the pattern for the fabric. It took me a while to get the pattern (because I always thought I'd suss the pattern out myself and then I thought I'd wait until summer, but then it disappeared from the homepage and I thought I better get it before it is unavailable... they probably just made an update, it is back on their homepage at the time of writing...). Anyhow, this is the company that made the pattern https://www.victorypatterns.com/ and this is where I purchased and downloaded it https://oliverands.com/product/OLV-VP-Satsu-D.html
They have other really cool brands with super great patterns. Just look at waffle patterns... but I digress. Back to Satsuki.For whatever reason it was called that. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satsuki)

The fabric I had was just enough for a blouse length version and that's fine for me. The pattern is very easy and quick to assemble (did it in one evening) and the description is very clear. I can definitely recommend the pattern.
The blouse turned out as wild as I imagined and it is not something I would normally buy or make, but I somehow like it. It is perfect for a hot summer day in the garden.


Monday, 12 June 2017

My machines



Today I want to tell you about my sewing machines. :) I've been asked quite a few times in the past what machine I can recommend to beginners and what I find important. 

The thing about buying a sewing machine is, you have to know what you need. As always.

Are you sure sewing is your thing?
What are you going to sew? Jeans? Jerseys? just mending here and there? Do you want to do machine embroidery?
How often are you going to sew? Every day? Every weekend? Every 6 months?
How much do you want to spend?

I can't help you answering these questions, because only you know what exactly you do and need. 
But I can tell you about my experiences with my sewing machines. 
I own a Brother innovis 950 and a Singer Professional 5 (combined over- and coverlock machine)


Brother Innovis 950

I love this little machine. It hasn't failed my but once in 8 years (and that's really because I didn't take it to the inspection and cleaning and it was all dusty inside). I have tons of different stitches and it also has a small embroidery frame (10x10cm) for machine embroidery. 
Now, to be honest with you: I hardly do any machine embroidery. Very rarely. Usually I make something for the kids and then I think - oh, that pocket would suit a little bit of stitching, but then the garment is made and I missed the right time to add the embroidery. So, to be honest that was a bit of an extravagance, as I don't really use it. 
What I absolutely LOVE is the threading automat (or whatever that's called in English). It's SO good! I wouldn't want to miss it if I ever have to get another machine. 
I also really like the auto "restitch and cut thread" button, so I don't have to manually go backwards/forwards and then cut the long threads, it is a real help. Another thing I wouldn't want to miss. 
I strongly recommend a walking foot though, it has no differential presser foot, so sewing stretch fabrics or thick quilts might be a problem. It has a special "stretch" stitch, so sewing jersey shirts is not a problem, I do tend to use the overlock for that, though. 
I like to use the double needle to achieve a "coverlock"-look when sewing with the overlock.
Also very thick fabric (jeans, 2-4 layers) can be a problem, but you can "walk" over the thick bits with the hand wheel. 
Something I do miss is a longer "arm" of the machine to have more workspace. It's not a huge thing, I am doing fine with my machine, but sometimes I would appreciate a bit more space on the right. So that's something I might look out for next time. But only if it doesn't up the price ridiculously.  (I do hope my little machine will last me a lot longer, though!). 


Singer Professional 5

Buying the overlock machine was one of the best ideas, ever. I love sewing with it, it is fast, things look really tidy and sewing stretch material works a treat. It is also very strong, thicker layers of jeans fabric  didn't impress it much. Sewing thicker layered fabric (e.g. a quilt with a thick inlay) was a but fiddley, but also possible. 
I have to admit though: Buying a combined overlock/coverlock machine was a mistake. I hardly ever use the coverlock function (I am using my normal sewing machine with a double needle for the "coverlock look finish"), because it takes so long to thread from overlock to coverlock and then back again. And getting the tension right. And you can't keep all the coverlock things until the end and then do them.
So I would recommend getting a good sturdy overlock machine if you plan to sew a lot of shirts or stretchy trousers. You can maybe get a coverlock machine if you find you are really doing an awful lot of coverlock sewing. 

You don't get the huge variety of  stitches with an overlock machine. It's more like industrial sewing, no nonsense, efficient, strong, fast.

Be warned though: You need to start a very close relationship with your overlock machine. Threading it can be tricky (I use plyers to thread mine) and you have to get the tension of the several spools just right. Once it is installed, it works absolutely perfect, though. I suppose there are now automatic threaders out there, but mine requires patient threading. 


I can definitely recommend the machines I've got, but there are plenty of companies that produce superb sewing machines that last long. 
If you are a beginner, you could start with a cheap machine of a good company and then trade it in when you see you want to have more gadgets. But by that time you might just love that machine. :) 

If you want to purely sew, just get a "workhorse" no frills no gadgets machine, sometimes shops have second-hand ones that work a treat (more metal parts...!). Getting fabrics can be a bit of a nightmare, but consider bedlinen, tablecloths and alike a super fabric source and  also huuuuuge second hand shop finds a really good source.