Monday, 23 October 2017

The Minimalism Fraud

unsplash.com / Mark Eder


Today I've been looking around the Internet for interesting posts on Minimalism (again) and I noticed something, that really upset me. Although it didn't surprise me. After the LOHAS lifestyle, the minimalism lifestyle is the "new" thing to do. The "less is more" and "what you have should be of superior quality" thing. But it still involves buying new stuff. Which is not minimalist. At least not the way I understand it. But as I've said before, I am not really a minimalist that way. 

If you put all your files on a digital surface (books, music...) but keep buying and buying - that is not minimalism. It just doesn't show consumerism that much. 

If you have less furniture in a huge house - that's still consumerism. Especially if you throw everything out, that you owned before to refurnish with the new style. Nobody needs a huge house. Huge (empty) houses are a waste of space and energy. And a luxury item. A status symbol. Especially if they are empty. 

If you completely change the contents of your wardrobe to match that new style, if you buy new minimalist beauty products - that's still consumerism. 

When IKEA suddenly offers bicycles to be more "minimalist and eco" and H&M  group open their third line (H&M, COS, Arket) with the two latter aiming at conscious and minimalist consumers (but still consumers), then that indicates, that there is a new target group of consumers. They certainly don't do it because they want to inspire thrift and prudence.

We are stepping into the consumerism trap again. 

What I also find annoying is the "in your face" attitude a lot of self-proclaimed minimalists (one should never call oneself a minimalist, really...) when they show on their blog (where you can also buy their latest book on the topic and where lots of adds are popping up) how minimalist they live - in the 5 bedrooms house. With an extra sports rooms and an extra toys room. And a huge car. Gosh, that's all "stuff"!!! It shows again, that minimalism is only for well off people. Honestly, I don't have words for the disgust I feel towards this whole consumerism and minimalism-fraud. Everything around me seems to be about "buy-buy-buy". 

*rant off* ;)

I didn't make this up, I found this on a google picture search:
find the mistake
Interesting reads:

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Gift of Death - George Monbiot



Christmas is approaching quicker than we all think. Before you go shopping for "stuff" for you beloved - read this article and think about it again.

http://www.monbiot.com/2012/12/10/the-gift-of-death/

Friday, 6 October 2017

Some thoughts on my "Make and Mend" Challenge




Maybe you have heard of Jen Gale's http://mymakedoandmendlife.com/ or know of similar pages. She's inspired me to my year Make and Mend Challenge and only today I've stumbled about a comment with a question on the "no new clothes for a year" group. The comment was

"I am 9 months in and loving it. I am starting to think about when the 12 months is up and what I will do then. Part of me says splurge but that doesn't feel right or likely. What have other members done? [...]"

I suddenly remembered, I had similar feelings when I started my own Make and Mend Challenge in 2016 and it was a sort of spiteful "you are not being nice to yourself now and pull through and when your are through you can go and indulge in shopping because you earned it and you deserve it anyway ". Funny enough, this is exactly how consumerism works. It manipulates us on a very emotional level. Because shopping really still isn't a hobby and it has nothing to do with being kind to yourself. It is just a feeling instilled in us by very clever advertising. 


Now, while I went on the Make and Mend challenge we also were challenged financially by the fact that we had decided to take nearly a year parental time and live on about 50-60% of our normal monthly income. So as it happened, I was not only very busy with tending to two small children (that said, we were all 4 of us together those 10 months!) but even when I was very very very tempted, it wasn't really possible and that was a good thing. (as I had explained in a post before, overconsumption is only possible if you have the means to do so... or decide to go into debts...)
With the time passing I noticed a distinctive change in my attitude (very much like the one in the comment above). When before I would buy something because it was cute and I could, now I look at everything very carefully and would ask myself "do I really need this?" and "don't I have something at home that serves the same purpose?". It just got much more unlikely to just go on a mindless shopping splurge. I mean, why go shopping if you already know you don't need anything and you don't really want anything you don't need...?!

I also got to know my taste in clothes a lot better and I am much more careful to only buy things that fit now. And are of an acceptable quality for the price asked. Which means a lot of the time even if I try something  on, I don't buy it.

I've actually come to a point where I don't really enjoy shopping, because I don't do it for its own sake but for a purpose - and I really don't enjoy it much to look for a pair of jeans these days, because I just don't find any, that fit me. Which also means that any time in the next 6 months I will probably have to sew a pair. But I am trying my best to mend the 2 pairs I have and that fit me well. I am even thinking about not replacing them and starting to wear more skirts. i have a few lovely skirts and dresses. Only the moths have eaten all of my woolly tights... (which is a sign I didn't wear them much, shame on me!)

I am in my second year of make and mend now and I am growing used to this attitude of "non-shopping". I still own more than enough clothes, and nothing new has really entered my wardrobe. I am starting to mend more, I am also repurposing items (like one really really cool t-shirt that just doesn't fit me.. and probably never did...). I also notice ill fit more (which is something the sewing for the 18th century caused) and I get really annoyed about uncomfortable clothes not (which might also be a sign of getting older...).

I sometimes look back and think - wow, how much time I wasted on just going shopping - all those hours... I could have read a book, I could have painted, I could have played the piano, I could have gone for a lovely walk or a run, I could have learned something new, I could have done something that is more according to the idea of mindfulness.

But then again - I had to go through this, to learn about myself and to learn how in then end this whole shopping and fashion and accessoires and home decor stuff is just empty and leaves you with more emptiness. Which is very ironical really, because it is the opposite of what adversiting is suggesting.

So, to come back to the question from that group. If you have gone though a year on not shopping at all, I think you do deserve a treat. But does it have to be a shopping splurge? Maybe you have a rough idea how much money you saved because you omitted regular shopping trips. You could visit a friend who lives further away. Or you could go on a mini holiday. Or you could treat yourself to a book. Or a membership in the public library. Or cook a nice meal for friends. Or maybe all through that year you have eyed up one particular item... a coat? A pair of shoes or boots? A necklace? A hat? Decide on one item and get it and enjoy it.

The make and mend challenge is a challenge. Which means, it is also over after some time. And that is a good thing. As I said in the post on the challenge, it is not about chastising ourselves for the rest of our lives. It is about going from one extreme to the other extreme for a limited amount of time, to eventually find the middle way (to quote buddha).




Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Aurélie for Mia




Of course my Little Miss No 2 shouldn't be without a self-made doll, either. She will get this little cutie (called Aurélie) for her 3rd Birthday. She's been asking for a while already, so I hope she will be happy when she finally gets her own doll.

I used the Mariengold.net patterns again, and I still love them so much.

For the hair I used Dolly Mo Wooly Mohair in Dark Brown. The pullover/knitdress is also made following a pattern by Mariengold and I used some leftover sock yarn (the one I used for Bina by Lalylala...). I made two strings to close the back, with two pompoms (i LOVE making Pompoms!) also from leftover yarn. The shoes are also made following the Mariengold (oh girl!) instructions (cotton in a rusty red).

The dress Aurélie is wearing underneth the pullover dress is made from a lovely fabric by Tilda and then from a scrap piece of fabric (cotton batist) I applied a ruche at the bottom.

And why is she called Aurélie? - Because I like the Song by "Wir sind Helden". :)


Tilda Wildgarden fabric



Wednesday, 20 September 2017

DIY Magnets



The children loved making these magnets and I have to admit - I love them, too!
We will be using them as Christmas presents this year and of course we are going to keep a few.
This project was suitable for my 5 year old (cutting the circles, glueing), the 2,5 year old helped and we gave her some pieces of paper and some scissors so she felt included. She also put the glasnuggets on the paper quite well.


What you need
- 2 pairs of children's scissors (because I have 2 children)
- a catalogue, magazine, newspaper, flyer... whatever motives you like. We used a book catalogue from a local book shop mainly. Completely for free.
- clear glue
- clear glas nuggets (ours are 17-20mm, the base is about 14mm)
- magnets (ours are 12,5mm in diameter)
- thin coloured carton (we used dark blue and dark green) to back the cut out paper
- felt tip pen to mark out the circles
- optional: efco circle punch 14mm

I bought the glass nuggets  and magnets here: https://www.bastelweltcreativ.de/glasnuggets-muggelsteine/c-145.html
And the puncher is from amazon. We used the 14mm hole (but it comes with 3 circles, maybe we use those for another project...)
(and I am not getting anything out of recommending my sources, it's purely informative)
Cost: I suppose this depends on where you live, we bought 30 glassnugets and 30 magnets and the circle punch (which is only optional...) for about 11 Euros altogether. The rest was from the stock or available for free.


How to do it



1. Mark out the areas you want cut. I made the circles slightly larger than the area we actually need, because the girls tend to cut well inside the circle I made. If you have the circle punch - still let them cut the circles, it improves their dexterity AND they love looking at the pictures and help choosing them enthusiastically.




2. The circles are then glued to a piece of dark blue construction paper by the children and after drying I punched them (the pictures, not the children). If your pictures have been printed on relatively firm paper, you can skip this step, but ours was just normal paper, so it is better to back it so the magnet doesn't show through. the puncher makes the circles nice and even and with the darker paper underneath eventual gaps (from too small cut circles... happens...) are filled out. If you don't want to invest in a puncher, you can also cut the circles with scissors. Depending on the age of the children they can do that, too...




3. Here comes the magic. Now you put one relatively small dot of liquid clear glue (we've used just ordinary liquid hobby glue... I have to admit this one wasn't solvent free... that somehow slipped my attention... we normally use solvent free glue...) Make sure the glass sits with the right side and nicely centered on the paper. They can be a bit slippy in the beginning. My youngest just sort of throws the glass on the paper, and then I adjust it. She loves it, though. Put them on a carton o piece of wood or something else that gives them stability and put them away for a night for the glue to dry. Before you leave them, check again, that the glass hasn't travelled away from the paper.




4. After drying thoroughly, you can attach the magnets. We've used magnets made for DIY, so one side has a little "dot" in it and is less magnetic than the other side. Again, one dot of liquid clear glue, careful adjusting and drying time. You can see in the picture (maybe) that the two WITH the magnets are sligthly higher than the ones in the middle that are still waiting to be magnetified.
If you are worried about scratching surfaces, you can then glue a small piece of 1mm thin felt underneath the magnet, but we don't worry about it much. :)


We made these over a time of 2 weeks, on rainy days. Cutting the paper circles took about 2 days and I didn't anticipate how much the girls would love it. Especially the older one LOVED to choose the motives and look through the catalogues. You can stretch this to whatever time you need, it's great in how many small "bitesize" portions this project can be diveded. Glueing them all to the paper took about 2 afternoon sessions again (the punching took about 20 mins... alone...). Glueing the magnets to the glass was like a "special treat" and we did this in batches from 5-7 at a time so the magic wouldn't go away. That worked quite well, especially as Little Miss No 1 got to choose the 5-7 pictures she wanted to glue herself.

If you make them as presents, you can choose paper matching for the recipient -
- an ardent "Game of Thrones" or "Lord of the rings" fan - print the maps!
- a traveller - you can get really old maps for near to nothing
- a book enthusiast - old books in pretty languages (e.g. kyrillic) or said book catalogues a brilliant
- an arts specialist - print pictures or photographs of his or her favourite artist
- a movie lover - black and white photographies make brilliant backgrounds
- a super cook - food photography can be fantastic!
- ... the possibilities are endless... whatever is printed, can be made into these magnets. Those glassnuggets also come in different sizes

Tadaaaa!!




Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Where has all the historical costuming gone???



Hello everybody who comes here for the historical costuming stuff.

It's been a while. Sorry about that.

Since the arrival of my two lovely and spirited daughters my life has considerably changed (in many ways) and has been enriched so much. But that also means, that I have considerably less time for historical costuming. I've not left it, no worries, I have SO many ideas in my head what I would like to make or reinterpret or what project I would like to revisit to adjust to my changing taste. I am still following the reenactment community, but more passively.

Because at the moment, I have other priorities.

I have my children, with who I like to do arts and crafts. And I do a lot of research around the topic. And prepare, collect the materials. Think about when and how to make it with them. Check the weather forecast. Stuff like that. Stuff that I never even imagined, when I didn't have children. Stuff that I love doing with them. Even if they loose interest after 5 minutes. It's a learning process. :)

So I invite you to look through the labels on the right for a special period of time if you are only here for the costumes, of look at the pictures (link at the top of the page). Otherwise - just browse, maybe you find something that catches your interest - arts and crafts wise, in my articles about consumerism/minimalism - or you start you own "make and mend challenge"?!

XXX

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

arts and crafts and waste




It's been a little quiet here lately, sorry. But I was researching something (and still am): 

As some of you might know, I have two wonderful children. Small children aged 2 and 5. And I like arts and crafts. And I would like to share this with them in a way that is fun for all of us. 

So I was looking for a book about arts and crafts with young children  - and I have to admit, i was a bit disappointed by what i found.

Some of the books were like "you can make something from EVERYTHING". As in "use food for fun". Or a lot of expensive material was required. Or it was really mostly pre-manufactured. No real skills necessary.

I didn't like that. I also didn't like the fact that some things just looked really ... erm... not nice.
Ok, not all of the things my children make are masterpieces (incredible, I know), but I thought we could at least TRY to make something to put up on the wall and in the house. Something tasteful. Or useful. Where they learn something new and enjoy it. Don't need to buy an awful lot of expensive or wasteful material.

I again started appreciating the internet an awful lot. I can access blogs from all around the world about things to do with children on rainy days. I can access books from all around the world. Brilliant. 

So I started making a folder with things to do for rainy days throughout the seasons and "always". 

And: We now have a wall with frames to put the children's artwork (and also ours or from the family) in, which I will post about in the future, too. 

And I will also post the things we've made. It will be quite random, but such is life. :) 

You will be able to access all the ideas from the label "Ideas for rainy days with children". 

I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we do!


XXX


PS: If you have ideas or links to blog from creative people - let me know!!

_______

Now, arts and crafts and waste also is a big topic in all things DIY. The amount of fabrics I have sitting in the cellar, that are waiting to be made into something, is ridiculous. Sometimes I can't even remember, why I wanted them in the first place and what I intended to make from them... and I have also lots of other arts and crafts "stuff" that I can't possibly use all at once. But it's a tricky one - if I would throw away or give away all of those materials, I wouldn't be able to revisit the project (e.g. hatmaking or silk flowers). Even if it takes years. It is also great to just be able to go downstairs for some coloured paper for the kids... But strictly speaking these are all leftovers from a time of vast overconsumption. Which makes me feel a little sad. And now... what do I do with them?

I am more careful now with getting materials and equipment. Unless I know when I need the material and want to make something from it, I am not buying it. Even if the price is wonderful and sometimes it is SO tempting.
Instead, I am using what we have stored and I am also taking pride in reusing material that we already own. E.g. old clothes. Sometimes it can be quite tricky to be a crafter and at the same time you don't want to have all the things you make - e.g. I've seen a book on making baskets out of old newspapers - brilliant idea... only... what would I do with all those baskets?
So I am trying to combine the idea of making something that we can use in the house or maybe give away as presents PLUS taking the material from what we've got at home. It doesn't always work (which is a good sign... more and more material is being used up!) but we are turning more and more to resources readily available around us instead of going shopping for arts and crafts supplies first. The amount of things you can make from leaves is incredible!

So, my aim for the rest of my "Make and Mend II" year is also, to use material that we have around us and/or in the house and make things that are of certain use. Let's see, how that works out. :) 

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





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.





I think she looks a lot cuter in real.

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.

Monday, 5 June 2017

pot leaves - Topfblätter


I had seen a pot holder like this somewhere on the net ages ago (unfortunately I don't have the source any more, so if you know whose original idea it was, let me know!). And today I managed to make one. I used thermolam ( padding made for this purpose) and some cotton scraps I've had and a piece of wool felt - so none of it should melt. :)

This is what the other side looks like:

We usually use oven mitts, but it was a nice little project to do and I've had all the material there. I might try oven mitts next, because that's what we actually use. :)

Anyway, if you want to try, here is the pattern (A4 paper)

goo.gl/hEeynX

Print twice so you can cut top and bottom leaf.
Then cut the fabric (for the bigger bottom leaf with seam allowance, for the top leaf without) and one thermolam padding the size of the bottom leaf.
Applique top leaf onto bottom leaf for each side of the pot holder.
Then attach the first bottom leave by folding the seam allowance around and topstitching.
Attach the top band where indicated. 
The other side is attached by folding the seam allowances under and then putting it on top of the other side of the thermolam padding.

 ____________________________
Cost

Material: Thermolam 6,50 Euros (this is the price for the 1 meter, I only needed 1/10th of it, but as I had the entire meter here... so that piece would have been 0,65 Euros), 3 scraps of leftover fabric, 1 piece of wool felt (1,50 Euro), a bit of yarn in black cotton.
Time: 2 hours (including drawing the pattern).

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Make and Mend Challenge - The End



So, it's June again and a year ago I started the Make and Mend Challenge - No New Clothes for a year.



How did it go?

One of the most remarkable things was the reaction of people when we were talking about my challenge. Most of my friends were like "ok, that's a good idea". And some people said: "That's a bit extreme, isn't it?" Maybe, but a good way of learning about yourself. And some said "what? WHY??" or "Oh, i could NEVER do that!" and it really made me wonder, why it's difficult not to buy anything - if you don't need it.
Part of the challenge was, that I had my own rules (you can read about them in my original post). And it wasn't about not buying anything at all, it was about only buying something, if I really needed it (and couldn't make it myself). So all I did, was not to overconsume. Only to buy what i needed. And I find it worrying, that this kind of thinking and self-discipline is looked at as something special. I think a bit of self-discipline helps you in every situation. :) 

I also found it made me free. I didn't think about fashion in the first place, I thought about usefulness. Also I didn't spend time just "shopping around", but did things that were much more fulfulling. Because going shopping just for it's own sake, let's admit that, is rather hollow. So I consciously played the piano more, did more crafts stuff, appreciated what I had more.

During this year we also moved house, which gave me opportunity to thoroughly go through all of our possessions. It was a real eye opener. Because I found I owned so many things that I didn't really need, want or like. And it was difficult. It was extremely difficult for me to get rid of some things. Even if I didn't like them at all. And it made me sad. Because a lot of the things stood for my loneliness at the time. And ashamed of myself, because it was SO MUCH STUFF. When I brought things to charity I felt like apologizing the whole time because I had so obviously overconsumed. And in the end I am also proud of myself. A little bit at least. Because I changed. I started looking at the world in a different way, I started looking at myself in a different way and most important: I acted in a different way. I wouldn't say I have changed my charactre entirely, I rather see it as finally having arrived at who I really am, being freed of the weight of consumerism and stuff. It feels a little like shedding an old skin.

To sum up the last year, my "purchase" list:

This is what I bought for myself:
- 3 bras and one pair of undies
- 1 hawaii dancer (uttlery useless, but she is standing and wiggling in the kitchen window and it makes me smile every time, yes, every time)
-  1 bottle of perfume (to replace the empty one)
-  1 eyeshadow set (that was a bit of an extravagance...)
-  1 swimsuit (long story, I needed it quickly, like "same day", impossible to make one!)
-  1 pair of shoes (that was a bit of luxury again...)
- 1 digital pattern (it disappeared from the company's homepage and I suddenly realized I really would like to sew it, especially as I had a matching fabric for it already given to me...)

What I made
- American neckline stripey shirt (disaster..., didn't wear it, recycled it)
- taken pattern from old favourite linen trousers
- Sorbetto top
- several crochet dolls


What I (had) mended
- dress to pullover (and children's hats)
- 2 paits of shoes resoled
- spotty blouse
- dyed linen trousers



And how will it continue?

I am not sure. This year was so relatively easy, that I will just continue, I think. I will sort through my wardrobe again to see if there is more I can give to charity.
I started not replacing things that broke or were damaged beyond repair immediately, just to see whether I actually felt the impact. Mostly I noticed it went very well without it.
I am also shopping by the "one comes, one goes" rule now, which means that if I actually DO buy something, it has to replace an item that serves the same purpose (sort of like an "update" to the home, not additional).
What really helped was that I was trying not to be too strict. I kept a few things in the wardrobe that will probably go out later. I also noticed that if I packed a box for charity and let it sit for a few days, sometimes it would "mature". Some more things (that I hadn't been sure about) went in, but occasionally I also took something out again. And really enjoyed that. :)
We still have a lot of things in the cellar that I have kept because they are generally useful (e.g. folders) but have no use for them yet. Which I find a bit annoying, because I prefer to just get things now when I need them and then get them exactly and 100% suitable for that purpose.

I also have the feeling that because of the fact we moved and had to get lots of things (e.g. lamps and shelves) for the new place, my shopping urge had possibly shifted to that, but as that has a definite deadline I am not too worried about it. We had made a list of things to get for the new place and after that that's that.  

My personal little reward:

While I was on the Make and Mend Challenge I stumbled of this absolutely great hanging chair, which I saw at a friend's house. So I decided if I manage the MaM Challenge ok, then I can pat myself on the shoulder and get a chair like that, if I still want it. And I Do. Hanging chairs are absolutely brilliant!

So, let's see how the next year goes. On to 3rd June 2018! Are you in? :)

PS: I think i am going to go with the "extended version" which means i will extend the "non shopping" to household things, too.  :)

Monday, 29 May 2017

DIY Mobile recharging holder thingy.

Don't get distracted by the many switches. It's about the felt pocket.


As you can see from the picture, it is a good thing, I'm not in advertising. I don't even know what to call this. Mobile recharging pocket from felt?
Anyway, I've been a bit fed up with the cable-mobile-lying around thing and stumbled over a box with felt in the cellar and remembered I actually had seen something like this for sale (for about 5 Euros... but why buy something when you can make it yourself?!). So I made this. I found out there are lots of tutorials to make these online, but here you go, this is my pattern. 







The entire piece is 38,7cm x 10,5 cm big, the felt is about 3mm thick. (15,23" x 4,13", thickness 0,12"). The width is exactly half of an A4 sheet, it's a bit longer, though. 
If your piece of felt is big enough you can cut and fold the pattern on the dotted lines. If not, you can make up to 3 pieces (cutting and extra "pocket piece" and an extra "enforcement piece" for the top). Don't forget to cut a small hole at the bottom (or if you don't fold the bottom over, just leave the seam open about 2cm for the cable). Then just stitch around everything - fini. 

This prototype (which is fully functional, so I doubt I will make more of them, unless asked) is just plain, but you could add a label on the front pocket, or insert it into the side seam. You can use different colour felt or pieces in different colours. You could use contrast coloured yarn (maybe extra thick?) or paint it, or embroider something on it. Or do some appliqué. You can add an extra pocket for the cable (on the front or the back or both) and you could add a press-stud at the very top and the very bottom to take it with you and not loose the cables. You can lengthen it if you want to include your mobile in that pocket. You can widen it or make it smaller if your mobile is smaller than mine (it fits a Samsung Galaxy S3 fine). Ahh, the possibilities!


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Irregular posts


Oh my gosh and golly, we are right in the middle of May already!
Temperatures are rising (as hig as 29degrees Celsius this week) an while spring is definitely here, we even get a glimpse of summer. 

Apart from working all sorts of funny hours, i did have a week of holiday and a few days off - and didn't write a single blog post. 

We have been busy in the garden and just spending time outside with the kids so I didn't do much sewing, or other DIY stuff (apart from painting our tiny shed, which isn't really worth a post...) and I also think i am going to spare you pictures of emtpy plantbeds where we are impatiently waiting for things to grow. We've got quite a few tiny first leaves of carrots, radices, basil, koriander, parsley, courgette, pumpkin and nasterium, and a few where I have completely forgotten what it was... 

I've started growing a teepee but so far it is not ready yet so the blogpost will have to wait. We are also trying to make the lawn look better (quite a few bald patches...) but again, I don't think posting pictures of grass growing (or not) is majorly interesting. 

I have 3 sewing project waiting (for months) and some more sewing ideas but the joy of gardening has completely got me. :) 

So, coming up next, soon(ish):
- the end of my make and mend challenge - 365 days no shopping (including a few confessions)
- growing a teepee
- hopefully sewing projects for kids and myself (yay!)

Thursday, 27 April 2017

What do we really want?

Oh my goodness, I have had so many posts in the pipeline and then all of a sudden with the move and a change of workplace and a new garden and summer coming I completely forgot to finish them.
Anyhow, my husband the natural minimalis has brought this interview to my attention and I though I'd share it with you. Noam Chomsky has an awful lot of very interesting things to say, there are more videos on youtube where you can see and hear him talk. But here's one on what we really want for now:


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Minimalism and time



Hei everybody!

I've been posting on minimalism and things related to minimalism for the past few months quite regularly, which was great fun and still is great, because I am still enjoying the minimalism journey. Anyway, I've started a new job , which is really exciting and but also comes with a lot of workload. I was talking about time and time management before and have emphazised, that I want to have more time to relax and more time for my family. 
You might say that that will kind of result in  a bit of a conflict - working more. And you are right in a way. But the result is, that I have to change some of my routines and prioritise more. Which means that possibly the blogpost won't come as regularly as they did. I will be out with my kids and do some gardening with them and in the evening I might not always find the time to write because I am - working... 

It is definitely a good exercise for me to practise efficient time management and to focus on my priorities. In a year from now (latest), I will know how it worked out. 

But if I have to say something about minimalism or consumerism or gardening or sewing - don't worry, I won't hold back - I might just take a little longer. :) 

The joys of Gardening



Spring has hit us with full force and nature seems to be exploding all around us.
I have felt something I've never ever felt in my entire life - a strong desire to do gardening. I am probably getting old and something like that, but I find it incredibly peace full to dig and weed, to assess the growth (or non-growth) of our lawn (which doesn't even deserve the name...), to seed, and water and wait for things to grow.

I am not the only one. I've noticed quite a lot of people interested in miminalism also seem to grow things. Maybe it is the joy of creating somethings and seeing the results quickly, but I find it incredibly satisfying.

So, why not try it out yourself - if you don't have a garden, you can still grow some basil or parsley on the window sill. If you have a balcony, why not try a "wild balcony" -> pile up a few twigs with leaves and maybe even a but of scattered soil alltogether in a corner of the balcony in spring and then do not tidy it up. Just leave it there and watch, what with wind brings. Will something start to grow between the leaves? Will you have little visitors like birds? You can also try to grow some tomatoes or herbs or just a few flowers to brighten up the day. Start growing the seeds in egg cartons on the windowsill and then put them outside in a pot.

Maybe in a few weeks you can eat your own home grown tomatoes with your own basil and a bit of mozzarella and oil. With a fresh loaf of baguette. Yum! 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Sustainability - too good to be true.


Everybody is talking about sustainability. So I am thinking about it, too.
The thing is: We are talking about it as if we had not made an enourmously destructive impact on our planet already. As if it was just a precaution. Or taking care. Let's be honest: We've destroyed so much of our planet that it is a farce to talk about sustainability. We can start talking about that when we've reached a point where the damage is repaired (if that is possible at all) and we are truly protecting nature. 
I've read an article the other day about conscious consumerism and about how it doesn't exist (and I quite agree). 
To tell you the truth, I am quite annoyed with this whole sustainability-talk. We are all pretending how much we are trying to save the planet. We buy organic food, organic clothes, energy saving light bulbs, ... and we buy on and on and on... more than ever.
But there is no sustainability in consume. The only way to preserve or save resources is not to use them. I don't make an impact on companies when I buy organic. I make an impact on companies when I don't buy certain things at all.



Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A Word about "Conscious Consumerism".

found this on the net, don't know where it's from though...


I admit it, it is nearly impossible to stop consuming altogether.
I couldn't just go out and live in a hut in a forest and grow my own salads and nuts, because the land belongs to someone and you can't just go an live there (no, doesn't work, people try it again and again, doesn't lead anywhere here...). Authorities would just have you. And that's that.
So as "back to the roots" isn't quite possible I would argue the best thing to do is to make most out of the existing system. And I don't mean that in a "consume as much as you can" way, but in a "consume as little and consciously and carefully as you can" way. Consider the true cost of items (clothes, food, pots, pans, furniture etc). Buy locally. Not just apples. And only buy what adds lasting value to your life. The big danger is to "lighten" your purse and your conscience by falling into the "conscious consumerism" "LOVAS" or whatever other trap. The main thing is to consume less and to create more.

The idea of conscious consumerism is spread much further in english sources and (although it seems it only really caught on around 2012 or a tad earlier) and I've found this American Homepage which I think has some interesting articles.


https://www.newdream.org/programs/beyond-consumerism/rethinking-stuff/conscious-consumerism

Also an interesting read - to remind you that FIRST you must stop unnecessary consume and THEN think about where the rest you own should come from
https://qz.com/920561/conscious-consumerism-is-a-lie-heres-a-better-way-to-help-save-the-world/?utm_source=atlfb 

In a way conscious consumerism does and does not exist at the same time. :) Depending on the point of view. A bit like Schrödingers cat. Just totally different. :) 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Emotional blackmail




Consumerism as opiate of the masses (Sharon Beder)

Today I would like to talk to you about Emotional Blackmail.
Emotional Blackmail is an extremely interesting topic. What makes it so difficult to describe is the fact that it works on the emotional side of relationships and also sometimes is rather well disguised.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_blackmail


How does this link to consumerism? 

Through advertising.

A lot of ads try to make us buy the product by making us believe, that we will get better, more successful, more beautiful, faster or whatever else by buying their product. Automatically we are told all of the time that the way we are, we are not good enough and that instead of ameliorating our own skills, we are told that buying things will get us where we want to be. Which of course doesn't really work but starts a spiral of buying more and more to feel and be better.
It also numbs us to what is really going on around us, because we are so busy in the whole consumerism circus, that we don't notice other things. No interest in politics. No time for friends. No interest in reading or writing, in paining or dancing. Making shopping our world because we think it will make us better.
Also TV and films show us that way of life - going shopping as a pasttime. Purchasing items as a hobby. Comparing what you own and gaining status by having the newest, lightest, fastest or whatever automatic whatsit.

If people don't see who I am and respect me for the person I am, they won't like me more if I wear a golden rolex.



You can't just buy elegance or taste. You either have it, or you don't. (And IMHO this watch is not elegant. It is a lot of things, but not elegant.)


 

Monday, 27 March 2017

DIY Plans for 2017



Apart from the crocheting I've not done much sewing lately. Mainly that had to do with the fact of moving house and a lot of time was just spent on unpacking things, trying to get order into the place (don't mention the cellar...) and installing lamps and shelves and wardrobes ... it took us 4 months to install the shower curtain rail thingy...

But I've got plans. My Make and Mend challenge of course influences a bit what I am doing.

So, here's a list:

material at hand
-trousers for Little Miss no 1
-dungarees for Little Miss no 1
-comfy pants for Litte Miss no 2
-another Frida or Leia doll
-little curtain for bathroom window
-pillow case for sofa cushion (old cover not nice anymore and inner pillow still superb)



material partly/mainly at hand
-ruffling up the Walpole Francaise (black taffetta silk needed)
-cloche hat (a single hob needed, as the new kitchen has an induction field and the aluminium tea pot won't work on that)


ideas
-tweed sailer trousers light beige
-possibly jeans, if mine don't make it until June 2017
-maybe a 1950s inspired swimsuit
-maybe a 19th century day dress
- t shirt with giant cowl neck, long sleeves, from merino jersey or cotton jersey or so, dyed myself with plant dyes. 




Another Plan:
go through fabric stash and make something from whatever is there. :)

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Finding the balance...



I've just read an article about how human hair is "harvested" in china for extensions (for those interested: here is the link http://www.nzherald.co.nz/indepth/national/black-gold/?#_=_)
and it made me think a lot about Western "civilisation" and our goals and values and of course I felt really bad about all the consumerism around me and the big part I play in it. Because let's be honest, even if you don't have hair extensions, you will be, like myself, a small cog in the big machinery of consumerism. It really tormented me, especially as I am really trying not to be part of it. Which sometimes just doesn't seem to work. And then I stopped and looked around myself (because I happened to be on a walk with my oldest daughter today, too).

Today is a really cold and quiet day. We have about -1°Celsius and it is really foggy. The fog crystallized on leaves, gras, bushes, cobwebs and everything was encrusted in this layer of ice crystals. It looked as if somebody had put a thick layer of castor sugar over everything. It is beautiful and full of magic.

I feel grateful that I was there that moment with my daughter and we enjoyed that magical weather together. Through all the pressure of everyday life and work (and still trying to  move in properly...) I could feel that no matter what is happening around the world, the only real impact on life I can make is right here where I am with my family. Where we live, how we live and how we treat each other. And that's what really counts.