My jumper coat

As many of you are aware, last year I spent a year buying no new clothes. I did pretty well and have only bought footwear since (a pair of boots for me and shoes for the kids). 

The weather here has been changeable recently and so I needed something that was lighter than a coat but thicker than a cardigan. 

I have been following The Woolly Pedlar on twitter for a while now and I love her creations. Not just because they are a great way to use textile waste but they are really unusual and I just love them. 

At the time that I messaged her she didn’t have anything in my size in the colours that I wanted but I was happy to wait. 

Then I got a sneak peak


(Picture courtesy of The Woolly Pedlar)

Then another one a short time later


(Picture courtesy of The Woolly Pedlar)

I really loved getting updates throughout the making process and couldn’t contain my excitement when the final photo came through. 


(Picture courtesy of The Woolly Pedlar)

It was finished! I fell in love with it instantly. 

I’ve been wearing my jumper coat for a few weeks now and get compliments everywhere. It really is the most amazing piece of clothing I have ever bought. Even if Hubby finds it funny to comment “how can you say you’re cold? You’ve got 20 jumpers on!” 

Easter Half Term

The kids have had two weeks off school to celebrate Easter and we’ve done a fair bit. The weather has been pretty kind and it’s coincided with both my birthday and a friend’s wedding. 

We’ve been out and about, we’ve celebrated Easter, my birthday, and a wedding. We’ve baked (those ice creams are really cake!) and I’ve done a bit of sewing.

We even went to the seaside for a couple of nights. 


How was your Easter holidays?

Two for One

Before Christmas I was swamped with orders through my crafty Facebook page. It was nice as it’s the busiest I’ve been for quite a few years but it was also nice to have a break from that and do some personal sewing for a change. 

D nearly gave me a heart attack on Christmas Eve when he told a family member that the only thing he wanted for Christmas was a Pokemon cushion. He has been obsessed for a while but until that moment had made no indication that he wanted a Pokemon cushion! I tried to soften the blow slightly by saying that Santa was really busy and we couldn’t always have everything that we wanted blah blah blah. I also told him that if Santa didn’t bring him his cushion (knowing full well that he wasn’t going to!!) I would make him one instead. 

Christmas morning came and surprise surprise no cushion. He was easily distracted by an internet search for Pokemon fabric. He chose what he wanted and I ordered it. 

Once the fabric came he asked if it was made Every. Single. Day. I eventually found time and made it for him. 


He was pretty pleased. 😀 

I had actually ordered more fabric than I needed as I wasn’t sure if he was suddenly going to decide he needed two (he loves cushions!) but he was pretty happy with the one. So while he was at school I made a shirt out of what was left. 


My first wearable make of the year and it was a big hit. He changed straight out of his uniform and paired it with a pair of shorts. He actually had really good style. Although slightly out of season with all this rain we’ve been having lately. I made an Age 6 size wise so it should definitely last him through the summer and hopefully into next year too. 

Although to make it fair I now owe Little Lady something handmade lol!

A Homemade Fashion Collaboration

In my last post I mentioned that Little Lady and I had worked together to make her a top. It started when Little Lady brought home a letter from school asking us to send in a plain white t-shirt. Little Lady has very colourful tastes and so only owns one plain white t shirt and that’s the one that is part of her PE kit! I couldn’t go out and buy one but I did have a lot of white jersey upstairs. 

I found a lovely t shirt pattern online and set about making it. I do most of my making when the kids are in bed so Little Lady couldn’t try it on til the morning. 


The fit was perfect so we labelled it with her name and sent it into school. Apparently they had been learning about design and had been asked to draw a t shirt design. They had experimented with various ways of applying the design to the fabric and it seems most of them chose fabric paint. Nice easy option for the children although maybe a bit messy for the teachers lol! 

Little Lady’s design centred on the things she enjoyed doing ie reading and watching the football (this was right in the middle of the Welsh Euro16 fever!) 

Little Lady said she enjoyed making the t shirt but did say it was boring waiting for the paint to dry and as a result she could only decorate the one side. 

I’m pretty impressed by her thinking and design and she loves wearing it. A great result for the mammy-daughter t shirt collaboration 😀

No New Clothes – a year on

This time last year I sat and wrote about the challenge I was about to embark on. It was pretty scary I have to admit. I wasn’t sure how well I would do, or if I could actually manage it. But then, isn’t that the point of a challenge? To push you out of your comfort zone? 

I set some rules that I hoped would make it a bit easier for me:

  • underwear does not count. I will not buy secondhand underwear for any of my family. I am, however, planning to make some of my own underwear again.
  • Running clothes and shoes. My current running shoes should last me until early next year but when they do need replacing I will be buying new. I won’t risk injury by buying secong hand. Running clothes, I will try to make do with what I have or buy second hand if I can.
  • Uniform/work wear. I wear my own clothes to work and therefore can get away with this but hubby can’t. He is provided with a polo shirt but some of the other kit he needs may need to be new due to safety reasons. We will shop around and try to buy second hand if we can but I will not compromise his safety. School uniforms will be second hand as much as possible, however, due to the school logo, if it poses difficulty in buying second hand then at the last resort we will buy new.
  • Shoes. I won’t buy second hand shoes especially for the kids. They have both recently had new shoes so should be fine for quite a while.
  • I am allowed to make new clothes and buy second hand. I cannot however, buy a lot of new fabric in order to make new clothes. (Copied from original blog post) 

So a year on. How did I do?? Let’s see shall we?

New items bought for me:

  1. Two pairs of running trousers
  2. A pair of denim shorts 
  3. A new sports bra
  4. Two pairs of compression socks
  5. My running club hoodie
  6. A pair of running shoes (not shown)

I’m pretty pleased with that! Both the running leggings and running shoes were allowed under my rules, as was the sports bra. The compression socks were needed but on the other hand did I really need two pairs?? And the shorts? Well I could have made some if I’m honest but I really didn’t want to. They were an impulse purchase bought about a month ago. 😔 So in all honesty I could have avoided buying them. 

In the interest of transparency I also received some clothes as gifts:

  1. Two pairs of jeans for Christmas
  2. A pair of furry boots (not shown)
  3. A pair of pyjamas (a Christmas Eve tradition – not shown)
  4. A running top which I had for my birthday

I have also received a few new training tops as prizes for completing races. I use these to avoid buying training tops. I do sometimes wish that races would give out trousers instead of tops occasionally so that I wouldn’t have to buy those 😂

The kids had new pyjamas from Santa on Christmas Eve. Little Lady had a new leotard and two pairs of hot pants for her dance show and D had a new pair of bathers for his swimming lessons. Little Lady’s dance items were very specific so I would have struggled to find them second hand in time, if at all and D’s swimming lessons can be such a source of stress for him as he hates showing his body, or “performing” in public. The SpiderMan bathers helps to ease his stress as he knows SpiderMan is brave and if that helps him overcome his social anxiety then it’s worth every penny. 

In regards to making things I failed miserably. I have made a lot of outfits but unfortunately none for me. I do have a post to show you at another date of how Little Lady and I collaborated on a top for her 😊 

We’ve talked about buying, gifts, and making but what about mending? I have done a LOT of mending this past year! 

I made shorts out of a pair of school trousers with holes in the knee:I also:

  1. Repaired a seam in my running tights
  2. Patched every pair of jeans I own over the year
  3. Repaired a seam in normal leggings
  4. Repaired a pair of shorts I had already made from a pair of jeans
  5. Fixed a jumper
  6. Replaced missing buttons on a cardigan 
  7. Shortened a dress to make it wearable
  8. Re hemmed two pairs of trousers
  9. Repaired a hole in the underarm of a cardigan

And I’m sure there were more but that’s all I seem to have kept a record of. 

All in all I think I did okay. There was room for improvement but I don’t think it was a complete failure. The big question now is: where do I go from here? Well pretty much all my clothes are looking tired. My jeans have been mended to within an inch of their lives. A very kind friend has just gifted me two new-to-me pairs of jeans so they will last a while but I could really do with some new clothes. I don’t intend to go out and buy all new and I will use charity shops as much as I can. But I do think this next year may be spent replacing the majority of my clothes. 

The Impossible Dream?

Last weekend brought D’s 4th birthday. Now let’s just take a minute to wonder how on earth my baby could be 4?? Argh! Time moves so fast!

Anyway moving on. So D turned 4 and he decided he wanted a party. With a bouncy castle naturally!  So I booked a hall and the bouncy castle but then my mind turned to the waste side of things. How little waste could I produce at the party? I knew I couldn’t go Zero Waste as it’s quite difficult to get ingredients without packaging here but I could at least try to reduce unnecessary waste.

The main culprit at parties are party bags. Plastic bags filled with plastic tat that break and/or gets thrown away the same day. I decided to make my own party bags out of fabric I already had.  

The bags were all different sizes depending on how much of that particular fabric I had. D wanted a dinosaur party and I did have some dinosaur fabric from a few years ago. Each child also got a toy dinosaur in their bag which seemed to go down well.

Food wise we tried to keep waste to a minimum and I made the birthday cake using items we already had to decorate it  


Cakes were made in reusable cases 

And all the food was placed on proper plates instead of disposable ones

 Drinks were served in plastic beakers we had borrowed from church so no cartons to throw out afterwards.  

Despite all this we fell down in a lot of places. I had surgery the week before the party and was quite poorly afterwards meaning I didn’t  concentrate fully on the zero waste aspect. I panic bought crisps and other party foods that have a lot of packaging at the last minute. We also used tea bags instead of loose tea as I wasn’t well enough to concentrate on a lot of things at the same time. I also panic bought sweets and surprise eggs to go in the party bags.

Next year I plan to start preparing early and make reusable napkins to wrap the birthday cake in for the party bags (we used paper napkins) I would also like to make more of the food myself.

Although my surgery didn’t help our zero waste quest we still only took away one small bag of rubbish at the end of the party. Which I was quite pleased about, considering.

My one sadness though is the one thing I cannot control and that is other people. Any tips on cutting down the mountain of wrapping paper we were left with?

Or is a Zero waste party an impossible dream?

Wiping up waste

We are slowly settling in to a bit of a school routine now, and thankfully I have had time to get some sewing done while the kids are in school. I have been trying to take a look at our lives and our routines to see where we can improve waste and environmentally wise. 

With 2 young (ish) children we have a lot of spills in this house and the easiest way to wipe them up is with kitchen towels. I also use kitchen paper to clean the worktops. I know it’s paper so it can technically be recycled/composted but I’m still using it once then throwing it out. What a waste. 

While decluttering the bathroom I found a lot of baby towels that are really no good anymore as they barely fit around my “babies” anymore but are too big for hand towels. So, one afternoon while D was in school I cut the towel into squares and overlocked the raw edges. I could have neatened the edges with a sewing machine or by binding them but I went for the quick and easy option of my overlocker. 

I folded them and put them in a pretty basket which sits on top of the worktop in the kitchen. They are then to hand when I need to wipe up a spill etc. Once used they go in the washing machine with my normal washing. No more paper towels in this house. Nice one!   

ZWW – my pledge

On Wednesday I told you about Zero Waste Week and it’s theme for this year. The theme is Re-use and I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can use that theme in our family life. We re-use a lot of things already.

We re-use glass jars to store food in the fridge. Very handy to write the “use by” date on using a wipe off marker too. We re-use shopping bags and I always have one in handbag, plus a few in the boot of the car for bigger shops too. We re-use the backs of Christmas/birthday cards to use for notepaper and re-use printing mistakes as drawing paper for the kids.

I wanted ZWW to stretch me, like last year, but I also wanted to make sure that it wasn’t a gimmick, that it was something that would be useful in our everyday lives. After a lot of thinking we (hubby and I) came up with our pledge:

We will re-use and re-purpose items that we already have, or can get second hand, to have a handmade Christmas (as far as we can)

As many gifts as possible from us at Christmas will be handmade. This includes upcycling and repurposing as well as making from scratch. We will try not to buy anything new and either use what we can or buy second hand.

During ZWW (7-13th September) I will be offering tutorials on handmade gifts so please do come back to have a look. I won’t be able to list all planned presents as I know my sister reads this blog periodically and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. 😀 I also plan to end the week with a giveaway so be sure you don’t miss out on that.

Are you planning to take part in ZWW? What’s your pledge?

Make Do and Mend-able Back to Basics

i have been a big fan of Jen Gale since the end of 2012 when I caught wind of her Buy Nothing New year. Since then she has been promoting the idea of Make Do And Mend everywhere she can.

Now with her own Make Do and Mend-able website and host of #makedoandmendhour on Twitter (Thursday 8-9pm if you are interested) she has also put together her own book!

  

The book is made up of 19 chapters, each one written by different contributors. The book isn’t one that is meant to be read like a novel, but more as an instruction manual, an Essential Guide to Make do and Mend, as the tag line says. Topics range from how to sew on a button 

 

To how to replace a plug

 

 

The book is a back-to-basics guide and as such the sewing chapters were a bit basic for me. However they are ideal for people who are beginners or those who are coming back to sewing after a break. It’s not just sewing though. There is something to learn for everyone. I loved reading how to unpick old woollens and re-use the yarn as I hate the wibbly-wobbly effect you are left with. 

 

 

There are a number of projects in this book and I â looking forward to having a go at some of them.

This is a fab book to have at home on your e-reader or tablet and I would definitely recommend it as a present for someone moving into their own home for the first time – think students going to uni or young adults leaving home for the first time, as well as for people like me who just want to live their lives with a smaller impact on the world.

The book is being released on the 21st of this month and is priced at £8. However you can pre-order it now for a reduced price of £5 from here

**I was lucky enough to be sent this e-book free of charge for the purposes of the review. However all opinions are my own and I would only recommend something if I would actually pay for it myself, which in this case, I would have bought the book anyway. 

Jersey sewing

I told you about the Make Me A Wardrobe challenge in this post. I didn’t join in the challenge until very late in January but I did manage to get an item made. I signed up to a t shirt making day at The Midnight Atelier in Bristol. I have made t shirts before but the neck never sits right so I thought if I signed up to a course I could finally learn how to sew the neckline properly. 

I took my own fabric along on the day, some plain white jersey that I had left over from all the snowflake dresses I made last year. I hit a lot of traffic driving into Bristol and by the time I got to the Atelier I was very stressed. Although I tend to act confident especially in my job, where I can stand up and talk in front of a packed church or school assembly hall, I actually have very low confidence levels. New people and places put me out of my comfort zone. Add that to the Bristol traffic and the fact I was the last one to arrive at the course, I was very tempted to turn around and go home! 

Thankfully Laura is lovely and helped me calm down a bit. I didn’t feel rushed to start even though everyone else had pretty much chosen their pattern by the time I had arrived! I eventually chose mine and set about tracing and cutting it out. It has been a while since I have been on a sewing course and it was great talking to other people about their latest and past projects. I love hearing what other people are making. 

After cutting out and then sewing the shoulder seams together, Laura suggested making a sample of the neckline to practice on before attempting it on the real thing. She showed me how to pin and then sew the neckline and it was surprisingly easy!! I was rewarded with a cup of tea and a biscuit 😀 then got on with setting in the sleeves before sewing up the sides.



I should have taken more photos really but I didn’t really think. It was so nice to just be able to sew without the kids needing me or having to move things out of their way. Just pure uninterrupted selfish sewing. Bliss!!

The t shirt came together very quickly and although I was a bit gutted to start with that I only had plain white jersey while every one else had a lovely patterned Jersey fabric, it actually turned out pretty nice. I have worn it since and it feels so comfortable on. I already have fabric lined up for the next one.

So here it is – the finished article, hot off the sewing machine as Laura has a huge mirror on one wall of her studio!



Yes there she is pointing at my bottom!! Lol!! She’s not actually pointing at my bottom. If you look at the bottom of my make, I didn’t hem it. Jersey naturally curls at a raw edge and I left it unhemmed purposely to create that effect. 

There you are, two months late, my mmaw2015 January make. :/