Category Archives: green

outfit: first day of spring

We had two whole days of sunshine here in Bergen, and the unofficial, but highly followed, rule here in rainy Bergen in these cases is to drop everything, and soak up as much of the sun as possible.

So after my bikeride back from work, I switched shoes and jacket, and went on a combined photoshoot/grocery-run/sun-seeking walk to the shopping center down the street.

I wasn’t trying to coordinate, but after switching from a bike-jacket to my spring-like short trenchcoat, and nude heels instead of black shoes, I decided my grey, khaki, and curry colored outfit felt really appropriate for the lovely spring weather we were having. That usually warrants an impromptu photoshoot!

Even my tote-bag matches!

The skirt is a recent refashion from a pair of pants, and it’s been getting a lot of wear – a definite new staple in my wardrobe. I made the cowl over the winter, and it’s been in heavy rotation too. I think I’m a complete cowl convert! The jacket and shirt are thrifted, and the heels are from Payless and finally getting some use after I bought them right before a three-month roadtrip were heels weren’t deemed worthy of room in the very tightly packed car-trunk.

So, spring – want to stick around? Please do!

Fix it Friday: chair gets cozied up

This weeks fixing is not a garment. That’s ok, right? I bought this chair years ago, and it became my first re-upholstering project as I covered the kind of dingy yellow cotton with a luscious  silk. I thought (and still think) that the dark wood looked lovely with the saturated royal blue, but our apartment kind of looks like 1001 nights camping out with vintage/modern Scandinavian things right now, and I’m working on making it more nordic. Also, the fabric was starting to tear. No worries, the silk will be repurposed as bias binding!

Also, taking pictures in the winter is hard with the lack of daylight in the hours I’m at home doing crafty things. We decided (well, I decided, but John took the pictures (thanks!), so – “we”) to put the chair in the spotlight and take some interrogation style pictures. You have to make your own entertainment sometimes!

I saw this chair on pinterest a while ago, and I thought pairing knits with things you sit on seemed like a fantastic idea. A randomly gifted scarf came to the rescue, and now the chair is all cozied up.

The beauty of a small project like this, is that I can change out the seat fabric whenever I want. All I need is a half yard of fabric and a little time! I might not want to keep it like this forever, but for right now, I think it’s cute.

Fix it Friday: pants to mini-skirt

Sherry of pattern~scissors~cloth had a “Fix-it-Friday” last week, and I love the idea! I definitely also have a pile of things that needs some fixing and refashioning, and seeing other people tackling their pile in a semi-organized way is a great inspiration to tackle my own!

Mmm, my Bayview Street Cardigan is back in action!

I don’t have any before pictures of these cropped, slightly wide-legged pants before they became a skirt. I rediscovered them while visiting my parents over Christmas, and while I’ve always loved the pinstripes and the soft fabric of the pants, I really wasn’t loving the pants anymore. I bought the pants on a trip to Dublin with my dear friend, so I’m sure the memories I’d attached to the pair made it hard to toss them out!

All the cars driving around was making me a bit nervous – look at my fist  clenched up in a ball!

It was a pretty easy refahion; I unpicked the inseams, and up to the bottom of the fly on the front, and the widest part of my hips on the back. I tried really hard to get a straight line down from those points – but the fly is set in on a curve, so there is some odd stuff going on in the front. It’s not super-noticable, and I’ve decided I’m happy. I mimicked the faux flat-felled seams that was already going on, which is just the seam allowance folded to one side and top-stitched ¼” apart. You can kind of make it out in the close-up above.

It’s a bit on the narrow side, and if I had more patience and/or time I would have put in a vent in the back, so I could stride along uninhibited! Nitpicking aside, I’m super-happy with having a mini-skirt I’ve used several times this week from something I never wore. I’m looking forward to tweaking and tackling more cast-offs from my wardrobe!

using the fabric scraps

I can’t stand waste. More specifically, I can’t stand being wasteful.  I don’t know if the mild hoarding is the source, or the consequence of this aversion to throwing away anything that could possibly be useful, but here I am – constantly with drawers and boxes and surfaces covered in things that surely will be useful – somehow, sometime.

fabric scraps

Setting up in a new apartment always feels like a new start, so spurred on by that, I’ve come up with a way of making at least some of my hoarded materials turn useful. I’m sure I’m not the only one with scraps of fabric left over after sewing projects – too big to throw away (too beautiful!), but too small to be put to use in a garment. Some people make small things; pincushions, coin-purses, soft toys – but I mostly make garments, and these pieces aren’t even large enough for pockets. I finally realized the perfect use for these scraps was to make bias tape!

making bias tape

I make my bias tape by measuring the same amount (say, 3 inches) along two sides of a triangle – along the weft and the warp grain. Connecting those two points gives me the bias, and then I can just use my ruler to draw new diagonal marks. This works well on oddly shaped scrappy pieces, but I’ve found that my lines can get a little skewed after four or five repeats – best to double-check my lines every so often!

making bias tape

making bias tape

One trick to getting perfectly aligned seams when joining pieces is to make sure the short ends are at a 45 degree angle to the long ends, which they will be if they follow the grainlines to begin with. Sometimes it’s easier to trim the scrap piece of fabric first. The other trick is to mark the seam allowance, and offset the two pieces so that it’s the stitching line goes edge to edge on both layers.

self-made bias tapeIt’s kind of amazing how many yards of bias tape you can get out of a fat quarter sized scrap (or smaller!) of fabric.

I think I’ve been fooling myself with my mindset of “this can be useful somehow!”. Sure, most of the things we having lying in drawers and boxes can be useful, but are they useful to us – in the way that we use things? Like I mentioned, I don’t really sew or make small things, so smallish scraps of fabric don’t hold any value to me, at least not in how I craft. So while someone else might have found a million things to make with my scraps, I didn’t. By making these remnants into bias-tape, I’ve turned them into something I will actually use  – something that makes sense with the kinds of things I craft. And that is the whole point, isn’t it?

And what will I use my bias tape for? I took a workshop a while back where I learned lots of finishing techniques, like hong-kong hemming, bound seams, and decorative uses. Quilts can be finished with some home-made bias tape; use it for a decorative piping touch,  and my favorite, a really nice edge finishing from Tasia of sewaholic.

it’s a ham

So, I made a ham – a tailors ham, that is! I’ve seen some tutorials around, but the gist of them all was more or less to cut out two layers of a ham-like shape, sew them together almost all the way around, fill with sawdust or hamster-bedding, and sew shut.

I’m reasonably satisfied. I love projects where I can use scraps, so the felted wool underside makes me very happy. However, see the wrinkles? I’m not totally happy with the shape, which I can fix for a potential next ham. It was actually really difficult (and time-consuming!) to fill this thing with wood shavings, so it’s not nearly as dense as I would like it to be.

Allow me to muse for a little bit. I don’t typically point out all the things I’m dissatisfied with in my crafting project, but this is going somewhere. I’m guilty, as I think a lot of crafters are, of looking at something handcrafted for sale and saying “I can make that myself!”. There has been some interesting discussion about just this in relation to pinterest, and the pinning of things for sale at say, etsy, with just that tagline – I can make that.

While we have the ability to craft things, and often get a lot of joy from making, aren’t we crafters just a little quick to exclaim that we can make something ourselves – instead of supporting fellow crafters and buying something they have perfected? Goodness knows that my ham is far from perfect, and the time I would spend on perfecting my pattern and technique is certainly worth something, isn’t it?

A story about Pablo Picasso and a napkin-drawing has been in my mind for a while. The story goes that a man asks Picasso to draw him something on a napkin, which Picasso does, and hands it over with a request for 6000 dollars. The man is aghast, and says “That only took you five seconds!”, to which Picasso replies “No, that took me 40 years.”

It is so easy to forget the work, preparations, and materials that goes into creating things. Even though I have the ability to make something, maybe I should support and honor the work and knowledge of crafters who have been making that something for much longer than my singular attempt. And with that, I am going to buy a beautiful, handmade tailor’s ham from this talented person, to a beautiful, handmaking, talented friend.