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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sew your own, grow your own

Making my own clothes is one challenge, but it's only a part of a bigger plan. As you can read here, I'm trying to be more self-sustainable in all kinds of ways. This week we got news, meaning we can take the next step. We were on a waiting list for a small plot to grow our own food, and now it's our turn! We went to check it out this morning. Beautiful in winter, hopefully even more beautiful in summer!

It's 50 m2, too small to be completely independent, but big enough to start with. I bought some books in New York this summer, The Backyard Homestead and Organic Kitchen Garden. The first one lays out plans for different sizes of gardens: what to grow and when to grow it, supported with all kinds of helpful drawings. It states that you need only a quarter of an acre (1 ha) to provide for a small family. Well we'll see how far we get with our one hundredth part of an acre :). What I like about this book is that it's very elaborate on every kind of vegetable and fruit, from all kinds of growing tips to storing and recipes. It even gives methods on how to grow and make your own beer and wine.

I bought Organic Kitchen Garden along with it because it's an English book, and is thus more suited for our climate. It's very different from the American book; more stylish, a more serious tone in writing, and with lots of beautiful pictures. It's also very helpful, with a year round calender with inside and outside tasks on what to sow or harvest, and how to treat your soil. And, also very helpful, organic ways to prevent or treat diseases and pests.

It's still a few months 'till the actual growing season, but according to the calendar we can start as early as January, tending our soil with some fresh manure and planting garlic! Can't wait :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Imagine This

Finally, finally I was able to make something new this week. I was so excited to get this project out of my head and into reality. I walked around with this idea for weeks, and I'm so glad it turned out exactly as I imagined it!

I was inspired by Rensz' T-shirt. She's working on digitalising the pattern, but I just couldn't wait! On top of that, a friend had borrowed all my sewing magazines. I had to take apart an old shirt to use as a pattern, but it worked just as well. Maybe even better: you can predict much better how it will fit.

I used the idea of no shoulder seams, but only on one shoulder. It wouldn't work for the flower-side. The flower was easy to make: take a piece of cloth, pull it up and wrap a thread around it. To make neat folds, pin them down as they've shaped themselves. Then cut it into the right shape, and sew it into the whole.

The goal was to add some details to the whole, but keep it simple at the same time. I think I've accomplished that by using the same fabric for all the details. That's why I made the buttons on the back invisible, and added fake buttons, made from the same fabric. I agree with what Rensz says about the back: you might not be able to see it, but other people see it just as often as your face. This part was actually quite hard: my sewing machine did not agree on sewing a straight line close to the invisible buttons...

But it turned out very nice on the whole, and I'm very proud to show you this! If I don't get that job, it won't be because of this shirt...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shoe-making, part 1

So, making my own shoes... I don't see the problem, really. It all works out fine in my head. I finally found out what this saying means we have in Holland, about a shoemaker and it's 'last'. I never knew what it was, but now I know it's his most important asset: the last acts as a mold and defines the shape of the shoe. If I want shoes, I need to make a last. Or two actually, one for each foot.

You can keep it simple or be thorough. The first option results in medieval-style shoes, sometimes made out of one piece of leather. I do share their preference for leather straps, but I would like my new boots to be somewhat fashionable though... The second option would entail a years work, and about 1200 euros. If you would like to invest this amount of time and money you could follow a shoe making course. Not really what I had in mind, either.

I think I'll take the medieval shoes as a starting point, and see if I can take them a thousand years into the future.

More about this quest later. But first, in a few days, something I'm very eager to show you!

Friday, November 12, 2010

From XL to S

I found a great blog through a fellow seamstress (who also makes great stuff by the way, check it out here). Marisa decided almost a year ago to make a new dress every day, with a budget of 365 dollar. That's one dollar a day! She gets her dresses from flea markets and garage sales, and manages to make them work every time.

So when I needed a new blouse for another formal occasion (lots of those these days, trying to find a new job), I decided to make one Marisa-style. A few months back I bought a shirt at Mamamini for 3 euros. I thought I'd only use the fabric because it was a men's blouse, size XL. But instead I decided to adjust it so it would fit me. It was HUGE! It didn't seem to have been worn a lot though, it was still in a good condition.

I took off the sleeves to adjust the shoulders and the side seams. I took in the sleeves themselves, and also shortened the bottom. I did keep some length though, I hate it when shirts crawl up. I also had to sew some figure seams in the back. And tadaa! I have a nice shirt that fits perfectly. I'm thinking of replacing the buttons with some blue ones, the white ones are a bit boring. (Update: check out how I turned this from S to Awesome!)

And check out the new jeans and shoes! I´m very very happy with those. And I´m even more happy to realize that not buying stuff all the time makes you so much more happy when you do buy something.

And I know, the shoes are not boots as I promised. But in return, I´ll try something even more challenging... The question that will occupy me in the coming days will be: is it possible to make your own shoes..?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another cleanup

I am in this challenge for two months now. It is working for the 'no-shopping' plan, but not for the 'make something new' plan. Part of it is due to the lack of time I have, but a big part is also due to the fact that I still have a lot of clothes. And I still don't wear all of them. Time for another clean up!

These are all my clothes. Or were, because a third is now gone. I made three piles: one with clothes nobody would want to wear, one for the second hand store and one for friends. We have a clothing swap planned for Sinterklaas so I saved some of the good stuff for them. It wasn't easy, deciding what to keep. And I'm not even going all the way, you could still go so much farther than this. But it feels good in the end. I do have some new ideas, now all I need is a few days off.

While selecting I noticed something. I had some shirts that were quite old and still in one piece. I use them at work. I think they're at least 8 years old because I remember buying them. And guess what store they came from? H&M! That was a real surprise, considering the reputation H&M has. It seems all they have now are cheap shirts that fall apart within a month or two. Did they use to sell better quality stuff or was I just lucky?