All dressed up – in a tablecloth.

Spending time in Melbourne over summer meant frequenting craft markets with my brother and his wife: Warrandyte market on Saturday, and both Williamstown Craft market and Abbotsford Shirt & Skirt market on Sunday. I’d say that is a pretty good effort for one weekend!

As we strolled around I kept wondering what it was that drew us into some stalls – totally enchanted, why we perused others from a distance with a soft ‘hhmmm’, and others still were left completely ignored…

About half of the stalls sold baby goods: mostly little dresses, cute bibs, pantaloons, headbands, hairclips and accessories for little girls, as well as blankets and knitted toys. Had I not recently attempted my very first little girls’ dress and frilly pantaloons from a 1970’s pattern and polkadot fabric my grandma had sent all the way from South Africa, and found it a simple and quick task, I would have indulged and bought an insubordinate number of little frocks to doll up my daughter! Instead, I was keen to get back and get sewing on my latest project! (okay, and maybe find out where these stall holders sourced their gorgeous fabrics from!)

Earlier in the week – before embarking on the market spree – I had been given a vintage hand-sewn table-cloth. It had beautiful embroidered detail in the corners and stains in the middle. I realised that with a bit of tweaking I could probably turn it into a lovely pinafore for my little girl… I grabbed an old tea towel (which was headed for the bin) and cut that up as a mini test run to work out the pattern. Still not satisfied, I grabbed a very old pillowcase (which was headed for the bin too), and had another go with mum’s help, and some advice from my sis-in-law [I love how sewing projects tends to become a group effort!]. We worked out a plan and I started chopping up the table-cloth into four quarters: Three for the skirt and the fourth for the bodice.

I added some vintage gingham that I found in mum’s fabric stash from a distant aunt, which I used to tie the top and skirt together and for the straps. I then added some buttons and just like that project 53 was done (in the nick of time)!

Reclaiming Christmas

No matter how hard I try, I can’t ignore the hype of Christmas around me each year.  Growing up, Christmas was quite a controversy and sometimes just about ignored in my family. So each year those bells ring louder in my ears: Where do you stand on the whole Christmas thing? Why don’t you have a tree? Should we give gifts or does it add to the consumerism? The controversy around the actual date, and now that I have a kid of my own, the added question of Santa’s existence. Small wonder that as soon as the bells start jingling and the carols start singing, I retreat, avoid, and disappear…

Enough already. I can either be a product of my past (and give my little girl a similar experience to mine) or I can re-write the present (no pun intended). I have chosen that I want my kids to have magical memories of Christmas as they grow up. I am reclaiming Christmas! Here are a few pieces of the puzzle so far…

For our first Christmas as a married couple I decided to re-introduce gift-giving into our family Christmases. I wasn’t going to give in to the consumerism of it all though, so proposed a recycled christmas.

The next year my in-laws forced into some family caroling around the piano, which was way more fun and significant than what I could ever have imagined.

Last year we heralded Christmas (our baby’s very first) briefly in the ED as I was extremely ill.  But even that wasn’t a complete write-off, because, sick as we were, we had the unexpected privilege of being flies on the tinsel in the home of our daughter’s loving god-parents: On Christmas eve we saw their special family traditions of reading the story of Jesus’ birth, and how they involved their boys (and our little girl) by ringing bells and praying together after they explained what made this day special. The next morning (too sick to get up) we heard the boys running to the tree and excitedly tearing open gifts. Later in the day we saw them return from a family feast – exhausted, but overjoyed. It made me realise that we could also make Christmas a special day for our family.

So a couple of weeks ago I started by decorating our home for the festive season. I made some upcycled Christmas decorations using an old wooden jigsaw puzzle and some fluoro paint. (These doubled nicely as my creative project for the week.)

Then, thanks to the gentle nudge from a good friend (aka Santa’s little helper), I finally succumbed and went in search of our very first Christmas tree.

I also decided to start some family traditions of our own: Every year each child gets to choose or make one new ornament for the tree (We can also use these symbols to teach the kids about the true Christmas story.)… That way, in a few years’ time we’ll have a lovely eclectic tree resembling the taste and development of our kids as they grew up, and reminding us of all the Christmases we have shared together as a family.

It might take a few years, but piece by piece I am trying to creatively re-introduce the marvel of Christmas into our family.

My upcycled bedding project


A few weeks ago I attended a Green Villages upcycling workshop, run by Julie Patterson from Cloth Fabric. Julie took us through a process where we were each given a brown paper bag full of fabric scraps. We had to take out one piece at a time and systematically start sewing the pieces together. After an hour we were finally allowed to start making some more aesthetic choices and then start embellishing our squares with buttons, ribbon and the like.
I was hugely inspired! When I got home I convinced my hubby that I wanted to cut up our bedding (which was a little worse for wear after 4 years), and turn it into new bedding! So I removed the middle front section of the duvet cover and patched together various scraps of fabric and old buttons to create a new middle section (while still using the back, top and bottom in pale green from the original.)
I used the same gaudy neon thread that I had landed at the workshop. This is not a colour I would usually choose, but am so glad I did, as it happens to be the colour of the season!
I have never done patchwork before and I wouldn’t call this creation patchwork either… It really is just a patchy-duvet cover! My only expense for this project was one reel of neon pink thread for $1!
I made a duvet cover, redecorated 2 pillow cases, and a scatter cushion. (Above the bed you’ll also see bunting that I made at last year’s Christmas workshop with Julie too.)
So there you have it: I have redecorated our bedroom for $1 … and have even incorporated this season’s trendy terrible neon pink/salmon too!
I’m so excited!