Fabric Crumbs

This year I’m taking a deep dive into the world of fabric crumbs.

If you are not familiar with the term fabric crumbs are the small bits of fabrics leftover from when you cut out pieces for a project. Each person has their own definition of what size and shape a crumb is. For me it has to be at least ¾” in size. The shape can be square, rectangle or triangle. I am using a few irregular shaped pieces providing I can get sew a straight edge. General consensus is that the pieces are too small or difficult to sew with in a traditional project. Normally these pieces would get discarded, used as stuffing in projects or I used to donate them to a local pre-school for toddlers to use.

There are different ways you can sew with crumbs. You can join pieces together to form strips or blocks that you can use like regular quilt blocks. You can start with a centre piece and join pieces around each edge and work outwards creating a large piece of fabric. For the 3 projects I’m starting with this year I’m using a foundation piecing method. I have leftover scrap of denim which I’m using as a base and sewing my scraps together on top of that and flipping them over. I’m working on 6 pieces at once. I have a box of crumbs which I select from each time I’m adding a piece on. It is like a giant jigsaw puzzle except you don’t have a picture to work from. You look through the box and hold crumbs against the work until you find one that will fit that section. I’m stitching on 2 or 3 crumbs per piece before ironing all 6 pieces at once.

Generally with crumb quilting you have a slightly smaller seam allowance than the normal ¼”. In the past I’ve had issues with seams coming undone when I joined scraps with a smaller seam allowance. I’m using my seam ruler to mark the seam ¼” line on each piece then using the line to sew over. On this project I’m handing sewing all the crumbs on to the denim. Due to the piecing method I’m using I can’t chain piece the crumbs together so hand sewing uses less thread as I have very minimal thread waste knotting and tying off the thread after each piece is sewn. It is also a way to use up bobbins and spools which have small amounts of thread still on them. I love hand sewing so this project is very relaxing and fun.

So far I’m enjoying fabric crumbs. Moving forward it is going to be very hard for me to throw out any fabric crumbs as I now know that they can be used with a little planning and creative thinking.



Hot Ruler

The after Christmas sales can be very tempting but this year I didn’t buy a lot because frankly I didn’t need anything. I stocked up on some supplies which I will be using throughout the year such as bag findings and yarn (for WIRES pouches) There was one indulgent purchase which I had on my wish list if I saw it on sale.

About 5 years ago I purchased a Hot Hemmer which is gridded ruler that you can iron directly on allowing you to do accurate hems. It measures about 4” x 6” and has a section to do curved hems as well markings for mitred corners. I use it so much that I keep on the bottom drawer of my sewing table so that I can reach for it easily when I need it. 5 years on I still keep it in the plastic wrapper and packaging so that it doesn’t get dusty and the packaging also keeps it flat. The only downside to the hemmer that when you need to keep moving it along when you are doing a really long hem such as on a skirt or shirt. I wasn’t the only one thinking this so Clover developed the Hot Ruler.

The Hot Ruler is 2.5” x 10” making it 4” longer than the hot hemmer. It is narrower than the Hemmer but it would be very rare that you are turning over more than 2.5” of fabric at one time for a hem. The extra length is what is important and the most useful. There are a couple versions of the both the hot ruler and hot hemmer depending if you like imperial or metric measurements. For all things sewing related I prefer imperial. On the hot hemmer/ruler the imperial versions (blue versions) looked less cluttered than the metric (red versions)

Just before new year I made a pj top. I left the hemming of it until I got my new hot ruler so that I could try it out. The top was a cotton jersey and the ruler worked really well on the bottom hem as I only had to move 2 maybe 3 times for each of the front and back. For the sleeves which were narrower I used the hemmer as it was smaller.

I know the hot ruler will be a well used tool. I can use it for not only doing hems but also when I’m doing bag straps which require a quarter fold press (press fabric in half then press each raw edge into the centre fold) At times my pressing isn’t always accurate when doing straps but this ruler will help.


Worm Farm Jan 23

It has been just a little over a month or so since the worms moved in so I thought it was time for an update.

1st feed – In hindsight food not cut up small enough

Ok so I will be perfectly honest and say we are complete novices when it comes to worms. Worm farms are easy to maintain once they are established. Prior to getting the worms we read all about how to keep them long term but getting to the “long term” stage we were nervous. We waited a week as directed before we feed them, they could have gone longer than a week before the first feed but we were eager to feed them. We only gave them a small amount of potato peelings for their first feed which we cut up smallish.

We weren’t sure after the first feed how often we should be feeding them and how much. Over the next few weeks we put small amounts of kitchen scraps (veggie peelings, strawberry tops, crushed eggshells) a few flowers and a teabag in every few days. You can actually kill the worms by overfeeding them. Our big worry was that we would accidently kill them, I don’t think we did but in hindsight perhaps we did put in too much food too often.

New tray

At about 3 weeks we were worried that the food wasn’t getting eaten / breaking down as we didn’t know how long it would actually take to breakdown. We had a couple of worms escape, unfortunately we didn’t find them in time and they were dead on the balcony. On the underside of the lid we saw condensation forming and kept finding worms there. We were worried they were all trying to escape due to the conditions being wrong in the worm farm or lack of ventilation. This was the week between Christmas and New Year that everything was closed so we couldn’t email Compost Revolution to ask. We panicked and swapped the trays around, normally you don’t swap the trays for about 6 months until they are all full of castings. We put shredded paper in new tray, some of the food and moved the worm blanket. After one month we got an email from Compost Revolution asking how things were going and some tips on common problems, I think it was an automated generated email. Unfortunately the concerns we had weren’t in the frequently asked issues so Womble emailed them, luckily someone was working and emailed him back pretty quickly.

It is common for some worms to venture out and escape, it is just their exploring nature so you do get some causalities. It is only when they start leaving in large numbers that you have an issue with your farm. Worms are attracted to the condensation which is why they were probably on the underside of the lid, some say it is a sign of rain if they are on the lid. At first we were flicking them back into the farm but now we leave them, we don’t want to stress them out. If there is too much condensation, you can leave the lid open a little for about a week. You need a moist environment but not too wet.

The settling in time for worms can take from a few weeks to a few months. At the start worms should have a mostly carbon based diet, strips of wet newspaper is a particular favourite, so we put some in. It is best to chop up food scraps really small (worms have small mouths) or to even blend them up and only give them small amounts until they have really settled in. If you have too many scraps you can freezer them which will also helps break the fibres in the food down. We had actually started freezing our scraps as we have a lot at the moment with summer salads, on Boxing Day I even took over a paper bag full of scraps for my sister’s compost heap during our Christmas catch up. Come winter we can defrost the scraps and add them to the farm then in batches. Crushed eggshells is an excellent source of grit which the worms need to help them digest food. We have set aside a container to put crushed up eggshells in, we are drying them out first and then crushing them. This past weekend we even blended up some of the scraps which had been frozen and gave it to them. We noticed last weekend that it looks like some sort of plant is starting to sprout as we saw seedlings, we think it was the uneaten potato peelings. I don’t think they will last, we have been shifting around some of the soil to help aerate it so that has disturbed them I hope.

Original tray

As suspected we should not have swapped the trays when we did. Really you should only start with one tray on your farm and then add on the second tray when it was full. The trays are designed to be rotated and not a high rise apartment block for worms. It is best that we leave it now since we have already done it. We have gone and removed the 3rd try from the farm, we will add that back on later in the year when we need it.

One of the by products of a worm farm is worm tea. It can take months for the liquid to occur. The important thing is that your worm farm is moist but not dripping wet. To keep it moist you can pour old tea or water over it if it looks like it is drying out. Our farm is moist but not wet. We did pour some water through it this past weekend.

Since we got them it has made us even more conscious of the waste that we have. We are noticing how much we are throwing in the bin. After putting one whole teabag in the farm we discovered our teabags aren’t compostable so from now on we will cut them open and empty them into the farm. After we use up our current teabags we are going to switch to loose leaf tea and use a teaball which I picked up in the Boxing Day sales instead.

I never thought I would worry or stress over a worm. I even found myself saying “I love you” as I walked past. I have to stop myself from playing with them, I’m resisting the urge to pull back the worm blanket each day and say “Peekaboo!”

Lessons Learnt From Our First 4 Weeks

  • Torn up wet paper is a good starter food
  • Don’t feed them too much too soon
  • Cut food up very small or blend it
  • Don’t freak out if one or two get away
  • Worm tea takes awhile to form
  • Leave them alone!

Overall our worms are ok. It will take time for them to settle, they need to get used to us, we need to get used to them. It is a learning curve for all of us. The natural temptation or urge is to want to feed everything to them at the start. They are these amazing little munchers that can reduce our landfill waste but it just takes time for them to settle in.


Book – A Family Guide To Waste-Free Living

Over the last month or so I borrowed numerous books from the library, some of which I will share on here if I found them particularly interesting. The last book I read is actually the first I’m going to share.

A Family Guide To Waste-Free Living by Lauren & Oberon Carter is a book written by an Australian couple and as the name suggests is about living waste-free or low waste when you have a family. I will be perfectly honest and say this book was never on my radar when I went to the library, I went looking for other books which I knew were available and stumbled upon this when the cover caught my attention. As a general rule I shy away from anything that mentions the word “family or mum” I don’t associate our situation (couple, no children) with those terms. If a sewing pattern mentions “mum or mumma” it puts me right off it, I don’t even look at blogs that reference that. This book isn’t just for “families” anyone can take a lot away from this book.

This book is broken into 6 chapters

  • The Basics
  • Food
  • Packaging
  • Around The House
  • Celebrate and Venture Outside
  • Change

The book starts with an introduction chapter into waste is, how you can work out the types of waste and quantities you are producing and before you classify an item as waste consider is there something else you could be doing with it such as reuse or recycle it. It acknowledges that you will never be 100% zero waste but instead aim for as low waste as possible. It discusses the idea that waste free living may incur additional expenses in some instances, but you will be saving in other areas so it kind of all balances out. You know your own budget, you don’t need to do every idea within the book just do what you can within your budget. I think that is very important that the book addresses the financial costs as it is something that we all do consider particularly in the current situation with the costs of living increasing worldwide. The subsequent chapters address how you can minimise your waste around the house both inside and outside, when your away from home and during events such as parties or holidays. The last chapter is about how you can incorporate waste-free living outside your home when you are with others in the community. Ways to have conversations with others so that waste-free living can be considered a normal part of everyday life and not considered to be “different” or a “thing” it just living.

The book actually mentions that a lot of the tips and advice in the book comes from how past generations lived before we had the convivence of supermarkets and shopping malls. Storing food correctly so it lasts, cooking from scratch, using up every bit of food then composting what was left, eating within the season, repairing clothing, making products to be used around the home. The book is full of recipes for food items, cleaning and beauty products. The photos in the book are lovely, they look simple and honest. They create a warm and cozy feeling, a homely feeling.

One issue that is addressed is Legacy Waste. Legacy waste is the waste from items you still have from before you started living waste-free. What do you do with those items when they wear out, loose function or break? Unfortunately, if you can’t reuse or recycle the item legacy waste will result in landfill but don’t feel guilty for that, legacy waste is an opportunity to learn from your past and make different choices for futures purchases or items. Legacy waste is part of the transitioning process to waste-free living.

This book is about living a waste-free life as a family with children. When switching to a waste-free alternatives involving the entire family in the process helps children and all members of family unit understand and adapt to the changes, children might come with ideas you hadn’t thought of. It discusses reusable items that can be used like cloth wipes and nappies (diapers) An area that I will be honest I hadn’t even thought of is how do you live waste-free during illness? It is something that happens to every household. The book discusses on the importance of being prepared in terms of having meals ready in the freezer, buying in bulk so you have items on hand and the importance of maintaining your health to avoid illness. It lists some recipes for some drinks which are comforting when you are sick.

I really enjoyed this book. I was thinking back how the title almost put me off with the word “Family” in it. It has changed my view on reading informative books aimed at families. This book was a gentle read, it wasn’t saying do this, this and this. It is a book full of waste-free ideas or practices that as a family the Carter’s are doing. As I was folding laundry on the balcony looking at our worm farm my brain was ticking. The situation Womble and I are in is unique. We are 2 people independent with disabilities, living on single income, we have no car and are limited to the resources around us. There is no book that covers how to live waste-free in that situation, then it hit me…” Be the book you haven’t read yet!” Take what you have learnt from the different books you have read, try ideas and make the small changes that you can. I sometimes feel like a zero waste or low waste fraudster, I recycle everything that I can but still use 2-6 baby wipes a day because of my OCD. The last chapter in this book mentions leading by example and “you do you” that is exactly what we are doing. We can’t do some of the ideas that different books mention, we don’t have access to the same resources but there is a lot of things we can do. Some things we have already started doing such as the worm farm, there are other changes we are slowly implementing. We can try ideas and figure out what works for us. We can demonstrate you can reduce your waste even if you have a disability or OCD issues or have limited income. Not having access to resources like a farmer’s market or bulk food store doesn’t mean you can’t make choices about what products you buy at the supermarket.

Be the book you haven’t read yet. 

2022 A Crafty Year In Review

2022 was a little strange in terms of my crafting. I was crafting nearly every day but what I was making changed a little. Shock horror I even had days that I didn’t craft, some days I just didn’t feel like it. I lost some of my craft spark towards the end of the year. As I mentioned in my previous post 2022 was stressful and to an extent my crafting took a hit as a result as I just didn’t have the energy or brain power to craft.

If you are not familiar with the blog I make all the gifts that I give for birthdays and Christmas. Each year I ask myself the question “Are you still having fun?” I will be honest and say for 2022 the answer was yes and no. No adults got Christmas gifts, chocolates or wine were an easy fix. Thankfully I started my kids Christmas gift making early so they were all finished in time. I think as the kids are getting older it is getting harder to make new and interesting gifts that I haven’t made before. For 2023 I’m still going to make birthday gifts for my nieces as they are already finished/started or planned out but I’m not sure about their Christmas gifts yet. As for the adults I have a couple of ideas in mind but I’ll see how the year goes if I get to making them or not.

I haven’t yet blogged all my makes for the year, thinking back I still have some from 2021 which I haven’t posted yet. One project yet to blogged from 2022 was the fact I knitted gloves, not one pair but two! Glove knitting was something I thought that would be really hard but they were actually very easy. They were my major knitting project for the year. At the end of 2021 I started a shawl but it got put in the too hard basket and I haven’t returned to it since. When I have brain power I will get it out and resume it.

All year I really tried to be more sustainable in my crafting. For years I have always shopped my stash first but now I am more conscious of what I was adding to my stash. For the most part I only purchased supplies if I had an intent to use them now and not “one day” I mentioned in my Year In Review post about the umbrella cover and reusable lid mats I made to reduce some of my single use items. I enjoyed making those and using them. I enjoyed using scraps or smaller pieces of fabrics in projects.

My most favourite item for the year was my yogurt cozy, it wasn’t the most glamorous project but it was practical. I used pieces of polar fleece from my old coat to make a custom fit cover or cozy to keep my yogurt warm in the yogurt maker as it set. I use it every couple of weeks. It seems to be working as my yogurt is coming out thicker now.

My big project for the year was my QAYG hexie blanket. I have almost finished all the individual hexies. I’m toying with the idea of assembling it by hand or machine joining it. It would be quicker by machine but then it isn’t fully hand sewn. I will fully decide once I work out some sort of order for all the pieces.

Doing the wardrobe stock take as my Me Made May challenge was a real eye opener to what I actually owned, as a result I didn’t make a lot of clothing as I didn’t need it. Doing a wardrobe stock take is an exercise I urge everyone to do, it gives you an appreciation of what you actually own. It is more sustainable and frugal to wear what you already own instead of going out and buying more or if you are a maker buying supplies to make more items you don’t really need. Since doing the challenge some items of clothing have worn out beyond repair mostly underwear and pj’s so I will be making some clothing items in the future. I’m not saying I will never ever again make an item that I don’t really need but I will slow down on my let’s call it extra clothing making.

I enjoyed making for charity again this year. Aside from the making of the charity bags and the handmade items I included in them I was also knitting for WIRES. I have a stack of pouches which I need to wash and post off. Knitting pouches was mindless knitting which I could do even if I was tired. I like using my skills to support charity. Some people contribute to charity via monetary donations, I prefer to use my skills.

For the last few years I have been documenting down what I have been making using pages from a sewing planner. This year I moved the planner to the bottom bin on the side of my sewing cabinet. It was in a bad spot that I couldn’t access it easily if I had packed away sewing area for the day and I ended up not using it. For 2023 I’ve decided to note it down in my diary instead. My diary lives on the lounge next to where I sit so I can pick it up and easily write down the projects as I finish them. Let’s face it I’m lazy and if something is too hard or requires too many steps than I just don’t do it. I’m trying to streamline everything so that it works for me in the easiest way possible.

Looking ahead to this year. I’m hoping to get back into my crafting more. I’ve signed up to Just Get It Done January declutter challenge so I’m hoping that physically touching or being around my craft supplies will inspire me to get in and want to use them. I’m still working on perfecting my craft spaces. In terms of actually crafting I want to try and use more scraps or smaller bits of fabrics in projects more so I may end up with some abstract pieces. As a maker my creative instinct is to want to make things but I want what I make to be useful.

Happy Crafting 


2022 Thoughts And Reflections

I will do a separate craft year in review but this year but in a lot of ways both sides of my worlds collided into one.

Reading has been an activity I have done a lot of this year, mostly on the topics of sustainability and minimalism. I made use of my local library borrowing several books. Some books I have gone on to further buy but it was a good chance to preview the books for free and decide if I would want to refer back to it or not. I have learnt a lot from reading these books but I need to get into the habit of writing down useful notes or ideas as I am reading so that I can remember them later on. Looking up the online library catalogue there are a plenty more books I wish to borrow in future. There is something about holding a book in your hands and soaking up the contents of it. Fact or fiction there is magic in books.

On the topic of sustainability it has been a big focus for me this year. I’ve tried to be more sustainable in my crafting adventures as well as my everyday life. To reduce more of my single use items I made reusable lid mats for work and a wet bag for my umbrella. It was pretty wet in Sydney this year so I saved a lot of bags and as for the paper towels I think I worked out it was a couple of hundred saved. For my desk drawer at work I brought some reusable cutlery for the times when I’m eating more than just a sandwich. Sadly with my OCD issues I still use a lot of single use items in particular baby wipes and food packaging. I need to investigate further options of how I can improve in those areas. I’ve noticed at home we could do with a few more reusable paper towels in the kitchen so I will have to make more of those too.

Unfortunately the same week I did the post on the book 101 Ways To Go Zero Waste the largest soft plastics recycling program in Australia Redcycle closed down after it was revealed that for some time they had been storing the collected plastics and not recycling them. Some of the companies they partnered with had closed down and another had a major fire resulting in it being offline until mid 2023. Major supermarkets across the country had collection bins that you take back a range of soft plastics that couldn’t be put through regular kerbside recycling. The items you could drop off included plastic bags, packaging, bubble wrap, even some foil lined food packets. For about 10 years we had been collecting items and taking them back to the local supermarket. Due to the pandemic Redcycle had noticed an increase in products returned through the program as more people had items delivered to their homes, one supermarket enforced the option of only having plastic bags for its home deliveries instead of bag less like it did pre-pandemic. It is hoped that the Redcycle program will start up again in future, possibly next year. Some people have said they will hang on to their soft plastics until the program is running again but unfortunately we aren’t in a position to do that, we just don’t have the space. It was really hard to stop collecting the soft plastics when it was announced, we had to change a habit we had been doing for 10 years. We were trying to reduce the amount we were sending to landfill but now we have increased it. As we don’t drive we rely a lot on items being delivered via the post or delivery drivers which unfortunately means a lot excess packaging. Earlier this month I brought extra food storage containers online so we can reduce our food waste, they were sent in a box full of plastic inflatable plastic packaging, it felt paradoxical, the items were purchased to help us reduce landfill waste yet it was surrounded by packaging which we sent to landfill as we couldn’t recycle it. There is a program available in some council areas that you can arrange for your soft plastics to be collected from your kerbside by an independent company, our council isn’t involved in the program but even if it was, our apartment complex rules don’t allow you to place anything on the kerbside for collection. Until the Redcycle program or another one similar starts up we have no option but to send the soft plastics to landfill. We are trying to reduce the amount we have but we still generate waste.

Around the house we have made some changes to reduce our waste. We purchased a soda stream this year to make soft drinks at home to reduce our plastic bottle and aluminum can consumption. We purchased it from our regular supermarket in an online exclusive sale and got it delivered at the same time as our regular grocery shop, we were able save money and it wasn’t covered in excess packaging. When I was purchasing from a craft supplier, I remembered that the shop sent a free sticker as a freebie with every purchase, I don’t use the stickers so I asked for it not to be included in my order. It saved the shop money and also meant I wasn’t throwing an item I didn’t need out. I’m trying to incorporate the ideas I have read this year into my everyday life, even if it is just one sticker at a time.

The worm farm was a late addition to our place this year. It is still too early yet to be placing all of our scraps and organic waste into it but we have started placing small amounts. In a few months or so it should be established and we can put all our waste in. I’ve enjoyed taking an interest in the garden, it is an activity that Womble often do together. It gets us outside and away from screens. We planted some seeds which have sprouted so hopefully early next year we can harvest some more veggies from our little balcony garden. I’m starting to enjoy being out on the balcony again, I’m finding myself going out there to sit with a cuppa or a book more often.

Both of us did manage to stop smoking this year. I don’t know what date I stopped, I don’t want to know as I don’t want to be reminded each year that date rolls around. We were cutting down our cigarettes over a number of weeks and then one day Womble wanted to see if he could go 24hrs without one and I just kind of stopped from then. He still has the occasional one, but for the most part he has stopped too. For someone who had been smoking for 60 years he has done remarkably well. I know some people can have the occasional cigarette and be ok with it, I know I’m a person who never be able to have another cigarette ever. For me there is no just thing as one. I know I would be the same with chocolate which is why I haven’t had any in 8 years. Whilst all this was going on we both had a couple of health issues arise (not related to smoking) We were both having heaps of tests and scans done. We went through a really stressful period yet still managed to both stop smoking during it so I’m pretty proud of us both. Thankfully our health has settled down a bit now so we get a break for Christmas and New Year from the stress of it all. If anyone is wishing to give up I strongly urge you to try. Our strategy was to reduce how much we smoke gradually, we reduced down about 25% per week. It took us about 1 month but by doing it slowly it wasn’t a shock to our systems or made us feel pressured to not have any straight away. We were lucky that we didn’t have cravings but there are lots of aids to help you stop. We did use nicotine replacement patches for a bit but found after a while we didn’t need them. I will be honest the habit is still on my mind sometimes and I do occasionally think we should have one after for example a nice meal. Womble requested No Smoking signs be stuck up around the apartment as it was easier for him to be in a place where he knew he wasn’t allowed to smoke. We still have the signs up because even without cravings we still need that reminder out of habit.

I still enjoy writing but I don’t get as much time to blog as I used too. Helping Womble set up his blog this year was a lot of fun. It is funny how experiencing something you have done for a long time through fresh eyes can make you realise how much you enjoy it.

This year has been full of stress from the start of the year to the end. Smoking issues, health issues, increased cost of living it pressures, a series of false positive RAT tests it was just one thing after another for the entire year. I’ll be honest and say it really drained me. Emotionally, physically it has been a struggle this year. I know there isn’t a magic reset button on the calendar for the start of the year but I’m hoping 2023 is a little less complicated. We are going to do everything in our powers to make it as less stressful as possible.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a safe New Year


Failed Patch Pocket Finished

In 2020 when making my Melbourne Tote Bag I attempted to make a patch pocket but failed miserably. I just couldn’t get my head around how to enclose all the edges and turn it right side out. For that bag I ended up doing a different style pocket.

For about 18 months that failed pocket shuffled around living on my craft table, lounge chair, ironing board and craft trolley before finally going on the shelving inside my cutting table with a heap of other UFPs (unfinished projectcs) It was too good to just toss out but I didn’t know what to do with it. In February I pulled it out and finished it off.

The outside of the pocket was complete and all edges finished. It was only the inside of the pocket which had raw edges. The simplest way to finish the edges was to sew bias binding over them. I make a lot of bias binding. It is very easy to make your own continuous bias binding from just a strip of fabric. I keep all my leftover pieces as they come in very handy for all sorts of projects. In my leftover stash I found a piece that just the right size to go all the way around. I stitched the binding around the edge, folded it over then hand stitched it down.

This project was so quick to finish I don’t know why I didn’t think of the idea of using bias binding at the time. Sometimes I tend to overthink projects and that was the case with this failed pocket. I had to stop thinking of it as a patch pocket and look at as a zipper pouch. 

Mr StitchNSew has claimed it as I had no use for it. It is good that it is finished and I’m no longer shuffling it about my craft areas. A long time coming but it is done and I got to use up one piece from my bias binding leftovers. 


Book – Mend It, Wear It, Love It!

Zoe Edwards is someone I have mentioned many times on here over the years. Zoe started the annual wardrobe challenge Me Made May where each May participants set their own personal challenge to wear the me made items they already own more, find any gaps that are missing from their wardrobe or discover why they aren’t wearing certain items. If you have never done the challenge before I urge you to give it ago, even if you don’t have any me made items as it is more an exercise at looking at your wardrobe rather than items you have made. It really helps you connect to the items you own regardless of where they came from.

2021 was a big year for Zoe as she launched the Check Your Thread a podcast about sewing more sustainably and she released a book Mend It, Wear It, Love It! which she wrote during the 2020 lockdown in the United Kingdom. I had wanted to read it since it was released and recently borrowed it from my local library.

As you can see from the front cover the book is all about having a sustainable wardrobe. This book focuses more on the impact of fast fashion and moving away from that rather than having a me made wardrobe. Regardless if your wardrobe consists fast fashion items or me made items you can apply the ideas in the book to any item you own. Very few people have an entire me made wardrobe so the truth is the majority of us are wearing items made by someone else, they may not be the fast fashion trends but there is a high chance they were made in similar conditions to those made for the fast fashion industry. The aim of the book is to help reduce the number of wearable items that gets sent to landfill by educating readers on ways they can repair, alter and care for their items to prolong the life of them. You don’t need to be a sewing expert to do this, this book is actually aimed more for those who are aren’t garment sewers and don’t think they have the skills to do so.

The book is broken into 5 sections

  1. Introduction
  2. The basics – What basic sewing items you need
  3. Mend Your Clothes – Ways to repair common problems
  4. Wear Your Clothes – Ideas on simple alterations you can make
  5. Love Your Clothes – Tips on storage, laundering or disguising issues 

The introduction at the start discusses the impact of the fashion industry on the plant, on the people who make the items and how wasteful the industry is in general. It has some interesting facts and statistics which I had never even considered. The layout of the book is very clever. It helps guide novice sewers through basic techniques and skills whilst at the same time allowing anyone with sewing experience to be able to pick up the book and go straight to an idea or skill they may wish to try. You can pick it up and read chunks of it when you have time or reference back to them later (if you haven’t borrowed it from the library)

The illustrations and graphics used in the book are perfect, which in turn, makes you want to read it. There are some photos of mended or altered garments but the instructions on how to do each skill are all illustrations. This gives the book a really relaxing feel and doesn’t making it feel like a sewing text book. Photo tutorials are great, but, had they been used in this book it may have been a little intimidating for a novice person without the sewing confidence. The illustrations add to the encouraging nature or feel of the book. The illustrations work for the more experienced readers, it helps you to focus on the skill or technique rather than focus on the garment. Sometimes you forget the basics, or you were never taught them.

I really enjoyed this book. I’m guilty of not properly caring for my clothes, I don’t over launder them but at the same time I don’t necessarily hang them up neatly between wears or take them off the line when dry thus reducing their expose to sunlight. This book is focused on prolonging the life of your clothes but the principles can be transferred to any textile item in your life: bags, linen, homewares. Mending them, altering or repurposing them, caring for them. Putting thought into the item so that you can extend the life of it.


Worm Farm – The Beginning

We are looking at ways to reduce the amount of rubbish we send to landfill. If you are not familiar with the blog my partner and I both have disabilities, don’t drive and live in an apartment block. These factors do impact the ways or amounts we can reduce, reuse and recycle. A worm farm suited our situation, so we decided to get one.

What is a worm farm?
A worm farm is a way of composting but on a smaller scale. Instead of using a large bin or section of the garden to breakdown the contents you put in, you put it in a small contained unit filled with worms. The worms feed off the good bacteria that grows on the decomposing items and produce worm tea (liquid fertiliser) and worm casings that you can use on your garden. 

What can go in a worm farm?

  • Eggshells
  • Tea bags
  • Fruit scraps
  • Veggie scraps
  • Paper
  • Tissues
  • Cotton
  • Hair
  • Bread
  • Vacuum cleaner dust
  • Cooked food
  • Garden waste 

When I was first researching on what you could add in I was surprised by some of the items such as cooked food, vacuum cleaner dust and hair. Once it is established a worm farm can process at least 2kg scraps per week. I initially thought that we wouldn’t have enough to put in it but with all the different items you can add I think we will be ok. You don’t realise how much you are actually sending to landfill, particularly if you have multiple rubbish bins around the house. 

In Australia there are many places that sell worm farms. We did some research and discovered a company in Melbourne Compost Revolution had a program with various local councils across the country offering residents composting products at a reduced price. Our council was involved in the program and we saved about $100 which included free delivery. Thanks to pre-Christmas Saturday postal deliveries it arrived on day when I was home. The worm farm is made in Australia by Maze from recycled materials and is designed for smaller spaces like balconies or patios. It is really great option for multi-storey apartment living.

The farm came in a box weighing 8kg. There was very minimal packaging which shows how much excess packaging is put on items when ordering online. The Compost Revolution site has a lot of useful tutorials which we read and watched prior to it arriving. Assembling the farm took only a minute or 2, the longest wait was soaking the peat block in water for 15 mins before adding it to the trays and tipping the worms in. It takes up no space at all in the corner of the balcony.

After you set up the worm farm you need to wait about a week before you can start adding in small amounts of veggie scraps. You want the worms to settle in, over time you start to increase the quantity and types of items you can add in. We’ve decided to name all 1000 worms “Will Burrows” We are excited by our new pets.


Sydney Frocktails 2022

After a 3 year hiatus Sydney Frocktails finally made a comeback and I had to be part of it. If you are unfamiliar with the term Frocktails it is basically a party for people who make their own clothes to come together for an evening of hanging out and chatting about all things sewing. It is the only time that you can go up to random strangers and start feeling what they are wearing without getting arrested for it! I actually heard the phrase “It is like the Oscars, so who are you wearing?” It is a fun night, you can go up to anyone and just start chatting about patterns and fabrics.

Frocktails is a weekend for me and not just a night. It is always held in the city so Womble and I go into the city for a couple of nights as a mini holiday, I take a day off work, we go in Friday and come back Sunday. It makes it more enjoyable and at the end of the night I only have to jump in a taxi back to the hotel instead of trying to get back to western Sydney where we live. This time we stayed at a new hotel for us. It was our first time away in over 3 years so it was actually a weekend I was looking forward to from August when Frocktails was announced, and tickets went on sale.

For my outfit this time call it cheating, call it one I prepaid earlier, I wore what I originally had planned on wearing to Frocktails 2020. After I made my outfit I then decided not to go as it was close to when were about to move but Covid cancelled the event anyway. It was a Cashmerette outfit of the Cedar Dolmain top and Turner Skirt (hack of the Turner Dress) I did actually make a couple of accessories to go with my main outfit so I did do a little Frocktails sewing. I didn’t have a suitable bag so I made a Mini Day Tripper by DUMD patterns and Burda cape. Both items I have made before and will do details posts on them in the future. An hour before the event I found myself at the hotel hand sewing the ear loops of a black reusable masks I brought for the event as it was too big for me when I tried it on prior to leaving.

Normally at any event the introvert in me takes over and I have to leave after a certain time, I did have a moment where I had to step away from the main crowd as it just got too much for me. I went to a quieter area, ended up chatting to someone I know from Instagram but had never chatted to before, someone else joined us and we had a really insightful conversation about textile production and sewing. The time out just made me at ease again so that I could go back to the crowd. I did step out of my comfort zone a little mingling more than I normally do. It was really enjoyable night. The night was 5 hours and I stayed for over 4 hours which is really good for me. For the last 2 nearly 3 years as we’ve all had to stay isolated as such, you became closer to those online, as really they were your contact to the outside world. If you followed people of Instagram or were in a Facebook group together, you got to know them a bit more. At an event like Frocktails you were having real life conversations with people you have connected too online for so long, you were meeting your online friends in real life. Many people made the comment “I haven’t talked this much in 3 years”

As an adult it is fun to get a “goodie bag” as you leave a party and all attendees got the best goodie bag ever. It was filled with some many treats it was hard to photograph. Some of the items included

  • 1m of fabric from Lush Fabrics
  • 2 sewing patterns
  • Pressing cloth
  • Tape measure
  • Christmas decoration
  • Nail file
  • Sew In labels
  • Point turner
  • Seam gauge
  • Discount vouchers
  • Fabric swatches

Each bag contained a different piece of fabric with a note saying what the fabric was. I got a black rib knit DTY. It is lovely and soft but I’m not sure what I will make with it yet. The Style Arc pattern looks interesting so I might venture out of my comfort zone and give it a try. The labels I know I won’t use so I plan on contacting an Instagram buddy to see if she would like them. 

The date for Frocktails 2023 has already been announced and I have told Womble we’re away that weekend. It should be fun. Now to start planning on my outfit.