What a great way to lend a festive atmosphere to a celebration without resorting to those plastic, non-recyclable banners.
Tie dye is classic hippy style, but I don’t actually always like it. I think it works best when you’ve got subtle shades of the same colour happening, rather than as many different bright colours you can throw onto a t-shirt at once. Shades of pink from bright to pale to white looks girly and pretty and can be quite fairy-like. Ocean blue greens look lovely together and remind me of summer holidays and mermaids.
When I was pregnant with my first child, we were kindly given lots of hand-me-down baby clothes, including several baby-grows and vests that were once white, but were now stained and looked a bit grubby. Apart from that, they had plenty of life left in them, so we bought a couple of packets of dylon and set to work making various patterns. Not yet knowing the sex of the baby, we went for purples. We got so many compliments on those baby grows – I wish I had set up a hand-dyed baby grow business there and then. Oh well! Never mind, other people thought of it too and you can now buy some fabulously dyed outfits for babies.
A dark colour and black always looks good too; especially purple or red. This often has a pagan or witchy feel about it and is great on long dresses.
You’ve also got to be careful of the pattern. My preference is when the fabric has been scrunched and dyed for an all-over random effect. Lines across the item of clothing usually look good, but be warned of circles – the technique where you put a marble or something into the material and tie up the area around it so that afterwards you’re left with circles spreading from a central point. For some reason on men’s t-shirts, the point is right in the middle, highlighting even a slightly over-weight stomach. On women’s tops, two circles seem to always highlight the nipples – fine if you’ve got the confidence for this eye-catching look, but not so good when one of the tie-dyed circles is a bit wonky!
There is something about Hillieballoo, a charming little Folksy shop that sells gorgeous items; kids clothes, pillows, custom made drawstring bags and one of my most favourite things ever: personalised items. I dream about creating in the same way that Hillieballoo does but I know I don’t have the time or energy required – and I think I have about 20 other projects on the back burner, anyway.
So, I’ll stick to buying from people like Hillieballoo (or at least dreaming about buying from) and leave the crafty stuff up to them. But while we’re on the note of kids clothes I just want to say something: I LOVE handmade kids clothes. Of course not just any old handmade and I wouldn’t purchase something that had been poorly made just for the sake of buying handmade.
When I was younger I used to adore going to Remnant Kings in Edinburgh with my Mum so we could pick out fabric for T-shirts, shorts, dresses, trousers; cropped and long leg and she’d sometimes rustle up a hair bobble with the leftover fabric from her creations. I loved picking out my favourite patterns. I loved flicking through the massive knitting pattern books; my little hands searching for the baby knits and cooing at the pudgy baby models dressed in white Arran. I loved the overpowering smell of wool and ladies perfume in the place.
The shop always seemed like a wizard’s lair; it had a magical ambience about it. The women who worked behind the tills were always so polite and helpful (if memory serves me well!). The shop was always bustling with customers; mostly women, who would come in looking for that perfect pattern/fabric/something to top off their own creations.
I loved being amongst it all, being a young observer and thinking to myself ‘one day I’ll be on the look out for my own material for curtains, for clothes.’ But that never seemed to happen.
My Mum had a skill for making T-shirts in particular. She always said that things were easy to make and when I tried my hand at making dolls clothes I didn’t find it easy in the least. That’s why I am a buyer and she is a maker.
My Mum also knits amazing things for her grandchildren. One of the blankets she made for my son when he was newborn led to my husband asking the question; “Where did we get this?” when I responded with the fact my Mum had made it he looked really taken aback. “Oh,” he said. “I thought we got it in a shop or something.”
I know us Westerners have fallen prey to the throwaway fashion trend; buy something, wear it for three months (or less) and then throw it out, replace wardrobe again. I simply don’t understand this way of thinking. For a start, doesn’t it cost people a small fortune? Throwaway fashion wasn’t an option 15 years ago. It was Borrow It, Hand Me Downs, Spend A Small Fortune On It or Make It. We went through variations on all of those themes but mostly it was Make It for my Mum. And I loved this. I love it now that she can create things for my son and I can ‘oooh and ahhh’ at those creations.
Much like I ‘oooh’ and ‘ahh’ at any creation I catch on Folksy, Etsy or crafter blogs. I admire the items, but I don’t think I can reach those heights. A perfect example of my oooh and ahhing is the above image of the Blue Strawberry Dress from Daisy Chains And Grass Stains.
Or this 1950s style dress Daisy Chains And Grass Stains. Perfect.
So, what are you? A buyer, like me, who can’t create clothes as easy as ABC or a maker, who can create everything in a blink of the eye?
Handmade Hellos: Fresh Greeting Card Projects from First-Rate Crafters
“Signed sealed delivered! In this delightful book card-making mavens Eunice and Sabrina Moyle of Hello!Lucky letterpress gather together more than 25 projects from today’s most talented paper artists. Simple instructions outline card- and envelope-folding basics plus how to screen print use a Print Gocco machine hand-bind emboss stamp stencil and much more. Ready-to-use patterns and spiral binding ease the process while easy-to-follow directions cute illustrations and finished project photos make it a cinch to create stacks of boutique-worthy greeting cards.” → more info
Making & Installing Handmade Tiles
“You’ll find just what you’re looking for in these dozen ceramic tile projects, which include everything from trivets to tabletops to stepping stones. The wealth of practical, visually breathtaking information covered here includes everything from design and formation through decoration and site installation, making this manual an absolute must in every ceramics and home improvement library. Find out about basic tools and materials, glaze application, and techniques for making slab tiles. Get the lowdown on mosaics, and stamped, carved, and inlaid designs. With these techniques, even beginning crafters can start working fast, and move on to simple stair risers, a kitchen backsplash, and an exquisite window surround.” → more info