One

And then the Tiny Overlord turned One. So to celebrate what has been equally the greatest, but also the hardest and most chaotic, year of our lives, we decided to celebrate. And naturally, my first thought when it comes to any celebration is ‘what to wear…

But it isn’t always as easy as that. I struggle with baby clothes, I really struggle with them. I don’t want to dress my little boy up as a tiny man, I want him to look like a baby, in baby clothes, wearing baby clothes that he can easily play in. However, sometimes this seems to be too much to ask. And having baulked at rails of tiny suits, shirts and bow ties, I decided to take matters in to my own hands and make him something special to wear myself.

Front of upcycled baby sweaterThe Tiny Overlord’s birthday jumper cost me a whole 50p in my local charity shop. I can not resist a good stripe. And armed with a fat quarter of Hungry Caterpillar print cotton from Etsy, I set about personalising it for him.

It really was rather simple – I traced the backwards shape of the ‘Ones’ on to some bondaweb, ironed it on to the ‘wrong side’ of the cotton and cut out the shapes. I then removed the back of the bondaweb and ironed the Ones in to position. Then, during an episode of Strictly, I secured them by stitching around the edges with a little embroidery thread. Above, is the front and here is the back…

Back of upcycled baby jumperAnd here is it worn by my cooperative model…

Baby wearing upcycled birthday jumperThe bondaweb and cotton was already in my stash, but the jumper and fat quarter came to about £4.10. A bargain for a special and unique  celebration outfit, if you ask me. And the result was something bold, bright and beautiful. A bit like the birthday boy himself.

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The tale of two chairs

As mentioned in my last post, fuelled by a heady combination of Pinterest and ‘Fill Your House For Free‘, I’ve taken to upcycling in rather a manic way. Why upcycling? Isn’t it just a fashionable pursuit for the privileged with too much time on their hands? Well, maybe. Though being a full time carer of a small child, I’d dispute having too much time on my hands…

But I also rather believe in conscious consumption (I blogged about it here). I worry about our disposable society and what kind of environment the Tiny Overlord will inherit. And well, I just like old things, I love things with quirk and charm and character. I love things that are unique and if I can achieve some of those things through a good old bit of re-loving, then that’s just fine with me.

school chairs Made in Britain

The chairs came from a playgroup, via a reclamation yard in sunny Margate for a whole Four British Pounds (tip: avoid the ridiculously overpriced ‘vintage’ shops in the Old Town and head up the hill past the Shell Grotto to the real thing).

Covered in rust and grime, but proudly Made in Britain, I bequeathed them a stay of execution from the scrap heap and after lugging them home on the train (that lovely parquet floor above is in Ramsgate station), set about transforming them for the Tiny Overlord.

Chair makeover in progress Chair makeover in progress

It took me HOURS to sand all the flaking plastic paint and rust off the metal legs. It took me ages to scrub the plastic clean with sugar soap, so they could be primed and painted. But, after a lot of hard work, a couple of emergency trips to Wilkos for more cans of paint and a lot of cursing, they were transformed in to my primary coloured dream.

Yellow upcycled school chairs Play area

Can I be honest with you? Was it worth it? In principle, yes. These perfectly useable chairs have been saved from landfill and given a new lease of life and I love the colour of them. But, to get this finish on them took two cans of Plasticote paint (not including a coat of primer and lacquer) and two cans of spray Hammerite on the legs. That’s not only a huge amount of money to spend on £4 chairs, that’s an awful lot of VOCs released in to the atmosphere! Someone with more knowledge on these matters than I will have tell me if they really have better environmental value than new chairs.

Even though I have upcycled furniture many times before with a brush, I found the spray paint very hard to handle. I wasted loads of it spraying the thin chair legs. It didn’t dry in the time stated on the the can, the paint is uneven from where they were knocked over on to the grass by rampaging cats (that never happens to Kirstie Allsop…) and one chair has an amazing imprint of my finger prints for prosperity from where I had to pick it up, wet. Which is useful as a crime deterrent as there is absolutely no mistaking they are mine, but it wasn’t exactly the Pinterest perfect polished finish I was hoping for.

However, despite the resulting costs and imperfections, we really do love them. And paired with a slightly less ethical table from IKEA (I had planned to upcycle a table but this one was just too perfect. And it cost a lot less than all that spray paint…), we think they make the perfect pieces for the Tiny Overlord’s play area. And that’s really all that matters. Quirky, colourful and uniquely ours.

101 Uses of a Vintage Sheet (Part 1 of a very occasional series)

Most people seem to have a Marmite relationship with 1970s decor. For some the bright colours and bold prints are an instant turn off. But for me, like a jar of the infamous spread, I love it – the bigger, the brighter, the bolder, the better. So when I spy 1970s vintage sheets in charity shops, I snap them up without a moment’s hesitation. They are probably the cheapest way to get some genuine vintage fabric in your life and are available to be picked up for almost pennies. I really love using bits of my stash to add colour to our home.
Homemade Patchwork Pillowcases

Last week I decided we needed something on our bed, that would compliment the rather joyous patchwork curtains that reside in our bedroom and managed to rustle up these pillowcases in a few hours on the sewing machine. The patches are the same size (postcard sized) that I used on the curtains and I think they look rather good together

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Next up was a bit of upcycling I did for the impending arrival of the Tiny Overlord.

Upcycled Fruit Crate

I found this fruit crate dumped outside our local greengrocers and after a bit of a sand, prime and paint (with the addition of a little bit of decoupage) I’ve lined the inside with a piece of vintage sheet. I’m not sure what is going to go in it yet, but I am reassured that babies come with plenty of paraphernalia that might keep me busy.

But sheets don’t just have to be homeware.

CardforOlivia

I also used an offcut to make this birthday card for a friend’s daughter. The ribbon and charm were repurposed from the packaging of an Etsy purchase. She’s pretty cute isn’t she?

So what do you do with your vintage sheets? From bedding to beyond! I’d love to know (and see, please leave a link!)

Making do: Thoughts on Conscious Consumption

A few things have been playing on my mind recently. The first came from reading Lucy Siegle’s incredible thought provoking book ‘To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?‘ and the realisation that I am very guilty of not knowing where many of my purchases come from. The second came after visiting a well-known High Street baby care shop and feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ that is thrust in the way of parents and parents-to-be. Along with the polite but clearly primed to ‘push stuff to the bumps’ sale assistants (no one had even ever spoken to me, when I had visited the same store pre-bump…), I left feeling intimidated and with a strong desire to protect the creature in the bump from what felt like an unnecessary level of consumerism.

How can I avoid this consumerism for the bump creature, when I am not currently in a position to be able to justify a lot of my own purchases to myself? As a result, I have recently been reading a lot about conscious consumption, about making do with less, about reining in the impulse spending and having more disposable income to spend on experiences, rather than ‘stuff’. About knowing where the ‘stuff’ comes from (being able to explain where stuff comes from) and making informed shopping decisions based on that. We are very lucky to be able to afford everything we ‘need’, I just wonder if we need so much ‘stuff’?

While browsing many money saving sites and blogs, I stumbled across the fantastic ‘My Make Do and Mend Year‘, the blog by the rather fantastic Jen who is undertaking the challenge not to buy anything new for a year. Anything she buys that is non-perishable  must be secondhand, pre-owned, vintage, retro, upcycled, re-conditioned etc etc. But NOT new. Now this appealed to me on two levels – it would meet my desire to be a responsible and conscious consumer, but it also fires sparks of creativity in my direction. Not buying things, but making things, fixing things, upcycling things, getting crafty and inventive while trying to be more ethical… Now you are talking my language!

So, while I set myself some ‘rules’, I’d like to introduce to you my ‘Making Do’ project where, in the spirit of Little Stitch, I hope to share with you my crafty endeavours while I strive to ‘make do and mend’ more and buy less. I think it will be interesting and I think it will also be fun, let’s see how we go…

Dress to impress

dresser1

The lack of ‘before’ photos means I’ll never make a good DIY blogger, but I just wanted to share with you what has been taking up most of my spare time this week: Our secondhand 1980s dark wooden kitchen dresser is a fantastic bit of furniture, but the dark colour of the wood meant that was absorbing all the light in our tiny north-facing kitchen. A transformation was needed and after 10 hours of sanding, priming and 3 careful coats of eggshell paint, the dresser got its new green lease of life.

We’re really happy with the result, the kitchen is already a much lighter brighter place. The light green colour compliments our cream kitchen units and the dark green of my beloved ‘Tube’ tiles.

And just to prove it was all my own work, here’s the dresser mid paint, ably assisted by a cat who later had a slight green bottom…

dresser2