Monday, 14 September 2009

Oh for Ochre...

I go through phases with colours that I'm drawn to. Lately, it's yellow ochre and similarly autumnal colours. Saffron...mustard...burnt orange. I recently got a gorgeous mustard-gold, small square suitcase from work at a bargain price. I've been needing a sturdier travel case than my hold-all, and this one is lockable and has a comfortable strap. It also goes very well with my saffron belt and yellow cardigans I think (is two cardigans of the same colour too many? They were charity shop bargains too so it's all for a good cause).
It's evidently quite old, though how old I'm not sure. The rounded corners have a kind of seventies/early eighties look I think, but maybe it's older than that? In any case, I'm looking forward to using it on my next travels.

At the moment, I'm waiting on some yellow ochre fabric to become available from my fair trade supplier. It will hopefully be available soon and once I can get it, I can start making golden yellow versions of my feathers cushion and tote bags. But having saved up a little money for fabric, I unfortunately have to wait longer still...

Recently, my bank account was targeted by a fraudster. I discovered the fraudulent purchase (a mobile phone top up for a company I don't have a phone with) late on a Friday afternoon and, not being able to find the right phone number to call and fix the situation, I had to put on my nearest pair of shoes, run a brush through my hair and dash down the hill to the bank before closing time.

Once I got there, I was passed from a polite, if clueless, cashier, to a service phone where I was put on hold for ten minutes before being told I had pressed the wrong department button and then having to wait on hold another five minutes, all the while my heart thumping and up-beat and erratic jazz playing on the phone (is that really a wise choice for your fraud department?).

I began to consider changing to a new bank. Then I was finally connected and given yet another series of 'options'...all in Bank-speak ("if your card has an R4 4...") - none of which made sense to me. Exasperated, I hung up on the automated service and sought out an advisor.

After begging for assistance from someone in person, she kindly set aside her end of day paperwork and phoned through for help for me, staying on hold past closing time. The bank emptied, the latch was put on the door, and still the advisor sat with me and arranged with the call centre to send me the relevant paperwork to get my money back etc.

It will take time for me to be able to reclaim the little money I had that they have squandered - it appears my bank's system for dealing with such things is absurdly convoluted. It's a horrible feeling, to know that someone out there has done such a thing so easily and putting it right is so hard.

Though I'm fairly confident now that I've calmed down from the panicked visit to my bank, that I will indeed be able to get my money back and in time to pay my bank fees etc, it's still a stressful situation to be in. Still, I'm lucky, in a weird way, that I didn't have much money for the scoundrel (my polite word for it...) to steal!

In any case, the lovely ochre fabric will have to wait a while. In the meantime, I shall content myself with looking at lovely things on Etsy. Here's a snapshot of a treasury list I made recently, complete with alternates:

Top row: TickledPinkKnits, hitree, NannasKnitting, grimm
Second row: uncommon, thejunebride, sleeks, InmostLight
Third row: prettygoodthings, underabluesky, peaseblossomstudio, greenchairpress
Fourth row: margotbianca, linkeldesigns, JillPopowichDesigns, DuetPhotography

Click on the image to see a bigger version. Each shop name above is linked to the relevant Etsy shop. :-)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Soil Association

I've managed to get a treasury list on Etsy, yay! This one is inspired by the different colours in layers of soil, in celebration of my archaeologist sister's getting her work contract renewed for another 6 months (again, yay!)

Featured here are:
thecyclingartist, GollyBard, Studio155, labokoff
MarcoLaGrenouille, yarnahoy, Crafterall, galeriedeilluminata
simplytwisted, ShopJessBecause, red2white, Ottoman
mysticfibers, Tuesdaymoon, LethaColleen, prettypanda

Clicking each name will take you to the relevant Etsy shop.

In other news, I have decided to list the tote bag (see previous post) at a special 'prototype' price. You can find it on Etsy here


Friday, 4 September 2009

Volare, cantare

Craft-love has given me wings...

...not literally of course, but in an 'appliquéing white cotton feather shapes onto things like there's not tomorrow' sort of way. This idea for a bag has been in my head for some time now, even before the feathery cushion design and the clutch. I spent oh so much time figuring out the perfect layout for the shapes...then adding an extra 'layer' after my original pattern was fused down...then learning how to put a zip-up pocket into a bag...

...and finally, while Spotify played my favourite 60s tunes, it all became this tote bag. I'm tempted to keep this one for myself.

Unfortunately this was my first attempt at making a tote using a new (to me) method...and as is often the case with new things, it didn't quite go perfectly. The bag has some small flaws, like a slightly askew base, tiny pin-holes at the side where I have had to unpick stitching, the slightest mark where I foolishly tried to iron just above where the magnetic fastener lies inside the bag...and a wobble in the stitching around the top, where I underestimated how thick the layers of fabric were and my poor Janome did the sewing machine equivalent of a hiccup or two.

This is the downside to completely creating your patterns yourself. (I never use shop-bought patterns to make anything, it is all from my head!) If I do find it in me to surrender this bag for someone else to buy, I think I'll offer it at a special price, since it does have those small flaws, even though they are probably only very apparent to me...

What do you think, folks? Should I part with the tote?

Despite the flaws, I love this bag. Partly because I think the 'wing' design will look so sweet if you twist the bag around to rest across your back...partly because aside from the essential interfacing, the zip and metal closure, it is all organic, fair trade cotton and upcycled material (linen viscose blend salvaged from a pair of trousers). The upcycled fabric isn't fused down like the cotton, but left to flutter at the sides, which I have left untreated so they will fray a little and look ever-so feathery.

About upcycling...

As you may know, my 'day job' is working in a charity shop. It happens all the time that someone will donate an item that, due to a small flaw, sadly can't be sold. A broken zip, a bolognese sauce stain, a torn hem...that kind of thing that makes an item unappealing enough to customers that it just can't go out on sale. Charity shops generally have a 'rag bin' where these unsellable items end up, bagged and stored for collection from a recycling company. We get paid by weight of fabric and then the bags are taken away to either be sent on to poorer countries, or cut up and made into new fabric.

Sometimes, I can't bear to let an item 'go to rag' though. Sometimes I know just what I can do with the item. So I pay a donation to the charity (more than they would have got for that one item from the recycling company) and take it home, wash it and then make it into something new. Crafters call this 'upcycling' as opposed to 'recycling', because it is being transformed into something new, not made into another version of what it was before - for example a glass bottle could be melted down and made into another glass bottle, or it could be transformed into a spoon rest.

This here is the latest item I have rescued - a turquoise camisole in pure silk and lace that has sadly got a streak of permanent marker on the front. I'm thinking of making this into a new 'shoal' necklace or two. :-)

Already up in the shop is a large money purse / mini clutch bag with a similar design to the tote bag (this one doesn't feature the upcycled linen, it is completely made with the organic cotton). I'm looking forward to making more totes and matching purses to go with them, now I do have the ultimate (hiccup-free) tote-making method in my head. It's just a matter of getting more fabric and supplies now, so I'll have to see how much of my budget I can spend this month.