Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Getting Serious About Organic Cotton

As many of you know I'm very keen to use organic cotton whenever possible. Back in October last year I posted about the benefits of using organic cotton and the effects that the toxic chemicals used in the production of standard cotton have on our own health, the health of the people involved in the growing of the cotton and the environment in general.
I'm a firm believer in the saying "Every little helps" and for a long time I was happy that my "little" use of organic cotton was helping, just as my efforts to eat organic, or even better still, homegrown, help in some small way to keep me and my family healthy.
Each and every choice we make as purchasers goes as long way to stimulate the amount of organic food and clothing that suppliers make available to us. Most people counter argue that organic is always more expensive. But this is not always the case. Organic fruit and veg are often as cheap as the regular stuff when they are in season. In this fast moving, technological age we have forgotten about buying seasonal produce.
With fabrics it is more a case that organic cotton is comparable in price with the regular designer cottons, but there are no "budget" ranges to choose from. There is no way you can buy organic cotton fabric or yarns as cheaply as you can poly cotton fabric or acrylic yarn.
The same is true of the organic clothing that is available in stores. It might compete with designer ranges on price, but not yet with everyday items.... but, I believe this is gradually changing. 
H&M have a sustainability policy in which they aim for all their cotton to come from more sustainable sources by 2020 and are currently the biggest user of organic cotton in the world. The price of their Conscious Clothing range is comparable to all the other ranges. Hopefully other clothing manufacturers will follow suit.
More and more companies are producing clothing and bedding for babies and children are using organic cotton.

A baby quilt I made last year using organic cotton

So why do I feel the need to write this post?
Because I feel it's time to step up, to do more than be just a casual user of organic fibres. There is so much more organic cotton available to the home sewer or quilter now than there was even 6 months ago and I no longer have the excuse that the design "wasn't quite what I was looking for" or "It's too hard to find". 
Organic cotton nursery fabric

I may not have my perfect choice, and I may not be able to make all the clothing I want from organic fabric, but I am going to try to only buy organic for quilting and baby projects and to only buy standard fabrics for my own clothing when I absolutely have no choice.

This decision is huge.... yes, HUGE!
I have been dithering for quite a while. Won't I want to buy those lovely new designs that fellow bloggers showcase? .......Of course I will! but I have to try and manage without.
What shall I do about my charity knitting? I can't have one rule for myself and my family, but another for babies in Africa or street children in London. ..... This is a really difficult one - I shall try to use the oddments for charity knitting and I don't think this problem will arise for a while as I have quite a large stash of standard yarns to use up first.
I made this charity knit using organic cotton oddments
You will still see posts of things I have made using regular cotton for a long time to come, because I have a lot of it already tucked away!! I'm just not going to buy any more if I can possible help it. I will probably have to buy some more Liberty prints to complete my Farmers Wife quilt, but the solids in it can be organic.
The knitting will be a lot harder to achieve than the sewing and quilting because there seems to be less organic yarn available than there was a year ago, not more! Why this is I just don't know. Maybe there just wasn't the demand for it? I just have to hope this trend is reversed as soon as possible.

I have updated the post I wrote in October about the toxins in standard cotton and have saved it as a downloadable PDF here. It is also permanently available on my sidebar. Please take the time to read it if you are at all interested in this subject.

Organic cotton is beautifully soft, and gets softer with every wash and it's stronger and more hard wearing than standard cotton. I'm sure if more people realised just how many toxins were in standard cotton I could convert them in instant.

So will my blog change in any way?
No, not really. I shall still post about the things I'm making, and as I have a lot of standard cotton to use up, I'll still be showing you it for a long time to come, but I'll certainly blog about the new fabrics, and hopefully yarns, that I'm buying, and show you what I've made with them. And maybe, little by little, sewers and quilters will see that organic isn't just for the "eco warriors" (Is that what I am?!) but that everyone can embrace organic and still make beautiful things for home and family.

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Friday, 24 May 2013

Saying Hi From Toronto!



Wow! Clear blue skies, sunny days and exciting explorations - I am in Toronto visiting my eldest son and daughter-in-law and having a great time. Toronto is such a fun city to explore. It's easy to get around (even for someone with absolutely no sense of direction, like me!), not too big and has plenty of green and wild spaces.
I have spent lots of time walking, seen amazing wildlife and eaten copious amounts wonderful food.
I have brought plenty of craft projects with me, but I have a feeling most of them will be taken home again unfulfilled.
I do have some photos to show you of the blankets that I finished before I set off.
These are part of my 2013 Stashbuster Challenge are are to go to Greenfields.

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This first one I am quite pleased with. The colours of aran weight yarn that I needed to use up, just happened to go very well together and they have made a bright and colourful baby blanket.
I had to buy an extra ball to be able to finish the border. (Greenfields like their blankets to be 39" square) which defeats the object slightly as I now have a new oddment, but I'm sure I'll find a use for it!
The second one I wasn't so sure about.
I had a lot of oddments of organic cotton yarn that were pretty dull and drab colours - discontinued colours and discontinued lines by several manufacturers. I had tried several times to add them to a small project, but they always seemed to spoil the proposed item and I didn't have enough white or cream to just do something with stripes. What do you do with bottle green or burgundy if you haven't got a nice white or ream to give them some contrast?
So, I decided to just crochet all the yukky colours together into one yukky but useful blanket!
Ta Dah!
Somehow, I have no idea how, I all seemed to go together OK.
It is very fortunate that I had enough of the light tan colour to give it a decent border.
If that border had been a mixture of more drab colours I don't think I would have been happy with it at all, but as it is I'm OK with it. Not over the moon, but OK.
And at least I've used up all those oddments of burgundy, bottle green and mauve that just didn't sit well with anything else in my stash.

I do hope all my readers in the UK are going to have some fine weather over the Bank Holiday weekend. It isn't a holiday over here, but I know we have some good trips planned for Saturday and Sunday, which I hope to share with you later next week.




Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Needles and Pins on Little Bird Wings



I have made a little bird pincushion! She is for  Le Challenge, a monthly crafty challenge which is organised by Lucy and Nat, and this month's theme is "Wings".
I knew as soon as I read the challenge theme that I wanted to make a bird pincushion, partly I suppose, because I have a bit of a thing for little stuffed fabric birds, and also because I needed a new pincushion that would sit comfortably on the arm of the sofa
My little bird is so proud of her wings that she lets me store my needles there.

She has a nice flat bottom (if only I could say the same!) so that she sits still amongst  all the crafty paraphernalia on my desk and she is firmly stuffed with Polyester filling so that pins push easily into her back.


 I have added an additional felt layer to the underside of each wing so that I can store needles there to keep them separate from the pins.


The wings are attached with spotty heart shaped buttons and the eyes are really tiny flower shape buttons - the type that you buy for scrapbooking and card making.



I embellished the tail with short lengths of ric rac, folded in half and sewn into the tail seam.


My little bird is going to get a lot of use, but when she's not needed for pins, I know she'll be very happy sitting amongst the ornamental branches in my lounge.


 I might even let her sit outside on sunny days - just as long as my cats realise she is only a stuffed bird of course!

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I am hoping to get a tutorial written up so that can you have a go at making one for yourself. The technology is beating me at the moment. If anyone knows an EASY way to convert a scanned drawing into a professional looking line drawing using  Photoshop Elements or Touchdraw, please let me know. I found some tutorials but the learning curve was way too steep for me to tackle to get it done for this post. One day I'll manage it, hopefully!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

And The Winners Are......

 
 Today I'm announcing the winners of the 5, yes FIVE, giveaways that I had on my blog last week as part of the Sew Mama Sew GiveAway Day
Thank you all so much for taking the time to comment and a warm hello to all my new likers on Facebook, Twitter, Bloglovin and Google Friend Connect (remember GFC is disappearing soon, so you'll need to swap to something else - Bloglovin is quick and easy!!)

This little guy was by far the most popular giveaway and Mr Random pulled out SandyandCosmo to be his new owner. This lucky recipient said she would call him Bailey.
I love that name, don't you!

The two boys organic cotton bibs were won by Erin @Billy Button Designs. Well done Erin, I'm sure you'll put them to good use.

The baby girl organic cotton gift set were won by Shanny


 
and the vintage style baby hat goes to Tasha Early

The final giveaway was for any one of my patterns, either a knitting pattern or a quilt pattern and for this Mr Random chose Una who would like the Entrelac Baby Blanket pattern. (Una I've tried emailing you and it's bouncing straight back - can you contact me please - my email address is in the side bar)

I will be emailing all the winners shortly. 
Thank you all for entering, your response was fantastic and I'll let you into a little secret - another bunny has been cast on, ready for another giveaway sometime soon !
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Friday, 10 May 2013

Final GiveAway Day - A Pattern of Your Choice


Today is the final day of my Give Aways as part of GiveAwayDay over at Sew Mama Sew.
It's been such a fun week and I've enjoyed reading every single comment. You have all been so complimentary!
Today you get the chance to win any pattern of your choice that I have designed - a knitting pattern or a quilt pattern - whichever you'd like.

You need to go and choose one.
You can see my knitting patterns on LoveFibres on CraftsyLoveFibres on Etsy or on Ravelry
Or if it's a quilt pattern you're after go to either Mack and Mabel on Craftsy or Mack and Mabel on Etsy

As with every other day this week, the giveaway is open internationally to anyone who follows my blog in any way. If you don't do so already, you can follow by clicking on "Join this site" on the righthand sidebar or the Bloglovin button. You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter - again, buttons on the sidebar.
To enter just leave a comment below saying which pattern you'd like - give me the name of the pattern e.g. Jaden, Mia or Picnic in the Park and if you're the lucky one I'll email it out to you as a PDF on Sunday.
(If you've entered the previous giveaways on this blog, you don't need to tell me again how you follow)
If you are a no-reply blogger, make sure you leave an email address so I can contact you if you win.
The winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday 12th May and announced the same day on the blog.
This giveaway is part of Sew Mama Sew GiveAway Day (which lasts all week!) so when you've entered mine, why not hop over to Sew Mama Sew and see what else you could win.

Entry to all of my GiveAways this week will close at midnight Saturday 11th May so that I can do all the random picking of winners  to announce on Sunday.It's going to be a fun day!
Good Luck

Thursday, 9 May 2013

GiveAway Day 4 - Vintage style Baby Hat

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It's Day 4 of the giveways. I'm so enjoying this. I love reading all your comments.Today's giveaway is a little vintage styly pixie hat. The version being modelled by my daughter in law's niece here, has ties. The version you will receive has a button fastening chin strap as in the photo below.


It will fit a newborn to 3 month old and is knit from silver grey and cream luxury merino silk yarn. It was one of the test knits for the pattern which is available to buy over on Etsy (a test knit which worked, I'm happy to report!!) Looks just as cute on a baby boy as it does a girl!!

As with every other day this week, the giveaway is open internationally to anyone who follows my blog in any way. If you don't do so already, you can follow by clicking on "Join this site" on the righthand sidebar or the Bloglovin button. You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter - again, buttons on the sidebar.
To enter just leave a comment below saying how you follow and what you think the most important feature of a baby hat is - that it's washable, made of natural fibres, cute, warm.... whatever is most important to you. It's all good fun to read and this info will help me choose the type of styles to design in the future.
(If you've entered the previous giveaways on this blog, you don't need to tell me again how you follow)
If you are a no-reply blogger, make sure you leave an email address so I can contact you if you win.
The winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday 12th and announced the same day on the blog.
This giveaway is part of Sew Mama Sew GiveAway Day (which lasts all week!) so when you've entered mine, why not hop over to Sew Mama Sew and see what else you could win.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

GiveAway Day 3 - It's the Girl's Turn!


I have to play fair with these giveaways. Yesterday was definitely one for the boys, so today it's the turn of the girls!! This is another set sewn by me using organic cotton.
The giveaway is for one bib and two burp cloths. These would make an ideal baby shower gift, but the bib is big enough to cover an active toddler too.
 
The bib has a pink geometric design on organic cotton on the front and bamboo towelling (which is naturally organic) on the back. It fastens with a snap at the neck and is 8 1/2" from the front of the neck to the lower edge, 13" deep in total.
The two matching burp cloths measure 8"x16" and have organic cotton flannel on the back (flannel is more usually known as brushed cotton or wincyette in the UK)
Same giveaway details as yesterday - The giveaway is open internationally to anyone who follows my blog in any way. If you don't do so already, you can follow by clicking on "Join this site" on the righthand sidebar or the Bloglovin button. You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter - again, buttons on the sidebar.
To enter just leave a comment below saying how you follow and why you'd like to win - maybe you are about to become a Mum, or know someone who is , maybe you've got a little one and can never have enough bib's or maybe you just like entereing giveaways!! It's all good fun to read (If you've entered  the previous giveaways on this blog, you don't need to tell me again how you follow)
If you are a no-reply blogger, make sure you leave an email address so I can contact you if you win.
 
The winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday 12th and announced the same day on the blog.
 
This giveaway is part of Sew Mama Sew GiveAway Day (which lasts all week!) so when you've entered mine, why not hop over to Sew Mama Sew and see what else you could win.

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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

GiveAway Day 2 - Organic Cotton Bibs

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Hello! Welcome to my second give away of the week.
Giveaway Day is hosted by Sew Mama Sew where you will find links to many, many giveaways that you can enter this week!!
Today is all about my deep love of organic fabrics. If you haven't ever thought about buying organic cotton, I wrote a blog post about the reasons why you might want to here
I use organic cotton whenever I can, but there's one thing I have noticed recently. The choice of organic fabric available is increasing every day. As well as quilting cotton you can now get voiles, corduroy, bamboo and cotton blends,flannel and more, but what has happened to the organic cotton yarns?
Over the past few months the choice has declined so rapidly that the only option I now have is the Debbie Bliss Eco Baby or a very few colour options in Twilleys Freedom. Rowan seem to have discontinued both their Purelife and their Amy Butler ranges.
Has this decline also happened in other countries? I suspect not! Why do we in Britain, not like supporting organic cotton yarn?
If you have any views on this I would love to hear them.

So, let's get to the giveaway. It is for two organic cotton baby bibs, handmade by me.  One has planes on the front, the other cars, and they both have organic cotton towelling on the reverse.
They fasten with a snap at the neck and are 8 1/2" from the front of the neck to the lower edge, 13" deep in total. They make an excellent cover-all for a new baby yet are big enough to protect an enthusiastic toddler who is running around with an ice crea in his hand!!

The giveaway is open internationally to anyone who follows my blog in any way. If you don't do so already, you can follow by clicking on "Join this site" on the righthand sidebar or the Bloglovin button. You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter - again, buttons on the sidebar.
To enter just leave a comment below saying how you follow and whether you've ever bought organic cotton before (if you entered yesterday's giveaway, you don't need to tell me again how you follow)
The winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday 12th and announced the same day on the blog.
 
If you were really hoping these would be in a girly print - come back tomorrow - you might like what you see!!
 

Monday, 6 May 2013

GiveAway Day 1 - Cute Knitted Rabbit

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All this week it's Giveaway Day hosted by Sew Mama Sew and I'm participating.
Each day this week I'll have a new little giveaway for you, so please check in each each day to see if anything takes your fancy.
Today's item is this cute knitted rabbit. He is the rabbit from my free pattern (see the knitting patterns tab at the top of the page if you would rather make him for yourself!)
He stands about 10" high and his dungarees, hat and backpack are removeable. He is fully washable and with the clothing removed, he is safe to give to a baby - although, as with all toys, supervision is needed. He is not just for babies though - a child would have great fun filling his backpack with tiny treasures, and he makes a delightful addition to any grown up home too!
 
The giveaway is open internationally to anyone who follows my blog in any way. If you don't do so already, you can follow by clicking on "Join this site" on the righthand sidebar or the Bloglovin button. You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter - again, buttons on the sidebar.
 
To enter just leave a comment below saying how you follow and the name you would give to this little guy if you won him.
The winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday 12th and announced the same day on the blog.
 

 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A Quilt Finish

 
 
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Yay! Ive finished another quilt. A very pink and girly quilt!
 
 This is made with just one jelly roll - Coquette by Chez Moi for Moda and some Kona Snow.
It came together really quickly. I didn't even spend ages arranging and re-arranging the blocks as I usually do - they just sort of fell into place first time round.
 
The backing is even more pink.... and I used the remaining strips of jelly roll to make a scrappy binding.


It is quilted with a simple straight line quilting 1/4" away from the seam lines.
When I bought the jelly roll, I didn't realise quite how pink it was. Too pink for this house and I don't yet have any "girly" relatives to give it too, so I think this would be a good quilt to donate to Siblings Together
 
As it's Wednesday, I also have a couple of Wishful Wednesday projects to share with you (the things I would like to make if I had a magical unlimited amount of time!)
First up is a knitted shawlette
Although I wasn't keen on them at first, shawlettes have grown on me over time.They are a quick way to dress up the jeans and T shirt that I'm wearing, when I'm off out and running late - a bad habit of mine!!
This is a free pattern and the equivalent yarn for UK knitters would be any aran weight yarn
 
And secondly, I have this crochet butterfly to show you.
 
I really must try and make time to have a go at these - I know they wouldn't take long. Again a free pattern (UK terminology) and you can find it here
The Le Challenge theme this month is wings - I've already planned my entry, but a few of these might just find their way into the photograph too! If I can tear myself away from the garden sunshine we have at the moment, that is...
I hope you like my pattern choices this week, and that the spring sunshine is filling you with energy and enthusiasm too.
Till next time..............Julie
 
Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day
 

Lily's Quilts

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