Learn. Choose. Change.

I pledge to learn the true cost, to people and the planet, of what I eat, wear, drive, use and do every day. I choose to consume justly and to increasingly change my habits.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Just Sew: Honeymoon Hat

Woo-hoo!  I made the big time and am posting a tutorial over at Project Run and Play today.  All month they are featuring bloggers from their sew along group in Flickr.  I've been working on these fun hats to sell at the textile collective over the holidays.  They are based on a felted wool hat I picked up on my honeymoon seventeen years ago this month.  Be sure to check out my tutorial plus all the others this month.

This tutorial features a hat made from t-shirts, but the same pattern works for old sweaters, sweatshirts, and fleece.  I have also experimented with some groovy suit fabric, but it doesn't have any stretch and I haven't developed a consistent pattern for it yet.  So, after you have settled on some fabric with some stretch, you are going to cut out panels for the main part of the hat.

For a hat sized 0-2T cut one 5x6" and four 3x6" rectangles (five panels total) and one 6" circle.

For a hat sized 3T-7 cut one 5x7" and four 4x7" rectangles (five panels total) and one 7 1/2" circle.

For a hat sized 8&up cut one 5x8" and five 4x8" rectangles (six panels total) and one 9" circle.
Pin and sew panels together (if your fabric has a right side, do it right sides together) creating the body of the hat.  When pinning, take care to line up the tops of the panels that will eventually be sewn to the circle to form the crown of the hat.  It does not matter if the bottoms of your rectangles are uneven, as they will just get folded up into the brim.  Many people feel you can only work with knit fabric if you have a serger, but a zig zag on top of a straight stitch is really just as effective.
 You can now pin the circle to the hat.  Turn the body of the hat inside out and begin pinning the edge of the circle to the tops of your rectangle.  I sew around first with a straight stitch, and then go back over it with a zig zag to give it a little more structure.

 Flip the hat right side out and finish with another zig zag around the exposed crown of the hat.  This step is optional if you like the shape of the hat without it.  Again, I like the structure it adds to the hat.  These sew up pretty quickly (30 to 45 minutes) and although the original Honeymoon Hat shows no signs of wear and tear, it will be nice to have some different color choices.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just Sew: Potholder Covers

I have been using the same ratty potholders for years, embarrassed of them when we have company or when I use them to take a dish someplace else.  At one point, I tried using a piece of a heavy wool sweater that had been felted as a potholder, but the heat still seeped through and they did not provide enough protection.

You can probably guess where this was going, but it took me a lot longer to figure it out.  I simply sewed slipcovers for my ugly old potholders out of a felted wool sweater.  It was so easy!  I cut two squares a little larger than my potholders, placed the potholder in the middle, and sewed them together.  I like the exposed edge, but one could turn them inside out after sewing and finish them that way.
They are so cute now!  I chose a colorful striped sweater so I have a lot of coordinating color choices for the other two potholders that are left.  I can't believe it took me as long as it did to figure it out,  but now I am so glad it's done.  I can't wait to show them off at Thanksgiving.

Just Read: Making It

During my last year as an independent bookstore owner I was fortunate enough to meet Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne, authors of Making It:  Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World.  Based in the middle of Los Angeles, they have created a lifestyle that evokes Ma and Pa Ingalls of the Little House books.  They grow their own food, raise their own meat, bake bread almost everyday, and create much of what they need from scratch instead of buying ready-made products.  Ironically, when I picked them up at the ferry terminal to take them to their author event, upon seeing my sewing machine in the back of my car (I must've been giving a lesson that day) they commented they still weren't sewing their own clothes, but it was definitely a goal on their list.

They are part of the Radical Homemaking movement where people take a hard look at their lifestyles and try to rearrange things in order to become producers, rather than consumers.  Shannon Hayes has been chronicling this movement for several years in essays, books, and her blog.  She, like Erik and Kelly and many others, came to the conclusion that they worked forty hours a week just to consume.  They then took the leap and scaled back on their traditional jobs to allow more time to produce and found, in many ways, they were better off, financially, spiritually, etc.  This lifestyle holds a lot of allure for me, and fortunately, our location and situation in life will allow us to pull it off.

That's where Making It becomes such a great resource.  Erik and Kelly worked with the publishers to make the book very accessible and not overwhelming.  Tasks are divided into sections:  Day to Day, Week to Week, Month to Month, and Season to Season.  The reader can tackle one thing at a time, incorporate it into their lives until it becomes part of a routine and then add another.  Topics range from creating hygiene and cleaning products, to gardening, to food preservation and more.  I am still checking off most of the Month to Month tasks, but really like their "recipes" for household products.

Although our family is most likely several years from being able to completely embrace this lifestyle, I do enjoy the sense of satisfaction we get now from the food we do manage to grow and eat, the eggs we collect, and the other items we choose to make ourselves rather than purchase at the store.  And, hopefully, as our children grow up and start their own households, producing will be so normal for them they will not get caught in the trap of consumerism.