Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Handmade Home

I finished Tasha's beach bag yesterday. I thought I'd take pictures this morning but she took it to school today. That's a pretty high complement when it comes from a 17 year old. Today's projects will be graduation invitations and sewing linen bread bags.

Lately, not a day goes by that I don't do a little sewing and knitting. I love the way that feels to make things by hand. I hadn't thought much about it being such a lost art until everyone around me started commenting on my projects. The comments varied but the overriding sentiment seemed to be surprise; surprise that you could hand make these things, surprise that you would bother to hand make these things and surprise that I knew how to hand make these things.

Taking these sentiments one at a time, I'll start with the last first. I often don't know how to make things but I have gotten very good at knowing where to learn. A google search or a visit to a trusted blog often solves the mystery. The internet is such a wonderful tool. I've also gotten good at looking at the task at hand logically. I often think back to my first real sewing project, the great jean alteration of 1987. No one taught me how to alter those jeans, I sorted the process out for myself. We all have that power, we just have to remember to use it!

I'm often surprised too at what can be made by hand too. I wonder, will my bag hold up as well as a store bought bag? However if you look at anything that's mass produced now, like a tote bag, surely somewhere along the line it was made by hand? A trip to a craft show is wonderful to give you a peek into the possibilities of what can be made by hand. (BTW, Never be one of those people who pick things up and announce loudly, "I could make this for much less." It's so disrespectful to the crafters.) Way back in 1997 right before we adopted Tasha, I bought myself a beautiful purse at a local craft fair. I loved it because it was made with the "children of the world" fabric. Twelve years later, I'm still using that purse and it's in great shape. Anyone who knows me knows the workout this purse has had over the years toting around everything a mother might need. It's been doused in coffee, washed in the washer and still it looks great. Quality handmade products really can last.

When people are surprised that I would bother to hand make something that I could easily buy, I try to explain why hand made is important to me and should be important to them. Sure I could buy a summer weight quilt cheaply at Walmart but I'd rather use what I have on hand and make a denim quilt that will last longer and wear better. I want to lessen my footprint on the earth and recycling clothing into useful things is an easy, inexpensive way to do this. (Think about it, what costs more solar panels or a spool of thread?)

Speaking of handmade and homemade, I've been making my own laundry soap for years. I used to make the dry powder but I've found the liquid works better in the long run since I can use cold water in the washer and not worry about the soap not dissolving. As it was cooling a few days ago I had a thought to make the process easier. Up until now I'd made the laundry soap in a pot and then transfered it to a plastic container when it cooled. Why couldn't I just dedicate a pot to making and storing the laundry soap? I'm on a thrift store/yard sale quest for just the right pot and lid for the job.


radioactivegan said...

I just wanted to make a suggestion for your laundry soap pot -- maybe you could find an old (even broken) pressure cooker. It may be better than just a pot, since the lid will snap in place. I know I've seen broken ones at Goodwill pretty often, or you might be able to find one on Craigslist. I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Where did you find the recipe for liquid laundry detergent? I've made the powder, but have also had problems with it dissolving in cold water! Looking forward to pictures of the beach bag!


Katie said...

Good idea. As for the liquid laundry detergent recipe, I'll post it soon.