NSFP: Crafty work

The second of my previously mentioned Big Projects (“big” in this case perhaps not being the most appropriate term) has now been completed, dispatched and happily received by its new temporary recipient, L, in preparation for the arrival of her baby in September. This is what I have been working on; some photos of it and a bit of blurb behind its construction.

L, being ahippy too, asked for organic baby clothes. I couldn’t find any here, nor could I find any organic fabric from which to construct something from, so I thought about what else I could make and settled on the idea of modifying second-hand baby clothes. That way they are still environmentally sound, but also personal. There is a shop in Nagoya that sells second-hand baby clothes, and from there I picked up this cute Baby Gap cardigan:

Original cardigan

At this point I didn’t have any plan of what to do, apart from “something natural involving leaves and plants”. Also, at this point I didn’t know the sex of the baby – I found out halfway through, and ended up modifying the design as I worked on it. This, I should just mention, is why this post is marked as NSFP – Not Safe For Parents – it will give you a very big hint as to the sex (“hint” as in “you’d be stupid not to work it out”). I have emailed to tell them not to read any posts with this in the title, but just in case – Mum, Dad, you can go away now ;)

I started off making leaves from some pretty green fabric by drawing a leaf shape onto the fabric, cutting them out leaving a margin, and folding and sewing the edges down. This was quite tedious and time-consuming, as I had to make quite a few. I also embroidered a “stem” of sorts around the cardigan, using a “loop” stitch. It may surprise you to know that I won the sewing prize at school, and it certainly surprised me to know that I remembered what I had been taught all those years ago! Beyond fixing things, mending buttons and adding elastic to old pyjama bottoms, I have done absolutely no sewing since the age of about 15, when I won said prize, so by this point I was already quite pleased that things lookedok!

Making the leaves

The next major task was sewing the leaves onto my stem, which I did using what may or may not be a very loose “satin” stitch (Google hasn’t really provided a definitive answer to what this is, so if you know better please do say so in the comments!). This took ages! I worked on the train, at school and in the evenings. It was a source of surprise at school – everyone knows that I do lots of karate so to see me working on something so feminine definitely caused amusement, but also approval – I could hear some of the teachers speaking in Japanese about the “girls activity” that I was doing! Here is a close-up of the leaves. I used thread of alternating colours – cream and green – for a bit more interest (don’t forget you can click all these photos to get bigger versions):

Detail of leaves

It was during this phase that I found out that what we all thought would be a “he” was in fact a “she”, and after seeing some pink fabric I thought would look good with the cream-coloured cardigan and the green leaves, I added a Japanese style flower to the front. The final design ended up looking like this:

Detail of the flower
The one problem I have when I do anything creative can be summed up by the word “dissatisfaction”. When I start I usually have a clear image in my mind of what I want to achieve, and when the end result doesn’t match up to it I get annoyed, frustrated and generally demotivated. Even my garden design I wasn’t particularly happy with – I still don’t think the final design was very cohesive and polished – just a few good-ish ideas thrown together and made to look pretty. However… this was the first time for as long as I can remember that I finished something and thought to myself “wow, that looks really awesome”! Excitedly I packed it up and sent it over to the UK, and L called me the night she received it to say how much she likes it, and how it’s lying on the sofa and “whenever I walk past it it makes me smile”. Frankly, what better reaction could there be?!
As a result of this success, I have been making other things, which are also turning out ok. I am even considering selling them at some point, but they take me so long this may not be for a long time yet! Will hopefully have some pictures to post in a few weeks.

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5 Responses

  1. Felicia says:

    Beautiful! You are quite crafty…

  2. Mark says:

    Good effort!

  3. Amanda says:

    Oh my, that’s really beautiful! I feel so inspired just from looking at the pattern and colours. :D

  4. Farrah says:

    I think it’s buttonhole stitch.

    I am disappointed that you confirmed to gender stereotypes by modifying the cardigan when you found out the baby’s sex… there is no reason why you couldn’t have put a flower on a boy’s cardigan.

    Fab piece of work, though X

  5. gai.ninja says:

    Yeah I know… but I just can’t bring myself to picture a boy wearing stuff with flowers on. There is a teacher here who regularly wears pink polo shirts, and I am barely over that! I promise to work on my gender stereotyping issues on future garments ;)