Domestic crafts and household linens

13 August 2018
August in The Simple Home

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” 
William Morris

There are few things better on a cold winter’s day or evening than settling down to do some craftwork or mending. As the cold weather swirls around the house, it’s cosy and warm inside with plenty of flannel, wool and fleece to keep you warm. Like all of our simple life activities and tasks, handiwork, mending and making go on all year but you need a time in the year to plan projects, organise your materials and learn new skills. This is it, welcome to domestic crafts and household linens month.

I am certain that many of you would be very skilled in various domestic crafts, some will have made a few things and some nothing at all. So for those of you who are experienced, I hope this will serve as a reminder of how important the skills you possess are. I encourage you to share your knowledge and abilities with your family and friends so that many more people are able to do this kind of work in their homes. If you’re less skilled, I hope you find inspiration and a few ideas here. There are many projects that will add to the beauty, productivity and comfort of your home that are within the scope of a beginner or someone with a few more skills. 

These little bunnies are the Maggie bunny created by Alicia at Posy Gets Cosy. I've made several of them for various babies.

Crafts, sewing, knitting and crochet are really wonderful ways of connecting with your community too. If you’ve never done any craft work before and you’re not sure where to start, have a look around the noticeboards in your neighbourhood and at the local library to see if there are any beginner classes. Join up if you find them. If you can't find any beginners workshops, look on YouTube because there are many fabulous tutorials for absolute beginners there. Working on individual or group work is a great way to socialise with your friends. Instead of just talking and drinking coffee, meeting with friends to work on projects, talk and drink coffee gives a warm feeling of productivity as it strengthens those friendly ties. 

From left: Sandi, Tricia, Jude and Jude's cousin Rhonda. We met for tea at my place but the main topic of conversation was sewing. It's a great way to learn tips and tricks from other people interested in sewing and craft.

When you start collecting materials, look for good quality older clothing, fabric and wool so part of the benefit of making things for your home will be the recycling aspect of it. If you haven’t decluttered, or if you have but there are still a lot of clothes and old fabrics in your home, you may be able to use that excess to make some of the items you want to make. It will be easier for you to create all those wonderful future projects if you make a little stockpile of materials. If you have a sewing/craft room, store all your resources in there but if not, make do with a large plastic box that will hold what you’ve collected and keep it all away from the dust and moths.

 Organise yourself and your materials. 

With the resurgence of handicrafts, sewing and knitting, brought to our attention by blogs and the ability to see what is happening in homes around the world, has come the inspiration to hand-make a lot of what we have bought in the past 40 years. We are nesting again! Now there are women and men creating homes that feature homemade embroidery, leatherwork, wire and cane baskets, clothes, hats, soft furnishings and painted features that come from vivid and wild imaginations and not from an overseas crate. It’s a enriching creative renaissance and we can all be part of it.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to take up a needle and thread before or if you’re keen to use everything that comes into your home, craft work will give you a new focus and help you develop new skills while creating gifts and useful household items. 

Old ripped sheets are an excellent source of cleaning rags for your home.  Try to keep things going for as long as you can. It will save you money and cut down on what you send to land fill.

I've finished adding cushions to my sofa. The two on the far left were bought at a shop, the Australian coat of arms was a gift from Tricia and the rest of the cushions made here, including one knitted one.
A little runner I made up for a side board I have at the front door.

If you feel guilty about taking time out to do craft work, don’t. Enjoy the creative part of housework; celebrate it. Sewing kitchen curtains, cushion covers, aprons and mending clothes adds to your worth as a homemaker so don’t feel guilty for doing something you enjoy. Imagine all the gifts you can make, the unique touches you can add to your home, the tea cosies, jug covers, scarves, slip covers, baby clothes, wood worked bread boards and coasters, leather pouches, belts and bags you can make. Most of them aren’t for sale in shops the way you’d make them. Making these bits and pieces for your home can help you recycle various things that will get a second life and not end up with all the rotting rubbish as the local landfill.

Setting up a sewing kit
As you have a bit of spare money, buy a pair of good quality dressmaking scissors, a pair of snips for cutting thread as you sew, a pair of pinking shears, cotton thread (I use Gutermann) - first in white, beige and dark grey because those colours will cover most mending jobs when you’re starting out. When you’re more established and are well into craft work, buy embroidery threads (I use DMC) in the colours you like or those you need for a project you’re planning. As you build up your collection of embroidery threads, you’ll need thread organisers too. They are plastic boxes that will store the rewound threads on spools and as they’ve got compartments and lids, you can keep colours together and you’ll will keep your threads away from dust and moths.

You’ll also need: a few hand-sewing needles and embroidery needles, tape measure, straight pins, patchwork pins, seam ripper, embroidery hoops and a darning mushroom or egg if you’ll be mending. I bought my darning mushroom on ebay for $5. If you can buy a self-healing cutting mat and a rotary cutter you’ll be able to cut straight lines very easily. If you can’t afford those straight away, make do with a ruler, fabric marking pen or tailor’s chalk and scissors. There is no reason to buy everything at once if you don’t have the money. Just add pieces as you can afford them but always buy the best quality you can afford so it will last a long time.

Happy crafting everyone. 💈