Thursday, October 27, 2011

If there's no rest for the wicked, then I reckon there's also no rest for the compulsively-concerned-by-the Earth's-wellbeing, either.
Within 24 hours of landing in Bega, Olive and I were down at the farm, organising the capture of our very own hive full of bees.

The hive was delivered some weeks ago when my Parps and I traipsed down the hill to the dam, carrying the delightfully sturdy (read: heavy) Kenyan top bar hive through the rain. (The hive was built for me by Mr. Richard Happy Earth, as a trade for Mrs Ally Happy Earth's wedding dress, which I made.) We deposited the hive on the dam wall, providing, as recommended, a clear flight path for the bees. That's what they like, you see.
I learned this, and many other useful, weird, wonderful and quite frankly, frikking amazing facts about bees when I attended Milkwood's natural Beekeeping course, taught by Tim Malfroy of Malfroy's Gold honey (who is, I should say, awesomely inspirational and downright cool). Amongst other things, Tim recommended trying to catch a swarm and then house it, rather than buying bees in from somewhere else.
So I diligently purchased a swarm lure (I know - cool!!) which is basically a pheromone for attracting the scout bees who go out looking for a new home. This lure was supposed to be put in the hive when Parps and I delivered it, but I diligently left it (and the delicious Feather and Bone salami sandwiches that were keeping it company in the esky) on mum's kitchen bench.
So, first farming project was to attach the lure to the top of the hive. Now, we wait.
But while we're waiting, we have plenty of other things to occupy us, like swimming in the dam,

watching the ducks,

hanging out with the resident frogs (who seemed to think the hive was quite fetching), watching the bees bumbling around en masse in the mud next to the dam

("Hey! Did you guys see that awesome Kenyan top bar hive over there?") and planting up a bit of a kitchen garden at our rental house in town.
Like I say, no rest. But I'm pretty sure that if you look up "chicks and a little dude who fully dig being busy" in the dictionary, there's a picture of us, so it's OK.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pretty much the best thing about this crazy moving sale I just got through is the number of cool people I've 'met' because they've ordered P&E. The next coolest thing about the sale has been the feedback - so many happy campers! It fills my heart with joy and satisfaction to be able to make people so happy just by making them a skirt. Yay!
Just today, after a pretty insane day moving all my worldly goods out of our treehouse (my stuff's now in its way to Bega!) I dragged myself back to Pearl's parents' place, where we're staying, checked my email, and got a few excited little emails. They go somethin' like this:

"Dear Annie
just a quick note to say thankyou so much for the skirt you made me. (Greetings West Australia) I absolutely love it and in fact haven't wanted to take it off since I ripped open the package! It's perfect!
Kind regards

And this lady posted me on her blog! And what a super-cute blog it is, I have to say...
Ah. How lovely. Happy, lovely, skirt-wearing ladies all over the countryside. And now, I will sleep.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

OK so we're moving TOMORROW and as such, I have nothing to report. I did finish a skirt yesterday, but the camera and out laptop are both packed, awaiting pickup by the removalists, so there is no hope for a post about them.
In P&E news though, is a mention in the Sydney Morning Herald, which I cxan't upload or link to because I have the computer skills of my cat, Bunn,
and a post by the lovely Kelsey, who is very fond of the Australian bird skirt I made for her.
These are exciting items that both lift my spirits in what could possibly be a somewhat stressful time (ie. relocation of the entire family and home contents to a faraway land).
So next time I attend to my blog, I'll be sitting in our luxuriant, 5 bedroom mansion in sunny Bega. Fun times.

Monday, October 10, 2011

So it's now less than ONE week til we move. I have ONE more skirt to sew, several more boxes to pack, and a few more friends to see before we embark upon our southern adventure. Sewing, you will be pleased to know, will still be on the agenda, though I must admit I am looking forward to - shock horror - sewing a few things for MYSELF!
But for now I'm still sewing for a few more lucky people, including Sharon, of Gordon, ACT, who ordered 2 'surprise' skirts. How fun! As you know, I love a bit of creative licence, especially when the (very broad) brief includes the word "cutesy". Cutesy, like kitsch, is one of those things that I LOVE, while also recognising that it is definitely Not For Everyone, so I do not use it with gay abandon. But I always collect it, for skirt requests like this one, then I go to town.

My mum bought this fabric for me a few months ago and I've been absolutely itching to use it. I think it's so cute! Check out those birds at the bird bath! I know, it's like put a bird on it, by accident! But I digress...
I made up the skirt in the normal A-line style, but then I knew something was missing... And that something was a pair of green and brown scoopy (that's the technical term. Sometimes it's hard to avoid jargon) pockets made out of barkcloth, which were completely and utterly inspired by those classic pockets you get on 70s flares like the ones the dude is wearing on the fabric. Is that meta??
Meta or no, I'm pretty sure the pockets work.
The 2nd skirt for Sharon has less of a story, mostly because I can't really remember where the fabrics came from... But actually there is an interesting fact about the main fabric of the skirt, which is that after I acquired it I soaked it because I think it had some stains on it. The stains came out (yay!), but some of the blue dye ran. At first I was sad about this, but then I realised that it gave the fabric quite an unusual tone, because the blue is barely perceptible, almost like a bower bird - you know how they're only blue when the light hits them just so, and the rest of the time they're black? That's what happens with this skirt. Depending on the light it can look white or very very pale blue. I think it's cool, and quirky and colourful, which is always nice. I'm also digging the giant roses that don't fit on the joey pouch, so they're kinda decontextualised, which makes them seem.... quite awesome.

Also on the almost-last-but-definitely-not-least sewing agenda was a skirt for Louise, of Woodside SA, who likes old pillowcases and teatowels, but not clashy colours or 70s. At first I was a bit thrown by this. No clash!? But I LOVE red and pink! Not to mention green and blue!! I figured the mention of teatowels was a green light for some Australiana, so settled on a beautiful Perth tablecloth with native flowers, black swans et al, which I teamed with a very complementary (and therefore not clashy) green drill.
Now, I would like to draw your attention to my favourite favourite feature of this tablecoth, which I didn't actually notice until after the skirt was cut out. The little message on the front, around the swans, says "Greetings West Australia". As far as I can tell, this is not a shout out from WA, but a big Hey Ya to WA. Now, if you asked me to explain why I actually think this is so funny, I probably couldn't articulate it. I'm just hoping you get my drift.

And then a chicken walked past and she looked purdy so I took her picture (yes Jay that's your chicken!).

Friday, October 7, 2011

Good morning, Denise

Dear Denise,
I felt so happy when you ordered a couple more wrap skirts after receiving the last one I made for you. For a humble maker like me, it is a huge compliment when people come back for seconds. I especially liked that you made some more specific requests regarding the kinds of details you wanted on your skirts, not least of all because I LOVE tea, and I LOVE cats.
I have to say, I've never had a request for either of these things before, so I was thrilled to finally be able to use a few pieces I've had hanging around.
The teatowel I made your cat pocket from was actually very stained, so I was only able to salvage one of the cats from it.
But what beauty! I am particularly fond of very frowny cats (my beloved cat, Bunn, was chosen from the cat protection society on account of the fact that she was absolutely the frowniest cat in the joint), so the cat on your pocket is particularly appealing to me because of her cute, furrowed brow (I've decided she's ever-so-slightly torty-tabby). I hope you feel the same.
And the teacup - well! There was a bit of teacup/teapot action to choose from, but in the end I found the opportunity to work with this somewhat bedraggled-looking placemat too fantastic to pass up.
Yes, it was stained, and had a couple of huge holes in it, so there was no way I could use it whole. But crikeys - did it have some potential! And that potential, my friends, was realised with the aid of - yep, you guessed it - vliesofix. Just iron on, cut out, and apply. She's friendly, she is.
I know that when you requested pockets you probably wanted more functional ones than a little embroidered and crocheted teacup-sized one, but seriously - isn't that the cutest thing? I reckon you could probably fit a few $2 coins in it, at the very least. And the "Good Morning" coming out of the cup?? I dare anyone to not feel at least a little bit cheery when they see this skirt.
Posting monday, so you should have them sooooooon! Thank you ever so much - I had a ball. And yes, I will absolutely most definitely be making more skirts after we move to Bega, so if you, or anyone else for that matter wants another one, please do let me know.
x annie

Monday, October 3, 2011

I've felt kind of self-conscious about "putting a bird on it" since I saw the Portlandia sketch, 'Put a Bird on it'. So true! Not that I've felt self-conscious enough to stop putting birds on things, especially when an overwhelming number of people actually make special requests for bird features. And why not, right? Birds are freaking awesome! They can fly (you tried it lately?)! They build nests (tried that? It's like ultra-craft)! There are so many different kinds! With so many awesome features and characters! And there are so many teatowels with birds on them!
So I still do a lot of bird-related craft, and I still have a whole wall in my house (though it's currently packed up) full of bird paintings and embroideries and wall-vases and ceramics and tiles and nests, though all the while, in the back of my head, is Carrie Brownstein's face with a weird plastered smile saying "put a bird on it!". That's cool man. I'm into self-reflexive irony and laughing at oneself (hard not to when you're a wholefood-eating, organically sustainable lesbian who does craft). No probs. I fully dig it.
Now that I've said all that, however, I need to clarify that it was a total coincidence that the following skirts, all but one of them featuring birds, were all completed and photographed today. Just goes to show that a. birds are cool and b. people still want them even when bird craft is having the piss taken out of it on a pretty mega scale.
So, without further ado and/or complicated rambling, here are said bird skirts.

These Australian birds are heading off to Seattle! A lovely lady called Kelsey ordered them after harbouring a longstanding desire for a P&E of her own ever since she saw the galah on Frocks and Frou Frou.

And these little babies are going to sunny Earlwood. I have an inexpressible feeling of love for the little parrot on the bottom of this skirt who's cleaning his tail.
The totally spectacular and freakishly detailed Indian scene on the blue wrap skirt has several birds in it.

I don't even think I've seen them all. It's one of those designs that's so intricate that you see something new every time you look at it. There's even a peacock!

There aren't many things in life more awesome or cheerful than a colourful seersucker tablecloth, except perhaps a colourful seersucker tablecloth that's been made into a skirt featuring a patch-pocket made out of a teatowel with birds on it.

The teatowel used for this pocket was a little worse for wear, but, like the horsey teatowel, it was deserving of a second life on account of it's beautiful-ness. So, once again, I called on my friend vliesofix, and revived and strengthened ye olde teatowel by ironing it onto some sturdy and fetching 70s curtain fabric.

I then used my pinking shears around the edges, and sewed it on. Lia, of Bayswater WA, this one's for you. Please wash it gently on account of the ancientness of your pocket.

This skirt, featuring some kind of Asian, bamboo-dwelling little chirper, is actually made of wool. Yes, I know that October is a weird time of year to be making a wool skirt, but this lady does live in Tasmania, so I'm guessing she's a got a little time before things really hot up. Also, she requested grey and this was all I had left in my stash.

Besides which, it goes excellently with the bamboo/bird situation, and is lifted and brightened (and therefore cool-spring-ified) by the red vintage buttons and red stitching. Sold yet?

This one is the only non-bird skirt in today's lot but by jingo by crikey (what does that mean?) it is not by any means less exciting for that reason. For one, I'm sending it to Melanie, of Jabiru in t he Northern Territory. NT is somewhere I've never been and is, in my mind, by far the most exotic place in Australia. To me, it seems like it should almost be another planet with all that crazy shit they've got going on up there. So I get excited when I think of this skirt, on Melanie, wandering the streets of Jabiru. Second reason I'm excited about this skirt is that I have had the fabric for forever (2.5 years, to be precise), but have never understood how it would 'work' as a piece of clothing. Enter my friend Nicole, who is beautiful, clever, and very very flash in the creating department. After dinner and a few wines, while rummaging through my fabric, Nicole held up this fabric, wrapped it around herself, and showed me just how awesome it was. The colours! The intricate pattern! The bold black lines!
Melanie, I hope you're feelin' it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I figured that the photos on my blog couldn't get much worse, so decided to let Olive take this photo of the bolero I made for a very very lovely, generous and appreciative lady called Jedda.
Jedda, like many other people, loved the bolero I made about a year ago from some freakin' crazy-good vintage fabric. Luckily for her, in my fabric clearing our bonanza I actually came across some more of this divine fabric, so I made her a replica (minus the spotty binding - spotlight had run out grrrrr).

I was so happy to be able to make Jedda this bolero, from the fabric she loves. Furthermore, my heart was warmed by the fact that she values my work so much that she actually paid me $50 instead of $30 for the bolero, having decided, off her own bat, that $30 was way too cheap. I have to admit that, after announcing the bolero sale price of $30 I did suffer a slight pang of regret on account of the fact that boleros actually take longer to make than skirts. But something in my brain tells me that because they're smaller, I should charge less. Don't ask me what that's about...
Anyway, for the most part I didn't mind making a few super-cheap boleros for a few lucky peeps, but boy was it nice to hear someone say that I deserved more, and then to actually cough up and put their money where their mouth is. Divine! Thank you thank you!