There's plastic everywhere we look. As someone trying to sew and sell alternatives to plastic, I find it impressive how much plastic still ends up in my everyday life. One place that seems counter-intuitive is in my organic garden.
For whatever reason, so many crafty types also seem to be gardeners. Maybe the appreciation for handmade spills over into the kitchen as an overarching back-to-basics movement. Or maybe artisans just like to eat good food.
My gardening itch began as a child helping in the family garden growing more tomatoes than we could possibly eat. As I grew older and became more of a foodie, famer's markets were the best place to buy GOOD food. I started growing some vegetables of my own about 10 years ago and have expanded my garden more each year since.
A book that forever changed the way I see food and gardening is Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle. What was I doing using Miracle Gro on my tomatoes?!?!?! Never again. Not only do I grow as much food as I can organically, but I preserve whatever we don't eat right at harvest time, belong to a CSA program at the wonderful Simmons Organic Farm here on Aquidneck Island, I frequent the farmer's markets, and while we don't eat exclusively local and seasonal (I buy bananas year round and blueberries in February to round out our diet), we do immerse ourselves in whatever is fresh right-this-very-moment.
So why would I use plastic to garden? Frankly, it's nearly unavoidable. Even the organic farms use plastic sheeting for weed control. The scene below was an eye opener for me when starting seeds this past March.
Seed starting trays made of plastic and Styrofoam. They are used year after year and even several times through the growing season, but they're still plastic.
Plastic spray bottle for getting the starting mix damp.
Plastic shovel to fill the trays.
Gallon jug for filling the water reservoirs of the seed trays.
Plastic-coated warming mat to help germination in the cool basement.
Plastic bag holding the seed starting mix.
Ziplock bag holding dried lavender from last year's garden.
Plastic sleeves for some seeds (most are paper envelopes, but many growers are now packaging seeds in plastic zip top envelopes).
How do we minimize the plastic in organic gardening?? I'm not quite sure, but I'm paying closer attention to future garden-related purchases. Do you have any suggestions?
This year I have both preschool teachers and a first grade teacher to thank. The chicken post was for the first grade teacher (though there is one more thing I plan to gift next week), and today I'm showing you the totes I made for two special preschool teachers.
Let's move in a little closer.
Adorable little boys flying paper airplanes. These accent fabrics are from the Sarah Jane "Children at Play" line. They are so very sweet, and I thought the perfect touch for women with the patience to teach a group of four year olds every day!
A well-balanced tote with girls represented as well.
Buttons from my stash that were simply perfect.
Can't forget the inside lining.
Look wayyyyy down at the bottom of the interior...
Two teachers, two totes.
Simple canvas on the back letting the front do all the talking.
It was a great year of preschool!
Today I have 32 bags to sew for a wholesale order due Tuesday (this is the actual order, not an exaggerated number), gifts to finish making, plus a farmer's market date quickly approaching that still needs some inventory. So what do I do with a free hour this afternoon? Decorate my studio! One corner, at least. And then blog about it, of course.
This table has bothered me because it's the first thing you see when you walk into my studio. Everything is very functional, but it looks ugly. As fate would have it, I had a length of material that I bought quite a while ago with no plans. I love this fabric! I even have a zippy pouch for sale using this material, but I didn't know what to do with the rest of the yard.
Inspiration struck while procrastinating and I came up with this:
Curtain on a tension rod to hide the scrap fabric mountain (I have products in mind that will recycle these scraps).
Isn't it darling? The antique machines! They look just like my grandmother's.
The pin cushion cracks me up. And the old school iron? Forget it. Such a great daily reminder of how easy technology has made certain aspects of my craft.
How do you procrastinate when facing a deadline? Or am I the only one?
It's that time of year when we thank all the lovely teachers in our children's lives for all their hard work throughout the school year. First graders recently, as in the past week, hatched chicks for a local farm. I was wracking my brain for an idea and a stuffed chicken presented itself in the form of one of my student's projects (I teach sewing lessons here and there). As I helped this individual navigate a tutorial for making a stuffed chicken, I couldn't help but think how perfect this would be for my child's teacher. Not only as an end of year gift, but as a mascot for the project in coming years.
Of course she needed a carrying case. Chick and egg fabric was in order. Thank you Heather for suggesting I buy this fabric in anticipation of Easter 2014...I never would have imagined using it for so many things already this year! Check out my baby shoes.
The class is going to name the chicken today at school. Wonder who she will be??? Whoever she is, I think she will be happy in her new home in First Grade.
When I first started my sewing business, I had no idea that I would learn so much. I knew I would try out new sewing techniques, have to learn how to get over any shyness and "sell," but I did not anticipate the many hats I would have to wear in order to make a go of it. Not having a budget to hire anything out, here are some of the things I've had to juggle in the past year (not all well, as is evident in my still-lacking photography).
Photographer--still learning, even with my DSLR
Marketing Pro--steep learning curve on this one
Blogger-making progress; couldn't think of an image, though...
Designer--the fun part
SEO, aka, Search Engine Optimization--something I struggle with, but is necessary with any online business
I'm sure I'm leaving out some of the hundred-odd tasks that seem to find their way on my daily to-do list. So far I feel very successful, and I have my fabulous customers to thank for that! There is an image I have hanging in my studio that helps me stay on track, focus on what's important *that day* and preserve the joy in sewing useful things for a living. I feel really lucky to be able to do what I do, but it's a hella lotta juggling!
As co-owner of Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.