Monday, September 28, 2009


Do you like fashion? We have "fashion designers", "clothing designers", "dressmakers" and "tailors" selling fabrics at Stash reHash .

Once upon a time I liked fashion so so much I went and studied it. I had a very elegant older tutor who often stressed that fashion and looking good were not the same thing, and that fashion and style were not the same thing. She believed you often had to choose whether you wanted to look fashionable or whether you wanted to look good as sometimes these were mutually exclusive. At the time I was young, pert, skinny and in love with fashion and had no clue what she was talking about. I probably just thought the 80s equivalent of "whatever".

Twenty years of gravitational assault and two children later and with multiple competing priorities for my cash, I am now acutely aware of what my fashion tutor meant. I realise that what I actually like is not fashion at all. What I do like is our ability to use clothes, shoes, accessories etc to say who we are and how we are feeling.

So these days when I see fashion week on the telly or I go to designer boutiques I have quite different thoughts from in the past.

Firstly, I think "I could get all four downpipes fixed for the price of that jacket"/"I could get my son new orthotics for the price of that top"/"I could get my daughter's teeth straightened for the price of that coat".

Secondly, I think that to buy new stuff I'd have to biff some perfectly serviceable thing out and the waste aspect of this perpetual consumerism irks me.

Thirdly, I think how most of the super fashionable clothes look, well, kind of silly anyway. Exact replicas of the clothes my fellow students and I made decades ago are now back on the runways and in the shops making the next generation of skinny girls' bottoms look enormous and their arms look like salamis.

So I have a wee trundle around in Interwebland and a snigger at Fugly, go back to mending or altering some old vintage thing and again think about the differences between looking fashionable, looking good and looking stylish.

And if I get tempted and buy some fabric at Stash reHash and make myself a shiny shoulder-padded, pirate-pant jumpsuit, please chase me and set fire to it.

The handbag above is by Enid Collins. Sometimes her bags are in fashion and sometimes they are so out of fashion that they end up in op-shops, but I will always love them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stall-holders be strong. Shoppers go mad.

Here is a great jumble of quotes from stall-holders about the goods they'll have for sale at Stash reHash on Sunday 8th November, 11am-2pm at the Scottish Society Hall in St Albans, Christchurch:

latest release designer fabrics for fashion, craft & quilting; vintage bag handles; handmade angora rabbit felt; vintage braids, trims and beads; fashion fabrics bought in Paris decades ago and never used; vintage Japanese silks and quilting cotton, Obi, Kimono, origami paper; vintage buttons and buckles; 100% cotton fabrics from leading international designers, including Amy Butler, Tania Wheelan, and David Walker; teddy bear fur, eyes and noses; merino sock yarn; yarn seconds; 80's clothing; disembowelled soft toys; home textiles; lots of fabric, some from the 50's; lace old and new; coffee sacks; environmentally friendly hand screen-printed Ink and Spindle fabrics; old sewing projects dating back to the 70's; lots of real bargains and give-aways. I just want it gone!; 100% NZ grown, spun and hand-dyed "worsted" weight single ply yarn; lots of embroidery thread (DMC); embroidery kits; I'll never use up this many retro and vintage tablecloths; new, gorgeous, fun, fresh and funky craft fabrics at great prices; vintage linens; funky fabric; my Nana was a shocking hoarder!

Phew! Ooohhh, the point of Stash reHash was for me to end up with less stuff but I think I'm going to find that very difficult. I need to be strong.

The gorgeous image above is a work by artist, blogger and Etsy seller, Joetta Maue.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stalls all sold

Thanks to all the people who enquired about having a stall at Stash reHash. Very, very big thanks to all the people who have booked stalls. All stalls are now sold. We are a wonderfully eclectic bunch! Happy sorting!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Material Pleasures fabric fair in Marton Sat 19th

Yet more action this weekend for fabric lovers. This weekend Marton is the lucky town.

“Material Pleasures” is a fundraiser for the Marton and District Historical Society. This fabric/sewing and accessory fair will be held on Saturday, September 19th at Marton's Memorial Hall from 11am to 3pm. Free entry.

If you are in Marton this Saturday, and this event looks like your cup of tea, then go! Then, you know the story; email me, tell me how amazing is was, send me photos of your beautiful purchases, and make me cry with envy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why do we make things?

In the process of taking stall bookings for Stash reHash and collecting donations of goods for Arthritis NZ's stall, I've heard many stories about people, what they make, made and once hoped or planned to make. Most stories fall into two main camps.

The first group of people are in love with making things and enabling others to make things. Some have recognised business opportunities in the "handmade revolution" and are supplying beautiful new materials and goods. Others are so enamoured with making things themselves that they have overdone the supplies shopping and need to rationalise.

Others have stopped making things. Their stories are about what happened to them along the way to mean that their supplies will now be for sale to others. Some have simply fallen out of love with making things and are moving on. Some have new responsibilities or interests taking their time. But many, young and old, have stopped making due to failing eyesight, health issues or death.

The picture above is of a name badge I found in a beautiful box of needlework supplies I bought at an op shop. I often wonder about Edith Brand who cross-stitched herself a name badge, where she wore it, what else she made and why.

For me, it started with wanting to relieve my mother of one of her most hated chores: mending. I found I loved sewing and then later also woodwork, and have been making things ever since. Over the years I have made things for many reasons including: to get something I wanted but couldn't find; to get something I couldn't afford; because I had an idea and just couldn't help myself; to provide for my family; to give handmade gifts; to express myself; to look fashionable; to look different; to save money; to make money; for stress relief; for relaxation; for fun; for a challenge; for a sense of achievement; to prove to myself I could; to prove to others I could; to teach myself; to teach others; to collaborate with others; to use precious materials; to use discarded materials; as a reaction to mass-production; to create something that will last; to save a loved thing; and very often to save my sanity.

I know that life would be simpler and certainly much tidier if I just stopped making things, but it isn't going to happen quite yet.

What do you make? Why do you make?

Monday, September 14, 2009


There will be lots of pink fabric for sale on my stall at Stash reHash. I don't quite understand how it all ended up in my stash but it isn't going to get used in my household so out it goes.

As any parent knows, with children you don't always get what you think you are going to get. When I heard "It's a girl!" I thought, rightio, I used to be a girl, I've got four sisters, lots of my friends have girls, I know about girls. Well my girl is not like most girls.

For the first five years of her life when her friends were dressing up as fairies, she dressed like a cowboy. Then when they were dressing as princesses she dressed as an astronaut. Now that they are horse mad and dress in shiny bright mini-fashion clothes, my gorgeous, wonderful daughter dissects small animals at her after school science class and dresses like a famous chap who loved crocodiles and died young.

Pink does not feature in her wardrobe and I doubt it ever will.

My son and partner are also not fans of pink. Sometimes, when we are out and about, my partner will point excitedly and say "Look at that! A grown woman wearing pink! What is that all about!". Sometimes he does this even while I'm wearing my favourite 1950s floral frock which is, well, quite pink.

So out all the pink fabric goes to people who will actually appreciate it. Come and get it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Auckland Vintage Textile Fair

If you are in Auckland this Sunday, and this event looks like your cup of tea, then go! Then email me, tell me how amazing is was, send me photos of your beautiful purchases, and make me cry with envy.

The Auckland Vintage Textile Fair

Sunday 13th September 2009, 10am-5pm

Admission $5

Alexandra Park Raceway, Epsom, Auckland

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Need inspiration?

I love books. Yes, I look at blogs but for me, nothing beats a book. This is one shelf above my workdesk. There are books on Marimekko, Florence Broadhurst, Lucienne Day, art deco textiles, Frank Carpay, textile history, textile science, contemporary NZ textile artists, embroidery and handicraft techniques and much more. I share my home with three other avid readers so we have a lot of books. But even then I'm not satisfied.

I have a page in my notebook and a document on my computer listing books I want to track down and read. Some I look for in bookshops, some I stalk on TradeMe, some I drop hints about until they turn up as birthday presents, but many, many others I find at my local library. How great is that! And then next to them on the shelf I find other books, just as good, that I'd never heard of.

Here in Christchurch we are incredibly lucky to have a superb network of council run public libraries. Now I know that within every library there are people who carefully decide how the collection (books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, databases etc) budget gets spent. Once upon a time, in a library far, far away, I was one of those people.

In my opinion, the people at Christchurch City Libraries making the buying decisions in the areas of craft, textiles, fibre arts and contemporary textile design are doing an astonishingly good job.

So if you are having trouble deciding on a project to use up a treasured piece of fabric in your stash, or if you leave Stash reHash with a big pile of fabric, yarn and craft supplies and need inspiration for how to use it, head to the library.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A story from the stash - Part 4

The final piece of that blue fabric came out of my stash a few weeks ago when I stitched the poster for Stash reHash.

For the past few years I've been participating in Christchurch's local version of the worldwide movement dubbed "the handmade movement". Like thousands of other makers around the world, I've been handmaking goods for sale and selling them on Etsy, Felt and at contemporary craft markets such as Craft2.0.

I've snooped around in the enormous and incredibly prolific Interwebland craft and design community. Much as I love dipping in to various blogs and getting a cheap (free) fix of eye candy, I'm often heard shrieking "Who has the time to photograph and write all this stuff!" I've also bemusedly followed the mainstream media's take on the movement. I'm not one for violence but if I read another lazy, old, old news article about how "nana crafts" are cool again I'll take to someone with my knitting needles!

I've also met a wonderful community of makers in Realworldland. I've met makers at Craft2.0 and Crafty Business meetings and worked with them on Slip. We've shared tips, advice and contacts.

We've also shared loot from our stashes. We've informally gifted, pooled, donated, swapped and sold goods to each other, but felt the time had come to do something more. We've discussed how picked over the op-shops are and how divine various fabric markets we've been to around the world were, including the legendary Salvation Army fabric fair in the States now in its 21st year. We've watched as fabric/textile markets/fairs have sprung up recently throughout New Zealand from Nelson to Waiheke, Marton to Auckland.

So I felt it was time to have our very own divine, irresistibly fabulous fabric and craft supplies market in Christchurch. I could be wrong, it has happened before. But I hope not.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A story from the stash - Part 3

A year ago I fished a remnant of that blue fabric out again. This one is a little trickier one to explain. Yup, I made a doll.

My one brother is lucky enough to have five older sisters. We don't usually buy each other birthday presents but we make an exception for ages with zeros. Four of us have leapt the latest zero hurdle and all the other siblings have chipped in to buy us a beautiful necklace from a contemporary jewellery shop.

The last time we were organising this, my brother must have started to get worried. He let us know that when his turn came he didn't want a necklace. He wanted a Nudie Suit.

Well that is an excellent idea and he would look mighty fine in one. The problem is getting hold of one. The few that aren't already owned by Chris Isaak go at auction for more than the average annual NZ wage. So I decided that for a joke I'd whip up a wee miniature Nudie suit to be going on with until a real one came into his life.

Then I heard that The NewDowse gallery in Lower Hutt wanted members of the public to make party guests for a doll called Huttette's 21st birthday party. Huttette is the youngest member of late textile artist Malcolm Harrison's "The Family". I'd first seen and loved that exhibition when studying fashion and textiles in Wellington decades earlier. I'm not a doll person but I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and I made Mr Grifta, pictured above.

So back into the stash I went. For his suit I used that old blue fabric.

Mr Grifta was originally supposed to be the sort of guest you dread having at your party. He's Huttette's naughty friend who she has loads of fun with but hasn't introduced to anyone. He tends to go too far. I'd intended that he'd have fake sick all down his front, nasty stains down his suit legs and that he'd be displayed in the gallery lying in the recovery position. But somehow after sewing on all those beads and sequins, I just couldn't deface him. According to my partner that means "He isn't art. He is just a doll".

His bio was: "Huttette met Mr Grifta on a bus. He made her laugh. She lent him $20. She calls him "The Nine Stone Cowboy". He calls her ATM."

Mr Grifta now lives at my brother's house, probably in the sandpit. I hope a real Nudie Suit turns up soon because I couldn't face making him a life-sized one.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A story from the stash - Part 2

The late 1990s saw me fishing that blue fabric from the London fabric market out of the stash for the first time.

The lining on a favourite 1960s satin coat had disintegrated and needed to be replaced to make the coat wearable. I'd always enjoyed restoring or remodelling vintage clothes, but this time it was purely out of necessity. I had one young child and was pregnant with my second. This coat was one of the few garments to still fit me. I had little money to buy new clothes and a ridiculous number of posh dos to attend, so I carefully unpicked the old lining, made a pattern from it and went stash-diving for suitable fabrics. I kept bypassing this one as, well, it is upholstery fabric. I was big but I wasn't ready to be upholstered.

Finally it won, the job was done and the coat was put back into service. I probably looked like a very shiny Fiat Bambina but I was happy. Every now and then this coat goes on holiday to my daughter's dress-up box but it always makes it back into my wardrobe eventually.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A story from the stash - Part 1

In the mid 1990s I was living in London and working at my dream job. One day while having lunch with a workmate I mentioned that I hadn't had much joy buying useable fabrics while living there.

I'd been to stunning antique fairs, shops and markets and seen beautiful, museum-quality vintage textiles. I'd been to the fabric departments of high end department stores and seen designer fabrics costing more per metre than I earned in a day. I'd been to numerous charity shops and found plenty of treasures but minimal fabric yardage. The few everyday dress-making fabric stores I'd found sold twee or tacky fabric yet charged five times what I had been used to paying in New Zealand.

My workmate was a curator with a special interest in textiles. She was also a sewer. On hearing this she grabbed my arm, got a huntress look in her eyes and said "You are coming with me next weekend!"

So I did. First we went to the V&A and ogled the costumes. Then she took me to what I think heaven looks like. It was a fabric market run by some of her friends. It was a jumble sale in an old hall filled to overflowing with fabrics, textiles, haberdashery, yarn and tools. From the overwhelming assortment of old and new I bought several metres of a clothing designer's surplus hand-printed cotton (since made into a shirt for my partner), some retro printed barkcloth (since made into a skirt for me), several bakelite buckles, some buttons the size of biscuits and some sequins the size of coins. I bought a battered piece of textile jewellery like the ones I'd just seen at the V&A.

And I bought the blue fabric pictured above. It is upholstery fabric and not what I usually buy but somehow I couldn't resist. I have carted it around the world and brought it out of my stash and chipped away at it several times. In the next few posts I'll tell you about some of them. I only have a wee scrap of that fabric left.

If Stash ReHash is only a quarter as wonderful as that market in London I'll be very happy, and my wallet will probably end up considerably lighter.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Donations for Arthritis New Zealand stall please

If spring springing and the thought of Stash reHash has got you motivated to clean out your fabric stash but you don’t want to have a stall yourself, then I have a great option for you. Arthritis New Zealand are having a stall at Stash reHash and they welcome your donations of good quality fabric, haberdashery and craft supplies to sell on their stall.

All proceeds will go towards their excellent work providing an extensive information and education service for people affected by arthritis. From personal experience I can tell you they do a superb job. To find out more, visit the Arthritis New Zealand website.

Donations can be left at:
Arthritis NZ Southern Regional Office & Service Centre,
Level 1, 15 Washington Way, Christchurch,
during Office Hours, Monday – Friday, 9:00am - 4:00pm.

If you’d love to donate goods but are unable to drop them off yourself, please email and we’ll make other arrangements to collect your goods.

Thanks so much.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trash or treasure?

My stash also contains far too many of the following sorts of things: frumpy frocks in fabulous fabrics, tired tablecloths, moth-bothered grey wool Scout blankets, superkitsch souvenir tea towels, bags bleeding their beads, dyed doilies, samplers with stitches missing, tatty-edged tapestries, half finished needlework abandoned by the maker in 1942, felted (and feltable) wool jerseys.....

Someone else may look at it and see a pile of trash. I look at it and see treasure waiting to be transformed someday into some stunning new thing, though I'll freely admit I've never made anything as truly marvellous as the Frederique Morrell trophy pictured above.

If your stash contains these sorts of oddball goodies too, and you want to sell them at Stash reHash, then that is fine.