More beginner advices

  • if you want to sew clothes start by sewing clothes for your own body, because then you always have the model with you
  • document what you are doing and ask others (e.g. more skilled persons) to comment/review
  • give up on making something “beautiful” – go for function. Estetics is something for non-beginners (this is similar to a lot of programming were you first concentrate on making the program work as intended)
  • if you are going to work with stretch knit fabrics then I advise to buy a temporary textile glue to help hold the fabrics together during the sewing (needles are not as good a tool here)
  • learning how to sew temporary stichings and rip them easily can be very handy (especially when working with knitted fabrics as they break easier when you use the stich cutter and seams tend to “hide” in the fabric). I use an ordinary straight stiching as long as possible (6 mm on my machine) AND SEW WITHOUT BACKSTICHING in the ends. This enables you to pull out the threads of the stich with ease when you want to remove it. Often I just leave it and make a more permanent stich on top of it.
  • turn downsides into to advantages: if you do not have the skills to repair something without it being (very) obvious, then I suggest you do as I do: repair and change color of the thread multiple times and be proud of repairing your stuff (and avoiding unnecessary shopping) 🙂

New project: create a home from the ground up

Recently I visited Denmark where I grew up and I remember my father telling me: “[…] du bliver nød til at skabe dig et ordentligt hjem” (you have to make yourself a decent livingspace) He probably meant something like “get furnitures and modern equipment that constitutes what I call a real home”. As I have departed a bit from the way of life of my parents and the rest of the family, not only by moving to a different country, I did not quite know what to respond. Now the thoughts have settled and I realise I agree. The apartment I now live in is not a decent home. It will probably newer be, but to me this has nothing to do with furnitures. Recently I discovered that this 45m2 expensive concrete apartment is toxic and to dry (too low air humidity is not good). My feet sore after some minutes of walking barefoot on the plastic covered concrete floor. When I carry my child (11 kg) I immediately becomes a problem.

Simple vs complex

I have grown up in a really complex western society (some think we are now having an explosion of complexity similar to other societies just before they collapsed). Actually I still do not yet understand all the mechanisms of the modern capitalist state despite really trying! Right now sitting here I feel that I have had enough of complexity in my life this far. Now I long for something else. It is TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE.


I have decided to embark on a new project that will probably impact a hole lot on my life: create a shelter with the capacity to be warm when I like it to and cool in the summer. It should shield from winds and frost (here it gets about -20 to -30 degrees Celsius for a short period during the winter).

It should have a possibility to store water for washing of hands and simple cooking (we have nice restaurants and all my close friends have nice kitchens so why would I need one?). I have a friend in Bellvik, Sweden who inspired me a lot about water handling.

My home does not need:

  • tap water
  • sewer
  • toilet (traditionally outside swedish homes is a little simple built shed with a hole in the floor under witch the excrements piled)

A friend of mine told me that actually it is only during a very short period of mankind (~7 000 000 years) that we have been living in the same location all-year. Of this short period (about 10 000 years) we have only had running water within the last 100 years. To this day most of mankind probably do not live with tap water installed in-house. Why do we you may ask? I do not know. Perhaps because tap water and sewer enormously increases the complexity of building a house making it expensive and attractive.

A felty home (gher a.k.a. yurt)

For thousands of years the nomads of Central Asia have lived in simple comfortable dwellings made to last and from natural non-toxic materials.

[A gher is a] portable, bent dwelling structure traditionally used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. The structure comprises a crown or compression wheel usually steam bent, supported by roof ribs which are bent down at the end where they meet the lattice wall (again steam bent). The top of the wall is prevented from spreading by means of a tension band which opposes the force of the roof ribs. The structure is usually covered by layers of fabric and sheep’s wool felt for insulation and weatherproofing. WP source

This kind of dwelling is most likely going to work in this climate (the middle of Sweden) too, but as other dwellings has to be shielded from ground moisture (=raised on a simple stone/wooden structure). During the winter the gher is covered with more layers of felt than in the summer for added insulation.

To be continued…

Making a tent out of plastic – or not!

I found a discarded military tent made in plastic (1 mm thick). I recently cut out some of it and tested sewing in it. It worked quite well but precisely as with leather it ‘sucks’ on to the presser foot. This can to my knowledge be solved in two ways: * install a walking foot (this is unfortunately not available for my machine) * glue a piece of special plastic to the underside of the presser foot to decrease the friction.

Unfortunately I discovered that the plastic smells a lot. This is probably caused by (toxic) softeners added to the plastic during manufacturing. This has caused me to discard the material and focus on nontoxic materials instead.

Stopping the shopping // Norway

Participants of the Sewing Rebellion are invited to emancipate themselves from the global garment industry by learning how to alter, mend and make their own garments and accessories! Hosted by Frau Fiber, textile worker and activist. Frau Fiber distributes her knowledge of the garment industry, pattern making and sewing, encouraging the reuse, renovation and recycling of existing garments and textiles in the creation of unique items tailored to individual tastes and body shapes. source

Rereading the above made me look around the internet to see if other have stopped shopping.

In Norway the journalist and writer Irina Lee has stopped shopping for a year and is quoted saying:

Jeg er et lettere, lykkeligere og rikere menneske i dag, enn jeg var for ett år siden. Alt takket være Stop shop, forklarer Lee. (I am a lighter, happier and more rich today than i was one year ago. This is thanks to “Stop shop”, Lee explains.) source, my translation.

Lee has started a group on Facebook to encourage and help people stopping the shopping. The group had over 800 members in january 2013.

Also Jenny Skavlan, a norwegian fashion blogger, who joined the “Stop shop”-wave reports increasing creativity after joining. Skavlan has written a list with 5 tips (in norwegian) to people who “stop shop”:

  1. Mend your clothes
  2. Clean your clothes more gently (and perhaps more seldom)
  3. Decorate with perls and the like
  4. Sew with thick garnments that does not fray (leather, and the like)
  5. Borrow clothes from family and friends

More norwegians blogging about their “stop shop” 2013.