Tag Archives: handmade with love

My new (Swedish) scarf is the beauty of small (American) business

As a Swede in USA, it’s nice to sometimes show off my Swedishness with fashion. Not just with stripes and Euro stylishness (ha!) but with fabrics from Sweden.

Presenting this scarf; made by small business owner and Dallas-based designer Louise, whom I’ve gotten to know through blogging. It’s an infinity scarf, half Dala horses, a classic symbol of Sweden, and half stripes, my favorite thing. Both fabrics are organic and GOTS certified.

Swedish scarf wire dalahorses GOTS

Louise normally spends her days sewing and designing children’s clothes, but it wasn’t hard to convince her to make a scarf for me.

The idea came to me when she gave us the cutest onesie for baby August, and I realized I wanted, no needed, Dala horses too. (Ok, that’s a lie. My inner consumer wanted it!) At least I won’t grow out of my scarf anytime soon, like baby will with his outfit :)

If you’re looking for well made, locally made and handmade kids’ (or maybe adult!) fashion, check out Louise on Instagram @MammaLouiseSyr or on her Facebook page (she’s got a sale going on the month of June!).

Prices vary depending on fabrics and styles. Find out more by reading my wonderful interview with Louise (from 2015) about her business here.

PS. If you’re not looking for a Swedish scarf or baby clothes, I encourage you to contact your local makers – maybe they can make you exactly what you need, or let’s say it, want. Not only working for, but also with customers, that’s the beauty of small business.

 

Anna’s adventures in thrifting: From fuzzies to the perfect vintage dress

Resale apparel scares me. And I know I shouldn’t admit that because I’m an eco-girl who knows that buying previously owned clothes (instead of new) helps our environment. In my head, I am a cool thrifter, one that finds awesome deals, colorful items and makes them work. But that never really happens.

Last Saturday, I woke up in a go-get-them mood and decided to check out a resale shop and a farmers’ market on the other side of the lake, I hadn’t been to yet. Full of optimism and actually craving a bit of shopping (see this happens to everyone, also the low consumption folks :)) – I started at the resale shop:

  • Man, it’s unorganized in here.
  • Wow, that’s a bad print. Who bought that to begin with?
  • Ooops, I stepped on that purse. Hope no one saw me.
  • There goes all my inspiration. Bye, bye.
  • That cardigan is actually cute! But oh, it comes with a fuzzies-party.

Is it just me? Or is this a reflection of what is happening here? Would it be too much to ask that the store be tidy? That there’s a minimum acceptance level for the clothes they take in?

This happens to me over and over, and I don’t like it. People who live in ‘trendier’ areas of the country, or of this city for that matter, must have better luck thrifting than I do. I must not be the type of shopper the resale places are targeting, I may be too inside of the box for this. Or is it as simple as me being a spoiled shopper? (Hey, don’t answer that!)

I left the resale shop and went to the farmers’ market. To my surprise, in a strip mall located right by the market, I spotted a small “antiques” sign in front of a shop called Vintage Revival. Intrigued, I went in, browsed, and immediately said to myself; “I want to buy everything in here”.

Miraculously, when one goes from “resale” to “vintage”, the whole setting changes. The boutique was organized, cozy and smelled nice. Items gathered together – went together, and were set up in proper arrangements. Jewelry, clothes, deco, art, locally handmade soaps and creams, artisan crafts, and old photographs covered the place.  The few dresses they had, hanging inside of an antique closet, looked like they were taken from a Mad Man set. Which one must be mine!?

With earrings I "inherited" from my mom on right... and headband on the left.
With earrings I “inherited” from my mom (right) &  the original headband (left).

I decided that a round neckline, sleeveless vintage dress with orange and yellow flowers was the perfect choice for me. I tried it on and though the fit was not 100% perfect, I just loved it so much already that I had to take it home. The storeowner believed it was a custom-made dress from the 60’s and she was so happy I wanted it. It also came with a matching headband (which needed a few stitches at home to get back to its previous glory). There are no labels what so ever inside this dress, so not only previously owned, but also, most likely, made in America, handmade with love and one of a kind. Thus this dress hit the spot on all shopping rules, not forgetting “support small business”. Price tag? 15 American dollars. Oh, the excitement! (Of course I had my reusable bag with me, and recycled the paper receipt.)

This dress will we worn to work – dressed down with a cardigan – or worn in Mad Man style for parties, costume parties and around the house when I feel like being vintage-glam. Back when I lived closer to my grandma, I used to scavenge her closet all the time for hidden gems from the old days. Re-discovering my love for vintage made for a great, successful shopping excursion.

My Mad Men dress with my cigarette free hand.
My *NEW* Mad Men dress and a cigarette free hand. The pose seemed appropriate.

I will not give up on resale just yet. I will keep looking, checking, browsing and visiting the thrift stores, hoping that one day a gorgeous outfit will appear – fuzzies free.

I must overcome my resale fear, and frankly, my own judgmentalness. 2016 might be the year I will do just that. I’ll keep you (blog) posted :)

The best butter is Booda’s – spread the goodness

It’s finally fall, my favorite Houston season. And even though I love that crisp feeling in the morning, it is that time of year when my hands get really dry due to the colder, dryer air. It’s time for some beauty on the blog!

What you put on your body, goes in your body, right?!

Introducing the Booda Butter daily moisturizer. Handmade in Washington State with lots of love, this butter doesn’t contain anything I can’t pronounce. It’s simply made of organic shea butter, certified organic and unrefined coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil and Fair Trade organic cocoa butter – delicious! It is, as you can see from the list of ingredients, vegan and cruelty free. I imagine it is also extremely low waste thru production, since it is 100% plant based (compost!) and made in small batches with raw ingredients. All this goodness is wrapped up in a reusable tin can.

Booda is ALL natural. And I love his little face!
Booda is ALL natural. And I love his little face!

Personally, the butter is a little bit too rich for me, in order to use it on my entire body. So, that’s why I use it as my luxury, super soft and smoothing hand cream. Mmm, smells like chocolate cake in here! My first can has lasted forever by now; it takes a very little amount of butter to give my hands a quick spa day.

Booda Organics also offers all-in-one soap bars (which fit inside the old butter tin cans for storage), and lip-balm (I actually use my butter on my lips sometimes too). The source of water used in the soap process is filtered from a nearby spring, and leaves no residue of chemicals, chlorine or fluoride in the finished product.

This is beauty simplified, honest and safe. For all of us challenged in the d-i-y department; this is pure bliss.

Love it!

Not your average mama’s homemade clothes

I know I don’t put a lot of kids stuff on the blog, simply because I very rarely shop for kids or babies. I am also a firm believer that parents make sure their kids have what they need, so I doubt I need to get them anything for that reason; no random kids’ presents from me coming your way!

Anyway, I came across this amazing lady snooping around some of the pages I follow on Facebook, who has her own sewing workshop in Dallas, “MammaLouise sews”. I immediately contacted her and asked if I could feature her custom-made kids clothes on the blog; and she said yes! This small company of only one dedicated seamstress (Louise) stands for all the things I love in “not fast fashion”; eco-friendly, sustainably made, custom and great quality. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you start your business and why? *** When I was about 10 years old I had a wonderful teacher in textiles, who inspired me a lot. She taught me all the basics of sewing, and when I got my first baby 4 years ago my interest for sewing came back. When he was almost 1 year old, I bought a new overlock sewing machine, which quickly became my best friend! In the beginning I just made hats, bibs and pants, but when my second baby arrived 2 years ago I started to make everything. Now my kids only wear my own designs and it’s so fun!

apa_klader_baby dala hast baby

These two kiddos of yours – Are they the inspiration for your collections? *** YES! I want to make cute clothes that they can play around in and I test every single design on them first. My idea is that the customer chooses everything how they’d like it, and I “only” stitch it all together. In that way each item is unique and hopefully I end up with a satisfied customer.

Where do you buy your fabrics and how do you decide which ones to use?*** Most of the fabrics I have are from Sweden and Europe. I also let my customers design their own fabric (if it’s possible to get it printed) if they place an order with me to make clothes from that same fabric. I have a lot of custom fabrics that I have designed and printed, which are unique for MammaLouise. The custom fabrics are GOTS-certified.

tygWhat does it mean that fabrics are OEKO-TEX® (like you mention on your webpage) or GOTS-certified?*** OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is an independent test and certification system for all types of textiles tested for harmful substances – from threads and fabrics to the ready-to-use items that you can buy in the shops.

Only textile products that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibers can become GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified. All chemical inputs such as dyestuffs and auxiliaries used must meet certain environmental and toxicological criteria. The choice of accessories is limited in accordance with ecological aspects as well.

These standards really mean that the fabrics are safe for the little ones and eco-friendly.

Your adorable baby clothes are made to order: how does it work and what’s the waiting time?*** It depends on how much I have to do and how big of an order you place, but I try to be ready to ship within one week.

What’s your favorite thing to make?*** Hard question! Since I have two little boys; I like to make dresses in very pink or girly colors. But, I LOVE what I do, so everything is fun to make!

What are some of your own favorite eco-friendly brands for children’s clothes and accessories?*** Everything that is eco-friendly is GREAT but since my kids only use clothes made by me, I don’t have any favorite brands except my own; MammaLouise :)

If you are interested in having some custom clothes made for your babies; contact Louise directly at louise.wahlin@gmail.com and check out (and LIKE) her Facebook page for more cute pictures and information! She just needs to know what size and what you like, and you can work it out from there. Super convenient!

Prices range from $15 to about $40 dollars depending on what you are looking for. That is so affordable! Isn’t it amazing how a place like Carters or Target will charge almost the same for a bulk order, non-organic, made in China or Vietnam outfit? Imagine the profits they make! Here’s an opportunity to instead, get something very special with that unique European flare (we all want!), without breaking the bank. Yay.

Cuties rocking their mom's designs!
Cuties rocking their mom’s designs!

First there was a pug, then there was a baby, then there was a pug

Baby Ella is not only beautiful, chubby and the happiest baby I know, she is also an expert poser. Posing in her “Pug Life onesie” that is, which auntie got her for Christmas. Why Pug Life? See, her mom’s got a pug. (A pug that is most definitely enjoying less attention since baby Ella made the scene in late July).

It might have been the case, that Ella’s mom really wanted something different Christmas morning, like a made in China binky with an animal attached. Sorry, I only give Anna-proof gifts (her words – not mine). So as you probably know, there is something in it for me (and our economy) to go with a pug life outfit instead.

Morado Designs, out of Vermont, make handmade baby gifts using US-sourced organic cotton and simple, colorful prints. Looking to shop online, quite a few styles are sold out (like all of their baby blankets), so the strategy would be to get what you want, when you see it. I also fell for the adorable box, no need for gift wraps.

Supporting companies that make things right, that is how I roll, and it makes it so much easier to be me when I find some things that are cute as hell, just like Ella deserves. Yay.ella2