Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Handmaking my Home

I was gifted a copy of Amanda Soule's Handmade Home . It's been on my wishlist for a long time. Not only is Amanda a friend of mine, but she also is exactly how she seems in her books - very down-to-earth and gentle, soft-spoken, and incredibly talented and creative. The first time I flipped through her book, I knew it was something I would, eventually, own.

It's chockful of brilliant ideas for using those things that are just a part of every home. Some of my favorite creations are the things she makes out of her children's art work, and with so many little ones about (like me), she undoubtedly has a lot of it. I had not ever considered making a table runner or placemats with my girls' artwork. I'm super excited about making a quilt of their art - one for each girl.

Of all of the ideas in the book, I decided to start (really) small, and the one thing that I've been super excited about and motivated to make was the bath mats. I know, it sounds silly that of all of the things in her book, I decide to make bath mats, but the fact is that buying them can be expensive. In fact, we did buy one this past December. It was not right for our space, which is what often happens to me. I find that the best option is to custom make what I need, because things in my house never quite fit the norm.

The other reason I love her book is that she strongly promotes both simplicity AND reusing/repurposing, which is exactly what I did with my bathmats. Using one old, dingy bath towel and some material scraps (one was the leftovers from a pair of flannel pants I made for my daughter a few years ago), I made two bath mats - one for each bathroom, and I'm just thrilled with the results. I deviated (as I often do) from the pattern a bit, but Amanda actually encourages her readers to do that. She says that her designs should be used for inspiration, but she does not consider herself the expert on all things handmade for the home. She recognizes that a handmade home is going to be personal and individual to each family.

For years, my decorating was limited to finding new places for shelves to neatly display my ever-increasing library. I have very little style, but, like Amanda, my home is the center of my life. As a work-at-home, homeschooling, homesteading Mom, I spend a lot of time within these walls and cultivating our quarter acre. My house is filled with the tools I need for that lifestyle, and too often, instead of speaking to the coveted simple life, it looks cluttered and disorganized - like this thing was put there because there was no where else to put it.

I'm slowly changing that fact in our home - letting go of those things that are simply clutter to allow room for the things that really do mean something, rearranging the spaces in our home so that they make more sense and work better for our growing family, and repurposing those things we wish to keep, but that no longer serve their original purpose - like the towels that weren't very good for towels anymore ... but that make fine bath mats ... and look a good deal nicer paired with a piece of scrap material than as a towel, haphazardly thrown on the floor.

It didn't take much time at all to cut and sew the fabric, and the result is just something that looks incredibly nice, and purposeful. In fact, it took me longer to get-around-to-doing-it, than it did to actually do it.

And I'm so happy that I did.

With much thanks to, Amanda for the inspiration ;). I'm looking forward to pulling some other projects from the book - like the above-mentioned quilt project. Now, just to find time to scan all of that artwork ;).


  1. I love that book! It is one of my favorites! I have to say that my house is in the constant state of crazy. We definitely "live" in it, daily. I am slowly but surely getting through all the extra stuff that I honestly don't need to keep - even though I think I might want it someday. As I get rid of things that are no longer useful or pretty, I am finding that I am able to use that freed up time to do things that I really want, ie knitting and starting seeds :-)

  2. I love to 'edit' my house. If it isn't beautiful or useful, out it goes. I'm finding as I'm getting more order, I have more time, like Heather says above, but also, I can find things that I need for all my projects, because all the string, or all the scrap fabric is in one place now, instead of scattered all over the house in random places. And I LOVE repurposing things and not buying new ones. Your bathmats are great! I think old towels are about the most useful things I have in the house. Would never throw them out!

  3. I love your bathmat project! Now I can turn that dull towel I'm using into a much prettier mat....and I've got lots of material pieces to choose from. I'll be ordering the book, too.

    I prefer a home that shows that it's being "lived" in :) The artwork placemats, a homemde quilt from old clothing, it makes a house into a home. There's a feeling of love and family there. And there's that great quality of keeping things out of the landfill. You know that's important to me. Thank you for the info on this book!

  4. Heather & Jo - interestingly, my daughter was telling me yesterday that organized people have more time. She was reading a study that said, people who aren't organized waste 14 hours a week looking for stuff. It's a good motivation to get better organized, because I'd like to have an extra fourteen hours per week to make more stuff ;).

    4 Bushel - I didn't say it, and you'll probably figure it out, but I cut my towel in half - 2 for 1 ;). My bath mats are larger than the one's in Amanda's book, but they fit the space I have perfectly - almost like I measured the space or something (which I didn't ;).