Today we're traveling all the way to in SE Australia to visit with Amy Conley, the maker behind the eco-friendly line Amy Jade Creations. Amy and her family live on a farm with a two acre garden, 50 sheep, 4 alpacas and 8 chickens! (Scroll down for a pic of these farm friends!) I recently discovered Amy's work through a post on Mindful Mending, and I wanted to see more of her mending work and hear more about her process. She often works on some of the trickiest materials, like stretchy leggings, to repair her children's clothes. I'm so excited to share a peek into her work and life. Read on for some mending tips and for a glimpse into sustainable farm life.
1. How did you get started with mending?
My husband and I, along with our three kids, live a thrifty life and believe in using what we have in our house before purchasing second-hand or new items. Mending is apart of this way we live. If the piece of clothing is still wearable then I mend it for us to keep using. When the piece of clothing is not repairable I place it in one of our compost bins.
Mending is also a lovely way for me to make previously owned clothing more 'me'. Mending is also a fantastic way to slow down and take time to think.
2. Tell us a bit about your process. How do you plan out a project or mend? What kind of materials do you use?
Most of my mending this year has consisted of lots of worn knees in my kids pants and leggings. I use the fabric from leggings and pants that are too small for my youngest child to mend these holes. I also use scraps from my sewing to repair clothes and other household linen.
My process is pretty simple. I have a mending box that has bits of fabric, clothing for using as patches and items that need mending. I usually choose one item at a time, but sometimes will set up a few pieces of clothing with patches and thread ready to go when I have some time. I use cardboard inside leggings and pants which makes it easy to do one sided stitching without having to stick one hand inside the garment all the time. I pin the clothing firm around the cardboard, pin the patch on and get stitching. I just stitch whatever pattern comes to mind and enjoy the slow activity with a cup of tea or 2. I love tea!
3. Hand work can take a fair amount of time and patience. How do you carve out time to mend?
I'm an early riser. I love the mornings and starting off my day with something peaceful and meditative. I homeschool my three kids and I run a small business and a small-scale farm, so life can get pretty busy. I like to plan and keep organized and find this helps me fit in all I want to fit into my day. You could probably find me knitting and stitching here and there; between my two older children as they do their school work, or on the couch as we all listen to an audio book or music. A stitch here and there results in a mended piece of clothing eventually!
4. Are there any projects that you're particularly proud of? Maybe you tested out a new technique, had some breakthrough in your process, or just felt elated with the finished outcome.
I began doing the knees of my daughters leggings this year. Before mending them I used to cut them into shorts or re-use the fabrics for other clothing mends. i'm pretty thrilled with a particular teal blue pairs of leggings I mended earlier this year and my daughter loves them so much and wears them all the time. To make them I cut up a toddler sized pair of leggings and placed the fabric behind the holes (instead of in front of the hole as I've done in the past). I stitched the fabric in place and then turned the leggings inside out to add another patch on the inside. This makes for a much more comfortable wear than if I was to leave all the stitches against the skin. Repairing and sewing or knitting our own clothing is fantastic, but I want to try and avoid my children not liking the items I repair or make for them. So far so good, they wear every knit and sewn garment I have made them and every mended piece I have returned to them.5. Besides mending what are some of your interests? What are some ways you incorporate the "mend and make do" ethos in other aspects of your daily life?
Knitting and sewing are big interests of mine. I love textiles! I also love being outside. We have a 2 acre garden full of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers. I love growing our own food and sitting among the flowers while crafting.
I am also very passionate about living a low waste, low footprint life. We reuse items around our farm and garden as much as we can. We buy products that are made of natural materials so that when their lives have ended they can be returned to the earth through composting or used to cook our food through our woodfire oven.
I also set up a small business called Amy Jade Creations where I make and sell Eco-products to help people make zero-waste choices for their day-to-day living. My best selling products are my organic cotton handkerchiefs and my knitted cotton kitchen dish cloths. I also sell leaf printed produce bags and hand knit Australian animals from my own knitting patterns (they are stuffed with our own farm grown organic Alpaca fleece). I also sell pdf knitting patterns and knitting kits to encourage more people to get creative.
6. Any upcoming events or projects you'd like to share?
I am working on a range of organic cotton bow ties and pocket squares for those who want to have an eco wedding. These will be released in August ready for our wedding season here in Australia! I will also have a new range of handkerchiefs coming out in September, so follow me for sneak peeks.
You can find Amy on Insta @amyjadecreations
Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/
Last year Amy bottle fed two of the lambs whose mothers didn't take to them, which rarely happens, but she loved the opportunity to get close to the lambs. Apparently, alpacas are excellent guard "dogs" and protect the the lambs from foxes. For a city mouse like me I loved this chance to visit Amy on the farm and see a bit of her work & life. Thank you so much Amy!