This week we are introducing Mel, who is not only talented and creative but also one of the most kind-hearted ladies you will come across. Have a look at some of Mel's gorgeous creations at Handmade by 3 Little B's
Tell us a little about yourself?
Many of the talented crafters that I know, have always crafted. Its in their blood, they could sew and create from a very young age and have continually grown along the way. In fact, I failed sewing miserably at school. The pattern felt like a foreign language, sewing machines and overlockers seemed to have minds of their own, and my goodness, what do you mean, that’s my fabric? Thank goodness choice of fabric goodness has evolved since then!
I’d definitely call myself a “late bloomer” and honestly there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, if it hadn’t been for my children – The 3 Little B’s – Caleb (8), Jaida (6) and Jaxon (4) I may never have discovered that I do indeed possess a bit of a “creative streak!” It has been a blessing and a very soothing creative outlet (I like to say it is probably cheaper than therapy!) although some could differ in that opinion when they see my hoards of fabric!
So here I am, a mid 30’s something wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher and friend who lives in Country Victoria on rural acreage. I met the love of my life when I was 18 and never looked back. I have (as I mentioned above) 3 beautiful (ahem .. energetic, stubborn, creative) children, a border collie dog and 3 “chookens” as Jaxon would say. We are in the midst of a major renovation to our home (Mr B, is a builder) so you could say there is a little “creative chaos” in our lives right now!
Other than sewing, what do you do?
I work for the Department of Education and have been teaching since 2000. While raising my family and finding my creative soul again, I took a full 7 years family leave from the Department and in that time enjoyed parenting, sewing and doing relief teaching. I returned in 2011 on a full time basis and work in a small rural school of around 136 children. We have 7 classes and I teach a straight Grade 1. I think teaching in a junior class is very complimentary to my creative mind! I also have a strong IT (information technology) interest and a passion for Welfare.
Where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration came initially from my own children, as I wanted them to have a unique and individual style. I had to think of durability and comfort too, considering we live in the “country” and my 3 children are ALWAYS outdoors! I needed to create things that would (of course) wash and wear really well! As my sewing evolved, for me it all comes down to the fabric now. Certain fabrics appeal to me, and the designs are inspired from there. I rarely make more than one ‘specific fabric style’ as I always wanted to create something special, one off, that no one else had. We all want to be a bit unique!
What does sewing, crafting and handmade mean to you?
Creative / Relaxation / Therapy – a chance to switch off from the pressures of modern day living and let my soul be absorbed in whatever my fingers weave on the machine. I love handmade and thinking about the love and tenderness that has been carefully invested in each garment. A garment isn’t made in an instant, some dresses take me 1 to 2 days to create and you feel such a sense of pride and accomplishment when you finish, iron it and pop it on your little model! The world of sewing/craft/handmade has also opened up a very special social connection for me as well, from beautiful crafters all over Australia and the world. It’s a special thing to connect with other like-minded souls and be able to share craftiness joy!
It also means (however) that I have a terrible fabric addiction and a need to purchase pretty embellishments. So much so, in our current renovation, we’ve added an entire “sewing” room and walk in robe space dedicated solely to handmade/sewing/crafty BLISS!
Who is your favourite fabric or pattern designer?
When I fist sat at the machine again after so many years, Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner were my FAVOURITE fabric designers. I also loved Sandi Henderson and Carolyn Gavin for their combinations. Saffron Craig (as an Australian based designer) has fabric that is like heaven on your fingertips to work with. As the years have gone by, I do notice that it is Amy Butler that I always tend to gravitate back towards. I just love her prints and colour combinations.
Pattern wise, 4 years ago, Toni Coward and her flipsy skirt and knot pinafore brought much joy to my little girl’s wardrobe essentials. Now that Jaida is encroaching on “7” I am inspired by Cecilia from Lily Bird Studio who has beautiful stylish patterns for little girls to size 10.
Who has been your greatest influence?
Growing up, I practically had a complete handmade wardrobe. I am sure at the time, I certainly didn’t value and appreciate handmade like I do today. My Mum had the uncanny ability to be able to look at an item in a store display window and go home and draft her own pattern and sew from that. I am positive in the early years she wondered why her sewing skills had not been passed down to me (I’m definitely a late bloomer). But now, it is so nice to be able to share my passion with mum and of course I always have a question here or there about how to do this, or how can I do that? I have an older sister and a niece who are also VERY creative and talented with their sewing machines too, so they (not that they know this) have influenced me as well. I certainly never would have ever envisaged I could create what I have created.
Where would you like to be in five years?
Teaching wise, definitely in a high skilled, inspired and motivating work place. Teaching has always been my life long ambition and I am constantly striving to become the best that I can possibly be in a classroom setting. Even in 5 years time, I would love to be visiting another classroom on the other side of the globe for further enhanced workplace practice. Education around the world and classrooms connecting globally is AMAZING in this day and age. It is awe inspiring from reading so many educational blogs, that many teachers are actually handmade sewers and crafters too when they are not in their classrooms! Creative minds galore!
Aside from that, I hope I am still creating away in my special creative place and taking in regular handmade markets. I would love to have some of my products in a little brick and mortar store too (one can dream).
Regardless of where I am though, even if I am just crafting for myself. I’m so very proud that I put myself out there and had the chance to share my handmade love with others.
What handmade possession do you love most?
My children each lovingly own a hand knitted woollen blanket that fits their single sized beds. Each knitted square was lovingly hand-knitted by the children’s Great Grandmother Rosie. I would give anything to have a Grandma Rosie blanket, it is so soft and divine and I love the use of colour and the way each square compliments the other.
On my wall, I also have a handmade cross-stich framed hanging that a very good friend of mine made as a wedding present to celebrate the joining of 2 souls. I think once I started creating, I appreciated it even more knowing the care and thought that was placed in every small stitch.