The Crafty Minx at Home

When Kelly Doust was a teenager she, like many ofus, didn’t have the budget to buy the items she saw in her fashion magazines.

Instead she would take a clipping to her favouriteflea markets and charity shops and look for alternatives – even if that meantchopping off a sleeve here and lifting a hem there.

“I just always loved the element of finding fabulousfabrics. There were just so many beautiful fabrics and I just wanted to knowwhat to do with them,” she said.

The skills needed were self-taught, although she hadwatched her mother sewing from a young age.

Later in life, those same skill sets would beapplied to homewares from reworking lampshades to fashioning hot water bagsfrom cashmere jumpers that had seen better days.

Kelly, who has just published The Crafty Minx atHome, her fourth craft book, said she believed there was “a big push back todo-it-yourself”.

“It always happens when we are in economic strifebut we also live such sedentary lives and we don’t make anything. We just sitat computers.

“But people are going back to making things. Most ofthe craft in the book are fairly short projects because I am a quick fix girl –and that’s a growing trend.

“Even a lot of wool is much thicker these days soyou can knit faster.

“And I did a course last year quilt-making. But it’sdone by string piecing and it’s really tricky but very clever and fast.

“A lot of people want to do craft perfectly and Ithink that seizes people up. There’s not much fun in thinking you are justgoing to keep going until you get it right.

“That’s something you have to unlearn. You need tothink ‘if it doesn’t fit, then just chop it off’, that’s my attitude.

“To be creative you have to be kind to yourself andalso just be bold.”

Kelly said with her latest book, which includes morethan 50 handmade and upcycled projects “for beautiful living”, she hoped tohelp people think laterally about what they could achieve.

“People will show me something and ask what they canbe. Perhaps it’s a dress that can become a blouse, people need to beencouraged.”

Kelly said everyone had the ability to be “crafty”.“I think I just indulge in it more. When you work at it, you get good at it.And it’s something I have learnt through having a real interest in it.”

Kelly said if anyone was looking for an easy firstcraft project they couldn’t go past that hot water bottle cover.

“That was the first thing I ever did as homewares. Ibought a beautiful old cashmere jumper, put a hot water bottle over it, choppedaround it, sewed it by hand and put a heart on it in contrasting fabric. It wasa beautiful thing to own or give away.

“And I actually prefer hand sewing – you can do itwhile you have a chat.”

Kelly said one of the reasons she was drawn tovintage and upcycling was because of the great quality of older items.

“And you can always dip into things from the pastand still have beautiful new things as well.”

Kelly, who isalso a brand ambassador with Vinnies, said her move from being a publicist to awriter came when she fell pregnant and it just seemed like the right time.

“I felt like I had hit on something,” she said.

But with four craft books under her belt, Kelly saidit was time to venture into something new – this time, a novel.

“I feel like I have done with my craft books for awhile,” she said.

“I have explained themessage to have a go, enjoy being tactile, and enjoy old things and give them anew life.”

Kelly Doust.

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