Featured pledger: Denise of Dottie Doodle

It’s been a while since we had a featured pledger, hasn’t it? Dottie’s post has been stuck in my inbox for a while now as I continue the work and life juggling. Her pledge came to an end last month, but here are some of her thoughts on not buying new…

Name: Denise (Dottie Doodle)

Website: http://dottiedoodle.wordpress.com

Pledging until the end of January 2013

Why did you take the Seamless Pledge?

I have always loved the feeling of being on holiday with just a suitcase full of possessions, making up outfits for unexpected occasions or weather. Like the time we went to Spain for a sunny autumn break and it snowed!

But in my everyday life I surrounded myself with things, my wardrobe was stuffed with clothes I didn’t wear and our lovely house looked cluttered. I stopped buying clothes for a year (with a few slip ups) before hearing about the pledge, but didn’t tell anyone.

Making it public was scary – I’d have to stick to it! I decided to take the Pledge a step further and give away or sell clothes and other things I didn’t use. I had a lot of stuff, and stopping shopping wasn’t going to be enough on its own.

What impact has the pledge had on your day-to-day life? 

I rarely go shopping now, and if I go into a clothes shop I’m more interested in garment construction and wondering if I can make the things I like than I am in buying something.

A famous department store has just opened a new branch near me, and pre-pledge I would have had to buy a few things. Surely rude not to, after they’d gone to all that trouble?! Instead, I spent a happy hour choosing two things for my Christmas list. I’ve sold and given away plenty of things.

If it doesn’t fit, doesn’t flatter me or I don’t have the occasion to wear it, it goes. I have kept a few things for ‘posh dos’ and weddings, but I don’t need lots of options so only my favorites stay.

Any tips for someone wanting to give up mass-made clothing? 

For me, it is learning to sew. I still get the fun of having something new to wear, but making something is obviously a much longer process than just handing over some cash. So I make less than I used to buy ready-made, and I enjoy wearing my new clothes more.

I felt like I was going backwards at first, as it took time for me to work out which patterns would suit me and the best fabrics to use. That seems wasteful, but I think it is part of the process. Reading sewing blogs has helped me enormously – shared experience is a wonderful thing. Also having my own blog has been very motivating.

There have been a few times when I’ve hit problems and wanted to stuff the offending item in a drawer and forget about it. But thinking ‘this will make a good post’ has kept me going!

Make sure you check out Dottie’s blog – she’s recently posted a tutorial for a really cute book cover as part of Sew Grateful week. 

Featured Pledger: Jenn (Made to Fit)

For some, the Seamless Pledge is a complete lifestyle overhaul that’s difficult to manage. A few people have contacted me worried they won’t be able to take it because it might not work with their situation. So I’m happy to introduce you to Jenn, someone who’s made a few amendments to her pledge since she started to better suit her lifestyle.

Name: Jenn

Website: http://madetofit-jenn.blogspot.co.uk/

Pledging until she moves to her new house!

Why did you take the Seamless Pledge?

After I moved to New Zealand I had a hard time finding clothes. When I first heard about the pledge I had a closet full of worn out clothes I loved and newer clothes that didn’t fit well and I rarely wore. I thought it would be a great way to think more closely about the clothes I needed to add to my closet. When each item takes 2-4 weeks to sew, they all have to be closely considered.

I have mostly kept to the pledge. I pledged until we had moved into our new house, which was originally scheduled to be this past June. It’s now been delayed until December, but I don’t see myself giving up the pledge anytime soon.

I did slip in May – it was getting colder here and I needed some sweaters. I don’t knit and haven’t sewed with sweater knits, so I bought a couple of cardigans and a sheath dress for winter. I think it’s a good idea to have a couple of ‘get out of jail free’ cards for these types of emergencies.

What impact has the pledge had on your day-to-day life?

I no longer go to the mall. Instead I now spend my spare time dreaming about fabric. It wasn’t a huge change – I love the challenge of trying new, increasingly difficult patterns. I also love that I now wear mostly natural, luxurious fabrics. For example, I can afford silk and linen fabric, whereas I wouldn’t generally be able to afford them in RTW.

My husband bought a pair of poly dress pants for a wedding in June. I made my dress (silk) and my son’s pants and vest (lightweight wool suiting). I am so happy to be able to sew, and not have to deal with plasticky fabrics (although I did have to hem his pants the night before the wedding)

My son was originally part of the pledge, but is growing so quickly I couldn’t keep up. He has a few items that I’ve sewn for him and I prefer them to RTW – where else can you find grey sweatpants with elephants on them? I’ve made my husband a few merino t-shirts, Colette Negroni shirts, and have plans for a few more shirts for him.

Any tips for someone wanting to give up mass-made clothing?

Sew multiples. For me the hardest part is not having enough to wear. When I sewed my fall wardrobe I made two A-line skirts, two knit tees and two sleeveless blouses, using the same patterns. Fitting a new pattern is time consuming, especially when you end up with a wadder, so once you find something that works, make multiples.

Also, consider what your lifestyle requires. Right now I’m doing a set of Fall work clothes that all coordinate. It’s not much fun, mostly neutrals, but it’s practical and I’ll wear them to death. I motivate myself by alternating something ‘practical’ with something fun. I finished a navy blouse, then sewed my Macaron. I’m almost done with a navy sheath dress, and next I’ll be making a fun casual dress. It’s important not to get bored.

Thanks Jen! Make sure you go read her blog here. Even if you’ve finished your pledge or had to give it up, I’d love to hear from you. 

Featured Pledger: Adriana (Adriprints)

Adriana was on her way to giving up mass-made clothing when she discovered the Seamless pledge. Since then, she’s cut down on her consumption and sewn some amazing garments, including her bombshell dress featured as one of 2011’s inspirational makes.

Name: Adriana

Website: http://adriprints.blogspot.co.uk/

Pledging until the end of 2012.

Why did you take the Seamless Pledge?

The Seamless Pledge made a lot of sense to me. I started sewing really young, and both my grandmothers sewed as a means to stay in fashion and still have tailored clothing at an economic price. So, I looked at sewing and making as a means to having unique items of clothing as well as self-expression. I took the Seamless Pledge because I was already a crafty do-it-yourself kind of gal, and the pledge solidified my choice to make things myself.

What impact has the pledge had on your day-to-day life?

The pledge has made me a more observant consumer. I really look at other people’s clothing both for inspiration, and for construction. After taking the pledge, I’ve definitely made more time to sew and I sew pieces that are practical and wearable as opposed to some of my crazier sewn-because-I-loved-that-print projects of the past.

Taking the pledge also meant that I really had to look critically at my wardrobe and come to terms with some of the excesses of t-shirts and cheaply made goods I had purchased in the past. It was an enlightening thing to do, and I haven’t bought anything except some specialty compression running socks and the running shirt that came with the price of enrollment into a 10k run in June.

 Any tips for someone wanting to give up mass-made clothing?

I was already on my way to giving up mass-made clothing and the biggest thing that led me to this decision was a need for better fitting garments. Start by looking critically at your wardrobe and looking at your favorite items as well as the items of clothing that look best on you. These may not be the same pieces.

If you’re looking to replicate favorite items through knitting or sewing, start simple with attainable projects. Break down the skills you’ll need to have to make that awesome whatever-it-is you want to make. Don’t skip the basics.

And, it’s great to have high expectations of oneself, but do it whilst also highlighting the skills you already have, and adding 1 or 2 new skills you’d like to attain per project.

Make sure you check out Adriana’s blog. She’s not just busy sewing clothes, she’s been making some amazing quilts lately. You can also follow her on Twitter!

Featured Pledger: Tina C (Down the Retro Rabbit Hole)

After a stint living abroad, Tina of Down the Retro Rabbit Hole changed her attitude to consumerism forever. Find out how her time living in India transformed her attitude to shopping centres and mass-made items.

Name: Tina C.

Website: Down the Retro Rabbit Hole 

Pledging for all of 2012

Why did you take the Seamless Pledge?

In 2011 my partner and I returned from a year living abroad in India where he was completing dissertation research for his PhD. Post-India, my views of consumerism shifted drastically. I’d lived in India before, in 1999, and was thoroughly charmed by the “walla”–a “guy” (the literal translation) who sells a specific item.

If you wanted fabric, you went to the Cloth Walla. If you needed a screwdriver, you went to Tool Walla. Want some chai (tea) or snacks? Visit your friendly corner Chai Walla! And so on. The really great thing about this system of wallas was the relationship that developed. The wallas I visited often knew me by name, my preferences, and gave me “pucca” (good) Indian prices.

However, during 2010, I observed a significant shift in the Indian economy from Walla to shopping mall/center.  It was heartbreaking as it meant a shift to an (even more) throwaway society, a decrease in product value and customer service and most definitely no more personal relationships with a friendly corner walla. I started to really think about the effect consumerism, specifically Western culture consumerism, has on the world.

When we returned to the USA in February of 2011, I just could not shop at malls anymore. I was acutely aware the clothing options neither fit nor flattered my figure AND the incredibly shoddy clothing construction. Furthermore, my age demographic (I’m 33) was definitely not represented as all I saw around me were items targeted towards teens, college-aged students, and grandmas.

Then and there I decided to not buy any clothing during 2011. Fast-forward to 2012 and I found myself with clothes I absolutely detested, but rather than buy new clothes, I decided it was time to (really) learn how to sew my own clothing! I stumbled across, and took, the Seamless Pledge and haven’t looked back.

What impact has the pledge had on your day-to-day life? 

I think a lot about my role as a consumer. I’m on a very tight budget and just cannot afford to spend money on clothing that lasts one season –if even that!–and then gets tossed. This thought now also extends to sewing patterns (I buy versatile vs. trendy), sewing supplies (good thread vs. cheap thread, quality scissors, quality trim, etc.), and fabric.

At first, I used whatever fabric I had on hand which mostly tended to be quilting cotton. Quilting cotton, while in abundance (and so pretty!) at fabric stores like Joann’s Fabrics, doesn’t work well *all* the time (Tilly, of Tilly and the Buttons has an excellent post about using quilting cottons).

During my first attempts at (re)learning how to sew garments, I used solely quilting cotton. The garments turned out okay, but aren’t anything I wear. Now I buy quality fabrics that fit the pattern specifications as well as my lifestyle. This means I have to be a bit more picky about what I make because quality fabric can be quite expensive! As a result, my wardrobe is still stuck in 2009, but slowly expanding.

Any tips for someone wanting to give up mass-market clothing?

Invest in a good sewing machine and its feet. Find a good Sewing Machine Repair Walla (mine picks up and drops off my sewing machine) if you’re buying an older model. Learn how to maintain your machine–I cannot stress this enough! A good cleaning of the bobbin area will cure half your machine woes.

A sewing class, if available in your area, may be of great help to you if you’re a total newbie. Buy, at the very least, one really solid but basic sewing reference–I highly recommend The Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, Threads Sewing Guide: A Complete Reference from America’s Best-Loved Sewing Magazine, or something similar.

Invest–because they’re expensive–in a superb pair of sewing shears (I HIGHLY recommend Gingher–mine cut through fabric like a hot knife through butter). Change your needle often! I don’t change mine nearly enough and my machine hates me for it (seriously…it occasionally flings needle parts at my face). Learn a few basic pattern manipulation techniques; you’re clothing will fit AND flatter your figure if you do!

And finally, get involved online! The online sewing community is so supportive and
wonderful. You’ll make friends and gain skills and inspiration. The Sew WeeklyBurdaStyle, and We Sew Retro are among my favorite group-sew sewing sites. OH! And get/adopt a cat! All of us Super Awesome Sewasaurus Rex’s have one! Seriously, I have two

A big THANK YOU! to Elena for no only featuring me this week, but for coming up with the Seamless Pledge. It’s really awesome way to think about one’s relationship to and with their clothing.

Aw! Thanks Tina! Plenty of tips there to get you going, I think I need to take a couple of them on board myself! Make sure you check out Tina’s blog where she’s currently musing about ombre dyeing

Featured Pledger: Vicki Kate (Vicki Kate Makes)

Seamless’ second featured pledger is Vicki Kate, who’s midway through her pledge and has some serious stitching skills. Can you believe her dress is made from two bedsheets? Have a read about her pledge experiences:

Name: Vicki Kate

Website: http://vickikatemakes.wordpress.com

One year, from 30th birthday to 31st on the 24 Nov ’12 – new decade, new lifestyle commitment!

Why did you take the Seamless Pledge?

It was a mixture of fortuitous timing in discovering the pledge and wanting to take more responsibility for our world just as I hit 30. Being a Mum has completely changed my perspective on pretty much everything.  I need to lead by example to ensure my son grows up with a sense of responsibility, not just to his immediate community but the worldwide one too. It also gives me incentive (which is now habit) to shop second hand, search charity stores and eBay rather than buying new.  My sewing of garments has gone up a gear too, which was part of the plan!

What impact has the pledge had on your day-to-day life?

I’m a much more thoughtful shopper and not just when it comes to clothing. It’s spread to my grocery shopping (with regards to origin rather than it being pre-loved!) and also made me go to my fabric stash rather than shops for my material. I am so envious of the estate sale and thrift store hauls our US friends score! There’s nothing like that in my experience in Norfolk, UK. A positive is my limited funds go further.

Any tips for someone wanting to give up mass-made clothing?

Examine what you wear! I bet it’s 10% of your total. Look for items that work with that 10% but limit where you look.  If you freak out about charity shops (my sister does), go for eBay as, while you’ll pay more, there is better choice.  Also, develop some patience as sometimes you have to look for a while to find what you want. I’m still looking for the perfect red Mary Jane shoes!  Failing that, learn to sew! But that in itself leads to other consumer issues.

I’d heartily recommend Zoe’s blog for someone wanting to know how to live sustainably and Miss P’s blog for refashioning tips to make those charity shop finds perfect. Finally, train yourself to look beyond a garment’s (or pattern for that matter) first appearance. With a little ingenuity that granny tartan skirt could be amazing! 

Make sure you check out Vicki Kate’s blog for more on her creations. Want to be a featured pledger? Get in touch. 

Featured Pledger: Sonja Beck Gingerich (Ginger Makes)

The Seamless pledge is nothing without its pledgers! Every week I’ll feature a new pledger on the site. Today, allow me to introduce you to Sonja of Ginger Makes:

Sonja in her Mello Yello vintage McCall’s 5995 dress

Name: Sonja Beck Gingerich

 Website: http://gingermakes.wordpress.com

Pledged for six months, now coming to the end of it.

Why did you take the Seamless Pledge? 

I’ve long felt guilty about relying on mass-made clothing, but I felt helpless when faced with the task of sourcing clothes responsibly.  So I was really excited to find a group of people who believe that it’s possible to walk away from unethically-made clothes.  I’m so grateful for the support and encouragement this group provides!

What impact has the pledge had on your day-to-day life?

I’m not much of a shopper and I don’t have that many clothes, but I tend to make all my clothing purchases impulsively and unwisely.  I often won’t buy something I actually need, but I’ll pick up a novelty item on a whim without thinking twice!  I find myself more thoughtful about what I wear when I have to make something myself or source it secondhand– it takes a lot of work to add something to my wardrobe, so I want to make sure I’ll really wear it!  I’ve also found it’s really cool to slow down and appreciate the meditative process of making a garment.  I find so much joy and community in sewing, things I’ve never experienced while shopping!

Any tips for someone wanting to give up mass-made clothing? 

Learn how to sew!  It can be tough to find exactly what you need for in thrift shops or on eBay, so it’s great to be able to make wardrobe basics that fit you and your personal style perfectly!

Make sure you check out Sonja’s blog for more on her creations. Want to be a featured pledger? Get in touch.