Getting back on the Seamless Pledge wagon with a new challenge

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One of the best things about sewing is having complete freedom over your wardrobe.

You don’t have to make concessions for fabric and fit when you’re the one making the things you’re wearing.

But, I don’t know about you, I find I still have a long “no can do” sewing list of garments and techniques I won’t touch.

Sometimes it’s because it’s too time consuming, other times it’s because I feel like I’ll make a right old mess of things.

And when you’re taking a pledge not to buy any new clothes, it can lead to some difficulties.

Confession time: while I haven’t returned to my shopping habits of old, I have broken the pledge a few times in the last couple of months.

It all started when I foolishly decided to do the Cardiff Half Marathon (I DON’T EVEN LIKE RUNNING ARGHH).

My running gear is threadbare to say the least – basically, I’m the person who will happily run in her pajama bottoms if they can pass for joggers at a distance.

Yep this is a pretty accurate depiction of how I run

Yep this is a pretty accurate depiction of me trying to run

And that is totally fine when you attempt a half-hearted run around your local neighbourhood before returning 10 minutes later, panting and wheezing even though you stopped every 30 seconds.

A half marathon is serious business. Holey pajamas and my brother’s stolen hoodie would not do.

Except I ended up getting beyond frustrated hunting for the right fabric and patterns for what I wanted, simple as it was… and one lunch break I popped into a sports shop and gave in.

The guilt is pretty much going to power me through those 13 miles in a few weeks. I didn’t even break my pledge on something pretty – I broke it for some cutoffs and fluro racerback.

OH THE HUMANITY

And it’s amazing how quickly you can start slipping into old habits once you’ve had your first lapse.

Never fear! I’m back on the wagon now – but it got me thinking.

I basically gave in because I thought to myself: “I just can’t make this.”

And the more I thought about it, the more I realised just how long my “can’t sew” list is.

Let’s see, we’ve got trousers, sequin fabric, coats and jackets… I’m all about the “make do and mend” ethos, but I haven’t exactly got a can-do attitude when it comes to sewing.

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So I wrote all my “no can sews” down and popped them in a jar – appropriately labelled as the “Can’t jar”.

The plan is to pick out one at random until I’ve got through the whole thing – and hopefully come out a better seamstress by the end of it.

I won’t lie, I’m a little daunted! One of the challenges in there is to sew a faux-leather jacket – probably the most complicated thing I’ll ever attempt.

Oh, and for those of you who may be wondering – sewing fitness stuff is most definitely in there!

Over to you: what would you put in your can’t jar?

Although before you respond… beware! I may well rope you in to the challenge too…

Well, hello there 2013

Happy New Year everyone! Can you believe how quickly this year has gone by?

some of 2012's makesSome projects from 2013…

It feels like just yesterday I was talking about my sewing goals for 2012. So how did I get on?

Well, I didn’t sew more. In fact, I think I sewed a bit less. Quality was a high priority, but my sewing abilities have yet to catch up with my ambitions.

But meeting new bloggers? I’d say that’s been a resounding success, both in real life and online. Since the pledge got started, more than 100 people have joined in from across the world.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of my favourite bloggers in person and get to know some others via Twitter. Even if my sewing doesn’t get any better, I’d like to keep this going.

Here are some things I’d like to achieve with the Pledge and my sewing this year:

1. Sew a work-ready wardrobe

You all know how much I love a good pencil skirt. In the next couple of months, I’d like to sew some classy clothes suitable for work. They’ll need to be well-made,  so it’s again a case of quality over quantity.

2. Tights, pants and shoes

As you know, underwear is exempt from my Pledge and while I certainly don’t buy as many shoes as I used to, I’m still buying them once I’ve worn my favourites  ’til they have holes in them. My aim for 2013 is to find places to buy tights, pants and shoes which are more in-keeping with the ethos of the pledge.

3. Reboot the pledge

The Pledge is just over a year old now, but I want to take it somewhere new. I’ve been chatting to Gillian and Clare about revamping the pledge for 2013. We’ve got some exciting ideas, so keep your eyes peeled for more information including how you can get involved…

Have you got much planned for 2013? Do let me know!

The end of my Seamless pledge

As of June 13, my Seamless Pledge was officially over. The minute I was released from my final NCTJ Media Law exam, I was able to run out and buy all of the clothes I wanted.

I’ll be honest, the pub was my first port of call…

Anyway! The end of the course and the pledge has been pretty bittersweet for me. As far as I’m concerned, the past nine months have been utterly fantastic. No matter how little I saw of my hobbies and life outside of journalism, I wouldn’t change my experiences on the course for the world.

Not to mention, if it weren’t for the course, I probably wouldn’t have started this whole pledge to begin with.  Honestly, I didn’t think I’d actually ‘make it through’, which seems daft now. After all, it’s only clothes.

Now, if I walk into a high street store, I don’t automatically rifle through the rails for bargains to add to my already swelling wardrobe. In fact, I’ll keep an eye out for sewing inspiration, but I’m more than happy to leave empty-handed.

But more than this, I’ve been honoured to be joined by a truly talented bunch. Your projects are amazing and your blogs are regular reads of mine. Honestly, if it weren’t for the rest of the pledgers, I’m not sure I’d find the pledge half as fun.

So! I’ve decided, I’m not giving up just yet:

I, Elena Cresci, take the Seamless pledge until December 31st 2012 (when I may well decide to extend it once more…) I will abstain from buying any new clothes until the end of my pledge. I will find ways to be fashionable without breaking the bank and without contributing to the cycle of fast fashion consuming the high street. I will trawl through charity shops, I will attend clothes swaps, I will look for second-hand items on eBay and I will craft my own clothes with my own two hands. This time, I’m officially exempting underwear and tights, but I will hunt down ethical and sustainable alternatives to the easier, mass-made options. Additionally, I will support and sustain the Seamless community as long as there are people willing to say bye-bye to the high street. 

You’re not rid of me just yet! Keep your eyes peeled for more on the site. There’ll be featured pledgers, some interesting interviews and I’ll even get a Seamless Pledge FAQ on the go.

Anyone else come to the end of their pledge? How have you found it?

Where do your clothes come from?

Do you know where your clothes come from?

Click on the image to see the interactive version

As sewers, generally the answer is a resounding yes. You’re not likely to forget after hours of stitching now are you? But if you’re anything like me, your wardrobe is probably mostly made up of mass-made and high-street clothing – and this is where the answer becomes less clear.

I tuned into new documentary Mary’s Bottom Line the other day, featuring high-street guru Mary Portas’s attempts to bring clothing manufacturing back to Britain. As you know, this isn’t the first time Portas has featured on this blog – this time, I wanted to see how my own wardrobe measured up to the issues she faces in her programme.

It was simple really, I just checked the labels to see where my clothes were made, jotting up the totals. I left out underwear, but counted garments I’d bought in charity shops. Obviously self-made garments came under their own category.

To be honest, the first thing which struck me was the sheer amount of clothing I own! I counted about 70 garments – who really needs 70 items of clothing?

As for where they came from – in terms of where I bought them, the vast majority come from high-street names like New Look, H&M and Topshop. With the exception of clothing I bought while living in Germany, the majority of it was bought here in the U.K.

But my clothes come from parts of the globe I’ve never even been to. Truth be told, I wasn’t overly surprised. After all, in the UK, 90% of our clothing is manufactured abroad. There just aren’t a great deal of British companies making clothing at home anymore.

When you actually break down the contents of my wardrobe, no less than 18 countries are represented. One blouse bought from New Look came from Bangladesh while another garment hailed from Turkey. The only British garments in my wardrobe came from small clothing labels Rare, Love Label and Quiz. Ironically, a dress I own from Lipsy London was made in China.

As I said, it’s not particularly surprising, yet it wasn’t anything I’d really considered before. Generally I don’t have a problem with buying something made abroad if it was made by people being paid a fair wage (and that’s a topic which deserves its own blog), but I didn’t quite realise how little I own is actually made in the U.K.

On the plus side, the self-made portion of my wardrobe is growing, slowly but surely. Progress!

What do you think? Does it matter if most of my clothes weren’t made in the U.K? Where do your clothes come from?

Mapping the Seamless Pledge

According to Facebook, 39 people are talking about The Seamless Pledge. How crazy is that?

Faceyb used to let you see what was being said, but that’s not the case anymore – it would have made compiling the list of pledgers a little easier! So going from comments on the Pledge page, here are the people taking the Seamless pledge so far:

Emily Bater – http://lightscameracardiff.wordpress.com– June 2012

Sarah – http://www.zenzeroni.blogspot.com – November 2012

Trice – http://sewtell.wordpress.com – For the rest of the year

Jennifer (and her 16 month old baby!) – http://madetofit-jenn.blogspot.com – June 2012

Sarah – http://www.rhinestonesandtelephones.blogspot.com – August 31 2012

Vicki Kate – http://vickikatemakes.wordpress.com – November 2012

Far – http://farsland.blogspot.com – May 2012

Andrea – http://www.stitchparade.com – January 1 – December  31 2012

Rozann – http://rozyhomemaker.blogspot.com – June 25, 2012

Elise – http://elusivereveries.blogspot.com – Nov 19, 2012

Ursula – Dec 31 2011

Kirsty – http://www.leopardanchor.typepad.com – March 8 2012

Tabatha and Julia – http://threadcarefully.wordpress.com/ – April 30 2012

James – http://soundmindsoundmedia.wordpress.com – March 2012

If I’ve missed you, give me a shout and I’ll add you to the list!

As you probably know by now, I love to play with interwebular and multimedia toys, so it’s not really a surprise I fancied doing this list in a more dynamic way…

The pledgers come from all over, so I thought Google Maps would be a fun, visual way to see where everyone’s coming from. I’ve already popped my marker up there in Cardiff, albeit not at my actual address. Saying that, if you zoom in, Google Maps has put me awfully close to the Doctor Who tour… I now wish this was my actual address.

If you fancy taking part in mapping the pledge, then shoot me an email and I’ll add you to the map with a link to your blog! Tah dah!

How’s everyone coping with the pledge so far? I haven’t had any high street cravings… yet!

Pledge Progress Report – The beginning!

As more people sign up to the Seamless pledge (big thanks to Zoe for the shoutout!), I wanted to give you guys a few details on documenting your own pledge progress and to post the first of my progress reports!

Here’s the little video I made for the Seamless Pledge in case you missed it!

New pledgers!

Those of you starting out on the pledge – hello! Nice to see you and lovely to have you on board! A fair few new blogs have been added to my RSS feed today and I’m really looking forward to seeing how you all get along!

A lot of you will be documenting the pledge through your blogs, but it’d be great if you could join me in documenting it via Flickr and Facebook as well!

flickr group seamless screenshot

Hopefully you’re members of the Flickr group and like the Facebook page – the reason I set these up was so we could have places to bring our content together and encourage each other during the pledge.

The Flickr group was one of the aspects I really enjoyed about Zoe’s Self Stitched and Me Made Challenges, so I’ve followed in her suit. I discovered so many new blogs through those groups during the challenges so it’d be lovely if the same happened during the Seamless pledge!

While I may be a bit lonely on the Flickr group pool at the moment, I hope you’ll be joining me on there soon enough! At present, there’s no Seamless Twitter, but I am using the #seamlesspledge hashtag quite a bit.

Pledge Progress Report – The first refashion!

Officially, I began the Seamless pledge about three weeks ago.

Do I miss buying new clothes? Well, a day in the life of a trainee journalist doesn’t leave much time for shopping.  In between shorthand, a visit to court and wandering around my news patch, new clothes have been the last thing on my mind.  I predict it’ll really start to kick in at Christmas, when you’re expected to buy a new party dress for your Christmas ‘do.

When I wasn’t furiously shorthanding away or editing audio interviews last week, I managed to set aside some time for some refashioning!

vintage floral pleated skirt from oxfam boutique

Meet this pleated number courtesy of Cardiff’s Oxfam Boutique. The Oxfam Boutique isn’t my usual haunt for refashioning possibilities mostly because the price range is a little bit higher than regular Oxfam shops. If I’m just going to chop something up, I’m not going to spend more than £10 on it.

At £6.99, this floral wonder in the vintage section of the shop was right up my street. Though the label says it’s a size 14 from St Michael, as vintage sizes run smaller than their modern equivalents, there was no need to resize the waist. Excellent!

refashion pleated skirt after

Some snips, ironing and a baby hem later and tah-dah! One happy Elena! I know longer skirts are a la mode right now and some ladies pull them off fabulously, but alas, I am just too short.

For those new to refashioning and sewing, I’ll be posting a tutorial on how to hem a pleated skirt in a couple of days – but I wondered if any of the more experienced refashioners out there have any tips for pleated hems? Comment away, and I’ll add them to the post!