Moving house and laptop repairs

Just when you’re getting into the swing of things, something inevitably comes along to stall progress! Betty, my beloved Macbook, is at the Apple doctors at the moment after months of attempting to work with a faulty trackpad. (a nightmare when editing images, let me tell you)

I’ve also moved out of my Cardiff place and back with my parents until I get full-time work. Hands up who hates packing? Yeah, me too…

I’ll get back on track as soon as Betty’s back in town. In the meantime, check out the following:

  • Sarai of Colette Patterns has touched on an issue I’ve been thinking about lately, sustainability in clothing. Do you make your clothes to last? I try to, but I’ve definitely had a few zips break on me lately…
  • Julia over at Thread Carefully made a fab dress for her friend to wear at her civil partnership. Check out the results and her progress here.
  • Zoe’s released her first-ever free pattern! It’s a vest top, a great basic if you need some extra layers in Winter or a cool top for Summer.

What do you do with your old clothes?

Hands up who has a wardrobe overflowing with clothes they just don’t wear?

Coat hanger by Cara Photography

Image by Cara Photography

I know I do. There are even a few items of self-made clothing gathering dust at the bottom of my wardrobe. It’s a pretty shameful yet almost normal part of this culture of excess we’re living in.

Take this article by the Guardian, which while being from 2009, is still very much relevant today.

On average £470 per British woman was spent on items that were never worn and – as an extra sartorial slap in the face – one in 10 just chucked them in the bin, contributing to the estimated 900,000 tonnes of clothing currently thrown into landfill each year.

Whether or not this is the same today in 2011, I couldn’t tell you right now, but it’s pretty shocking, especially to me, as Cardiff women are named and shamed in the article as the worst offenders.

The fact is, whether we like it or not, as consumers of fast fashion we are flighty by nature. I’ll hold my hands up and admit I’ve complained I have nothing to wear when actually my wardrobe is bursting with clothes I’m actually just bored with.

This again boils down to this feeling of dissatisfaction Zoe spoke about when I interviewed her. How often have you seen a feature in a magazine criticising a high profile female celebrity for wearing the same outfit?

Advertising makes us feel as though we should wear something completely different every day because if (insert celebrity name here) can’t get away with it, then why should we be able to?

Rather than make a real commitment to a well constructed garment, we’ll happily fork out a fiver for something which will provide the quick fix satisfaction we crave. After wearing it once, it’ll probably end up in pieces in the bin a few months down the line.

Over the years I’ve filled charity bag after charity bag with clothing I no longer wear for whatever reason. While I won’t just throw something out after wearing it only the once, I can’t say hand on heart I haven’t thrown away clothes when they’ve worn out. Considering the amount of clothing I have owned over the years, this is worrying. This is without even taking any scrap fabric from sewing into account.

What I’d really like to learn more about is textile recycling. Textiles are one of those things which tend to be absent from the list of household recyclables. On top of this, I have to wonder what happens to the clothing high street retailers can’t shift.

Over to you. What do you do with your old clothes? By old, I don’t just mean those which are falling apart; I’m also talking about those impulse buys you were never able to take back, the clothes which don’t quite fit or even ones you just got bored with. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

So Zo… What Do You Know? Interview with Zoe Edwards

I was lucky enough to have the chance to interview one of my favourite bloggers, Zoe Edwards. Zoe has been blogging about sewing at So, Zo… What do you know? for a few years, and currently works with TRAIDremade, the textile recycling branch of the charity TRAID.

The online sewing community is brimming with talent. Whether you’re posting your projects on BurdaStyle or taking part in the vintage sewing movement on Sew Retro, the internet is full of sewing inspiration.

Zoe Edwards Colette Patterns leopard print macaron

I’ve been reading Zoe’s blog for some years now –  she was a Brit living in Barcelona, at the same time as I was a language assistant in Germany. Her projects always blew me away, and I’d always pop back to So Zo… for a catchup on her sewing adventures.

Yet Zoe’s blog isn’t just about sewing. At the heart of So Zo… is the challenge to live sustainably, free from fast fashion. It’s been about five years since Zoe discovered the Wardrobe Refashion pledge, a project she says changed her life.

Anyone who has taken the Wardrobe Refashion pledge in the past or who have just started with the Seamless pledge will know how difficult it can be starting out! Living in Spain brought an extra challenge for Zoe, where charity shops are rarer and dearer.

After challenging herself to go a month wearing nothing but clothes she had made herself, Zoe decided to throw open the challenge to her readers with Me-Made-May. 80 participants signed up to the first challenge, and 2010’s Self Stitched September (which I took part in!) attracted over 160 pledgers!  The Me-Maders and Self-Stitchers kept an eye on each other’s progress through Flickr and Facebook, as well as posting daily outfit updates on their blogs.

On top of this, you’ll often find some really thought provoking posts on So Zo… which really get to the heart of the problems with fast fashion. 

Now working for TRAIDremade, Zoe continues to fight the sustainable cause. Thankfully, making sewing her job hasn’t detracted from her enthusiasm for self-stitching!

What began as a decision to avoid fast fashion has turned into a complete overhaul of shopping habits; Zoe’s said goodbye to buying new fabric and new shoes, and she’s always looking for ways to take her sustainable lifestyle to the next level.

The Seamless Pledge is all about challenging yourself – my life would be so much easier if I could just pop into a clothes shop to buy myself a dress if I fancied it, but where’s the fun in making things easy for yourself? Whenever I worry about being able to pull this off, Zoe’s blog is one of the first places I click for inspiration and is one I think any Seamless pledger  should add to their reading lists.

Big thanks to Zoe for letting me interview her! As for you guys, what do you think? Has she inspired you to shake up your shopping habits?

Challenge Accepted.

pincushion

Three years ago, I saved my sewing machine from the attic and taught myself how to thread a machine and wind a bobbin via the wonders of the Internet. Since then, I’ve used the bustling online sewing community to navigate the ins and outs of home sewing.

So I like to think I’m a dab hand with the sewing machine, even if sometimes I can’t quite manage to sew in a straight line. Let’s not even get started on the evils of buttonholes.

You’d be forgiven for thinking my mad skillz with a needle and thread (but not buttonholes) mean my wardrobe is full to the brim of self-stitched clothing. In actuality, my self-made items take up only a tiny part of my drawers. I’d estimate I made or refashioned about 5% of my wardrobe.

There are plenty of excuses I could give for this, but it’s a pretty poor statistic for someone who goes on about stitching as much as I do. Lately I’ve fallen into a sewing rut and back into my lazy clothing habits, and our generation is pretty lazy when it comes to clothing. “Make do and mend” was the motto during the second world war but nowadays we’ll settle for something which will fall apart in a matter of months if it’s colourful and cheap enough. Fast fashion reigns supreme on the high street and in our wardrobes, and mine is no exception.

Yet across the blogosphere there are plenty examples of people who have put down the shopping bags and picked up their needle and thread instead. Take Mena Trott of The Sew Weekly. In 2010 she took on the hefty challenge of filling her wardrobe solely with clothes she had sewn herself. A year on, she’s encouraging a whole communityof sewers to do the same.

Then there’s Zoe of So, Zo…, a seamstress very much concerned with sustainable fashion. You name the garment, she’s probably made it. We’re talking coats, dresses, jogging tops and even pants. In March, May and September she challenges her readers to join her in a month of wearing nothing but self made garments.

simplicity 2591

In more productive sewing days...

As for me? For the past few months I’ve been in somewhat of a sewing rut, to the point where I’m at the risk of edging out the me-made side of my wardrobe completely. This will not do!

So I’ve set myself a bit of a challenge.With the Interwebs as my witness, I plan to spend the duration of my postgraduate diploma at Cardiff, which ends in July 2012, sewing or refashioning all of my clothes. Under no circumstances am I allowed to purchase ready-made garments from any shops unless they are bonafide vintage or second-hand.

This blog will serve as evidence I’m keeping up with my pledge meaning you can all tell me off if I end up slacking. If I fail miserably, then you’re all entitled to point, laugh and tease until you’re red in the faces.

So what can you expect here at Seamless? I want to explore the avenues outside of mass made clothing, whether that’s through sewing, knitting, trawling through charity shops, gawking at vintage wares or using good old eBay. Wish me luck!