The sheer madness of Boxing Day sales

I swear, once upon a time Boxing Day activities were limited to cold meats and watching telly.

Nowadays, it’s the day when retailers kick off their bargain sales. In my hometown of Cardiff, people queued up from as early as midnight to try and nab some discounts in Next, a popular clothing chain. Basically, if you’ve never been out for the Boxing Day sales, it’s a little bit like the stampede part in the Lion King:

stampede

 

Trust me – there’s not much a shopaholic Brit loves more than a bargain. Of course, it’s not always cut-price clothes on offer – anything from toys to gadgets to food end up in the Boxing Day sales. The day is often hailed as a chance for retailers to claw back from a disappointing run-up to Christmas.

I was working today, which meant the inevitable Boxing Day chat with some of Cardiff’s intrepid shoppers. To be fair, it wasn’t nearly as busy as I thought it would be, especially after seeing the pictures of the humongous queues. What most shoppers had in common though were oodles of bags, filled to the brim with Boxing Day goodies.

When you’re not buying any clothes at all, or trying to cut down on your shopping habits, Boxing Day sales can prove a little tough to handle. Especially when everyone else is rooting through the rails at New Look or Topshop in hunt of the best bargains. The answer is simple, of course: stay away! And anyway, at least it means you won’t be stuck in the queues.

On the plus side, sometimes you’ll find your favourite fabric shops and haberdasheries are also having a post-Christmas sale. John Lewis often has discounted fabrics (they weren’t open today in Cardiff – their sale starts tomorrow), for example.

I hope you’re all having a great festive period – truth be told, I wrote this really quickly just to get back into the swing of post-work blogging. If I’m completely honest, the last few months haven’t been so brilliant, meaning I’ve let a lot of my hobbies slide.

But! Things are definitely looking up and I’ve got a scheme to make sure I don’t lapse in 2014.

Merry Christmas everyone!

(I sent that Lion King GIF to our online editor at work today after I’d been out vox-popping shoppers for the paper – so of course, we put together The 9 stages of the Boxing Day sales as told by the Lion King. JUST BECAUSE WE COULD)

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!

2012 Sewing Resolutions

I actually can’t believe 2012 is here! Ridiculous, no?

There have been a couple of looking ahead and sewing resolution posts popping up around the place, so how better to start 2012 than with a couple of resolutions? It’s odd, I’m not usually in the habit of making resolutions – in fact, even New Year’s Eve tends to be more of a non-event than anything – but there are a couple of things I want to do to take my sewing further.

The first is a no-brainer…

Sew more

Last year wasn’t the greatest in terms of sewing output, and this is partly because I haven’t had the time and partly down to laziness on my part. No more! I resolve to sew more – even if it’s just for half an hour one evening. Also, I can knit now! This can easily be done while watching the news. Wow, I really am quite the journo-crafter hybrid aren’t I?

Put quality over quantity

Saying this, I need to sort some of my bad sewing habits. As much as I’d love to end this year having sewn as much as Debi, I just haven’t got the same standard of skills yet! Even if it slows down progress, it’ll always be worth taking a step back, planning carefully and taking my time with finishing.

Meet more bloggers!

Blogging can often be seen as a little bit self-indulgent, but if you take a look at the sewing community which has built up around these little online logbooks, then you’ll see just the opposite. I’m genuinely chuffed to bits to be part of the community and contributing something through the pledge. I’ve been to a few blogger meetups before and it’s been great to actually meet internet people in the flesh!

I’m sure I could think of many more, but those are just a few. What about you guys? Got any resolutions? A couple of people have taken the pledge as their new year’s resolution – get in touch if you have!

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?