Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Dear Fabric, Where do you come from?

For some time now I've been very conscious of where I buy clothing, ensuring I don't buy from retailers who are not known for their support of ethical manufacture.  Now I don't want to name names (you can do your own research!) and my experience / knowledge is limited to Australia... however there are some big retailers who were very vocal on ensuring ethical standards in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster and others whose silence was deafening. 

I have often wondered about the manufacture of fabric (being the hoarder collector of fabrics that I am!), but am embarrassed to admit that I sort of pushed it out of my mind.  However when Marge Clothing brought to my attention that they only source ethically manufactured fabrics from Europe and the USA all those little questions in my mind came flooding back.

Why is that fabric so cheap?  Also a question we can ask in relation to ready to wear clothing.
Where does that fabric come from? 
Where are the fibres manufactured/grown?

Have I been ignorantly supporting the exploitation of children, inhumane working conditions, sweatshops and environment polluting manufacture through the seemingly innocent act of shopping? 

That does not sit well with me. 

So I took a break from shopping (including buying fabric!).  Moving forward I will only buy fabric that I know to be ethically sourced.  I would rather pay a few dollars more but feel good about the fabric I wear against my skin.  I do have a vast collection of fabric that has been gifted to me and I will not let it go to waste, however I will not purchase anything of unknown origin.   

There are a few films/documentaries out there which cover this topic; including The True Cost.

I know my change in buying habits will not change the world, however it will change how I feel about my place in it.

So please stop and ask yourself "why is that so cheap" next time you're shopping.  If the answer doesn't sit well with you, then you shouldn't buy it.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Faux Shirt Dress - Maai Designs Blog Tour

This week I'm joining the fabulous Maai Designs blog tour.

As part of the blog tour Maai Designs are generously offering you a discount!  Use the code: maaidesign10%. This will give you a 10% discount, valid until March 26th 2016.

I bought the beautiful Forrest Treasures fabric in soft blue.  It's 100% soft cotton and is 145cm wide. It is such beautiful fabric!  Importantly, it is Oeko-Tex certified (read more about that here).

I overlooked the width of the fabric when ordering so had way more than I needed for the Oakridge shirt by Sewaholic Patterns which I originally planned to make.  What to do, what to do?  The answer was obvious... shirt dress!

For the bottom half of the dress I used the fabulous Noosa Shift Dress by Sew To Grow.  I've made this one 3 times now so knew it would be perfect.  I love shirt dresses, however I do not love how they tend to gape when you sit.  To overcome this I made it a faux shirt dress by sewing the button placket closed. 

Admiring my sleeve length!!
A close up of the beautiful fabric!

I am so happy with the results!  This is not only a beautiful shirt dress, but will be something I can wear year round.

Be sure to check out Maai Designs and the others on the tour:

March 8th - Suz from Sewpony
March 9th - Caroline from Usefulbox
March 10th - Kate from Sewing With Kate
March 12th - Suzanne from Dressed in Pretty Little Things
March 13th - Toni from Make It Perfect
March 14th - Natalie from Sew Outnumbered
March 15th - Jenya from While she was sleeping 
March 16th - Nicola from Create.nic
March 17th - Shelley from Bartacks and Singletrack
March 18th - Maaike from MaaiDesign

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

My Top 5 Tips for Sewing Beginners

I really do hope this little blog of mine will inspire others to sew and to refashion. 

For all of you starting to venture into the wonderful world of sewing, I thought I'd share my top 5 tips. 

1. Carefully consider your sewing machine choice. 
If you're starting out and can borrow a sewing machine, great!  If you choose to buy your own you will most likely get an instructional DVD with it, which is handy, but please remember you get what you pay for.  A few years ago I was machine-less and was not in a position to spend a lot.  When I saw a basic Singer machine at Aldi for $99.00 I bought it.  Mistake.  Please don't get me wrong, Singer makes great machines (although I'm a Bernina girl from way back) however this is not one of them.  I was constantly having tension problems which would be confusing and frustrating to a beginner.  They were frustrating to me too, but I can fix them quickly!  Often a well restored/serviced older machine will be better than a plastic fantastic new cheap machine.

2. Choose your fabrics carefully. 
This doesn't mean spending vast amounts of money on stunningly made luxury fabrics (not recommended for a beginner!).  What it means is if you're making something that should be soft and flowing, then choose soft flowing fabric.  If you use a cheap stiff fabric you won't be happy as you'll end up with a stiff garment!

3. Start simply. 
As much as I personally love making simple garments by tracing existing pieces, I think someone new to sewing should start with a simple paper pattern.  A paper pattern will give you exact measurements and clear ,precise instructions.  Start with a very basic skirt or top without too many fastenings or details.  Sure you want to make a Burberry inspired lined trench coat... but start small!

4. Trim threads & finish edges as you go. 
It may seem like a simple and unimportant thing, but not being left with a mess of threads and unfinished seams at the end of a project is great.

4.  Iron! 
Yes, you must!  Press each seam.  It will give you a more professional and precise finish and sets your stitches.  If something is wonky, it will be obvious when you press it and you can fix it before moving onto the next stage.

5. Make sure you wear your makes.
At first you may feel a little discouraged because your garment isn't "perfect" but you are your own worst critic.  Remember, when you're wearing something no one can see the messy inner seams, nor do they know how many times you had to unpick and resew.  They see a lovely unique garment.  Trust me, nothing feels better than being complimented on something you have made!

Happy Sewing!