A Challenge for Every Month didn’t really happen last year. I think I achieved 6 out of 12 (see below for the gory details), a 50% success rate! I am one of those people who tends to look at everything slightly negatively (just mainly when it comes to myself, not the world 🙂 ) and analyse things endlessly. I think reflection is a wonderful thing but endless analysis of your life can tire you out and can sometimes lead to inertia. To help me quite that frame of mind I am going with a 50% success rate and looking to achieve the remaining 6 this year. I think last year at times I found it difficult to devote time to some of the challenges I really wanted to get my teeth into so I procrastinated on them. Also there is the inevitable fact that sometimes after spending all day online in my day job sometimes I really don’t want to look at a computer screen when I get home. To counter that I am going to do more writing of my posts in notebooks prior to writing online, I have always done that especially for horse riding posts as I can often do that immediately after my experiences. Also who out there doesn’t love using a notebook?? I am also excited to keep up with some of the challenges I did complete last year. For example the mending and the months of not buying, plus the alterations of items that I no longer wear. Continue reading “A New Year and Some Old Challenges”
Back in August I managed to rescue two items that would have previously been destined for a lift on the shelf before falling into the landfill. I would use the term ‘upcycle’ here but it is more renewing.
I am pretty lucky as while I do not have a sewing machine or the associated skills (planning to learn these but this is an addition to a looonngg list of things I plan to learn) I do have a mother who made many of my clothes when I was wee and who used to make her own clothes. Thanks to her I have a lovely grey jumper with additional sparkle and a sleeveless top perfect for layering.
This jumper had been attacked by the moths that have taken up residence in my home last year (we have tried to get rid of them and hopefully it has worked). Lots of small holes meant that the jumper was unwearable – I had thought of wearing it with a bright top underneath but I worried all which would happen would be that the holes would increase in size. After a bit of deal brokering my mum offered to help me. She was little concerned that we wouldn’t be able to match the wool exactly which allowed us to try a technique that I have been fancying called ‘visible remend’ where you make the mend part of the design. Well my mum ended up running with this and chose some bright blue sequins to match the existing ones and after darning the holes covered them with the sequins. I think it looks great and I am really pleased, cheers mum!
The other item she helped me convert was a top I had that while lovely had a huge rip under the arm, so I cut the arms off and she helped me to tidy it up and then added the bias binding. The top had such a lovely drape on it that I am pleased I can still wear it and while it is starting to get a little cold to wear it (even with a cardigan in the office it was still a bit parky) when the weather gets warmer it will be great!
I am really enjoying trying to make my clothes last longer and learn some new skills. It is all starting to build up to a new challenge.
Finally the last thing I want to mention is the disposal of unwanted clothing. Now I have eBay-ed some things in the past year, I have been cutting up old clothes into rags and the ones that I think are nice and decent I give to the charity shop – so far, so standard. This meant that as I read about the 2nd hand clothing industry in Lucy Siegle’s wonderful book ‘To Die For’ I got quite disheartened. Here I was thinking my clothes got a 2nd life and helped a charity and while they do it is in a convoluted and slightly hidden from the public manner. I never thought that by giving my unwanted garments to charity that I would be affecting a national garment industry in another country. So one of my goals this year has been to try and learn more about the disposal of clothing, is there a way in which I can minimise any negative affect the clothing I no longer wish to have has? Continue reading “A Challenge for every Month – July – trying to catch my tail part 3”
Part 2 in the ‘I finally feel a little productive’ series, on the evening of the 31st (I do love leaving things to the last minute) I did some very basic upcycling, changing some trousers I no longer wore into shorts. And guess what?? I have pictures, including a terrible photo of my brutally white legs 🙂
This should have been easier than I made it. The first time I cut the trousers I went pretty wrong, they weren’t even close to the same length and as I had cut them at a narrow point I couldn’t even hem them without cutting the blood supply off to my lower leg. So I went shorter, originally I had thought I would try turnups but the combination of narrowing trouser leg and lots more cycling put paid to that plan so instead I went for a simple hem. Again I made the world’s wiggliest line and had to spend a fair amount of time pinning and re-pinning to get them even but I think it was worth it.
I simply used Wunderweb for the hemming, I don’t have a sewing machine so this recent discovery has made a world of difference to me. Feeling inspired I thought I might dye some harem pants I have from Primark (2nd hand from my mate when she stayed in Egypt and I was visiting) but even though I assumed they were cotton from the feel of them, they are actually polyester and after a quick hunt on Interweb I found out that it was more than likely I would dye the entire of my house and myself before they would get dyed properly plus if instructions start with ‘Take your dye bath’ makes me think not for the novice! Definitely reminded of how I would like to take a closer look at the labels in my wardrobe, what are my clothes actually made from!
The final part of my July catch up is about 2nd hand clothing.
Okay so I haven’t been that organised on this front, I will hold my hands up and say that even though I could pretend that I have been rushed off my feet well it is probably a lie. There have been times when I have been sitting around my flat thinking ‘I could look into…’ then just not doing so. My apologies, as with everyone life sometimes takes over 🙂 Originally I was going to do a long post about the things I have been up to in July to try and get my ethical/sustainable fashion challenges back on track but you lucky, lucky people I have decided to break this post up into three short ones. So first up mending, and some more inspiration!
I have been busily mending things. I have finally hemmed a pair of black trousers for work only to promptly discover the zip keeps opening at random moments, not sure I am up to replacing a zip so I think I might take these to a tailor until then I am simply wearing long tops with them to ensure that my dignity remains intact. I also hemmed some shorts as well and they are looking really nice. I love shorts, and although I have often thought of getting rid of these particular tweed ones or relegating them to Deerstalker wear they keep coming back into rotation. Still left to hem with the wonder that is Wunderweb are a pair of jodhpurs that I have currently just stitched into place and I want to try and patch up some exercise leggings. I also have a jumper that my mother is going to help me darn, she hasn’t been convinced that we can mend this one as she was confident that any darning attempt would be visible so we were thinking of trying a visible re-mend – I think I have mentioned this before. After chatting it through I think my mum is off and running with an idea as she wants to get sequins and bright turquoise wool – sounds pretty cool.
As another bit of inspiration one of our friends has an awesome style all of her own (all our friends have awesome style I hasten to add) but her look is great at festivals and just hanging out in the warm weather lately. She tends to wear sparkly bra tops or crop tops under baggier sleeveless tops tied at the side, she is a lot slimmer than me and don’t worry Edinburgh the sparkly bra tops are unlikely to be worn by me but I like the baggy tshirt tied at the side thing. On that note I thought I would take a large, slightly shapeless tshirt that I was given and see what I can do with it! The ideas on Shirtworks, link below made me think maybe I can try this. So I am going to try option 2.
Next up in the wee blog posts on a challenge for every month series – I am allowed to play with scissors and manage to turn some trousers into shorts. Simple I know but a challenge for me 🙂
In April I took part in Fashion Revolution Day on the 24th (the 1st anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh that killed 1,138 and injured many, many more). Fashion Revolution Day is designed to “bring everyone in the fashion value chain together and help to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion, show the world that change is possible, and celebrate all those involved in creating a more sustainable future.” This was one of my challenges that I was particularly keen to do and that I hoped would help show a change, however small in the industry and this year the focus was on transparency in the supply chain – something I feel is lacking for most companies. I deliberately didn’t choose an item from one of the more ethical and sustainable companies I buy from as I felt it would be more interesting to hear what a high street brand had to say. I chose my brown wax jacket from Joules which I have had for a few years now.
February seems to have passed in a blur, from reading a few of the blogs I follow I think most people feel the same way!
Luckily by default I did complete a challenge in February as I bought nothing! Well nothing clothing-wise, which was a revelation in a way as I realised that even on the WWC last year I still bought a lot of stuff (really just rediscovered eBay and then had to ban myself 😉 ). I definitely have enough clothing to see me through the days so I think a few self-imposed months without buying anything new definitely does me some good, and of course the bank balance which will help me to achieve some of my other goals for the year!
I also sent off my first email about the Fashion Revolution to the local designers Totty Rocks, unfortunately I haven’t heard anything back yet so I am going to follow up on that this week and do my other item – I have chosen two coats interestingly – not sure why, I guess because at the time I got these I couldn’t see many ethical alternatives that looked like they would cope with weather and be nice enough I would want to wear them. I got my Totty Rocks red mac made to measure in 2011 as a treat for having completed my MSc and I got my Joules wax jacket in 2010 so both are staples in my wardrobe. I will let you know what I hear back, the nice thing about Totty Rocks is that because their shop is in the city I can just pop in and see the lass who actually stitched my coat together 🙂
This month I am going to be taking a look at how to dispose of clothing, namely bras as I have had no idea what to do with them until I went to an express Pilates class!