April 24, 2014

Fashion Revolution- a guide to a more ethical wardrobe on a budget

My Photo for the #insideout and #handmadeinsideout 

Today is Fashion Revolution Day- a day to remember the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh just one year ago, and a day to ask the question, "Who made my clothes?" A day to bring awareness to sustainable fashion and make us all think a bit about where our clothes come from, and who makes them, and how they are made. Because it matters. And if you don't know why yet, watch this five minute op-doc about the Rana Plaza collapse. It's good. Really good. 

I've had sustainable fashion on my mind for a bit now, ever since I came across this article- 6 Things You Should Know About Your Clothes- in my facebook feed. (You should really read it, and the follow up post, 4 Things You Should Remember Every Time You Shop for Clothes). Here's the thing- I've always been a seeker of bargains. I pride myself on finding a good deal, but this article made me rethink the cost of those "deals.'  I'd started to see the light on quality over quantity (as a twenty something who naturally wants ALL THE THINGS this is a slow going change) but I'm more committed to that change every day, as I'm learning about the options I have as a consumer. I'm on a tight budget, which means I can't afford to buy all organic cotton, sustainably sourced, ethically made clothes for myself and my family. I'm using this fantastic and lovely graphic by Sarah Lazarovic, along with the ideas in the articles linked above, as my guide to navigating a more ethical wardrobe, on a budget.

source: http://longliveirony.com/?p=575 by Sarah Lazarovic

1. I'm gonna use what I got. When I look through my closet there are always those things that I pass by because they don't fit just right, or a button needs to be replaced, or there is a hole somewhere. Well guess what- clothes can be fixed! Mending and alterations can extend the life of clothes you already have. I do mine myself, but when I don't know how I usually search the internet for a tutorial or video. If you want to learn how, the information is there! And if you don't want to learn how, find a tailor or someone who can do the work for you. Costs range on this quite a bit, but it never hurts to ask, right?
Matt and I both had holes forming in the crotch of our jeans a few months back. I finally convinced myself to try patching them because we just couldn't afford new ones at the time. That was 5 months ago, and we are both still wearing them with no signs of them wearing out, and the patches aren't even visible! 

2. I'll borrow and swap when I can. I don't have a clothes borrowing friend near me now, but when I did I loved it. For family pictures or a special occasion, raiding a friends closet can give just the extra something you want without purchasing anything. I've also borrowed maternity clothes. Pregnancy can be a tricky time for clothes, so borrowing makes so much sense. Something you wear one week may look terrible or not fit the next, so borrowing from others was a great way for me to have a wardrobe I wasn't sick of by the end of my pregnancy. Oh, and kids clothes? Borrowing saved us from having to buy a new infant wardrobe, since my girls were born in opposite seasons. Moving forward I'll try to lend more, too. 

3. I'll keep on thrifting. Its no secret that thrifting is one of my true loves. Sometimes when I need to get some "me time" at the end of the day I'll leave the kids with my man and go to the thrift store. Yeah, I know how to party. Needless to say I'll continue to thrift for my family's wardrobe- and alteration skills come in handy here too- and thrift for pieces to upcycle or refashion. Which brings me to the next part of my plan:

4. Make, make make! Wearing something I've made makes me happy. Seeing my girls wearing something I've made makes me happy. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm betting seeing Matt wearing something I've made would make me happy. I'm going to try to add to all of our wardrobes with handmade when I can, using lots of thrifted materials, and try to use patterns by indie designers (my fave!) whenever possible. For anyone who doesn't sew but wants to, the online sewing community is one of the nicest and most helpful out there! There are tutorials! Patterns! Bloggers galore! So many resources to help anyone, at any skill level, hone the skills needed to sew. It doesn't take a special talent, just patience and practice. If you've ever thought about learning to sew, DO IT! 

5. I'll put my money where my mouth is. Yes, I'm sure I'll still be buying lots of things, but I'll try to do a little research and buy less 'fast fashion' and more quality products from companies who treat their makers well. Because I sew, so I know the skill it takes to make clothing. I want to show, with my dollars, that I value that skill in the global market. I'm not promising to only buy from a certain company, or to only buy organic, but I am going to be a more conscientious consumer. Because it matters. 

So what about you- how are you going to be part of the fashion revolution? 

Check out Behind the Hedgerow, Petit a Petit and Family, and Things for Boys for more info on #handmadeinsideout

April 16, 2014

Kids Clothes Week Spring 2014- Days 3-7

As always, I lost some steam at the end of Kids Clothes Week. I put in the time, for sure, but my projects just didn't go as smoothly. Does anyone else have that happen- great momentum in the beginning of projects and then.... ya know? Anyway, I finished up my last two garments yesterday, so here is what I spent the last part of Kids Clothes Week working on:

The bloomers are made using the Hosh Pants pattern-and hey! Perfect Pattern Parcel #2 is still available until Friday, and the Hosh pattern is included!
I got my inspiration from this post by Monica of Adirondack Inspired and decided to give the adjustable, flat front waistband a try with a bloomer style short for Caroline. I reworked the pleats a couple of times and I'm not 100% happy with these. I'm picky about bubble or bloomer shorts- I don't like too much volume, and I'd say these are borderline for me. Oh, and yeah, they were supposed to be for my 1 year old, but clearly my three year old is modeling them, so they turned out a liiiiittle big. I almost want to try again to get the proportions more to my liking , because I really do love that waistband and pleats. Anyhow, they are comfy. And perfect for transitioning from spring with tights/leggings underneath, to summer worn with a tank or tee, and all the way through fall with tights again. The fabric is a chambray bought at Joanns a couple of years ago.

And this shirt- quickly becoming my favorite make of the week- a pippa peplum with a double layered flounce and freezer paper stenciled cat face. I wanted to have something Charly could help me with as I spent some extra time on projects last week, and freezer paper stenciling is just so darn easy. This is a great tutorial, although I used screen printing ink (found at Hobby Lobby) rather than fabric paint because it softens up much better in my experience (and because my talented friend Mel told me to). Charly enjoyed it, and c'mon. Cats!

Will pose for marshmallows.

The fabric is a knit interlock remnant from Joanns. The slightly thicker knit and half sleeve make it great for cooler spring days. I think the extra layers at the waist seam are making it bow out a little at the waist despite using elastic thread in my bobbin, so I'm considering sewing some elastic right at the seam to bring it back in. I probably won't, though. I'm feeling kinda lazy after all this.

And that is that! My goal of 7 finished items wasn't met, but I can be happy with 5 in a week. As always, my head is reeling with projects I want to make. My creative juices are flowing, but time, that dastardly device, never seems to be on my side. Oh the wonderful clothes I could make for my children if I didn't have to take care of my children all day! I kid, I kid. But really.

April 10, 2014

Kids Clothes Week Spring 2014- Day 2 & 3 (and a half!)

I've done fairly well keeping up with a bit of sewing each day, and I've even managed to get outside with my kids and make dinner. Let's not talk about the state of the laundry, though.

I have a goal this KCW of using stuff I have- refashioning, upcycling, or using fabric from my (small) stash- rather than buying new fabric. It is time to clear some things out and make these piles of junk into something useful! So, for day 2, I refashioned (or upcyled... I really should find out the difference) this shirt I picked up at the thrift store a while back. If you haven't seen a rhyme or reason to my thrifting yet, I'll let you in on a secret. It's all about the fabric. If I'm looking for something for me then yes, I'm looking at fit and lines and all that stuff, but if I find something with a fabric I just love I know I can usually make it into something cool. Which is exactly why I bought this shirt that I knew I'd never wear- at least not in its current state.

It had a deep scoop back that meant there wasn't enough fabric to make it a little dress, so I finally decided to lop off the bottom as is and gather it into a skirt. It was basically the easiest thing I've made in a while. I used some fabric from the top to make a flat front/elastic back waistband, gathered the bottom portion and sewed it on. Easy as pie and my little lady is in love.

But then I didn't have anything she could wear with it, so I figured for day 3 I'd take a swing at the Celestial Tee from Figgy's that is included in Parcel #2 from Perfect Pattern Parcel. I had a cream tee I bought on clearance for $5 to work with. I loved it in theory, but the pleat detail on the front did a weird something over my boobs that I just wasn't digging. The problem is, this shirt wasn't quite wide enough to fit the pattern piece. I thought I'd try doing a contrast sleeve band like this, but it wasn't even wide enough for that. So I thought and thought and wasted way too much time brainstorming (I'm an overanalyzer- like bad) and came to the conclusion that I could try making it a raglan style sleeve, using another shirt to create a contrast sleeve. I literally just cut the pattern from the armpit diagonally to the neckline and added seam allowances. I also brought the back hem up for a less dramatic hi/low hem. Once I sewed the sleeve to the main bodice I followed the pattern. I wasn't sure how the pleats would look with the raglan sleeve, but I'm actually really loving that they seem to have the same angle to them, which makes it look intentional.

I toyed with the idea of using a linen with metallic stripes, but wasn't sure how a woven would work with a knit pattern. I used a thin knit with some texture instead (from a hand me down base layer type shirt), but now that I've sewn it up I'm pretty confident this pattern is loose enough that a woven sleeve would be just fine.

I didn't have enough fabric for a neckband so I cut the original hem from the main shirt and used that. It made a more narrow band but it worked! Talk about using what you've got!

I'm wishing I would have made a size smaller, since this pattern has a lot of ease and Charly is skinny as a rail. I guess she'll get to wear this for a long time:)

I finished the hemming on the shirt this afternoon, which brings us to today. I'm currently working on a pair of bubble shorts for Caroline and have another peplum top cut for Charly. My goal is 7 items this week- fingers crossed!

In the mean time, we are enjoying some fabulous weather, and it is all I can do to not skip naps and spend the whole day outside. Once summer hits the humidity comes with it, so these nice spring days are a precious commodity! Today we managed to get out for a run this morning and spend the late afternoon doing sidewalk chalk.

This goober declared herself "a ragamuffin princess" and I'd have to agree!

April 9, 2014

Sewing for Perfect Pattern Parcel #2- Charly's Spring Look

Here is part 2 of the looks I created using the patterns from Perfect Pattern Parcel. If you missed it, the first one is here. I couldn't stop myself from making more than one of these great patterns- so I used two to make Charly this outfit.

Charly always gets more home sewn stuff because she is the oldest and doesn't have hand me downs. Thus, every season change (or growth spurt), I'm brainstorming things I can make for her. These days all she wants are dresses, but she also thinks shirts that are flowy or have a little flounce are dresses. I knew the Hanami top would fit the bill for a "dress" and I was dying to sew up some Hosh pants. The Bimaa is one of my absolute favorite patterns so I figured I'd like another LouBee pattern.

I scoured the thrift store for some fabric and wound up finding this gem:

It is rayon, which I thought would make for a nice flowy Hanami, and I like the small print. So 90's, but hey, thats coming back right? Right? Or did I hear that wrong? Anyway, there's enough fabric left for a whole other project, so you may be seeing this again soon.

The top sewed up beautifully. I opted for the crossed back to give it a little something something. I love the look, but the buttons are a bit hard to reach on the inside flap. I lengthened the bodice and skirt each by an inch for my tall skinny gal. I also opted to leave the sleeves unlined and just serge a rolled hem on the edges to make them a little more drapey. 

I used a lightweight apparel lining rather than another layer of rayon. I love the finished look of the fully lined bodice, and the edge stitching keeps everything in place nicely.

The pants are a stretch twill from Joanns. I love the pop they give with this neutral top. I neglected to measure my little lady before cutting and sewing them. Oops. They were baggy and the bum was saggy so I had to make some alterations, but I'm confident that if I'd followed directions they would have been fine as is. Just as I suspected they were simple to construct and came together so fast. The adjustable waistband saved my bacon and is great for my skinny kid! 

I'd definitely make both of these patterns again. The Hosh is a great staple skinny pant that can almost pass as leggings but has a more polished look. Charly is suddenly vehemently against jeans, so I'm happy to have a pants pattern with a bit of polish but lots of comfort, too. 

So... are you convinced that you NEED these patterns yet? 

Perfect Pattern Parcel #2

Get all five (and the bonus shorts if you pay $24 or more) by clicking the link below. 

Perfect Pattern Parcel #2

Want to see more? Check out what these bloggers are making with the patterns!

April 8, 2014

Kids Clothes Week Spring 2014- Day 1

And all of the sudden I'm back! Posting for Perfect Pattern Parcel earlier today (and again tomorrow) and now Kids Clothes Week is upon us and I'm hoping to stay somewhat up to date with my projects this week. Yesterday was day 1, and since I'd done a bit of prep work by cutting a couple projects out, I managed to finish one of them.

This peplum top was made using the Pippa Peplum pattern from See Kate Sew. I used this pattern to sew a couple dresses for someone recently but this was my first time sewing up a Pippa for one of my girls. Charly gasped when she saw it this morning and immediately declared it was her Snow White dress. I have no idea why she's calling it that, but I couldn't have asked for a better reaction!

I made it using this shirt that I bought for myself at the thrift store a couple of years ago. I have no idea why I bought it. I don't usually wear those colors or that silhouette, which is why its been sitting in my dresser nearly the entire time I've owned it. Lucky for me neon is in and this bad boy was just big enough to cut a top for Charly out of. I was able to cut the bodice and sleeves out of just the fabric from the sleeves of the original shirt!

I used the bottom of the shirt as the skirt portion of the top by measuring the height of the peplum pattern piece and cutting that much off the bottom of the shirt, following the curve. Because of that the bottom has a bit more fullness than the original pattern but it saved me the pain of hemming. Hooray!

So that's day one of Kids Clothes Week for me. I've got two more patterns cut and ready to sew, and about 20 more I want to make. I'd love to make one thing each day, but I realize that may be a bit ambitious for me at this point. Can't hurt to try though, right? Wish me luck!