Saturday, 26 March 2011

Shirt Skirt

Why just wear a shirt in one way? that's so last year darling!

Here I have made a skirt out of two shirts buttoned together. Its so simple.

 To make the rosettes out of the sleeves is very simple, all you need to do is...

tie a double knot

wrap round one sleeve

wrap other sleeve round and fasten

Be an eco fashionista!

Over the next few weeks I will be showing you how to become more eco friendly in what you wear, and not sacrifice your style! 

Firstly, we must all take full advantage of what we already have in our wardrobe. We all have some hidden treasures that have been collecting dust, brush them off and get them out! And if you feel they just aren't you any more, there are so many things you can do to make them beautiful again, breathe a new life into them, and make them into something you are proud to wear.

Here I have taken an old waistcoat of mine, and customized it into something utterly unique. It isn't complicated, anyone can do this. So why not give it a go!

I chose this waistcoat because I hardly wear it, its a pale colour so any stitching I do on it will show up nicely, it also has a great lining, so I can play with that a bit too, you need to be confident and be prepared to cut into your garment, really take advantage of great linings or fastenings.

 So here I have cut away one section of the outer fabric to reveal the fabulous lining, and then sewed it back up using a wavy stitch on my sewing machine. Its great to play with the different stitches that you have available on your machine, because you can create great effects with minimum effort!

Using free machine embroidery, which is were you take the foot off the sewing machine, meaning that you are free to stitch any which way you like, you can use the needle and thread like a pen, making a continuous line drawing, it takes some practice, you must always keep the fabric taught, if you can its best to put it into a embroidery hoop if you are working on a larger area, and be careful,  try not to stitch your fingers! As you can see I have free machine embroidered some leaves onto these straps.
Its great to add other  fastenings and trimmings to your garment. Here I took the edging from an old pillowcase and stitched it on using another great stitch on my sewing machine. Replacing the odd button with different colour or style of button is a great way to jazz up an old garment. 

If you aren't a savvy on the sewing machine or just don't want to do machine embroidery, then just a simple straight stitch can give you a great effect. That's what I have done here, do what ever you feel confident with, just enjoy it and don't be afraid to go for it, if it doesn't work out, you can always unpick it!

Here I had to unpick the seam and slip this piece of lace in that I had lying around from an old table cloth, and then sew the seam back up, this is my favorite part, and it looks like it has always been there.

So have some fun, and if you don't feel like laying into any of your own clothes just yet, charity shops are a great place to find some hidden gems, older clothes are more often better made, and have the more elaborate linings which you can have great fun with. You can try unpicking a sleeve or something, turning it inside out and stitching it back on, if you have a really fabulous lining you want to show off. The possibilities are endless, the more adventurous you are, the more likely you will make new discoveries and end up with a very special garment.

So now I have a lovely waistcoat that I  wear much more often, something completely unique and I'm proud to wear, the number of compliments I receive from it is surprising, and makes me feel a great sense of achievement to know that I have had a part in creating this garment. Also it has cost nothing, it has saved me buying a new one, and made better use of something old that was being neglected. I encourage you to do the same, have a rummage through your wardrobe and find something to become proud of.


Saturday, 5 March 2011

H&M Conscious Collection

H&M are stepping up to the mark and releasing their new 'Conscious Collection'. A collection that incorporates eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton, Tencel, and recycled polyester. This is not just a one off collection, it will be a new line that they will keep going. The pieces are very pretty and feminine, a huge contrast to the shapeless unappealing organic cotton t-shits that we see in some high street shops, as their attempt to 'do their bit'. The whole collection is coloured white and natural ivory, no need for harsh chemical dyes with these fresh summer outfits. This is a great start to encourage other brands to do the same, as competition arises and more and more people are buying ethical clothing not just because it is ethical but because it is fashionable too!

But is this enough? are they just trying to bail out saying they have an eco collection to distract us from the fact that they are selling hundreds of other garments which are not eco. Surely if they can create an eco collection can't they make the rest of their collections organic and eco friendly too? Or will this affect their profits to much...?

Killer Cotton

Cotton crops use a staggering 25% of the worlds pesticides. Many of them deadly, and used by farmers who do not understand the dangers or are not equipped with the correct protective clothing needed to handle these harmful chemicals. Pesticides cause over 20,000 deaths a year from accidental poisonings. Aldicarb, the second most used pesticide in cotton production, just one drop absorbed through the skin is enough to kill an adult. And there are the farmers spraying it in the fields in their shorts and t-shits and sandals...This chemical is banned in over 70 countries, it's use is banned in the EU yet the EU still produce it and sell it the third world countries, where is the sense in that?!

This is a complete outrage. It is so unbelievable that this is happening right now, and that we are contributing to this by buying cotton products which are manufactured in this way everyday. So how can we change this? well it is up to YOU.  The fashion industry as a whole is too lazy, too ignorant and too disinterested in fair trade and the environmental issues surrounding the sourcing of raw materials.  Only pressure form the consumer is enough to change their habits. We must be more inquisitive and demanding when purchasing our clothes, sheets, towels, there are SO many cotton products out there! Asking where the cotton is sourced is a start, push for brands to use organic cotton, and ask WHY they don't use organic cotton already. Buy organic cotton products when you can. The more popular it becomes the more it will be produced. The more competition will arise among brands, making organic cotton more widely available.

'Clean up or die'

'The clothing, shoe and textile industry is one of the largest in the world. It is responsible for enormous pollution and environmental destruction. The industry uses more water than any other, apart from agriculture. It discharges massive quantities of toxic chemicals into the environment, from bleach, lycra, PVC and heavy metals in dyes and leather tanning. It uses huge amounts of energy in the form oil and electricity - used in manufacturing and the production of synthetics - and in shipping and air travel. It is responsible for enormous CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions and must be considered a significant contributor to climate change.' (Katharine Hamnett)

It is appalling to discover what an impact the fashion industry is having on our environment. And how few of us are aware, or even worse, the majority of us who ARE aware continue to turn a blind eye and do nothing about it. This is our planet, and our future that we are putting in danger. 

In the last 15 years fashion has become faster and cheaper. Bringing on monthly fashion seasons in many chains instead of what used to be just the two. This is putting a great strain on the production, as if it wasn't pushed enough. Also as we are buying more, we are throwing more away, more and more textiles is being put into landfill each year. 

We all think we are doing our recycling bit when the bin man comes and collects our recycling waste every other week. But how often do you recycle your clothes? Do you take old unwanted clothing to charity shops, clothing bins, or tear up old rags for cleaning the windows with? And how many of the clothes in your wardrobe are second hand? Go and have a good rummage in your charity shops, get on eBay, and don't forget...Vintage! its the way to go, you can't compare it to the high street. Clothes simply aren't make like this any more, especially not for these prices! The modern High street can't offer the satin linings, lined button holes and sheer attention to detail that vintage clothes have to offer. 

The best vintage shops I have been to are in east london, here are a few:
Absolute Vintage - Hanbury Street, London E1
Rokit - Brick Lane, London E1 
Beyond Retro - Cheshire Street, London E2

Though the problem these days, is so many of our clothes are so cheaply made they often aren't up to becoming second hand, its a vicious circle! It requires dedicated regular visits to discover a good find in charity shops today. This is mostly because not enough of us are donating, we ALL need to be shedding things that we just don't wear any more into charity shops this way there will be more choice for EVERYONE.

Though I'm not suggesting that you ditch the high street all together and just buy second hand, but I do think we all need to slow down a tad, everything in moderation right? think about what you buy and how much you really need it in your lives. Do we really need the same top in five different colours? how many pairs of jeans do we REALLY need in our wardrobe? Instead of buying mountains of cheap clothes that we will often only wear a few times, think about investing in a few key pieces that you will love for years instead of months, and if you pick right, they will never go out of fashion, and will be well worth the initial slightly more expensive price.