Monday, 19 April 2021

Fashion Revolution Week: Sustainable Sewing Tips

What does sustainable sewing mean to you? Does it mean being a conscious consumer? Or do you go further and realize that even though you're a conscious consumer you're still consuming. How and what we consume has an impact on our communities, human rights and the environment.    

I've been sewing my own clothes consuming textile products for a long time. It all started restarted as a quest for clothing that fit. It evolved over the years as I learned about the impact of fast-fashion on human rights and the environment. And it is an awakening of sorts to the impact that deforestation and water diversion in the name of fashion has in other aspects of our lives. 

There are big steps (education) and small steps (how we sew) that we can take in order to have a positive impact no matter how small they might seem.  

1.  Sew the Stash!  

Okay, I realize that fabric shopping and sewing with fabric are two completely different hobbies for some of us. 

Sure, it's fun a distraction during the pandemic to scroll the online fabric collections now that the pandemic has striped away the ability to walk into a fabric store and touch textile products like we once did in the past. If anything, lockdowns provide the time to shop the stash and rediscover pieces that might otherwise be overlooked or forgotten. Along with searching for the last bits of elastic during the great elastic shortage of 2020.  Oy!

Can't find the right colour of fabric in your stash or want to jump on the tie-dye trend? Consider dying fabric that is already in your stash. You don't even need to run out to the craft or fabric store for store-bought dyes. You might have all the materials needed in your pantry or garden. Added bonus, natural dyes are kind to the environment. It will feel like you have a new fabric that you pulled out of the stash.   

2.  Wear What You Make, Make What You and Your Community Needs

In a few short days we'll be in the midst of Me Made May festivities. It's an annual online celebration of what has been created and worn.  You don't even have to document the process if you don't want to, it's just a time to be mindful of the clothing items that are waiting to get out of the closet and be worn. 

Lately, most of my sewing projects have not been photo shoot material. There hasn't been much fancy pretty things coming off the sewing machine. Instead, my sewing projects have been highly worn needed items. Face masks, undergarments, and scrub caps are not the most glamorous projects but they are the most appreciated.  

And on a sustainability note, these prized and highly sought after items are small enough to use up small remnants of fabric left over from other projects. There are many groups (hospital / health care workers, homeless shelters, community groups) that would benefit from any left over face masks, undergarments and scrub caps that could be send their way.  If it's possible to do, it's a great way to care for our communities.

3.  Care for Your Clothes

"Loved clothes last," is the catch phrase but it's also true.  We all invest a lot of time into creating our me-made wardrobes. Doesn't it make sense to care for them after they leave the sewing machine? 


Let me tell you a tale about this white shirt. Back in 2019, I was so thrilled that I finally managed to sew a white shirt that was comfortable and fit. It's all about sleeves that hit my wrist area and enough ease around the mid-section.  And then in my joy over finally having a white shirt that fits, I wore it out in the public sphere and while at work a blue ink stain appeared on the front band.  

I know, I was shocked as well.  I have no idea how it happened, I'm usually very careful except for this time.  I tried every commercial product stain remover I could get my hands on, from a Tide™ stain remover stick to Shout™ spray stain remover, but nothing worked. In matter of fact the ink stain spread.  Sadness quickly followed when I realized that the there was no more white cotton with stretch in my fabric stash.  

The once loved shirt sat in my mending pile for months waiting for me to recycle those buttons and cut it up for rags. It sat there for that long because I just couldn't do it. And during that time, I started to wonder about that urban legend out there that says, hair spray can remove ink stains. Could it be that it might actually be true? What did I have to lose?  Well, besides a stack of new rags.  

It did work despite all the online posts that hair spray contains less alcohol as it did back-in-the-day. The current advice seems to be to use a bottle of alcohol instead but with the pandemic making alcohol supplies at the drug store a rare find, I'm glad I gave the hair spray trick a try. I invested in a non-aerosol bottle of extra hold hair spray and it worked, much to my relief. The moral of the story, sometimes it's worth the risk. And if it doesn't work, there is a source for rags oh let's not go there. 

4.  Learn to Mend and Love the Process  

Mending is the greatest sewing technique that you can bring to your sewing process. Yeah, I can hardly believe that my fingers hit those keystrokes to spell that out. I've come a long way in my view on mending. There has really been a mind shift over the pandemic. 

The above ready-to-wear shirt has ended up on the mending pile once again. I'm thinking about how I want to repair the small hole developing on the upper back of this top. And I'm thinking about doing some visible mending with this one. I've been intrigued by Sashiko, the Japanese technique of visible mending. I think it could look quite pretty, maybe try it out with some silk thread so not to compete with the light-weight fabric.  

5.  Use Old Clothing as Your Fabric Source

According to a report by the United States Environment Protection Agency, many of the previously desired clothing that we donate to charity and second hand shops still end up in landfills and contribute to greenhouse gases.  

Have you considered using your old clothing as a fabric source instead of donating them? It couldn't be a better time to consider it as the patchwork trend is sticking around for 2021.  

How about using big people clothing pieces to recreate little people clothing? The above dress was created with a much loved piece of cloth from a me-made skirt that no longer fit. Fabrics have certainly changed over the decades as manufacturers blend natural and man-made fibres in order to save money. Those quality natural fibre fabrics are becoming harder to find in fabric store shelves replaced by polyester options. But those gems might still be sitting in your mending or donate piles waiting to be recreated into something new.  

Stay Safe and Happy Sustainable Sewing!

Sunday, 18 April 2021

The Assembly Line: T:205 Oversized Shirt

The fabric for this project is another home décor find. It's a 100% silk plaid fabric and I was smitten at the moment I spotted it. It's been in the fabric stash for years waiting for the perfect pattern to come along.  

Enter The Assembly Line's (TAL) oversized shirt pattern. I actually started this project months ago and then well, life procraftination happened and it fell to the side lines. But I digress... 

After pretreating this silk fabric it lost it's stiffness and felt less like a home decor fabric. It still retained some of its structure but with some much welcomed softness. The pattern pieces were carefully laid out on the cross grain only because I wanted the black stripes in the plaid to run vertically. For the front piece, I placed the pieces as a single layer mindful of the potential of silk to be challenging to cut and the added challenge of matching the plaid. Thankfully, it appears to be worth the extra effort.   

The pattern is an absolutely a keeper. First, this is a well-drafted pattern, the style is so comfortable and I love the fit. BONUS:  IT HAS POCKETS!!!  I placed the upper edge of the pocket six and a quarter inches below the armhole seam but I think next time I may raise it a half or three quarters of an inch higher. Even though I love the fact that this shirt has pockets, my fabric choice makes me question whether I want to use them for more than keeping my hands hidden.  

I did switch something up, the sleeve placket. I'm not a fan of the slit and continuous lap option that is used on this pattern and most women's clothing. Instead, I opted for the tower placket style most commonly found on menswear. And I shortened the length of the sleeve.  Maybe a wee bit more on the next one but for this one, I'm okay with the length and can get away with it just fine. But the next version, I will tweak the sleeve length.   

I do have to applaud The Assembly Line (TAL) for their instructions. They really do a fine job with explaining tailor tacks and other techniques not typically explained on modern North American the Big Four's pattern instructions. TAL's detailed instructions is what makes their patterns quite suitable for beginners and a true treasure. 

Another thing that I did adjust was the seam allowances, I'm just not used to sewing 3/8" seam allowances. I could have easily left the pattern as it was (exception the collar and neckline) and sewed 5/8" seam allowances without compromising the fit. It really is an oversized relaxed fit as described on the pattern.  

Now, the time has come to plan the next version. Perhaps a linen, lengthened into a shirt dress option?   

Project Details

Seams:  2.2 -- 2.4 straight stitch

Seam finish:  Interior seams are serged

Tip:  Cut plaids as a single layer so that they are easier to match.

Fabric:  2.1 metres

Interfacing:  1 metre fusible

Buttons:  11 - 3/8" 

Label:  1 -- "me made" from Kylie and the Machine

Patterns:  The Assembly Line T:205 and Vogue 1503 (sleeve placket pattern piece)

Additional Tools and Supplies:  Flip chart paper, rulers, marker, pencil, measuring tape, tailor's chalk, pins, pin cushion, scissors, thread clippers, serger, sewing machine, walking foot, threads for the machines, new sewing machine needle, silk thread for hand stitching, hand sewing needle, sleeve ham, wooden collar press, measuring gauge, screwdriver, cutting board, hammer, buttonhole cutter and many breaks over a course of months.  

Stay Safe and Happy Sewing!

Monday, 12 April 2021

Monday's Mending Pile

On my on going quest to find the best fitting facemask, I decided to change up the elastic. Instead of the ear elastic, I've switched the elastic to fit across the back of my head. It stays in place better and instead of pulling my ear lobes forward it wraps around the back of my head. 

It's okay for short time wearing but I find that the elastic hurts the top of my ear if I wear it for more than a hour or so. I might have to go back to the cutting table and look at using a thinner width elastic and give that a try.  

There was some repair work done to this shirt. I made this twenty-seven months ago but but the look of the elbow wear you might think it's older than this. It must have been well-loved and worn.  

At first I thought to patch the elbows but then I found another small hole in the lower shirt front and then decided to cut the sleeves.  I changed the sleeve into a short sleeve and use a small piece of the discarded lower sleeve to cut out a patch and repair the front.  

Looks like it might be time to pull out McCall's 2447 out of the drawer and start planning another long sleeve shirt project.  

Before then, I'm trying to figure out how to repair a very small hole in the lower front corner of this jacket. I wear this one mostly when out doing yard work or running errands.  Do I leave it since it's just weekend / errand wear or should I try to patch it with a "me made" label near the bottom zipper corner?  Or should I just mend it with a few hand stitches to close up the hole?  I wish I still had a remnant of this fabric.  I would have just patched it.  Hmmm, I  might go with the label.  What do you think?  

Stay Safe and Happy Sewing!  

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

National Tartan Day

All tartans are plaid.  

That said, not all plaids are tartans.  

So what's the difference?  Well a tartan is a specific type of plaid design that is specific to a family clan, a place or even a military unit.  There is even a registry that notes the specifics of the design as to the colours and threads that cross each other.  

Not so for plaids.  Here in North America a plaid refers to any fabric that has a crossed checkered design.  

And did you know that Canadian provinces and the territories have their own tartans? So even if your heritage is not Scottish you can wear your local tartan to observe national tartan day.  Although, many provincial "tartans" fabrics found online are actually printed cottons.  Guess that would make it a plaid. 

Stay Safe and Happy National Tartan Day!   

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Easter Dress: OOP McCall's 8548


Goodness, I don't know where to begin with this project.  Hmm, let's start with the pattern. This little dress was created with out-of-print (OOP) McCall's 8548. Back-in-the-day, I had a copy of this pattern and made a little floral dress for my niece. That was a life time ago. This is a new-ish copy found at a second hand shop.  

It was with a sense of nostalgia that it made it back to the cutting table. The same can be said about the fabric. The ribbon decorated cotton was in my stash for a long time before I cut it into a skirt. Years later, it doesn't fit and it ended up on the cutting table as a refashion project. The bodice, sleeves and undercollar were cut from another green cotton from my stash.  

Project Details

Seams:  2.4 straight seam length, 4.0 gathering stitch length

Seam Finish:  Serged

Fabric:  Recycled skirt and 0.5 metres 

Interfacing:  1 metre fusible

Buttons:  7 - 3/4" buttons

Pattern:  OOP McCall's 8548

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, scissors, pins, pin cushions, seam ripper, thread clippers, iron, ironing board, sewing machine, walking foot, buttonhole foot, serger, screwdriver, threads (finished off 100 m spool), cutting board, buttonhole cutter, hammer and tea.  

Stay Safe and Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

March in Review...

March turned out to be a pretty quiet month at the sewing table.  Although, I did manage to de-stash over twelve metres of fabrics. It doesn't really seem possible, does it? Mostly items for work (chess board mats) and others (scrub caps) with the exception of something for moi (reusable grocery bags). No garment sewing this month. Unless you count mending. There was quite a bit of mending happening this month.    


Fabric:  12.1 metres (March) + 20.4 metres (previous months) = 32.5 metres

Zippers:  0 (March) + 1 - 55 cm invisible zipper (previous months) =

Seam binding:  0 (March) + 7 metres (previous months) = 7 metres

Knit 'N Stable tape:  0 metres (March) + 9 metres (previous months) = 9 metres

Twill tape:  0 metres (March) + 0.5 metres (previous months) = 0.5 metres

Spools of thread 1 spool - 275 metres (March) + 1 875 metres (previous months) = 2 150 metres

Sewing machine needles:  1 sewing machine needle (March) + 1 sewing machine needle and 1 serger needle (previous months) =

Hand needles:  1 hand sewing needle (March) + 0 previous months) = 1


Fabric:  0 metres (March) + 24.7 metres (previous months) = 24.7 metres 

Sewing Machine Needles:  0 (March) + 1 package of 3 serger needles = 3

Buttons:  0 (March) + 10 (previous months) = 10

Sewing patterns:  2 Named Clothing patterns (March) + 0 (previous months) = 2

Stay Safe and Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 21 March 2021

In Sewing News Today...

All is quiet at the sewing machine. I think I'm traumatized by the Vogue release of this pattern in their new Spring line.  

What the heck is that, Vogue?  Besides being scary.  Apparently, they didn't read Globe and Mail's On Trend piece a couple of weeks ago that read, "as fashion adapts to a more casual and cautious world, the list of must-haves for spring 2021 are appropriately subtle" (Pizzimenti, P4). I guess Vogue Patterns outlook for Spring 2021 is go big or stay home.  

The only Vogue pattern that I like from this collection is the Marcy Tilton pattern, Vogue 1784, but then it reminds me of some previous Marcy Tilton top patterns. 

Only mending has been happening of late. And replacing elastic on some face masks.

Well, that's all in sewing news today.  

Stay Safe and Happy Sewing!  

Fashion Revolution Week: Sustainable Sewing Tips

What does sustainable sewing mean to you? Does it mean being a conscious consumer? Or do you go further and realize that even though you'...