I mentioned last month in May I would be taking part in the Me Made Made challenge. By chance on the Sewing For The Weekend podcast they mentioned The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth Cline was a good book to read for those doing a wardrobe cleanout so I borrowed a copy of the book from my local library.
The book is divided into 6 parts
Part 1 – Goodbye Fast Fashion
Part 2 – The Art of Less
Part 3 – The Art of More
Part 4 – The Sustainable Fashion Handbook
Part 5 – Make It Last
Part 6 – The Fashion Revolution
Each part is then broken into a series of chapters. The book is predominantly aimed at those who buy their clothes from a store and not for those who sew their own clothes so a lot of the parts and chapters aren’t 100% relevant to those with a me made wardrobe but in saying that there is a lot that those with a me made wardrobe can takeaway from the book.
The book starts of going through the main personality types when it comes to fashion
The Minimalists – Those who only like to have a minimal amount of functional clothing
The Style Seekers – Those who like to keep up with latest trends
The Traditionalists – Those who like to be stylish but don’t necessarily want to follow the trends
I would consider myself a traditionalist but with some minimalist tendencies. I don’t really care about styles and trends. I want pieces of clothing I can wear for years that are comfortable. I’m wanting to more to minimalism in general which includes clothing as I only want items around me that I’m actually using or in terms of clothing wearing.
After deciding on your personality type the book guides you through how to clean out your wardrobe to fit in with your type. What I really liked was this book doesn’t say “declutter your wardrobe then donate it all to charity” It makes you think about each item. What is the condition of this item? Is it broken/stained/worn out? Basically would you pay money for this item? It talks about how charities are often overrun with donations they can’t actually use as the items are in poor condition and they end up having to place them in landfill. If an item isn’t fit for sale could you do something with the fabric yourself such as use it for cleaning rags? If it is reasonable condition could you give it away in clothing swap or perhaps list it for free in online group? If you can’t do any of that can you wash the item and place it in a textile recycling program?
Once you have cleared your wardrobe it focuses on looking at what you have kept, It discuses ideas on ways to put together outfits so that you will start wearing the clothes you actually have more. This is inline with the concept of Me Made May. Finding new ways to wear what you already own.
The next part of the book looks at moving forward to future items. Making conscious decisions about how an item will fit in with what you already have so you don’t fall back into the wardrobe you originally started with and repeat the clothing consumption process once again.
The last parts of the book going through ways to prolong the life of the clothing you own and ideas to take into consideration about future purchases in terms of the fabrics choices. There are lots of tips and hints about laundering your clothes and mending them. If you don’t sew it gives instructions on how to do basic mending yourself.
Although parts of the book weren’t relevant to myself I enjoyed reading it and took a lot away from it.
Be more mindful of them items I donate to charity – Thinking first can I do something with the item
When making future fabric choices think of how the colour or print will fit in with my existing clothing
Think about the quality of the fabric so that I can make items that last
When making clothing really pay close attention to the sewing process so that I make quality items that will last. Properly reinforce high stress areas and ensure that I don’t skimp on the quality of finishing hems so that I won’t have to mend items so often
Think about the way I wash my items. Tackle stains straight away, put things away as soon as they are dry so they aren’t exposed to excess sunlight (I dry my washing outdoors undercover)
Tackle mending jobs as soon as I see them so the fault doesn’t become too large
Respect my clothing between wears. Some items I don’t wash after every use so properly store them not just dump them on a rack
A good book gets your brain ticking as you read it. This book certainly did that. Whether you only have ready to wear clothing or make you own this book will open your eyes up to ways to help you create a wardrobe of clothing you will actually wear.
It is about this time year that in Australia Better Homes and Gardens publishes their annual Knit and Crochet Collection magazine. I found it in my local supermarket this past weekend.
In 2020 I set myself the personal challenge of making an item out of each edition of the magazine that comes out. Prior to that I had been buying the magazine each year but had really made any of the projects from them except for some basic beanies. I decided if I wasn’t going to make projects I couldn’t buy it each year anymore as it was a waste of money, paper and space. Since I set myself the challenge I have actually made a few things from various editions.
The first thing I noticed was this year there wasn’t the usual bonus yarn crafting tool that you normally get attached to the front cover. Normally I don’t use these so I don’t mind but I do pass them on to others that could use them. I guess it was a way for the publisher to save money on a $10.99 magazine. In fairness the magazine is $2 cheaper than last year so really you can’t complain about no bonus tool. There are less patterns in it than previous years.
When I posted a photo of the magazine in my knitting group it was pointed out that this year all the patterns and yarns are from UK magazines and all the yarns used are from overseas. In Australia we do get a lot of the UK knitting and crochet magazines which I have brought over the years. You can get some of yarns mentioned in the magazines locally at independent yarn stores but they cost more than buying it from one of 2 big online UK yarn stores and having it posted over. There is an advertisement at the start of the magazine for one Australian yarn shop but there isn’t a page of stockists in the magazine letting you know where you can get the yarns mentioned. Australia has a great yarn community of both manufacturers and designers so it would’ve been nice to have some local content in it.
From the 2022 edition I will be honest and say I’m struggling to find a project that is jumping out at me to make. There are so many jumper patterns in it this year. There are some cowls, scarves, kids toys, cushion covers, beanies and a couple of bags but it just feels like it is dominated by jumpers. In the ladies jumpers I would be struggling to fit into them comfortably. Also not everyone has the patience or the money to knit a jumper which can be expensive if you are on the upper end of the size chart and needle more balls of yarn for the garment. There are also some really random patterns which involve covering footwear (thongs)
The magazine was a nice read and I will keep it however I’m undecided if I will buy it again next year. Normally I just buy it without looking at the patterns in it. Next year I will stop and look first. Last year I started a project from it within days, this year I’m going to really have to think about what I can make and for who.
Jenny Rushmore aka Cashmerette has just release her first book and although I’m cutting down on the sewing books I buy I had to pre-order myself a copy as soon as she announced it and I’m glad I did.
If you are not familiar with Cashmerette it is pattern company which originally started as having plus size patterns that came with multiple bust size options C-G as a lot of other brands with plus size options still only draft on a B cup. In recent times they have released some of their patterns in smaller sizes but still with the different bust sizes options. The target audience for this book is for those who have curves as the patterns included (I will get to those later) are from size US 12-32 however I think anyone who does dressmaking could benefit from this book. This book is more than just plus size patterns.
The book is set out in 3 sections
Preparation – In this section Jenny demonstrates how to measure yourself accurately on your own. Some people are lucky enough to meet with friends who can help take their measurements but others like myself often have to do it on our own so it is important to see how to do it right. Once you have your measurements Jenny shows you how to pick your size/s from any pattern including how to grade between pattern sizes if your measurements fall between multiple sizes. Jenny mentions that you may automatically pick a larger size if you are so used to patterns being small which is something I have a habit of doing but it is important to look at the finished size measurements of the garment as you might not need the larger size. I’m very guilty of I’m plus size therefore I needed the biggest size available.
Fitting – This part of the book has an overview of fitting and then is divided up into 5 fit clinics
Shoulders and Neck
Each clinic is very comprehensive covering common fitting problems for that area including showing before and after photos on how to fix each problem. The bust clinic demonstrates how to do FBA’s (Full Bust Adjustments) on both woven and knit garments that don’t have darts. Knit garments is an area not often covered in terms of FBA’s. You may need to a do Small Bust Adjustments so that is also covered. Both FBA’s and SBA’s are demonstrated on princess seams too. Princess seams are a little more involved in doing the adjustments but the book steps you through it.
What I thought was a nice touch was there is a page which mentions fitting for those who use a mobility aid like myself. It discusses things to take into consideration. If you use a mobility aid it might be common sense to think of things such as you need no restrictions around your arms but if you are making a garment for someone else who uses an aid you might forget that small detail.
Patterns – The last sections is the patterns. The book has 5 new Cashmerette patterns.
The patterns are basic which gives you experience is making and fitting the different styles as each one is demonstrated in the fit clinics. The patterns are for a mixture of knits and wovens. I think they are all a classic style. Once you are familiar with making them and have your fitting for your body you could expand on them. You could add pockets or lengthen/shorten them. The patterns are a nice starting point.
In 2018 I did 2 sewing reatreats with Jenny when she was in Australia which I loved. She really kicked off my desire to make my own clothes. I have made a lot of clothes in the last 3 years however fitting hasn’t been my strong point. I learnt a lot when Jenny was here but I haven’t necessarily put it into practice or the fit issues I found once the garment was made wasn’t necessarily covered during the retreats. I love this book as it covers a lot of the fit issues I have. From seeing my clothes on I can see what issues I had but I didn’t know what they were called or I didn’t know the difference between the different fitting adjustments you see online. In this book I can identify through the photos my issues such as having too much fabric at the back of my neck and needing a rounded upper back adjustment. It is also shows you how to calculate how much you need to adjust the pattern. It is all very well to watch a tutorial online on how to do an adjustment but how do I know how much to do it by? This book covers it and that’s why I love this book so much. This book isn’t just for plus size sewists it is for anyone who has fit issues and finds other pattern fitting books a bit confusing or confronting.
Wendy Ward is a pattern designer, teacher and author whom I’m a bit of a fan of. Last month she released her 5th sewing book “How To Sew Sustainably” which I couldn’t wait to get my hands on and read.
As the title of book suggests the theme of this book is how to sew in a more sustainable and thoughtful way. Like in her previous books the first half contains a lot of information and techniques and the second half has a series different patterns using these techniques and ideas to try. Unlike in her previous books there are no actual pattern pieces for any of the patterns instead you draft your own pattern pieces based on your own measurements via the instructions given. I usually fit the largest size in her pattern books but in this book it doesn’t matter your size. The patterns included aren’t all garments either.
Although the book cover mentions recycling, reusing and remaking with fabrics that isn’t the only way you can sew sustainably as Wendy points out. Sewing sustainably also includes using fabrics and supplies you already own in your stash or thinking of ways to use up fabric scraps to avoid throwing them out. Before you purchase fabric stop and think can you make the item out of fabric you already own? Be mindful of the amount of fabric you are purchasing so you don’t end up with too much leftover fabric that you might find difficult to use in another project. Using up fabric scraps to make interesting projects. Even in terms of looking at what you are about to sew, do you need another dress or pillow or do you already have enough? The book also has a section on different fabrics and how each one is produced which I found informative.
I must admit in terms of patterns in the book there are some I’m unlikely to make as they just aren’t me or I can’t wear them however there are some patterns and ideas which I really like. It has given me a lot of ideas on how to use up small fabric scarps which I’m going to incorporate into future projects. Knowing my own though process I will have to watch myself so I don’t ebb to the side of hoarding every scrap of fabric. This past weekend I was inspired to dive in and make toiletry bags using offcuts from pants I’ve recently made and a leftover piece of nylon from my stash. The project isn’t in the book but the motivation came from it.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. I’m trying to be more thoughtful in my sewing. Now days I’m trying to cut pattern pieces with minimal waste. In the last 18 months I’ve only purchased fabric intended for specific projects the rest of my fabrics used have come from my existing stash. This book has given me further ideas to try or ways to look at things. If you can get hold of a copy this book is worth the read
Years ago I subscribed to or regularly purchased a lot of craft magazines. Last year I stopped buying and subscribing to them. Prior to moving I got rid of most of them as I just wasn’t using them or even at times reading them. I did keep two lots, an American sewing magazine which is no longer in publication and Better Homes And Gardens annual Knitting and Crochet magazines. It is my tradition every year to buy this mag, sit down read it and relax. To be honest I think I have only ever made one pattern (Custard Beanie) from them. I knitted my sister a scarf once and I really thought the pattern came from these magazines but I have gone through them so many times and I can’t find it. I had put the project down for some time and lost the pattern that I had photocopied from the magazine and I had trouble finishing the scarf.
Upon purchasing this years edition of the magazine and sorting out my craft magazines and books I decided if I’m going to keep these knitting and crochet magazines then I need to start using them otherwise what is the point of keeping them? I have 7 magazines and an additional mini mag which was a supplement with one of their monthly magazines. I have set myself the personal challenge of knitting at least one item out of every magazine. This is a fresh challenge so if by chance I have made something from them that doesn’t count. There is no time limit to this challenge. I’m not limiting myself to just working from these magazines so if I fall in love with a pattern from Ravelry I can make that before completing this challenge. I just want to be more aware of the patterns I already have and use them. I might make items for me, charity, friends, gifts. I have plenty of yarn so that shouldn’t be an issue however I still may pick up some yarn for particular projects if I have none suitable in my stash.
I am currently knitting a large gift at the moment so that is taking all my yarn attention but this challenge is certainly milling in my head. I have flicked through the magazines a couple of times and there a few patterns I have yarn ideas for.
Some things jump my blogging queue as I can’t wait to talk about them and these 2 books fall into that category.
Waste Not and Waste Not Everyday are by Erin Rhoads aka The Rogue Ginger. Full honesty I had never actually heard of Erin until I saw these books advertised in an email from a book shop last month. I’m so glad I decided to read that email and purchase these books. Both books I couldn’t put down once I started reading them. As the names suggest the books are about reducing your waste both at home, work and when you are out.
Waste Not was the first book Erin wrote. Sometimes you read a book or see a program on to tv about the impact your waste is having on the environment and the way the story teller gets their message across to you is by making you feel guilty about what you are currently doing. This book is the opposite. Erin makes it clear don’t ever feel guilty about things you have done in the past, if you can’t do everything the books says or if you do make changes that from time to time you can’t follow those practices for whatever reason. Her big message is just try to do what you can when you can.
The book explains why it is important for people to reduce their waste. Some reasons you might already know, others you may not have thought of before. The book then goes through small changes you can make such as swapping out different plastic items for more sustainable options. A lot of what is in the book and Erin mentions its herself is going back to living more like the way our grandparents lived. Shifting our mindset away from using disposable items all the time and using more reusable and recyclable items. Trying to fix items before throwing them out, thinking before purchasing. It is very much the simple living, frugal living even minimalism concept. The book is full of information on where to find sustainable items and recipes on how to make things at home such as cleaning and beauty products. Although I have been lapsed with my simple living lifestyle in recent years I thought I knew a lot but this book has opened my eyes up even more to ideas to try including wanting to make my own deodorant which isn’t hard.
Waste Not Everyday is like a mini version of its older sibling. It has 365 ideas to try to reduce your waste. Most of it is covered in the main book but this is like bite size grabs. It isn’t a waste to read and I am glad I got it. There are some recipes that weren’t in the main book. Erin emphasises that you can show others by your actions ways to reduce your waste but you shouldn’t force it upon them. It is like anything someone won’t change their ways unless they want to. This book could be a nice little gift you could give someone to hopefully spark their interest in reducing their waste. Both books are really easy to read but this one you could easily just read a couple of ideas at a time. Digest what it says, think about ways you could incorporate things into your life and go back to read more when you are ready.
We are living in unprecedented times at the moment. Some suggestions in the books you can’t do at the moment due to Covid. Coffee vendors won’t accept reusable coffee cups at the moment for example. It is one of those times Erin mentions don’t feel bad if you can’t do it right now. I think now is the perfect time to read these books. Maybe you can try some of the recipes in the books to make products at home to save going to the shops. Look at what you are putting in your rubbish bin, it is extra stuff due to Covid such as coffee cups or plastic straws or are these things you normally throw away that you could make changes to move away from. We will get back to normal life after all this, what would you like to include in your new normal?
I’m putting my hand up and saying I’m embarrassed at how much I have thrown out around our move and I still have stuff to go. In previous posts I have mentioned how much I have sold or given away but sadly there has been a lot gone to landfill. I am also struggling with wanting to move away from some disposable plastics but having OCD issues. I haven’t figured out how I am going to stop taking my sandwich to work in a zip lock bag but eat it without physically touching the bread as I don’t touch my food directly if I’m not at home. Unfortunately I can’t stop eating sandwiches so that isn’t an option. There are a few other OCD issues I’m trying to find a work around for. Both books have been thought provoking. I have ideas ticking away in my head now. Reading the books I’d put them down to google an idea I just read. I discovered a bulk goods store which is accessible by public transport from near my house which I didn’t even know existed. Post Covid I would like to go visit it. This morning on Ravelry I found a pattern for a dusting brush head after last Sunday buying Mr StitchNSew a dusting wand similar to what he saw on tv but this one only had disposable heads. Some changes are easy to make whilst other changes are harder but I’m going to try because that is all I can do.
Wendy Ward has a new book out which I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. Last week I finally got my copy. This is Wendy’s fourth book and I have them all in my stash now.
In her last 2 books Wendy focused on a particular fabric or style of clothing (knits and skirts) In this book she has 5 basic patterns which are not gender exclusive. They are functional every day pieces that anyone can use in their wardrobe. Like in her other books she offers a basic version of each pattern then gives variations on how it can be made differently for individual tastes or skill level. If you are a beginner you could make just the basic version or if you are adventurous or wishing to expand your skills you could try one of the more complicated versions.
Like her other books you receive all the patterns for the different pieces. There are 3 sheets printed double sided. The book has listed which pattern pieces are on which sheet. To be honest I do find her pattern sheets a little cluttered. Before you start tracing out your pieces you need to just take a minute to see fully where you are going to be tracing and make a note if you have to flip the sheet over and continue tracing from another part. Once you get your head around the pattern sheets they are ok but they can be a bit daunting at first.
Ok so lets talk about the actual patterns in the book. The 5 basic patterns are
5 wardrobe pieces which are a bit on trend that you have the ability to make 20 variations of. I like 4 out of the 5 patterns. I am not a jumpsuit person, sorry but I use the bathroom too much to be fussing with a jumpsuit all day (too much information) The jumpsuits in the book look nice but not for me.
So what would I make from the book? I like the sweatshirt but it is raglan sleeve which I don’t like. The diagonal seam annoys me for some reason. I can wear it if it is in a jacket so there is a jacket version which I’m considering making. I like the pants and might try those as I have never made anything with a fly. I’m undecided about the coat and shirt. I have never made a coat but there is a basic unlined version which I could try but to be honest I don’t know if I would wear it. I’m not a shirt person so again I doubt I would wear it.
Although I’m not rushing to make every item in it I still think the book is good to have in my stash. Reading about different techniques or picking up the little hints that are in the book will help me with my sewing skills. I’m at a point now where I making clothing on a needs basis and not as a challenge or on trend basis (not that I have ever followed sewing trends) After giving so much me made clothing away I have come to know what I like and will actually wear and what I won’t wear.
I’m trying to be really good at the moment and cut down non essential spending but yesterday I came across a magazine at my local newsagent and I’m glad I picked it up.
Now I know I am not a beginner in terms of dressmaking. I’ve made a lot of clothing in particularly last year but lets be honest they have been really basic in terms of sewing techniques. My clothing sewing has developed through attending workshops, reading books and watching YouTube. When I came across this magazine I first thought ok I’m not going to get anything from it. Flicking through the pages I saw a couple of items I wanted to make from it and thought ok I’m going to splurge out on it. If you have been sewing clothing for a while you might think you know all this but do you remember the basics and fundamentals? I don’t know the fundamentals, I don’t know which interfacings and stablisers are best for each fabric, I didn’t know which marking tools are used for what, I’d forgotten the importance of keeping your sewing machine covered whilst not in use (mine has been sitting uncovered for weeks) The magazines is also full of handy hints and tips, things to keep in the memory bank for if you ever need them.
There are also lots of patterns in this magazine. You also get a free download of the Adele dress which is on the front cover, I think I had this pattern at one stage but gave away. A lot of the other patterns shown are self drafted from your own measurements. I see other people who have self drafted skirts and it something I have been wanting to try. There is also a cute poncho which I’m thinking about trying but I’m not sure how it will go walking with my crutch but maybe I will make it first out of trace and toile and try it. Some of the patterns in the book upcycle shirts and other garments to make into new clothing. There is one skirt pattern which upcycles old t-shirts but I’m thinking it could be done with jersey scraps I have in my stash.
My sewjo has up and left me but reading this magazine I think it is making a come back.
I have made many softies (soft toys) over the years and have countless books with different patterns but my go to book is The Big Book of Softies published by Penguin books.
The most pattern I have made from the book is Polly. She is a really basic doll and she is my go to dolly for little girls but I make her without the ears. She makes a great 1st birthday present as she is cloth doll without any buttons or things that could be choking hazards. This pattern is great for using up scraps because you can make each section out of different fabrics. For the body it is basically a square rectangle with a little curve over the head area. I have added hair before using yarn but I have also made it without hair. I am actually planning to make another Polly in the coming months for a gift.
Looking back I have made the Gnome. I thought I had a photo of it as I made it purple but I can’t seem to have. Sometimes I make things and forget to blog about them.
The Lizard was another pattern that I made from this book. Not everyone has a pink lizard but at the time my niece was liking the colour pink and like reptiles so this was a good combination. That is the best thing about toys that you make you can make them in the combination that you need for that child.
Another pattern I have made is Maisie. Again this is a great scrap busting project because you can make the different sections in different fabrics. This pattern is for more your older child if you add the buttons on the ears, you could make it for a young child without the buttons.
My most favourite toy I have made from the book is the Car and Caravan. As soon as I saw this pattern in the book when I purchased it I thought of my childhood neighbours and the caravan they had. I made this for their great grandson. This is a very sentimental toy.
The instructions in this book are very easy to follow. The pattern pieces list what size to photocopy them to but you can easily make the toys larger or smaller by photocopying them at a different amount eg 120% not 100%. This book doesn’t just have toys to sew but also some to knit and crochet. It is a really comprehensive book to have in your stash if you are thinking of making softies.
A Stash of One’s Own by Clara Parkes is a book that I will admit from the start if it wasn’t for seeing a few people on Instagram reading this book I would never have found it let alone been drawn to pick up and read. I was totally a book lemming on this one and in this instance I am glad that I was.
When I first saw this book in people’s photos I thought it is just another yarn fictional romance novel. I have read a few like that but I lose interest quick in them as I can’t really read fictional stories (except Harry Potter) Don’t judge this book by the illustration on the front, read the words in the title, do a google search, go hold a copy in local store and you will see it is a book of short non fictional stories or essays from various people sharing their account of what their “stash” is and what it means to them. On the back it lists the 22 people who have contributed stories to the book. I don’t know many “famous” knitting names so there was only 2 that I recognised from the list but you don’t need to know who these people are to read their stories. It is the stories and not the persons themselves that makes this book wonderful.
Each story is about 6-10 pages long (some shorter, some longer) It is fascinating reading everyone’s stories. Not everyone thinks of their stash in the same way. Some people are really emotional about their stash, some aren’t. Some people have really organised stashes, some have yarn stashed in the bathroom. Before I had even finished reading the Foreward I was already drawn into this book knowing once I had finished it there was no way I would be passing it on, this book is staying in my book stash. I am glad I didn’t actually borrow this book from a friend like I was considering when I was trying to decide if I needed to buy it or not. I haven’t even finished this book yet but I can already relate to little bits here and there from different stories after just reading a few. It is really comforting to read things and think you are not alone with the way you are dealing with things whether it be emotions or storage. The stories are the perfect length to read the book in small bites. If you wanted to you could sit down and read this in a day, I would say it would be a very emotional day so maybe have the tissues handy particularly if you find yourself relating to a lot of the more in depth parts of the human psyche. Unfortunately I don’t have any dedicated reading time at the moment so I have been reading 2-3 stories a day than putting the book down for a day or so and going back to it for another short read when I can. For me this works perfect as in this short periods I am reading I can really take the words in and reflect on aspects of my own life that relate. Don’t just think it is all depressing stories you will laugh so much as well. My favourite sentence so far “If Barbie and My Little Pony dropped acid” I would never have imagined I would ever read those words!
Even though this book is centered around yarn stashes anyone who has any form of craft or hobby stash can relate to this book. Each time the term yarn is used insert your preferred craft term and it is just as relatable. When you get home, close the door and look around at your stuff and how you deal with it you discover from this book you are not alone. In this book real people with real stories share their experiences with their stash. I have always enjoyed reading autobiographies and have always believed that everyone has a story to tell they just need the opportunity to tell it.