Sunday, January 19, 2020

Weekend Review: Inconspicuous Consumption

Inconspicuous Consumption / Tatiana Schlossberg
NY: Grand Central, c2019.
277 p.

This book, found in my local library, was a very quick read. It is intended as a primer for people who want to know the unexpected ways our impact is spread across everything we do in our modern lives. Chapters investigate four main topics: technology, fashion, food, and fuel.

It's a short book so it really just skims over the main points of these areas -- but it is deep enough for those who are new to these topics. Schlossberg is good at drawing together the ways in which consumer actions have direct effects in all these areas, and does give a few suggestions on how to mitigate some of these. The main focus is on explanations and info on the situation, however.

Schlossberg is a journalist and as such writes in a direct and accessible way. She has a habit of making personal asides, though, I imagine to make this more 'relatable', but it really irritated me as a reader. The tone was off in comparison to the subject, and I'd rather have the author a little more distant from the essay -- the personal commentary felt self-deprecating in a cutesy way that came across as inauthentic to me.

Aside from that, I was obviously most interested in the Fashion chapter. She does expose many of the issues of fast fashion from making to disposing, textile choice to recycling potential, shipping, wages, and more. I feel that if you have any interest at all in this subject and have read anything else on the topic, you'll already know 95% of what is shared here. But if this is a first glimpse of how fashion plays a role in sustainable living as a whole, and a reader hasn't considered this before, this is a great intro. I think anyone new to this area might be inspired to investigate further after finishing this book.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Butterick 5626 Basic Black Jumper

I am really into jumpers lately, which is funny since I never used to like them. But suddenly I just want to make all the jumpers! I think it was finding my old Vogue 8132 pattern that started me off.

So I went through my stash and found handful of six or seven other patterns, all older ones, that I could choose from to make another version. I had a particular piece of black stretch suiting in my stash -- it's about a denim weight and slightly stretchy -- I picked it up in Kalamazoo on my way to the Chicago PR Weekend in 2016 so I've had it for a while. It was perfect for this project!

I picked Butterick 5626, a basic jumper with a straight skirt and patch pockets. I had just enough fabric to fit View E onto; thank goodness I am short.

I didn't make many alterations -- I didn't even shorten it above the bust as I usually do. I didn't shorten at the hem either, since it would end up right at my kneecaps as designed, and that's where I like the length. Taller people will end up with a shorter, more 60s effect jumper.

After I cut it out I basted and tried on, and ended up taking 1/2" in at each underarm, grading to nothing by the side notches. I also took in 1/2" at the back centre seam as there was some gaping, although the front was fine -- strangely for me! To get the hang right I also took a 1/4" wedge at the outer shoulder and angled it down to nothing by the inner neckline edge. All these seemingly small adjustments made it look SO much better on.

I didn't cut the facings because I didn't have enough self fabric, and thought that the facing edge might show through anyhow. I finished the edges with black bias tape facing instead. And I added the patch pockets a little differently than the pattern suggested -- I lined them and topstitched them on using the technique from a recent Burda make.

Then I just took up an one inch hem and I was done. I love this! I think that I am going to get a lot of wear out of this staple. The only drawback is that it seems to be a bit of a lint attractor. So will have to watch out & carry a lint roller ;) And I think I may need to add a lining if I'm going to wear it with my heavy tights.

The only problem is that now I want to also make all the other jumper patterns that I found in my stash!

Worn with Vogue 8634 here

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Cover Designs #14

Cover Designs is a feature in which I try to match up the outfit on a book cover with a dress pattern and sometimes even potential fabric matches as well.

This month's featured book is a political read of sorts, a novel about a young reporter who has to decide what she is willing to do for her career. This 2017 novel is pretty recent, but still old enough to have been written before many of the news industry scandals we all know about now.

Amanda Wakes Up is written by a woman who works as a news host, so you know the details are based in experience. But it was much more this cover image than the summary that caught my attention! Looking at this I immediately thought of the Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case Patterns. 

I think that the full length version is a perfect match for the set on the front of this book! Made in a beautiful red silk crepe de chine, like this one from Mood Fabrics, for example, the match would work out perfectly.

For something a little less luxe and a bit more workaday, they could even be made in red rayon challis for a casual, soft feel. Like this one from, perhaps. 

Curl up in these pjs with this book and you'll have a perfect fit ;)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Weekend Review: Dress [with] Sense: the Practical Guide to a Conscious Closet

Dress [with] Sense: the Practical Guide to a Conscious Closet
Christina Dean, Hannah Lane, Sofia Tarneberg; illus. by Charlotte Trounce
London: Thames & Hudson, c2017.
224 p.

I picked up my own copy of this book recently, after having read it via my library. I wanted to own it, as it is a clearly laid out, practical, and also pretty book about fashion and ways to be more conscious with your closet.

The three women who wrote it started Redress, an NGO that focuses on reducing textile waste in the fashion world. They have an interesting website as well, with lots of info and events that they hold locally to them, in Hong Kong. 

The book is broken up into four sections: 

BUY better & make more responsible choices when shopping

WEAR clothes more creatively

CARE for your clothes -- laundering, mending etc.

DISPOSE of clothes by non-trash means: swapping, up/recycling, donating etc.

The structure is very logical, and the content is useful and inspiring. The way the book is designed encourages quick reading, and hopefully will engage those who won't pick up a huge tome of research based arguments as to why we need to think about the environmental impact of our wardrobes. 

The book is really lovely -- the illustrations are charming, there are single page comments from well-known models, actresses, bloggers and other fashion revolution folks who are into sustainability, and there is a fair bit of useful information I haven't seen everywhere, like how to make your own stain removers that are non-toxic, as just one example. There are also a lot of photos; this feels a bit like a chunky magazine. 

The BUY chapter talks about the impact of fashion, and how to buy more consciously, break bad habits, and take action via options like Fashion Revolution. It encourages you to think differently about buying, like perhaps shopping for a capsule wardrobe instead of impulse buying. 

The WEAR chapter looks at editing your closet, tailoring, mending, diy-ing and refashioning. This article published by Redress goes over the Edit Your Closet steps which are also shared in the book but in a cuter, illustrated way.

The CARE chapter is interesting, because it goes more in-depth into this area than other books I've read so far. Redress even gives local workshops on washing and drying your wardrobe more sustainably. This chapter covers how to understand care labels, suggests hand washing, spot cleaning or airing out clothes rather than washing after every wear. If you do want to wash your clothes, it's key to understand your machine, wash in cooler temperatures, and hang to dry as much as possible. It also talks about mending, storing, hanging clothes properly, finding professionals to mend your clothes and shoes, and so on. There are recipes for refresher spray and stain removal mixes made from natural ingredients, too. I found this chapter really helpful!

The final chapter, DISPOSE, is a tough one since there really is no ideal, magical tech-based solution to the problem of too many clothes. There just needs to be fewer clothes in the first place. But, they do go over ideas to divert clothing from landfill.

These include hosting clothing swaps (with a how-to included), or reselling your clothes in-person or online. There is a section of different charities who accept donated clothes for various purposes, in case you want to direct them somewhere besides just the local Goodwill. 

The book finishes with a section of resources for further study -- suggested books, websites, and organizations to check out. This appendix is small print and four pages long so there is lots to explore.

I enjoyed this book and found it informative, even if it doesn't really talk about home sewing. The chapters on wear and care are most directly useful for sewists, I think; there is a lot there to use when I'm looking at my own handmade wardrobe. From choosing the original materials to caring for them so they last as long as possible, this will add to the sustainability of my own sewn closet. I'd recommend it if you can find a copy. It's a quick read, not text-heavy, but I think it would appeal to readers newly interested in this topic.

Friday, January 10, 2020

20 in 2020

I know I said that I want to slow down and try more complex patterns this year, but that didn't stop me from getting all excited about the 20 in 2020 plans going around. The numbers are just too irresistible!

I was looking through Instagram sewing challenges, pondering doing the Make Nine challenge for the first time, or maybe the Use Nine Challenge I thought I'd combine them into a 20 for 2020 Challenge by adding one more to each!

Now, having said that, this is going to be a relaxed and aspirational challenge, not one that I'm going to rigidly hold myself to. I don't do well with fixed parameters, so this 20 in 2020 is my overarching them for myself, and a reminder of things I'd like to do by the end of the year.

Onward with the details!

Here are the Ten Patterns I'd like to get to this year:

1. Jennifer Lauren Laneway Dress
2. Jennifer Lauren Ivy Pinafore
3. Chalk & Notch Fringe Dress
4. Antero Shell Top (from the Well Traveled Collection)
5. Halla Agnes Dress
6. Halfmoon Atelier's La Brea Tee
7. Jalie Rachel Top/Dress
8. Closet Case Cielo Top/Dress
9. Victory Patterns Hazel Dress
10. Named Sointu Tee

And here are Ten Stash Fabrics I'd like to use up this year:

L: Windham Fabrics cotton, R: knit

L: Cotton voile, R: knit

L: Rayon twill, R: Linen/Cotton blend
L: mystery woven, R: knit

L: stretch poplin, R: knit

These 20 may overlap, or they may not. I have some ideas now put down in writing, but will always follow my mood as to making things. I have at least ten Big 4 and Burda patterns that I'm interested in too! And then there is my goal of drafting a pattern of my own.

So it will be interesting to see how things look at the end of the year! Do you like to make plans or to go with the flow?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Silver New Look 6469

I've had this soft and squishy silver stretch velour in my stash for ages. So just before the holidays I decided to make this up, and chose New Look 6469, which I picked up earlier this year from PatternReview. 

I made View D, but with a straight hem line like in View C. I like it...but I don't love it. I'm thinking that it's perhaps because the fabric is a bit thick, and yet it's also not quite fitted enough in the bodice/sleeve area. I think this is another one that I'm going to have to redo just a bit to be happy with. And boy, do I hate mending/altering something, even if I've just finished it. Sigh! 

Anyhow. The fabric is very soft and comfy, and the fit is extremely forgiving. It's a comfortable wear -- kind of like wearing a bathrobe around all day. But is it wearable as an actual dress? 

Short answer, yes. I added side seam pockets to it; I can't stand a dress without pockets. I'm always losing my key if I don't have a pocket to put it in. This time I chose a woven to make the pockets -- I didn't think it would look very nice to have stretchy pockets in this stretchy fabric. I had a nice remnant of rose & white toile cotton that looks very pretty as a pocket bag. Usually I'll stabilize the seam that attaches a pocket bag to the side if I'm using stretch fabrics (with twill tape or seam binding or iron-on seam tape, etc).  But this time I just carried that over to the whole pocket. We will see if it stands up to use. So far the pockets sit very nicely and invisibly.

It's quite swishy, which is something I really like. And the fabric is so soft and stretchy that I left out the back opening at the neckline and just sewed the collar on as a band. It's not quite as even as I'd like, but the fabric is so slouchy and reflects the light at different angles that you can't really tell -- it all looks like it is different tones and folds anyhow.

I'm not 100% convinced on this one though. Some suggestions were to wear a bright coloured scarf (I like that) or to shorten it slightly - also a good idea. I'll give it a fix, and a few more wears, and see if it grows on me.

The pattern itself is easy and straightforward; if I use it again, I'll make it with a lighter weight knit. The only flaw is no pockets, but that is easily fixable. This was my last project of 2019, and I'm moving forward with my 2020 plans now. I'll be sharing some of those soon, too. Hope you have lots of ideas for the new year as well!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Weekend Review: The Conscious Closet

NY: Plume, c2019.
348 p.

This is a great book to start a new year with! Elizabeth L.  Cline is well known for her 2012 book Overdressed, about the effects of fast fashion. It made quite a splash when it was published. And now she's followed it up with The Conscious Closet, which is also about fast fashion but goes further into sustainability issues and activism, reflecting the growth in awareness of these issues.

What does she cover? The book is broken up into six themes.
  1. Fast Fashion: The industry & background. Clothes are not garbage!
  2. Art of Less: buying less, mimimalism
  3. Art of More: thrifting, renting, resale
  4. Sustainable Fashion Handbook: big brands, fabrics & chemicals
  5. Make it Last: laundry, mending
  6. Fashion Revolution: politics, activism
I've tried to give a sense of what is covered in each section. If you follow this topic, some of it will be "old news" to you; I feel like I knew everything that is covered in this book, but I still enjoyed reading it.

For those who aren't as familiar with these topics, and are just starting to get interested in this area, this book gives a great overview into many facets of the bigger picture which readers can then explore further. There is a nice list of resources at the end, so if a reader has a particular interest in one theme they can explore some organizations who are involved in that area or read some recommended books that cover specific topics in more depth. Cline also mentions that she is keeping updated lists of information and resources on her own blog.

I was glad to see some of my own favourite things mentioned -- mending, home sewing, the Fashion Revolution org, among many others. And one thing I thought was unusual about this book (and really useful) was her approach at the beginning recognizing that people are different and have different goals for their wardrobes. She breaks it into three "fashion personality types" -- the Minimalist, the Style Seeker, and the Traditionalists. She then directs various chapters to the needs of these types: the Minimalist will be happiest with less (Ch. 2), the Style Seeker who still wants lots of variety can be more sustainable through new ways of obtaining clothing (Ch. 3) and Traditionalists who are a mix can use ideas from anywhere that suits them. I like the recognition that everyone will have different levels of expectation for their wardrobes.

Overall, a book I would recommend to those wanting to know how to tackle fast fashion both in their own closets and in the wider world.