Made my first t-shirt!

Ah the humble t-shirt. Something you’ve probably got loads of, but if you’re also a bit over how so many of them pill and look faded, then you’ll be pleased to know that making a t-shirt from quality fabric is easy! Thanks to the patience of Jenny at the Fashion Workshop and my friend’s mum, I’ve made a t-shirt that this time I actually like.

T-shirt

My first accessory swap shop night – easy fun and cheap!

Accessory swap night hosting was all unchartered territory for me…until a few weeks ago.

I’ll be the first to say, it was a little nerve-wracking at the start. What if no one wanted to swap stuff? What if it ended in one big scramble for the best stuff?

It started off slowly…my friends were edging closer to trinkets and shiny things, eyeing up the massive range of stuff up for grabs. But within a few minutes the swap was in full swing – maybe the wine had kicked in too!

We started the night swapping with each other, negotiating and bargaining just like the good old days in school when you swapped your favourite stickers at break time. At the end of the evening we all picked up one last thing off the table as a last grab and snatch moment. What was left on the table, I dropped off at the Sallies in the weekend.

The next day at least 3 of us went to work wearing each others gear. I love that something you can be bored with can look fantastic on someone else and suit them more than it ever suited you.

Everyone had a great time and one friend loved it so much she hosted her own fun clothes swap afternoon this weekend. The saying ‘One man’s woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure’ seems apt. Success!!

Clothes swap night

Free sewing patterns from Peppermint – score!

A friend of mine who lives in Australia kindly just gave me some of her magazines to read. Named Peppermint, the magazine’s tagline sums it up,

“Style, Sustainability, Substance. Australia’s first and only eco and ethical fashion magazine.”

Their site is full of wonderful ideas and I’ve only just begun to discover them now. But the one that stands out to me as pure genius is the Sewing school and free pattern section.

They have patterns for capes, tote bags, soft toys and dresses. Haven’t tried one out yet but when I do you can be sure there will be a post about it…can’t wait to make a shift dress.

Check out the patterns and download for free

Check out their fairtrade section 

Peppermint magazine sewing school

How many kids made your clothes? Download the free app and find out

Here’s something that really changes the game. A plug-in that lets you know when you’re viewing a product made using child labour.

If you have ever browsed a site thinking ‘I wonder if these clothes are ethically made?’, worry and wonder no more. Fast Company has recently published an article about it.
Read the Fast Company article

Simply download the app and you’ll see a hand appear where the product would have. Make sure you’re using Chrome or Safari as your browser otherwise it won’t work.

“The aVOID Plug-In is a quick and effective way of protesting against child labour. Avoiding products that are associated with the exploitation of children forces manufacturers to tighten up their control procedures.”
Download the aVOID app 

Below are some screen shots of what happened when I searched on Abercrombie & Fitch, and American Apparel using the sites target.com and asos.com.

App for ethical fashion

Inspired by the Uniform Project – my tailor-made LBD

Well, it’s been a long time coming for this blog post about my tailor-made LBD. I’ll give you a bit of background…

I first spotted the LBD genius that is the ‘The uniform project‘ back in 2008. Since then, I have wanted the original classic style LBD that she sold on the site. As the dress was always sold out, along with the pattern, I decided to get my own made right here in NZ.

TAILOR-MADE IN WELLINGTON

With the help of Toni (the tailor I was recommended), my very own LBD was created. Toni was fantastic and very patient, analysing the dress from the site to create an almost identical replica. I went to her house for several fittings and she was always very professional and fun to work with.

MY LBD DRESS FABRIC IS 100% WOOL FROM GLOBAL FABRICS

It’s really light and breathable against your skin. The dress also has a lining. It never crinkles much and is easy to hand wash. The dress is reversible (buttons down the back) and has 2 detachable collars – oh and pockets! (I love pockets).  I use stick on velcro to attach the collars which works a treat and means you’re not fussing about with buttons.

I wear it most days as it’s super comfy and pretty much goes with anything. For the $200 it cost to get tailor-made plus the $67 for fabric and buttons, it was well worth it. Big thanks to Toni for all her hard work on this one!

Below are 7 different ways to wear it. Tuesday has the Peter Pan detachable collar. (click to see image larger). Contact Toni at toniyiasoumi@hotmail.com if you’d like a wonderful tailor-made dress of your own.

ps – to the WordPress followers, I have now moved the site onto a .com domain so you’ll need to follow from the new site as I couldn’t move you across. Thanks so much for following!

Little black dress

*All photos by Jules Robertson. Legend.

My year of fair fashion and what comes after

So it’s been awhile since I last blogged. September seems like an age ago and yep I’ve been slack slack slack. In my head though, I have been thinking of all the things I’ve learned in my year of fair fashion. It seemed appropriate that as 2012 comes to end I get it all out of my head and onto my blog.

Did I let loose in the shops like a woman set free?

Now, you may think that after 365 days, I’d be totally elated at being able to let loose in the main st shops again. That I’d be running around the aisles of Glassons and Max cranking the eftpos card. But, while I admit to buying one item for myself after the year was up (while I was on holiday and needed a pair of black trousers asap) – I didn’t feel a sense of relief.

Knowing what I know about the dark side of fashion now makes it hard to go back to buying the kinds of clothes I used to. Recently in the media there was a story aboutCanterbury rugby balls being made by kids in India. People were shocked but in the world of fashion, this is a common problem.

Even more recently was the fire in a Bangladesh factory making Walmart clothes. Unions are not supported and too often larger brands just don’t have enough control over where their contractors and the sub contractors are getting their products made. I always find it interesting how the price of goods made by cheap labour and especially child labour also don’t seem any cheaper. In the words of local heroes Flight of the Conchords,

“They’re turning kids into slaves, just to make cheaper sneakers, but what’s the real cost? ‘Cause the sneakers don’t seem that much cheaper.

Why are we still paying so much for sneakers? When you got them made by little slaves kids.
What are your overheads?”

What comes next…

With the knowledge that there is an ever-growing demand for ethically produced clothes and products, I can’t shake the feeling that by continuing to vote with my wallet, I am helping to reinforce the message that fair trade labour is the way forward. In doing my fair fashion year I’ve come across some really interesting and inspiring people. The powerful twitter community has been fantastic. One pretty cool story to come out of this was a college girl from the USA who saw what I was doing, followed the blog and twitter account to tell me that she was now inspired to do her own ‘fair fashion year’ with her room-mate.

The lure of ‘stuff’ and instant gratification…

Recently I had a look in Valley Girl, Glassons, Max and Cotton On (all of these shops I used to buy from). I can see the appeal (and I’m not going to judge people for buying from there, it’s convenient and it’s easy). It’s cheap and it’s high fashion on trend stuff that the average person can afford to buy lots of. But what you lack in those shops is real quality and a lot of the time decent customer service. It’s fast fashion and that’s the way we’ve grown to like it.

But I can’t help but think, it’s 2012 and there’s got to be a new take on fashion and the way we consume it. Yes, buying NZ made or ethically hurts the wallet a little at the time, but the benefits are felt long after you’re stressing about the price. If you really want to take out the pain in your wallet, then second-hand is even better. Craft fairs stock awesome jewellery that doesn’t have you looking like everyone else in the room. Craft 2.0 has been great, along with other local markets like Frank Kitts.

Shops and brands I couldn’t have done without

Recycle Boutique has been an incredible place to find gems and great bargains. Ziggurat and Secondo have also been great. Second hand in general has been the best way to make the year affordable and get a unique range of items. Starfish and Kilt while more expensive (but still reasonable) are totally worth it for product that is timeless and goes the distance and great customer service. Kowtowis amazing and a locally based brand that has gone from strength to strength along with Mondegreen. Rex Royalealso stocks lots of lovely NZ made brands. Getting your clothes tailor-made is another great option. I have worn my LBD so much – Toni was amazing at adapting the pattern and making it a dress for all occasions.

Theme for 2013 – make it!

On that note, the next theme for 2013 is going to be me making my own clothes. This theme will force me to make my own stuff and commit to sewing classes. I am going to be a proper “Little Miss Crafty”. I recently went to Starfish’s famous workroom sale and bought some lovely hand dyed organic fabric to make something out of.

The Fashion workshop run by Jenny has been a great way to learn to make my own clothes. I use the bag I made all the time and have just completed a snuggly comfy hoodie. Next year my friend and I will be learning how to make dresses and we can’t wait! My trusty Bernina has been magic (thanks mum).

Thanks to you – the lovely readers

I want to say a BIG thanks to all those who have subscribed to my blog and also commented on it. I really appreciate the feedback and it inspires me to keep going with a worthwhile mission. Keep on commenting and spreading the word about amazing ethical brands. See you on the flip side.