Monday, 26 October 2015

Mending Monday #7: pyjamarama

No patches this time (phew), but just a straightforward seam repair on some pyjama bottoms. 

Overlocker to the rescue!

What are you mending today? I'd love to hear about it - so please leave a comment!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Kids Clothes - sizes, sustainability and consumption

I've been thinking about kids clothes recently - it's kids clothes week again - and then there is Slotober and all of the stuff on the tinterwebz about capsule wardrobes, and project 333, and slow fashion and self-made fashion. 

One of the things that strikes me is that much of the discussion around ethical fashion, fast fashion and capsule wardrobes focusses on adult clothes. There seems to be little of this discussion directed at children's clothes. Why is that? 

We all need clothes, and arguably, children need more clothes than adults, because (in my experience anyway - your children may be different!) they tend to get their clothes dirtier, more quickly, and their clothes need washing more often. In addition, because they are growing, clothing a child necessarily involves an on-going process of discarding and acquiring items, as things become too small and bigger clothes are needed.

The prevalence of supermarket clothes for children - cheap and plentiful and often v e r y cute - make the temptation for parents, and grandparents and others to add something to their baskets when they do the weekly shop.  As ever, this sort of mindless consumption is problematic  - creating demand for low price items which are often produced at great social and environmental cost in communities far away, and adding to an already bursting wardrobe rather than filling very specific needs. And then, all the fabulous childrens clothes available from indie designers and presented in Stylo and other places, just seems to add to the feeling that kids need to have lots and lots of stuff. 

On the other hand, acceptance of hand-me-down and thrifted childrens clothes seems to be greater than for adult clothes. I have received, and given, many bags of clothes to friends, colleagues and neighbours with new babies, or smaller children. Then there is the in-family recycling that goes on when clothes are passed from child to child. And, I have been to many nearly new sales which give parents the opportunity to buy and sell baby clothes and baby equipment.  So, should I feel guilty about the clothes my children have when a good proportion of them are not new?

I might fairly smug about the things I have made or upcycled for my children, and the things that I have been mending (like this, and this, and this) but should I, if its in the context of overflowing drawers and wardrobes and no attempt to curb consumption? 

Zoe shared some thoughts related to this recently, particularly in relation to charity-shops. My advice to her was to identify things that she really needs (for her daughter), and be fairly ruthless about not picking up lots of other cute stuff which simply duplicates existing items/sizes. For example, I know that my 8yo doesn't need ANY short-sleeved t-shirts, but has only 2 or 3 long-sleeve tops, so if I'm browsing anywhere then that's what I focus on.  

I am also ruthless about passing things on when they are too small. However, one note of caution here - some things can have a longer life-span than you might think, so my other tip: don't believe the age labels! Baby leggings are one example, once nappies are abandoned they can find further use as toddler shorts/capris. Some dresses also work well as tunic or top as girls grow, and shirred sun dresses can easily become skirts later on. If you have slim kids, then baby/toddler trousers can double as shorts for older kids. As a case in point, earlier this summer I noticed my older son (aged 8 1/2) wearing a pair of grey shorts I didn't recognise. They looked great - but seemed just a little bit neat around his backside. He had been wearing them all day - so they obviously were comfortable enough for summer camp. I asked him to take them off, and we checked the label. They weren't his shorts, they were his 2 yo brother's trousers, and were labelled 12-18 months (little bean has REALLY short legs and all my kiddos are slim around the waist/hips)

I don't really have a conclusion about all this - but I think bloggers and designers and parents need to think and talk as much about the sustainability and ethics of childrens clothing and fashion as we do about adult clothing/fashion. Children aren't in a position to think about all of this. We need to model the behaviour and habits we would like to see them adopt (e.g. conscious consumption and a recognition that we cant have ALL the things), but we cant expect them to weigh up the options - we need to do it - accepting of course that children should be able to influence what they wear and be given the agency to choose for themselves.  

In addition, I would really like to see some indie designers producing garments which are designed to be long-lasting - with features that make them adaptable over several seasons for growing children. I love making things for my kids, but when they grow fast, I want to invest my time in making items that will last for more than a couple of months. Has anyone got any links/advice to share about building a coherent/capsule wardrobe for kids? 

I'd love to hear what you think. Do share your thoughts!  

Monday, 19 October 2015

Mending Monday #6

More patches on knees here (yes, the stream of holes does seem to be never ending, thanks for asking). This time a pair of worn cords have been rescued from the can't-be-worn pile. 

They belonged to the bean, but are now much too small (nothing to do with languishing in the mending basket, ahem). 

I ironed on a couple of those cute car patches again (see the iron shapes?) using my friend bondaweb. 

And then, I got my Boro mojo on again and stitched on top to secure the patches really firmly. You can see that I took care to stitch across the edges of the patches to make them extra secure.  You know, because boys.

Cute huh? They are much too big for little bean, but have been stashed in the appropriate place for later.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Mending Monday #5

This week I was inspired to approach my mending in a different way, and rather than just slap some patches on the outside, I took a different path.

Reading around on the tinterwebz somewhere or other, I came across Boro - the Japanese name for a very specific type of repaired textile. The examples I saw all seemed to be blue, repaired with indigo thread and patches, and knowing I had a wee pair of toddler jeans to repair I set to to work.

First I found some suitable patch material, culled from an old top of mine. I cut two patches, and roughly worked out where to place them on the trousers. Then I marked on a stencil of dots to guide my stitch work. I used one of the children's washable markers and a ruler to give me a rough grid to work with.

I pinned the patches in place inside the trousers, and then set to work, stitching across and then up and down to create teeny crosses. 

The inside is fairly neat - and I caught the edges of the patch with a simple running stitch.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

When everything goes to plan (FO)

Today I impressed myself with a little project, fixing up a favourite RTW skirt. I bought it from a sale rail last year, and have really enjoyed wearing it. It's navy jersey - with some wool - which makes it super cosy. It's also super comfy, and has been in heavy rotation through the year. When I realised it worked with bare legs and sandals, it became a summer staple too.

Recently, the fabric has begun to get a little translucent, and rather than reveal the details of my undergarments to the world, I've been thinking about how to fix the problem. I researched wool jersey, a lot. I knew I could attach another layer of fabric on the inside, but couldn't quite decide what to use. 

And then the other day, I found myself looking at the Alabama Chainin website. I was smitten by all those lovely jersey projects, embellished with itsy bitsy piecs of fabric. Super inspiring slow fashion sort of stuff, and I can foresee some of this ideas coming along here sometime soon.  It got me thinking about that skirt again, and what I could do with it, and then I realised I could do something with colour. 

And, I had something in the stash that would be perfect. Double win!

Once the idea crystallised in my head, my fingers started to get impatient. This afternoon I took advantage of a sleeping child, and got to work. My methods were not particularly refined, but they worked!

First I laid my skirt on top of my chosen fabric (folded) and using a kids washable marker I roughly traced the shape I needed, adding a small seam allowance as I went.  I cut the shapes out and joined each side with my overlocker. 

The skirt has a double layer yoke/waistband which is attached to the single layer skirt with an overlocked seam. I used this to add my new skirt lining - lining it up carefully and overlocking over the existing seam. I was really careful here, and didn't remove any fabric with the blade of the overlocker - I wanted to preserve the length of the skirt as it was.  

Once the lining was attached I cut the it to the same length as the skirt, and finished it with a double fold hem. 

I'm so pleased with the result. I used about a metre of jersey from my stash - a remnant I bought earlier in the year for £5. I used my overlocker - so fast! The whole thing took less than hour, including all the setting up, the clearing away and hugging a toddler who was not best pleased about waking up from that sneaky nap. I'm so happy with the result, and so proud to have done it - to have rescued a favourite skirt, with a little bit of skill, a little bit of time and a few pounds worth of fabric from my stash. I don't think I'll be able to resist flashing my pink petticoat at everyone!  

Monday, 5 October 2015

Mending Monday #4

More patches.

Two velvety hearts for the jelly bean. I started with one

but she insisted on patches on both knees.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Cupboard Love

Autumn is upon us and, although the sunshine has been glorious, the cool mornings are the giveaway that the season has now turned.

Maybe it's the change in weather, or the start of the new academic year at work (university rather than school), but I've been clearing out a few things. One of my current projects is to do with food cupboards and freezer. I'm trying to use things up, so menu planning is getting interesting. Last weekend I defrosted puff pastry and some salmon fillets and cobbled together a simple salmon en croute. There is more salmon and mackerel in the freezer, so I think it might be time for a fish pie soon. It's as much about clearing and cleaning as it is about thrift (and the run up to Christmas) I've been feeling a bit uninspired about meals lately, so this is an attempt to jolt myself out of a rut, and rediscover the dark recesses  of my cupboards!