Frosting Fortnight, Clearing My Wardrobe, and the Pitfalls of Comparison

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It’s the 15th of October, time to get myself ready for Frosting Fortnight!  Mari from Disparate Disciplines and I (and a crack team of guest bloggers!) are working together to tease out the meaning of “fun/crazy” and also “useful/basic” clothes through a series of wardrobing posts from the 18th of October until Halloween!   To encouage the wearing and sharing of our less-than-strictly-practical wardrobes, we’re posting daily outfit posts to the Frosting Fortnight flickr group!

Several others have joined, and all are welcome!  Head over the the flickr group page to make a pledge to join up!  I think Halloween will be the most fun- do think about chiming in for the ultimate Frosting Holiday if you don’t wish to join the Fortnight.  Fingers crossed that Snow White makes an appearance.

My own pledge is rather personal:

I, StephC of 3 Hours Past, pledge to pull every single bit of crazy and frippery and frosting from every nook and hidden guilt-cranny in my house and expose them to the light of day as I wear them during FF! I’ll find homes for my sewn orphans- either on my back, in my re-fashion stash, or in the rag-bag!

I’m “using” Frosting Fortnight as a time to challenge myself to tighten up my closet’s contents and share what I learn about wardrobing.  It’s personal, but I think it might be useful to others who might struggle with some of the same issues I do.   At any rate it’s impossible to talk about the contents of one’s wardrobe without getting personal so brace yourself. No undies in this post, but maybe a little dirty laundry…

True to my pledge, I dug around my house and found 4 years of style, engineering and design experiments in various stages of being “finished.”  I pulled them from every hidden guilt-cranny and dark space I know I’ve stuffed clothes.  I knew this mountain existed before I pulled it all out, to be honest dealing with this mass of textiles has been rather low on my priority list.

Some weeks ago, a work associate challenged me about the authenticity of my devotion to sustainability and the environment.  At first, I couldn’t believe the words coming out of her mouth- so I kept my own mouth shut and let her speak.  Eventually she got to the point of her concern and said something like- “How can you justify making so many clothes all the time?  Doesn’t it conflict with your sustainability ethics?”

Like I said, she’s a work associate and a generally likeable person.  I assume she didn’t mean to sound so judgmental.  I suppose I should have reacted indignantly to defend my “green” credentials or something, but I just nodded and smiled and said we all have to do what work best for us in our own sewing rooms before changing the subject.  I like her and had no interest in quarreling or playing one-up-manship with our sewing processes.

The fact of the matter is, comparing our sewing and greenie cred would be an utter waste of time.  Her comment showed a complete lack of understanding about the process involved when creating a sewing pattern that others will love to sew and wear.*  That’s fine! I do my thing, she does hers.  She sews herself a few basics and cute dresses from already-made patterns and does a beautiful job with her work.   She’s sewn for years and has mastered the art of sewing for her body and her needs, and I’m sure she wastes very little fabric or time in her sewing.

Shirts, long lost shirts.

Besides, as far as it goes, she’s right.  I make a lot of stuff.  Some of it’s rather odd.  I used to post more of it than I do nowadays.  Sometimes I get a crazy idea in my head and I can’t relax until I’ve made it happen.  (Seashell pockets, anyone?)

Then I wear it, I tweak the design, I wear it more, I make another improved version, I wear it some more, I wash it frequently, I crumple it up and stuff it in a drawer, I pull it out and shake it, I wear it some more, I make another two or three in different fabrics and wear those, too.   I consider that an important and necessary part of developing a new pattern (call me crazy..), whether it’s a Tried-N-True pattern or a new design for Cake.  I may not “finish” one of these garments completely, and I often discard ideas that work beautifully in my mind but less so in the cold hard light of Reality.

Is that really waste?

After giving it some thought, I decided it’s not.  I must muslin repeatedly and can not avoid sewing a decent volume of fabric in order to do what I do.

Even if I weren’t working to create a pattern company, I think a certain amount of “wasted” fabric and effort goes into learning what works for an individual’s body and styling.   That’s ok!  No more guilt for learning curves!  It’s a part of the process!  I say pull the buttons off those wadders and throw the baggage out!  Or make rags…

Instead of worrying or feeling guilty, I turned my attention to all the space in my small home that is wasted curating my muslins and design experiments.  That’s the waste- wasted space.

This is Megan’s Revenge, from the Mad Men Challenge. I think this dress is full of bad ju-ju, I don’t like wearing her but I don’t know why.

So for Frosting Fortnight, I’m pulling out all the muslins and all the design experiments and garments I don’t wear and giving them a second chance at life.  During Frosting Fortnight, every day I’ll wear at least one thing that’s “out there” or experimental or simply hasn’t been worn in a few months.  I’m turning my wardrobe inside out to help me understand what I like to wear.

When all else fails, at least I can reclaim some of my button/zipper/lace stash…

I’ll also look at why certain garments don’t get worn- does it need mending/finishing?  Is it the wrong color?  Is it the cut?  What can I do with the clothes I really don’t need in my house and my life without simply throwing them out?  Why do I have so many quilting cotton blouses I never wear, and a few I do?

These are the questions I’ll explore over the next two weeks for Frosting Fortnight.  I hope it’s useful, and I hope to pick up ideas from other Frosting Fortnighters along the way! (I also have a few unrelated finished object posts, a bra update, some fun with color and an amazing amazing vegan-ethical lipstick review…)

I started out simply today. (note: right up until I almost hit publish, I thought today was the 18th.  All day.  So I already added my outfit to the FF flickr group.)  I’m wearing a current jeans design experiment and a woven “Not-a-Tee.” It’s made from a delicious, expensive red Indonesian batik with a fun neckline.  I haven’t worn this much because the fabric is “too nice” for daily wear, and it’s too boxy to be worn untucked.  Shame! I think this top deserves a comeback.  She’s back in rotation!

I dyed my hair black, friends. I can’t talk about it yet, maybe later when we talk about lipstick…

What do you think?  What’s “waste”?  Is it wasted fabric from a failed sewing project, wasted space taken up hoarding clothes not worn, or wasted energy feeling guilty about it?  Does high-volume muslin and garment sewing hurt my greenie cred?

What about effort spent making a garment you think you “should” make but don’t love, when you’d really rather be sewing and wearing the fun stuff?  Is that a waste, or is it discipline?

And tell me, I’m curious- how often do you clean out your closet?

*Great sewing patterns don’t just appear on the drafting table.  It takes work, revision, work, work, muslining and test-wearing, especially when wearability and good sewing practices are a priority.

77 comments

  1. I don’t think wearable muslins are a waste, but if you want to make unwearable muslins for pattern development, I’ve started using what the dry cleaner sells as “dust sheets” – they’re old hotel sheets with some imperfection that normally doesn’t affect their use as muslins!

    I’m really early in my sewing journey, so I see anything that is avoiding ready-to-wear as an ethical win, but would like to transition to using organic fabrics in all my home sewing. But I also really want to support my local fabric shops, and that is (in my case) often at odds with buying eco/fair trade fabrics, so it’s a toss up. Maybe buy all my zips etc at local shops and eco fabric online? I don’t know.

    I like making simple patchwork quilts, which I see as a fitting end for clothes gone awry. Oh, and I’m making bunting for my wedding out of old clothes that won’t wash well enough to be used in a quilt.

    Well done for being such an adult about your colleague’s comment! I’m super impressed!

    • Excellent idea using dust sheets from the dry cleaner! That’s going on the list for sure. :) Part of the problem is I muslin knits….

      I agree with you about ethical win. Labor ethics, if nothing else.

      Oooh! I bet you’ll love organic cotton… That was my first eco-fabric-love and I remember thinking “hey this is a really nice fabric, not just for hippies…” I think your buy online/buy offline makes sense. And honestly, honestly, I think most of us would rather buy fabric and things from a local shop if the shop would carry the things we want to buy. So I tend to ask for organic cotton/hemp/etc every time I walk into a fabric shop… It works sometimes. The other thing to do as a beginner is perhaps look around for local shops/sewing cafes that have classes, and support local business that way…?

      I LOVE YOUR BUNTING IDEA! I’d love to see them.. I’ve thought of making a “stock” festive bunting for our house when we have birthdays or special times, similar kind of project… Neat. Do you quilt, too? Where have you been all my life? ;)

      I guess I’ve said enough thoughtless things that if I like the person enough I tend to just let it go when someone says something like that… Besides… My husband rescues koalas and works on conservation projects, we compost, we recycle and reuse, throw away very little rubbish, by ethical everything (well.. more or less..), the list goes on… I know I do my best to not be a wasteful consumer… ;)

      • I made two (verrry simple) quilts earlier this year – Where have I been all your life? Why, saying “I’d love to learn to sew!” and doing then nothing about it…

  2. Your approach to perfecting your sewing is somewhat similar to my approach to find the perfect cake recipe for a particular occasion. I am making a wedding cake for a dear friend next year and she wants something I don’t make often – there will be much experimentation and much taste testing. Then there will be all of the icing experiments after the fruit cake recipe is perfected. I’m looking forward to frosting fortnight!

    • Yes! I bet it is! If you need a taste tester you can sling some of that cake my way.. ;) And that’s so so special, making a cake for your friend’s wedding! :D

    • Sorry Dianne, I just re-read what I wrote about the “process” and now I’m thinking about you stuffing cake into drawers, shaking it out are wearing it around the house. hehehe. Love it. But I understand.

      • Haha – you crack me up Steph! When I did my brother and sister in laws wedding cake I felt like I had cake stuffed in drawers. By the time I tested numerous recipes for the cake and the ganache and then did a similar thing for a colleague who had three different types of cake in her wedding cake, not long afterwards there was that much frozen cake and that many cake truffles made, I almost dreamt about it. I will try and bring you some taste tests when I start experimenting. My ‘Special Cakes’ pinterest board has some of the designs that are being considered on it . I don’t think there will be any direct copies but a compilation of a few. I have one that I have completely fallen in love with but it really is up to the bride! She wants to learn to sew, and her sister in law to be is into craft, so we have been discussing the prospect of having ‘crafternoons’! We should be ‘green’ and share the love of our scraps on those days, but I have donated mine to my neighbour downstairs. She has a social work client who has a thing for fabric and my donation stops the curtains in the housing they found her from being torn to shtreds!

  3. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been that dignified with the colleague.
    Or I’d have mumbled something and then sat in a corner seething for days.
    There is a reason I’m not employed in the mainstream workforce. It’s for the good of mankind. And opinionated colleagues!
    I think what constitutes waste is a really subjective topic. But I suspect there are still parameters. For me, if I have a piece of fabric, or a garment, that can be made up into something wearable, then I’m definitely going to go that route. I’ve been really good to date at not having a wardrobe full of clothes that don’t get worn, simply because at the moment the wardrobe is so small. Now that I have sewing time again, I suspect that might change, but am hoping to be at least a little focused about sewing stuff that I’ll actually wear.
    I also find that if I’m not wearing something, because it doesn’t fit, or isn’t really me, or some other inexplicable reason (including bad ju-ju) then that item is re-modelled or given away. I’m not keeping it “just because”. For me, that would be a waste.
    The interesting point in this discussion for me is the one around guilt. If a garment doesn’t work out I feel incredibly guilty about the time, fabric and money I’ve wasted. I hadn’t thought to turn it on it’s head and see it as a learning opportunity and an investment in my skills development. I really like that thought. I’m happy to pay for a sewing course, why not a few £s worth of fabric to fine tune what I’m learning?
    Great idea!

    • Hahha! That’s just it, I work for/with myself, so I think it behooves me to keep my temper…

      Your system sounds like it works great! And yes, I think I’ve kept my unworns “just because” and I’m over it. Out they go!

      Yes! Yes exactly! Time and money invested in being better! :)

  4. I love your top! you should definitely wear it more often!
    Your work associate has a point in some way/ I’ve thought a little about waste and it does worry me sometimes when I think of all the money, fabric and time involved. There are times when I think I should find another hobby, one that wouldn’t imply paying for equipment, books, etc and one that wouldn’t mean one of my bedrooms is entirely devoted to it (knitting takes less space for me). I could just be watching TV!! But seriously I can’t do that: it is a kind of addiction: I am no longer able to sit and watch TV and do nothing with my hands.
    So yes, I sometimes worry about not being very green and spending all my money and it does make me feel guilty (first world problem I know)! But there is no way I can fight my need to knit and sew.

    • Thanks!

      Yes… I mention what she said because it’s a topic that comes up sometimes in conversations, on blogs… And I just don’t feel like I’m “less than” because I sew the way I sew. That’s just silly, right? Because it’s just as you said- I can’t sit around watching TV doing nothing, and I can’t fight the urge to work with my hands. :) I completely get that.

  5. I’ve started to view waste as things that dont get worn. I’ve grown up with a make do and mend/hand me down mentality. If it sits around, taking up space, never getting used it needs to move on to a new home. I’m always looking to use up scraps for smaller projects, and I find it hard to throw things away if they can’t be utitlised for something (anything!). But you’re right about the learning curve. It all helps you to become more efficient with your time, creativity and materials, so win-win in the long run. I think your muslin-ing is totally justifiable, especially as a pattern maker.

    Two side-notes:
    One – I LOVE your Megan dress, it makes me sad to think you don’t wear it. I’d love to make myself one, but I’m just not accurate, or a quilter. I hope Frosting Fortnight brings the two of you together.
    Two – The lipstick review is exciting for me. I’m extremely allergic to carmine and have been searching for a good vegan one. Good reviews are lacking.

    • Yes, I agree. :) And same, grew up with the same mentality because we were poor… But at the same time, I *have* stashed “unworns” around the house… So it’s good to get them all out and reassess and reuse… :)

      Thanks, I’m glad you love Megan. She’s just not a good dress. Really. Don’t be sad for her. I’ll cut her down to make something adorable for my girlie.

      Lime Crime. I’ve been doing my best to destroy the lipstick since I got it, but so far I haven’t managed to do so. ;)

  6. Be gentle with yourself; this will enable you to be gentle with others. I know I have to constantly remind myself to do this. We all hold high ideals and it can be hard to live up to them. Maybe your colleague needs a reminder to be gentle with herself :)

    I’m not participating in the upcoming challenge but I’m looking forward to seeing what you pull out of the closet. And I definitely have sewing choices/closet curation on the mind.

  7. I search op shops for decent sized bits of fabric – with the intention of using them for muslins, sometimes I fall in love with them (I currently have a huge crush on an old doona cover I picked up for $6) and find it hard to justify destroying them.
    I would love to take part in your week but I don’t think I’ve made enough clothes to participate (maybe next year and now I’ve got an even better reason to continue sewing like a junkie).
    I have thrown out a TON of RTW this year and there is more to go… I confess I’ve fallen in love with my Made-by-me clothes…
    I think it’s important to figure out why you sew.
    Do you sew to save the planet? Save money? Rescue the world from RTW.
    I sew for many reasons but the most important two are for fun and to have a creative outlet. That might sound trite but sewing makes me a happier person and therefore a happier wife, mother, friend and work colleague – everyone has a different measuring stick for life/values and that’s good enough for me. I don’t over think it / I enjoy it.

    • Op shops are goldmines… And I completely understand crushing on op shop finds!

      It’s two weeks. :)

      Sewing for environmental reasons is maybe #4 or 5 on my priority list. I’m more concerned with labor ethics and personal satisfaction of doing a job well with my hands.

      Not trite at all, universal! :) I don’t think many people are going sew without having that “love” involved… You’re right, best to enjoy it.

  8. i think muslining has to happen – it’s part of sewing. and i can’t always/ often justify using what is in the UK expensive fabric to try for a wearable muslin every time. to try and stop this being too wasteful, i normally use old tablecloths/ bed sheets from charity shops for muslining (although clearly wouldn’t work on knits!). i also save the muslin so that if i want to make another version, i can reuse that muslin. if i ever get around to it, i have a plan to store all patterns and pattern pieces (i’m a tracer) in envelopes along with the muslin, some scraps of fabric and notes as to how i found the fabric once it was made up. i try to buy patterns that i think i will reuse or that have different variations for different looks, so hopefully this will save a bit of time, effort and resources.

    i think your colleague was quite cheeky – if i wear what i make (and actually i can rarely find anything in shops that i want to buy any more as i always think i could make it better/ nicer/ cheaper/ longer – since i’m tall this last one is important!) then it’s not wasteful. i also have a pile of stuff i would previously have earmarked for charity shops set aside for refashioning into So Zo vests or Maria Denmark kimono tees. if even an old tshirt can be reused and reworn, where’s the waste?

    • I keep an eye out for plain cotton jerseys or weirdly printed jerseys on deep sale. I pick that up for muslins, if I wear it great if I don’t no big deal. The fabric will be used for other things…

      Do you ever just cut the seams on a muslin and trace it off for a pattern? That’s a pretty “couture” practice, but I find it works quite well.

      Yeah cheeky is probably the word. :) And I do that too- I have a sort of “refashion” stash, often the fabric gets cut down into a household item or a little outfit for Lila. It’s handy having a little human to dress… ;)

  9. Let me just say this first, I am cranky post-root canal so if my response sounds unfiltered, that will be my excuse.

    First, if you are sewing, you have already tackled a huge problem. Don’t worry it to death. The sewing process requires lots of trials and errors. If you can wear your trials (muslins) great, if not reuse or recycle. If your are sewing for a business rather than a home or hobby sewer you are a different kind of animal. Steph, that would be you. Be careful not to lump all fruit into one category. Of course, those of us who do not do this for a business (anymore) approach the process differently. You Must trial and experiment and use. That’s good, would anyone want to purchase your patterns if you print them up after the first mock up? No!

    Second, enough with the “well-meaning and guilt-inducing commentary.” In general, I believe that most reasonable people have identified and have started to deal with the waste and excesses in our lives, at least those of us not in third world countries. (Where the only waste is human life and the only excess is poverty and starvation, illness and misery.) I told you I was cranky! Your response to the colleague was measured and considered. While I think it is essential to defend your position (as a business) the likely best approach is not to engage in a back and forth. It was one of those moments where your best response is to lead by example. If she reads this blog she will identify her misinterpretation of your facts.

    Third, those of us who sew will purchase patterns, tools and fabric and support the economy. For example, I have bought three books this year, to support new and struggling authors, not just because I want/need the books. i do it because it is essential to me, at my past-middle-aged-age, to support these people. If we loose the will to sew, like the will to learn, we will loose more than some scrapped fabrics or clothing. We will loose a vital component of independence. With the current resurgence in sewing, it is essential to support those of us who drive the movement. Purchasing patterns is also an example of supporting our sewing economic growth. While much testing is required, whether it is the big 4, independents or individuals, jobs are created, families are supported and life is enhanced.

    OK, I need some coffee and tylenol. Have a wonderful day, and by the way, the outfit is darn cute!

    • Yeah for sure. I also just totally had a root canal, too, so I’ll be direct. ;)

      As for lumping the fruit together- I wasn’t comparing myself to her. I stay away from personal comparison as much as I can, it’s a silly game some women like to play and I think it’s irritating at best. :)

      For your second point- hear hear. Except- well- I think probably most native English speakers could learn a thing or two from someone who has had to grow up in “the third world.” Poorer people in general (real poor, not fake poor like we have in the developed world) know how to make best use of every little resource. And also those people in “third world” countries pay the price to deal with our consumerist excesses. E-waste is a big example that springs to mind.

      And yes, I definitely agree with you about supporting innovation and good work in the sewing industry. Definitely. I’d add to that avoiding supporting sectors of the sewing economy that focus on wastefulness or just aren’t very useful (you know… like gimmicky stuff…). But maybe that’s just me.

      I’ll go have some (more) coffee too! I hope you feel better! (I didn’t really have a root canal, I was being cheeky. But I think we have a rapport.) And thanks! :)

  10. Sounds like your colleague’s comment hit a raw nerve and has stayed with you, that is usually an indicator that there is something in it for you. It seems like so far it has prompted you to ask yourself some hard questions. Soul searching usually gives us great stuff if we listen to it. I don’t always like it when a friend/colleague/loved one gives me a challenging reality check, but I try to use it to grow. I could share a doozy that my son-in-law slapped me with on Saturday night. I feel the pain, but know it is growth stuff too. Generally I regard any comment that another makes that causes me to want to flare as a warning light that there is something that I need to address. It helps.
    Green-cred sounds like it is important to you and your hubby. It has become increasingly important to me over the last few years, although I would in no way consider myself a ‘greenie’. Unfortunately ‘green’ usually costs way more than other options and this is one with which I struggle every time I am making a purchase. When it comes down to conscience vs wallet there aren’t always clear winners and the outcome often depends more upon what I can actually afford. I don’t consider it an all-or-nothing matter, but more of a matter of if I can do a little more today than I did yesterday, then progress is good. When I consider how I stand today compared to a few years ago, I feel pleased with the green progress that my family and I have made.
    I clear out my wardrobe seasonally as I don’t have enough space for more than one season at a time. This means that each season as I get out the clothing that has been stored away I am looking over it critically for fit, wear, and all those little tell-tale things that I may not have noticed when I stashed it away. I used to put those items aside to offer on Freecycle or to go to charity. Only a season or two ago I realised that I have the option to re-fshion them either for myself or a loved one – yeah I am a little slow getting to this. My excuse is that I was working full time and lacked the energy to do the extra effort to re-use clothing. It takes a fair bit longer remaking that it does to make from scratch with fresh fabric. I am enjoying the process and feel happy with the results (most of the time). Again it’s a learning curve.
    On the aspect of muslins, I have often avoided the process of muslining. I have made heaps of garments over the years and have spent many hours fiddling with the paper pattern, measuring tweaking etc all to avoid having to do a muslin. It seems funny now when I think about it. Why did I go to all the trouble? I hated wasting fabric, even cheap fabric in a muslin. yet I wasted heaps of time fiddling before cutting into my fabric checking fit etc. The other aspect is that the were plenty of mistakes too, many which were fixable, others which could have been avoided with that muslin. I am laughing at myself as I type this. In one way I did end up doing a muslin, it was simply the first draft of a garment that I made. Since the majority of my sewing was cake, I would have a less-than-perfect version made in the cheaper or no-so-nice fabric which was then worn at home or house work etc. then once I had ironed out the fit/pattern bugs each version made after that was better… until I either lost or gained weight or had the next baby etc.
    So we have determined that wasting money is not ok for me. I used to have more time that money so valued it less. Now time is equally as valuable and I try to wast neither time nor money and find a balance in each in regards to clothing, stitching, home and family. loving your prompts and questions.
    i am really enjoying your posts and each one has so much ‘meat’ in it. Thanks heaps. (hmm must try to be less wordy.)

    • Ditto. (There, I’ve glommed onto Dee to make my own propensity for wordiness seen less pronounced, lol. Thanks, Dee!) I agree that re-making, thrifting, and ragging out our worn-out clothing is green. So is using scraps from old projects — or from other people! — to muslin garments, a green practice. So is composting natural fiber scraps — or putting them out for the birds to use in nests. Entertainment value should count for something, too. The time, money and electricity you are using for this … hobby? Avocation? … is not being used to pursue some other, more frivolous and/or energy-wasteful pastime.

    • “Generally I regard any comment that another makes that causes me to want to flare as a warning light that there is something that I need to address.”

      So true, and a great reminder — thanks :-)

    • Well, to be honest I was surprised she’d say something like that to me, it’s just plain bad manners. At the time it was a question I’d already asked myself, thought about, and decided. Which is why I didn’t get mad or feel the need to rush to defend myself. I just figured she didn’t realize what she had asked me/how rude she sounded.

      I mention it in the post as a way to introduce a topic that I hear/see referred to every now and then offline and on. She’s really not the only person to mention “waste” to me or to try to lay green guilt on my doorstep. It’s fine. She’s older than I am and might think I’m underinformed and she’s doing me a service. In general, I let older people just say what they’re going to say before going on about my business. Everyone likes to boss around a younger woman, it’s like some governing law of the universe. Sometimes I pick up gems that way, but usually not. :)

      I’m quite happy to learn from those around me, I actively seek out new ways to look at things. :) If I like and respect the person, I’ll give their perspective some thought with an open mind. But if they’re wrong, they’re wrong. Either way, doesn’t do much good fighting over it usually so I don’t.

      As for green being expensive… It is and it isn’t. Some, if not many green practices actually save money. There’s a LOT of stuff I just don’t buy purely because I think its a waste of money, waste of resources, it isn’t reusable, the ethics are questionable, etc. I just won’t buy it.

      In our house, the “being green” trade off is effort/time more than money. Husband and I were both raised this way, it’s probably easier for us than those who have picked up the lifestyle in the past few years… (which is not me being snarky! I think it’s rad that people care about their actions!) There’s a certain consumer mindset that says “If I buy ‘this,’ then I am ‘that’.” It’s a really common psychological warfare tactic used in ordinary advertising. (“If I buy Chanel No 5, Brad Pitt will think I smell amazing..”)

      The thing about “living green” is, if you have to buy a product to be considered “green,” is it really all that green? (What is the sound of one hand clapping?)

      But what about buying eco-fabrics, or organic food? Well… We do have to buy some things. That’s life. In our house we find that by reducing the things we buy in general, we can afford to buy with our consciences. And that’s just it… you just have to follow your own conscience, other people don’t know your life and it’s quite rude for them to make assumptions or tell you how to be. :)

      Yes, I think you’re right, progress is good. :) I fall short of my own ideals all the time, but beating myself up about it is a wasted effort… As long as progress is being made, then good!

      Do you find re-fashioning takes longer than a fresh garment? I’m really curious about that… I often feel sneaky sneaky when I refashion something and re-use the pockets etc, which cuts my sewing time. heheh. I suppose it depends on the projects.

      I think you bring up a fantastic point about time vs money spent. Absolutely. It’s always, always about finding balance. And that balance will be different from person to person. :)

      No no, don’t apologize, I like long thoughtful comments from bright people.

      • Some re-fashioning is quicker as it saves having to repeat aspects of the garment; hem, pockets, trims. Some re-fashioning does take a fair bit of fiddling and time to get it right; changing and matching new aspects into existing etc. Recently I refashioned four tops bought on clearance. The fabric was lovely and way cheaper than I could buy in a fabric store. I blogged them http://dee-clutteringmylife.blogspot.com.au. The tops were all very simple styles which take hardly any time to make from scratch, by the time I fiddled trying to work out what I could do with the fabric, it would have been quicker to make from scratch. Then again, some of the re-fashions were way quicker. Hopefully it will even out.

      • I definitely didn’t grow up with a recycling mentality, I am still trying to get my parents to just do something as basic as putting items in the recycling bin instead of the general rubbish. :/ It has been a learning curve for me and at times has been accompanied by derisive comments from others. It feels so much better now that there is more awareness around all green aspects as finally I don’t have to justify each little thing that I do. It sounds odd even as I type this. I can’t imagine having the opposite experience and applaud you and your folks etc. At least my kids have a different experience and I can feel glad about that.
        thanks for your helpful and insightful comments and blog.

        • Ah, I see. You’ll probably find that the more you sew, and the more you re-fashion you’ll just look at something and see about five or six other somethings it could be refashioned into.. :)

          Oh dear! It definitely can be hard to change one’s habits… I remember growing up and my aunties would mention my grandfather’s habit of washing ziplock bags like it was the weirdest thing ever. We just didn’t often have ziplock bags in my house growing up… I do use them sometimes now, and every time I wash one I think of my grandfather and my aunties… hheehe.

          Yeah, I don’t play the justification game much with people in my daily interactions. It’s too easy to sound defensive/whiny/aggressive even though I’m perfectly sure about what I believe/what I do.

          And then on the other hand, I guess I don’t really tend to write much about our household sustainability practices because to us it’s more or less second nature (though always room for improvement!) and I really have no idea what people do in their homes, what would seem obvious, what would seem super weird, and above all I don’t want to come off like one of those “Green-vangelists..”

          But yeah, it definitely became easier to be a greenie once most of the rest of the world decided it’s a good idea to be a bit less wasteful… :) I used to canvass for Clean Water Action and people would be quite, quite rude about it sometimes…

  11. I just finished sewing up something I knew I should sew up but wasn’t excited about. The fabric had been in stash so long I thought it was a different color – and that it was real linen, not faux. Will I wear it? Yes, it’s an ivory skirt in my TNT pattern. Am I excited about it? No.

    What am I excited about? I’m working on a wool suit. I’m a SAHM in SoCal. Why do I need a wool suit??? But I’m excited. I’m excited about my wearable muslin in cotton too.

    As for cleaning out the wardrobe, I cycle clothes from closet to “just around the house” and periodically (a few times a year) I dig out the slightly stained shirts and make rags from them for my husband. I only have about 2′ of closet pole space in my bedroom (I stash my overcoat and fancy dresses elsewhere) so I can’t have much in the way of unworn garments – I have no room!

    • Hahaha! You never know when you might have to go to court? ;) But seriously, I think it’s easy as a sahm not to have some “smart” clothes to fall back on, but when the need for smartness arises, well, it’s pressing isn’t it?

      Yes, I do a similar cycle, absolutely. :)

  12. Sure, it would be less wasteful if you could magically draft something perfect the first time. It’s not possible. And if we look too close at that, we’d never sew anything. Industrial production has economies of scale we’ll never match as home stitchers. I think you work hard to offset the waste in other ways.

    I don’t go through my closet as often (or as stringently) as I could. I’m not sure if its wasteful or not, but lately my twelve-year-old picks through everything I try to purge anyway, so not much escapes. Hmm.

    • LOL my nine year old just inherited my Sewaholic Minoru jacket – and was very pleased with herself when someone told her she had a ‘waaaay cool jacket’ on its first outing!

    • Yes, exactly. Not possible.

      Hey if you have a mini-clothes-scavenger, then great! I often cut down a failed project for Lila, that works pretty well.

      And lizzy- that’s so cool! :D

  13. Let me offer another possible interpretation: The coworker is concerned about the environment and has committed to the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – of which “reduce” is the most important. She therefore keeps her wardrobe small; she buys or makes, but not a lot of either. Let’s call this method “C”. She knows that you’re concerned about the environment. She sees that you use more fabric than she does and have more clothes than she does. Call this method “S”. C and S look very different to her. She might say that C = -S; in other words, your approaches are opposite. How can this be reconciled with similar intentions on both sides? Hence her question.

    One difference is that she doesn’t have a pattern company; maybe she didn’t connect the new garments she sees with that process. Maybe the difference is a focus on waste versus on sustainability or ethics. Maybe the difference is which definitions of e.g. waste are prioritized over others (time, money, materials), or when something amounts to waste (if I learned something from this piece of fabric and then put it in the garbage, is that “waste”? I think there’s no “right” answer to this one, just a number of valid answers.) This could be an opportunity for an interesting discussion with her about where she’s coming from in the name of “green”.

    My mom says if there’s more than one possible interpretation, you have the freedom to pick the one that makes you happy instead of the one that makes you mad. Not to say that my interpretation is correct, just that there’s more than one possibility here.

    Sometimes “I do X” is heard as “If you do anything other than X, you’re wrong, wrong, wrong”. Yes, that would be judgmental. On the basis of the info here, I can’t tell whether she was actually being judgmental or not. When my dad first became a vegetarian, some people got belligerent! They seemed to take his decision about what he was going to eat as a criticism of what they were eating, but it wasn’t.

    There’s another interesting issue here: if we all have more or less the same goal (preserve the environment) but we’re all doing different things, are we actually getting anywhere? For instance, a vegan friend of mine wears shoes with man-made materials instead of leather, because to her it’s more ethical (avoiding cruelty). I avoid shoes with man-made materials because to me it’s more ethical (avoiding products that pollute). Food for thought.

    (As always, I’ve omitted lots of details due to the nature of the forum. This comment is long enough as is!)

    • Yeah, for sure. I just don’t really think it’s anyone’s business to spend that much time thinking about how other people spend their time/money/resources. I have too much to do to look after myself to go around trying to deconstruct others’ ways of living…

      Your mom is a wise woman. :) And my buddy did directly call me out, whether she meant to be rude or helpful. I choose to believe “helpful,” but I mention the anecdote because she’s not the only person to bring up the topic, so I thought I’d address it….

      Yeah, people get belligerent about vegetarians, I didn’t eat meat when I moved here and unfortunately I gave up being a vegetarian because of that belligerence and I was sick of being singled out at meals. BUT I believe I’m going to go back, I think meat is kind of gross (hate handling it) and there’s research that shows that one does not have to eat meat in order to be a healthy adult. So I’ll carry the report in my pocket and wave it under the noses of the belligerent. I may also wave around sustainability studies, too. Meat is wasteful of resources. I never understood why my dietary choices were someone elses’ business…. But people get downright shirty about it sometimes…. /endrandomvegetarianrant

      • LOL. “I’ll carry the report in my pocket and wave it under the noses of the belligerent.” I would love to be a fly on that wall. hehehehe.

        • Heh heh heh… The tricky thing is husband adamantly refuses to go vegetarian, but we talked about it tonight and he doesn’t care in the slightest if I do and never prepare meat again. So good.

          But yeah. Not kidding in the slightest about carrying those studies around with me. ;)

    • Yes, I feel the same about waste… :)

      Great link, very interesting article. Thanks for the perspective. Maybe I can send my muslins to delhi… If only it were that simple, right?

  14. I have a very small closet. Anything that is off-season is stored in a big double closet in my girls’ bedroom, and the contents rotate every 5 – 7 months. Frosting and frou-frou are stored in a cedar-lined closet in my basement, or in plastic totes. Sooooo, given my small closet space, I really don’t keep anything I don’t wear within a 24 month period, with the exception of completely impractical ball skirts, taffeta dresses or lace evening wear. I have started to hate some things in my closet, but love the fabric, and have put it aside into my fabric stash for makeovers -for the first time ever- hopefully in time for the next appropriate season.

    As much as I love clothes, I think it’s the creative outlet and sheer joy (and tears) I have working with fabrics and actually making something that fits that keeps me sewing. And the learning. I love to learn and learn some more. As for waste, well, I’ve wasted a lot of first-draft projects that would have financed several sewing courses in material costs, and I refuse to feel guilty about it. I usually finish the garment well, give it to the local thrift shop, and chalk it up to a learning experience. And I do NOT think tweaking, remaking, numerous muslins and many takes on a pattern are a waste at all. It’s education, and that is invaluable. Goodness! Take the waste question to the end of the logical line with education – should we go back to rote learning with sticks in the sand so we don’t *waste* paper, trees, etc., etc., etc.? Moderation in everything. Frankly, I don’t think people would “waste” so much on clothing if they could get good-quality properly-fitting garments off the rack. When you’re dressed well in a garment that fits well, you feel like a million dollars and don’t constantly need that new something the fashion industry is bullying you into buying to make you feel pretty. Or is it trendy? Ugh.

    And I’d really like to join the Frosting Week, but I’d really look ridiculous going about my daily chores in the frou-frou that gets worn on special occasions. Taffeta ball skirts for grocery shopping, anyone? I just don’t think I’ve got the courage to pull that off….

    • Wow! You have a great system, sounds like! Come stay at my house and teach me your ways… ;)

      And also, I very much agree with you.

      Awwwww… It’s not courage really, more like determined eccentricity… ;)

  15. What a thought provoking post!
    I must admit saving the planet by sewing is not something I think about. I didn’t know shopping at thrift stores and using old bedsheets was a “green” thing to do until I started reading a few blogs. It was just the place I could afford fabric. I thought organic cotton was for “snobs” and people with a bigger fabric budget until I read your post on Eco knits and how they wear better.
    I HAVE been thinking about making clothing well. Having grown up sewing I am finally taking the time to consider what I sew. Is it the right style for my body? Will it fit me? Does it fill a place in my wardrobe? I have a big stash right now from a couple ladies who have passed away or gone senile so I am trying to use up what I have before I buy more. This eliminates waste for me and I am slowly culling my wardrobe of ill fitting garments. Thanks to Mari, I am making things I need that are anything but boring basics.
    As others have said waste is a matter of opinion and I love that we need to remember just because we didn’t wear something doesn’t mean it was a wasted experience. You especially need to test your patterns so they will be beautiful!
    We have a monthly get together in my community of seamstresses. I take a big box of my scraps down and the kids have a blast going through them. No waste and no worries. They can be as creative as they want.
    Well there’s my ramble! Love your posts! Always informative!

    • For some reason “saving the planet” always makes me think of that kids’ show Captain Planet… haha.

      Yes, it’s tempting to think that the more expensive fabrics etc are appealing primarily to “snobs” because of the price tag, but in recent years I’ve had to reassess that assumption on my part because it’s so often incorrect… There’s usually another reason or three the thing is appealing that has nothing to do with cost.. Seems like that to me, anyway.

      Can’t wait for you to work with some organic cotton! I think you’ll be quite pleased. Soft, delicious, really don’t know how to describe it properly.

      Yes! Kids love scraps! :D Lila gets into mine, too…

  16. Wow, great post. I can believe how aligned these thoughts are with my own of late… More and more, waste is starting to become synonymous with clutter, in my mind. For instance, in the past I’ve typically felt that if I purchased something then ended up throwing it away or donating it, that was “waste.” Therefore I kept it, tried to use it but often failed, and felt guilty every time I saw it. I’m moving away from that end of the spectrum for a variey of psychological reasons. Now, I’m beginning to feel that those kind of acquisitions are simply clutter — and what’s wasteful is keeping it in my environment. The money spent on it is gone — two wrongs don’t equal a right, yadayada. Ideally, over time, the mistakes are reduced on the front end, and fewer undesirable choices are made initially, but at least I can minimize the self-thrashing about it when it does happen!

    But back a little closer to the subject matter you discussed… I think part of what needs to be considered is the part of sewing — and especially pattern design, as you’re doing — that is *art.* Consider a beautiful drawing: are the sheets of paper containing the initial sketches “waste?” Or the erasers that were used to correct mistakes? What about the supplies consumed as the artist honed his/her skills? Sewing is a utilitarian skill, yes, but it’s also a creative outlet for most of us that spend our time and energy on it — at least in present day, when RTW makes it not as essential as it once was. I just thought of another good example: I could make pre-packaged, processed foods for my family every night. Hamburger Helper doesn’t fail, and canned soups will be (arguably) edible every time. But I choose a different path: I cook from scratch, with ethically-raised fresh ingredients. So, when I have a recipe that fails, is that wasteful? Do I lose eco points if I throw that away?

    • Yes, me too! Waste=clutter, definitely. And you’re so right about learning to make more careful purchases from the “front end.” We have this dream of living in a house with no plastic… Whether or not we ever do that, when I pick up something to bring home that’s made of plastic, I definitely think about whether or not it’s something I’ll need or use constantly…

      I think your analogies are about right. :) And cooking from scratch is often preferable for a whole raft of reasons (we made spinach ricotta canneloni last night, organic ricotta from the farm… Oh it was so so so good…), though it is nice to have a quick and simple backup hidden in the back of the cupboard… ;)

  17. The message that I’ve always heard from those concerned with sustainability efforts has been that even one move toward green living can make a difference. Why would someone interested in sustainability suggest that because someone’s efforts don’t seem to be “enough” in their estimation, that the other person’s efforts aren’t worth anything at all? Obviously being “green” means different things to different people, but just because one person bends their efforts in a particular direction shouldn’t mean that everyone should have to do the same. If that were true, then what next? Government mandates for all citizens to wear shapeless homespun sacks? It could all be eco-sourced, no need to fit multiple muslins, and no need to throw away for something new and shiny. It might be the most practical way, but life would lose a lot of it’s flavor.

    Everyone has a creative need, some more than others. I would suspect that if your need wasn’t being fulfilled by sewing beautiful clothing, then some other outlet would take it’s place. How many style bloggers are out there buying cheap clothing they know was not sustainably-produced and is likely to fall apart after a few wearings because they are all about the creative process in putting together an outfit and don’t know of any other way to fulfill that need? Those that show an alternate way to fulfill those needs really are helping to show that there are “greener” ways to go.

    As far as the muslining question. If all those pieces drafted and re-worked repeatedly lead to a final product that will help hundreds or more seamstresses around the world to make something for themselves that will be well-loved enough to become a TNT pattern (I’ve got at least 4 Tiramisu’s planned in my head) and/or that even if being made for the first time might not need a full muslin, then by those efforts, you may have saved 100’s of yards of fabric that would otherwise been used by multiple individuals.

    • Yes, I consider myself in the “do what you can, when you can, and look for new things to try” category rather than the “Ten Commandments of Environmentalism” category. I think my buddy is, too, generally.

      Government mandate… Yes… I think there’s something in that idea, like re-introducing the Ration. Combat obesity, fuel dependence and wasteful fast fashion with the Ration… There’d be rioting in the streets.. ;)

      Thanks for that, I hadn’t thought about it *quite* that way, but you may be onto something! :)

  18. Waste is something I try to be mindful of, as I’m sure all of us who sew do. The fact that you are creating a well crafted product means that whatever ‘waste’ you produce perfecting it, will make your pattern a TNT for so many sewists, reducing waste for everyone who uses it ^_^

    For me, muslins are essential, as I have major adjustments to make, not the least of which a giant FBA lol. To help reduce cost/waste, I buy used sheets from thrift stores and reuse them as much as possible. I usually only muslin the bodice to save waste. Where I struggle is with garments I made in my first few months sewing; I have items that are in wrong colours or don’t fit quite right & don’t get worn, but I struggle with what to do with them – they represent a lot of work and material, and I find it hard to rip them apart for parts like a broken down car lol.

    • That’s a great way to think about it!

      Yes… Well… For garments like that I have to get tough with myself… If I know they’re “not right” and unlikely to be worn by anyone else, I stop thinking about it and get my scissors/seam ripper and strip that car down. ;) I figure the garment in its finished state is taking up space, not doing much good… But stripped down, I have a handful of buttons or a zipper and some craft fabric or rags… Which is ok. At least it’s going to some use?

      And the time spent making a disaster like that? Learning curve time. And it’s ok…

      • If nothing else, I agree that the learning curve time has been invaluable for me, and thus I don’t consider it a waste :) Just gotta take a deep breath and spend some quality time with my seam ripper, I guess! ^__^

  19. The things that I don’t wear are the items that I make because I deluded myself.

    Either it was a “joe genius” idea that didn’t pan out, those don’t really count because they are a learning experience or I make something that I would never have bought off the rack. Either I skimped on the fabric or it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle.

    I like the black hair, you have the same fair coloring as my oldest child. She has lovely ivory skin, grey hazel eyes and dark brown almost black hair and eyebrows. She has been a red head, a blonde and also sported blue black hair, they all look great on her. Because I have a light olive complexion, put the wrong shade of blonde or red hair on me and I look like a hooker.

    regards,
    Theresa

    • That makes sense, I never thought of it that way! :) But yes!

      And thanks… It seems a little harsh, I’ve never gone this black.. But it’ll fade soon enough and I might feel a bit more comfortable…

      AHhahaha!

  20. I love the comments above about simply enjoying and not overthinking!

    Hello, my name is AnotherStephanie and I’m an overthinker… So I do think about this stuff – when I see friends’ massive wardrobes (one is larger than my bedroom!), and when I read some sewing blogs and wonder how anyone can wear the amount of clothes featured therein.

    I don’t *think* I’m judgmental about this, though. (Well, maybe the room-sized wardrobe, a little!). I personally find it TOO MUCH unless I have a very, very small collection of clothes to house, maintain and create outfits. (The friend with the wardrobe room cannot believe how tiny my clothes cupboard is).

    I have a desk job, no kids, and most of my clothes simply don’t suffer a lot of wear and tear so I don’t need to make a lot of replacements.

    Everyone is different. Some people wear clothes out quite quickly, some are sewing for other reasons than simply making clothes to wear.

    As for the eco-credentials, being frugal when buying stuff, and re-using where possible is probably the main thing. And being mindful. Look at that, in 5 paragraphs I’ve come full circye from my first statement and back to my inbuilt attitude! It can’t be helped, can it?

  21. I find throwing out clothes I have made very hard! I do move on items I have made that I realise after they are made are not my best look. I threw out a lot of these at the start of my sewing and find I get more hits than misses these days. For me it was learning what suits me, what suits my lifestyle and matching fabric to pattern. It has been a long learning curve and I am still on it.

    • It is hard, Sue. So hard.. I’m glad to hear your “batting average” is getting better, it took me a while too but I think getting more hits than misses is one of those things that just comes with a little time… :)

  22. It’s not easy being green…. just ask Kermit the Frog!

    I think being green means one utilizes the resources and materials they have and consume in the most feasibly sustainable way. This means to me that I can make as many things as I want, as long as I find a use for them after their original purpose is done. I have made a lot of Christmas stockings, table runners, purses, bags, cat beds, dog toys, etc. from old clothes. Kinda like how you are taking the mens suit and remaking it into a ladies suit. The other thing to think about, all great inventors (and you are one) have failed prototypes; that is the only real way to create. Build – test – rebuild – test – refine – rebuild – test – etc. I don’t know of any projects that come out not needing refinement the first time out. To me it is a waste of time thinking about how much, and what other people think. Do what you need to do to get your thing done the way you want it to be. If you have to think about if you should be making a garment, hem hawing about it, then my opinion is you’d be wasting your time making it cause you know you really aren’t going to be wearing it. Myself, I don’t like making something without a useful purpose, making something just to make it, is cluttering.

    Well I hope I haven’t been too obstinate, definitely take me with a grain of sugar; I have honey every morning just so I can start my day out sweet.

    I think your doing great in all your endeavors… no matter what they say! hee hee

    • Haha… I have a pinterest board for random “green” stuff called Kermit…

      Thanks for that! I have long admired the work of many inventors who created things that changed the way the world works, especially their persistence. So thank you, I consider that a very high compliment. :)

      I like your philopsophy, And thanks for the reminder, I need to get on that blazer project. I lost the damn pattern, I’m sure I stuck it in a reference book but I can’t remember which one and have torn my house apart a few times looking for it… Growl.

      Obstinate? I’m a terrible judge of tone, but you seem quite polite and well-“spoken” to me. ;) There’s nothing wrong with being sure of your opinions and sharing them appropriately…That’s what I think anyway… :)

  23. I seem to be a magnet for people who love these kind of sneak attacks on other people’s beliefs and feelings. I also, NEVER know what to say in the moment! It is very frustrating to think of just the thing…later. I admire your ability to avoid conflict and instead use the experience to think about it in your own way.

    I am so guilty of hoarding clothes at the moment, I HAVE to do something about it soon. I’ve been justifying somewhat excessive spending because what I’m buying is thrifted or the fabric is my “only” splurge. Just today I picked up two huge bags of clothes from a freecycler and I really don’t need more of anything right now. Especially as I’m in a jeans and pullover rut.

    That rut has me thinking I need to get in on Frosting Week, but it’s been sooo cold and then humid and then cold here in NYC! I need to do an official spring/summer back to fall/winter clothes swap and I’ve been avoiding it. Which means the bedroom AND sewing room look like bombs have been set in them ;p

    • Yeah. It’s probably because you’re awesome. I say that with the greatest sincerity. :) I’m sure you don’t let it bother you… And thanks. It took me a long time to learn to keep my fool mouth shut, and even then sometimes it gets away from me… ;)

      Oh no! Well.. Stay away from freecycle for a while? :) Maybe? Sounds like a problem, let me know how that works for you… I’m always looking for good solutions to various problems. I wish I could help!

      Yeah, I put away my “winter” clothes and pulled out my “summer” ones, though I think in your climate the changing of the guard would be much more dramatic…

  24. I used to be more focused on living ‘greenly’. I haven’t decided that it no longer matters at all. But I have returned to the paid workforce and now have school aged children and the choices I make are different to the ones I made when they were tiny and I was at home a much bigger proportion of each day. I see that time I put in when the children were younger as a positive legacy rather than bemoaning that I’m no longer making my own bread and raising all of my plants from seed. I learnt a lot in the kitchen, in the garden and craft-wise. We wouldn’t have time to build a chook run from scratch now, but we do have the enduring benefits of that chook run in terms of daily eggs and reusing option for many of our food scraps.

    In terms of crafting, the children are in a perfect storm of hand-me-downs, and while I make some nightwear and round home clothes, I can source these cheaply from op shops or even local rtw shops. But what I cannot source easily are clothes which fit me, suit me, are affordable and meet my workplace needs. This is where sewing comes in – learning to make a full bust adjustment has been the single most useful skill in the last two years. I inherited some pretty dresses when a family member with gorgeous taste and a generous budget died. Last week I realised that the features of my most favourite two dresses are almost exactly replicated in your tiramisu pattern. I’ve got the fabric in the cupboard waiting! No pressure though, I’m aiming to finish knitting a summer cardigan first.

    I have a shelf full of gifted or thrifted fabric, ready to be turned into clothes, or at least used for muslins. But, like you, I’m coming to the conclusion that knits are what suits the clothing I want to wear best. And finding knits for muslins in the op shop just doesn’t seem to happen! If I take three attempts at an item to get one which I then wear every week for a couple of years in a winter or summer season, then I don’t consider that waste. Only through practising will I make progress. I guess I could categorise it as ‘slow clothing’, if I were looking for categories.

    • I think probably the single best “green” practice is just learning to be a mindful consumer and learning how to say “no”. I’m no expert on that, but I think that’s the most powerful change a person can continually choose to make in their life and probably matters more than growing seeds from scratch/baking bread. I do those things because I like them, but when they become a burden (time issues, etc) I don’t do them…. And I think you’re on to something about “legacy.”

      Tira will be out so so so so so soon! :D I’m so pleased it has features you look for in dresses…

      Yeah… When I worked in a sewing shop, one day I opened my mouth and said I’d sewn through most of my stash. Then person after person decided to de-stash all over me, which was rad, but also kind of a pain for a similar reason.. I’ve used most of it up now for muslins and weird stuff, so that’s good. It’s good to have “Free” fabric to mess with..

      Slow clothing. Yep. Yep indeed.

  25. I didn’t think I’m that much of a clothes horse until I did my first ever major wardrobe cull when I got back from the States. Five giant garbage bags later to the op shop, two giant garbage bags to the rag bin and a handful of refashionable garments and I realised I have a problem. I’m trying to be a lot more careful with my makes (there have been some hideous hot messes created in the name of learning) but in saying that the act of creation/refashioning/learning new skills is worth it for me. I’ve found I have only bought three RTW clothing items this year (not including underwear) and they were all printed t-shirts from cool places I visited. Sustainability win? I guess it depends what side you come down on. I call it a yes.

  26. Sometimes I think i have the opposite problem.. I have 2 drawers and about 2ft of wardrobe space, and that’s it.. everything gets worn in fairly high rotation because theres not much of it, and I have trouble making myself buy clothes OR fabric for clothes, because I wonder if I actually need it. I actually feel guilty about having so many tshirts at the moment.. I can go a whole week without doing laundry. I really should start making quilts from the stuff I have to get rid of though..

    • I like quilts. Aesthetically, also making them, and also because I can take semi-useless fabric and make it into something good. Have you ever made a quilt?

      But what you have, you wear and like and works well in your life? Then if so, win for you! :)

  27. I agree on wasted space… this house is small, and I simply have too many things that are tucked away somewhere out of sight and therefore do not get used… You know, small house allows for little “display” space.

    • Yes! Our house is very badly designed, and little storage space or room for storage furniture.. We hang many of our things on the walls. Like my hats. Or the pots and pans and knives and fruit and spices in the kitchen. Or the fishing gear in the study. It’s all just there on the walls. Who needs home dec, right? ;)

      I don’t mind if our things are on the walls, but clutter, “stuff” lying around drives me insane. Husband and I fantasize about moving house and using the opportunity to get rid of maybe half of what we own. Or more. That would be great.

  28. Steph, you have the best discussions :-) Here’s my two cents: I measure my wastefulness against my mother which, unfortunately, means I can never win :-). My mother grew up very poor (hardly enough food on the table), and what little the family had was lost when they were refugees after the war. She never made a muslin and only sewed things she wore/had to wear to death. I remember when she sewed for me as a child, she had me try on the garments all the time and altered while sewing. While I don’t muslin I sometimes sew things I won’t wear, and I have a sizeable fabric stash which means tied up space and money I could make better use of. I also fear I won’t sew up all of that stash as it’s 1. too much and 2. some of it I wouldn’t buy now although it seemed nice at the time. I try to be more conscious of this and have curbed my fabric buying a lot in the last years. I think it’s commendable that you do what you feel is right and don’t let the comment get you down. If green living is to be sustainable, it shouldn’t make us feel bad!

    • Thanks, Uta! I think so too, but without everyone who jumps in with something interesting to say, it’d just be me wandering around talking to myself… So I’m pleased so many clever people drop in and we can chat…

      Aw! Your mother sounds like she had a bit of a hard life, and like she has a lot of wisdom. :) Why not instead compete against Uta from a year ago, or Uta from two years ago? I don’t personally like comparison between people, but I’m pretty competitive so I sort of trick myself into competing against myself. If that makes sense…

      Yes, the stash trap. I hear that. Are you allowed to simply get rid of half of it- like, donate it or get together with other sewists and make a community project, something like that? Maybe a highschool theatre troupe? And then maybe not replace it, but have a little breathing room and not feel like you are overwhelmed? I find I get creatively blocked when I have a lot of fabric lying around…

      You are so right! It’s like a slogan or something- “If green living is to be sustainable, it shouldn’t make us feel bad!” That is correct.

  29. Pingback: Sew-Alongs and Challenges to Keep Me Going « Three Dresses Project

  30. Oi – what a convo! Yet one that plays out not infrequently. I suppose my way of approaching this is to say that if I don’t wear something often enough, I will donate it or give it to a friend, with the idea that I love these gifts and I love my thrift shop finds, so that it stands to reason that others may feel the same way! I tend to do a closet purge at least every year, sometimes with every season change, which helps me feel that I am staying on top of this. ‘Course, I do feel guilty about the stuff I donate that is a bit slipshod, but then I remember that a lot of mass produced, low end stuff is not well made either, and so it probably ends up a wash.

  31. Pingback: Gossiping About Quilting Cotton « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World


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