Wednesday, 27 February 2013

List of suppliers of organic and Fair Trade fabrics


This is a bit of a continuation of the previous post. The debate following Sarai's post here brought up an issue many a home seamstress has undoubtedly thought about; what is the pedigree of the material I am using? I don't have shops to choose from where I live. There is a fair drive to the nearest shop selling dressmaking fabrics and I can get a very limited range of quilting/craft cottons in the town I live, so most of my fabrics come via internet.

I would like to choose better, although there are times when needs or artistic requirements must. It is no get-out clause, just being realistic about how much choice there is about. My recent internet research shows that the choice is far greater than just a few years back.

It is not all about organic-not organic either. Just by buying linen instead of cotton, if it is practical, saves the environment. Linen has a shortish growing period from seed to fibre and doesn't need as many chemicals. It is also a plant, which grows in colder climates.

Wool is of course great, it comes from animals, which grow it again and again.

There is also the bamboo, growing at an unimaginable speed. I do not know how environmentally friendly the process of extracting the fibres from the bamboo is. Many eco-friendly firms seem to market the fibre, so I hope that it is OK.

Here are some links to the shops I have found. If you have others, please add in the comments and I will edit my list. The list is UK centred, but the shops send to other countries too.

Fair Trade Fabric sells fabrics and habedashery, both organic and fair trade! Good place to start.

Organic Cotton sells of course cotton, but also bamboo and linen fabrics. You can also buy organic sewing thread. They know personally the weavers of their fabrics! The site lay-out is slightly old-fashioned in my mind, but I don't care, they have great stuff to reasonable prices and it is fairly traded.

Ecotale sells linens sourced from European factories (less airmiles, no labour exploitation). They have a very informative site about how to choose the linen for your project.

Eco Earth  has a vast array of undyed organic fabrics. There are a few coloured ones in between as well. You can even buy silk, which is made without harming the larva inside the cocoon. If you want to make your own cloth nappies, this is the site to visit. They have all the things for it, also FOLD OVER ELASTIC! I have had such hard time trying to find anybody selling this in the UK. They also sell fabric dyes suitable for the fibres in fabrics, so you can have these things with some colour.

Ray Stitch  is not dedicated organic fabric store, but has a good choice of different types. It also has 100% wool felt in three different thickness and bamboo jersey.

The following shops are not dedicated organic/fair trade shops, but have in their collection organic prints. Just put "organic" in the search box, so you don't need to trawl through all the collections to decide which ones qualify.

Celtic Fusion fabrics
Saints and Pinners
Frumble Fabrics
The Eternal Maker  Here you need to go "type of fabric" and choose organic.
There are over 200 different prints, so you are spoiled for the choice.

The fabrics in this post are all organic, as far as I remember. Most of them are out of print, but there are equally cute things on the offer out there. Monaluna is responsible for the animal ones and they tend to have this type quirky prints, which melt my heart.

Friday, 22 February 2013

To buy or not to buy and where to buy

It's half term week here, so the blog will be quiet for a while yet. I just popped in slightly fuming from my shopping trip today. The Elf son's trousers suddenly all looked awfully tight/short/unfitting. He has grown again! And I have not held a keen enough eye on this, so have not prepared by buying fabric to make clothes for him. This is my new goal, try to keep up with my family's sartorial needs.

I had a mental shopping round in my head and decided to head slightly South from where we live to a bigger town to find a pair of trousers for him. I deliberately did not make a bee-line for a big supermarket, slightly closer by, oh no. I suspect the supermarket has very bad practices on its supply chain.

You know what? There was not one shop selling clothes in his size! OK, there was, but that was only school uniforms. We ended up in the said supermarket to buy one pair of jeans to save our butts for just now. That pair cost £7. I would have happily paid three times the price, if I had been assured that there had not been exploitation down the line. Because for £7 there has been, that's for sure. Don't feel proud of myself buying them and promise to keep better eye on his growing habits from now on.

Coletterie has an interesting book review and interview of the author on the same subject.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Re-purposing three sets of draws

 I love to see other people's houses, how they live, have decorated and generally organised their space to reflect the life they lead or not. I especially enjoy seeing other people's workspaces. I thought it fair to show some of my workspace. 

When I was putting my workroom together, I tried to do it with smallest amount of money and one of the strategies I employed was to look what I already had and possibilities of changing things. I have had these set of small draws from IKEA for yonks. They have been used a lot and then stored for a good while, when there was no need for them. They were originally untreated birch veneer. Under first round of service they were stained brown and for this project I painted them white with eggshell wood paint.

The draw fronts I decorated with some of my favourite fabrics, which I fastened with PVA glue. I could have given the fronts maybe another layer of glue to make them more varnished. I love the patterns and the colours and had an awful time deciding whether I should use these blue hues or go for red ones. I am still occasionally tempted to change the colours.

The green and turquoise knobs came from IKEA and were very cheap. I drilled holes on the draw fronts and used scissors to make a hole into the fabric. HINT: do not try to drill through the fabric as the threads will go round the drill bit and it will end in tears.

I also added castors to make the draws easy to move around. I think that I used glue, possibly "No more nails" for fastening the three "sets" onto each other.

Now it is easy for me to reach for my colourful thread and doll hair yarn

neutral thread, bits and bobs and vintage lace,

my needles, bobbins and measuring tapes.

And best of all, it  is all neatly out of sight when not in use.

Have you re-purposed anything lately?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Craft Kiosk opening

Trat-dat-dat-daaah....My Craft Kiosk is open! LOOK, there is a tab there where you can see my current overflow of inspiration for sale.

I have had people ask me if I sell any of my crafts. Until now I have told them to tell me what they want to have and I will make it as a commission. This is still what I do. In addition I have added a tab on this blog, where you can see what I have kicking around in my hut. These things are made and ready to go, if you wish to purchase.

The small items have p&p in 2nd class UK mail included. Anything else and you have to mail me, so I can calculate.

PS.The picture is one of the pencil cases for sale.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Tailored shirt and trousers and the art of making slowly

TA-DAH!!! I managed it! Hallelujah, I sewed a pair of trousers and a shirt for Elf Husband. I started with the trousers as they were more needed and I felt more comfortable making them. I have made numerous trousers for myself and others too. First I thought I would draft the pattern myself. I soon gave up on this idea as he did not have well fitting trousers which I could have taken apart in order to use as a base for the pattern. I ended up using Kwik Sew pattern nr.2860.

I was careful measuring the Husband and altered the pattern accordingly, but I still had to rip off the waistband and redo the whole upper part to make it shorter and better fit. IF I had bothered making a muslin, this problem would have been noticed.

I know how to sew trousers, but as I have never made a pair of gents' tailored ones I decided to do as they say in the instructions. Either I totally misunderstood the instructions or there is a funny kink in the part of sewing the zip on. I had to take one side apart and do it again like I would have.I am very proud of the back pockets. I have made placket pockets before, but only in bags.

You get pictures here with the husband inside the clothes as he was so sweet as to model for me. Throwing silly poses, of course, but that goes with the territory.

I also embarked on making a shirt. I bought the pattern at the same time with the trousers. We needed just a basic shirt pattern and Kwik Sew 3883 fitted the bill perfectly. I have never ever made a formal shirt before. So I just went with the instructions and took it as education. To my great delight sewing a shirt was not difficult. It was long winded for sure, but not difficult. The only hitch with the pattern was that the cuffs didn't fit. Note to myself: fasten the sleeve folds first when ready to sew the cuffs on. Just adjusting the folds was enough to rectify the problem.

I was dreading most the collar and the yoke, but both went on surprisingly easily.

 Now to the art of making slowly. I have tendency to rush to the end of project despite eyes watering from tiredness, ears humming and back aching. I made a conscious decision NOT to this time. For example I cut the shirt one day and did not do any more. I also stopped after my "prime hours" and did something else. It was good. Far fewer stupid mistakes were done. OK, OK. I did sew one of the sleeves on the wrong side and then proceeded to finish it off with a felled seam. It was a bit of a job to pick the stitches. But this was merely a "normal", done in the joy of sewing type of mistake.

Does it pay off making trousers and shirts? Well, that depends how you look at it. You can certainly buy both for the price of the fabric I used, although might be pushed with these particular trousers. I bought the fabric here. They have a limited choice, but if you find what you need, it is really good quality stuff to very reasonable prices.

When I am thinking about sewing versus buying, I do not compare with the cheapest. I actively avoid the cheapest clothes shops. Knowing what material costs, even in whole sale, and the amount of work that goes into making a garment, I know someone somewhere along the supply chain has not been paid fairly. I vote with my pounds and don't shop those clothes.  It can be really difficult to find out where a piece of fabric was made, so it might have an uncertain pedigree. I know that the trouser fabric is British, the shirt fabric was bought here and I cannot tell the origins of it. So although I cannot say that all unethical practices are avoided, I feel I have limited the damage.

The workmanship going into clothes I make is far superior to the cheap clothing. Like Elf Husband said:"I could wear the shirt inside out and nobody would notice!" The shirt is made of woven flannel check, not printed, so looks exactly same both sides. The pattern did not call for felled seams, that was my own decision.

You can find clothes which are well made also in the shops, but they are often way out of our price range. It is cheaper to make quality clothing than buy it. It also gives us a different relationship to clothes and  how we take care of them when we know how long it took to make them.

All in all I think that as a first attempt I can be satisfied with my efforts!