Category Archives: Vintage sewing projects

Ethical Choices and Your Wardrobe

What do you wear and how do you shop? Do you ever consider the impact that your fashion choices make in terms of sustainability, pollution, ecology and exploitation? The global fashion industry impacts on both agriculture and manufacturing, using, producing, abusing chemicals and pesticides, oil and petrochemicals and water, to create products that all too often are worn for a season and then discarded. “Fast Fashion”is often synonymous with worker exploitation, dangerous working conditions, child labour and with workers being paid a pittance.
It is certainly possible to make ethical choices about what you wear and about how you shop, and still have a fabulous wardrobe!
It is probably a good idea to take a good look at what clothes you have, and sort them out! I recently had a good old wardrobe declutter and went for a “capsule” wardrobe approach. I reduced my clothes by about half and found the exercise therapeutic and useful! It has allowed me to see what items I overbuy and what items I truly need! If you do have clothes that no longer fit, you could sell them on-line, or you could donate them to a charity shop. Clothing that charity shops cannot use is usually sold on to a “Rag man”, a trader who will sort the items for recycling in the textile industry, for re-sale abroad, e.g. in Ghana, The Ukraine, Pakistan, or for land fill. You could also get a bit more creative and organise a “clothes swap” event with friends or family, or you could take a pitch at a Car Boot sale and try your luck direct selling!

What about those items that need a little TLC ?
Repairs and alterations are really not difficult, even for a sewing novice! You can sew on a button very simply with a needle and thread. If you can sew on a button, you can replace all of the buttons on a dress or jacket and give it an entirely new look. Look at a few YouTube tutorials or buy a book and learn a few basic stitches… running stitch, back stitch and blind hemming will serve you well, and enable you to repair a split seam, stitch on a patch or repair a snagged hem.
Invest in a sewing machine and a whole world of creativity opens up to you……
Back to that pile of discarded clothes…..reuse the fabrics and make something new. It is pretty easy to turn a pair of jeans into a skirt, or a tote bag, or a pair of shorts! You can turn a dress into a skirt or a skirt into a dress. You just need a bit of imagination!

Shopping.
Consider buying Vintage or buying from charity shops. Buying used clothes is the ultimate in clothing recycling and offers so much choice. Buying from an On-line or a Brick & Mortar Vintage Shop gives you the opportunity to explore fashion history, create a unique and personal style often with one-off pieces. Look for iconic pieces from a certain era, or for certain designers. Some Vintage buyers like a total look, perhaps even with hairstyle and footwear from a particular era, whereas many like to mix Vintage with modern, for a more eclectic and individual personal style. In Charity shops, be prepared to look through racks and racks of mainly modern clothes. You will often find bargains, particularly in “special occasion” wear, and could save yourself lots of money!

New clothes.
Think of new clothes as investment pieces. It is worth looking at how your clothes are produced, from the source of the fibre and fabric to completion. Organic fibres, hemp, linen, cotton, wool etc., or recycled fabrics would be used more if we created a demand for them. You may wish to support up and coming designers or small collectives that consider the impact of their methods on the environment and produce clothes that will last.

Capsule Wardrobe, a versatile clothes collection.

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I am no minimalist. My aim is to create a “capsule wardrobe” of assorted pieces that I can combine in a variety of ways and enjoy wearing.  I think it is a given that I should have more than one pair of jeans and more than one T, but key pieces have to versatile.

In the little collection above, I have combined some favourite Vintage pieces with new items.

Firstly, I have included my favourite coat, a black wool, single breasted collarless straight cut garment by Corner Shop that I bought in 1990 from a Paul Sartori charity shop in Haverfordwest. I think that it had been made to measure for someone, but fitted me perfectly, and still does! It cost me £7. When I put this coat on, I feel instantly smart, and it works with dresses, skirts, trousers and jeans. As it is collarless, I often add a scarf. The scarf in the photos is one that I made myself. It is black wool with woven border deep pockets and a light grey suiting lining. ( One of the photos also shows this scarf worn with a black dress.)

I am a great fan of traditional Welsh Wool, and collect blankets and “carthen”, mostly brightly coloured ones from the 1960s.  The 1960s was a great era for the Woollen mills of West Wales, as fashion designers such as Mary Quant, used Welsh woollen cloth to create funky clothes and accessories.  The two skirts included in this collection are both Welsh wool cloth from the 1960s.  Both the red cloth and the green cloth are traditional woven patterns.  In one outfit, I have combined the sixties skirt with an early 90s black zip top by Workers for Freedom, and a white T.  I would wear this zip top with either skirt, and love the white “surprise” detail on the back.

The grey merino wool cardigan with red and maroon yoke is a recent purchase from TK Maxx. It is the perfect length to wear with the red skirt, but will also combine well with jeans.

The classic denim jeans jacket is also a recent High Steeet purchase, and already a favourite of mine. I have shown it here with one of the 60s skirts ( I could wear it with either), with my black straight cut Per Una jeans (bought second hand), with a Vintage Orvis button-through below the knee black cotton dress, and with  a stretchy knee length tie-dye patterned T shirt dress by Apricot, bought a few years ago on the High St. ( cheap and cheerful!)

One of my favourite items is a glorious reversible Vintage embroidered silk jacket from the Orient. Depending upon my mood and upon the occasion, I can wear it black with a red lining or red with a black lining. I can dress it up or dress it down. I wear it with the black jeans or over the black dress.

The last item in this little collection is a Vintage Hyphen silk lined knee length frock coat, that has been in my wardrobe for about twenty years. It has a single button in the front and is fitted. It looks great over black jeans, but also looks great over the stretchy Apricot dress.  It’s the type of garment that looks pretty sharp!

So, I think that is about a dozen items of clothing that form the basis of my wardrobe, and about 50% of its volume. The remainder is mainly seasonal or party clothes that I can happily put into storage, but also include a couple of shirts that I love and wear, an oversized sweater, ditto, and a classic trench coat.

That’s it!

Add ons include: underwear, footwear, accessories, bags, scarves, belts etc.

Capsule wardrobe ? Update

 

The Capsule wardrobe project is temporarily on hold!  No apologies, I have been working on other things whilst enjoying the unprecedented heat wave! Apart from my garden and vegetable plot, I have been busy taking photographs of new stock for Coolclobber and Floslingerie. We have now had weeks and weeks of hot sunshine, and I have had to eat my words about shorts! It has been too hot to wear much else!

So, here are some of my latest stock items for Coolclobber ⬆ Tap on any photo to enlarge it.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/coolclobber

Vintage tapestries in sewing craft and supplies section at Coolclobber

Coolclobber has a growing section devoted to sewing, crafts and supplies, including many vintage sundries and fabrics that will lend themselves to a variety of vintage sewing projects and upcycle projects.

I have always enjoyed re-using vintage fabrics and giving them a new life. So, along with selling clothes and accessories , I am always on the look-out for interesting textiles, vintage buttons and trims , patterns and sundries.  Today I added a number of completed tapestries  that I came across recently.  There are already a few in the shop , so now there is a great selection to choose from. Some would lend themselves to being incorporated into luxurious cushion/pillow covers, some would look great framed and there are endless possibilities for creative sewing projects, including their use in carpet bags or totes.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/coolclobber

 

 

Tapestry square
Completed tapestry perfect for vintage sewing project, cushion, carpet bag etc.
Tapestry square
Completed tapestry perfect for vintage sewing project, cushion, carpet bag etc.
Completed tapestry
Violet bouquets wool tapestry
Completed tapestry
French tapestry piece, geraniums, completed
Completed harbour tapestry
Harbour with boats tapestry
Completed tapestry
Perfect tapestry to make into cushion cover
Tapestry to frame
French tapestry, “interieur” complete
Kitchen kitten tapestry
Kittens tapestry, complete
Completed tapestries
Some of the tapestries in store now at Coolclobber, more in the shop.