GUEST WRITTEN BY SHEILA WILKS
Since very young I have always sewed in some form or other. I also enjoy talking with others and have been part of a women's group for thirty years. So, when someone mentioned to me a project run by Oxfam in central Brighton, that consisted of a group of (women) volunteers getting together on a Monday evening to sew and generally play around with donated clothes, I decided to investigate.
In the basement of an Oxfam shop are several 'mountains' of plastic sacks filled with donated items. Spare a thought for the volunteers whose job it is to sort through these. There is a long bench to work at and two sewing machines, bought by Oxfam for the project. Spilling off the shelves are baskets and tins of motifs, lace, buttons and selections of more unusual pieces of material.
On a Monday evening our project co-ordinator has already sorted, or had given to her by shop staff, items that need either repairing or altering in some way to make them more likely to sell. Brighton, having both a large student population and “arty' reputation, has a long history of selling vintage and second hand clothes. I still remember, in my first year as a student here in the 1970s, daringly buying a second hand, sapphire blue velvet waistcoat and matching flared skirt with velvet insets. Bees knees!
The project is a form of heaven for those who love fabrics and enjoy chatting, whilst sewing and drinking tea. Some of the volunteers have brilliant ideas for how to jazz up a dull jacket or dress. It could mean taking a patch from a T-shirt and sewing it onto the back or front of an item. Shirts can be converted into skirts. Long tops can be cut down into mini ones, have lace added or a series or buttons. You can be as imaginative as you want, though it pays to keep an eye on fashions/trends in the local main outlets.
The project has it's own label 'Better the Devil you sew' that is sewn into an item that has been adapted (see photo).
I find the work satisfying on so many levels:
- it feels good to support Oxfam
- I support the idea of recycling cloth and clothing, that otherwise might be thrown away into the huge mountains of clothes waste (I know some goes abroad but there are issues then about the local manufacturers losing out when clothes are exported to developing countries)
- I learn new skills and practice old ones
- I meet other women who share an interest in material and dressmaking
So, check out your local Oxfam and, if you enjoy sewing, talk to them. You don't know where it might lead.
#fashioncustomisation #oxfamfashion #upcycledfashion
It’s that time of year when we look back and reflect on the previous year and think ahead to the new one. For many of us, after the indulgences of the festive period, that often means setting ourselves stringent resolutions which often don’t last. Are resolutions not the right solution then? Changing the way we live in the longer term is possibly more sustainable if done in small, considered steps.
Last New Year I embarked on three changes in my life all based on becoming a more ethical consumer. The major one was the start of my own slow fashion journey, which I’m happy to say I have done pretty well with. I have spent less, been more thoughtful with what I have bought and my purchases have been second hand and from two ethical brands; People Tree and Hiut Denim. I did buy one item from the high street (after much exhausting of other options) and I know I will get the very most out of them. I will admit though, that it was quite tempting after Christmas to see lots of lovely things for sale but I didn’t miss the Boxing Day sales madness!
Secondly, after living on a tight budget for some years I had being buying cheap toiletries and cosmetics but I wanted to switch to only buying cruelty free products. Through this I have discovered some exciting cosmetics brands including Arbonne and Barefaced Beauty and gone back to some old favourites such as Neal’s Yard and Weleda. They don’t always have to be expensive either as UK supermarket own brands are also cruelty free. I have listed these any many more on my Pinterest board.
Lastly I did Veganuary too, which at first seemed quite hard. Already being a vegetarian I was interested in the ethical and environmental benefits to veganism and throughout the year discovered more about its health benefits too. I managed to maintain a mainly vegan diet throughout the year, apart from my Achilles heel, cheese! So this year I have decided to ditch the cheese wherever possible. I have been excited to find this year that there seem to be more vegan options available when out and about. And of course the more it gets requested, the more it will be catered for. Here are some of the recipes I will be trying out.
This year I am adding a couple more life changes that I have been investigating for some time. Firstly, after watching Blue Planet 2 I felt even more motivated to reduce my own plastic and household waste. The Zero Waste movement is gaining momentum right now but I do feel the name is not especially helpful as it is unachievable. However, it will mean changing the way I shop, especially for food due to the packaging and avoiding disposable plastics. I have compiled a Pinterest board on ideas to help any of you who are interested in joining me in this.
Secondly, having a more non-toxic home will also help with reducing waste. Our grandmothers would have been very familiar with using household ingredients such as lemons and bicarbonate of soda for cleaning. Nowadays, we are exposed a multitude of different chemicals that help us clean our home but are also very harmful to our health. I want to go back to using some of those old fashioned recipes to reduce my toxic footprint and also save money. Why not give some a go yourself with some ideas from my Pinterest board?
I would love to hear about what ethical life changes you are making in 2018. Happy New Year!
#slowfashion #crueltyfree #veganuary #zerowaste #nontoxic
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