As you’ve probably seen from my more recent blog posts, I am trying to concentrate more on being sustainable with my sewing. Sewing in general is much more sustainable than purchasing new for many reasons: • You know the supply chain • You know know …
This month I have mostly been sewing, The Basic Instinct Tee. During lockdown I have started to realise that I need more relaxed comfy clothes. I realised that I always made more complicated clothing and hadn’t really tried any basics. I decided a good starting point would be a standard t-shirt, nothing fancy. It’s been a while since I’ve sewn with jersey, I just used to make myself bodycon dresses in my 20s. So, although a basic it felt like I was going to learning from scratch.
Selecting a Pattern
Usually I’m very picky when it comes to the fit of my t-shirts, so selecting the right pattern is important. I like the neck to be just right, not too low and gaping but not too high like a polo neck. I also don’t like a skin-tight fit on the body, but not overly loose either. So I’m not easy to please! As I guessed I would be trying a few different patterns before finding the perfect tee. So, I decided to start off with a free PDF pattern – The Basic Instinct Tee by Secondo Piano. You can download it if you sign up to her newsletter.
Basic Instinct Tee Process
The instructions on this pattern are really easy to follow and there is also info about matching stripes which was super helpful. This pattern is a nice simple one, just 4 pieces and available in sizes XS-XL. I chose to make a Small as I didn’t want it to be too fitted, just casual and comfy. I selected this amazing stripe cotton jersey from Minerva.
Its 95% cotton and 5% Lycra so it has the perfect amount of stretch to work for the Basic Instinct Tee. I really love the quality of the fabric, its medium weight so really feels great quality for making the tee. I hate it when you end up with thin flimsy jersey, or any fabric really.
As I was working with stretch, I decided to make the whole thing using my overlocker, although you can do the same with a zig zag stitch. If you just use straight stitch it will no longer stretch and you’ll probably end up snapping the stitches. I sewed up the tee shoulders, sleeves and side seams.
One of the last bits was adding the neckband which is more of a fiddle. Once you have a loop you carefully pin and stretch the neckband to fit onto the tee. I realised that I didn’t really think about seam allowances when sewing using the overlocker. Therefore, the neckband ended up being wider than it was supposed to be, and therefore didn’t lay perfectly flat.
I didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern, I wanted to start with the pattern as is and then see if I needed to make any changes. One did I did adjust was the way I sewed the sleeves. I folded them back on themselves and overlocked, then folded down to create a fake cuff style hem. I really like this finish and it ends up looking more professional as I don’t have a cover stitch machine.
Would I make the Basic Instinct Tee again?
Well, I started with a free pattern, the Basic Instinct Tee, to see how I got on sewing myself some basics. Turns out the pattern really is the perfect T shirt for me. The fit is perfect and its exactly what I wanted. I sewed it up in under 2 hours so I will definitely be making it again. I think I need some plain versions to go with my fun Pomona shorts.
Has anyone else got some favourite basics patterns I can try out? – send me links in the comments.
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If like me you are struggling at how you can continue to support the BIPOC community on an everyday basis,. Hopefully this blog post is for you. I have compiled a list of Black owned sewing businesses, so I can make more conscience decisions to …
Where can I find sustainable underwear that will last and doesn’t cost the earth? Whether you are a long-time slow fashion enthusiast or a complete sustainability newbie, you have probably asked yourself this question. Finding good-quality ethical underwear can be a challenge and with this …
I recently took part in the testing process for Sewing Patterns by Masin for the launch of her new pattern, the Tulia Tee. This is a unisex jersey t-shirt with an oversized fit. It only has one view in the pattern but is open for hacks and adjustments. Which is always something I look for in a pattern.
So, now I’m basically a pro at pattern testing, okay I’ve done it about 4 times. You can check out the last time I did it for Sewing Masin, Pattern Testing The Dayo Blouse. I’ve trained myself to actually read the pattern instructions and pay attention to every detail. Luckily these are really well put together and have a lovely conversational style. Which makes it feel like Jasmin, the design is talking directly to you.
Lockdown had just started when I agreed to start pattern testing. So with the current shop closures I decided to just “shop my stash” and use what I already had.
Tulia Tee Process
The thing about the Tulia Tee is it is made up of panels, 5 to be exact. This means you can be creative with your fabric choices. Make it all in one fabric or make each panel different. This is perfect as I already knew my Tulia Tee was going to be a scrap buster experiment. As it is oversized, I looked at the measurements to decide a size. Also the examples of the versions Jasmine, the designer had already made to help determine my size. I decided to make an XS, so it was still oversized, but not massive.
I love using Instagram to find out more about patterns, if you search the hashtag #tuliatee you’ll see everyone else’s lovely inspirational makes.
So with this pattern I looked through my stash fabric and realised I didn’t have any large measurements of any of my jerseys. Therefore I decided to mix it up a bit with plain red and a striped jersey. As the Tulia Tee is oversized it can be made on a standard machine or an overlocker. The only part that needs to really stretch it the neck hole. I used an overlocker for all the seams and neck hole and once cut it was a super quick sew. Just sew up the front panels and back, should seams and then the neckband. I pinned the neckband at 4 points and overlocked it place. Then just the side seams, topstitching and done. One thing I did was topstitch the hem and sleeves in black which I’m not a fan of and will at some point unpick and re-sew in red.
Tulia Tee Adjustments
After much fiddling with my jersey pieces I realised I just wasn’t going to have enough fabric, no matter I’ll just make a cropped version. I fiddled about trying to work out where to crop it, but for ease of use I just used the lengthen/shorten lines already marked on the panel. This ended up making it about 24cm/9 inches shorter.
Would I make it again?
This was a really quick sew and brilliant as a scrap buster project so I’ll definitely be making it again. Jasmin at Sewing Masin mentioned that one change she has made in the final pattern is to make the neck hole a little wider, which is a good adjustment and would like to try out.
I’ve seen this pattern hacked into a long sleeve version and a dress version, so I’m keen to have a go at those! The pattern is also unisex, so maybe my boyfriedn will be getting one too! The pattern is available now, you can purchase it on the Sewing Patterns by Masin website.
I’d love to here if any of you make the Tulia Tee – send me links in the comments
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Fashion Revolution week is a very important date in the calendar for sustainable fashion. Before I started to concentrate on a more sustainable ethical lifestyle, I didn’t give much thought to where my clothing came from. Clothes just came from Topshop and H & M …
Creating a zero waste bathroom is a new mission in my life. While on my sustainability journey I have mostly been concentrating on my clothing and fashion in general. But sustainability goes so much further than that! I realised it needed to apply to my whole life and there are so many easy things I can do to help this. In the kitchen I already think about the food I’m eating and source the majority of my fruit and veg from the local Brighton Open Market. We are also lucky in Brighton to have a number of zero waste bulk food stores that allow you to buy by weight. But that’s for another blog post once all the shops are back up and running after Covid 19.
I look around the bathroom and it is a collection of plastic bottles, and this is something I want to avoid. So creating a low waste home is high on my list, starting with my toothcare. I discovered Georganics some time ago and have been using their products ever since. I was lucky enough to be gifted the products featured here. Although not in exchange for a blog post, I have chosen to write this, all the opinions are my own.
Georganics concentrate on not only creating a zero waste bathroom, but one without harmful chemicals. Especially with toothcare where you are actually ingesting synthetic chemicals found in the majority of everyday commercial products.
All natural – everything they use is actually natural, organic, pure ingredients
Sustainable – they create everything is smaller batches to reduce waste, and sourced as locally as possible.
Packaging – all packaging is designed to create no landfill waste
Footprint – the planet is at the heart of their business and environmental footprint is low
Not tested on animals – this makes all their products vegan friendly
Living wage – they are a proud living wage employer
If all of that has convinced you of what a great company they are, let’s check out some of their zero waste bathroom products.
This natural toothpaste comes in 6 different flavours but the one I use and prefer is English Peppermint. It is super mint and fresh and the mint oil used actually helps to kill bacteria in the mouth. Like all their other flavours this is SLS free, which for me is a big plus. SLS has been linked to causing mouth ulcers and as someone prone to ulcers, since making the switch I have had none!
I come with a cute bamboo spatula to help apply to your toothbrush, and then you just use like standard toothpaste. But unlike your regular plastic tube of toothpaste, afterwards you can recycle the glass and aluminium jar and compost the carboard box…perfect.
Now this is a brilliant zero waste swap that is so easy to make, it’s so similar to the original. Natural Floss is available in 3 flavours, and I go for the charcoal. It comes in a reusable glass container with cutter on the top and you can buy refils in two packs on their website. It is strong and doesn’t fray when used. There are options with this floss you can get the 100% natural silk version but this is not vegan, or you can get the charcoal fibre and polyester yarn version but this contains a little pastic. Still a great low waste product
These are a favourite of mine as I’ve never seen another product like them. You just disolve in water and use the same as any other mouthwash. Each jar has 180 mouthwash tablets so way more than your standard bottle of mouthwash. Also takes up loads less space so perfect for travelling. These are also available in 6 flavours, like the toothpaste, but I have only tried the spearmint. I’d love to try out the orange, but not sure how ‘fresh’ that would be. Top tip for using these, start disolving before you brush your teeth so they are ready to use once you’re done!
Finally the sustainable bathroom swap that everyone can easily make is to the beechwood toothbrush. Made with sustainable FSC beechwood, every tree cut down is re-planted. The best bit is that once you’re done just snap the head off and compost the handle. You can then collect up the heads and wait until you have 10. Then just send back to Georganics as part of their zero to landfill scheme.
So if you haven’t realised already I love Georganics,! Their brilliant products have me well on my way to a Zero Waste Bathroom.
For more tips on a Zero Waste bathroom, Optimized Life has a great blogpost.
If you interested in other natural alternatives check out my natural turmeric dye tutorial.
What swaps have you made?
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I was recently asked to be part of the pattern testing process for Anna Allen Clothing’s latest garment – the Pomona Pants. A versatile pattern that comes with 3 different views, shorts, wide trousers and tapered trousers. I love Anna Allen’s patterns, they are just …
This week I have been making a Demeter Dress for my summer holiday wardrobe, as I am off to Tenerife next week. Depending on virus outbreaks, but lets not think about that!
I picked up this beautiful mustard cheetah viscose lawn from the fabric godmother open day and have been saving it for something special. The fabric is normally available in 3 colourways on the Fabric Godmother website. But as it is out of stock it would also look amazing in this Atelier Brunette Ochre viscose. The Anna Allen Demeter dress pattern is available on her website.
I was actually part of the pattern testing for the Demeter dress pattern, so it always holds a special place in my heart, and it really is a favourite of mine. It was also my first time pattern testing, so a learning curve, and a great insight into the pattern making process. One thing that I quite enjoy with the testing process is having to follow a pattern carefully to the letter. I usually rush my sewing and steam ahead without reading the instructions properly, often assuming I know what I’m doing. So testing has helped me to slow down and take care with my work, being more precise. I do often still switch the order of the steps, but at least I read the instructions now! You can also read about my experience pattern testing the Dayo Blouse.
The pattern is designed to be longer, but I know for myself I prefer it shorter, it suits me better and with British weather I can team it with tights, boots and a jumper during the colder months – most of them!
I’ve also got the pattern down to an art so now I can fit it into under a meter of fabric. I usually go for the sleeveless version, which is view B on the pattern. I lay the two bodice patterns pieces at the top and I then ignore the skirt pattern piece and just cut a rectangle as wide as the width of the fabric. The pattern calls for 2 panels, that are then gathered in, but I just use whatever fabric I have and just do less gathers and it still looks just as good but saves fabric.
When I pattern tested this dress I followed the pattern to add pockets in the side seam, but as I used s heavier linen it ended up looking a bit bulky. Like I had lumpy hips. Therefore for this version I opted for no pockets, but may add patch pockets at a later date.
The original pattern also calls for self bias binding to be cut and turned inside, but as this is a bit of a fiddle, especially when using thinner viscose I opted for ready made binding. I already had this navy binding in my stash and I did a quick test to check it would work and decided to do bound neckline and armholes. I think these make it look really effective.
Finally to finish it off I added a large turned up hem, probably about 10-12cm. Not only does this add a bit of weight to it which helps with the drape, it also means I have some extra length should I accidentally shrink the viscose, as I have down in the past.
So with all my tips, tricks and shortcuts above I managed to sew the whole Demeter dress up in about 2 hours. I really recommend it as a quick effective make.
You can check out the rest of the Anna Allen Patterns.
I’d love to hear what you think or if you’ve made one…
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This week I have been lucky enough to test the new Dayo Blouse pattern for Sewing Patterns by Masin. As soon as I saw the shout-out on Instagram asking for testers I jumped at the chance. She is fairly new pattern designer, but she already has the beautiful Belen bodysuit available. So I was excited to see what she was going to do next.
Enter the Dayo Blouse/Dress pattern…I love the look of it, with the beautiful sleeves and tucks at the neck. I just couldn’t imagine wearing it, or it suiting me. Regardless of this I was excited to test it, and see how it turned out.
I decided to pick this beautiful fabric from my stash. My mum informs me was all the way from Thailand. My dad brought it back as it was left over after working there. I love inherited fabric! It is a fine cotton voile with lurex spots, which is semi sheer and drapes beautifully. My interest in sustainable fashion means I like to work with natural fabric whenever possible.
This pattern comes with two options, the Dayo blouse or the Dayo dress, I chose the blouse as I don’t think I could pull off a full cream dress.
I checked the measurements and went for a straight size small with no adjustments. I decided not to toile it as I thought the fit looked quite forgiving.
This pattern was simple to put together and I made the whole garment in an evening. Because I was testing the pattern, I had to follow the instructions correctly which meant no short cuts. Normally I attached the open sleeve to the arm hole and then sew up the side seam and sleeve all in one so I don’t have to ease the sleeve in and make sure the seams match up. But this time I did it all correctly and I’m glad I did as it made me realise it wasn’t as hard as I remembered. I used ready made binding rather than cutting my own, but you can see the slightly darker colour through the fabric, so I will change it at some point.
Another technique I really enjoyed was shirring, I hadn’t done it in years, probably since university. Therefore, I’m glad instructions that came with the Dayo blouse were clear and easy to understand. It was a bit of a fiddle at first getting the tension correct and the waist shirring is a bit of a squeeze to get over my chest. Turns out I love shirring; I can’t wait to add it to all my future sewing projects!
Here are a few tips for shirring the Dayo Blouse has taught me
- Always test it out, every fabric is different so try a few lines of a scrap piece of your fabric first
- Hand wind the bobbin, so as not to overstretch it.
- Set the stitch width wide as the fabric gathers between the stiches, so it will create more gathers
- Pick the right fabric, the lighter the fabric the more effective the shirring
- Know your tensions, a tighter tension on the bobbin means tighter shirring.
- The more rows of shirring elastic you sew the tighter your gathers.
As you can see I decided to use the wrong side of the fabric on the sleeves as that side is extra sparkly and I love the contrast. When it was all finished, I actually love it so much. Even though the waist frill doesn’t suit me, the sleeves are incredible and for a blouse that I didn’t think I would like it was such a great surprise to be so in love with it!
The pattern has just been released and you can purchase it here
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A great way to refresh your wardrobe is with fabric dying. I wanted to experiment with dying fabrics and clothing. A much more sustainable way of doing this is with natural dye. Luckily many of these can be made from products already found in your kitchen cupboards:
- Oranges – Onion skins
- Pinks – Avocado skins and stones
- Browns – Walnut shells, coffee
- Yellows – Turmeric
- Greens – Spinach, nettle
I started with turmeric as it’s a beautiful colour, and I already had a large pack in the cupboard!
As it was my first time experimenting, I decided to just dye some cotton cord. Natural fabrics such as cotton, silk or linen take dye on much better than man made fabrics.
Firstly, I heated a big pan of water and either vinegar or salt, this helps prepare the fabric for dying, its roughly 4 parts water to 1 part salt or vinegar, I used salt. Then submerge your fabric, and boil for approx. 1 hour.
In a separate pan mix up your turmeric dye, their are exact recipes online, but I just guessed and added half a pan of water and a few heaped tablespoons of turmeric and brought to the boil. After it has simmered for 10 mins or so it’s time to add your fabric. Submerge in the turmeric dye pan and simmer on a low heat, stirring every now and then.
The longer you leave your fabric in the dye, the more it’s going to take to the fabric and the stronger and more vibrant your colour will be. I left mine in for about an hour or so. After that I rinsed until the water ran clean and saved the remaining dye for another project. Because natural dyes can be used again and again, but lose pigement over time.
Then hang it out to dry on the washing line and let the sun do its magic. As you can see when it’s finished the colour is a lot paler, the main downside of natural dyes, but I love the soft yellow cord I have created and can’t wait to start using it.
I’d love to hear if you try out natural dying and how you get on, comment here or head over to my insta here more updates.