Hemp clothing has recently been gaining a lot of popularity in the west. Once a fabric for the hippies among us, hemp has been going mainstream, popularised by sustainable fashion blogs and influencers. However, let’s not forget that in many other non-western countries, hemp fabric …
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 garments workers haven’t been exploited in the making process
• The garment hasn’t travelled all over the world racking up CO2 emissions.
• There’s a lot less waste as any scraps will often be repurposed.
The one thing that can be more sustainable is the fabric you use, that’s where Good Fabric comes in. Selling a wide range of ethically sourced, eco dyed and GOTS certified fabric, they are proving that fabrics and trims that don’t cost the earth (literally).
I caught up with Polina, the owner of Good Fabric and was pleased to find out how well our views on sustainability and the supply chain in fashion aligned. It was great to have a chat to find out more about what is sure to be my favourite new shop…
Tell me a bit about your background, have you always sewn?
I have worked as product developer and production manager in the fashion industry for the last 12 years. I worked for brands like Anya Hindmarch, Ted Baker, Galvan London and Missoma. My background is most definitely fashion but I only started sewing this January 2020, so less than 6 months ago. Sewing has come very naturally to me, in my job I would work with factories on construction of items and tell/advise comments, so I understood how to make an item just never made one myself before. Last Christmas for some reason, I just decided to go for a sewing class in my local Southfields, South West London and as they say I was hooked.
What made you decide to start Good Fabric?
I have been made redundant from two or my last jobs, one was during maternity leave and one was recently due to Covid. I also have a 3-year-old daughter Emily, I am one of those lucky people that actually have enjoyed unemployment/lockdown and being at home with my daughter. The thought of going back to work, commuting in the morning, having to run to and from nursery did not appeal to me at all. At the same time, all my friends and colleagues were suggesting that I should start my own brand, since I have contacts in the industry and can actually now sew myself. So, combination of redundancy, friends support and the idea of being my own boss, made me sit down and think. What can I do that will allow me to use my skill, enjoy my work and be related to my hobby and most importantly have the flexibility of being with my daughter? Good Fabric has made perfect sense to me as it answered all my needs, wishes and desires.
Have you always had an interest in sustainability?
Yes and no. In my work I used to travel to China, Italy, France and UK to factories, so I know first-hand what a good or bad factory looks like, seen where the workers eat and sleep and met the people who actually make our clothes. What stuck with me, is that even though these good factories have all the right certifications and are deemed as safe and ethical places to work, I personally would never work or live like this, as this is below what I deem as acceptable living standard despite that there is a piece of paper that states otherwise. I suppose this exposure made me cynic when it comes to sustainability in fashion. So, when I see all these green initiatives by big brands, I simply do not buy into this as nothing can be produced that cheaply without someone being hurt in the supply chain.
My work, has been one of few influences on my journey to sustainability, but I would like to share two more thoughts that have made a very big impact on me:
1) I was listening to a lot of podcasts in my way to work and once I listed to an episode with EcoAge Livia Firth. My takeaway from this episode was that we all should ask a question when shopping – will I wear this item more than 30 times, if not, it should not be bought. This has made such perfect sense, and then when I looked at my own wardrobe, I found that most have been worn less than 30 times and some still had tags on this. This is shocking, so from that thought, I decided to make a challenge for myself – not buy any clothes for 1 year. I believe one way to resolve the over consumerism, is to reduce the demand. Once you reduced the demand, you reduce the supply, so this is my very small contribution to reducing the demand for fast fashion.
2) Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison – I think I was crying reading this book. It focuses on the aftermath of Rana Plaza disaster. There was a sentence said by a representative of a brand that produced in Rana Plaza: the biggest lie we tell ourselves is that our supply chain is free of abuse. So, when I see a green initiative by Primark or H&M – I always wonder if people who work for these brands actually believe in this or are they lying to themselves. again, that’s cynical me. I don’t want to dissect all the good work that brands also do.
So, as you probably have guessed my interest in sustainability is focused on the people who make our clothes.
I suppose on some subconscious level, me making my own clothes allows me to rest assure that it was free of human abuse.
Sustainability is a journey and I know I haven’t even scratched the surface, but step in the right direction is a great step. Conversations like these and platforms like yours, are all part of the learning process.
How do you check the sustainability of Good Fabric?
For each of my fabric that is stocked in Good Fabric, I have a separate tab that refers to its green credentials. All my fabrics come with either OEKO-TEX or GOTS certificate, sometime both. I also have 2 amazing quality Tencel and Ecovero.
These are the 4 standards that I accept at Good Fabric. I also want to stay away from polyester and nylon fabrics, but I do have Lycra fabric which is polyester. The only reason I made an exemption for this supplier is because it does carry OEKO -TEX certification and is produced in the factory that has implemented GOTS certified processes.
One of the very big issues in fashion industry is the lack transparency, so ability to trace all of the supply chain back to the fields where for example cotton was grown is virtually impossible, at least for end consumer. For this reason, I chose suppliers whose big focus is sustainability and whose company ethos is embedded in sustainable practices.
What’s your favourite fabric you stock, and what would you make with it?
Oh, this is probably the most difficult question, I change my mind on a daily basis. I love Urban Leo print in Sorbet by Mind the Maker. It is made in Ecovero viscose. I like to purchase 3-4 meters; in this case I can make an outfit for me and matching outfit for my daughter. See pics of my wearing Florence Top by Merchant & Mills. Emily is wearing Mabel Tiered Dress by Liberty Patterns.
You have a great range of patterns too, how do you select which ones to stock?
Thank you, I am glad you like them.
When I look for sewing pattern myself, I felt very overwhelmed by the choice, there is too much choice out there. So, I try and pick only my favourite patterns, the ones I would buy and make myself. I also want to point our Papercut Patterns from New Zealand. Their patterns are printed on fully recyclable paper, but more importantly their company ethos is very much aligned with mine and I love them even more for that.
What do you see in the Future of Good Fabric?
I have a lot of ideas or how to grow the business, I would love to print my own fabric and work with illustrators in the UK on print and patterns, I also love the idea of making sustainable trims such as bias binding and labels. But I suppose these are a bit of long-term plans.
This year I am focusing on getting my supplier base right and expanding my product offer.
Come next year, who knows, sky is the limit…
If you haven’t already…head over to Good Fabric and take a look.
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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 …
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 buy from them, when purchasing my fabrics, patterns and general sewing supplies. I usually end up buying from the same few shops, so this research project was really informative. It helped me to not only find great new businesses, but also knowing that maybe in my own small way I could help.
Already a favourite of mine, not only a BIPOC owned sewing business, but women owned too which for me is an added bonus. Sister Mintaka picks some of the most beautiful dressmaking fabrics and has eclectic tastes. She also stocks patterns and haberdashery. As a seamstress herself you can head over to the Sister Mintaka Instagram and get inspiration from some of the pieces, she has made with the fabrics she stocks.
My pick is this amazing Atelier Brunette Lenzing™ Ecovero™ viscose fabric, for its beauty and eco credintials
Cloth and Candy
This is a new discovery to me, but I’m sure many of you have already heard of Cloth and Candy. This POC owned business stocks beautiful whimsical cotton fabrics and there is a whole section of organic cottons which I’m excited to purchase. They do sell in fat quarters so take into account when ordering.
My pick is this amazing Rise and Shine organic cotton linen mix. Its out of stock at the moment but fingers crossed it comes back.
Paper Theory Patterns
Another favourite of mine and coincidentally a POC and women owned sewing business, Paper Theory Patterns make some of the most covetable patterns out there. The Zadie jumpsuit is iconic and they even have a free Stevie Knicker PDF pattern to get you started. Tara the creator of Paper Theory is a big supporter of the slow fashion movement which really resonates with me.
My pick is the Kabuki tee, just look at those stunning seam lines.
This BIPOC owned sewing business is more of a wholesaler, but great for those starting a brand and looking for small minimum quantities, starting as low as 15 meters. Meg the founder of Pigeon Wishes concentrates of sustainable natural fibre fabrics made from closed loop systems that are biodegradable. Also their recently sold out button collection is just too beautiful, can’t wait for more to be available.
My pick is of course any of the beautiful buttons!
Selvedge and Bolts
This BIPOC sewing business stocks some amazing bright prints and designs. Dibs, the owner, started Selvedge and Bolts because of her love of bright bold prints and textures. Her immaculate taste shows throughout her stock of dressmaking fabrics. She even has ex designer stock so you can make one of a kind pieces to really stand out.
Ocean by the Sea
A special shout out to Ocean by the Sea for her stunning botanically dyed yarns. Although I don’t knit, I’ve got to appreciate these eco dyes and the beautiful subtle colours that are created using just flowers and plants. Not only that but her Instagram is full of inspiring imagery and beautiful poetry, such a relaxing place to be.
My pick is this beautiful beach comber fleck yarn, makes me want to take up knitting!
I know this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to amazing BIPOC owned sewing businesses. Do you have any suggestions? Or are you the owner of a BIPOC business and want to be included leave you details below.
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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 …
So, before the lockdown happened, I had planned to make the perfect Spring work skirt. I have quite an active job, I am mostly on my feet and don’t get much time to sit down. I’m constantly moving about the studio and therefore need to be able to carry equipment with me.
I decided that I wanted to make a skirt that looked neat, stylish and smart but was also super practical. So, of course this means…BIG POCKETS.
I recently started blogging for Fabric Guys and I was lucky enough to receive this beautiful wool fabric in exchange for a blog post. Fabric guys have been selling beautiful hand-picked fabrics for many years. They have a brilliant selection, and there prices are really reasonable.
The wool fabric is great because the wrong side was just as beautiful as the right side, which gave me lots of options for creating a garment.
Top Tips for sewing with wool:
Wool often shrinks, so as with most projects it is best to prewash your fabric. Choose either a wool cycle or 30 degree. Whatever you’d be washing the garment on.
Overlock the edge
When working with a woven wool like this one it does have a tendency to fray, so overlock the edges. If you think that this will make the garment too bulky, try using pinking shears.
Mark darts with threads
Due to the larger weave often chalk wont show up so well. Also pins can fall out of the looser weave. So a few contrasting threads work perfectly.
Press with lots of steam, but put something between the hot iron and the fabric as if its too hot you can end up woth shiny marks.
Use a longer stitch length
Set your machine to 2.5-3 to get it more easily through your machine and so it doesn’t bunch up.
This is just a summary of my main blog post over on the Fabric Guys website, so head on over to find out more tips for sewing with wool. Also details of how the skirt was sewn.
At the end I say I can’t wait to wear it to work, but now, I can’t wait to wear it at home!
Check out another of my skirt sewing projects, the SewDIY Nita wrap skirt.
Thanks for reading
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 …
Recently I was asked to be part of the pattern testing process for Anna Allen Clothing’s latest garment – the Pomona Pants. It is a versatile pattern that comes with 3 different views, shorts, wide trousers, and tapered trousers. I love Anna Allen’s patterns, they are just my aesthetic, relaxed styles that always have different views and are easy to hack. The previous blog post here featured the Demeter Dress, which I also helped test.
I feel like my sewing has generally improved so much due to testing patterns, I have to read the instructions carefully and follow along step by step.
When I agreed to test the pattern I had a holiday planned for the end of the week, which meant I had limited time to get the pattern made up and reviewed for Anna. I decided to make the shorts version so I’d have something new to wear on holiday. But of course, with Corvid 19 my holiday was canceled but I have a lovely pair of isolation shorts to wear!
Pomona Pants Process
As the Pomona Pants pattern has an elasticated waist Anna advised us to use the measurement chart and pick the size based on hip size, as our widest part still needs to fit through the waist, which stretches to the same size as the hips. So I decided on a standard US size 6, as generally my hips are a bit larger and my waist slimmer than average.
I chose to use this lovely vintage fabric that my mum found in the back of a cupboard. Because I was in a rush due to my booked holiday I decided to skip making a toile and start straight on the final version. I had so much fabric if it failed completely I had loads more. This pattern is a simple one, as it has no side seams and a grown-on waistband it is just one main pattern piece and then a piece for the pocket. Therefore it was a pretty quick make, and I completed it in under 2 hours. I love the run and fell style seams.
So size 6 called for 30 inches of elastic, I sewed the waistband and formed a casing for the elastic. I then fed the elastic through using a safety pin to create something to grip as I passed it through. This tool is also recommended for thread elastic and ribbons available here
Once threaded I pinned it together and tried it on. I then decided to take the elastic in and ended up taking about 3 inches out of it and now they fit perfectly.
One thing I would say is that as there are no side seams if you needed to make your own adjustments it would be a little trickier as taking in the inner seam is harder to do without messing up the crotch.
Would I make them again?
One of the design features I particularly like is the fake run and fell seams that have the 2 lines of topstitching. This looks great but the busy fabric I chose means it is lost. Since this blog post, I have made a version in plain fabric. This really showcases detail, you can see it on my Instagram here. Made using this denim with jeans-style topstitching.
I’d also like to try the trousers version, Anna Allen made a beautiful canvas version of the tapered trousers here. Also a lovely silk version here. The pattern is available now, you can purchase it on Anna Allen’s Website
I’d love to hear if any of you make the Pomona Pants or Shorts – send me links in the comments
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I thought today I would share one of my favourite and definitely most popular makes to date. This is a self-drafted dress I made in collaboration with Minerva.
This was my first make for Minerva who kindly gifted me the fabric in exchange for a blog post on their website. This is just a summary of the self-drafted dress blog and the full blog can be found here.
I am used to working with cheaper fabrics, fabrics I’ve acquired over time and bargain basement cottons. As a result the chance to work with this stunning Atelier Brunette viscose was a real treat. It feels really luxurious and drapes and flows beautifully. You can find it here on the Minerva website. Available in 3 colourways
It is debateable if viscose is a sustainable fabric, as it is made from natural fibres and is plant based, made from wood pulp, which is a renewable source. But like many fabrics it uses a lot of water and chemicals. Above all during the manufacturing process. However making your own garments on a smaller scale is always more sustainable than buying from fast fashion shops.
This dress is self-drafted loosely based off a garment I own but with many changed with sleeves added and the neckline changed. I also added a button closure and a skirt, so by the end of the drafting it was completely different.
The making of this went like a dream and the fabric sewed beautifully. For the rest of the blog head over to Minerva here
Let me know what you think in the comments below or over on teh Minerva website.
In the future I’m going to share more summaries of my Minerva projects. Comprehensive blogs will always be on the Minerva site.
Here is another Minerva summary, Striped shorts
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As soon as I got the pattern for the Nita Wrap Skirt I knew I wanted to make it straight away. So rather than wait to buy some fabric I dug into my stash.
Over the years I have accumulated quite a large amount of fabric, a mixture of vintage and quirky patterns that catch my eye. Most of them are natural cottons, silks and viscose which are much better for the environment than man made fabrics. This also means they are better to sew with.
Making the Nita Wrap Skirt
Luckily I had this fab heavy Ikea cotton on my shelves just waiting to become a skirt. The Nita Wrap Skirt pattern is a PDF and you can select the different sizes you want to print. This makes it really easy to use. I started by making a toile in size 6. But I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t read the instructions, therefore I added extra seam allowance to the pattern and made it way too big. But after realising and taking it in it fitted perfectly. So for me this pattern didn’t need any adjustments.
Another great thing about the Nita Wrap Skirt is because it’s a wrap it is very giving with the fit, so if you chose a size large or smaller you can just adjust the button or fastening placement to make it fit you. It comes with 3 different lengths, I went for the mini as its more flattering for me, and 3 different fastenings; D ring, button or tie.
For mine I chose the button fastening, I decided to add two button holes but 3 buttons so I can adjust the size for the days I eat too much and need to let it out, as we all do haha. The buttons I used are vintage, also from my stash and I really think they finish it off nicely
- Quick Make
- Selectable Sizes on PDF
- Multiple style options
- Easy to fit
- No page number printing guide for PDF
- No pockets
Will I make it Again?
Yes definitely, I’m already planning it, but I’m going to draft some pockets onto the next one. You can purchase the pattern over on the SewDIY website.
Have any of you made the Nita Wrap Skirt? Let me know what you think either here or on my insta