Sustainable craft: let’s check our wardrobe!

The first time in my life I heard about sustainability was more than 10 years ago when I was a student in environmental management. At that time, there were lots of discussion about Agenda 21 and how to manage the economy, the social aspects and the environment for a sustainable planet (“développement durable” in French. I haven’t heard that term for years…). Today, I am not sure anyone can remember Agenda 21, unless you were in the environmental field or passionate about that topic, but the sustainable concept has grown bigger and people are more and more aware of the consequences of their act and behavior in their future.

As I read sewing blogs, one of the topics that come more and more often is about having a sustainable craft, even though these ideas are not shared with these words. In the last months, lots of bloggers have shared their thoughts about the book “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” from Elizabeth Cline. I have to confess I haven’t read that book (yet) but I can totally relate to the idea of poor quality, waste of money, over consumption, etc.

(Source: State Historical Society of North Dakota Collection # 10200-0003)

Because this is a post with no pictures, let’s have some kitties! 🙂

But things have changed in my life in the last years. Maybe the 30-year wisedom has started hitting me, maybe it’s because my parents have taught me to use my money wisely, maybe it’s because I can’t find a good brand of clothes that matches my taste (fashion is definitely not the same between France and the US!), or maybe it’s only because I enjoy so much the idea of “it’s not that complicated, I can do it myself”. Fact is: I haven’t buy much clothes since I moved to the US about 2 years and a half ago. I bought pants/jeans, one shirt (from Forever 21. I’ll never do that again!), two sweaters (this was a year before I started knitting), one jacket, one skirt (the design is so easy I could have done that one but I was on a lazy day!) and a few t-shirts/tops. The rest of it, I sewed it and knitted it. Dresses I wore for weddings or special dressed occasion, awesome sweaters that are warm, not itchy and fit my monkey arms (= the most important criteria, for all my life, my sweater sleeves were too short), etc.

Today, I try to be sustainable in my sewing and knitting choices. In the past, I used some patterns not adapted to my body or style (Burda Young Fashion pattern #8043 is one of them. I should have guess while reading “young fashion”), I used inappropriate fabrics (check the vintage dot blouse!), sometimes poor quality fabrics, colors that don’t fit me (remember the pink Simplicity 2588 dress? Pink is great for accessories, but definitely not for my outfits). I made mistakes, either in sewing or knitting, stuff that I never wore, but well, we all learn from our mistakes, right? This is how we all become better. And like Mathilde from Félicie à Paris reminded us recently, as long as it is FUN, it’s okay!

(I want a cat like that one! :))

Now let’s have a look to our wardrobe! (I encourage you to do the same)
1/ What are my wearing habits? Sometimes, I feel like my style haven’t change much since I was a student! I often dress with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt (and a sweater), but I try to look feminine with cuts that doesn’t make my body look worst flatter my body (let me tell you the truth, jeans finally fit me well once I started buying them in the US. The French fashion business is way too focus on being skinny). I like to look professional when I go to the office, but not too much (hey, I’m an engineer, not a customer services person!) and I like to wear skirts and dresses but don’t have the habit to pick them in my wardrobe (I also have a problem with wearing tights)

2/ What does look good on me? Fitted clothes looks good on me as long they are tops, jackets, vests. I have a small waist and large thighs 😦 so pants are a nightmare. Dresses with a close fitting on bottom body don’t look good too. I like the light grey and light purple colors. I look weird in pink, not sure about bright blue/turquoise. I never try to wear any shade yellow but with my very white skin, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I don’t have anything black, too dark for me.

3/ What do I really need? Pants that fit well, dresses for several occasions (some for summertimes, some for professional activities, some for a wedding), more skirts, more professional tops, more sweaters & cardigans.

4/ Fun sewing and knitting projects I am interested in/I love to do? The Renfrew t-shirts is definitely a favorite of mine, I wear them often, they are easy to sew, easy to wear, lots of variation possible. The Thurlsow trousers are on top of my list (lots of positive reviews!). The Cambie dress will be sewed again (I still haven’t finish the hem of my first one!). (Yes, I love Sewaholic patterns! Is that so obvious? ;)) The Belladone dress from Deer and Doe is on top of my list too (lots of positive reviews and beautiful projects).

From these questions, I am able to pick more wisely my projects. For instance, I will not sew a About the Artist-like dress (I know, I talked so much about it) because it looks like a lot to my Soda Fountain dress and I haven’t wear it much. So imagine if I had both dresses in my wardobe… As much as I love the cardigans Tasia from Sewaholic knit, specially her color choice, I will not use these colors, because they don’t look good on me, even if they are very beautiful.

Same goes for patterns. But don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for patterns I could use several times, I am definitely okay with sewing a project like the Vogue dress I sewed for a wedding. I am not sure if I’ll wear it again, but it fulfilled its “job” and I had fun sewing it and wearing it! Hey, it’s not a fail either, it’s just an unique project!

I hope this discussion helps you in your future projects as much it does for me. Please feel free to share your thoughts about that, I would love to hear your opinion and your ideas!

And to conclude that post, let’s have one last kitty picture! 🙂 Cheers!

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1 Comment

  1. Je crois que même l’ADEME a oublié l’Agenda 21! mais pour ma part, l’utilisation de machines à coudre anciennes remises en état par Bob , cela fait partie de ma contribution au durable!
    Mon offre de tissu (par courriel) tient toujours!


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