Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline: book review

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion is a just-been released book about today's garment industry. June 14th was the release date, and it thrills me that I got on the bandwagon right away rather than hearing about it months or even years later.  (I do live on an Island, in the middle of nowhere, with the nearest book store 2 hours away ya know)  I had to have this book as soon as I heard about it on the Patternreview   I grabbed my iPad and downloaded the book from iBooks, then proceeded to read the book in a day.

I loved it!

In fact, I loved it so much that I had to talk about it non-stop as I was reading it, to whomever was nearby to listen.

Unfortunately, the 4 and 6 year-olds didn't really understand what I was talking about.  My DH appeared to be patiently listening, but I think he was just playing Mahjong on his iPad.  My mother, when she happened to call, made all the appropriate noises, and as a the person who fueled my sewing interest, was actually able to make conversation about the book, until she got onto more pressing matters such as where she was going for lunch.  And the dog?  She at least looked at me with a quizzical expression, but it was impossible to tell whether it was interest or if it was her 'do I get cookies if I pretend to care' look.

Undeterred, I finished the book and have ruminated over the contents for the past few days.

Perhaps the biggest reason I love the book was that it cemented in my mind the reasons that I sew.  When I first took up sewing as an adult, when I was at home with my youngest on maternity leave, I decided that it was a greener way to look at clothing.  My very first project was a refashion of a quick-dry shirt.

Overdressed looks at where our clothing is coming from, and explains why it is we can buy t-shirts form big-box retailers for $5 or less. The reasons are many: inferior materials, cheaper overseas labour-forces, shoddy sewing, and perhaps the most concerning of all, the fact that we, the consumers, are driving this problem by demanding cheaper clothes, and then happily buying more than we need.

I will admit that I don't always buy secondhand clothing: with two growing kids and limited access to thrift stores, it is sometimes far more practical to shop mail order. I try to purchase items which are Made in Canada, and the U.S.A., though they are very difficult to find and the prices are often prohibitive. However, I do try to limit this, and after reading Overdressed, I will try to be even more conscientious.

The end of the book does give me hope.  Elizabeth Cline notes that there seems to be a shift, and clothing prices are slowly starting to rise, as labour laws become more strict overseas and some manufacturing is shifting back to North America.

So what influence will this book have in my life?  For one, I will even more determinedly continue to sew most of my own wardrobe, and as much as possible for my kids.  I will also be more aware of the clothing I do purchase, its origins, and whether or not it is a necessary purchase.

The only downside of this book is the fact that I purchased an ebook instead of waiting a week or two to get my hands on a hard copy. This is definitely a book that I want to pass along to others to read.

And maybe get someone to have a conversation about it with me :-)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ottobre 03-2010-35

Ottobre Designs 03-2010-25

This was the dress design that my DD chose for her end-of-the-year celebration for her Senior Kindergarten class.   They are having a tiny in-class graduation, but I will take any excuse I can get to make a fancy dress.

Last year I bought some Betsey Johnson  stretch cotton butterfly fabric that she has had her eye on ever since. I believe it came from Elliott Berman in their annual 50% off sale.  Originally, it was to be for me, but I just couldn't find something to make that wouldn't look too "cute" for a woman well into her thirties.

So, she won, I lost, and she has a pretty sweet dress.
Of course, I couldn't get her to model it.  It was enough of a battle to get her to try it on for fitting.  The white fabric for the top of the dress was a 50 cent rummage sale find.

I lined the bodice with some cheap poly cotton broadcloth, since the fabric was so wrinkle prone.  I left the skirt unlined as there was no real need for a lining.  I simply serged the seam at the waist to connect the bodice and skirt.  I didn't feel there was any great need for special finishing.

  I used an invisible zip in the back, and defined the waistline with a pink strip of leftover bias tape in stash.  The tape and the bottom hem both have a decorative butterfly stitch from my sewing machine in white thread. Hopefully, I will get some pics to post at her "graduation" in a couple of weeks. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Luscious leather and other fabrics

I see that Fabric Mart Fabrics has new leather in stock.  Wow, there are some gorgeous options.  I am especially partial to the white lambskin for a great summer jacket for chilly evenings, and the blueberry would be fun for a back-to-school (aka work) wardrobe in the fall.  Unfortunately, the shipping to Canada is high, and since I recently placed a huge Fabric Mart order, I can't justify the purchase right now.  However, if anyone else purchases some, please let me know what "awesomeness" you plan to sew with it so I can live vicariously through you.
(fabric links as of June 11/12)

Below, I have some new, but unfortunately not leather, fabrics for my overwhelming stash.  For the record, I can't believe how quickly stash can accumulate in just 3 short years of sewing.

Fuschia Ralph Lauren waterproof fabric from Fabric Mart

In my recent order, I ended up with 8 yards of Gore Tex.  Rather unexciting, but highly practical.  You see, besides sewing, my other love is paddling.  We are a paddling family and we spend our summers kayaking, canoeing, and guiding and teaching these amazing watersports.  My kids are taking up the paddling schtick (like they had a choice) and they need gear.  It is nearly impossible to find, and incredibly expensive to buy, outdoor gear for young children.  I am planning a rain jacket for my daughter  out of the pink fabric above and I will stash the rest of my waterproof-breathables' purchase for future rain pants, jackets, mitts, hats and so on.

I did spring for a freebie Fabric Mart bundle (which is not so free when you factor in the very expensive shipping to Canada, so not always a gamble I take) and these are some of the pieces I ended up with:

The fabric on the left appears to be some sort of heavier polyester, blue on one side and greyish on the other.  I will likely use it as a purse lining.  The black lace on the right, with a fun circle design, will likely be a top of some sort.  It would make a great dress, but in my world of elementary school teacher and mom by winter/outdoorsy sporty paddling woman by summer, I can't see getting much use of a dress with lace overlay.  I do love it though.
I also ended up with this.  It is some sort of backed/bonded brownish knitish thing.  It will make either a costume of some sort, or some type of soft jacket, though I can't see me wearing this since it feels bizarre to the touch.
This is not a fabric purchase, but rather, a find at our local church rummage sale.  It is handmade and vintage, a knit with very little stretch.  It is too small as-is, but if I redesign it from tunic length to shorter top I think I can make it work as a fun tank/shell.  Hey, you can't go wrong for a whole 50 cents!

This final fabric is a lightweight cotton that I actually purchased at my nearest (meaning a two hour drive away) Fabricland, the Canadian chain store. I don't buy many prints from there because I rarely find anything that I like, but for some reason I couldn't leave the store without this one.  I'm not much of a dress person for most of the year, but in the summer, they are my favourite type of clothing.  So easy to wear and very cool in warm weather.  This will definitely be a dress, but I have no idea which style yet.

I have finished several projects lately but haven't had time to photograph or post them as I've been in the midst of report cards and all that other busy end-of-the-school-year stuff.  Hopefully life will settle down soon and I can get some project details recorded here before I forget them.

Finished project updates to come soon, fingers crossed.