Patching holes.

I’ve written on darning as a method for mending holes in fabric before, (see here) but today I had¬† A LOT of fun with patches!

My beloved LUSH tote bag has accompanied me most days for over a year. It’s well-made, ethical, made of natural fibres and is best of all sturdy. Unlike the cotton totes I used to use, this one is considerably thicker, tougher and the straps can support a lot of weight. It even has a little pocket inside for your phone/keys (I mean, pockets are the real MVP in life aren’t they?!)

The only downside I’ve been able to think of, is that moths have taken such a liking to it. I’ve had a bit of an infestation recently (understatement) which has led to a number of holes appearing in my bag- some of them quite sizeable. In classic Lydia fashion, I assumed it was something else for a while.. Maybe the washing machine is chewing it up. Maybe I’m catching it on things or throwing it around or carrying heavy/sharp things in it too often. It had to get to the point where I was seeing moths everywhere before I put 2 and 2 together!

Anyway. So I was left with this chewed up bag, thinking what now? The whole reason I bought this bag was so that I could have a tote that would last for years as opposed to weeks or months like my old flimsy ones! I thought about replacing it and just being really careful with the new one.. Thankfully this morning I thought it can’t hurt to see if I can repair this one. Worse case scenario I do have to buy a new one. Can I just say I am SUPER pleased with how it turned out!

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I started out by cutting a square or rectangle out of some thick, sturdy cotton fabric big enough to cover the hole, with about half a centimetre to spare. I then zigzag stitched around the edge of the patch on my sewing machine. (I should’ve taken a picture of how they looked at this point, it wasn’t great..)

 

The bit that really sets it all off and makes it look quirky and beautiful is the sashiko stitching over the top. Sashiko is a japanese embroidery technique made up of a running stitch formed into geometric patterns and images. Search ‘sashiko embroidery’ on Pinterest or Google Images/Ecosia for inspiration. It’s a really great way to incorporate patches into garments without it looking scruffy. I went for the most basic version involving straight lines over and over, but crosses or a geometric pattern would also have looked cool!

I love the thought of caring so much about your things that when they are damaged you add something beautiful to them and keep going! Happy mending, friends ūüôā

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Ethical clothing.

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Finisterre Clothing (Source)

Yes people. It’s all very well trying to buy environmentally friendly fabrics, and not use animal products, but it all means nothing if you’re still buying into businesses that effectively use slave labour. (That was a bit more direct than I thought it would be, but there’s nothing like a little harsh truth!) As it’s Fashion Revolution week, and the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, I figured it might be good to share something.

Now I’m an advocate of the largely secondhand wardrobe, because not only does it contribute to good in the world, (if it comes from a charity shop you are making a donation to their work) but it means that instead of garments going on a one-way path to the garbage heap, they become part of a loop economy. Products that can be used again by someone new, avoid the fate of landfill and all the horrible dangers associated with it. When you buy secondhand you don’t require anything to be made from scratch in a factory, so no energy is wasted to create it. There’s enough already in existence to mean we shouldn’t need to buy very much completely new! It can go round and round the loop until it can’t be used any more!

However, sometimes you can’t be searching high and low for things. Also, there’s something to be said for encouraging and supporting ethical businesses with our money. So without further ado, here is a list of ethical clothes manufacturers on my radar…

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The White T-shirt Co.

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Good quality t-shirts designed to last a lifetime, they can even be tailored to your requirements.

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade, Vegan

Prices: ££

Hiut Denim

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Good quality jeans produced in a small factory (they make 100 per week!) They commit to repairing any jeans you buy from them for free for life!

Credentials: Fair trade, (Some) Organic, Repairs for life

Prices: £££

Finisterre

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casual clothing with a focus on outdoor activity wear. Very good knitwear, jackets, base layers. Committed to eco-friendly initiatives.

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade, (Some) Recycled materials

Prices: £

Monkee Genes

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Organic jeans in a large range of styles and colours.

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade, Living wage, Vegan, (Some) Recycled materials

Prices: £

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Beaumont Organic

Beaumont Organic

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casual/luxury clothing made from organic materials

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade

Prices: £££

Rapanui Clothing

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Organic t-shirts and hoodies

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade

Prices: £

Sea Salt Cornwall

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casualwear, shoes and accessories

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

Swedish Stockings

Based in: Sweden

Specialises in: Sustainable hosiery made to last, using eco-friendly practices and materials. They also accept any brand of hosiery for recycling to divert them from landfill!

Credentials: Fair trade, Recycled materials, Eco-friendly practices, Zero Waste

Prices: ££

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Bibico

Bibico

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Ethical casual clothing using natural fibres

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

Green Fibres

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Organic underwear, nightwear and outerwear

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

Lowie

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casual clothing and accessories committed to introducing organic and eco-friendly materials to their range. They offer free repairs on all purchases too!

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade, Repairs for life

Prices: £££

The Keep Boutique

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Ethical brands offering casualwear and accessories

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

Make do and mend.

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You might remember I picked up this book on one of my charity shop hunts this summer. It is a reprint of an original book published during World War II advising people on how to make their clothes last longer and repair them during the austerity of war-time, when clothes were very hard to come by.¬†I sort of picked it up for an interesting read, rather than to actually learn about clothes maintenance haha, but I didn’t get far in before my first burst of inspiration hit!

There are chapters on clothes maintenance and washing etc., but the one that made the most impact on me was the one on darning. Even typing the word now conjures up the image of something out of a period drama, but it’s actually not as complicated and more effective than I thought it would be.

One afternoon I stuck a series on Netflix and dug out two items in need of a good darn, and in a matter of hours¬†it was all done!¬†The book outlines darning techniques for a heap of different types of material, but I just used the standard one (see this post by B√©a Johnson, it’s basically the same technique) for my first item.

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Before (right) and after (left)

This is a bandeau-type bra that I stupidly stuck a safety pin into to hold a top up once (hence the annoying holes!) Up close it looks sort of messy, but a few weeks on I can safely say that the sewing holds up when stretched and I matched the colour of the thread really well too which helped to make it look more professional.

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Before (top) and after (bottom)

Next up is that dress that I oh-so-gracefully managed to rip at the armpit and not notice for ages until I was taking it off one day! Good times. ‘Make Do and Mend’ recommended that I do a blanket stitch around the raw edges of the hole and then sew the seams together which ended up looking like this. The dress is quite dark in reality so the black thread barely shows, and it sits under my armpit anyway. I could’ve done this more neatly in hindsight but it definitely does the job, and I wasn’t ready to let this dress go!

So there we have it, 2 articles of clothing diverted from the scrap heap with a little bit of thread and a needle! If you’re not confident sewing, it’s worth asking around your friends and family for help. I hope this inspires you to see if you can salvage anything you would’ve otherwise chucked ūüôā

5 things this Monday…

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(Source)
  1. First thing’s first, this is one of the most hopeful things I’ve read in a while- the Swedish government is cutting VAT on repair services. Increasingly it seems more logical to buy new appliances and items because repair is either expensive or unavailable, but the bottom line is that repairing is simply out of fashion and doesn’t fit in with convenience culture. It makes sense that our first port of call should be to try and fix things- GO SWEDEN!
  2. I’m no stranger to recycling weird and wonderful things, but this prototype for a shoe made from recycled carbon emissions blew my mind! I don’t understand the science behind it, but it’s so great to know that people are putting their heads together to come up with ways to divert pollution from destroying the earth. Every little helps after all.
  3. In a move towards transparency and better treatment its garment factory workers, GAP has published the names of the factories that supply its clothes and shoes. In theory, this move gives workers and advocates the ability to alert the companies of injustices for swifter correction amongst other things.
  4. And the good news just keeps on rolling! France has banned plastic cups, cutlery and plates as of 2020, and plans to replace them with compostable alternatives. It is a good initiative to start the process of reducing pollution, but some argue (fairly) that it might send the wrong message; greener living isn’t just subbing one material in for another but rather wasting less. That said, I still think the less plastic floating around the better.
  5. After 4 pretty monumental events this last one seems a little trivial, but hey ho:¬†StyleCaster gives 10 ways to remove wrinkles without an iron. I relinquished my iron recently after using it a grand total of about once a year, and I have to say I don’t miss it; but if I found myself in need I would definitely consider a few of these ideas! Most of them require no planning or specialist equipment which is right up my street ūüôā