It's getting to that time of year again. The summer holidays are sadly over, and soon the days will be getting shorter, the temperature will grow colder, and the leaves will begin to change colour.
This change in season coincides with a refresh of shop windows, and a flurry of emails telling us of the impending season's new arrivals. Therefore, a wardrobe refresh may be on your mind. But it is important to remember that a change in season shouldn't equate to a new wardrobe.
There are a few things I like to do before adding anything new to my wardrobe. These few simple things help (especially at this time of year) to ensure that I only buy, or make, what I need and avoid any mindless (over)consumption.
I make notes as I go. I have a simple running list in my ‘Notes’ app on my phone, that includes those pieces I feel I may need and why. Having this written down helps inform my future purchasing decisions, and ensure I am guided to only buy what I need.
I look at what is already hanging in my wardrobe! I may have forgotten about a piece because it was hiding in the back of my wardrobe, or packed away in storage for the winter. Therefore, a simple wardrobe re-organisation may be all it takes to rediscover those lost or forgotten pieces, or to see some in a new light. I may also find those pieces I have been avoiding because I didn't like the length or a button is missing, so now might be the time to make some alterations or do some mending.
I revert back to those pieces that I wear the most and identify why. Is it the colour, shape or fabric? Maybe all three. I then allow these preferences to guide my decisions going forward.
I always outfit before I buy. If I can't think of at least 3 or 4 pieces hanging in my wardrobe (not to mention shoes) that would work with it, then I won't buy it.
I use Pinterest. This is a great site for visually collating your research, complete with links and images.
I have learnt the value of trans-seasonality. The ability to wear pieces all year round becomes a key factor in guiding my purchasing decisions. I have learnt that I can wear my comfy linen trousers in (early) winter with a pair of thermals underneath. I can also wear a summer pinafore dress with a jumper underneath and tights. Just asking myself simple questions around trans-seasonality makes for a much bigger, and versatile wardrobe.
What do you ask yourself before adding to your existing wardrobe?
My wrap up of this month
New on the blog
Whether you are finishing off a project or needing to re-attach a button that has fallen off, the act of hand sewing a button is a great way to slow down. How to: Sew on a button offers a simple, and easy to understand guide on how to attach a flat button.
Pattern review: Japanese Sewing Book - Tops I Want to Sew Now introduces this beautiful pattern book and its effortless and minimal designs.
Second hand September
We have all dropped clothes off to a local charity bin or store. Me included. But do we really give much thought too, or care about, what happens to them next?
A walk past my local charity bin last week would indicate that for many the answer is 'no'. It was a really sad sight with clothing spilling out because it was so full, and open bags left on the ground for the elements to get to. Scenes like this exemplify what little value we place on our clothing, that we are OK with making this issue someone else's problem, and that supply is exceeding demand.
Our “castoffs” more often than not, don't end up in the local second hand or charity store, instead ending up in landfill or being incinerated. The cost of this is disastrous, polluting the environment and water supplies, creating fire hazards, and endangering the people living nearby.
Oxfam’s Second Hand September is about to roll around for another year as I write this. It is no coincidence that this campaign coincides with the start of a new season, and Fashion Week - a month when a new wardrobe is probably on many of our minds. Despite being UK based, this initiative is adopted across the globe, serving as a great reminder that we should reject this mindset, and instead celebrate second hand for the month of September (and hopefully longer).
So what could this look like?
If you are looking to add something to your wardrobe, consider second hand first.
If you come across an piece you maybe no longer want or need;
If it is in good condition, consider selling it on sites like eBay or Depop, passing it on to a friend or family member that you think might love it, or look out for clothing swaps in your area.
If it isn't in the best condition, breathe some new life into it with a spot clean or wash to freshen it up. Or get out the needle and thread to do some repairs, or make some alterations.
If you are considering donating a piece, ask yourself, "If I saw this in a shop, would I buy it?" If not, then why would someone else!! If the piece is in good enough condition that it can be donated, maybe drop your local store an email first or call in, and see if they are taking clothing donations, or query what they may be after.
If you can't keep, pass on or donate your piece, it may be worth considering repurposing the piece or the fabric into something else. This could be as simple as making a rag, or creating something new (e.g. collecting other fabric pieces and patch-working it into something else).
These few simple acts will go a long way in keeping clothing out of landfill or from being incinerated!
Zero waste sewing patterns
While studying pattern making at university I always loved the almost jigsaw puzzle like challenge that pattern making and cutting bought with it. But zero waste pattern cutting takes that to a whole other level.
Birgitta Helmersson’s zero waste cutting plan not only reduces fabric and paper waste, but it is a flexible approach in that it allows you to add or remove length as you like, tweak the design, and patch different fabrics together. It also allows you to build your skills, or refresh old ones.
This month I finally got around to giving it a go. I made her ZW Block Pant, a very relaxed, somewhat tailored style of pant, featuring an elasticised waistband, pleats, seam line details, concealed side seam pockets, patch pockets, and a slightly tapered leg. When you order the PDF pattern you will receive detailed sewing instructions and cutting plan, which will guide you through drawing the pattern pieces straight onto the fabric.
I will include a full pattern review next month, so stay tuned!
Jumpsuits, dungarees, overalls, pantsuit?!
I love a jumpsuit (or whatever you want to call them)! Why? Because you are getting a top and bottom in one, meaning no need for matching and less decisions to make. They are (usually) super comfortable, and easy to move in. They keep you covered up without being too covered up. There is a style for everyone and every occasion, from the playsuit, dungaree to boiler suit. They are also (in my opinion) a great trans-seasonal piece, being perfect for layering with a long sleeve tee, covering with a simple cardigan, or smartening up with a blazer.
I am in the process of drafting a pattern for a relaxed, wide leg jumpsuit, so I have been doing some research on jumpsuit patterns currently available, and considering we are heading into that 'in-between seasons' period, I thought I might share some of my favourites (links included).
Let me know what your favourite is, or if you have any other jumpsuit pattern suggestions in the comments below!
Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear by Winifred Aldrich is a highly recommended book, appearing in all the best pattern making book lists, and I can now see why! This book would be perfect for anyone new to pattern making, or if you’re like me and are looking to brush up on your skills. The book begins with a great introduction to pattern making and standard body measurements, before going on to offer easy to follow instructions for creating a range of blocks and making adaptations (e.g. dart manipulaion, cutting and spreading, adding yokes etc.) and making garments that are a better fit.
There are so many sides to Bonny Wright - actor, author, Greenpeace ambassador, climate activist, educator, the list goes on.
This month I was gifted her beautiful book Go Gently: Actionable Steps to Nurture Yourself and the Planet. This book, along with her platform Go Gently, focuses on the much needed call to action (go) when it comes to the climate, but the soft, loving and understanding way in which we can go about making a difference, focusing on manageable, and positive changes within our daily lives (gently).
I am revisiting the 2021 article This Second Hand September, let's embrace the clothes that aren't good as new, featured in The Telegraph, in celebration of this year's Second Hand September.
I am a huge fan of the author Lauren Bravo. I love the way she writes. Like her book ('How To Break Up With Fast Fashion: A guilt-free guide to changing the way you shop - for good'), her articles are always intelligent, inspiring, digestible, personable, and funny. She has a way of providing really honest and achievable tips for breaking those fast fashion habits, without leaving you feeling bad or guilty.
This particualr article is a worthwhile read, not only because it references Friends, Clueless, and Atomic Kitten, but it is is a timely read for Second Hand September, with many tips and words of encouragement to keep us all going! In the article Lauren tells the story of her modified suit, and second hand poppy and daisy print mini dress, while also encouraging us to;
Embrace signs of wear and tear as they are part of the clothing's story.
View flaws as opportunities (e.g. visible mending).
Normalise the idea of maintaining our clothes, learning to mend and repair.
Push back against the relentless pursuit of perfectionism.
If you haven’t read her book, or don’t follow her on the socials, I strongly recommend you do!
I will be taking a break from these wrap-up's to focus on more targeted sewing and pattern making articles, and tutorials. Be sure to check back in, with new content to come!
Please get in touch or leave me a comment, I would love to know about your August. Also, let me know about anything interesting you have been reading, watching, or listening to.
Thanks for reading!
This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions contained on this site are my own. I am not affiliated with any brands, products, or organisations mentioned, and do not receive any sponsorship, payment, or other compensation for any of the content on this site.