Monday, 27 September 2021

handmade years : my sustainable wardrobe, part 2

hello lovely ones. today i want to share an update on my journey into a more sustainable wardrobe, after the last post where i introduced my thoughts and reasoning and i guess a kind of philosophy on clothes/fashion. today i'm talking about my latest Instagram account, called @handmadeyears and it contains more regular updates than i can post here, so if you're interested, go and give it a follow.


it's already been quite a journey. and i've already got things to share with you that i've learnt...

first and foremost, how my shopping addiction hadn't really left me (still hasn't) and how i just replaced it with buying loads of secondhand things instead. my consumption rate was still  really high, and i probably realised at the time of that last blog post that i was consuming too much under the pretence of 'saving it from landfill' when in fact, i didn't need it, and someone else could've done with it; i just ended up redonating a lot of things. 

so lesson #1 : buy LESS 

this even goes for contemplating how to select fabrics and new yarns for crochet projects, i want to be as sustainable as i can, but without breaking the bank - i could easily spend £200 on hand-dyed, locally sourced 100% wool yarn for just one crocheted jumper, but i don't have that sort of money for a project! same with fabric, i could spend £70 to get new fabrics for a project, but they won't necessarily even be made in this country - so i've taken to purchasing secondhand fabrics in the form of old duvet covers and tablecloths - it's hard sourcing, but i've found a couple of fabrics i really like that are ready to me made up. and actually with hand-me-down fabrics from my mum i've got quite a stash to work with.

i also spoke in my last post about looking for quality pieces, which is something i am definitely doing. in one of Beth Jones' (@bjonesstyle) latest videos, she mentioned a technique when thrifting where she simply scans the labels to look for vintage ones, and only then assesses the clothing from there. i tried this the last time i was out and i thought it was so fun and i found way more than i was expecting, and it really helped weed out the modern day, poorly made, fast fashion.


then lesson #2 : make more

i have been on a making kick, as i've always got some sort of project on the go lately! whether that's crochet or sewing. the only problem has been getting carried away a little too much and not being specific enough with what i actually NEED to make to add to the wardrobe. so in my latest YouTube video (scroll down to the end of this blog post to watch) i have begun a new method where after my seasonal wardrobe audit i write down a list of potential makes, which you'll see at the end of the video. 

i've really enjoyed the process of creating, and learning new skills. it feels great to keep my brain ticking over trying out a new crochet stitch, or learning how to put in interfacing, gather sleeves or sew a curved neckline.

there's also been a fair amount of progress on my mending pile (now in a drawer in my revamped office/craft room - YouTube video of that to come too). and it's been super fun to solve mending conundrums, like wax spills on jeans or broken zip pulls, or how to make arm holes wider. you'll likely have seen some of these in my YouTube video called 'All my DIY alterations to thrifted clothes'. there have been so many things i've saved that i would've previously thought were done with, and now get another life in my wardrobe.

i mean what else are evenings for than patching holes in your kids trousers and repositioning buttons?


and lastly lesson #3 : stop worrying

the biggest lesson of all has been to take a breath and stop panicking about whether i'm getting this whole 'sustainable' wardrobe thing right. if i'm conscious of it, that's the most important thing. if i don't know all the answers that's ok. if i feel overwhelmed with it, actually that's a call to simplify and dial back from any outside sources talking about sustainable fashion in a negative way. 

i can't get everyone to stop buying cheap fast fashion, and i can't make everyone sew on a button or patch trousers. but I CAN do those things. and that's enough. and i can share it, so that it becomes more normal, and it encourages more of you to think about your choices. i believe even if a couple of you reading this make small changes, it will ripple out amongst your friends, and their family, and their friends, and their family, etc.

i remember the first time i experienced 'eco-anxiety' - i wanted to buy new pants/knickers, and i just couldn't understand how 'eco' pants cost £20 a pair, but i could buy 5 for £12 from M&S. i remember having hours of conversation with my husband about which pair of pants to buy.... and we said, if in doubt, always choose the brand you know is well made. so i went with the M&S ones, and then started sewing again so i can eventually take back the power and make my own pants! how hard can it be?!


anyhow, that's all for today, i hope you enjoyed reading - i'd really love to know where you are on your sustainable wardrobe journey - are you just becoming conscious? were you taught awareness by your parents? are you pretty deep in the journey? tell me something you've learnt...

thanks for stopping by, i hope you have a wonderful day x


Wednesday, 8 September 2021

our favourite autumn books

hey all, today's post is hopefully refreshingly light, inspiring and fun! i'm going to share our favourite autumn / fall children's books with you, because i love switching our books around each season, and i want to inspire you to do the same. if you already do, then i hope there's a couple on my list that you'll pop on your wishlist or buy as gifts for friends. 

let me start by saying why i love switching books up with the seasons...

firstly, there's a huge benefit to me in switching things up around the house each season, switching my wardrobe over and re-arranging the books and toys, moving around any seasonal decorations, deep cleaning and generally doing lots of organising and donating to charity shops. it clears out mental space and allows my creativity to flow, and mostly just puts me in a good mood.

secondly, i believe it's super important for my children to learn more about each season, to grow up with a seasonal mindset, to embrace each seasons for what it can offer. i love how it inspires a deeper connection to our planet and a sense of richness in the celebration of each season. 

so, now, you'll notice each book in this list offers something slightly different to the next, some are funny, some are deeply imaginative, some have grand stories, some are whimsical, some talk about mental health, some talk about different cultures... we can learn so much about being a well-rounded human from books!

we have an autumn collection, Christmas collection, winter collection and a spring collection, and i'm working on the summer list!


so without further ado, here are our favourites:

1. Thankful by Eileen Spinelli (UK / US)
 - a short and sweet book, with fabulous illustrations, detailing little things we can be thankful for, it's super sweet and funny

2. Fletcher and the Falling Leaves (UK / US)
 - a great book dealing with big emotions, talking about the loss of things and the changing seasons, this is lovely

3. The Very Helpful Hedgehog (UK / US)  
- super funny and highly requested in our home, this talks about making friends, and it makes us all giggle

4. The Very Best Pumpkin (UK / US)  
 - this is about making friends and being kind, it's also about growing pumpkins, and the illustrations are really unique, this also gets asked for a lot

5. Brambly Hedge Autumn Story  (UK / US)  
- a classic, for a reason, the illustrations are so detailed and sweet

6. A Windy Day (UK / US)  
- this makes us all laugh, visualising our tshirts going over the fence on a really windy day, it's very seasonally appropriate here in England

7. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World (UK / US)  
- gosh we all fell in love with this book last year, it talks about where each ingredient comes from that is in an apple pie, it talks about culture and agriculture, and has a really yummy recipe in the back

8. Winnie-the-Pooh Weather  (UK / US)  
- a lovely book for younger kids, this lift-the-flap book talks about the different types of weather

9. The Jumble Bears (UK / US)  
 - another old classic, this is a long tale, and full of rich images

10. Sweep (UK / US)  
- this one is a love it/hate it sort of book, it talks about sweeping emotions away, and how instead we need to confront them - it's unusual and modern, but i like that it deals with this issue as grumpiness is a bit of an epidemic!

11. In the Rain with Baby Duck (UK / US)  
- such a sweet book, encouraging children to get out and enjoy the rain

12. The Year at Maple Hill Farm (UK / US)  
- amazing at teaching children how a farm works through the seasons, so much detail on each month, and it's a good one for slightly older little ones

13. Camille and the Sunflowers (UK / US)  
- this is a tremendous series, introducing fine art to children - in this case it's Van Gogh - and i love the storytelling mixed with the interpretations of his art

14. Wilfred to the Rescue (UK / US)  
 - another Brambly Hedge, and we love this for Wilfred being a hero and making sure no friend is left behind!

15. Usborne What Makes it Rain? (UK / US)  
 - we have a few lift-the-flap books from Usborne, because they don't shy away from detail, and they're great for all ages. the don't talk to the children like they're not capable of retaining the proper understaning of something. thankfully this one talks through science even i didn't fully grasp as an adult, so i learnt too!

so there you have it, our favourite autumn books! i would love to hear yours in the comments below, please....