Monday, 2 December 2013

Sharing the love...

You may have realised by now that knowing where my clothing comes from has been an increasingly important issue for me. And in a recent post I listed some ideas that could help me become more ethical when it came to the action of dressing.
Recently I met a fellow mum who sells beautiful clothing at markets in Sydney. I purchased a beautifully soft, cotton top which has been simply too good to wear! (I stare at it lovingly in the wardrobe - but fear not, I'll get over this pretty soon) The label is Read & Bell (the surnames of the two women behind the clothing, accessories and homewares).
The thing I love the most, apart from the fact that their stuff is gorgeous, is that it's not mass produced in a dungeon somewhere, it's made in a caring environment which you can read about here.
Something else I discovered over the weekend was a Fair Trade fashion website: They have some nice articles of clothing and you can meet the tailor, tour the workshop and watch 'how-to' demo's all on their website.


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Back to Old School Patterns...

Last year I bought this pattern and made some plain black cotton pants in version A.

It was the first clothing pattern I'd followed in many years and probably the first I'd ever attempted alone. They turned out quite well and I was happy that I'd actually understood the instructions relatively easily (which means that I understood most of it but still had times where I had to read the step at least seven seventeen times before something clicked and I 'got it'). Apparently I'm not alone on that one. Recently I purchased a Megan Neilsen pattern and was mesmerised at the simplicity of the instructions - haven't made the skirt yet because I've been busy looking for the 'right' fabric, but while I was looking for some at the Remnant Warehouse I came across this lovely soft draping rayon:

And that brings me back to the pants pattern... I thought it would look great sewn into version B of the pants and after a short week of late-night sewing I made these:

This fabric works very well for this pattern and I'm really loving my new pants...

Friday, 1 November 2013

Little Girl's Dresses

I've sometimes found that PDF patterns can be a bit of a paper-chase nightmare... One simple top can somehow become 50 pieces of A4 paper - that you have to cut-and-match-and-stick. All and all it somehow defeats that instant gratification you feel when sitting at your computer purchasing beautiful dress patterns without leaving the house!
I do like the idea though. And I have found that many of the coolest patterns are now available this way. So I decided to make a compromise (of sorts!) and make my daughter clothes with PDF patterns instead of myself - since they are smaller I figured I wouldn't be needing so many pieces of A4.
While wondering through the virtual shops of Etsy recently, I found just what I was looking for, an easy-to-make, comfortable, versatile and cool little number: The Butterfly Breeze Peasant Dress by Wink Handmade. I've made three so far...

The top one is made with a light cotton fabric from Sydney's Remnant Warehouse. The floral is also a light cotton, purchased from Summer Hill Sewing Emporium and the last was a winter number made with a soft denim found at Spotlight - looked great teamed up with tights and a cardi.
These dresses are super comfortable (apparently) and work well whether you're playing in the sandpit or climbing a wall, you won't be restricted...

This dress is very quick and easy to make thanks to the simple instructions which accompany the pattern.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Orange Marmalade...

I don't have much time to read the paper. However every week my living room floor seems to inherit a copy of Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald and so, on Sunday I like to sit quietly and read  the Spectrum. It was in this publication that I found Frank Camorra's recipe for Mildura Orange Marmalade. Gasping Softly to myself at the anticipated simplicity of the job - the recipe was quickly torn from its page and adhered to a conspicuous place on the fridge door.
Another thing I've recently inherited is a lemon tree that is bursting with big juicy lemons. So all I really needed for the job of Marmalade making was a couple of oranges and some sugar. EASY! The Oranges I sourced from a small orchard in Dural, NSW and I decided to continue to go with the ethically-locally-sourced-flow and use some organic raw sugar.
This is what I did:
The first stage was to cut and soak the fruit overnight.

 (Having now made a couple of marmalade batches, I would like to mention here, that it's better to add plenty of water rather than just enough - otherwise you end up with too much rind and not enough 'jam'.)

The next day I boiled the fruit to soften the skin - this took at least 20 minutes.
I made a few adjustments to the initial recipe at this stage, like measuring the pulp - quite important I believe. Basically you will need to add one cup of sugar to every cup of pulp. I also added 30 mls VSOP Cognac for a bit of extra bite... (next time I may try Cointreau)...
Then I boiled briskly for about 45 mins and didn't forget to skim off the scum!

The thing I love most about this recipe is the amount it makes... Three oranges and just three lemons becomes seven good sized jars of delicious Marmalade!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Cosy Cowls....

I love to make them and I love to wear them... COWLS
In the coming months I plan to open my Etsy shop...
It will feature Cowls and Scarves such as these....

Unisex Cowl in Forest Green

Over-sized Cowl/Shawl in Plum

Merino Cowl in Emerald Green

Please tell me what you think...

Saturday, 29 June 2013

On a Serious Note...

Last week the program 60 Minutes did a report on the troubled state of the garment industry in Bangladesh. Watching this report was disturbing and reinforced my desire for change to take place. Garment factory workers are being exploited and abused on a regular basis and yet nobody seems to want to take responsibility; in fact many do not even seem to care. Everybody has an excuse.

The consumer - wants a cheap bargain and many can not afford to buy quality. But then, does quality mean that it has been made fairly and ethically? Not necessarily. Retailers it seems, also want a cheap bargain and prefer to remain blissfully ignorant as to what is happening and when things really do go wrong, like a building collapses, they use excuses: 'It was just a one-off order.' 'We weren't aware that that was happening!' They want to make a profit, and they just don't feel accountable. Factory bosses flat out deny any trouble, rejecting that problems and abuse occur in the first place.

This is not a new problem, issues like child and slave labor or deadly effects on workers who sandblast denim have been shadowing the garment industry for some time now. We could choose to ignore it or we could each do something small to try and bring about change. For although we are each just individuals, we are also consumers and have the power not to consume if we so choose.

 I have been thinking for some time now about things that I could personally do to help stop this shameful situation. This is what I came up with...
#Make my own clothes - supportive networks like Handmakers' Factory and Sew Make Create or Summer Hill Sewing Emporium can be of help.
#Buy from Ethical Traders.
#Buy handmade from websites like Etsy or Madeit.
#Discover my habitat - I have found shops like Sandy Designs, Pipstars, who make their garments locally. And Red Cent Charity Store in NSW (who sell lovely knitted children's jumpers and crocheted items made and donated by elderly women just up the road).

I am by no means a saint and I do not proclaim to never having bought a cheap item from a large badly-lit department store. But I do want change. I want us to stop and think. Next time you pick a piece of clothing underneath a banner which reads - grab two for ten bucks! Where did it come from? Do I really need this? And do I really even want this... Chances are you may decide NO.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Scones in Pictures...

Last year I wrote about Lemonade Scones.
Yes, indeed they were very yummy.
I have however since then, been whipping up a simpler version that I wanted to share. With pictures. Documenting my love for not only scones but also photo editing using Pixlr. This recipe is ridiculously simple and the scones so tasty, it'll have you making them all the time. So here goes:

Set your oven to 225 degrees.
The idea is to have two parts dry ingredients to one part wet so decide on a mug you'd prefer and stick with it (ie. it doesn't have to measure 1 cup in the metric sense)

Put two mugs of flour in a large bowl,

add a handful of currants.

Chop 100 grams butter and put in the mug.

Fill mug to half way with boiling water, leave butter to melt...

 When melted, top up with milk. Add to the flour.

Mix into a ball and knead lightly. The dough should be slightly sticky.

Push down onto a floured tray and cut but don't separate,

 Scones need each other to rise. Bake.

Eat with Orange Marmalade... (Recipe found here)

Enjoy. Not only the scones but the compliments you'll receive from your friends :-)