Posts Tagged“minimalism”

Slow Fashion October: On our need for many clothes, mindful making and fast fashion

I’m excited about Karen’s invitation to talk about slow fashion and make October the month in which we look at what we own, we curate and repair our everyday and special garments.

This is my YOU post She suggested in the series.

How I came about caring about slow fashion

(This is an edited version of the post in which I first discussed minimalism and fast fashion on the blog).

Why do we buy clothes all the clothes we buy?  I know, partly because we can’t all live our lives in naked bliss. Because we’d be cold without clothes. Because clothes are an expression of the self. But why do we buy clothes, all the time? How cold are we and how much can this “self” be expressed through clothing? Or is it something else?

Could it be we go to a shop when we’re sad or tired, because we feel the need to reward ourselves for our hard work? Could it be that we need to feel beautiful or sexy and shopping for that perfect pair of pants or that amazing dress is the promise of that?

In the last two years I’ve started paying more attention to what I bought and when. And why. I’ve started a little experiment with clothes. I stopped buying any new clothes.

october slow fashion how many jackets do we need

It started with was moving to a new flat and giving away all the clothes I knew I wasn’t going to wear anymore. I’ve promised myself I will only buy anything new only if I really loved it or really needed it. As it turned out during the first year, that didn’t really happen. Then, at the beginning of this year, as I’ve moved to a new country, and gave away all of my clothes I didn’t love or wear all the time, I’ve decided to just keep it as it was and try not buy any new clothes. I could make myself new clothes or I could buy second-hand. The exceptions was going to be a winter coat. And guess what, I really didn’t need to buy anything new.

How slow fashion affected my everyday life and my sewing habits

The experiment had a side effect: I started thinking more and more about the garments that I was sewing. Did I really need to make another skirt I’d never wear?

I’ve started to think more and more about minimalism, space, mindfulness, space to breathe and think and be. I’ve cleaned my closet and my head or any worries related to “what will I wear today/tomorrow/next week?”. I decided this wasn’t a priority.

It helped that I had only kept the garments I really liked in my closet. Turns out it’s much easier to make outfits when your closet is used to store things you love.

simple fall outfit boots jeans and long cardigan

I did simplify the way I dress. Because I ride a bike (and also when I don’t) my clothes have to be comfortable, breathable, and practical. I opted for more comfort and less frosting. This allowed me to focus more on what I feel and what I want and what I really like.

I learned more about what I really like

I looked at my own way of dressing and realised that I liked minimalism and wasn’t a big fan of accessories. I think I had always known this but I had always tried to “mix it up” and “be creative”. But why? For whom?

I realised I like dusty tones of blue, dirty grays, darker and maybe more natural greens. I could have gone out and bought new clothes in this newly discovered palette. Instead, I bought some fabric paint and died my old clothes in colours that I felt bored with or uninspired to wear. This was great to experiment with and it worked much better than I had expected. Dyeing an off-pink shirt I was never wearing blue, made all the difference. Same with a couple of older white t-shirts that weren’t so white anymore. Same with my orange pants I was shy to wear at work. The result: more clothes I really liked – and I didn’t buy anything.

This experiment has changed the way I look at clothes that look old. The way I spend money. And more. It’s the issue with fast fashion and everything behind our need to buy and wear and own so many clothes. How much do we really need? And is it making us happier?


Two delicate and feminine, no pattern blouses

As a person who owns much more patterns than she will ever get to use and still remembers the exact number of the now lost Burda magazine she lent a friend over 6 years ago, I am fascinated by garments that don’t need patterns. More specifically about boxy, square-ish shapes that have never seen a french curve in their life.

That’s why I really like these blouses and dresses from this Kitting, Crochet and Sewing Magazine (I can’t find this magazine anywhere else, do you know if it has a different name?)

Look at this blouse below, for example: it’s basically a trapeze shape, but the crochet straps and hems only barely drape it to create a wonderful and simple blouse. If you’re good with crochet, this should be very easy to make.

delicate no pattern summer blouse

This second blouse follows the same style: crochet upper bodice and soft flowy body.

delicate blouse with crochet trim

I really like how delicate the crochet looks against the modest napkin-like fabric.

delicate crochet and cotton blouse in japanese style

The magazine has instructions at the end, showing you how to create the very very simple patterns.

The softer and fabric you use it, the more delicate the finished garment will look like. If you use heavier fabrics, you will end up with boxier blouses.

how to make an easy blouse in less than one hour

If you want to take a look at the other blouses in the magazine, here it is:

Minimalist sewing: weekend reads

minimalist laundry

As a sewist you probably own a lot of clothes and fabric. If I look at my own clothes, I have those that I made and love and actually wear outside the house, then the clothes I’ve made and like but don’t fit with anything else in my wardrobe or don’t actually fit my lifestyle (frosting anyone?), then the clothes I bought and love, the ones I’ve bought and still love but don’t wear because they change shape, they’re difficult to iron or I just keep postponing their wear for “a better occasion”, the ones that were a gift, the unfinished sewing project and last but not least the clothes that I’ve said I’ll refashion.

That’s a lot of clothes.

Do I need all those clothes? Definitely not. Here are 3 inspiring reads about simplifying and understanding how we could own less to get more from the things we own or make:

The case for fewer—but better—clothes by Keila Tyner. Even though Keila focuses on the North Americal market, I think this is still true for a great part of the rest of the world: we buy more than we need, we buy more than we wear, we buy more than we can store. This could also be the case for sewists: because making clothes is so easy, there’s no need to limit the amount of clothes you have. Does minimalistic sewing exist?

33 Things to Eliminate From Your Closet by Courtney Carver. Project 33 challenges people who want to simplify, declutter and who know, maybe find new inspiration to live with 33 items for 3 months. The idea is that by owning less and keeping only what works and what you love you’ll be able to focus on more important things in your life than tomorrow’s outfit – while style looking your best. Not sure what to keep? Start with the things you could take out.

An 8 week checklist for simplifying your home by Trina from Beginner Beans. If you liked Apartment Therapy’s Home Cure, you might also like Trina’s version, that focuses on simplifying your home and your life. Not directly sewing related, but I am sure your sewing studio would benefit from a bit of simplifying… I know mine does.

What about you? What are you going to donate, give away or simply remove from your closet this weekend?

Spring Cleaning Time: The Spring Apartment Cure

spring cleaning wooden brush

I’ve started my spring cleaning and instead of rolling my sleeves and getting to work I’m here blogging, and reading about other people who clean 🙂

I really like the idea of the Apartment Therapy cure: in one month you get to clean, organize and improve the space you live in by doing something every day.

There are some things that I like but I wouldn’t do, such as buying flowers. Not because I don’t see the point, but because my house has a lovely terrace with plenty of plants and flowers, even in winter (one of the perks of living in Barcelona 🙂

Other things seem to be central to “the cure”, such as framing a picture don’t work for me as I already have lots of things on shelves and I fell that my walls would thank me with for the white space.

However, I do like the idea of assessing your space, what you own and how you use it, then making changes and enjoying it, either alone of with friends.

Some ideas I really like from the cure:

1. Using green cleaners for your home

I’ve started to use vinegar and baking soda for a while now to clean surfaces and the inside of the fridge and now I’m testing this spray solution with one part water, one part vinegar and baking soda: it cleans just as good as the stuff you buy (you might need to scrub a bit more in difficult areas, but you could count it as exercise :), and it doesn’t hurt your hands or the environment.

2. The Outbox

Inventing an outbox, a neutral area to store objects you’d want to throw away but are unsure of. You just keep them for a week in there and if you’re still unsure you keep it for one more week and so on. A little prison for things you could trash, give away or sell.

3. The therapeutic idea of cleaning

Cleaning is well… a chore. Maybe you listen to music when you do it, maybe you sing on the top of your lungs, or maybe you just do it and keep your mouth shut about it. Yet “the cure” talks about cleaning as a way to get to know better your house: your remove all the expired food in the pantry and you clean it so you can enjoy it better, you thoroghly and passionately (sic!) clean the floors so you can sit on a bit floor pillow and read a book or have a cup of tea – just something you don’t usually do.

What about you? Is having a clean house important for you? Have you ever used green cleaners?

On Doing Less, Focusing on What is Meaningful

focus on what is important plant roots

How many of the things you do in your free time are (still) meaningful to you? If you could learn anything, what would it be? Why are you sewing? Why are you blogging?

Before I get to the point and explain why I’m asking those questions, I will start with a short (super-short, I promise) story about keeping less for feeling better.

For a while now people in my team at work were complaining that there’s too much work, too many partners to work with and too little time for them to reach their goals and do quality work. The top management started looking into the issue and while the idea as to see where they needed to bring in more people, they discovered that they could actually afford doing less. It appeared that more than 70% of the partners and projects they were working with was bringing them 5% of their total monetary goal. Every month, every year.

So they decided to stop working on those 70% percent of accounts, focus on the ones that really mattered and use the extra time to think about what they wanted to do and find new best performing partners. 3 weeks later it was already working, people feeling more that they owned the situation and not the other way around, bringing in new partners and staying on course with their monetary goals.

I think this can apply to almost any areas of our lives. We sometimes do things because we got used to doing them, not because they bring us pleasure or are meaningful to our lives.

Think about the things you do in your free time. Do you always think or how you’d like to spend that time if you didn’t have a habit or the hobby of_________ (you fill in that space)?

I, for example realized I was spending a lot of my free time sewing bags for the shop. I like making things and I love when people send me feedback like: “love the bag, I wear it everywhere” or “made my day”.

But on the other hand, I wanted to learn more (and write more) about pattern making and didn’t have the time to do it.

I also tried to work on a new sewing project every weekend, but most of the time I would choose a 2-3 hour project because I didn’t have more than that to invest in it. I laso wasn’t investing enough time in learning new techniques, reading about sewing and pattern making, and overall enjoying the whole process.

I was speed-sewing and creating garments I knew how to deal with.

So I took a little vacation from the shop and started to spend my time more on the explorative and the learning part of sewing. And exploring other areas that interest me, such as illustration (see the image above:)

What about you? How often do you sew? Are you interested in learning new techniques or making really complicated garments? How much time in a week do you spend sewing?

And have a lovely Sunday!