Make It Last: How to Mend Your Own Clothes

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Sewing is a practice of sustainability. You probably forgot sewing was an actual skill-set and not just the punchline of sexist jokes. However, producing, consuming, and throwing away fewer pieces of clothing all hinge on one habit– keeping your clothes for longer. When you dance a little too hard and a hole materializes in the armpit of your favorite top, don’t just throw it away. That’s your favorite top, darn it. A lot of people are held back by the assumption that they are not skilled enough to fix their clothing or that it is a skill that older, more feminine humans are supposed to learn. I do not care how old you are or what your gender identity is, you can and should learn how to mend your own clothing. Emphasis on can.

I may tell you some things that would make my mother’s professional-seamstress-heart cry, but it will get you through. I’m not going to make my own tutorials because there already so many great ones out there, so I will just link you to think ones that are most helpful.

Create a small kit.

This shouldn’t cost more than seven dollars, and should last a long time. Items on this list can be purchased from your favorite craft store, Walmart, or stolen from your grandmother’s house.

  • scissors
  • a package of needles (I always get the widest eyes to make threading easier.)
  • black and white thread (You’ll almost always sew from the inside, so they won’t be seen anyway.)
  • a cheap pin and cushion set
  • a good attitude (You got this!)

How to repair a hole in most garments.

This video from youtuber Koumori No Hime Cosplay is so clear and simple, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. This can go for any hole, not just one in a seem. The ladder stitch makes the thread almost invisible.

How to repair a hole in a sweater, specifically.

This video by Professor Pincushion is a bit similar to the first video that I linked, but it contains some important information pertaining specifically to sweaters. When a clothing item is knitted, a hole could cause the entire garment to unravel, so sewing up a hole takes just a bit of extra care.

How to sew on a button.

I love that giant button. Also, Nicki Callahan’s dolphin simile: 10/10. Anyway, everyone needs to know how to sew on a button. This video makes it super easy to see how it is done.

Ending thoughts: security over beauty. When you’re repairing a garment, you’re usually going to flip it inside out, so you’re not going to see the stitching anyway. Don’t worry about perfection, your clothes will appreciate the TLC nonetheless. If you’re getting frustrated, take a break.

If you’re financially secure enough, you can just pay a tailor to do it. They’ve got to put bread on the table too. It’s important to know how to fix something in a pinch, but it’s no less sustainable to pay a professional if you can afford it.

Spring Break – Handmade Fashion

IT’S SPRING BREAK, FOLKS. Well, it’s almost spring break, at least. Today’s outfit is reflective of the care-free times and sunny weather that I am wishing for all of us.

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This bright yellow and peach top is a result of me experimenting with pattern-free sewing. The style is mega simple. It is just a straight tank with no darts of any kind. Seriously, this tank was laughably simple to make. However, I’ll admit, being hecka flat-chested made this project much easier for me than the average girl, as this fabric has no stretch. This fabric was bought second-hand from a vintage shop in Siloam Springs, AR. I love vintage florals; they are so much more vibrant than a lot of the floral prints in stores today.

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Say hello to my favorite shoes of spring. Can you believe these dreamy rainbow pastel shoes are so wearable? My mom gave me these Rocket Dog sneakers as a gift, and might I add, she has fantastic taste. My mother has always encouraged my fashion escapades, no matter how wild, and I am eternally grateful. Whether or not her keen eye for style was passed down to me, her appreciation of the strange and beautiful has made me the person I am today.

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I have owned several slightly different variations of these John-Depp’s-Willy-Wonka-esque glasses over the years. I am honestly not sure why I keep buying the same glasses, but they are still working for me. Also, I know you are coveting my high-end “aesthetic” bracelet. Too bad for you. It is one of a kind, made for me by my sister. I only wear the finest jewelry. 

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Since this fabric has such little stretch, I needed to create a way to actually fit my head through the collar. I used this as an opportunity to add a cute little bow detail to the back.

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There are not too many different hairstyles for short hair. On most days, I do not mind this at all, but when the weather is warm it is nice to get the hair out of my face with some little buns. It seems that this hair style is being referred to as “space buns” on the internet, although I have no idea where the name got its origin. My brother once referred to these buns as “the biscuits on your head,” so that works, too.

I hope you all have a fun (and safe) spring break!

What the H*ck is “Ethical Fashion,” Anyway? (1 of 3)

How “Ethical” are Your Clothing Choices?

This is a relatively new question that many people have never taken time to consider. Ever wonder how it is possible that there are $2 camisoles at Forever 21? Usually we are too excited about the cheap prices to consider that there may be some corners cut along the way to make these prices possible. In short, the question of fashion “ethics” is a question of whether one’s wardrobe choices are positively or negatively affecting the world around them. It is a complex issue, but hold on tight; I’ll try and make this as painless as possible. (Spoiler: finding out some of your favorite stores use slave-labor is going to be painful.)

There are TWO main concerns when it comes to ethical fashion, to put it simply. How does the fashion industry affect humanity and how does it affect the environment? Both of these are concerned with the conditions of the factories where clothes are made. The biggest culprit causing the fashion industry to be detrimental is fast fashion.

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Defining “Fast Fashion”

Fast fashion is the industry that produces the cheap, trendy, low-quality items that you find in most mall stores. This industry profits off of our fast-moving culture. They produce clothing at rapid speeds, we buy, we get bored, and two days later the shelves are restocked and the process begins again. However, to be able to produce clothing so quickly that the average person can afford to keep buying on a weekly basis, companies need insanely cheap labor, which is just as sketchy as it sounds.

Humanity of Fashion

Our clothing is not made in a vacuum. In order for Forever 21 to grace us with their latest $9 pizza-graphic crop top every week, they are basically using slave labor. (Nice try with that “John 3:16” on your bags, F21, we see through you.) If the prices in your favorite store seem too good to be true, they probably are. It is easy to ignore this happening, as it is quite literally out of sight out of mind.

Most businesses place their factories in other countries, where there is a great need for work, making it easier for them to exploit workers by paying far, far below living wages. These low-budget factories are often hazardous, meaning that workers’ lives are at risk as well (e.g. the 117 who died infamous factory-fire in Bangladesh, 2012). This Huffington Post article written by Shannon Whitehead Lohr reveals that inexpensive beaded items are often a sign of child labor, as the equipment required to do bead-work is more expensive than low-cost brands can afford. While many companies have been outed for this slave labor, some refuse to disclose information on their employees and factories entirely. If they don’t want us to see it, we can infer that there is probably something disgusting they are hiding. Our blind support of these companies directly allows, and even promotes, the exploitation of real human lives to continue without challenge.

This website has information on what businesses are disclosing factory information.

This blog post is part one in my three part series explaining ethical fashion. Stay tuned for my seconds part on how the fashion industry affects the earth, and finally my third part on tips to becoming ethical in your wardrobe choices. This information is not meant to guilt anyone into change, but rather to help get the ball rolling on this important conversation. Many people cynically believe that one’s personal choices cannot affect industries at large, but many companies have been known to change their ways based on pressures from the public. You are more powerful than you know. Together we can make the fashion industry a more conscious place.

I appreciate you taking the time to read about a topic I am passionate about.

Never stop learning!

The Most Perfect Dress in the Whole World (Probably)

Look at that dress twirl. Have you ever seen something so magnificent? For today’s outfit, I dress down this ruffly dream-dress because a dress this great deserves to be worn on a daily basis.

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This dress is from Target’s (ethically conscious) Who What Wear line. It comes in a millennial pink too and I was so in love with it that I bought both colors. It’s ruffly, frilly, girly, and comfy. The way it moves with me when I walk makes me want to dance. A dress that makes you want to dance is a dress worth wearing every day.

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Shoe choice is everything when it comes to dressing an item up or down. Choosing these lace up boots with my (admittedly ripped) pantyhose makes it perfect for everyday. Even though my thrift shop boots are casual, they harmonize with the dress because they have the same kind of vintage vibe. I’m all for frills on frills, so if I could ever find a pair of lace socks high enough to peak above my boots, I’d wear them with this for sure. If I were to dress this up, I’d wear a pair of heals or Mary-Jane flats.

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My favorite part about any black and white outfit is that I can wear whatever color lipstick I want. This lavender lipstick paired with my frilly black dress has a little bit of a gothic-lolita vibe that I dig. Also, tell me those sleeves aren’t beautiful. I dare you.

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When it comes to accessorizing such a statement dress, less is more. This heart broach was the perfect choice for me, any less or any more would have been overkill. It is the perfect sweet and quirky match for this girly dress. If you pay close attention to these last two pictures you can see that I am wearing two different earrings. I’d like to say that this is on purpose, but these are honestly just the only two I could find. However, I like the affect and think that you can wear whatever the heck you want.

And with that, I hope you all have joy filled holidays.

Thrifting 101

Thrifting isn’t new. In fact, it is pretty trendy right now. Even so, many people are struck with an overwhelming fear upon entering a stuffed-to-the-brim thrift shop, unable to tell the hidden gems from the smelly and trashy garments. If you feel this shrinking, suffocating fear, as though you might be consumed and overcome by the thrift shop, and then spit back out with nothing to show for it, read on, dear friend. Upon request, I decided to type up my personal strategy to help you slay the beast.

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1. Know What You’re Into

The best way to overcome the initial thrifters’ shock is to go in knowing your favorite colors, patterns, and textures. I don’t always have time to go through and look at every single item on a rack. Shopping that way can be draining and make one want to give up before ever finding anything. Instead of this, I skim the racks by running my hand over them and looking for colors in my color scheme. For me, this means looking for polka dots, pastels, and unique patterns. I only pull items that I know might already fit into my wardrobe, cutting down on time and making the whole experience much less overwhelming and much quicker.

2. Ditch the Name Brands

Hear me out. Most of the trendy styles you are into are not as new as you think. You can find older items that fit into current trends with the only difference being that it is some random brand no one has ever heard of instead of Forever 21. Trends like corduroy, crushed velvet, and flannels have been around since the 90s and earlier. If you keep an open mind, you will be able to find some killer unique pieces which are right on trend that no one else will be able to replicate.

3. But If You Can’t….

The best shops for name brands are chains such as Goodwill and Salvation Army. More people are apt to donate there since they are the most well-known, so they are more likely to carry big name items. Another thing to keep in mind is the area demographics. Sometimes driving into the snooty area of town and shopping in their thrift shops can pay off. This is basically the same concept as having your parents drive you to the neighborhoods that you knew would give out full-sized candy bars on Halloween as a kid. Thankfully, thrift store prices tend to stay the same no matter what area you are in, but the people in these areas will donate high-scale items.

4. Try that Bad Boy on!

There have been so many times an item looked iffy on the hanger but became one of my new favorites once I tried it on. Thrift shops are full of ugly-cute type of items. The type of thing that is interesting to you and that you are kind of into, but it is a little too out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. The best part about thrift shops is finding an item you never knew existed. So just try it on.

5. Check the Pockets

Okay, I know this one is weird, but this one is absolutely from personal error. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have subconsciously reached my hand into a newly-thrifted jacket pocket only to violently retreat it back out in sheer terror. You never know what is lurking in the pockets, so take a look before you put it through the wash for the first time. I have found old candy, receipts, crumbs, and who knows what else. Just trust me.

6. Don’t Confine Yourself

Full disclosure, I don’t only shop in the women’s section. Sometimes the men’s section has much better sweaters. I am pretty small, so I’ll even check the little girl’s XL section sometimes. Not everyone can shop so freely, due to size restrictions, but don’t be afraid to break out of your designated section and check out the others.

 

Thrift shopping is great for the environment and for you wallet, not to mention your unique style. If you’ve been on the fence about it, I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know if this list helped you out. Now go forth and find the perfect Christmas outfit.