Thursday, 12 April 2012

Walthamstow Blogger Meet-up and Swap: Plus Confession!!!!

I was very fortunate to spend Saturday in the company of many lovely sewing ladies in London. Hot on the tails of our successful Brighton De-Stash Meet-up, the formidable Claire organised another along the same lines to be held in cheap-fabric-Mecca, Walthamstow. Attendance was excellent, despite the drizzle and chill. Above from left to right you can see: Melizza, Alana, Suzy, Karen, Jane, Rehanon, Claire, Michelle, Kat, Marie, Rachel, Catherine and Camilla.

Shortly after meeting, we all headed to a lovely cafe for sustenance. Then it was time for the swap. Oooh, I love a swap! It's like shopping without the guilt, and as you can see from the photo above, so much fun!

I'm pleased to say that I was able to go home with quite a bit less than I brought along. Below you can see my score: a lovely piece of blue sateen (destined to be a fancy dress for my best mate), some stretchy elastic from Jane (destined to be on some pants!) a copy of Sew Hip (destined to sit about the studio at work for months until I find where I put my other copies) and three sewing patterns (two of which are destined to inspire creations for work and the dress one might get used for a personal project).

Oh, and I mentioned guilt before. I fell off my no-new-fabric wagon with a bang. As soon as we were done swapping and had settled the bill at the cafe, we went to an excellent fabric shop called Saeed's. By the time I wandered in I saw some worried expressions on the faces of my companions. Anchors. On. Fabric.

They were right to be worried. I couldn't resist. 1.5 metres of wonderful blue and white anchor jersey was purchased by me after probably about three years of strict no-buying new fabric. But it didn't stop there. Birds were there. I like birds about as much as I like anchors on fabric, and Saeed, that checky devil, had sourced some wonderful quality jersey with magpies on it. 'Another 1.5 metres please, Mr Saeed. Oh, can I leave my back-bone here, I won't be needing that anymore.'

So, I feel a bit shit. Oh, and also excited that I have some incredible new fabric, of course. But why do I feel a bit shit? I guess it's because I feel so strongly that comfortably-off people living in developed countries have a responsibility to cut down their consumption of new products. And since I have tried to 'be the change I want to see' for a long while, breaking that inevitably feels a bit wrong. When I think about it objectively, I know that 3 metres of new fabric is not going to make much of an impact on the world, and of course it's not like I live a carbon-neutral lifestyle (for example, I have recently been the very grateful recipient of a plane ticket to NY for our honeymoon). But I am more conscious than most in many aspects of life, and I guess clothing and sewing were always the areas I put most effort into when trying to be a good example.

However, I've decided it won't be too bad, particularly considering I just gave quite a few pieces of fabric and patterns away to new homes, if I don't let these wonderful pieces of jersey languish in my stash and actually sew them into well-loved garments. I plan to use both fairly quickly, and to eek out as much as I can from both. You'd best hold me to that!

18 comments:

Gwenan said...

On the plus side, at least you were supporting an independent business by buying the fabric. I definitely agree that we should all cut down unnecessary/excessive consumption, but I've been trying to mostly cut down buying from big multinational companies recently, rather than local businesses.

I suppose you don't know where the fabric came from originally though. It would be nice to be able to buy fabric made in the UK, or sourced sustainably/fairly traded from poorer countries.

I think as long as you use it and wear it, you don't need to feel bad!

Anthea said...

What a great idea to have a Swap!

Louise said...

What a fab idea and you all look like you are enjoying it, we could do with something like this "Up North". The secret to not feeling so guilty about your fabric is to get it made up asap. Then it wont be sitting in your stash.
louise

didyoumakethat said...

Aw, you've gotta be kind to yourself as well as the world, Zoe. You set a tremendous example, but as my old grandma always said, 'Everything in moderation.' A bit of something sweet keeps you sane. You're only human! How could you possibly have resisted?!!!

Christina said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. Only three metres in all these years isn't bad at all. And I guess beside the guilt there must be a lot of pleasure in it, too. ;o)
I'm really looking forward to the clothes these fabrics will become!

Marie said...

Oh Zo! I genuinely feel bad for encouraging you to buy that jersey now. I know it's not the end of the world, but you have such conviction in what you say, that I feel like we let you down! Just remember that you are 'good' so much of the time, that this little blip can hardly count. And I know you'll make something amazing with both jerseys! Next time, I'll be more strict with you and with myself...

Camilla said...

After 3 years of self restraint (i hold my hat hat off to you) you deserve a treat. Can't wait to see what you make with the anchor fabric - I'm sure it'll be awesome. I couldn't resist it either and I've never bought or sewn jersey before. Time to face my nemesis.

Fraulein To You!!! said...

Oooo that anchor fabric would make a great swimsuit or undies :)

MrsM said...

Try not to worry too much, as Karen said, moderation is the key and with fabrics as great as that, how could you resist! Can't wait to see what you make with them.
Hope there is another swapathon soon, I will definately come.

charlotte said...

Lovely fabric! Although don't be too hard on yourself. I see that you are always living very well with your principles and I'm sure falling off the wagon accassionally will only make you stronger in the future!

Donna said...

It's beautiful fabric, and like people already said, it's important to be gentle with yourself too. You supported a local business and bought something that you really love. I think it's okay to make an exception for love at first sight!

Miss P said...

Toooooooo hard on yourself lady! Compare the sustainability of buying RTW fast fashion to lovingly creating your own garments and then offset what you bought against what you have re-homed. At the very worst it's an ethically neutral transaction.
Now go make a magpie dress!! One for sorrow, two for joy...what does a gazillion magpies signify?
Px
(erm, my spammer identification image is "pic-ar-ass". Goodness!)

Phil said...

Oh yes I have been trying to do the same as you, and have been keeping a list of anything new I buy to see whether I really need it . . . But like you I very occasionally fall 'off the wagon'! My answer is to wash and wear it and refashion it till it falls apart. So much better than buying fast fashion and dumping it in landfill after a few months! And I agree with didyoumakemthat's grandma who said everything in moderation, as my Mum's mantra was balance in all things. You never forget those old mottos, once they are drummed into you!!

Catherine said...

1m per year for three years is your average..... That is AMAZING....I am trying to stash bust and I buy far more than that so I have a long way to go to reach your standards... Well done you!! Don't let it stash... Use it up and LOVE it :)

Tors said...

I agree with everyone else, go easy on yourself. Loosening the reins every so often isn't a bad thing, so long as you don't binge during that time. I think that such a small amount of fabric isn't something to beat yourself up over, and as Gwenan quite rightly points out you're supporting a local business. I'm all about local businesses, I'd feel more strongly about buying from John Lewis for example. You're going to use the fabric, it's not going to go to waste, and it's going to look amazing (as per normal). Go with the excited part!

Erica said...

OMG! I´m so glad I found your blog. You make fantastic stuff! I do sew myself but just recently started to make clothes for myself. You´re a true inspiration!

Tasha said...

I have a no-new-fabric rule too, but mine has lots of holes in it, like if it's for a specific project and I don't have anything in my stash that could make that, etc.

I was just wondering today if it was time to pass on some fabric that's been in my stash forever, and acknowledge that my tastes have changed in that time, or hang on to it until a suitable need/project finally comes along. Which is better from a sustainable point of view?

I do try to buy organic/sustainable fabric when I do get something new.

I guess my bottom line would be to agree, no one can be "good" 100% of the time, no matter what you are after, and sometimes it's the little breaks that give you the energy to go for your goals again.

Lavender said...

We all know the fabric is in the hands of a very deserved seamstress/sewist/seamster, so don't feel too guilty :) You are going to make something fantastic with it, and wear the heck out of it. I understand your guilt, but I also think that you've done a superb job of leading by example.

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