Tag Archives: Love What You Wear Project

Love What You Wear – A Year of Not Buying Clothes

Some of you may remember that last November, I signed up for the Love What You Wear Project – a challenge not to buy any new clothes for the duration of a year (except underwear and shoes!). The challenge ran from 1st November 2012 until 1st November 2013. Next Friday the challenge ends and (assuming I don’t go on a mad spending spree between now and then) I will have successfully completed it. Woohoo!

Initially, I was hoping that the challenge would spur me on to start making my own clothes. And it did, sort of, but then I got a bit disillusioned when making my own clothes failed to result in anything that I would actually consider wearing. There was the skirt that made me look like a lego figure:

front of skirt

Then the top that made me look like a milkmaid:


Oh, well, at least I did get some bargains from charity shops, like this Monsoon top:

thank goodness for oxfam monsoon

And a Boden one:

thank goodness for oxfam boden

And luckily, my mum rekindled her dressmaking and made me several garments including this fabulous Vogue dress:

vogue dress

All in all, I’m glad I undertook the challenge. I have had fun hunting down charity shop bargains and I think it has definitely altered my attitude towards buying clothes. I think I will be a lot less impulsive with my purchases and carefully choose those clothes that I think will fit in with my existing wardrobe and that will last well. Having said that, I am looking forward to shopping for a brand new frock for my Christmas night out with the girls 🙂

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Love What You Wear Update: Thank Goodness for Oxfam

In November I signed up for the Love What You Wear Project, the aim of which is to avoid buying new clothes for a year. So, just over three months later, how am I doing?

sad about polka dot top

The good news is, I finished sewing a garment. Properly, with seam finishing and a hem and everything. The bad news is, I don’t like it. The only time I can imagine wearing it would be if I was pregnant. Mum – if you’re reading this – don’t start knitting booties, I have no intention of getting pregnant ;-). It is not flattering at all. And I have come to the conclusion that threading elastic through casing is the most tedious sewing task in the world, and this little beauty has four lots (two sleeves, a waist and a neckline). So I think it’s fair to chalk up McCalls M5050 as a fail. Ho hum.

On the plus side, I have managed to grab myself a couple of charity shop bargains in the last couple of weeks. A beautiful lightweight cotton Monsoon blouse, and a super-comfy-but-with-nice-finishing-touches green top by Boden.

thank goodness for oxfam monsoon
thank goodness for oxfam boden

And I am *NOT* going to give up on dressmaking (though I may take a little break to get on with some other sewing stuff, which I’ll post about soon). This week I have aquired two more sewing patterns. The Vogue one I won from Jenny over at Pattern Pandemonium. I must admit I was drawn to the polka dots 🙂 and the McCalls skirt I bagged for 99p from Oxfam. So I have to decide whether to do one of these next, or to make a start on the Deer & Doe. Decisions, decisions.

two patterns

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Is this cheating? (Vogue 1224)

You may remember I am signed up to the Love What You Wear Project, meaning no new clothes for a year (from November 2012 – November 2013). I signed up for the project partly in response to my unease with the ethics of the fashion industry and partly to spur me on to making my own clothes.

Shortly before Christmas I purchased Vogue Pattern V1224. This pattern was marked as “Very Easy” so I thought it might be within my sewing abilities. I bought some stretchy fabric, traced off the pattern pieces (adding a couple of inches to the skirt piece – yikes, that was short!), and figured I’d make a start. But then I started reading up on how to sew knit fabrics…and scared myself off! I happened to show the pattern & the fabric to my mum, saying I thought I would put off making the dress until I was a bit more confident of my sewing abilities. At that point she said “would you like me to make it for you?” How could I refuse?!

So, here’s the dress:

vogue dress

It’s not made by me but by my rather lovely and talented mother. She volunteered to make it. No coercion was involved. And she enjoyed it so much she has copied the pattern to make one for herself. So, my question is, “Is this cheating?”

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Facebook Schmacebook and Other Thoughts on the Year Ahead


This week, looking ahead to 2013, I have decided to deactivate my Facebook account. Is my life really enriched by knowing that an old classmate is having steak for dinner? Or my sister in law has a pile of ironing to do? Or by hearing my cousin’s offensive political opinions? I think not.

When I first signed up to Facebook, it seemed a fun way to keep up with those friends and family members that I didn’t get to see often. Then there was the novelty of seeing how former classmates had “turned out”. Over the last year or so, when I have been trying to pare down and simplify my life in many ways, it has become increasingly apparent that Facebook is not such fun. It has become, for me at least, a compulsive and yet irritating presence. Yes, I have had some wobbles (a Fear of Missing Out, as Leo Babuta might put it) but in deactivating my account, I feel that I have opened up a new space in my life. Facebook – I don’t need you!

Other internet sites and habits have been more of a support and inspiration this year though. I have really enjoyed being part of the Everyday Matters group, joining in with Daisy Yellow’s ICAD Challenge in the summer, and more recently signing up to the Love What You Wear project.

But one of the things I have been most proud of this year was overcoming my party-phobia to invite friends and neighbours round for a stitch-in as we took part in the Craftivist Jigsaw Project. Online groups certainly have a place, but sometimes you need to connect with people right where you are. And giving a thought to what the future world might need to look like, this community level involvement will become more important than over. So, for 2013, I would like to devote the time and headspace freed up by releasing myself from Facebook to make deeper connections with local friends and neighbours. Just call me an old-fashioned girl.

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I Made a Skirt!!

I finally got round to completing my first skirt for the Love What You Wear Project! An A-line skirt, made following Butterick pattern B4461. Yes, it could do with a good press 😉

Here’s the front:

skirt front

and the back:

skirt back

and look – it even has a zip!

it has a zip

Making this has made me really appreciate how much work goes into making even a simple garment, which has made me even more determined to avoid buying cheap, fast fashion. I have also learned new skills like:

  • transferring pattern markings using tailor’s tacks
  • sewing darts
  • inserting a zipper
  • constructing a faced waist

That’s the good news!

The bad news is that, frankly, the skirt doesn’t suit me at all.  The A-line shape is probably flattering on someone taller and curvier, but does not suit my figure.  And I don’t like the way the fabric drapes either.  I am still pleased I made it though, because of all the things I have learned.  But I think, before I make any more clothes, I am going to have to have a long, hard think about what sort of clothes I really like and what suits me.  This dressmaking lark really is the opposite of fast fashion!  But I think that I will end up with fewer clothes, but more flattering clothes, so that’s got to be worthwhile, right?


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Learning Skills to Love What I Wear

You may remember that I signed up for the Love What You Wear Project a few weeks’ back. I made a commitment not to buy any new clothes from 1st November 2012 to 30th November 2013. In my last post, I talked about learning to sew my own clothes as a response to life on this new planet we have made. About time I got round to something then!

I was pleased to pick up a couple of old dressmaking books in a charity shop:

dressmaking books

Both have lots of useful info, but the Batsford book is a particular gem. There are charts detailing which needles and threads to use with which fabrics:

pfaff fabrics

Info on basics like facings and setting in sleeves:

setting in sleeves

And some very twee illustrations:


Next step is to actually make something!

After the disaster of cutting out a too-small-size pattern for Waif’s pyjamas, I decided that, rather than cut out the actual pattern for my skirt, I would trace off the size I need. This has the added bonus of reducing the number of confusing lines; plus I am less likely to put my thumb through the tracing paper as it is much thicker than pattern paper. My mum gave me a tip, which was to tape the pattern onto the window to trace it, which I did:

pattern tracing  (1)

I have now cut out my pattern pieces, and washed my fabric, so hopefully this weekend I will be able to get to work on cutting out the fabric and actually sewing something!

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Binding & Bargains

Quilts: I like thinking about them; I like looking at them; I like designing them; I like piecing them; I like quilting and embellishing them. I do NOT like binding them! Luckily, my rather awesome and talented mum DOES like binding quilts so it would be rude not to give them to her to bind 😉

Here’s the “What a World” panel which I have quilted and embroidered, and my mum has beautifully bound:

what a world

I had thought this would make a wall hanging, but it drapes so beautifully and is snuggly, that I think we will use it as an extra quilt for keeping knees warm when we are sitting on the sofa. And maybe our geography skills will improve at the same time!

I wrote a week or two ago about signing up for the Love What You Wear Project – a commitment to not buying any new clothes for a year – and in the meantime, I have been looking at lots of dressmaking books and patterns, trying to summon up the courage to start work on a garment for myself. Today, when perusing the charity shops, I found this fabric for sale for £4. It’s 60″ wide, and there’s almost 3 metres of it – bargain! I think it will be just the thing for making an A-line skirt for the summer:

bargain fabric

I also picked up this amazing Anatomy Coloring Book for 50p:

anatomy coloring book

A valuable addition to our homeschool library!

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Love What You Wear Project

Just lately, I’ve been reading a bit about the fashion industry and it doesn’t make for pleasant reading. I started with Elizabeth Cline’s “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” and I have now nearly finished Lucy Siegle’s very thorough expose “To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?”  I’m not totally naive.  I did realise that the fashion industry wasn’t what you’d call ethical, but I must admit I didn’t have a clue just how bad it was.  Exploitative labour practices; a total disregard for the environment; shocking wastage…not a pretty picture.  The more I read about it, the less I want anything to do with it.  As well as supporting such organisations as Labour Behind the Label and the Clean Clothes Campaign, I feel that I want to change my own relationship to clothes and clothes  buying.  So when I read about the Love What You Wear Project, I thought “Yes! This is it!”  In a nutshell, the project involves a commitment to buying no new clothes for a year, running from 1st November 2012 to 3oth November 2013.  So, we’re looking at buying secondhand, mending or repurposing what we’ve already got or making clothes ourselves.  Just what I had been wanting to try in any case 🙂


I want to use this opportunity to really learn how to look after and mend my clothes.
I want to use this opportunity to think more about my consumption.
I want to use this opportunity to learn a new skill – dressmaking.

First things first, though, I have to finish Waif’s pyjamas. Then, I have promised some pyjamas to my husband. After that, maybe I’ll have a go at making myself a skirt with this pattern:

butterick skirt pattern

Watch this space 🙂

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