Sustainable Purchasing - Update

Awhile back I was on the hunt for a new pair of shoes. I had a pair of boots that I wore everyday but they were so broken that my knees where beginning to hurt whenever I walked in them. And I had re-glued the sole down a few too many times.

I was on the hunt for a pair of shoes that I could wear all the time, and met my personal convictions of sustainability and ethical production. The easiest way to do this would have been to go op shopping (I think it's called thrifting overseas?) but you need time to do that. And I had run out of it!

I ended up with these clogs by the brand Funkis. I liked that they were low enough in the heel I could wear them pretty comfortably to uni or work. And they have a great sustainable outlook which they disclose upfront on their website. Fantastic! I was also able to get them shipped from Australia which is so much closer than Europe and I have saved the shipping bag they came in to reuse for sending gifts in the holiday season.

They were expensive for me though, so any shoe purchases in the near-future are going to be thrifted. I've learned my lesson to not leave it until I am in a dire need, and I'm sure my wallet thanks me for that.

xo Kirsten Isabel

Jeans Repair #3

I had said to myself that I would work with my jeans for a year and just mend them as needed. However, I tore a ligament in my ankle falling down the stairs. Being on crutches led to those jeans being a bit tight. They're still in my cupboard as I am sure I will go back to them at some point. But in the meantime, I bought a pair of jeans so that I would have something I could actually wear comfortably.

And after almost daily wear for five months this new pair needed some mending.

I decided to go for a sashiko style mend. I watched and read as much as I could about it before I started. I was greatly disappointed by the lack of academic writings on the subject. I did only search for english papers which may have been the downfall, and textiles is a still-growing area of study thanks to the old hierarchy of art. I got to the point where I felt comfortable to start stitching. I chose sashiko mending as it is very durable. There is an additional layer of fabric and then running stitches of thick thread bind this to the clothing. It is also pretty in it's decoration and follows the idea of Kintsugi (being more beautiful having been broken as it is part of the history of the object).

I used a piece of thicker calico that I already had in my stash for embroidery. I did not have any sashiko thread so instead used 4 strands of embroidery cotton. I highly recommend that you use a thimble otherwise you will ruin your fingertips trying to pull the threads through. (There is a particular thimble for sashiko which I do not own, instead I used my normal one on the ring finger of my stitching hand.) I did not prewash my threads so I've left the tails in the jeans in-case they shrink in the first wash. They're in the washing machine right now. Fingers crossed my plan works...
In my first lines the stitches are very uneven and in the last lines, they are too big. It really is something that needs some practice! There is a little puckering which I had expected. You are mending them when they are not on your body so it will not match exactly. But it isn't uncomfortable or too tight.

I found it quite an enjoyable process, as I could just sit there with my stitching and an audiobook or doco on in the background. I was very nervous to wear these out because I had this silly notion that people would judge me for it, or might ask me question, when I am terrible at talking to strangers. Which was, of course, absolutely ridiculous. The only people that have commented have been my grandma and the friends/family that know about my mending projects.

I did have a small worn patch on the other side so I mended that with my machine with this process that I did on my last pair. It is definitely much quicker but less decorative.

Resources I found helpful:
gazing at this instagram
this youtube channel
these tutorials which will be brilliant for more decorative mending in the future
a cloth in the Auckland Museum's collection

And for those with access through school or work:
Japan Knowledge Library has a good definition by requires login
Mottainai: The Fabric of Life, Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan by Sasha Rabin Wallinger from Textile: Cloth and Culture, 2012

xo Kirsten Isabel

Grey tee mending

Does anyone else get little tears in the front of their shirt? I'm so confused where they come from! I got some on a relatively new shirt (new this winter) and was devastated. The shirt looked crap leaving the holes there, but I had no clue how to mend it.

This shirt is modal fabric which is lovely and soft (and from a ethical brand) and supposedly well wearing. I was worried that mending would result in distortion of the fabric or just look poorly done.

I used a scrap of interfacing fabric leftover from a previous sewing project and pinned this behind the holes. I then embroidered on the interfacing and fabric to cover the holes. I then trimmed the excess interfacing away. The mending is very visible but decorative.

And I think it looks okay/not too noticeable :)

Sustainable purchasing is hard?

I'm having a hard time determining the best way to go about purchasing sustainable products.

I need to replace my shoes. The soles are destroyed and at this point it's causing one of my ankles to constantly be at a funny angle. Along with a host of other issues that show they are about to fall apart.

So I'm looking for a new pair. And I want them to meet all of these requirements:
- workers paid a fair wage
- long wearing
- repairable
- sustainable materials
- workers of the materials paid a fair wage and not in a situation that may be bad for their health
- locally made
- affordable, I am a student after all

One of the biggest problems I am having is that most long wearing and repairable shoes are leather. I'm not vegan so that itself is not an issue of me. But most leather is no longer a by-product of the meat industry and the dying of leather can cause huge health issues for the workers.

I'm going to have to compromise, but where do I draw the line? Is it more environmentally friendly to get a pair of leather shoes if I can have them repaired for twenty years? 

I've spent hours this week searching for something to meet my requirements and so far no luck. Sometimes trying to be live sustainably is hard.


Jeans Repair #2

When my jeans ripped this time I was like darn! Cause it was a chance to try darning...

I used this page as reference.

I found it a bit difficult to with the weaving to start off with (cause I started in the middle). But I think I figured it out as I went on. It did take awhile! I had to sit in front of the window to get it all  finished before the sun went down.

It has held up so far but it's only been a few days. 

xo Kirsten Isabel

Jeans Repair #1

Being someone who grew up with The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants, I loved the idea of clothes holding stories. Time goes into the creation of a garment, and then time goes into the wear of it. When it is old and filled with holes, oh the yarns it could tell. 

This was my first pair of jeans in three years. They marked a time of mass change in my life and I’m not ready to be rid of them yet. There is a Japanese art form, Kintsugi, which repair pottery with gold (and sometimes silver or platinum). Kintsugi embraces the imperfections of the mended object, acknowledging its history and the beauty in it.

So in the interest of sentimentality and environmental sustainability I thought I would take inspiration from Japan, and try to make do and mend these jeans for the rest of the year.

The inner thighs have shown wear first at the seams that rub together. I took some wool felt and cut it to cover the worn section (one side had a hole). I then pinned this and stitched it on my machine with a cotton thread. I went forward and back of the area to kind of weave sections of it. 

I expect that it is an area that will over time need further repair so I'll let you know how this wears.

xo Kirste Isabel