Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Clothing Swaps: A fun eco-way to create new looks.

        Until a few years ago, I was unfamiliar with upcycling or sustainable fashion. I never would have thought a clothing swap would be a fun, easy way to add new items to my wardrobe while being eco-friendly. I met a great friend, Kelsey, whom started an eco-conscious student organization, Closets Collide at Iowa State University. She had the idea to start a clothing swap, where people could bring clothes they wanted to get rid of and swap them for new items. She held a community clothing swap and hadn't anticipated the high level of interest. The success of this event has made it a bi-annual event at Iowa State and has inspired neighboring colleges, such as the University of Northern Iowa hold their own. Clothing swaps are an easy, inexpensive way to acquire new items to add to your wardrobe and can be done as a community or campus wide event or just between a group of friends. After reading a blog post, 2014 Shop Drop Challenge, from Mommy Greenest, I have learned that by pledging to stop buying new clothing and accessories from a shopping mall or store for one month, we can save a billion ton of clothing from the landfill, as each person throws away an average of six pounds of textiles per year http://www.mommygreenest.com/pledge/ . When we buy new clothing items, it requires factories to produce more, using more energy, harmful chemicals, and packing waste.
     I found this great article (http://feelgoodstyle.com/2014/01/31/swapdom-takes-clothes-swapping-new-level/) where the term clothing swap is taken to the next level and has made its way to the web. The company is called, Swapdom and it is a facilitator for online exchanges of men's, women's, and children's fashion. You would create an account and upload images of items that you would like to swap. You can view other members' items and select what you would like, what you are willing to trade for it, and Swapdom will organize the exchange using an algorithm.
image from: http://www.bridgetteraes.com/2014/02/07/swapdom/
              Their goal is to get everyone what they would like and the plus is it is free! The only thing they ask is that you pay a small shipping and handling fee of no more than $2. It is a neat way to get items from a variety of different brands and places without having to pay a large price. This is also eco-friendly because according to the article, only about 20% of all the clothes donated end up in the thrift or second hand stores, everything else is thrown out or sent to an underdeveloped country as a donation. By exchanging clothes with other people, you don't have to pay anything and clothes are given a second chance at wear.

In a future post, I hope to share my experience using Swapdom, as I have to find something to swap. If any readers have used this website, I think it would be fun to hear about your experience.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

From Fabric Scraps to Fabric Beads

 I came across this tutorial while reading my Threads magazine and decided to try it out! A great upcycling project in which you can use leftover fabric or scraps from different projects to create your own unique fabric beads in a variety of sizes. The beads can then be used to create a bracelet or necklace, which depending on the type of fabric can be worn with dressy or casual outfits. Watch my video tutorial of which I will walk through the completion of a fabric bead. I decided to combine my beads with pearl beads and will post a picture soon. Please feel free to comment on my post to let me know what you think and share it with your friends!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Eco-Fashion Brands You'll Love!

     Have you thought about where your clothes come from or the process by which they are made? Almost every fabric goes through a dying and chemical process, whether it is to treat the fiber and prepare it for manufacture, create a color or specific design, acquire certain features such as wrinkle-free, stretch, or dura-fast. These chemicals are very damaging to the environment believe it or not, as they can cause greenhouse gas, wastes water that cannot be reused and is difficult to recycle, and makes it difficult to recycle the clothing after it is beyond its wear. Man-made fibers such as nylon, rayon, and polyester release a harmful odor, contaminate soil, and do not break down if they are disposed in the landfill.
      Due to the concern for preserving the Earth and a desire to be more eco-friendly, sustainable fashion and eco-brands have taken off. Yes, to be more earth-friendly, it is more expensive, but the benefits outweigh the cost. It only takes one person to start a revolution of change.
          Here are some of my favorite eco and fair-trade friendly companies worth checking out.

 Style With 
     This is a great online directory of clothing and accessory brands that meet the requirements of being eco-friendly, ethically constructed, organic, recycled, and much more. This website allows you to search using certain criteria, such as the type of clothing or accessory you are looking for and the category. It will provide you with a list of brands they think meet this category and a link to each brand's website. The directory is easy to use and provides access to all these brands with a click of a button, unlike searching through pages on Google. I would definitely be spending a lot of time on this website looking at all of the categories and brands listed under each. One weakness is that all of the prices are listed in euros instead of U.S. dollars, but it wouldn't be hard to find a unit converter.
    Here is what the search option on the website (http://www.stylewithheart.com/ ) looks like:

photo from http://tabiijust.com/
Tabii Just: 
    A unique company that constructs dressy attire using a zero-waste design process. This simply means that they utilize every scrap of fabric that goes into making their garment, for example making a dress and a makeup pouch or pocket square from one single piece of fabric. Every inch of the fabric is used to make something, as according to their website, 15% of fabric used usually ends up in the landfill. I think this is a really neat idea and addresses the problem of fabric waste and the importance of sustainability that many companies struggle with. Their dresses are very bright and colorful featuring bold designs. All of the designs are designed and ethically made locally in New York City. I will have the privilege of interviewing the designer, Tabitha St. Bernard for a future post. :)
  View some of her other designs: http://tabiijust.com/spring-2014/#

Freedom of Animals 
       Freedom of Animals is a luxury handbag company that is sustainable, eco-friendly, and animal cruelty-free produced in the U.S. The bags look and feel like leather, except that they are constructed using a recycled polyurethane and organically produced cotton. The coloring is done naturally and not chemically. All of the components used in making the bags have been made of recycled materials sourced from companies that participate in sustainable and ethical practices. The care is very easy unlike real leather. No animals are harmed in the process and to show their love for animals, they have partnered with a Kenyan animal rehabilitation center for orphan elephants and rhinos. The neat thing is that 5% of the proceeds from their bags are donated to this organization and their bags have names of some of the elephants. I love these bags! Once I have a steady income, I would love to purchase one of them.  (http://freedomofanimals.com/) Here is one of their bags that I am in love with:
photo from http://freedomofanimals.com/
Although going "green" typically is more expensive, the benefits outweigh the costs and it gives you a good feeling knowing you made a difference. Word-of-mouth and action can influence people to adopt this style of living and shopping behavior. We need to use our voice to stand up for what we believe and make a change in the world. It takes one person to start a revolution, but it takes everyone to make an earthquake and reduce our waste and save the earth.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Warm and Cozy for those Cold Winter Days: Boot Leggings

     Who is ready for the winter to be over? In Iowa, this winter season has been one of the coldest recorded since 2008. The challenge many encounter is finding something warm enough to keep the cold out while walking to class or simply being outside. This is also around the time that many stores bring out new spring merchandise, so there is a limited selection of winter apparel. You are in luck! In the next few posts,  I will show you how to upcycle your old sweater or one from Goodwill (they have a great selection and very reasonable prices) into a pair of boot leggings, an infinity scarf, and a pair of mittens, all with little or no sewing.

Boot Leggings

Supplies you need:
Sweater- a large or extra-large preferably if you are making it for yourself. If making it for a child, you will want a smaller sweater to use.
Sewing Needle

    1) Select a large or extra-large sweater if possible, so you will have more fabric to work with. It can vary in density from thin to very thick depending on your preference of warmth. You can find some nice sweaters at Goodwill for a few dollars or use one from your family that is too small for you.

2) Lay the sweater out flat on a hard surface. The sleeves will be used for the leggings, as they are of similar shape to your lower leg.

3) Figure out how long you want your leggings and how much you want them to show over the top of your boot. I have a pair of boots that fall just below the knee and I wanted to have a few inches peek over the top.

4) Cut just above the shoulder seam to remove the sleeves. This will be the top of the legging and this is what it looks like after it is cut.

5) The next step is to hem the top of the legging, so what you will do is fold under about 1/2 inch all the way around and pin it as you go to hold it in place. After it is pinned, go ahead and thread a needle and start sewing it. In order to sew it by hand, take a little bite of the bottom layer and a little bite from the top layer and pull through. Take the pins out as you go. Repeat the sewing process until you are all the way around. 

6) The final step is to try your leggings on with your boots and you are done! You can add a variety of decorations along the top of your legging, such as lace, buttons, etc. The completed look!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Complete Transformation: Old fashions with a Twist

Do you have old fashion items from family members that you don't want to throw out? The items are most likely in good or wearable condition, but aren't exactly from this time period? Well I have good news for you, transform these fashions to not only meet your personal style, but receive compliments, such as "Wow I can't believe you made that!" I am going to share two of my recent experiences with upcycling and my goal is to inspire you to start your transformation. The first is my grandmother's coat and the second is a petal dress.

For my Costume History course, I had to conduct a clothing artifact study, in which I had to search through magazines, books, newspapers, and advertisements from the past to try and identify the time period my garment would have been worn. My grandma, whom has taught me everything I know about sewing, offered her old single breasted wool dress coat with a mink collar. The coat had a princess silhouette and was similar to the style worn by Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961. During the course, we studied the designer, Vivienne Westwood and had to use inspiration from her designs to remake the garment. I used inspiration from a bustle and the tailored fit and added tiered ruffles. 

               Before:                                                                           After:                          

                                                                                                         Photography by Mitchell D. Strauss

For my second project, I have upcycled to create this petal dress from... Any guesses? I will give you a hint, it is something typically associated with home decorating and keeps the room from being too bright. Curtain drapes that my cousin gave me. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What is Upcycling?

      The term, Upcycling, has been around since the mid-90's, but it has gained popularity within the last few years. According to Upcycle Magazine the term was brought to the public knowledge and interest by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in 2002 (UpcyleMagazine, 2009, http://www.upcyclemagazine.com/what-is-recycling). They wanted to encourage consumers to extend the lives of their belongings instead of throwing them out. Upcycling refers to recreating an existing item into a new and unique product, thus extending its life. Items that are used in upcycling will be spared from discard and thus eliminate waste put into the landfill. Stevie Wilson, a world-renown blogger of LA-Story, says, "As 'the people's stylist' Barbara Horowitz says- that if you can't recycle it into something you would wear, then recycle it out of your closet. No trash cans here!!" (Wilson, 2013). This is your cue to experiment with upcycling, whether it be transforming a pair of jeans into cutoff shorts, combining beads from different necklaces into one, or refashioning a t-shirt. There is something to cater to everyone's interest. Wilson's article, " Give Old Tired Boring Clothing New Life & Get Karma Points by Tossing Clothes into a Planet Aid Bins!, states, "According to recent statistics, the average American throws away 70 lbs. of clothing every year, sending a total of 11.1 million tons of textiles straight to the landfill!" (Wilson, 2013). People often do not realize the harm they are causing when they place clothing in the landfill. If people do not want to take the extra effort to take clothing to a resale shop or Goodwill, they can place their unwanted, ragged or dirty clothing and shoes in a Planet Aid Bin. For more information, see this article: http://la-story.com/2013/04/give-old-tired-boring-clothing-new-life-get-karma-points-by-tossing-clothes-into-a-planet-aid-bins/

What is upcycling? (2009, January 15). Upcycle Magazine, Retrieved from http://www.upcyclemagazine.com/what-is-upcycling
Wilson, S. C. (2013, April 02). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://la-story.com/2013/04/give-old-tired-boring-clothing-new-life-get-karma-points-by-tossing-clothes-into-a-planet-aid-bins/