Friday, May 15, 2009

Eco-Friendly Sewing

These days, I'm trying SO HARD to reduce, reuse and recycle, even with my personal sewing. For a fabric addict like me, that's a tall order but it's also immensely satisfying to crank out a brand new outfit made almost 100% from things I have on hand, so I am having some success.

This week I sat gazing at the mountain of fabric in my sewing room and thinking, "Amy, you really need to get a handle on this situation," so I pulled out this adorable pink skull and crossbones cotton print I'd bought for a client who later changed her mind. I had one yard to play with so here's what I did:

  1. I used 3/4 of a yard to make a bandana. That's easy as pie. You just cut out a 25" square and give it a 5/8" hem all the way around.
  2. I then decided to pair the leftover fabric with some coordinating prints from my scrap basket to make a skirt for my youngest daughter. A Simplicity pattern, #2994, fit the bill nicely, as it called for four small pieces of fabric. (One was about 1/2 yard long and the others were much smaller.)
  3. I needed a shirt to match and I didn't have much fabric left, so I found a plain black t-shirt in my daughter's closet that was only slightly worn. I glammed it up a bit with some grommets, fabric and ribbon and I had one very cute, fairly eco-friendly outfit. You don't need a pattern for the shirt. Just install a row of 8 grommets about an inch and a half from each side seam (on both sides). Space them about one inch apart. Thread ribbon through the grommets and tie in a bow at the bottom. Next, stitch a square of fabric across the front of the shirt. You can fuse it if you prefer, with a product like Heat N Bond. I just stitched back and forth in a random pattern to give it a sort of quilted look. Finally, I made bias tape from one of my cotton materials and framed the square to give it a more finished look. You can purchase bias tape or use ribbon for this step if you don't know how to make your own bias tape. Or leave the edges raw and let them fray naturally for a more ragged look. The only thing I actually went out to buy was the pink ribbon. In the old days, I would have bought black grommets too because I thought they'd look nicer than the silver, but I decided to just go with what I had on hand and it turned out fine.

If you don't have bulging shelves of fabric, or an overflowing scrap basket that's okay. You can still be a thrifty stitcher. Start in your own closet. Maybe you have an item you never wear but you've been hanging onto it because of the fabulous fabric. Cut it up sista' and turn it into something new. When you've exhausted your own supplies, go to friends and family. Most of them have things they'd be glad to get rid of. Thrift stores are a wonderful resource for yard goods, notions and alterable clothing.