Cambodian garment workers die while demanding higher wages

So many things that can be said, but all I can come up with is, sad.

This is why I don’t want to shop “mainstream” anymore and want to be able to dress myself with things I’ve created by my own hands.

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[ photo by Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom ]

To read more about this in an article on Vice.com, click here.

“One buyer has taken some responsibility. H&M have chosen two factories in Bangladesh and one in Cambodia to pilot a scheme where they interview the management and staff to discover what is a living wage and supply the extra funds from their own profits. They have pledged to pay a living wage, but not until 2018.

What’s taking so long?

My first attempt at sewing an article of clothing: Part One

After pouting about how I felt like I wasn’t getting any better at sewing, I looked back on my list of “completed” projects and realized I really didn’t sew all that much, for a handful of reasons.  I decided that I should really try to commit more to sewing projects.

I’ve been pinning a lot on my Pinterest boards on DIY projects and sewing projects lately, and yesterday, I finally started on a dress pattern that I had since summer.  I can’t just keep pinning things and adding further things to my “to sew” list if I never even begin on what I already have on it, right?

Part of the reason why I held off from doing this dress for so long is because I was afraid I would mess up.  But what comforted me was the memory of meeting a wonderful lady who spent many years sewing and had worked on many more projects than I have.

She said, “It’s just fabric!

So true. It is, indeed, just fabric.  With that in mind, I set to work yesterday on a trial run of the Vogue Easy dress pattern designed by Rebecca Taylor. I already had gathered the fabric and notions… it was time to do it!

Naturally, since I had never sewn clothing before or even read a pattern, I was sure I would mess up, so I practiced on muslin to spare the that expensive Liberty of London blue-and-white floral fabric that I adore so much.

I’m glad I did the muslin first.  As it turns out, there are a lot of things I forgot to do, or just sort of messed up on, because admittedly, I am TERRIBLE at following instructions.

Also, some of the instructions (when I actually tried to read them instead of just interpreting pictures, hah) were confusing and unclear. Like, why would you pin the skirt to the bodice before you install an elastic waistband, huh? WHY?! I never figured out the solution to that, so I just didn’t sew it in, causing the dress to be much looser than intended.

The result, which is still very much a work in progress, is this:

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You can see I’m pulling back the excess fabric.  Um, I think I at least I got the gist of the dress, right?  Here’s the goal dress for comparison (I’m still mad this pattern is only $18 at this site, whereas I paid $30+ at Joann’s!  REALLY?):

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 I’m trying to figure out the waist band situation, and I forgot to sew in a couple darts in the bodice and finish the raw edges, but I think that once I figure out the waist band, I could probably start with the pretty fabric, which is Liberty of London Tana Lawn Josephine’s Garden.

Isn’t it lovely? And it’s soft, too.

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 This is also the first time I’ve sewn pleats. They’re not that bad!  I was freaking out a bit when I first saw the directions, but once I started to crease the fabric, it kind of just fell into place… and then I sewed it down.

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Note to self:  Buy flat-head pins!

I’m going to be avidly searching Google to gain a better understanding of how to install a waistband elastic now…

Swedish retail company, H&M, suggests raising prices to benefit factory workers

Considering seven whole months have passed by since the tragic Bangladesh factory collapse in April, I find it pretty disappointing that now that only just recently has a public statement been made by H&M, a major fashion vendor, “expecting” to increase prices of their products in order to increase the livable wages of the employed factory workers – meaning that they’re not even sure if they’re going to do this.  It merely seems that they are toying with the idea of this, and thus the dependent factory workers’ futures.

More disappointing is the fact that many companies are only meddling with the ideas of human rights, fair wages, and other buzz words such as “sustainability” simply because a tragic event put the issue on the table and made everyone aware.  Because, you know, it wasn’t really the norm to pay people livable wages and to not trash the environment in your capitalistic pursuits until hundreds of people die, making some people feel bad about where the cloth on their back comes from.  It seems almost trendy now, to be a fair, “good” company that pays respect to social and environmental responsibility.

While I am slightly impressed that H&M has even considered the option of raising prices to allow their factory workers a more decent wage, I have doubts that the quality of their clothing will improve very much.  I predict that the clothing will become slightly more expensive rags that will continue to look cheap and fall apart within a season, or even last one whole season, causing you to spend more money in the long run… that is, if you decide to shop at H&M.

If you’re interested in reading more about the Bandladesh factory incident or learning more about the H&M thoughts on fair living wages, check out these articles:

What are your thoughts on the matter?

simple with layers

simple with layers
Styling a Zara two-sided plaid scarf and black cardigan I recently ordered with items similar to those in my own closet. (Well, I don’t have the Frye Veronica Combat boots… yet)

The Zara scarf is $35.50. I considered sewing my own, but when hunting for similar fabrics, I could not find a plaid pattern I approved of, although it was easy to find the herringbone print within the first minute of my search.  Upon realizing I would only save a mere ten bucks, I decided to suck it up and order the scarf.

While I try to avoid buying new these days, I felt better after reading Zara’s mission statement:

“AT THE STORE

We save energy. The eco-friendly store.
We are implementing an eco-friendly management model in our shops in order to reduce energy consumption by 20%, introducing sustainability and efficiency criteria. This management model sets out measures to be applied to all processes, including the design of the shop itself, the lighting, heating and cooling systems and the possibility of recycling furniture and decoration.

We produce less waste and recycle. Recycling hangers and alarms, which are picked up from our shops and processed into other plastic elements, is an example of our waste management policy. Millions of hangers and alarms are processed each year and both the cardboard and plastic used for packaging are also recycled.”

I love it when a retailer conscientiously places value on the environment and tries to minimize waste accordingly.

Owl Plushie: NAILED IT.

I created something that reminded me of a meme.

Expectation:

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Reality:

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Here’s what I’d do differently next time:

  • Use felt for the beak and maybe the eyes, as well as for accent pieces of the owl.
  • Cut out a bigger pattern!  I forgot about seam allowances (I haven’t sewed in a while, okay?!) so it ended up becoming smaller than I intended. Oops.
  • Make sure to sew the individual pieces of a “side” first before trying to sew the front and back pieces together!  That’s why there’s a fuzzy situation going on, on the right of the owl.
  • Add wings! I initially cut out wings, but then I forgot to add them.  Oops No. 2!

I used some scrap fabric I found at the reuse store and tiny bits of my “good” fabric as well as buttons I already had laying around, and I got some practice in, so it was definitely a learning experience!

Here’s my cat pretending to cuddle it for the photo.

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She later kicked it away while taking a nap.

Credit:  The green owl is found here by the Manic Muffin Totes Etsy shop.

What I’d like to sew

What I'd like to sew

A flouncy floral skirt with plenty of soft pleats and a little black dress with a chiffon layer… because, you know, you can never have too many little black dresses.

Finding inspiration for sewing things is easy… finding things for sewing what you want is hard.

Image credit:  Left – Hapa Time; Right – Unknown Pinterest source.