Sustainable Fashion

08.05.2019

0600

What is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion. 

There are seven different routes to sustainable fashion. There’s more than one answer to be fashionably responsible. Not all of the methods to approaching sustainable fashion, suits all people equally, because we all have different needs and preferences. 

There are seven different moving sections to sustainable fashion.

Sustainable Fashion can be broken down into seven categories:

  1. On Demand & Custom Made
    • Made to order
    • Tailor made
    • DIY
  2. Green & Clean
    • Keeping a green and clean production process throughout the products life cycle
  3. High Quality & Timeless Design
    • Traditional production
    • Artisan crafts
    • Animal rights
  4. Fair & Ethical Fashion
    1. Fair Trade: According to Fair Trade USA, products that get to bear the “Fair Trade” logo “come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated.”
    2. Ethical: The Ethical Fashion Forum says that “Ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.”
  5. Repair, Redesign & Upcycle
    1. Repair clothing so that you can give it a longer life
    2. You can redesign clothes to customize it into a unique piece
    3. If you don’t plan on wearing or using the clothing item, you can upcycle it into another use
  6. Rent, Lease & Swap
    1. Rent or lease formal wear, so you can keep your wardrobe quantity under control, and you’ll get to choose from more options
    2. Swap clothes with your neighbors, friends and family
  7. Secondhand & Vintage
    1. Shop at second hand stores or swap with neighbors, friends and and family.

These multiple methods to support a more sustainable fashion industry, and can be adopted by everyone. There really isn’t one “correct” method to the sustainable fashion route. I wanted to mention these seven methods, because I know I’ve written about creating my own DIY clothing from existing pieces, as well as shopping at thrift stores, but I’ve never listed all of the different methods to support a more sustainable fashion industry.

Under the accordance of sustainability, recycled clothing upholds the principle of the “Three R’s of the Environment”: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, as well as the “Three Legs of Sustainability”: Economics, Ecology, and Social Equity. To change the existing fashion industry into a more sustainable system, we need to practice reducing waste, reusing textile materials, and recycling old textiles. The balance between the social, economic and environmental responsibilities needs to be taken into account as well.

Sustainable fashion takes a lot of self awareness from the entire fashion industry. It means actively working with the countries and farmers who take care of the materials we source, to create our textiles. We also need to make responsible decisions that won’t damage our resources or harm our environment. I buy a lot of clothing from thrift stores because I like the variety of options I can choose from. Walking into a thrift store, is like walking into a time capsule, and it’s a fun experience for me. I also upcycle a lot of my clothing pieces that have reached the end of their life. For clothes and textiles I want to keep, but I don’t want to wear, I will upcycle the items into something more useful for my life.

If you want to support a more sustainable fashion industry, consider adopting and practicing at least one of the seven methods that support the sustainable fashion industry. You can choose more than one method to support this much needed system. If possible, try to implement all seven methods into your wardrobe collection.

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Mending Items Versus Buying Items

07.29.2019

0600

If you read about my Fast Fashion post, it relates to this one. If not, please go check it out. Even though I do by thrift store items, I will still mend an item to save it from a donation. Sometimes I will mend my items and then I donate the item. For instance, I found an old shirt at my aunts house. It had a few holes in it but overall, I liked the color and I didn’t mind the cut of the shirt. The color went perfectly with my color palette for my capsule wardrobe, so I really wanted to save it from being donated. I just needed to mend the shirt, so it would be decent to wear.


Now I have an almost new shirt.


Whenever I upcycle clothing, I always keep scraps of the leftover clothing item. In my Reusing Fabric and Thread blog post, I wrote about keeping my fabric scraps in a small bag. I literally have a bag of scraps. I love fabric, and the use of fabric in different products, (depending on the thread count, material, and the way fabric is sewn together,) can be a very durable material.

Some shirts have higher thread counts, which lends them to become excellent candidates to upcycle into grocery bags, or other heavy duty bags. The smaller scraps that I keep, I always try to find a use for them. Whether it’s going to be upcycled into a small project or large project, the one thing I can count on is that I can throw it in the washing machine to clean it. 

If I had a choice to make, with picking and choosing reusable products, I prefer to choose items that I can wash easily. I don’t like to buy items which require a special cleaning method or liquid to clean. I like to sew and mend items, because the product that I’m usually mending, only needs to be washed with soap and water.

If you reflect on the products that you use daily, the majority of them are probably sewn together: your clothes, handbags, wallets, car seats, bedding, upholstery, etc. Knowing how to sew and understanding how to repair fabric products has been a life saver for me. I actually learned how to sew by hand, and didn’t learn how to use a machine until years later.

Learning how to mend items can save you money, time and stress. Even the simple act of sewing on a button is helpful. You can save a simple dress shirt, like I did, from sending it to a donation station.

Fast Fashion

06.24.2019

0600

When H&M came to the California, specifically the Bay Area, word spread quickly. H&M started in Europe, and finally arrived here, to the states. The clothing looked like good quality, and the prices were low, cheap even. It felt like consumers hit the jackpot with this retail store, on the surface. This isn’t the first retail store to offer cheap clothing, with what looked to be good quality clothing. But if you dive right below the surface of what retailers are marketing, you might find the harsh reality of what consumers are benefiting from. 

In the past decade, fast fashion has become a growing problem. The Fashion Industry has sold us the idea that instead of four seasons each year, we have 52 seasons each year. Style and clothing becomes outdated as soon as you buy it. Fast Fashion focuses on speed and low product prices, so that they can deliver frequent, new collections inspired by celebrity styles or runway styles. 


As you might guess, fast fashion’s marketing strategy includes creating vibrant prints, vibrant colors and eye catching prints to be more appealing to the consumers. However, much of these fabrics are treated with toxic chemicals in order to achieve the final product. The pressure to reduce the time it takes to get a product onto the retail display floor, results in more environmental pollution. Water pollution, the use of powerful toxic chemical and the increase of textile waste are a few of the negative environmental impacts. 


Garmets that are made of fabrics such as polyester and polyamides shed microfibers into the waste waste, which continue to contribute to the increasing plastic in our ocean. The demand for more production, increases the amount of waste produced as well as increases the amount of clothing consumers subsequently buy and then get rid of. 


The fashion industry feeds our addiction to garments, and they’re very good at it. The low prices and latest trends are great selling strategies. “Newer, bigger, better, faster, etc.” are emphasized in commercials, advertisements and all over social media. Fashion moves fast, and therefore, must continue to develop and market new products. We, as consumers, have a tendency to buy, because buying something new gives us some form of fulfillment (that’s another topic I’ll write about in the future). The combination of companies pumping out new products and our addiction to fulfill that want for new products, creates a perfect storm in creating excessive textile waste and the destruction of the environment. 


There are quite a few companies who have been called out for their practice of discarding unsold clothing and garments by cutting them up, destroying them or even pouring paint on them, so they can’t be worn. In January 2017, outside of Nike SoHo, in New York, there were bags of shoes found that had been slashed with a blade. Ex employees of Michael Kors, Juicy Couture and Henri Bendel have come forward in revealing that they were instructed to smash watches, cut up track suits and tear up silk dresses before discarding. Ex Urban Outfitters employees have admitted to being instructed to destroy “dime-outs”, which is a term used for merchandise that didn’t sell. H&M, Zara, JC Penny and even Victoria’s Secret have come under fire for these types of wasteful practices. Their defense in the the destruction of unsold merchandise, is that they are protecting the brand and are worried that donating the unsold clothing would undercut their brand. By not donating the extra merchandise, consumers won’t be able to purchase these items for a discount at outlets and thrift stores. 

Americans throw out 25 billion pounds of clothing each year; 15% is recycled, and the rest ends up in a landfill. Not only does “fast fashion” damage the environment, it also disregards the rights of its workers. Fashion retailers such as Zara and H&M search for cheap manufacturing labor in countries like Bangladesh and others.


Here comes some ugly truths about fast fashion. 

  • The fast fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year.
  • The fast fashion industry is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater.
  • In 2015, the fast fashion industry used 80 billion cubic meters of freshwater.
  • Production of textiles uses about 3500 different chemicals.
  • Cotton is one of the most resource-intensive crops out there.
  • We make 63% of clothes from petrochemicals.
  • The fast fashion industry produces 97% of our clothes overseas.
  • 40 million people work in the garment industry today.
  • Dangerous working conditions exist for garment workers in the fast fashion industry.
  • Fast fashion is predicted to increase ~60% by the year 2030.
  • Between 1992 and 2002 the time we keep our clothes decreased by 50%.3
  • We buy 2X more clothes than we did just 15 years ago (2015 data).
  • The fashion industry produced 92 million tons of waste in 2015 alone.
  • 85% of our old clothes end up in a landfill.
  • Only about 1% of textile waste is truly recycled.
  • With current technologies, it would take 12 years to recycle what the fast fashion industry creates in 48 hours
  • Fast fashion is a huge contributor to plastic pollution.

There are a lot of people and factors involved, when considering the timeline of producing a garment. From the farming of cotton fields, to the workers who work to create the bales of cotton fibers in the cotton facilities, then dying and creating the fabric, or using the screens to print images and patterns on the shirts, than to the manufacturer selling and sending the product out to distribution centers; there are a lot of people involved in this process.

https://www.racked.com/2018/4/13/17230770/rana-plaza-collapse-anniversary-garment-workers-safety

There are real dangers for garment workers, who work to help push out production for big companies. In 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Balngladesh, which housed the Dhaka garment factory, collapsed and left 1,134 people dead and left approximately 2,500 people injured. It was a an eight story building and collapsed due to a failing structural system that included an additional illegal three stories above the original permit. Even though an engineer had requested an inspection of the building, since it was deemed unsafe, unethical administrative players in this case, passed the building off as safe, and told the workers they should return to the factory and continue to work.

There’s speculation that perhaps the pressure to have the workers return to the factory the next day, was to continue to complete the garment orders on time. The demand for the garments were still flooding in, so slowing down production was not an option for the managers. The demand for fast fashion, low-cost clothing by clothing brands, dangerous conditions, non-union representation and low wages, is what the fast fashion industry creates.

https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/growing-problem-textile-waste

Our resources for producing cheap and fast clothing is taking a toll on the environment, and people are starting to speak up and speak out about it. The bigger the industry is, the more impact it has on our natural resources. More companies are looking towards more sustainable materials such as hemp, linen, and wool.

Hemp material is a favorite of mine because it is a more sustainable material. It’s a very durable material, has UV protection qualities, water absorbent and breathable, no chemical fertilizers pesticides required during farming, naturally biodegradable, and highly antimicrobial. It grows quickly and can be grown in all different climates.

Linen is derived from the flax plant. Linen is 30% stronger than cotton and is known to be the strongest natural fiber. It’s thicker than cotton, but linen lasts longer than cotton too. Linen can absorb 20% moisture before it starts to feel damp. It has a natural ability to prevent bacterial growth, yet can move air and moisture through it’s hollow fibers easily.

There are options when the choice of introducing new garments into your wardrobe. You can shop at thrift stores, choose more sustainable materials for your wardrobe, or even choose to not buy clothing as often, to alleviate the textile waste created by the fashion industry.  Apparel retailers such as Zara and H&M dominate the world of fast fashion, with Zara owner Inditex making 3.44 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in profit in 2018.

The second hand apparel market was worth $24 billion in the U.S. in 2018, versus $35 billion for fast-fashion, say the figures from GlobalData.

However, by 2028 the used-fashion market is set to skyrocket in value to $64 billion in the U.S., while fast-fashion will only reach $44 billion.By shopping at thrift stores, you can help keep clothing out of the landfill. 

Even better, is to stop buying cheap clothing, invest in sustainable fashion clothing and stop buying unnecessary amounts of clothing. 

Upcycling A Shoe Organizer

10.02.2018

0600

Materials:

  • One over the door shoe organizer
  • X-acto blade
  • Cutting mat (or cardboard, plywood, some type of surface you’re willing to cut into and can damage just a little bit)
  • 4 Safety Pins

Tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing Kit

 

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So I’ve owned an over the door shoe organizer for awhile. I didn’t use it a lot because I didn’t have many pairs of shoes. When I started to declutter my life and minimize my possessions, I kept it because I still liked the design and I knew I could use the material to create something else.

Because I’m not a fan of keeping items out in the open, much less hanging them out in the open, I knew I wanted to upcycle this shoe organizer into smaller organizers. I personally like things to be put away. My minimalist, zero waste lifestyle lends my living space towards clean surfaces and minimal decor. So I wanted to create two smaller organizers which could be hung up in the closets.

The goal was to create two separate organizers that were each 2 pockets across by 3 pockets vertically on each side of the smaller organizer. So each side of the hanger would hold a grid of pockets that was 2 pockets across by 3 pockets vertical.

First I cut the shoe organizer in half.

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I then folded each organizer in half (vertically) to find out where I wanted to locate the hangers.

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I then placed each hanger on each organizer, as I wanted them to sit. I wanted to place each hanger so that the top bars of the hangers would still be protected by the fabric. I only wanted the neck of the hanger to stick up and out of the fabric so the fabric organizer would sit higher on the hanger. The hanger would have more control of the overall weight of the items inside each pocket when it was hung up.

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I placed the hangers where I wanted each hanger to be located on each organizer and then marked the location of the bottom bar. I needed to make a mark at those locations, because that’s where the bottom of the openings for the hangers would pass through.

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Using the X-acto blade, on the folded edge, I carefully cut a straight line of where the hanger would stick out. I cut along the mid line of the fabric grid pattern and only cut enough for the hanger to fit. You can sew the edges of these openings if you want a clean and sturdy structure around the edge of the opening. I suggest using a running stitch to do that, if you choose to.

Types of Stiches

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Using the bottom of opening as a location marker, I sewed both sides of each organizer together. I wanted the backs folded and sewed to one another to create a more sturdy central structure. I sewed from the bottom of each opening, around and up to the other side, making sure I stopped at the other marker.

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The idea was that I wanted to seal the two flaps of pockets to each other, but leave enough room for the hanger to slide in and out of the design.

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Once the hanger is slid into place, the flap should allow the user to remove the hanger if necessary. I used a hem stitch to secure the top of the opening on the folded edge (see below). I did this because I know that the weight of the the organizer will tear the opening over time. I wanted to secure the top of the opening and reinforce the structure.

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I stitched an extra line above the hanger (towards the folded side of each hanger), but underneath the pocket flaps, to reinforce extra support for the organizer.

Using a safety pin, I pinned the opened edge approximately where the top of the hanger was located on the opposite side. This way, the hanger can be removed easily when it comes time to wash it or put it away. The safety pin will act as a closing mechanism to hold the hanger in place.

 

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So there you have it, this is how I upcycled my over the door shoe organizer. Although, I technically only created smaller shoe organizers, I had the idea that I could use these smaller organizer to store smaller items such as jewelry, scarfs, socks, etc., that can get lost in a closet. Basically, anything you might store in the top drawer of your dresser, you might use this for. I don’t use a dresser, so this product can be useful for me. Right now I actually use a few of the pockets to keep some running and workout items organized. I like this design for the fact that it’s double sided and it can be folded up and put away if it’s not being used. Hopefully this post might spark some organizational ideas for your life.

Until next time!

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Quick T-Shirt Pocket

09.07.2018

0600

Materials:

  • One T-shirt (or two, but definitely at least one)

Tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing Kit

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Living a Zero Waste life means that I create simple solutions for simple problems since I don’t want to go buy anything new or seek  out another possession to take care of.

So I usually carry my phone around with me when I’m doing certain types of household tasks. These tasks don’t require a lot of vigorous movement, but I’m definitely moving around. A lot of the time it’s annoying to remember to carry the phone from one place to another when I’m running around the house and if my hands are dirty, I really don’t want to touch my phone. I needed a quick solution where I could carry the phone along with my keys without much hassle. I didn’t want to go out and buy a separate cell phone holder strap that would wrap around my arm. I have one for workouts, and that strap holds down my cell phone securely since I’m running. But I just needed a quick solution where I could carry around my phone and my keys easily for a few hours.

My quick solution was to see my t-shirt sleeve in half and create a pocket. my t-shirt sleeves are usually longer than I need them to be. This gave me the extra material to work with. I simply folded my sleeve in half and pinned the sleeve all the way around.

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Depending on the width of your cell phone, measure that distance out on the top of the sleeve. Just make sure you divide the width of your phone in half and center the opening on the top of the sleeve.

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For the other sleeve, I made the opening just about the same size since I knew I was going to use the other pocket for keys or my credit card.

Then just sew the sleeve from the front to the back or back to the front, making sure you still leave enough room for your cell phone. Then tie off the open thread ends.

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If you put smaller items in the short pockets, they tend to fall towards the bottom of the sleeve. This can be annoying for some but for me it gives me a sense of security knowing my items won’t fall out. I just need to go fishing for my keys at the end of the day.

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So there you have it. My quick and dirty solution to built in t-shirt pockets. I like to move the pockets towards the front of my body for easier access to my cell phone, but that’s simply more comfortable for me. I also will sometimes secure the t-shirt using a binder clip, that I’ll use to clip my t-shirt to my bra.

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Zero Waste Closet Part III

02.27.2018

0600

2018-04-16

I wanted to revisit my 30 Piece Capsule Wardrobe for this post. And it turns out, I needed to number to be bumped up to 32 pieces of clothing (including shoes and accessories), I realized that I needed some extra pieces of clothing for other uses as well. I added my scarf, hat and gloves (which originally were in my snow bag).

These pieces bumped the overall capsule wardrobe items up, so I thought I should mention it. I also wanted to point out that I do have sport clothes that pertain to specific sports, which I also don’t count.

For my own needs, I also realized that I needed a set of extra clothes because I like to work on my house. I need extra shoes and clothes that are able to get dirty and torn. I don’t count my extra pieces of clothing in my overall Capsule Wardrobe clothing count.

My sport clothes are specific to each sport. For instance, my running shorts are only to be worn when I run. I don’t count my sport clothes and my extra clothes because I can’t wear these clothes for day to day attire.

Capsule Wardrobe: 32 Pieces

  1. Tops
    1. Tank Top- Casual- Grey
    2. Long Sleeve- Grey
    3. Short Sleeve- Grey
    4. Short Sleeve- White
    5. Sweater- Light Grey
    6. Jacket- Casual- Tan
    7. Jacket- Dressy- Black
    8. Blouse- Navy Blue
    9. Blouse- Blue
    10. Blouse- Wht
  2. Bottoms
    1. Shorts- Casual- Denim
    2. Skirt- Mini- Black & Leopard Print
    3. Pants- Black
    4. Pants- Casual- Denim- 2
  3. Footwear
    1. Sandals- Black
    2. Heels- Ankle Boots- Black
    3. Flats- Closed- Blk
    4. Boots- Tall- Blk
    5. Boots- Casual- Brown
  4. Other
    1. Dress- Convertible- Black
    2. Pijama Top
    3. Pijama Bottom
    4. Robe
  5. Accessories
    1. Sunglasses- Black
    2. Purse- Navy Blue
    3. Necklace- Short- Dressy
    4. Earrings- Dangle- Formal
    5. Scarf- Grey
    6. Hat- Black
    7. Gloves- Black
    8. Bracelet- Silver and Pearl

 

IN ADDITION…

Sport Clothes:

  • SURFING/BEACH GEAR
    • BEACH- Bottoms- 1
    • BEACH- Tops- 1
    • BEACH- Bathing Suit- 2
  • RUNNING GEAR
    • RUN- Shorts- 2
    • RUN- Pants- 2
    • RUN- Tops- 3
    • RUN- Sneakers- 1
    • RUN- Gloves- 1
    • RUN- Hat- 1
  • SNOW GEAR
    • SNOW- Pants- 2
    • SNOW- Jacket- 2
    • SNOW- Tops- 2
  • TRAVEL GEAR
    • 2 items
  • EXTRA CLOTHES
    • Boots- 1 pair
    • Sneakers- 1 pair
    • Sandals- 1 pair
    • Pants- 1
    • Tank Top- 2
    • Sweater- 1
    • Long Sleeve- 1
    • T-Shirt- 1
    • Collar Shirt- 1
    • Hat- 1
    • Sports Bra- 1

My capsule wardrobe also doesn’t include intimates, mostly because I think counting each underwear and bra you own might be a little much, especially since a lot of people have different preferences for these items. I genuinely love my capsule wardrobe because all of my clothing pieces can match each other no matter how I pair them up. It makes picking out clothes in the morning much easier for me.

So there you have it, this is my updated list of my year round capsule wardrobe along with my sport clothes and my extra clothes. For anyone who wants to create a capsule wardrobe, I highly recommend it. Some people prefer seasonal capsule wardrobes or perhaps color scheme themed capsule wardrobes too. The amount of items really a individual preference. I have a pinterest board which also was a great resource when I first started this project years ago, Pinterest Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe . My color scheme is very specific to my own taste, but there are a lot of example of different types of capsule wardrobes on Pinterest.

 

Upcycling Fabric Shower Curtains

12.05.2017

0600

Materials:

  • Two 72″ x 72″ Fabric Shower Curtains

Tools:

  • Sewing Machine
  • Sewing Kit

 

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Fabric Shower curtains are usually  made with polyester fabric. A few years ago, I had ordered extra fabric shower curtains and I really wanted to use up the material. I had previously posted a quick blog post about using fabric shower curtains as temporary screens for doors in Alternative Screen For Doors.

But now I wanted to see if I could upcycle the material again for another purpose.  This upcycling project works well if you have solid color curtains. I wanted to create a sheer curtain layer to hang with each of the three sets of my existing window curtains. I thought it would be interesting to upcycle my extra fabric shower curtains to sheer curtains for my windows. I still like the patterns I choose and with the sheer curtains up against my windows, the patterns would be illuminated as the sun hit them each morning.

So I took down each of my existing window curtains and measured them to see how much fabric I needed from the shower curtains. The width of the window wasn’t a problem since I had 72″ to work with. The only variable was the height of each curtain.

For my multicolored shower curtain, I divided the shower curtain in half length wise and width wise equally. I had planned to use the top half of this curtain to create my first sheer window curtain set. The bottom half would be combined with the top half of the bamboo curtain, to create the third set of window curtains.

InterDesign Vivo Botanical Fabric Shower Curtain-72x 72, Purple-Tan- LG - Copy

For my bamboo print shower curtain, I measured the height that I initially wanted starting from the bottom of the curtain. I did this because I wanted the second curtain set to be completely covered by the pattern. I left the white void at the top of the bamboo curtain because I knew I was going to use it in the third set of window curtains. I had planned to sew the top half of the bamboo shower curtains to the bottom half of the multicolored shower curtain to create the last set of sheer window curtains.

InterDesign Anzu Shower Curtain, Green- LG2 - Copy

I then pinned the edges that had been cut using sewing pins and hemmed them to clean up the trim around the shower curtain.

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Since the width of each shower curtain piece was wider than the individual window curtain pieces, I tucked and folded the shower curtain pieces to fit each window curtain width accordingly. I only sewed about 6″ up the shower curtain piece to hold the folded in piece in place, and across the bottom. You can sew the entire height of the folded piece, but I simple choose not to.

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Since I know I want to keep these curtain designs as is, I decided to sew the new sheer curtain layer to my existing window curtains.  You don’t have to sew them, you can use safety pins as a temporary solution if you’re not sure about keeping the sheer layers, or if you want to change them out. Make sure you decide which side of the sheer curtain you want to face towards the window and which side of your existing window curtain you want to face inwards into your home. I personally don’t care about what my curtain looks like to the outside world so I have the nicer pattern facing inwards. This is why adding a sheer layer helps the presentation of my curtains to the outside world.

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To secure my curtains, I had initially made cord tiebacks with leftover material from an old bed sheet, in order to keep my curtains open. With the new sheer layer, I can tie back the solid color window curtain and leave the sheer layer or I can wrap them both back to let in even more sunlight.

 

I Was Like This As A Kid

08.22.2017

0600

My search for minimalism started at a very young age. I didn’t understand what I was searching for or what it looked like, but I knew I always wanted to donate my toys and I always felt relieved afterwards. I genuinely loved how I felt after letting go of a possession, so that someone else might enjoy it. Granted, I still held onto my favorite toys, but I always wanted to give away the rest. When I was younger, between my brother and I, we had one cardboard box that held all of our toys. It was approximately 15″(W) x 21″(L) x 18″(H), but with no lid. We each had about 2-3 toys outside of that box that stayed near our beds, but the rest were stored in that box. The box consisted of Legos, small figurines, small games and other items. Clean up was easy because we just tossed all of our toys into the box and slid it into the closet, underneath an existing built-in shelf.

When we each got separate rooms, that’s when the amount of toys increased for the both of us. A lot of the toys were passed down from friends and relatives. And although we greatly appreciated them, over time we grew out of them too. Keeping track of the toys became more time consuming and even keeping the rooms clean seemed like more work. I even became overwhelmed with the amount of toys I received from friends and family at one point.

When I look back on it now, I really did like the fact that all of our toys fit into that cardboard box. During that time, since my brother and I shared a room, we had to keep our separate spaces clean because there wasn’t much space in the bedroom.

When I entered middle school, I lost a lot of interest in toys even though my Hello Kitty collection started growing. I became interested in journals and just writing down my thoughts. I turned my journal into a sketchbook/journal/sticker record. This is where I subsequently stuck all of the stickers I had collected over the years. The journal was an Ampad Gold Fibre Personal Compact Notebooks – 130 Sheets – Printed – Double Wire Spiral 5″ x 7″ – Green Cover – Micro Perforated, Pocket.

AsAKid- Ampad Gold Fibre Personal Compact NotebooksA childhood friend of mine, Juliana, had a bible cover for her bible (which I thought was a regular book carrier at the time) and I thought was the coolest thing ever. I saw this cover as a perfect carrier for my journal, so I went out and bought one. It completed my journal into a perfect package. I would also keep letters I received from family members on the inside pockets. I didn’t need a library of pens or pencils, I only needed my favorite pen for this journal.

This is how my journal became my most prized possession.

 

AsAKid- Green Bible Cover

It didn’t take me long to realize how much I valued words and writing. I didn’t care to buy new clothes or accessories. I still enjoyed playing sports, which came with equipment that I needed, but within the confines of my bedroom, my journal meant the world to me. As long as I had that journal, and I could write down my thoughts and draw my sketches, I was a happy kid.

Fast forward almost two decades later, and I’m still writing, but for a slightly different reason now.  I like the act of writing for the pure fact that it marks a moment in time. It expresses my age, my thoughts, the events surrounding that moment and even the people in my life at that time. It also reveals how my past self changed into my future self.

I still enjoy owning a minimal amount of possessions, and I value my time with family and friends much, much more. I still write, but it’s either stored on the internet or in an external hard drive.

I didn’t know what minimalism was as a child. I only knew that I didn’t want to own a lot of stuff and I loved to write and draw. I was a child who set out to own less and now as an adult, I really understood what I had been looking for all along.

 

Created Slim Hanging Organizers

08.01.2017

0600

Materials:

  • Three 7 inch-8 centimeter, white zippers (for one pillowcase design)
  • Two 12 inch, pink zippers (for the second pillowcase design)
  • Two Velvet Hangers

Tools:

  • Sewing Machine or sew by hand

I always try to take up less space than necessary when it comes to my home. It’s not that I dont’ have the room to spread out, but I personally don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t like my items and possessions spread out over a large space because it takes more energy to find things and living a more compact lifestyle helps me keep my possessions to a minimum. As a designer, it’s an interesting challenge to minimize the space that I take up.

So I decided to create a slim organizer for my closet. I had a hanging closet shelf but I wanted to get rid of it. In order to get rid of it, I still needed some type of organizer in its place. The items that I needed to organize were small clothing items as well as small accessories. This slim organizer only needed to hold the weight of those items. I did move some stuff out of the original hanging shelf to other areas of the house, so what you see in the images below isn’t a direct transfer of items to the new slim organizer.

Hanging organizers actually already do exist in stores, but from what I’ve seen, these organizers tend to have the user access the pockets from the front of the organizer. It would be easier for a person who has a walk-in closet to use those organizers, but I wanted to make a slim organizer which I could access from the side.

So in the end, this organizer helped me reduce my space by half:

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Here is what I did…

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I gathered my pillowcases and designated one of the pillowcases to be divided into three sections and the other pillowcase would be divided into two sections.

I took one pillowcase and hemmed the open end of the pillowcase. I then folded the pillow case into thirds and marked the lines using sewing pins. This pillowcase would have the three 7 inch-8 centimeter, white zippers sewed to it.

 

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I sewed along the lines to close off the three separate sections, then I placed my zippers down to mark the location of the zippers. Depending on how I wanted to access my slim organizer in the closet, I had to choose which side of the pillowcase to attach the zippers. Since I wanted this slim organizer to be on the right side of my closet, I wanted the openings on the right side of the pillowcase so that when it was hanging up, I could access the slots easier. I also left about an inch margin between the zipper and the edge of the pillowcase because the items inside will create a bulge that I had to take into consideration.

I used an ink pen to make tiny dots at each end of the zipper. I actually marked the dots in between the zipper teeth at each end, this way, it also centered the location of the zipper. I connected each set of dots to create the cut lines in order to fit my zippers into the pillowcase. I just used scissors to cut these lines.

 

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After I cut the lines, I inserted the hanger into the opening that was on the end of the pillowcase that was originally closed. I folded the pillowcase in half (vertically) to find the center and pretty much wedged the metal hook through the pillowcase. I chose to place my hanger on the original closed end of the pillowcase because if I used the hemmed end of the pillowcase for the hanger, the weight of the items in the organizer might weaken the that end of the pillowcase over time. I had to consider the weight of each pocket that was created, so I constantly thought about the overall weight that would pull on the material itself.

Once I placed my zippers into each slot that was made, I folded the edges of the pillowcase down to the zippers and pinned them together with sewing pins. Then I hand sewed the zippers to the pillowcase (making sure I sewed both the hemmed layer and the top layer of the pillowcase to the zipper).

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Once I was done, I used the same process to create the double pocket slim organizer. The triple pocket slim hanging organizer will be used for small items and the double pocket slim organizer will be used for some extra pieces of clothing items.

I don’t know if this is a favored design, but I personally like how much less space it takes up. this design works for me and, my space. Hopefully this design may jog some space organizing ideas for you as well.

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Upcycling Shelves

06.13.2017

0600

Materials:

Tools:

  • Miter saw
  • Electric drill  and drill bits

So my family usually keeps leftover material from previous house projects or from items that were disassembled. A lot of the time wood planks are left over. These vary in sizes so I try to upcycle them around the house. My father had a book shelf a while back and it had two 42″ shelves that were 1″ thick and two 72″ shelves that were one inch thick.

I  knew those shelves could be used elsewhere in the house so I designated the shorter shelves for the upstairs kitchenette and created shelves with the other two longer pieces, in two other separate areas of the house.

I bought four grey Everbilt 10 in. x 8 in. Gray Medium Duty Shelf Bracket for the kitchenette and I bought two white Everbilt 9.75 in. x 7.75 in. White Elegant Shelf Bracket for the shelf in the bedroom. The shelf in the hallway will be mounted up with two wood 2x4s on each side.

For the kitchenette, I located the studs by knocking on the wall (you can also use magnets to locate the nails located in the studs as well) and since I wanted the top shelf to have at least 16″ of space from the shelf to the ceiling, I had to create two marks that marked both the top and bottom of the top shelf. I then measured another 11″ below the bottom line of the top shelf and made two marks for the bottom shelf. I wanted to leave at least 22″ above the countertop so there was enough room for using the countertop surface.

Because the shorter shelves didn’t reach across the wall of the kitchenette, I offset the shelves to make the weight of the items on the wall even. I measured the distance between the studs for each shelf, and transferred that onto each shelf. It’s easier to attach the shelf brackets to the shelves first, and then attach them to the wall. My studs were 30″ (on center) between each, so I knew to leave half an inch from the edge of each shelf edge and then measure inwards 30″ to mark the next center of the next bracket.

Once I attached the brackets to the shelves, I had to pre-drill the holes for the screws in the studs on the wall. If you screw in the top screw on the bracket closest to the wall (where the blue arrow is pointing to), and then place a  small level on top (where the violet arrow is pointing), then you can swing the other bracket up (where the maroon arrow is pointing), until the level shows that the shelf is at an even plane.  This seemed to be the easiest way for me to attach the shelves and also double checking the correct balance of the shelves.

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For the shelf under the window, I first located where my studs were and made sure I cleared the electrical outlet. Ideally, I would have place a bracket where that electrical outlet is located, but there wasn’t any room. I wanted the height for this shelf to have an 8″ clearance, so I simply measured 8 inches below the existing shelf and marked two lines for the top and bottom of the shelf. For this shelf I trimmed the edges so it would fit the width of this space better. I also drilled a hole above where the outlet was located, so there would be access to the outlet.  I attached the brackets to the shelf based on the width of my studs. For this shelf, I literally held up the shelf with one hand, and traced the inside of the drill hole locations with the other. As long as I continued to press the shelf against the wall, it didn’t move much. I did this because I wanted to mark where the drill holes were and also to pinpoint the center of the holes. There wasn’t room to swing the shelf up to level it out, (such as the kitchenette example), so when I placed the level on the shelf, I only had to adjust the shelf slightly to even it out. Once the first screw was placed, it pretty much held up it’s own weight until I could drill in the last three screws.

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The shelf in the hallway was mounted with a different method. I actually had to cut this original shelf piece in half. It was the other 72″ long shelf piece, and by placing each of the halves next to one another, I created a  18-1/2″ depth shelf. I first located the studs in each wall and measured 11″ height clearance for the space above this shelf.  The width of the space was so small, that putting up brackets would have taken up too much room. I pre drilled the holes in the 2x4s based on the width of my studs I had located. Always remember which 2×4 belongs on which wall, so you’re not accidentally drilling extra holes. After that, I placed each piece on the new mount and held the shelf pieces in place with finishing nails.

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This was just one of my upcycling projects using materials I found in the garage. If you can find materials that are still in fairly good shape, I would try to upcycle it for a useful piece of item that you may need. It’s cheaper than going out to buy brand new material- especially since you’ll still have your extra supply of material laying around.  I like to use up what I buy, it’s habit of mine and it’s saved me money over the years. I hope this post helped jog some ideas for you!

T-Shirt Quilt Process

 

09.28.2016

0800

Materials:

  • Old Comforter you want to use as the backing for the quilt
  • Enough t-shirts to cover the back of the comforter easily
  • Sewing machine

Tools:

  • Sewing machine

Not everyone in my family is big on donating items as quickly as I do. I don’t mind that, so I wanted to come up with a solution that would satisfy the use of the items but still make more room in the closet. In this case, the clothing item were the cotton t-shirt collections my family had accumulated. My older brother has a small collection of printed shirts from years of working for different companies or they were from different social events. I have kept a small collection for my mother over the years from elementary school t-shirts, to college t-shirts. I kept these because they marked a point in my life history that was significant. It bothered me that my t-shirts were stuffed into a bag in my old closet, so I wanted to make good use of them.

For both collections, I decided to make a t-shirt quilt for each family member. My brother’s shirts filled up one quilt and by combining my t-shirts as well as some of my mom’s, I would be able to create a single quilt for her. I found my brother’s old comforter which had The Transformers print on it and used that as the backing for his. I used my old comforter which had The Wuzzles print on it, for my mom’s quilt.

A few examples of t-shirt quilts that I’ve come across, suggest to cut out perfect squares in which the logo or image is centered in the middle of the square. I didn’t want to use this method because I didn’t want to waste any t-shirt material. I didn’t see the point in having perfect squares when the images varied so much on where they were located on each shirt. Also, I knew I could overlap the rows and create a slightly thicker quilt by leaving the extra material in place.

I decided to make this process in bullet form since a formal post would be too long to read, so here it goes:

  1. Cut off all of the sleeves and collars from each shirt. Put aside the shirt sleeves which have logos printed on them because you will include them in the quilt later on as gap fillers. Keep your scraps when you make this project because you never know when you may need the extra material to fill in gaps.
  2. Lay out the rows to see how you want the over all tile pattern to sit on the quilt and move them around if necessary. (I wanted each color shirt to create a checkered pattern with their base color)
  3. Gather the sets of t-shirt rows and placed them on the blanket in the order from the top of the quilt, to bottom of the quilt. (You can take a picture before you move the tiles from the final layout on the blanket too) dsc_4946
  4. Start pinning the t-shirts together with the shirts all facing upright and face to face. During this time, you may notice that come of the “t-shirt trimming” might be crooked, but that’s fine because that’s why you have the filler pieces. dsc_4950
  5. Sew the tiles together in each row of shirts so that the rows become one piece. dsc_4951
  6. Lay each row on the blanket as you want them to look and start pinning the rows to the blanket. Use as many sewing pins as necessary and be careful, because you may get pricked by those. Keep in mind that these pins may come apart once you move the blanket to the sewing machine, so you may want to pin the fabric together and give extra room on the pin for movement error. dsc_4982
  7. For the areas that I saw were lacking in t-shirt fabric, I added in the t-shirt fillers. This usually happed around the edge of the blanket. dsc_5002dsc_5001
  8. In order for me to fit the comforter into the sewing machine, I rolled it up on one side and sewed it through like this: (you my want to unravel it due to the weight of the blanket and that it may pull against the sewing machine as you feed it through) dsc_4982dsc_4987dsc_4993
  9. Keep sewing, patient and you’ll finish. I sewed these tiles across the blanket. I have seen some people sew in a grid pattern along the tile edges. Since my tiles don’t line up exactly to the row above, I decided to only sew my tiles across the blanket. dsc_4995

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This is a process and it takes time. There were a number of times when my sewing machine stitching backed up and I ended with a clump of thread on the backside of my quilt or when my needle broke twice. Just keep going and you’ll end  up with the final product in no time. It’s an interesting project and you can put a spin on it however you like. This is a completely customized project which makes the intent that much more meaningful. I really am happy about how the blankets turned out and I know that my family is too.

Zero Waste And Minimalism

05.23.2016

0800

DSC_4565As I’ve traveled along this zero waste journey and learned to design life hacks along the way, I’ve noticed that I’ve needed fewer and fewer items in my life. The definition of a zero waste life is “to live a life without producing trash”. The definition of minimalism is “used to describe a trend in design and architecture, wherein the subject is reduced to its necessary elements. This design strives to achieve simplicity”. In a strange way, these two lifestyles can become intertwined.

For myself, I think that I’ve dwindled down my lifestyle so much, that it’s become as minimal as it can possibly get, yet I still strive to live a life without producing trash. With each routine that I have, whether it’s my morning bathroom routine, my morning kitchen routine or even my evening bathroom routine, the steps in each routine have been analyzed and reconsidered to make each routine to have the least amount of steps possible.

When it comes to my possessions, I keep only what is necessary and those possessions usually have more than one use. The less possessions I have, the clearer my mind tends to function, because I have less responsibility to take care of each item. That sounds lazy right? Maybe it is. The visual aspect of my living space is simple and easy to maintain yet it is as functional as I need it to be. When I move through my spaces, my gestures and motions are purposeful and tactful. When I have to start a task, I know the limitations of my tools and materials and I know how easy it is to access them. Each task is mapped out in a clear cut list that doesn’t falter.

For my wardrobe, I have created a 30-piece (year round) capsule wardrobe in which all of the pieces I own, match to one another. I did this because I wanted to hold myself accountable for the items in my wardrobe. Each day, when I pick out an outfit, there are a set amount of choices I can make. There will be another post on my capsule wardrobe soon.

Even in my bathroom and kitchen, I keep only the tools I need and nothing more. In my kitchen, I substitute a few tools for other uses, due to the fact that I think the amount of kitchen tool designs has gotten way out of hand. There’s literally a tool for every single cooking task, yet, twenty years ago they didn’t exist- and people still managed to produce edible and delicious food. The way I see it, is the more stuff I have, the more time and energy I have to dedicate to maintaining the use of that product. If I can somehow eliminate that product, yet still find the same use from another- I’ll donate the item.

Mind you, I’m also not a gourmet cook. I don’t care about presentation of any dish, which is why I don’t care for a library of tools that one might want for food preparation.  If the food is on my plate or my bowl, tastes good and won’t make me sick- I’m pretty happy.

Clothing Edits

05.16.2016

0800

Sometimes after I purchase a clothing item from the thrift store, I’ll come home to find out that some adjustments are needed. If the item is not exactly what I need, I’ll add design edits to the product with my own creative touch to get to the specific use that I was really looking for in the store.

For my light blue blouse, the button holes of the blouse were stretched larger than the buttons, so I had to shrink the size down. The buttons were able to unhinge without much effort. With a little bit of thread and hemming, my button holes were sewn smaller and fitted accordingly.

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For my shoulderbag, the bag was designed with double straps but I’m a single strap kinda gal. I  also hate trying to grab both straps, of any purse or handbag, each time I need to pick up the bag. This is what the bag looked like when I first bought it with both shoulder straps intact.

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With a little bit of cutting and resewing, this is what my strap for my shoulderbag looks like now. I left the other two rings on the bag because I use them to hang my bag up in my car (that’s for an upcoming post about how I hack my car). I’ve done this with another bags, one of which is actually my camera bag. I use the extra rings to hook carabiners when I go on impromptu photo shoots. Idealy I want the top to be closed, and once I figure out a way to design it, I’ll add that in too.

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Shopping At Thrift Stores

 

05.09.2016

0800

Shopping at thrift stores can be a very fun experience. Thrift stores and discount stores are big stores that sell items that are ready to be picked apart and reused. Sometimes you’ll find treasures and sometimes you’ll find standard house ware items. The way I see it, is that every thrift store sells many gems and moments from the history of design. It really is a bunch of stuff squished onto to a rack or shelf for the next owner to pick up. When I walked around the clothing area for men and women, it felt like a sea of fabric, but old fabric that didn’t smell like chemicals and more like time and dust. There were rows upon rows of clothes to chose from. I needed to find two blouses and I actually found them really fast. The clothing was not divided up by color but instead by size. I was looking for blouses with collars so they were easy to spot on the rows of squished hangers.  I honestly wanted to keep looking for more stuff, but I know I didn’t need it and it was better that I leave the rest for those who are actually in need of those clothes.

I then proceeded to move over to the bags, I was looking for a a bag to store my tools in as well as a new shoulderbag. I’m going to switch out my toolbox and purse for more efficient bags. (That topic will also be posted in the future). When I found the bag section, it was an amazing wall of colors. The photo I took was only 1/3 of the wall, but there really was a lot of variety to choose from.

Whenever I buy a new item, I always have a smal criteria list that I go through.

Criteria List:

  1. Function- Will it logically serve the function(s) that I intend it for?
  2. Materials- Is it made of durable material that is also easy to clean? (Basically, can I toss it in the washing machine?)
  3. Future- Will it be able to grow with my lifestyle? Or will I need to replace it in one to two years

As long as those three questions can be answered, I’ll most likely purchase the item. Aesthetically, not everything that fulfills those criteria points will look high end. A lot of the times when I purchase items, I alter the design somehow to fit my lifestyle better.

You can always get what you want and with a little creativity, thread and a needle- I tend to extend my personal touch in many of the items I bring home. I still think that thrift stores are a great place to purchase items and seek out needed items. In addition to that, by purchasing second hand items, you’re saving it from the landfill and giving it another chance to be used once again.

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Below are some of the few items I purchased. The last image is of the trash I produced from my purchases.

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Hand Sewn Repairs

 

04.20.2016

0845

Although I do enjoy using a sewing machine to stitch together projects, I initially learned how to hand sew as a child. Hand sewing isn’t as daunting as it sounds, although it takes a little bit of practice, anyone can learn how to sew by hand. I hand sew items when I need a quick fix or a temporary fix. As a person who lives a zero waste life, repairing clothing helps in the fact that I can hang onto clothing that I still love to wear. Learning to repair items is essential to living a zero waste life for that fact that I simply don’t own that many items but also the fact that I don’t want to create more waste in the landfill.

Granted, once a piece of clothing or item is beyond repair, I will have to somehow repurpose it or it becomes trash. Even when I’m ready to donate my clothes and buy second hand clothes, I still prefer to repair the item before donation- there’s no reason that the next person should receive an unkept possession.

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Sometimes I need to edit products for my daily needs so hand sewing is a better option than using a sewing machine. After I’m done, I simply add my leftover thread to my trash pile. Although the leftover thread is inevitable, it’s a better alternative than going out and making new purchases. I have quite a bit of leftover thread in my trash pile so I plan to find an alternative use for it.

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I like to use the running stitch, hemming stitch and the backstitch. I favor the running stitch because it’s a simple stitch that is clean and easy to make. The hemming stitch is good for joining two layers of material together, when you want to hide the stitch seam. The backstitch is good for a more secure version of the running stitch. I use the backstitch on items that may have more weight on either side of the stitch, or when there s a chance that the stitch might come apart due to the materials being pulled in opposing directions.

There are many types of stitches to learn about and if you can master just one or two of them, you can save a great deal of time and money. Learning how to hand sew items is a skill that anyone can develop and learn, it is very easy once you understand how fabric is held together and why certain products use certain stitches. A lot of the times, picking out the right stitch is simple as just copying what the manufacture used on your product.

Types of Stiches