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Check Your Thread

Author: Zoe Edwards

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Hello! Welcome to Check Your Thread, a podcast about sewing more sustainably. Each episode we enjoy nerding out about sewing, whilst picking up ideas and useful tips for how to reduce our impact on the environment. My aim is always to approach topics with a sense of curiosity and fun, and hope to leave our listeners feeling inspired by the end of each episode.

Examples of topics that we cover include sourcing second hand textiles, zero waste sewing patterns, mending, upcycling, scrap-busting and alternative and surprising sources for fabric. If there are any topics you’d like CYT to cover, anyone you’d like me to get on the podcast to chat to or you’d just like to say hi, please email me at or message me via Instagram @checkyourthread.
136 Episodes
Does the climate and ecological crisis just feel too massive to deal with sometimes? When it all feels so overwhelming, it can be tempting to tap out completely and disengage. That’s totally understandable. However, my guest today, Beedy Parker, shows us that it is entirely possible to participate in climate related activism and action, whilst continuing to lead a happy and exciting life. From attempting to influence legislation to hemming her neighbours' trousers, Beedy has been getting stuck in since 1970. Sadly, we can’t all be Beedy, but we can all take heart and inspiration in her example.  Support the podcast over on Patreon! The leather glove thimble is made in Japan by Little House but it probably sourced most easily via Etsy.  Beedy Parker is a committed naturalist and social and environmental activist living in Maine, USA.  Read more about Beedy (unfortunately this link doesn’t seem to work in Europe, frustrating I know!).  This is another piece about Beedy.  Beedy recommends sourcing a copy of ‘The Needleworker's Constant Companion’, first published in 1978. I referred to an article by Christina Garton called Weaving While Neurodivergent on the Handwoven Magazine website that is a fascinating read.  Check out Beedy’s pants bags and felted wool slippers: Wool Yes, Plastic Fleece No By Beedy Parker, Camden, Maine So how about wool, anyway? Here is a wonderful natural fiber that grows on the backs of gentle animals, who, Shmoo-like,* provide meat and manure, and even milk and cheese. When sheep are rotated through pastures, they improve the land and keep the farm open – and yet, the use of wool for clothing and blankets seems to be disappearing, as are the sheep. People who raise sheep in New England and around the world receive less and less money for their fleeces and must depend solely on the meat market for income. What's been happening in the world of wool? I went on a woods hike this fall with an environmentally minded group and was surprised to see that everyone else was wearing recycled plastic fleece jackets and pullovers, the same people who, five or 10 years ago, would have been wearing beautiful hand knit sweaters and woolen Maine hunting jackets. Even their mittens and scarfs and caps were mostly synthetic. Well, I guess the weather is warmer these days, and the advertising blitz has been successful, and that "fleece" really is sometimes made of recycled plastic soda bottles, which adds a measure of virtue to the apparel, but is this really what we want to wear? Do we want to wear "oil," with its unfortunate "cradle-to-grave" trail of pollution? Synthetics made of oil attract their relatives, oily stains and synthetic odors and solvents, the outgassing of other plastics in our environment, and these pollutants sink in and stay. To 5 reveal the true nature of plastics, try this little fiber test (cautiously): Singe a few threads of different fabrics with a lighted match. The cotton (or any vegetable fiber) gives off a pleasant wood smoke odor. Wool smells like the burning hair that it is. Synthetic plastic fabrics melt into a sticky black puddle that gives off noxious fumes, a transformation into its original self, as shocking as the melting of the witch in "The Wizard of Oz." This stuff poisons people when it is mined, when it is refined and manufactured, when it outgasses in normal use, and when it is burned in municipal waste; whereas wool comes out of the land, via photosynthesis and protein synthesis, and when we're done with it, microbes can reintegrate it into the land. Many things have changed in our lives since the days when wool was the dominant fiber in cold weather countries. We now spend most of our time indoors and in temperature controlled cars; we hardly need coats. We don't walk much and our health suffers accordingly. In the past we trusted our wool jackets and socks that breathed when we sweat; that could shed all but a long soaking rain, and even then, would dry from the inside out from body heat and would continue to keep us warm. It was the survival stuff of the Northern winter! Now we don't seem to need it any more and we have forgotten the simple ways of taking care of it: airing out, brushing (coats and jackets), spot cleaning with soap and water, and a gentle soaking to wash. When sweaters get thrown in the washing machine, they come out shrunk and felted. (Then I buy them at rummage sales and make wonderful slippers out of them.) People now tend to send wool clothing to the dry cleaners, which is expensive and brings home the toxic vapors of the chemicals used in cleaning. And most of us have learned that we shouldn't expose ourselves to the chemicals in moth balls, because they affect people as well as moths. In the days before cheap, sweatshop clothing, we didn't have so many clothes and wore them more, but when you have too many unused woolens, they're vulnerable to the moth that loves still, dark places. With wool, it's often "use it or lose it". Just to jog our memories, here's how to wash wool: Soak for several hours in warm water with mild soap or mild detergent (a bathtub is good for blankets and coats), giving it a swoosh now and then to urge the water through the cloth; rinse gently in warm water till the soap feel is gone; press the water out by hand and hang the item to dry – and dry as flat as possible – on a rack (or a clothesline for blankets). Avoid drastic temperature changes and rough handling while the wool is wet. (It's the shock of agitation and change that creates felt.) Remember that woolens don't need to be washed all the time. Once a season is often enough (honors) and even less for blankets. In the interim, spot clean, shake out, brush and air as needed. Wool fabrics used to come in many textures and fiber blends: the sturdy, cool Palm Beach fabric of military summer wear, British "Vyella" cotton and wool blends in beautiful prints for shirts and dresses, the linsey-woolsey linen blends of yore, the softness of lambs' wool and silkiness of cashmere. Warm, woven wool blankets become long lasting family heirlooms. Some weaves were light and airy, some tough, hardened and very durable; some were even machine washable. Some people think of wool as itchy and uncomfortable, because woolen underwear was commonly worn in the winter by country people, but now we can afford to wear cotton underwear and shirts next to our skin, with wool on the outside if we are sensitive. To me, the saddest part of the decline of wool, besides the loss of income and open pasture to our farms, is the loss of a fabric that can be understood and even made, by a child, from fleece to sweater. Compare this to the synthetic, which is a remote and even dangerous mystery, wrapped in patent secrecy. It's like comparing a bicycle where you can see how the peddles, gears and wheels work and feel the centrifugal force that holds the bike steady, as opposed to the increasingly "black box" design of our computerized cars, where you just buy it and drive it. The sheep's fleece can be sheared, washed, carded, spun and knit or woven, all by hand, most of which are pleasant and tranquil activities, encouraging thought and conversation. So consider adding a few wool items to your wardrobe. Think about taking up knitting again (socks are easier than you think). And start saving up for a beautiful Maine-grown blanket. Maybe we can bring back the fleece on our green pastures. * "Shmoos" were lovable creatures in the "Li'l Abner" comic strip (in the late 1940s) who turned into delicious food, clothing and building material when people looked at them with desire.
Have you ever found yourself unsure of how to proceed with fixing a damaged garment? The two most common stumbling blocks are knowing what mending technique to use, and knowing what materials are the best choice to create a long lasting repair. Today mending expert Jeanna Wigger and I guide you on how to triage your mending pile and answer those tricky questions. We then go on to respond to some mending dilemmas submitted by patrons of the podcast. By the end of this episode, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how to tackle your next repair. Support the podcast over on Patreon! Find some great pre-owned sewing resources whilst getting essential funds to Palestinians in Gaza via the @destash4palestine Instagram account.  You can follow Jeanna on Instagram @thepeoplesmending. Listen to my previous conversations with Jeanna about the Winter of Care and Repair challenge: Ep. #115: Winter of Care and Repair with Jeanna Wigger Ep. #132: A Season of Mending with Jeanna Wigger I help you consider the two main approaches to mending: Ep. #68: Visible Vs Invisible Mending Jeanna adopted a ‘hidden in plain sight’ approach to fixing these T-shirts: Find Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald via her website, and on Instagram @erinlewisfitzgerald.  Hear Erin’s episodes on CYT: Ep. #39: Modern Mending with Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald Ep. #40: Experimend with Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald Erin also has an online shop, Modern Mending, where you can find high quality mending supplies.   With help from lovely listeners, we explore the use of fabric scraps: Ep. #127: Scrap Strategies Part 1 Ep. #128: Scrap Strategies Part 2 For more info on patching: Ep. #47: Introduction to Patching Amy Meissner (@amymeissnerartist) is an Alaskan-based artist.   My recent knee-replacement mend on my son’s joggers:
Are you interested in mending your clothes but you’re just not sure where to begin? For this episode, we’re taking a different approach to the topic of mending in that this episode is for complete beginners, no prior knowledge of sewing is needed or assumed AT ALL. But for the regular listeners who already engage in sewing and mending, this episode is kind of for you too. It’s an excellent resource to forward on to people in your life who are interested in keeping their clothes in use for longer, and who you feel might be open to learning how to do it for themselves.This episode is one part pep talk, one part practical guide. You’ll be left feeling empowered to start repairing your own clothes.  Support the podcast over on Patreon! The climate action NGO WRAP has published studies on the impact on keeping our clothes in use for longer.  The items I think you need for a basic but very effective mending kit: So you’ll need: Hand sewing needles: try to find a pack that includes needles that range in thickness. Different thicknesses of needle will be suitable for different thicknesses of fabric. Sewing thread: go for reels polyester or 100% cotton thread made by a known brand like Guterman, Meltler or Coats/Moon. Cheap, or very old, sewing threads are liable to break. If you bought a sewing kit that includes some thread, treat yourself to some stronger, higher quality stuff anyway. It’s a good idea to keep a small range of common colours in your kit (black, white, navy, red, grey and cream perhaps) which should cover the majority of your projects, and add other colours to your collection as you require them. Small, sharp scissors or thread snips: a basic, shop-bought sewing kit may or may not include these but they are definitely necessary. Cheap thread snips are available in most haberdasheries, but sharp nail scissors will also do. Pins: a pack/tub of sharp pins is very helpful to keep things in place during your repair or alteration. Only an octopus could successfully complete every project without some pins. Pins that come with little plastic shapes or spheres attached to the end are easier to pick up.  Safety pins: a few safety pins in a range of sizes will likely come in very handy. They can be used instead of pins for some projects to keep things in place, and you will be less likely to get stabbed whilst using them. Safety pins are also invaluable for threading elastic through a channel.  Seam ripper (AKA stitch ripper/quick unpick): these sharp metal hooks with plastic or wooden handles are useful for removing stitches carefully. Using scissors or snips to do so is more likely to result in holes in the fabric.  Additional items and materials to allow you to make patches and expand your repertoire of repairs: Tape measure: This is for working out how big you need to cut a patch. Fancier, retractable tape measurements are available if you wish, but the basic kind that you sometimes win in Christmas crackers is also fine!  Tailors chalk or fabric marking pen/pencil: This is for drawing out the size and shape of the patch you require before cutting it out. There is a wide range of fabric marking tools available. From the basic triangle shaped tailor’s chalks, to chalk wheels that dispense chalk dust, to marker pens with ink that disappears when you iron it. They all do a similar job, so buy whichever appeals to you and see if you like using it.  Fabric scissors: they are going to make cutting fabric to create patches a joy. Using other types of scissors such as paper scissors or kitchen scissors is an option of course, but using blunt or unsuitable scissors for the task will be frustrating and may damage the fabric. So use non-fabric scissors at your own risk. Fabric scraps: As you can imagine, these are to make the actual patches. You’ll need a variety of types of fabric, basically try to gather a selection that represent the types of fabrics you’d find in your wardrobe, seeing as those are the items you’ll be fixing. It is particularly useful to have scraps of denim, T-shirt jersey and stable, woven cotton (like shirt fabric). Fabric scraps can be harvested from old garments that are beyond repair.  Iron: this will allow you to improve the finished look of your repair. It is also essential for making neat patches, and at a later date using fusible interfacing if that’s something you eventually get round to. Make sure the base (the soleplate) is clean and free from any burnt-on residue. Keep a piece of light-weight, 100% cotton woven fabric with your iron to use as a pressing cloth.  Ironing board: obviously goes hand-in-hand with an iron, but I’ve always found it can also provide a useful surface for resting your project on whilst you work. A heat resistant surface like a kitchen worktop covered with a clean towel can be a substitute at a pinch.  And lastly, a couple of useful additions: Buttons: obviously it’s great when you can catch a button that’s coming loose rather than completely falling off and getting lost, then the buttons will on your garment will all continue to match. But as well all know, that isn’t always the case. So keep a little selection of standard looking buttons in a variety of colours and sizes. Some buttons have two or four holes in them, other buttons have a bit that sticks out with a hole through which is called a shank. Like fabric scraps, buttons can be harvested from old clothes, and make sure to keep any spares that come attached to your shop-bought clothing.  Iron-on patches: if you like the look of ready-made, iron-on patches, then they are a great tool for quickly covering up a hole or stain. If you see any that appeal to you, buy them to have on hand.  Common repair tasks and resources for guidance: Stitching a button on: This video by Treasurie shows the three different types of button.  Repairing the broken stitching in a seam: This video by Rokolee DIY shows both back stitch and a ladder stitch techniques.  Repairing a hem: This video by GreenecoStyle shows the blind stitch approach to fixing an invisible hem.  If the original stitching at the hem is visible, then I’d recommend a backstitch to replicate the look of sewing machine stitching.  This video by Sewn Company shows how to do backstitching more neatly.  Repairing a tear: This video by Rokolee DIY shows how to use a whipstitch to close the tear by bringing the edges back together and use a scrap of fabric on the inside to stabilise the repair at the same time. This is a good idea if the tear has occurred in an area of weakened fabric.  This video by @elhrfy shows a more challenging approach but shows how you can effectively deal with a tear in fabric that probably occurred when the garment got caught on something and the surrounding fabric is in good condition.  To Repair a hole or stabilise a worn out area: This video by This Little Farmhouse walks you through how to make a patch that goes behind the hole.  Katrina Rodabaugh’s book ‘Mending Matters’ is an excellent resource for making and applying both external and internal patches.  This blog post by Indestructables includes two methods, an iron-on no-sew approach, and a hand-stitched approach: Other books: ‘Modern Mending’ by Erin Lewis-FitzGerald ‘Mend it, Wear it, Love it!’ by me (Zoe Edwards) Check out these other episode of CYT:  Ep. #47: Introduction to Patching Ep. #68: Visible Vs Invisible Mending Happy mending!
Mending your clothes to keep them in use for longer is a vital part of sewing and living more sustainably. But how can we amplify the positive impact of mending our clothes? Answer: By mending them in public! By mending in public, not only are you reducing the annual carbon and water footprint of your clothing, but you’re helping to normalise these actions for other people! On the 20th April 2024 hundreds of mending in public events took place around the globe, the endeavour having been initiated by the Fashion Revolution movement in collaboration with the Street Stitching movement. I attended an event hosted by Diana Uprichard, owner of Dolly Clothing in Lewes, East Sussex, and I got to see first hand the positivity and power of mending in public. In this episode, you’ll hear from five different people I spoke to at the event, each with their own unique angle on why it’s so meaningful.  6uPEOWG7fdABJkqaR8VY Support the podcast over on Patreon! Check out the Seated Makes Challenge on IG #seatedmakeschallenge2024. Mending in Public day was organised by Fashion Revolution in collaboration with the Street Stitching movement.  Diana Uprichard is the owner of Dolly Clothing in Lewes, East Sussex UK. They can also be found on Instagram (@dolly_clothing).  Melissa with her grey cardigan with its ongoing repairs: Attendee Sarah Elwick (@sarahelwick) on the left with Mica Janiv (@micajaniv), sustainable business consultant. 
Dedicating an entire season to acts of mending is a bold move. As you may know, the most recent round of the Winter of Care and Repair challenge just wrapped up. In this episode the challenge’s creator, Jeanna Wigger, and I catch up to review the experience, both as individual participants and as members of this vibrant and inspiring global community of menders. So whether you’re in the southern hemisphere with Winter just round the corner, or you’re in the northern hemisphere and the next round is some way off, you’ll find out what benefits it could bring you, should you decide to participate.  Support the podcast over on Patreon! You can follow Jeanna on Instagram @thepeoplesmending. Listen to my previous conversation with Jeanna about the challenge: Ep. #115: Winter of Care and Repair with Jeanna Wigger Other mending-related episodes you might enjoy include the three-part mini-series about Make Do and Mend: Ep. #28: Make Do and Mend Ep. #29: Lessons from the 1940s Ep. #30: Tips and Takeaways from Make Do and Mend Plus these solo episodes: Ep. #47: Introduction to Patching Ep. #68: Visible Vs Invisible Mending Jeanna tested out multiple methods of lightweight sock repair and reviewed the results.  Image source: Jeanna Wigger Examples of Jeanna’s mending, all of which fit within her definition of a mend that is hidden in plain sight, designed to look like it's "supposed to be there.":
Do you want to create well fitting clothes, but you’re put off by having to make lots of changes to your pattern plus multiple toiles to test the fit? My guest, Elisalex Jewell, is an anythor and one of the founders of sewing pattern brand By Hand London. Elisalex tells us why self drafting using your own body measurements might be for you.  Support the podcast over on Patreon! Elisalex Jewell is the co-founder of sewing pattern brand By Hand London. You can also follow her on Instagram (@elisalex). Elisalex´s mum is Orsola de Castro (@orsoladecastro), the co-founder and creative director of Fashion Revolution, a not-for-profit activism movement which works towards a sustainable fashion industry Elisalex has written a book with self-drafting tutorials and hacks called ‘Made to Measure: An Easy Guide to Drafting and Sewing a Custom Wardrobe’.  Elisalex prefers dot and cross paper for pattern drafting. UK-based people can order it from William Gee and from Morplan, among others.  Elisalex recommends DIY Daisy´s book, ‘Sew It Yourself’. You can listen to my conversation with Daisy: Ep. #46: DIY Drafting and Inclusive Sewing with Daisy Braid Rosie Martin has the blog ‘DIY Couture’ and wrote the book ‘No Patterns Needed: DIY Couture from Simple Shapes’.  Elisalex featured on Episode 30 of The New Craft House Podcast.  By Hand London’s circle skirt calculator is the original draft-it-yourself pattern! Find all of By Hand London’s Draft It Yourself products on their website, including the Lucy dress (pictured below):
How can you attend a large sewing event more sustainably? Is it possible to avoid getting overwhelmed, to avoid regrettable impulse purchases and to actually enjoy yourself? I take my pal and previous-guest Kim Witten to her first major sewing event, The Stitch Festival in London. We gather advice on how to make the most of these events whilst getting inspired, making considered purchases and connecting with the wonderful sewing community.  Support the podcast over on Patreon! Show notes: **Click here to find the How to Sew Clothes from Fabric Scraps downloadable PDF** Kim and I went to The Stitch Festival in London in March 2024.  Kim Witten is a Transformational Coach and Research Consultant.  Listen to Kim in previous episodes: Ep. #71: Making Personal Manifestos with Kim Witten Ep. #91: Self Knowledge for Sewing Success with Kim Witten Ep. #92: Self Coaching for Sewing Success with Kim Witten Kim enjoyed the printed jerseys on the Dots ‘n’ Stripes stand. Zoe and Kim spoke to Charlotte (IG @lottejamiesoncrafts) on the Emporia Patterns stand. Emporia recently released two new patterns: Tony Shirt and Zoe Dress patterns. Vicki Reid’s new fabric designs and buttons were produced in collaboration with Pigeon Wishes and can be found on her website What Vicki Made, along with her woven labels.   Sharon from Maven Patterns gave excellent advice about taking photos of things you like before committing to buying them. Listen to Sharon’s husband Richard on the podcast: Ep. #109: More Sustainable Thread Options with Richard from James Tailoring Ep. #114: More Sustainable Haberdashery with Richard Mendham Fauve (IG @sew_fauve) and Asmaa (IG @sewgical_endeavours) from GBSB 2024 are collaborating as Imperfectly Perfect (IG @imperfectlyperfectbyfna) to run sewing classes in South Wales. My lovely colleague Claire was working on the Fabric Godmother stand wearing a dress made using the Vali Dress & Top pattern from Pattern Fantastique. We bumped into previous-guest Tony Rea (IG @tonyr.maker). Listen to the episode:  Ep. #124: Fearless Sewing with Tony Rea Kim plans to use her olive green denim to make the Cosecha Pants pattern by Sew Liberated.
Would you like to have new types of creative fun whilst saving money AND reducing your environmental impact? Sewing clothes from fabric scraps gives you all these things, AND the results are always completely unique. Today I’m sharing everything I’ve learnt over the years about sewing clothes from scraps. And although there’s never a right way or wrong way to approach sewing with scraps, these pointers will help you get started quickly if it’s something you’d like to try.  Support the podcast over on Patreon! **Download the guide that accompanies this episode ‘How to Sew Clothes From Fabric Scraps’** Listen to the following related episode: Ep. #116: Improv Scrap Play with Sherri Lynn Wood Fast track your fabric knowledge with the downloadable ‘Introduction to Garment Fabrics’ guide.  Pattern suggestions for self-piecing: Brindille & Twig (all children’s) Boxy Tee Lounge Sweatshirt School Sweats Vintage Pants Wide Loungers  Grainline Studios Linden Sweatshirt Scout Tee Willow Tank & Dress Helen’s Closet Jackson Tee & Pullover Orchard Top & Dress Sam Apron  York Pinafore Named Clothing Ninni Culottes Tessuti Patterns Amara Vest Athina Top Kate Top Myka Top Tosca Tunic True Bias Marlo Sweater Waves and Wild  Driftwood Dolman (men’s/straight fit) Field Trip Joggers (men’s/straight fit) Field Trip Joggers (teen-male/straight fit) Heyday Dungarees (adult’s) Heyday Dungarees (children’s) Pattern suggestions for pattern-led piecing: Bel’Etoile Isa Sweater, Dress & Top adults Isa Sweater, Dress & Top kids  Blueprints for Sewing Geodesic Sweatshirt Saltbox Tee & Tank  Elizabeth Sweetwater  Ziggy Top Boatneck Colourblock T-shirt Striped Zipper Jacket Jennifer Lauren Handmade Emmie Tee Matchy Matchy Sewing Club (most of them) Megan Nielsen Karri dress Misusu Patterns (most of them) which include childrens as well as adult designs.  Sew Liberated: Nest Sweatshirt Tessuti Patterns Lennox Sweatshirt Tilly and the Buttons: Sonny Jacket - there are lots of other panelled jacket patterns that would work equally well, but I’m suggesting the Sonny because it comes in a very inclusive size range.  Here are some wonderful, creative businesses and individuals who are creating awesome garments with piecing fabrics: @tannerfrostbowen @zerowastedaniel @holycowsberlin @lesreloux @softpawvintage @threadandsprout @isabelle_sews @judywillimentross @theconsistencyproject @the.light.touch  @rachiesews @m.o.s.s.o.m  @kionek @spunkybruiser @sweetfindupcycled @elizabethsweetwaterpatterns @pettypopcornmakes Improv quilters, modern quilters and boro practitioners are also a fantastic source of piecing inspiration. Take a look at the following: @sherrilynnwood @momiyamatakao @modernstitchwitch @encodedstudio @spontaneousthreads @blue_movement2017  Two more resources that might be useful: Improvisational Quilting for Garment Sewists e-course - Sew DIY Making a Scrap Patchwork Hovea Coat from Leftover Fabric - Megan Nielsen blog
Have you got your fabric scrap strategy sorted yet? This is the second part of the Scrap Strategies episodes and we’ll be discovering more systems, solutions and uses from the Check Your Thread listeners. Then we summarise all we’ve learnt to help YOU choose what’s best for you! Support the podcast over on Patreon! Image source: Ksenia Chernaya via Pexels Listen to: Ep. #119: Seasonal Stash Organisation Check out the resource Amy spoke about regarding textile recycling.   Thread and Sprout on Instagram (@threadandsprout) is a great source of inspiration for how to combine fabric scraps.  
If you’re a garment sewer, I’m sure you’re more than aware of how quickly fabric scraps and leftovers can start to pile up. Your fabric scraps contain so much creative potential, but you need some strategies in place so they don’t overwhelm you. In this episode, we hear from CYT listeners who share what scraps they keep, how they store them, and what they use them for. Use these responses to form your own scrap strategies and solutions! Support the podcast over on Patreon! Image source: Fiona Murray via Unsplash
Are there fabrics in your stash that you’re just too scared to cut into? I talk with Stephanie Canada, vintage sewing pattern and fabric seller, about when and why it's ok to use the precious fabric. Plus she shares her sourcing secrets, and tells us when it’s important to chuck vintage sewing resources in the bin…  Support the podcast over on Patreon! The website I used to research the sustainability credentials of various banks is  Find Stephanie’s shop at her website ‘Backroom Finds’.  You can also find her on Instagram @backroomfinds and on Youtube @StephanieCanada. Listen to the first episode with Stephanie: Ep. #125: Vintage Sewing Not Vintage Values with Stephanie Canada Stephanie bought an entire sewing shop! Stephanie recommends these reproduction pattern companies: Mrs Depew Vintage Wearing History  @WithLoveKristina on Youtube is Stephanie’s pal.  My most precious length of fabric: Listen to: Ep. #72: Sewing for Body Changes Ep. #76: Sewing for Body Changes, Part 2
Do vintage sewing patterns make you swoon but you’re scared to try actually sewing with them? Vintage pattern obsessive and Youtube queen, Stephanie Canada, unpacks the perceived obstacles that may be holding you back. We also discuss the enjoyment of vintage style without the perpetuation of vintage values, and how using vintage resources might help us sew more sustainably.  Support the podcast over on Patreon! Sign up to the newsletter via the home page of Find Stephanie’s shop at her website ‘Backroom Finds’.  You can also find her on Instagram @backroomfinds and on Youtube @StephanieCanada. Stephanie recommends these reproduction pattern companies: Mrs Depew Vintage Wearing History  The podcast episode I mentioned that featured Gretchen Hirsch (Gertie´s blog for better sewing and Charm Patterns) was The Craft Industry Alliance: Episode #238: Gretchen Hirsch Laci Fay can be found on Youtube @LaciFayTheVintageGirlNextDoor.  Stephanie made a video addressing the question: Why are Vintage Patterns So Small?
What would it be like if we could enjoy complete freedom within our sewing lives? Free from the shoulds and shouldn’ts, the fears and even past experiences? My guest, Tony Rea, tells us how this mindset took him from sewing newbie to top-three-finalist of sewing’s most famous competition: The Great British Sewing Bee. Plus, Tony shares his formula for sewing more sustainably (spoiler alert: it involves a lot of thrifted duvet covers…). Support the podcast over on Patreon! Find out more about Tony on his website, and see his latest projects on Instagram @tonyr.maker. Tony’s Etsy shop is stocked with handmade cycling caps in fun prints.   This Postman Pat shirt was clearly inevitable: If you find yourself in Plymouth, swing by the Plymouth Scrapstore. Tony made a Fabric Godmother Peony dress for his wife to attend Christmas events in.  Tony first encountered zero waste sewing patterns during the pattern challenge on GBSB: Tony adapted Birgitta Helmersson’s ZW Block Pants and ZW Workwear Jacket patterns for his style and frame.  Image source: Birgitta Helmersson.  Tony wore a denim ‘suit’ created using these patterns which he modelled on the runway at the Knitting & Stitching show in London, October 2023.  Tony recently embarked upon the Studio Trouser Low Waste pattern by Norwegian brand, Indigo Indigo ( on IG). 
Is your wardrobe stuffed with me-mades? Whatever role garment sewing plays in your life, after a while, the clothes can really start to pile up. So how can we continue to take pleasure in sewing, without adding to your problem of too many clothes? Image source: Megan Lee via UnSplash Idea No. 1: Challenging ourselves. Hear more about hand stitching clothing: Ep. #15: Hand Stitching Clothes with Louisa Owen-Sonstroem  Ep. #73: The Seeds of Slow Sewing with Alexis Bailey  Learn more about improving fit: Ep. #95: Refining Fit with Kate Roberts Options for online courses to learn and develop new skills: Project Patterns Domestika Craftsy Idea No. 2: Sewing things that aren’t clothes. My favourite bag pattern designers: Noodlehead Tytka Studio Motif Studio Patterns Merchant & Mills Start your sew making journey at I Can Make Shoes. Get inspired to make a quilt more sustainably by listening to the following previous episodes: Ep. #19: Quilting and Considered Consuming with Shelly Sommer Ep. #26: Harvesting Materials with Eliu Hernandez Ep. #89: Threads of Sustainability with Bridget O’Flaherty Ep. #105: A Habit of Curiosity with Heidi Parkes Ep. #106: Reframing a Relationship with Clothes with Heidi Parkes Ep. #116: Improv Scrap Play with Sherri Lynn Wood Idea No. 3: Sewing clothes for other people Idea No. 4: Sewing for charity  Make washable menstrual pads for: Pachamama Project Days for Girls Make reusable tote bags for Boomerang Bags. Make dress and other children’s garments from pillowcases for Little Dresses for Africa. Idea No. 5: Mending! Hear from super creative mending expert, Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald: Ep. #39: Modern Mending with Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald Ep. #40: Experimend with Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald Get her book Modern Mending: Consider the spectrum of mending possibility: Ep. #68: Visible Vs Invisible Mending
What are the unique challenges that designing zero waste sewing patterns for children throws up? And the ways in which it might actually be easier? In this episode, Liz Elliott, the designer behind Thread Faction Studio, gives us a fascinating insight into her business and processes. We also discuss navigating life when your role as a parent and as a business owner are entwined.  Support the podcast over on Patreon! Find Liz’s patterns on her website, Thread faction Studio, plus follow her on IG @threadfactionstudio.  Sew 4 Bub was Liz´s first blog where you can still access some free patterns.   Like every ZW pattern designer, Liz was inspired by The Zero Waste Fashion Design book by Holly McQuillan and Timo Rissanen. See the ZW pattern look book on Thread Faction Studio website.  I’ve previously made the ZW Utility Jumpsuit pattern (my version) and the ZW Cap Sleeve Tee pattern (my version). Image source: Thread Faction Studio.   Liz is a big fan of previous-guest Birgitta Helmersson’s book, Zero Waste Patterns.  Listen to my conversation with another Australia-based ZW pattern designer, Liz Haywood: Ep. #31: Exploring Zero Waste Design with Liz Haywood Find some of Liz’s previous ‘Hatchlings Patterns’, including grow-with-me baby/toddler styles, in Liz´s Etsy shop. Listen to previous guest Alexis Bailey talk about her ZW pattern journey: Ep. #74: Recognition and Responsibility with Alexis Bailey I spoke about ZW sewing patterns on a reel made by Fabric Godmother in advance of a sewing class I taught that focused on Birgitta Helmersson’s ZW Cropped Shirt pattern.
Do you enjoy hearing the whys and the hows behind other people’s sewing projects? Previous-guest, Judy Williment-Ross, is one of the most prolific, resourceful and creative makers I know. In this episode, Judy talks us through the ideas and development behind some of her more recent projects. She also shares her secrets to creating professional looking garments out of op-shop finds and fabric scraps.  Support the podcast over on Patreon! Follow Judy Williment-Ross and her creative journey on Instagram @judywillimentross.  Judy´s previous appearance on  CYT: Ep. 69: Making Mindfully with Judy Williment-Ross Check out The Epic Dress. Judy has shared about the process (and again) as well as the finished version of her Scrappy Jacket.  Her Scrappy Pouch was proof of concept.  The logical step, after working with suit trousers and button up shirts was, of course, ties! The result being the All Tied Up Dress: Next up was a plethora of Blanket Coats! Including her pal Rhonda’s.  Judy started adding ‘My Mum Made It’ labels to her daughter’s garments: Judy’s Waste Coat is made using the scraps leftover from the All Tied Up dress: Judy’s previous waistcoat project used a pattern from 1895.  Does this look like a bog blouse?!  Holly McQuillan’s spiral trousers concept has also been made by previous-guest Liz Haywood.  Georgia´s professional upcycled and handmade wardrobe: We chatted about my patchwork denim quilted jacket.
Do you know what your sewing machine needs to stay in good working order? What equipment is required for that? What issues can be tackled at home, and when should we call in the professionals? And what’s the best way to become the professional, if that’s of interest to us? These are just some of the questions my guest, sewing machine technician, Bizz McKilligan, answers in today’s episode. Bizz is also the owner of a shop called The Green Thimble, that recirculates secondhand sewing equipment and fabric. She shares the long and interesting journey she went on to arrive in that situation.  Support the podcast over on Patreon! Bizz is the owner of The Green Thimble, an online and bricks and mortar sewing shop in Victoria, Canada, that helps to recirculate existing sewing resources.   Follow them on Instagram If you haven’t already, listen to: Ep. #104: How to Successfully Shop for Second-hand Sewing Machines Find out about the many ways in which The Green Thimble endeavours to be a more-sustainable business.  Bizz recommends the Bernina 830 Record if you are looking to purchase a robust and easy to fix machine. I now desperately want one! The Green Thimble has a wonderful, supportive relationship with The Makehouse Co-op, also in Victoria, Canada.  
Do you have a system for organising your fabric stash? I didn’t until recently. In this episode I’m sharing my own method of organisation that I’m calling the ‘seasonal stash’. This system is allowing me to unlock the potential in what I already own, whilst stopping it from feeling overwhelming. Could the ‘seasonal stash’ system help YOU?! Support the podcast over on Patreon! (image source: Mel Poole via Unsplash) **CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE FREE DOWNLOADABLE PDF VERSION OF THIS GUIDE** The Seasonal Stash Guide This is a simple step-by-step guide for implementing the Seasonal Stash system for sorting and organising a fabric collection. It won’t take you long to implement, and once set up, requires little maintenance.  This will help you to: unlock the potential in the resources you already own shift any negative feelings you may have about your collection plan projects and ACTUALLY SEW THEM.  Sounds good? OK let’s do this! The first three steps I’d recommend for whatever system of stash organisation you want to implement.  Step 1) Gather your fabric.  Gather it all in one place to sort and organise. Ideally, we also want to be storing it in the same spot as well going forwards. If at all possible, keep all your fabric lengths together in the same room, if not the same cupboard / set of shelves / collection of storage tubs. This will prevent you from: forgetting what you own losing items you’ve already bought/acquired being unable to compare suitable fabrics for a project plan annoying those you live with with random smaller stashes of fabric dotted around your home Step 2) Edit. To paraphrase William Morris: have nothing in your stash that you do not believe to be beautiful or know to be useful. Just hold each item and answer, honestly: Do I think this is lovely and / or  is it useful? If so, am I actually going to sew with it? Tips to help the editing process: Keep this step running smoothly and quickly: just react to each piece, place it in the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ pile, and move on Work out what you’ll do with the NO fabric another day. That concern will slow you down. Today we sort and organise only After the editing step you should be looking at only the pieces that: you genuinely like aren’t particularly exciting but you can see yourself using, like lining or toiling / muslin-making fabric  Step 3) Set aside anything small or scrappy.  Think about what that means to you. Some examples of definitions may include: anything that is too small to make a garment from anything too small to place a pattern piece on Anything smaller than an A4 or letter sized piece of paper Anything under 50cm Whatever your definition is, put aside those pieces to be stored separately. Scraps and leftovers are a great resource for sewing, however, finding uses for them will be much easier if they’re not wedged in between the longer and weightier lengths. **Note: the only exception to this might be if you have scraps of one of the lengths of fabrics in your collection. You might be able to cut some pattern pieces from the scraps when you come to use the length, so you should probably store those scraps with the rest of the length** If you have any garments that you’re keeping to either refashion or harvest fabric from, separate those out too.  Step 4) Separate your fabric into 3 piles.  Currently you’re just dealing with your main stash of garment-sized fabric lengths. Once again, go through them piece-by-piece and place them into one of three piles. Pile #1:  In this pile place the fabric pieces that are suitable for the season you’re currently in or are about to transition into. Only include the pieces that you have plans for, even if those plans are fairly loose.  Pile #2:  In this pile place the fabric pieces that are suitable for the next six months to a year (basically fabrics suitable for a season or two ahead of what you’re currently experiencing). Again, only include the pieces that you have plans for, even if those plans are fairly loose.  Pile #3:  Everything else! Because you have already done the work, at this point your stash only contains items you genuinely want or can see are useful. Therefore, the pieces in this pile deserve to be here, you just don’t know what to do with them yet.  Step 5) Positioning the piles: Depending on how much fabric you own and the shape / size / orientation of your storage situation, each ‘pile’ might actually be multiple piles.  Place Pile #1 where it is most visible and most accessible.  Pile #2 ideally goes behind or underneath Pile #1, still pretty accessible if possible, but not in constant sight.  Pile #3 can go away, out of sight. But preferably not completely inaccessible should inspiration strike.  Step 6) When the seasons change: When a season comes to an end, it’s time to rotate the fabric around. Follow these sub-steps: Go through each remaining piece from Pile #1 and think about why each piece from this pile didn’t get used. If necessary, redistribute those remaining pieces into one of the other piles.  Go through Pile #3 to remind yourself what’s there, and see if any project ideas spring up Swap Pile #1 and Pile #2 over so they are seasonally relevant again Put it all back! **When to swap things over** Finally, a note on when to do Step 6. The timings I’ve suggested above require swapping your fabric round every three to six months. However this whole system is, of course, entirely open to interpretation and customisation. You could make your ‘sewing seasons’ shorter or longer. Or you may decide to to swap things over and reevaluate when you discover the pieces in Pile #1 aren’t inspiring you. You always want to be looking at a collection of fabric that you’re excited to sew with! Happy Sewing! 
Could you go for a year without buying fabric? Or even a couple of months? I speak to Lise Bauer about what Last Sewist Standing, the ultimate stash busting challenge that she created, can do for you. In this episode, the second in the Fabric Stash mini-series, we discuss shopping habits and motivations, perfectionism, habit building, resourcefulness, community, accountability and so so much more. Plus you NEED to hear how Lise’s own challenge went this year. As you can hear in the episode, I was SHOCKED! Support the podcast over on Patreon! Lise and her fabric-of-shame! Follow Lise Bauer @miss.taeschli on Instagram. Check out the IG posts relating to the #lastsewiststanding challenge. I first discovered the challenge through regular-guest, Shams el-Din Rogers, the ‘unofficial winner’ of the second year of the challenge.  The ‘unofficial winner’ of the first year of the challenge was Wilma Gerlsma @vladivos. Discover many of the participants through the comments on Lise’s most recent check-in post. Wilma wrote an excellent blog post about her relationship to fabric and fabric buying.  Lise is on a roll, making pouches for everyone she knows!  Lise is using the Pipa the Pouch pattern by Sewing Patterns by Masin, which is free when you sign up to the newsletter.  Image source: Sewing Patterns by Masin  You can read my road test of the Pipa the Pouch pattern on my blog as part of my Free Pattern Friday blog post series. 
Would you like to bring your sustainability values and your sewing life into closer alignment in 2024? If so, one key area to focus on is materials. In this episode, CYT listeners share their fabric-related goals for the year ahead. Which ones resonate with you?  Support the podcast over on Patreon! Check out the ‘Introduction to Garment Fabrics’ guide.  Find the Stash Hub app on their website, on IG @stash_hub, or in your smart phone’s app store.  Learn more about the #lastsewiststanding challenge via its creator, Lise Bauer, AKA  @miss.taeschli.  Read the blog post by Modern Sewing Co. that inspired Amy Dyce’s approach to planning her autumnal sewing.  Image source: The Modern Sewing Co.
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