Saving the planet... one garment at a time!

... and one upcycle at a time... Welcome to my blog: A place to have an "over the fence conversation" about sewing, altered couture, upcycling, and all kinds of crafts using found objects, beads, ephemera and other vintage finds!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Your Opinion Needed!

Hi blog readers!  I am thinking about changing the design of my humble blog.  I am very conflicted about this. I admit to liking things to remain static and I'm not all about change... sometimes its even hard to rearrange a room!  So, I'm sincerely asking your opinion of my blog background, header and graphic elements.  Do you think Seams Sustainable needs some housecleaning?  Is it too busy?  Do you prefer blogs with white backgrounds and cleaner lines?  Do you like what you already see here?  I know I'm breaking several of the "laws" of blogging already, so bail me out.  I sincerely want and value your opinion.  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

5 Ways to Divest Yourself of Unwanted Clothing Without Using a Landfill

So, if you read our last installment, now you've identified a pile of things you no longer need, wear or want. Congratulations!  Luckily we're ready with a great list of ways to get those unwanted garments out of your house without visiting a landfill.

1.  Host a clothing swap for your friends.  This is a fun way to gather the gang for coffee, cocktails or wine without selling anything (you can probably list all the at-home party sales companies popular in your area), yet everyone still gets some benefit.  Everyone gets to pass along some unwanted items and potentially get something new to take home without spending a dime!  If you want you can even have a themed party: business casual, weekends, travel, or accessories could all be the central theme.  A really thoughtful hostess will arrange for those unwanted items to disappear after the party so no one has to schlep home their undesirables.

2.  Resell. OK, this one will probably take some effort on your part, but you may reap back a small reward for having invested the time.  Of course, usually only the cream of your cast-offs will sell, so hand select items to try this with.  Resale options include consignment (check local shops, their rules, and choose a dealer you can work with), garage/yard sales (where you are likely to recoup only pennies on the dollar), and online sales.  The options for online resale are growing daily, but the granddaddy is probably eBay.  If selling online, be sure to describe your items honestly and fully.  Sometimes even slightly damaged goods may sell if you are meticulous in your description.

3.  Donate.  This option is rife with ethical considerations.  The charity you donate to, is of course, your choice.  Some things to consider might be what works are supported with the funds raised, how much of each donation goes to support these charitable works, and what is done with any "non-salable" goods.  For instance, some groups sell clothing not perceived to be salable in the US to foreign second hand goods markets, others sell them to be made into rags for cleaning, or to be made into fiberfill for soft-goods. Don't forget that you are generally entitles to a tax deduction equal to the resale value of the items donated.  Check with your tax professional for details.

4.  Give away.  Not quite the same as either donating, or swapping, where chances are, you are getting something in return (a tax deduction or another item of clothing), giving your clothing away entails exactly that - giving.  Think hand-me-downs for grown ups.  If you are tired of a perfectly serviceable sweater or coat, perhaps another family member could get some use out of it.  At the office where I work people often bring in items they no longer want and leave them in the break room.  If nobody takes them in a week or so they are donated to the charity next door.  You can also use your local Freecycle online group to give items away for free.

5.  Restyle or re-use.  Well, the last stop on our list does not exactly remove the item from your home.  However, restyling two or more old garments into one new, upcycled one is all the rage!  Think how crafty you'll feel as you make something new and chic out of something that just hung in your closet unloved and unworn!  Or, if you are really never going to wear it again, make it into something completely different - a rug, a potholder, a fort for little ones - the possibilities are endless!  And, if you really can't think of anything, you probably need some cleaning rags, too.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Knowing When to Let Go: 7 Reasons to Remove an Item From Your Wardrobe!

Right now you're probably saying to yourself, "What's wrong with this woman?  In one post she says we throw out too much, and in the next she wants me to get rid of things!  I wish she'd make up her mind!"  OK, I may seem to be a little inconsistent here, but I promise you that there's a theme here, and I'm still not advocating throwing things away.  A future post will cover the actual mechanics of getting rid of unwanted textiles, but for now, let's concentrate on WHEN to let go.

If you're like me, even though you have not booked your appearance on "Hoarders", you probably save clothes far too long.  Perhaps your reasons are environmental, or sentimental or maybe it's just plain inertia. Whatever is making you hold on, here are 7 compelling reasons to part company with those fabric albatrosses.

The first, and most obvious reason is that the item is seriously worn out.  We all have some of these - pilled beyond recognition, frayed cuffs, threadbare or faded body.  When you love a piece, or when it is oh so comfortable, sometimes its hard to see that the end is nigh.  I find that the best time to check is when you trade out your seasonal clothing for the next upcoming season.  As you put clothes away, inspect each piece for glaring wear...

...and tear.  The second reason to divest yourself of an item of clothing is irreparable damage.  Many things can be fixed - a damaged zipper or a fallen hem - but some cannot: a gaping hole in a hard to patch area, a stain that won't budge, or the odor you just can't eradicate.

Third are those wardrobe components that are just hopelessly out of date - their time is gone and not coming back - we're talking leisure suits! Now we all know that today's off trend items MAY turn into tomorrow's heirlooms or kitschy vintage wonder.  If your dress or blouse in is pristine condition with classic lines I'll give you a bye here - you may carefully store it away.  However, if we are talking about the average passe piece with lots of wear, don't save it for the day the trend comes back.

Number 4 haunts almost all women at some time or another - clothes that just don't fit!  If it fit ten years ago, please see number 3.  Even if it fit last year, and you plan to lose or gain weight, remember - it might not happen the way you plan.  And, don't forget that as we age, our bodies just change.  What fit like a glove before may never fit like that again - either alter it or let it go!

Fifth on the list are clothes that may fit (technically) but are just not comfortable.  Here consider the overly itchy sweater, the blouse that gapes and reveals too much or the pants you constantly pull and readjust. Your clothes should be effortless to wear.  Only the compliments you receive should remind you of their presence!

The sixth stop on our list may have some members in common with some of the other lists - these are the clothes that you just don't wear.  Some of these may even still have tags on them from the day you purchased them.  The old rule of thumb still holds true - if you have not worn it in a year (all four seasons have come and gone) you probably won't and you can safely let it go.

Last but not least, it's time to get rid of clothes that don't portray the image you want to be sending out into the world.  If an item is just not you - the REAL you - it probably does not belong in your wardrobe.  I hear so many women say, "I don't really have a 'style'."  I hear you, but if this is you, start working on that!  Build from those pieces you have that make you feel fabulous!

I hope this inspires you to take a critical look at your closet. Let me know what you are letting go of, and why!  Next in this series: 5 Ways to Divest Yourself of Unwanted Clothing Without Using a Landfill.

also shared at My Repurposed Life!