Yesterday on our Fashion Revolution blog tour I introduced you Lebenskleidung from Berlin. Today we are talking about using and processing fabrics like those from Lebenskleidung and I am very excited that Ulrike from Moritzwerk Blog has answered my questions about sewing and sustainability.
I’ve known Ulrike and her blog for a while and she immediately came to my mind when I planned the blog tour for the Fashion Revolution Week. Ulrike is not only interested in „fast sewing and DIY“. She stands for more like sustainability, like the value of things and for quality rather than quantity …
Interview with Ulrike from Moritzwerk:
Dear Ulrike, in your blog you write
This (blog) is about a creative life, handmade design, natural materials, sustainable ideas, upcycling projects and individual products”
In addition to that, you care about sustainability and you use almost only organic fabrics. First of all, I would like to know since when you sew, how you came up to it and whether the idea of sustainability was crucial for you to start sewing. Or did one result in the other?
Hello Silke, thank you for the invitation! I am very happy that sustainability is gaining a stronger foothold in the sewing scene and I am happy to share my understanding of this topic with you.
I grew up with sewing machines all around me and loved to sit under the old pedal-singer of my grandfather as a small child and listened to the buzzing of the belt and the clanking of the needles and often looked over my mom’s shoulder when she was sewing and knitting. Then there was a longer break but in the early twenties I grabbed my mom’s old machine and just started. At first I pimped T-shirts but with the birth of my daughters I really started sewing. Since 2014, I have been sewing regularly and there is hardly no project that I would not dare to do.
In the beginning I did not think about sustainability at all. I am a graduated product designer and love designing things. As garments are products that come so close to us like nothing else it made sense for me to adapt these products to our needs. Also, I’ve never liked to go shopping. My ideas are always much too concrete and I just do not want to compromise when it comes to fashion. So there was nothing closer than to take it on myself!
The aspect of sustainability arised later. In the early days, I often sewed clothes for my children out old garments, because “good fabrics” were too expensive and too precious for my rudimentary sewing skills. Two or three years ago, when I realized that I really know to sew and that my self-made clothes were really worn a rethinking started. Since then, I always try to use organic cotton. Unfortunately, this is not possible with every piece of clothing and sometimes I simply fall in love with a fabric that is not GOTS-certified. But I’m not dogmatic at this point. Some types of fabrics are just not organic (yet).
You have children and probably also know how fast a shirt is too small again or that a pair of trousers needs 10 x patching in a month. It is a special challenge though not to buy some cool jeans for 10 € at a discounter. What is your strategy or vision at this point?
Of course I know about that problem, but nonetheless I do not go to a discounter. When time is too short to sew (and that’s unfortunately often), I go to one of the beautiful second-hand shops here and I’m sure I’ll find what my kids need right now. Whenever something new has to be bought, I choose high quality garments that are very likely to be inherited well in the family, or get a second chance at the flea market to maximize their lifecycle. When sewed, I try to make a more complex project as unisex as possible, so that all three of my children (my daughters are 6 and 4, my son one and a half) could theoretically wear it. For example like this Parka I made. Of course, that does not make much sense with girls’ clothes, but with basic pieces like trousers, T-shirts, some jackets or sweaters you can pay attention to that before starting to sew. Unfortunately, this only works as long as the kids are ok with this. My daughters can still be well influenced, but at some point the pressure on the outside gets stronger. Then hopefully enlightenment will help…
In addition, I have recently started to put some kind of “red thread” in my children’s wardrobes, so to most of the garments match together well. I already have this in mind when buying fabric and stay in a certain color scheme. But this is still a long way to go!
It is often said and written “Sewing is my yoga”, “it relaxes and gives rest”, etc. On the other hand there are the social media and the urge to produce and share images and videos more and more and faster and faster. How do you feel about this development for your everyday life, that has very different things in focus.
As a business economist and blogger, I am very aware of the impact and importance of social media. Those who do not deliver enough high-quality content often quickly lose their reach. A bad word, but I do not want to leave it unmentioned. Because without reach we could stick our photos onto the kitchen window, that would have a similar effect. The social media creates an great pressure, which one has to learn to deal with first.
Especially in the sewing scene you are confronted with so many beautiful pictures of newly sewn garments every day. On the one hand this is a wonderful source of inspiration, but on the other hand creates a pressure to keep up with it. Producing clothes every day just to be able to show the on Instagram & Co completely contradicts to the understanding of sustainability.
That’s why I launched Flatlayfridiy on Instagram earlier this year. I saw all the beautiful self-sewn things in the cabinets of my family and suddenly thought it’s so sad that they are only shown once on the blog and then seem to disappear into oblivion. There are usually so many more options to combine them than this one outfit that you chose on the day of the photo shoot. For other big photoshoots I have – like most other seamstresses in the community – far too little time. The solution are Flatlays, so laid out outfits. Although a good flatlay is also not just done in two minutes, it’s still much less complicated than a “real” photo shoot. You only need a good outfit, an appealing surface and enough light.
With the Flatlayfridiy I would like to create a counterbalance on Instagram to the delusion, producing new stuff again and again. The response to this project was – and still is -overwhelming! Often I get the feedback that because of Flatlayfridiy seamstresses rediscovered old, long forgotten garments and thought about new outfits through new combinations. And along the way, you also produce beautiful content for social media. The flatlayfridiy takes a bit of pressure out of sewing and still makes you happy.
Fairly produced fabrics and clothes still have the reputation of being “Boring” and “eco”. What do you mean?
I think by now organic fashion has lost its stale eco-image, and there are many fair-manufacturing fashion companies offering cool, mainstream-ready clothes, such as Armedangels or Kings of Indigo. Only if you look closely, you can distinguish fair-produced eco-fashion from conventional garments: eco-fashion does not follow any old trend, but largely relies on calm colors and classic cuts so that their garments stay last and not just end up in the bin after one season. Exceptions, however, confirm the rule, because fashion should still be fun – even (or just) in sustainable.
This also applies to organic Fabrics. Usually there are no new collections with ten different patterns, colors and textures every week. This should not be! I think that a really good organic material is characterized by the fact that it is still modern after two, three or ten years.
In the end, no one can tell if a sweater is sewn from a conventional or GOTS-certified sweat, but we as makers know it and are secretly pleased to make the world a tiny bit better. I think seamstresses it’s in our hands how “eco” we look like. And for those who can not or do not want to sew there re already enough sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives in the stores.
You know well where to buy organic fabric! Can you give us a few tips about where you get your fabrics from?
For children’s clothing such as T-shirts and leggings there is hardly anything better than the Nosh Jerseys (https://en.nosh.fi/). You can get it in Germany occasionally in online shops via DaWanda and the full collection directly from the Nosh online store from Finland. The shipping costs are manageable, but you have to expect up to two weeks shipping time.
Albstoffe produces great knits in Germany. They are available in (almost) every online and Fabric Stores. From simple organic erseys to extravagant knitwear jacquards you already find a lot here.
If you are looking for woven fabrics, it’s getting a bit more difficult. They are available from Cloud9, Birch and others. You will find some for example at Eulenmeisterei (http://eulenmeisterei.de/). Silvia only uses GOTS-certified and organic fabrics, which even enthuse those who like playful patterns and bold colors. Some basics complete their offer.
More decent organic fabrics you will get at Siebenblau (http://www.siebenblau.de/). This shop works really sustainably without running after any seasonal trends and is even GOTS certified.
Lebenskleidung (https://www.lebenskleidung.com/) is relatively new to the piece goods market, offering not only quite classic fabrics such as striped jersey and denim but also some innovative products such as 3D knit and water-repellent functional fabric – of course everything in organicly produced. I particularly like the stretch jersey because it is so beautiful.
In summary, it can be said that one can now stumble upon organic fabrics almost everywhere. Sometimes it helps to look at the label and look for the GOTS certification or just to ask for it directly. In any case it’s important to finally check the fabrics because sometime your do not organic or certified fabric although you thought it is the right place to buy some and vice versa.
Do you think that there can be something like a fashion revolution? What do you think would be the chances to arise a greater awareness when buying clothes?
The fashion revolution has long arrived in the sewing scene. It’s clear to everybody who sews that with a shirt for three euros something must be wrong. And the growing supply of fashionable and affordable organic fabrics adds to the sustainability of sewing. The awareness of fair fashion is there and it is growing slowly but steadily.
In the Ready-to-Wear segment, however, it is certainly important that fair brands gain notoriety and become more prevalent in the mainstream. Or that conventional manufacturing companies enter into a kind of self-commitment. Legal provisions would also be a way, but unfortunately difficult to enforce globally.
I think the most sustainable solution is comprehensive education, which should start with the smallest of our societies. Even in elementary school, children should learn who make their clothes (and also the other products of daily life) so that they grow up into responsible, consumers. The topic has to be discussed at schools and universities, and of course at home, and should resonate in the media more often, until it has finally reached everyone. The road is long and it is an intergenerational task and challenge that I set myself and for which I work for. Are you joining?
Dear Ulrike, thank you very much for this interesting and exciting interview and all the advices and tipps you shared!
Ulrike has two girls and a little boy to dress. For all of you who also have boys to dress (or whose daughters prefer to wear cool boys-clothes…) todays tip is “The Band of Rascals” a label for fair and organic boys clothes. As I have two sons (8 & 11) I was very happy to find them and more as they now offer garments up to size 158!
Behind “The Band of Rascals” are Peter Blunck and Dirk Rosenthal, two fathers who got into conversation in late autumn 2013 at a playground in Cologne. Both noted that there are too few sustainably produced, good designed clothes for their sons and so a new business idea was born: a fashion label for children in organic quality.
Produced in Portugal. Dirk Rosenthal works in direct contact with the sewing industry and ensures compliance with the strict Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), with which the company has been certified. This organic standard guarantees the customer that the purchased garment has been produced in an environmentally friendly way and under fair working conditions. *
Today I am very pleased to give away a 50 € coupon from Band of Rascals on schnittchen blog! If you are still looking for cool T-shirts or shorts for your kids for this summer, please leave a comment until tonight (April 24) 12 p.m. CET. The winner will be announced here on the blog tomorrow. Good luck!