In these unsettling times we are becoming ever more aware of the pace of change and it’s easy to feel that things are beyond our control and that we don’t have a say. But what if we decided to make our mark in our own way – not in the ‘old fashioned’ way of protest marching or casting the ballot for the same old party politics just with different coloured rosettes, but in a new way – with our purses and our feet. What if everyone decided all at once that “same old, same old” wasn’t good enough, wasn’t what serves us or the planet, and from that moment on we all did things differently?
Take the example of textiles. We all know just how much the textile industry pollutes clean water and how all the clothing and soft furnishings we buy are saturated with toxic chemicals which offgas into our rooms and are absorbed by our bodies through the skin. We think we have no alternative, but you may be surprised:
- Buy vintage: There are so many shops springing up offering good quality vintage clothing and often vintage fabric which predates the chemical saturation era. Most is so well made that it may even have a longer shelf life than something you buy today. And anyway who wants to be a High Street clone? Oxfam offer a selection of vintage online. Google vintage clothing with your town name or look on Yell in your local area or Freeindex.
- Organise a swishing party with friends: It’s the perfect time of year to declutter your wardrobe and have a fun evening trying on and swopping clothes with a group of girls over your favourite tea or a glass of wine. Find out how to organise a swishing party here, or if there is one local to you. Some more info and rules
- Revamp your wardrobe: lay out anything that looks and feels a bit tired and step back. That T shirt that’s always annoyed you because the sleeves were too long, could you just make it a short sleeve for the Spring? What about adding some beads, ribbon, trim, embroidery, buttons to freshen it up or to match the colour of a favourite cardigan or skirt? Or make one top into a vest, to wear over another. Make a skirt out of a pair of jeans by opening up the inside leg seams, or get ahead with a new pair of shorts. Use a scarf as a belt or make a bag out of an old felted pullover. The ideas for upcycling are endless, like this
- Jumble sales, community sales are making a comeback. Check out your local newspaper or parish magazine for boot fairs many of which will be in full swing by Easter.
- Many of the above will apply: local garage sales, swop shops, vintage shops, second hand shops. Check if there is a local curtain exchange. Look up eBay, Freecycle, etc,
- Make patchwork curtains and cushions: If your budget is tight and you have fabric to hand but not enough of any one, make a pretty patchwork or bands or stripes of colour. Buy a small piece of fabric to enhance what you already have and to create a coherent theme, for example, if you have lots of pink or red florals, buy some blue striped fabric, or polka dots as a contrast. Great for completing that shabby chic look. If your skills are a bit rusty, ask a friend or neighbour to help you. It’s fun sewing together, with tea and cake!
- If you are just bored of the style and feel of the room, how about making a Roman Blind out of an old curtain? This will make a room feel more fresh and modern in an instant. You don’t have to spend lots of money on tracks either. A wooden baton works just as well.
- Prefer a minimalist look? Wooden shutters are becoming more popular. They last a lot longer than curtains and are easy to maintain.
- When it comes to warmth and elegance, you just can’t beat a good pair of hand-made, interlined curtains though. They can set the tone of the room, and bring a softness and feeling of intimacy to a space.
- Organic fabrics for are becoming more readily available and gradually more affordable as the technologies improve, demand increases and production prices of cheaper fabrics worldwide begin to rise. You often only need to spend a little more to get healthy, quality organic cotton, linens and organic hemp which will last for years, meaning that over the product life cycle they actually work out much cheaper, and don’t cost the earth. Get together and help each other to make curtains and clothes, or find someone local who has the skills and get them to teach you.
Being creative and sitting back in the warm fuzzy glow of having made something yourself beats any shopping spree. It’s fun, it’s satisfying, it’s original and is often a fraction of the cost. So why not be the change and make more from less, make conscious choices how we spend, who we give our energy to, how we share our resources? Have you got an idea, a resource or a site to share?