Which Small Sewing Businesses To Support This Christmas
In line with Ethical Hour's campaign #ShopEthicalInstead, we take a look at some of our favourite textile-oriented small businesses that we recommend you support, whether through this festive season, or anytime you feel you'd like some time out to sew slow and sustainably. Most definitely not an extensive list, but one that we feel inspires and delights - from the act of what these entrepreneurs are doing, to the very nature of the products you purchase or make yourself.
Neda is the author of shoe and bootmaking eBook, A Step-By-Step Guide To Making Artisan All Leather Shoes And Boots At Home. There's even one on sandal-making if you're thinking ahead. Also a great gift if you know someone who needs a nudge. But the projects include making a Derby shoe, an ankle boot, a high rise boot and a boot with a bellows tongue. And if you head over to Neda's Instagram feed @secondskinblog, you can see the magnificent samples of her own.
If you are against using leather, we have some PU leather (in smooth and textured) that you could have a play with, perhaps in making your own leather accessories with a Yodomo course (see below). If you're interested about the Ethical Ways To Work With Leather, as a Professional Member of The Sustainable Fashion Collective, you can access a full Masterclass on the topic.
Made My Wardrobe
Made My Wardrobe are releasing a Greta Dungarees sewalong workshop over four Thursdays. In this video, Lydia shares her reasoning behind producing a free online course for sewists to follow along with at home. You probably won't have time now to order fabric ready for the launch on Thursday 24th November, but you can still purchase the PDF pattern. Perhaps you already have the paper pattern but not yet started making (like us), giving you that sign from above to take the time out for yourself. You can also still sign up, and follow along later if you do want to purchase some eco fabric.
For the Greta Dungarees, we recommend our fair trade organic white denim (that you can naturally dye and embroider) or black denim. It works lovely in weightier linen, plain weave cottons, a heavier viscose twill. But note, if you do use our handwoven denim, you'll need more than the estimated maximum 2.8 metres, as it's only 68.5cm wide (however, then you get to utilise the funky selvedge).
Sophie creates all of the Agnes LDN textiles goodies in her own home, from well-considered fabrics that will help you kick habits of disposables. For instance, the Furoshiki wraps are a simple square with rolled hem, but have the ultimate effect at feeling more thoughtful - perfect for gifting, but also suitable for your own picnic packing! We also love the carrier tote for its flatter design that aids in transporting fresh loaves and unpackaged vegetables. But, for something more personalised and with an ability to be used year on year, you can go for a stocking or advent calendar.
While you're probably here because you're interested in sewing, there is the occasion where time feels limited, or you just really appreciate what someone else has lovingly designed and made. And that's where makers like Sophie with Agnes LDN come in. If you do fancy making your own textile reusables, we have a host of ethically-sourced remnants, organic cotton sewing thread, and sustainably-made ribbons and tapes along with of course a whole range of beautiful handwoven textiles.
This business is a firm favourite with us. Not only do they bring the community together by increasing curated collaboration, they provide online courses (before it was a 2020 thing) in a straightforward, easy to follow manner with detailed video instructions. Yodomo comes from the words 'You Do More', and brings the expertise of independent artists and makers directly to you at home, accessed anywhere, at any time - so perfect for continued lockdown, and festive downtime.
Their kits range from being online only, to also equipping you with materials. These macramé wreaths from Heather Orr are items that you can come back to year on year, or even develop as a long-term home decoration. The leather clutch bag kit from Love and Salvage is fun, and again allows you to gift or make something for yourself that can replace a less-personal (plasticky) option. And if you're looking to find a gift for someone new to sewing, then the cushion kit - taught by Barley Massey of our favourite Fabrications - is one to consider, especially as you'll receive a handwoven block printed textile from us!
And if you were inspired by our Instagram post of sublimation printed recycled polyester satin from Witch Mountain, maybe you'd like to give cyanotype textile printing with embroidery a go yourself.
Made And Worn
Made And Worn developed the most tremendous app that allows you to follow along with knitting tutorials, and save where you're at. If you're new to knitting, struggle to get to grips with patterns, or just want to try a new style, then Made And Worn actually give you the ease and personalisation to suit this. Choose a style, put in your measurements, and there you go, you have you very own customised pattern ready to follow along with.
This year, they have also created a space for knitters to share their projects. Rather than struggling along alone, or missing the chat that comes with knitting nattering, join their Make Wear Thrive community.
If you're a Professional Member of The Sustainable Fashion Collective, you'll be able to access the lesson from Ruby and Alice as they explain where the app idea came from, how their background in software engineering comes into play, and why they want to build a community of knitters.
In A Haystack
In a Haystack helps stitchers discover sewing patterns, fabrics, and small creative businesses - which at the very beginning of their launch, also included us! Every month you get a digital sewing pack sent straight to your inbox, giving you sewing knowledge and treats which you can explore with a lovely online community, the ‘haystack pack’! The packs are carefully considered, so that the fabric merchants and the pattern company have something in common, and then the treats are a surprise giving up the opportunity to really get excited about making time for yourself.
As we know from putting together our own subscription boxes, there is a lot of logistics involved in organising a sewing pack. We of course have considerately curated our own Mystery Sewing Boxes so that you have options, and everything is ethically and sustainably produced. Yet, while ours are perhaps aimed more at gifting to a new sewist due to the physical assortment of goodies, In A Haystack's packs will offer the more seasoned maker the opportunity to discover the vibrant community and carve time out for themselves.
Plants And Colour
Flora Arbuthnott is a natural colourist, taking inspiration and connection from nature to produce botanical dyes and inks. You can take an online natural dyeing course with her in December or January, along with courses specifically on bundle dyeing and ink-making. Flora's work is astonishingly beautiful, in the way that it entices you to learn and reflect. Even just stepping over to the blog, you'll find resources on what plants to look for for dyeing and herbal remedies, how to propogate dye plants and what permaculture is in line with natural dyeing.
We hope that in time, nature walks will resume - and in talking of connection, it's always so uplifting to know of how the textile world does link; Flora (normally) runs nature connection sessions with Ida Fabrizio, who Steph (me, writing this), trained under/with in organic food growing. The flax growing process was conducted in this same place, and there are countless conversations with Kate of In A Haystack about her own home-grown flax.
If you're a Professional Member of The Sustainable Fashion Collective, you can actually find a lesson from Flora with an Introduction To Natural Dyeing, that takes you through the most common dye plants, an overview of the dyeing process, and what mordants to consider.
Khushi Kantha makes ultra-soft, one-of-a-kind, multi-purpose baby blankets, hand-stitched from reclaimed cotton. Their mission is to create opportunities for mothers from the communities hosting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, to provide for their children with dignity, and contribute to the circular economy, promoting a shift from take-make-waste, to reclaim-repurpose-reuse.
‘Kantha’ (which translates as “stitched cloth”) refers to the tradition of mothers crafting blankets for their babies by stitching together their old saris. It is also the name given to the traditional embroidery stitch that is applied over the top. ‘Kantha’ can also simply mean ‘blanket’. ‘Khushi’ is the Bengali term for ‘happy’ – ‘Khushi Kantha’ therefore means ‘Happy Blanket’.
The idea was inspired by the birth of founder Laura Rana's half-British, half-Bangladeshi twin daughters, Opi and Mahi, and her first-hand experience of working in the Rohingya refugee camps.
Khushi Kantha aims to repurpose the ‘kantha’ tradition, by using reclaimed saris for the inside layers of the blankets, and sourcing deadstock cotton fabric for the outside, to which the traditional ‘kantha’ embroidery stitch is applied. Bangladesh is famous for its garments industry. Lots of fabric sadly ends up getting wasted at various stages of the supply chain. This is a particular challenge the industry is facing right now, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Khushi Kantha wants to collaborate with like-minded companies to rescue this fabric from landfill.
The blankets are open for auction until November 28th 2020, with all proceeds going to fund a production unit in Bangladesh once restrictions ease. Find details here: https://khushikantha.com/auction/ (link also in link tree).
Yes, us! We obviously appreciate your continued support, and your drive to use a more ethical and/or sustainable option when you're sewing. And even just the act of sewing something yourself takes away the faceless power from high street brands. As our sister business - the website platform you're on - is all about providing guidance for fashion and creative businesses looking to work more responsibly, so to does this affect the sewing community. Every decision you make in creating a garment has an affect. Think about it - even down to the thread you use; Where does the raw material come from? Who made the plastic reel and can I recycle it? Will the cloth be affected when I wash this garment?
This is why we choose to create our Mystery Sewing Boxes. Considerately curated, our Mystery Sewing Gift Boxes are a treat whether you’re a sewing newbie or a seasoned maker. Containing ethical sustainable fabrics, thread, buttons, elastic, a voucher for a PDF sewing pattern and breaktime treat, this is a gift that will delight.