#SewSolidarity with Garment Workers

#sewsolidarity logo

On April 24th it will be two years since the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh.

At least 1,133 garment workers were killed, and over 2,500 injured in the collapse. Many of the brands linked to Rana Plaza have failed to contribute at all / sufficiently to the compensation fund set up to support victims and their families, meaning the fund is still $9 million short of the amount required to provide adequate compensation.

Fashion reuse charity TRAID are asking sewists to take part in a #SewSolidarity challenge, to show solidarity with garment workers, and keep attention on Rana Plaza and the ongoing fight for adequate compensation, by refashioning a garment, giving it longer life, and showing solidarity with the garment workers who created it.

How to Take Part

  • Source a piece of clothing (from your wardrobe, a charity shop, or a friend) that was made in Bangladesh, or by a brand who was having clothing manufactured at Rana Plaza, or by a brand which manufactures in Bangladesh. The Clean Clothes Campaign has information on brands who were involved with Rana Plaza, including those who have failed to make adequate (or any) contribution to the compensation fund.
  • Refashion the clothing, and post your progress and the finished refashion online using the tag #SewSolidarity on, or in the lead up to, the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24 2015.

You may also want to challenge the brand who produced the original clothing item to pay into the Rana Plaza compensation fund / ask them about working conditions and safety in their factories (particularly, if using a clothing item by one of the companies who has, so far, failed to pay adequate compensation).

More information is available on my blog, and in TRAID’s blog post about the challenge, which includes a list of further resources.


If you’re not familiar with TRAID, the charity setting the challenge, their work is very pertinent to sewists, and is focused on reducing the negative impacts of textiles and the fashion industry on the environment and people’s lives.

TRAID do this by selling donated clothing, and garments produced from donated textiles, and investing the funds in global projects designed to improve conditions and working practices in the textile industry.

TRAID are a UK charity but their work is global, and I hope sewists worldwide will get involved.


Polka Dot Round Up

Well it’s the end of January (where did the month go!?) and so it’s time for a polka dot round up!

Ready to see spots?  Here we go . . .

Crazy Polka Dots Dress - Make It Nifty
A colorful dress from Vanessa

Polka dot sleeveless Jasmine blouse
A pretty Jasmine blouse by Caroline

January Theme - Simplicity 1364
Tasha’s spotted Simplicity 1364

A fun take on polka dots by Raphaelle

Red Knits_Polka Dot Maritime Shorts
Cheryl’s cool dotted Maritime shorts.

Nautical M6696
A great polka dot nautical shirt dress by Andie.

My dress.

Polka Dot Comino Cap
And Gillian‘s cute spotty Comino Cap tee.

There were a couple of pictures that Flickr wouldn’t let me access to post here, so click over to see aem2’s pretty red top, and Rachel’s comfy blue top.  To see all the polka dot action, go check out the Flickr group!  :)

Thank you to everyone for sharing your creations!  It’s been fun seeing polka dots pop up all month!



Season 3 of the Great British Sewing Bee kicks of tonight, here are the sewcialists who are participating

The third season of the Great British Sewing Bee (GBSB) kicks off tonight at eight (well, kind of). Whether televised sew-offs are exactly your thing, or you merely enjoy people frantically trying to keep their shit together under a load of stress and cameras, you’re good either way.

The series brings the same trusted recipe. A bunch of sewing challenges that you really should have more time for, a jury that includes dreamboat Patrick Grant who will be showing off his new swanky moustache (and his nice suits obviously), and last but not least, a bunch of amateur sewing peeps who will battle it out for eternal fame and glory.

There’s 10 contestants on the show, and we’re excited that five of them are part of the Sewcialists community. Four of those are even featured on the Sewcialists firehose.

If you’re looking for a favourite in this year’s GBSB, here are the candidates who are part of the Sewcialists family:

Alex from London

Alex is the one you can see ripping apart some poor fabric in the official trailer, and overall looks like she is not to be messed with. Don’t worry though, I know Alex and she’s super nice. On top of that, she was the first one to sign up for the firehose, and I secretly suspect her from putting the other ones up to it. (Obviously, that is a good thing)

Want to find out more about Alex? She tweets as @Sewrendipity, blogs at sewrendipity.com and has her profile as Sewrendipitous Alex on the firehose.

Deborah from Manchester

Deborah takes the crown for best screengrab from the trailer. Nothing really captures the frantic effort of the contestants as that shot of her where she seems to be ready to take a bite out of Patrick Grant (who can blame her). Don’t let those fangs fool you though, she is lovely.

But don’t take my worth for it, find out yourself: Deborah tweets as @DFabricate and blogs at dfabricate.blogspot.com. She’s on Pinterest, Google Plus and Flickr too, all that info and more via DFabricater on the firehose.

Neela from Surrey

Neela is on a mission. As a matter of fact, she puts the mission in “planning permission for an extension to the house“, just so she can have more space for sewing machines. Yes, you read that correctly, this lady is serious about her sewing. And she scores extra points for proudly displaying the Sewcialists logo on her blog, custom colours and all!

Neela’s blogs at sewfusion.co.uk and she’s on Twitter as @Sew_Neela_Bakes. For more info about Neela, including a link to her Facebook page, head over to neela on the firehose.

Matt from Berkshire

Did I mention that there are 4 male participants in this season of the GBSB (Yay for more men sewing!). Matt is the kind of guy who is just as comfortable with a sewing machine as with a bunch of power tools. He gets teased by his buddies for his sewing hobby, so it’s a bold move for him to thrust himself on the GBSB scene like this.

Matt blogs at sewwhatsnew.co.uk and tweets as @sewwhatsnewcouk. For these and more links, including his Pinterest account, check out Matt Chapple on the firehose.

Paul from Cheshire

Paul had me at “men aren’t well represented in the sewing world“. Amen brother. With 30 years of sewing experience, and a self-proclaimed frustration at the monotony of men’s clothing, my expectations are high.

Paul does not (yet) blog about his sewing escapades, but his Twitter handle is @SewingMan4Men, so you he’s legit Sewcialist material.

Wait there’s more

I’ve only highlighted some of the candidates who are already part of the Sewcialists community. The others are obviously also a lovely bunch, and might very well be Sewcialists without me knowing it.

Best way to discover them all is to tune in to the series. Tonight will be a recap of season two, so you’ll have to wait until next week to see the fresh faces.

In the meanwhile, there is The Great British Sewing Bee: Series 3 Launch Trailer to watch, the official BBC page of the program, and there’s a post over at thesewingdirectory.co.uk with more info on the different candidates. On social media, #GBSB is the hashtag to look for.

This is going to be fun :)

Update: Amanda from Darlington

Shortly after publishing this article, Amanda joined our ranks, so I wanted to make sure I included her in our little overview.

Amanda likes patterns and mathematics, and wants to teach children to sew. So obviously I already like her.

Amanda’s blog lives at aebgledhill.com a she tweets as @SewDeputy. All this and more info is also available here: Amanda at the firehose


January Theme – Polka Dots!

Happy New Year Sewcialists!!  I’m Marrie, and I blog over at purlsandpleats.  Now that it’s January, it’s time to get back to the monthly themes, and this month is polka dots!

I’m a polka dot lover, and have been looking forward to breaking out my dotted fabric this month.  Polka dots are great because they work for almost any pattern you can imagine.


polka dots

Skirts and Tops:

polka dots 3


Even outerwear:

polka dot 4


There’s also pajamas and loungewear, and for the bra-makers out there, maybe some pretty polka dot underthings:

polka dot 5


If wearing polka dot clothing isn’t your thing, maybe a polka dot bag or a cute throw pillow:

polka dots 2


I hope I’ve got you thinking all things polka dot for this month.  If you sew along, remember to add your finished projects to the Flickr group, and use the hashtag #polkadotjanuary on Twitter and Instagram.  Looking forward to seeing lots of spots this month!

Happy sewing everyone!


Sewcializing with a Sewcialist – November Edition

Hello fellow Sewcialists!  It’s Nisha from Blue Sunday  back with the November edition of Sewcializing with a Sewcialist.  This is our monthly highlight of a sewist from the Flicker pool.  We can never have too many resources or sources of inspiration … and that’s what Sewcializing is all about.  Sharing resources and inspiration.

The holiday season is fast approaching.  Why don’t we kick it off with a with a bit of happy?  I can’t think of a better catalyst for all things that bring joy than Winnie from Scruffy Badger Time.  I was initially exposed to Winnie’s blog during Oonapalooza, where she made the dress pictured below.  Queue the upbeat holiday music and the beverage of your choice … let’s settle in and hang out with Winnie for a bit.

Scruffy Badger Oona


How did you start sewing?

I have been sewing since I was a child (I’d say from about age 7) and was taught by my Mum (who was taught by her Mum who was taught by her sisters).    I can remember dreaming of the dolls’ clothes I was going to make as I fell asleep, these days it’s my clothes….I picked it back up again with gusto in a reaction to my emptying nest when my children left home….

What are a few of the ways you learn new skills and challenge yourself?

Learning new skills is such fun!  And for me that generally comes by picking something with a harder skill level & following the instructions.  I generally am a pattern instruction reader, as opposed to researching on the internet, & really enjoy seeing different approaches for completing the same process.  For example I have tried quite a few different methods for invisible zip insertion & it fascinates me how results can vary & be improved by small bits of others’ know how.  HOWEVER saying that, I love reading sewing blogs & some bloggers also leave revelations they discover about making a particular process easier by doing xyz.  It’s just one of the cool things about the online sewing community.

Scruffy Badger Pants

What is your best sewing organizational tip you can share and how has it helped keep you organized?

Oh I am organised am I?  My best organisational tip at a time when I had a long list of projects with various events to sew for, was to get down in the detail and project plan, with a whiteboard and my google calendar.  It was the only way that I could understand if this long list of projects was achievable.  I wrote more about that here.

What is your favorite online shopping retailer (for sewing fabric, notions, supplies) and why?

There are so many wonderful fabric shops, and I don’t think I’ve had a bad online experience.  I’ve had quite a few dealings with Minerva Crafts and Plush Addict.  Minerva offers a vast choice with a massive range available online, with quite a lot of bargains- if you know what you want it’s a good place to look first.  Plush addict on the other hand may cost a little more, but the quality of fabric is superb, and the prints available are cute, quirky and interesting. It’s a browser’s heaven, and sure to inspire.

Scruffy Badger Red Dress

What sewing tool can you absolutely not live without and why?

Now this is an interesting one!  In addition to the standard kit of scissors, pins, seam ripper I would have to say I’m a late convert to a silk organza press cloth & a sleeve board.  If I had to pick one, it would be the sleeve board – it’s good for so much more than sleeves – trouser legs can be pressed so much easier using one of these minis.  The silk organza is a huge boon for pressing whilst being able to see through the press cloth.  I use it to get a hotter iron heat on fabrics that maybe would shine, or scorch if ironing directly on them.  I also use it for attaching fusible interfacing to save my iron getting goo on it.

How do you sewcialize?

I have a workday routine that most days involves checking out Bloglovin with my morning cuppa to get a quick overview of what’s been happening.  During the workday I can’t sewcialise (and the temptation is greatly reduced by lack of wifi/ 3G coverage in my office :-)  ).  In non working hours, like everyone else I have to limit myself otherwise I wouldn’t get sewing,  I mean there is just so much out there!  But I dabble in twitter, instagram and a sprinkling of facebook- but I will generally return to Bloglovin or Pinterest for a quick fix maybe over my evening meal.  Then Saturday mornings spent lost in Pinterest …..sound familiar?! I reckon my contribution on IG/ Twitter has to be noticeably larger at weekends!  I love the Firehose – I think it’s such a cool idea.  (Then there is my own blog which I try to update with a couple of posts a week & respond to the lovely comments & queries- I suppose that is Sewcialising too)!

What’s your proudest sewing moment to date?

I have struggled with this one!!  I think I am probably most proud of things that use more skill (whether sewing techniques/ tailoring or learning about fitting) particularly if they are made from expensive fabric.    And out of all of my sewing output, I do not tend to sew a lot that fits this category!  (That’s a useful bit of self reflection!! And an area for improvement) So, my top three garments:  The Spearmint Coat that I pattern tested for Lolita patterns – it is made from Wool Melton and has a bound buttonhole, is embellished with some badger ricrac too.  It was my first coat & it feel so special.

scruffy-badger- Spearmint Coat

The Crepe Dress by Colette Patterns – I have only made it once, but it was my first real fitting challenge – I learnt soooo much through trial and error.  (The fabric was from Walthamstow, so not an expensive one).

Colette Dress

And my Flora dress by By Hand London – the fabric was awesome John Kaldor “pansies on acid” and I’d lined & piped it.  I love this dress.

By Hand London Flora

Since the holiday season is right on our heels and we’ll all need something FABULOUS in our closets to wear … what’s your “go to” party outfit?

My holiday staple over the Christmas period? It has to be my peplum charlotte skirt! It’s my party skirt without ever feeling over dressed!

Scruffy Badger Charlotte Skirt

Winnie’s my kind of girl.  There is no better way to end an interview than with a glass of champagne!  Winnie, thanks for taking the time to answer the questions AND for tolerating the emails.  It is greatly appreciated.  I love the happy you bring into the world with your enthusiasm and passion for sewing … its reflected in all you do!

What about you fellow Sewcialists?  Do you have “go to” pattern or outfit for the holidays?  Please share in the comments below.  Until next time!!



Wrap up your “Grease is the Word” projects!

It’s nearly time to choose the winners of the Grease Sewalong!

The deadline will be midnight GMT on  Sunday 16th November so please join the Flickr group here:


and upload your pics by then for a chance to win a fabric bundle from the lovely Minerva crafts people.

Can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with – there’s some really cute entries in already!  I am hoping I manage to finish mine as I’ve had my machine packed away for weeks due to home renovations!


It’s #SewDisney time!

Happy Halloween, sewcialists! Can you believe November starts tomorrow? And that means it’s time to kick off our new sewalong theme for the month–all things Disney/Pixar! I’m very excited to be co-hosting this with Katie–she’ll be checking in soon with some ideas for the kids in your life, and I’m going to show some things that will work for the rest of us!
After all, Disney costumes for adults can be a lot of fun. I was lucky enough to get to DragonCon this year, and made sure to take as many pictures of Disney-related costumes as I could find!
(Counter-clockwise from the left: a historically-inspired Cinderella, Anna and Elsa from Frozen, a lovely Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and my own Belle costume! Which you can read more about here if you’re interested.)
Practically speaking, though, aside from days like today and conventions, there’s not always an excuse to make a full-blown costume. But there’s still lots of ways you can bring some Disney magic into your everyday wardrobe! I’d heard of “Disney Bounding” before, but hadn’t really looked into it until recently. Apparently there’s a rule at the parks that adults can’t dress up in full costumes so they don’t get mistaken as park employees. So instead, costume-minded fans put together outfits inspired by their favorite characters, but with everyday modern clothes! The main blog for it is here, and I’m going to highlight just a few looks for some popular characters. (All of these should link to her original Polyvore sets.)
For instance, if you’re heading into winter like me, there’s always the Frozen option, like this one for Elsa:
 Perhaps you’re feeling a little more tomboyish, and Merida from Brave is more your style:
If villains are more your thing, this outfit is perfect for taking over Agrabah in style!
Jafar by leslieakay featuring a waist belt
And since it’s Disney, who says you have to go with a human character? How fun is this feminine take on Donald Duck’s nautical style?
Donald Duck
ariel-lieke-1One more example—Lieke recently posted her modern-day take on Ariel at The Monthly Stitch, and kindly granted me permission to share her lovely creation here! The sequined fabric couldn’t be more perfect for a mermaid, and adding the purple cardigan to give a nod to Ariel’s shell top was a pretty brilliant move. You can read more about her creation at her blog.
Katie and I are looking forward to seeing all of your creations in the Flickr group! You can also tag your Twitter posts or Instagram sneak peeks with #SewDisney. So what’s your favorite Disney/Pixar movies? Or what characters’ outfits inspire you to borrow their style?