Well, it’s been a while since I last sat down and typed up a blog post, but as this one is very long overdue . . . here goes!
My mom and sister and I have hosted quite a few tea parties through the years- from birthday parties, to girls youth events and now the Garden Tea is an event we hold every year at my family’s acreage. (I’ve talked about it here on the blog.)
This year the Tea was on May 26th, and the day of the party dawned cloudy, and around mid-morning it started raining. This was hardly a surprise as in previous years it has also rained, forcing the event indoors. However, as you might have guessed by the long-winded title of this post, by 3:00, when the party was to begin, the weather had cleared up, the sun was out with a gentle breeze (just enough to keep the bugs at bay!) and we were able to go outside! We really couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather for the party.
I took a few photographs of the decor, but the pictures didn’t turn out as well as the ones I took last year. Since almost everything was the same as last year, (including the lilac bouquets and chocolate squares) you can just refer to this post to see pictures of what the party decoration and food was like.
But, really, the “most” important part of any Tea Party is, of course, the attire, so instead of focusing on the decor, here is what I wore. This is the Garden Party dress I referred to in my blog post from last year. I have wanted to wear it before, but it just didn’t work out since the party was indoors. This year, however, with the party being out of doors, I could move well enough with this giant skirt without knocking people’s teacups over!
I made this dress about 5 years ago, or so.I don’t recall there being any special reason to make it- I just loved the fabric. The dress, which I always refer to as “The Garden Party” dress, is a pattern hack of Vogue 2962 and a regular bodice top and sleeve. This dress is just so much. There are about 4 metres of fabric in the skirt alone. It’s definitely not the sort of dress one wears on a daily basis- it’s just a tad fancier. Like if you were going to meet the Queen. Or something like that.
But, since meeting the Queen isn’t in the near future, a Ladies Garden Tea (which was actually held in a garden for once) will have to do! It was a lot of fun flouncing around in this dress. Although, I must admit that I actually didn’t wear this straw hat during the party, as the breeze kept knocking it off my head, and so I had to give up and go bareheaded.
Well, this is definitely not the best post I have ever written. I am a bit out of practice. . . but at least a picture is worth a thousand words and this is a rather picture heavy post. Thanks also to my lovely sister, who despite the fact that we are both out of practice of blogging, after a month hiatus, took these photos for me!
Hope you are all doing well and enjoying your summer so far. (It might not technically be summer yet, but as we’ve had 34 degree weather lately. . . it’s summer!)
Truth: I hate the smell of mountain ash. I was just doing this for the sake of photo.
Today’s post is brought to you by a combination of my favourite things: books, vintage, tea and ethical fashion! These pictures are actually from two months ago, but after a delay in posting, I decided that they were perfectly suited to Fashion Revolution Week, so here they are now!
It is so satisfying to create a completely ethically sourced outfit, but, unfortunately, that is easier said than done, isn’t it?
Since I started dressing ethically, a few years ago, the one thing that I am constantly reminded of when shopping is that it is so incredibly hard to do! I wish that I could just walk into any store, find whatever clothes I liked and that I wouldn’t have to ask, “Who made my clothes, were they made sustainably and are they made to last?” I hope for that day, and that is why I care so much about Fashion Revolution Week (which is this week in case you didn’t realize!) But until that day comes, it can be hard to figure out how far to take the commitment to shopping sustainably: Do you sometimes buy things that are not made ethically? Do you go without if you can’t find a sustainable option? Do you rely on secondhand for everything? What about basics? (like socks and underwear. . . they are kind of necessary!)
When I made the commitment to dress ethically, I originally wanted to buy everything 100% ethically, whether it was secondhand, made by me, or bought from a fair trade brand. However, Canada, especially small town Alberta, is not a hotbed for ethical shopping. Some things are easy to find- you can easily source secondhand clothing, or even ethically produced clothing online, for example, but there are other things that are harder to find.
One such item is hosiery. I wear tights almost every day in the winter, and pantyhose other times throughout the year. But hosiery, especially pantyhose, is one of those fashion basics that is made very cheaply, and very unsustainably nowadays. It is one of the biggest fashion “consumables” that is contributing to making the fashion industry the second most polluting on the planet (after only the oil industry). I can find hosiery that is made in Canada, but it is more difficult to find good quality hosiery that will last more than a few wears without getting a run or pills. Nowadays, you are lucky to get a pair of pantyhose to last even a few wears, before you’ve got to throw them in the trash, and most pairs of pantyhose are worn only once. When I say that I want to shop “sustainably”, I don’t just mean that I want to buy “Made in Canada” (which is nice), but that I also want to buy items that aren’t creating a cycle of waste. Wearing something once, and then having to throw it out because it can’t be repaired, is not a sustainable way to dress. It’s actually ridiculous, when you think about it.
Enter, Swedish Stockings. My mom heard about this company and told me about it last year. I debated over ordering some pantyhose at the time, but as I had just stocked up, (on some cheap ones that didn’t end up lasting very long) I decided to wait. Well, in January, when my black opaque tights got a hole in them I finally decided to place an order.
This company is based in Sweden, and is the maker of “eco friendly pantyhose for women”, with a goal of revitalizing the entire pantyhose industry. In order to do that, they have come up with some great ways to make the hosiery industry more sustainable.
They make their pantyhose from recycled nylon. Most pantyhose are made out of petroleum (aka: nylon and polyester) which is extremely polluting to the environment, both when it is made, and afterwards, as it doesn’t biodegrade. Yay . . . our throwaway pantyhose is literally covering the earth. Who else wants to live on a landfill? They use nylon industry waste, diverting it from the landfill, and their stockings contain 76% – 97% recycled content.
The company has a recycling program to close the loop of stockings waste in the fashion industry, so you can send them any brand of old pantyhose and they will recycle them. They don’t make the old ones into new tights, as the technology to separate and break down textile fibres has not been invented yet (get on with it scientists!) but they take them and melt them down for fibreglass industrial tanks. In this way they have diverted millions of pairs of pantyhose from the landfills.
Sending them your old tights to recycle is nice- but wait- it gets better! If you send in three or more pairs, you get a coupon to spend online! Now that is really a win-win situation, is it not? That’s what I did- and I also ordered 2+ pairs in order to get free worldwide shipping.
Anyways, they’ve got tons of more sustainability cred, but I won’t write it all out here. They’ve got a page here, with certifications and a bunch of other great facts- so just hop over there to read more, as it is quite interesting. It is so wonderful to find a company that seems to really get the whole sustainability thing- and is actually doing something about it.
So, what did I think of the tights? I got the black opaque Lia Premium in both tights and leggings, and a pair of Elin Premium in the colour “medium”.
I am wearing the Elin tights here. When I took them out of the box, they were so tiny they looked like they were made for a small child. I was wondering if they would fit, as they were so small, but they stretched out fine. The yarn was thicker than regular pantyhose and it didn’t feel fragile as I put them on. They did have great elasticity, as when I took them off, they shrunk back down, and weren’t stretched out at all. But- this is an honest review here- I wasn’t as happy with the Elin as my first impression promised. The second time I wore them they got a run, and the fabric started pulling away from the seams in the gusset in the crotch. It was disappointing, especially since they cost more than a regular pair of pantyhose, so I decided to email Swedish Stockings and share my frustrations. Their customer service was great, and they said that the Elin is their most delicate pair of pantyhose, and so I decided to try out a sturdier pair instead. I am going to try the Irma, which is a 30 denier, and I am hopeful that they will be better, since I have tried “support hose” from different brands before and been happy with the quality.
As for the other pairs I ordered, I wore my Lia leggings and tights quite often during the winter. Now that it is spring, the 100 denier is too thick and opaque so I haven’t been wearing them anymore. I decided to get both the tights and the leggings, because in winter I wear boots all the time, and the feet on my tights always get worn out. I wore the leggings in my boots, since you couldn’t see that they were footless, and then saved the tights for open shoes. This way I preserved the feet on the tights, rather than wearing them out with constant wear. I am super happy with the Lia tights and leggings as they are very good quality. After a few wears, they started stretching out a bit, so I gently hand washed them and they sprung right back into shape. They haven’t gotten any snags or runs, and they haven’t started unraveling anywhere either. They are quite strong and are wonderfully opaque- although they are a little bit shiny- so if you want a matte stocking, these would not be the ones for you. For comparison, I got a pair of cheap footless tights last fall, and they turned out to be a total disaster. The Lia is high waisted, so you don’t have any lines under your skirts or dresses, but the cheap-disasterous-footless-tights were low rise, which was both uncomfortable (very bunchy feeling) and impractical, as you could see the line where they ended on my hip. The fabric on the cheap leggings also snagged very easily and the hem started unraveling the first time I started wearing them! So- all that to say that I am extremely happy with the Lia tights and leggings.
I will definitely be buying from Swedish Stockings again in the future. In fact, it will probably be difficult for me to not just keep buying! (They have quite a few that I love. . . the Rut Net is calling my name. . .) And, I will continue sending in all my old pantyhose too, in order to keep it out of the trash, in my endeavour to live as zero waste as I can. It is so great to find another company that I feel good about buying from; you’ve got to buy clothes, so why not buy them from a company that is doing something worthwhile, right?
As for the rest of my outfit, while it isn’t 100% ethical, I’m getting there. I would love to be able to know #whomademyclothes – all of my clothes- and not have to wonder whether they were paid a living wage or work in a safe environment. I hope for a day when I do not even have to ask this question, because it will just be given that all clothing is ethically sourced – but we aren’t there quite yet.
In the meantime, I do what I can: wearing vintage and thrifted clothes, making my own clothes, investing in quality and seeking out sustainable brands, like Swedish Stockings. Is my wardrobe 100% ethical? No, not yet, but small changes do make big differences!
I think that since this is my last post for this Fashion Revolution Week, I will close with this great quote by Orsola De Castro, the founder of Fashion Revolution.
I don’t think it’s possible to have 100% within (your) wardrobe clothes that were designed or made sustainably or ethically. I think that is going to be very difficult, (at this point in time) but I think it is possible to make sustainable and ethical choices about all of the clothes you have in your wardrobe. So, somehow, you can refresh with love and turn them into something they weren’t originally. . . .
Have you ever heard of Swedish Stockings? Will you give them a try? What are your thoughts on balance in trying to shop ethically vs. also needing to have clothing even if it isn’t ethically made?
ps. I purchased the stockings myself, and haven’t been compensated in any way to write this post.
I did not spend my Easter in the laundry room. However, I did not want to brave the cold weather for photos, so my laundry room had to serve as an impromptu photo studio for my Easter Sunday outfit this year! It actually worked surprisingly well, though, so you might just see more of this location in future posts, especially since I refuse to take any more photos out in the snow.
Anyways, regarding the outfit, which is probably what you want to hear more of, (though I could keep talking about the laundry room if you’d like. . .) I like to wear an “Easter bonnet” each year. Actually I like to wear them every other day of the year too, but on Easter it just seems more appropriate to wear your most outrageous hat, don’t you think?
This navy blue tulle 1960’s pillbox with a random blue ribbon decoration, won for this year’s outfit. It is my most ridiculous hat, and it is all the better because it only cost $1 from a thrift store. (Some people might say that $1 was too much…) It was as flat as a pancake when I found it, and required steaming it back into shape, but I’m so glad I got it because it’s the most hilarious hat I’ve ever worn, it vaguely resembles a cake, and every time I wear it, I love it all the more, simply because it is so over-the-top.
I did originally want to wear a new (much less ridiculous) hat I bought last week, and a sundress, but this year Easter came early and Spring has come late and so, instead of sunshine and flowers, we were dealing with snowstorms and bitter winds. Thus, that outfit will have to wait until the weather warms up a bit more. And so for Easter Sunday, this was my “It’s still Winter out there so I am wearing this navy dress, but I have put a lace jacket over top to make it feel a bit more like Spring is on the way” outfit.
I really don’t have much else to say, so that’s all for now- I hope you all have a wonderful week!
This hat is my first sewing project of the year which, ironically, wasn’t even on my #makenine list! However, I am delighted to have finished one project so far this year, especially since my other current project is taking a lot more time to finish than I would like it to.
I said yes, of course, and just this past weekend I got around to making the hat. I have never had much success sewing hats- I made a newsboy style cap for my sister once, which was really cute, but so many of the hats I make for myself seem to fail. I once attempted to make a pillbox, but it turned out looking more like a fez. 🙁 So it was with trepidation that I approached this pattern, hoping that it would turn out well, but also afraid I would end up with another fez. Well, of course, I should not have feared! Tanith has made a wonderful hat pattern- and I love how this hat turned out!
When I first got the pattern, I spent quite a while trying to decide which fabric I should use, because I wanted to make sure that it was something that would coordinate with my wardrobe. After almost cutting it out of a different fabric, I remembered that I had some green wool scraps left over from my cape last year. I only had a few strips (several inches wide) and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to fit all of the pattern pieces in, but, as Tanith mentions, this pattern is good for recycling leftover pieces of fabric and all of the pattern pieces fit. (With absolutely no room to spare- and none leftover! Yay for using up fabric scraps!)
I made the eight section hat, with a narrow band, and I didn’t topstitch the segments. This is because I am that seamstress who looks at a pattern (even one with every combination known), and picks out the one option that isn’t pictured on the pattern. I think that the topstitching gives the beret a sportier look, and also stiffens the pieces, so my hat is rather soft and floppy compared the pictures on her pattern. The wool I used was also rather soft, compared to melton or other stiff wool. The weight of your fabric is definitely something to keep in mind.
The hat went together very quickly. I made it in a few hours including: laying out the pattern, cutting, sewing, unpicking my bad stitches and then resewing, and then finally pressing and steaming the hat into shape. If you’ve been following my sewing projects for any length of time, you will know that a finished project in that short amount of time is pretty amazing since all of my sewing projects take me forever to complete.
After I finished sewing the segment pieces together, I laid the hat out flat, and even though it wasn’t pressed yet, I could tell that it was going to be too small. Because I was afraid of the hatband also being too small which would result in the hat sitting on the top of my head like a pancake (strangely enough…not the look I was going for), I measured my head and then cut my hatband out at that measurement + seam allowance, sewed the hatband together at the sides, and tried it on to make sure it fit. Because there is a 5/8″ (1cm) seam allowance included in her pattern, I simply resewed the segment piece seams at 3/8″ and then tapered the seams towards the bottom to fit the circumference of the hatband. Once I had resewed the seams it was a simple matter of attaching it to the hatband, adding a covered button and then I was done. Tanith does mention in her pattern that any seam or cutting discrepancies can drastically change the size of the hat- just 1mm in cutting error will result in a 1.6 cm difference once the pieces are sewn up. My hat might have also turned out too small because of printing error- I did print it at 100%, but there could have been a problem there too. Either reason, it doesn’t really matter in the end because she, fortunately, included wide enough seam allowances for me to make the necessary adjustments with no problems! I would recommend if you sew this pattern, just measure the pieces before you cut them out to make sure the sizes are all right.
So, what was my opinion of Tanith’s pattern? I really like how this hat turned out, and am thrilled to now have a matching cape and hat set. I am already contemplating future versions too; velvet would be nice, and perhaps some more outerwear and hat sets, because you can’t get more vintage than that, right?
As for this outfit, which I wore on Sunday, I paired the hat and cape with a fur collar, black tights and shoes, and my kraken necklace, which I thought deserved an outing. Peeking out from under my cape is the Vogue 8789 dress which I seem to be wearing on repeat lately. I tried the outfit with a black purse, but it was just too much black, so I ended up choosing this silly plastic covered feather clutch which I rarely ever carry, because it’s too small to hold anything other than my phone and a lipstick! But, it was a perfect finishing touch, and I always love wearing ridiculous vintage pieces, if I can 😉
All in all, I am very happy, both with this pattern, and how this outfit turned out- despite the freezing cold these photos were taken in. (The sunshine is deceptive) I was tempted to do an indoor photoshoot, but decided that a cape and hat set needed to be set against a winter background, so my sister and I braved the weather just long enough to quickly snap these and then run back inside to sit by the fire and warm up with a hot cup of tea!
Have you ever sewed a hat before or would you? Have you seen or tried out the Grevillea Beret pattern yet? Would you make a matching outwear and hat set? And- is it starting to feel like Spring where you live, or are you still in the depths of Winter too!?!
(Ps- I was wondering why the pattern was called the “Grevillea Beret” so I Googled it, of course, and discovered that a Grevillea is a type of Australian flower. I wondered whether the hat looked like the flower. . . but then I looked at the image search here and it does not look anything like it! Although- a Grevillea inspired hat would be most interesting, don’t you think? 😉 haha!)