The effect of our decisions on the environment

This post is a bit of a rant. Holy Week is a time for serious thought! I wondered what to write about this week, for publication on Maundy Thursday.

The Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge is about to begin. I haven’t finished reading any books, so a What I read post is not possible. So here is something I feel strongly about. The size of the problem is overwhelming. However if everyone did a little to reduce their use of plastic and synthetic materials, it would make a significant difference.

I have taken part in two organised beach cleans in the past few months and picked up litter on other occasions, putting plastic bottles and drinks cans in recycling skips. It is well-known that litter finds its way through inland waterways to the oceans.

There is a huge campaign against litter, plastic and other forms of pollution, which are damaging wildlife, especially marine life. The proliferation of hashtags relating to these issues bears witness to its reach on social media. Here are a few:-

#Plastic, #PlasticFree, #PlasticPollution, #BanPlastic, #PlasticKills, #PlasticFreeCoastlines, #2MinuteBeachClean, #StopThePlasticTide, #SurfersAgainstSewage

What I really want to highlight in this post is how our decisions regarding items we buy can also affect the environment. Much clothing is manufactured from synthetic (similar to plastic) material. It is interesting that plastic items may be recycled as polyester fleeces, for example. Not enough recycling takes place. In any case, we are warned that washing polyester clothing results in microplastics being released into our waterways.

Natural fibres are more friendly to the environment. Bamboo is a relatively new source of fibre for clothing and as a replacement for plastic drinking cups. Wool, cotton and silk are more traditional natural fibres, at least in the UK.

Consumers have rights, protected by law. For example, if goods are faulty they may be returned to the retailer for a refund. I wonder what the retailer does with the faulty goods. It is not cost-effective to repair a seam, which has not been stitched during manufacture, for instance. I suspect the goods are either sent for recycling or binned, ending up on land-fill sites.

It might be better for the environment to waive the right for a refund and repair the faulty item oneself. Of course there are many considerations. Safety may be an issue sometimes, but not in the case of finishing off an unfinished garment.

How do you react to the pollution problem? Have you changed your habits since this became such a high profile issue?

A sewing project – girl’s pinafore dress

I had a remnant of cotton fabric, which I realised would make a pretty dress for a small girl.  A pattern in a Woman’s Weekly Treasury from 1985 seemed ideal.

I can follow a sewing pattern, but constructing garments is not something I find easy.  Having to sew pieces right side together and then turn them the other way out involves some imaginative processes which almost defeat me.  I have to experiment and find out what works.  Over the years I have learned that it is best to spend some time testing what a pattern means than guessing and getting it wrong!

It took me some time to realise that the pattern outlines were full size.  I traced them onto greaseproof paper and cut out the pieces from the folded fabric..

The pattern suggested adding a motif to the pocket on the bib.  As I was using printed fabric I decided to cut the pocket with a flower near the centre and dispense with the motif.

The instruction for sewing the bib to the waistband confused me. I realised that it was necessary to join both bib pieces at the side edges before carrying out the printed instruction.  Both bibs and both waistbands had to be joined.  Without a picture of the back view of the garment, I had puzzled over whether I was making one or two bibs!  Insertion of the word pieces after bib and after waistband would have helped me. (Have I mentioned that I find words easier to understand than picture instructions?  I like the words to be precise too.  Fussy, or what?)

Then I found that I had made a mistake measuring the waistband pattern.  I realised that I could lengthen it by inserting a single extension.

The project is almost complete.  It needs the hem to be stitched and button holes to be added to the straps and buttons to the waist band.  I did not follow the instructions for the straps as given in the pattern.  Turning a long length of tube is time consuming, so instead of stitching right sides together, I folded the strap and top-stitched it instead.

Front view

Front view

How (not) to make an angel

My latest craft project has been to make an angel.  When I heard that Burrswood was having a Festival of Angels this December, my original reaction was that I could crochet one.  After reflection and a look through my craft materials, I changed my mind.

I have several craft books with projects explained.  The Big Book of Soft Toys by Mabs Tyler has patterns for simple dolls.  I drew a paper pattern and cut out the pieces from some white polycotton material.

Paper pattern: doll and wing

Paper pattern: doll and wing

My sewing machine came in handy for joining the body apart from a gap for the stuffing.  (I used some recycled polyester stuffing.)  I also used the machine for the clothes, which I designed as I went along.  I had the remains of a frill from a petticoat.  My angel ended up with an underskirt and a smock.

I drew the pattern for the wings on a piece of scrap-paper.  I had some white felt and cut four wings.  Stuffing the wings lightly was a possibility, but I decided that two layers of felt made the wings stiff enough.  I embroidered them simply with feathers in mind.

At this stage I thought of an angel joke.  “Cross my wings and hope to fly!”

Her wings are attached to her clothes rather than her body.

I made a wig out of surplus tapestry wool and attached it to her head.

My biggest worry was her face.  I am not good at drawing faces.  I had a similar doll, which my artistic daughter made several years ago, as an example of what can be done.  She had drawn a face.  I was not confident.  Then I found a piece of flesh-coloured felt.  Embroidery is not permanent.  If it looks wrong, it can be unpicked and redone – several times.  So her face was attached after her hair.  (Not recommended.)

Back view

Back view

Perhaps my angel will give people some amusement.  It is not particularly beautiful, but I have tried.  Maybe it can fill a space where it won’t be inspected too closely.


Front view

And if you’d like to make an angel out of any material any size they are required by 20th November 2015.

A previous Christmas project at Burrswood was a knitted Christmas tree.  There is a short YouTube video about how it was constructed.

If you live within reach of Kent, why not go and see the angels for yourself?  I only wish I could, but due to distance, I’ll have to make do with photos.