Friday, 24 April 2020

Fashion Revolution Week 2020: #memade

My ethical and sustainable wardrobe is made up of a few different aspects. I have old clothes purchased before I learnt about the issues with the fast fashion industry which I still wear plenty and will continue to do so until they are falling apart. I have clothes purchased from ethical and sustainable brands (read more about one of my favourites here) and then I have my memade wardrobe. 

At the moment my memade wardrobe consists of only knitted items but I am also in the process of learning to sew my own clothes. This all stemmed from a need to find clothes that I felt really suited me and my style. When I first started to buy only ethical and sustainable fashion I struggled to find anything that suited my style and so I decided to learn to make them myself. Fast forward four or so years and I am a keen knitter with quite a few pieces to wear and my own Etsy shop where I sell hand knitted baby clothes. And I hope to soon be adding to my wardrobe with some beautiful hand sewn garments, once I can figure things out like bust darts and zips! 

Today, during Fashion Revolution Week, I thought I would share why  memade is a great option to building a more sustainable and ethical wardrobe. 

1. It Takes Time - Some of the things I have knitted have taken me months to finish. Creating a memade wardrobe, particularly a knitted one, is the complete opposite to fast fashion. It is incredibly slow and allows you to really think about what you're doing. Investing time and energy into making clothes completely changes your perspective on fashion and how we consume it. 

2. Love and Care - And because you've spent such time and attention on your garment you tend to love and care for them in a very different way. My knitted items have taken so much careful work and love that there is no way I would just throw them in the bin. They will stay with me for years and years and when I'm done I will pass them on to others. I also take care of them like no other clothes I own. They never ever EVER go in the washing machine. They are loving hand washed, debobbled using a pilling comb and careful folded in safe places. This also encourages me to take care of my other clothes with as much care as some one else has also made those. 

3. Materials - Making your own clothes gives you a lot more power of what your clothes are made of. I like to choose British wool from small independent businesses or one farm yarns where the whole skein has been spun from the wool of one flock of sheep from one farm not too far away. I also love to use good quality speciality yarns that will last or recycled cotton yarns which are made up of old jeans. Similarly with sewing your own clothes you can use organic cottons, sustainable fabrics such as bamboo or Tencel. Many places also sell designer offcuts and surplus fabrics that would have ended up in landfill. There is a wealth of sustainable and ethical materials to choose from and it feels so good to lovingly make a garment with materials you know aren't harming the planet and it's people. 

4. Skill - It takes skill to make clothes and many of these skills such as dressmaking, knitting, crocheting e.t.c we are losing in this country. Not only is it important to keep these skills alive but it also helps us to appreciate the level of work and skill that goes into even the cheapest of garments. Clothes from Primark are still cut and sewn together by hand. So much work goes into creating clothes and by making your own you become keenly aware of this. 

5. Style - For me this is a big one. I can choose to make clothes that fit my style and purpose exactly. I am currently planning to make a cardigan in the exact shade of a flower on one of my old dresses so I can liven it up and wear it in a new way. And that's the beauty of memade. I make exactly what I want and need for my wardrobe. There are no impulse purchase buys or things stuck at the back that never get a look in because they aren't quite right. Instead I am curating a beautiful, unique and personal wardrobe that I love and makes me feel spectacular. 

I hope this has inspired you to have a go at making your own clothes. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Monday, 20 April 2020

Fashion Revolution Week 2020: Spotlight on Nomads Clothing

Today is the first day of Fashion Revolution Week 2020, a week where we are all encouraged to ask our favourite brands "Who made my clothes?" in a bid to gain more transparent supply chains and promote ethical practises within the clothing industry.

Fashion Revolution Week all began 7 years ago after the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster where a garment factory collapsed killing more than 1100 people. The devastating and life shattering results of unsafe and unethical working conditions for garment workers was felt all over the world not least of all due to the fact most of us were wearing garments made by these workers. A campaign was begun to fight for a safe, transparent and accountable fashion industry. 7 years on and every April thousands of us around the world ask the question "Who made my clothes?" demanding better from our favourite clothing brands and we are seeing it.

More and more brands are bringing in new ethical and environmental policies which aim to help all those in the supply chain from the cotton pickers to the seamstresses. We still have a long way to go but the public outcry for better has created a shift in our culture. Brands are realising we are no longer happy to purchase something no questions asked. As consumers we want to know how the money we spend is effecting the planet and its people.

Today I wanted to share a brand whose ethos has been right from the start. Nomads Clothing is a Cornwall based company who began in India in 1989 buying handmade fair trade products to bring home to England and sell at Camden market. After much success they began designing their own clothing line that is 100% ethical and celebrates traditional artisan skills. They work with artisan producers and fair trade factories in India to create the most beautiful clothing.

Because of their amazing fair trade policies and transparent supply chain we as consumers are able to see exactly who made our clothes. Nomads Clothing are also working hard on protecting our planet. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world but Nomads are helping to contract that by using organic cottons certified by the Global Organic Textile Standards or GOTS which is the best standard for sustainable processing of textiles.

Back in England they are also using recyclable and compostable packaging for all their orders which I was lucky enough to receive recently when Nomads Clothing gifted me a few pieces from their spring/summer collection.

Due to the sudden hot weather here in England I've been lucky enough to get to wear one of my beautiful summer dresses already and I couldn't be more pleased with it. The fabric is light and breathable, the dress well cut and well made and the pattern is just gorgeous. But the main thing about this dress for me is that I know it was made by people who have been paid properly, treated well and in a way that doesn't harm our planet. And for me there is no better feeling than wearing a dress that makes me and all who made it feel good.

What I Wore:
Dress - Nomads | Cardigan - Old | Shoes - Supergas

I'll be sharing more posts on the beautiful dresses I received from Nomads Clothing but for now go and check out their gorgeous new spring/summer range over here.

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Monday, 13 April 2020

Five Years Old

Today is exactly five years since I published my first ever blog post on this little corner of the internet. An insignificant, mumbly piece on a day out at St Andrews beach but it felt like releasing a breath I didn't know I'd been holding. I started a journey I didn't even know I needed to and I had no idea where it would lead to but thank goodness I did.

Only a few months before starting my blog I met my now husband. A shy, quiet and rather attractive red head who caught my eye the minute I saw him at our church. He walked me home the night that we met and I soon discovered a funny, cheeky and kind soul who would later become my biggest champion. It was he who helped me through that hard and confusing time. My soul reaching out for something different, a different way of life and this desperate urge to create. I shared my dream of writing with him and he spoke confidence and belief over me. For the first time ever some one else believed I could write too and so I did. Life With The Roof Down was born.

I was inspired to start a slow country lifestyle blog after discovering On Serpentine Shores and Sarah's wonderful blog which I think at that time was called The Salty Sea Blog. I wanted to share my love of nature, the countryside and a desire to live slowly even though I didn't really fully understand what that meant. I just knew something wasn't right in my life. I spent so much time in busy cities, running around believing the lie that busyness equals success. I was studying a Social Work degree in Oxford, my third attempt at trying to find a sensible enough degree to please those around me. I was to study something that would lead to a job but my heart could never find joy in that.

The name of my blog was born from a place I could find complete joy. A few weeks prior to starting the blog I took my second trip up to Scotland to visit my now in law family. It had taken all of about three minutes that winter morning I first woke up in Balmerino village to realise I'd stumbled across one of the most beautiful places in the world. A small jumble of Scottish cottages lying on the banks of the Tay estuary surrounded by woodland full of deer, rabbits and the odd red squirrel. The 17th century cottage my in laws live in affords a view like no other from the window on the landing. The Tay rippling gently, beaches and woodland following along its stretch to hills and mountains in the distance. Early morning and sunset are the best times to gaze out of the lead paned glass window.

It was this place I had found complete solace and joy in. The discovery that people do indeed live in cottages, with chickens in the back garden and stunning dog walks on their doorstep. And it was this place I spent a week driving around country lanes going to beaches and woodlands with my husband in his vintage Mk1 VW Golf convertible. Roof down, sunglasses on, Audrey style headscarf tied and sun shining down on us. It was a feeling of total happiness. I was in love with a wonderful man and I was in nature where I truly belonged. I wanted that feeling to permeate everything in my life and so I named my blog after it.

The blog has been many things over the years as I grappled with my own identity. It started as a slow lifestyle blog before becoming a beauty blog, a vintage fashion blog, a sustainable fashion blog to finally what it is now and what it has been for the last few years. A wonderful expression of who I feel I am now and who I am happy being. It's been a long journey of discovery for the first part of my 20s and there have been some real unexpected hardships but unlike the girl who started this blog I feel totally at ease with who I am and what I want. A writer, activist, crafter and christian working from home whilst living sustainably and slowly in the countryside.

There is still much I dream of and things I cannot wait to achieve but I am very happy and grateful for all I have now. I live the homegrown, handmade and slow life I always dreamed of, the reason I started this blog in the first place and the catalyst for becoming who I am today. There are a few of you who have been here, reading my thoughts and following my life changes since the beginning and I cannot thank you enough for subscribing all those years ago. Without this blog, without your belief in my writing I would never have created the life I wanted. To those of you who are more recent you are just as important and I thank each one of you for your support.

And so onto the next five years and all that they will bring. I can't wait to share it all with you and to keep living Life With The Roof Down.

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Monday, 6 April 2020

A Slow List for Easter

I know Easter will be a little different for all of us this year but I wanted to compile a list of slow and seasonal things we can still enjoy from our own homes and on our one outing a day. I hope it gives you some inspiration to keep on celebrating even in difficult times. I would love to hear your ideas for celebrating a slow Easter so please do leave me a comment. Stay safe and keep enjoying the simple things in life. 
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