The Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment)

The Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.com

When I’m not sitting behind the sewing machine, I work full-time as a psychologist. This is why I every once in a while share a mental health-related post on this blog. Please grab a coffee and join the conversation!

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Which one of you considers themselves a hoarder? An addict?

Add the word fabric and I’m all in.

I’m definitely guilty of having a slightly unhealthy relationship with buying fabrics. I have all the cute postcards, signs and coffee mugs about how fun my fabric shopping addiction is.

Fabric shopping is amazing: I get home from a long and exhausting day at work. I could sew now to feel relaxed, empowered, fulfilled and productive and just generally good about myself. Instead I decide to flop on the couch with a glass of wine, get inspired by Instagram makers, feel bad about neglecting my hobby and then decide to check out some cute fabric online shops for a little inspiration. Browsing through endless creative possibilities I finally feel connected to my favourite pastime again, I get the happy sewing feels, I get a rush and decide to spend just a little more than I planned to spend after I decided to skip not spending anything altogether. Seeing the order hitting my inbox makes me happy. I will sew again, very soon, I promise.

The Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.comThe Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.comThe Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Fabric shopping – It’s a trap!

Our brain makes us feel happy when we shop. When we buy ourselves things our brain’s reward centre jumps into action and releases neurotransmitters like dopamine, that makes us feel good about what we just did and makes it more likely that we’ll do it again. Like when eating chocolate, or having sex. (Or taking drugs.)

Dopamine isn’t just released when we get a reward, but it’s also actually released in anticipation of a reward. Thus enters the joy of online shopping. It’s TWICE THE FUN! A couple of clicks and we get ourselves a double dopamine hit! First, when we order and second, when our order finally arrives in the mail. So in a way, online shopping isn’t only easily accessible it’s more exciting for our brain than shopping in person.

Finishing a project or buying fabric both triggers a dopamine response reward.

This is the reason why fabric shopping feels just as fun as sewing itself. It’s a pretty good substitute in the short term. But that’s about it. It’s a trick of the mind, and induces the feeling that we’re doing something for our hobbies, when we’re actually just lying on the couch stressed-out and scrolling through online shops. It gives us pleasure, we feel connected to our hobby without actually engaging in it. So it feels like a pretty good alternative when we can’t muster the energy to get immersed in a project.

Shopping for our hobby can feel like a pretty smart shortcut to calming our conscience, upping our mojo, feeling creative and engaged

Problem is, this only lasts for a pretty short time. Long-term – that’s not hard to guess – it doesn’t get us any of the benefits we achieve when we sew, make, create stuff. (Read more about the benefits of sewing here.) In our fast-paced lives we sometimes struggle to find the time and motivation to immerse ourselves in a slow-paced, mindful activity like sewing, embroidery or knitting. So shopping for our hobby can feel like a pretty smart shortcut to calming our conscience, upping our mojo, feeling creative and engaged.

I love fabric shopping. And I’m not saying that fabric shopping is a bad thing. But gaining pleasure from unnessecary and unsustainable fabric shopping instead of getting into action and sewing with the fabrics we already bought last time kind of defeats the purpose of sewing as a mindful and sustainable activity.

The Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.comThe Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.com

The Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.com
The Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.com

The Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.comThe Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.com

‘Lifetime’ stash – pleasure or pressure?

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about having a stash of five different fabrics at home. I’m talking so-called “lifetime stashes”, stashes so huge, we will never have the time to use them up while buying more fabrics in the meantime. I’m a fabric hoarder myself, let’s get this out. I buy fabrics because I like them, not because I need them urgently for a particular project. Lifetime stashes are fun. We pride ourselves with them on social media. I tell myself I’ll never have to leave the house or wait for an online order, because I always have everything I need for any project right at home with me. Does this keep me from adding to the stash? Hell, no! The sad thing is: I started to feel pressured by it. It’s not a trophy, more like a silent reproach. It’s a constant reminder of all the things I haven’t made yet.

Fabrics are not environmentally “neutral”. Polyester fabrics are one of the major sources of oceanic pollution and microplastics in our waters.

Furthermore, I turn my sustainable hobby into a hoarding business. I bought more than I will ever use (if I don’t stop buying). Fabrics are made from natural, animal or artificial fibres. They’re not environmentally “neutral”. Demand determines supply. The more fabrics we buy, the more fabrics are produced, using cottons, wool, all sorts of fibres and – sorry to break it to us – non-recyclable materials and a lot of microplastics. Polyester fabrics especially are one of the major sources of oceanic pollution and microplastics in our waters. But even natural fibres – cotton, linen, wool – are made by cutting down plants, animal farming and exploiting poorly paid workers in developmental countries.

I always took pride in the fact that I am independent from having to shop for my own clothes, that I support slow fashion and sustainability. Instead, I have been fooled by my own laziness and my brain’s reward centre into hoarding materials.

The Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Realising this, I have done two things:

First, I stopped buying fabrics. I actually haven’t bought any fabrics in almost a year now. More than a year, if I do not count the fabrics I bought as mandatory souvenirs on my last holidays – but I do. Instead, I’ve only used fabrics from my stash to sew and have been able reduce the amount of fabric in my sewing corner to some extent (probably only visible to my eyes if you ask the Mister). It feels really freeing to destash and I got inspired by the limits I set myself to up my creativity game. More often than not I feel happy going through my stash before the next project instead of feeling guilty. I try to be more conscious about fabric choices and and my own impact on the fabric industry.

Second, not being able to online shop instead of sewing, I finally had to tackle my inner conflict when I was just too lazy or tired or exhausted to sew and felt bad about it. That was interesting! Why do I feel guilty about not engaging in a self-imposed activity that is meant to promote relaxation and general well-being? I had to learn to tell myself that it’s ok to take a break from a thing I love every now and then. It doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped loving sewing and need to get stressed about it. It just means that I do not feel like sewing and not need to get stressed about it.

Since I stopped substituting sewing with fabric shopping, I haven’t actually sewn that much more. I read a lot. I knit. I took up spinning wool (it’s amazing!). It’s been a lot of fun!

The other day I wanted to make a dress and didn’t have the right kind and amount of fabric I needed at home… I made something else instead.

The Fabric Shopping Trap // Why buying less fabric is good for your mind (and the environment) by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Allowing myself to do what makes me happy and to take a break from it when it doesn’t make me happy reduced some of the time I spend sewing or taking pictures of finished projects. Instead, I’ve been really enjoying blogging some other content, posts like this one and articles about mental health.

Are you enjoying reading these? What’s your relationship with fabric shopping like?  I’d love to hear from you and get some feedback!

xx

Charlie


Happy sewing!

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A Cosy T&TB Coco Jumper

Coco Jumper by Thisblogisnotforyou.com

Coco Jumper by Thisblogisnotforyou.com
Coco Jumper by Thisblogisnotforyou.com

Coco Jumper by Thisblogisnotforyou.com

COSY CHRISTMAS

Hello sewcialists! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Having some time between the holidays I could finally get around to take pictures of quite a few of my recent projects.
This cosy jumper is one of them. I made it as a Christmas gift for my best friend who designed it and picked the fabric herself this year.

The fabric (‘Anemone’ by Albstoffe) is from a German fabric online shop Königreich der Stoffe (Kingdom of Fabrics). I only recently discovered this shop and really love it. They have the most amazing prints and a gorgeous selection of knit fabrics. They ship internationally, so do check them out on you’re next shopping spree!

The fabric was quite expensive (26€/m), an amount I rarely spend on fabrics, but ohhhh, it’s so soft and cosy! It’s worth every penny. Unfortunately, this beauty traded hands just after Christmas Day!

Coco Jumper by Thisblogisnotforyou.com

The pattern for this sweater is based on Tilly & The Buttons “Coco” and a sleeve hack from their “Agnes” pattern which I also used for my Star Wars sweater last year. I added cuffs and made it a bit wider at the waist and sleeves. Here I’m wearing it with my Mia Jeans and handmade beanie hat.

I have more and more completely handmade outfits and I’m planning to make more matching separates next year. My To Sew List is full of sweaters, jeans and blouses. If I’m lucky, I get half of that list done! Coco Jumper by Thisblogisnotforyou.com

My Christmas & New Year’s Eve outfits are 100% handmade this year! I look forward to sharing them with you soon. What are your sewing plans for 2018?

xx

Charlie


Happy sewing!

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A very autumnal Malvarosa Dress

Malvarosa Dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comHi ya, fellows! Hope you had a great week so far. After a few very stressful shifts at work this week and last weekend I am now even more happy about having a week and a bit off – my first official annual leave since I started my new job. My best friend is coming to visit me here in London (whoop, whoop!) and I hope to get loads of sewing WIPs done, as well.

By the way, did I mention that I started teaching sewing workshops at work? I work in a large psychiatric hospital and many of our patients are on home leave on the weekends, so it’s a bit quieter on these days and I have some time to squeeze in a workshop every now and then. The first one went really well and was great fun for everybody.

Another great news: Tomorrow my blog turns two years old and shhh… make sure to pop by; there will be a giveaway you surely don’t want to miss!

Now, let’s get back onto the subject: I hate to say this, but it seems as if summer has come to an end. I am finally forced to think about my autumn wardrobe. I tried to avoid this for as long as possible (we can wear sleeveless dresses in autumn as well, can’t we? Long love cardigans!) Well, but then I came across this fabric.

Malvarosa Dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

The fabric:

It’s a beautiful peachskin polyester, courtesy of stoffe.de. It was end of roll fabric, but I loved it so much and got 1.1m of it. I thought it would be enough for a blouse or a mini shift dress. It’s a love it or hate it print and I love it (the Mr. does not so much). The fabric is lovely to wear, very light and soft and drapes really well. It was also great to sew with. Although I hate ordering fabrics online, I really liked my ‘shopping experience’ on stoffe.de (they’re called myfabrics.co.uk here in the UK!) They’ve got a massive choice of fabrics which are sorted very well and it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. The fabric is described in detail so what I thought I would get was actually exactly what I got in the end (which often isn’t the case when I shop online).

Malvarosa Dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comMalvarosa Dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

The pattern:

The print is quite large and I thought too many darts and seams would ruin it. Browsing through the Pauline Alice patterns website (there was a 20% sale for their first anniversary!) I came across the Malvarosa pattern and thought the cut would be perfect for the fabric I had. I wasn’t sure whether I had enough fabric (you needed at least 1.5m), but I thought I’d figure something out anyway. In the end I shortened the skirt a bit and did not cut it as wide as suggested in the pattern. Thus, I have a few gathers less, but I could squeeze the pattern onto the fabric. I even had enough for the pockets (which actually sold the pattern to me!)

Malvarosa Dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comI love pockets! Pockets are great!Malvarosa Dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comMalvarosa Dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comThe fit:

I really like the fit of this dress. The pattern describes the Malvarosa as

“babydoll dress [which] features an A-line bodice, low waistline, full gathered skirt, boat neckline, bust darts and drop shoulder sleeves.”

 

And this is exactly what it is. The dropped waist makes the fitting of the dress really easy and it’s very comfortable to wear. I actually think the wider fit is quite flattering. I never got so many compliments at work!

The only thing I am not so sure about are the ‘sleeves’. I really liked the long-sleeved version, but obviously had not enough fabric. I thought the cut of the sleeveless variation was very interesting and unusual, but after wearing the dress I am not sure whether I am a big fan or not. They don’t bother me, but I don’t think I like the shape too much. It is a good shape to wear at work though, as the shoulders are covered.

Malvarosa Dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comMalvarosa Dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comMalvarosa Dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comMalvarosa Dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Have you tried the Malvarosa pattern? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I’m pretty sure I’ll make this dress again, probably with the long sleeves. I also bought the Carme Blouse and Ninot Jacket pattern, make sure you check these out, too!

xx
Charlie


Happy sewing!

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Behind The Scenes In Pictures #1

behind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.comThese little guys will be my new helpers when I can’t use pins, e.g. for leather or delicate fabrics. Found at Tiger in Cambridge.Behind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.com During our very short trip to Cambridge, I also bought these super cute wooden buttons at the market.

Behind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Speaking of buttons, I spend my saturday evening sorting vintage buttons! I got two very large boxes of buttons from my grandma and a friend of hers. These included a lot of very cool vintage buttons, metallic, leather, mother of pearl and also a whole lot of 1960’s/1970’s plastic buttons. Woot, woot!Behind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Back to Burda for a little while! An almost finished dress (I still have to add buttons and buttonholes). And I will have to sew a slip dress for underneath. I love stripes!

Behind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.comBehind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.com

I went fabric shopping with two of my sewing friends last week. I love the white jersey with the golden feathers print. I also bought matching ligth grey lining for the cream-colourd georgette with light grey dots. Summer dress with Peter Pan collar, maybe?

Behind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Getting used to working with some independent patterns lately. The pinstripe jersey was also a bargain found at Goldhawk Road last week, only £1.50 pm. Here see you my Lady Skater dress planning – I finished the dress yesterday and went out to eat pasta and apple crumble with Mr Thisblogisnotforyou.

Behind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.com

On our way back home we came by a pop-up vintage sale where I bought two absolutely adorable vintage compact mirrors, probably from the 1950’s. One seems to be a souvenir from Paris, the other one is from an English company, Kigu.Behind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.comBehind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.comBehind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.comBehind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.comBehind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Lego R2D2 says hi.Behind the scenes by thisblogisnotforyou.com

I always obsessing about something. At the moment it is Gabrielle Chanel and how she revolutionised fashion. I want to sew a Chanel-style jacket this year, just haven’t found the right fabric yet.

What have you been up to?


Happy sewing!

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When a Crafter goes Shopping

Over the whole last week I was planning to do something crafty this weekend. Last night I sat down with a bunch of Burda magazines and a cardboard box full of fabric, determined to find the perfect weekend sewing project. Well, things always end up differently than you think. In the end, no fabric and no pattern was good enough and the only thing that I really liked would have been another massive project. This morning I decided to try something quick and easy – quick success can be really motivating!

I went shopping.

This sounds easy indeed (it wasn’t that quick though).
I must have looked a little weird wandering through the store, touching this garment, touching that garment, trying on nothing and in the end buying oversized clothes from the men’s department. If someone had asked me what I wanted to do with those I would have said “Cut them to pieces.”

upcycling cheap clothes 1

And this is what I will do this weekend. Making pretty garments out of cheap, too big and poorly-made clothes. This is also why I tried to buy them as large as possible – more fabric, more options.

Why I bought men’s clothes? Well, for some projects I have on my mind, I’ll need shirting fabric and it’s really hard to find other than white one in the women’s department. And, guess what, men’s XL is bigger than a women’s XL. Plus, there are a lot of great fabric stores in London, but fabric’s rather expensive there.

I also came up with a new resolution for this year: Not to buy clothes from cheap and popular department store chains without completely altering them from scratch. For when I went shopping the last time and was really satisfied with my finding, I ended up wearing the same thing as two other people from my class. What a bummer!

Here are the “rough diamonds” I found:

black lace

Beautiful black lace that was supposed to be some kind of ill-fitting dress.

shirt fabric white bicycles

 A navy blue men’s shirt with cute little bicycles on it.

shirt fabric white dotsThis shirt is so big, it’ll make a cute little summer dress!

 upcycling cheap clothes

This one is my favorite! It’s exactly what I needed for a DIY project knock-off I’ve been itching to do for weeks! Be ready for suprises! I’ll keep you posted.