T-shirts and the evils of rayon

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This weekend I absolutely forced myself to sew up some t-shirts. I've had this pile of knits from fabric.com sitting on the floor for a few months, now transformed into six new t-shirts. They were a combination of organic cotton, "bamboo", rayon, and conventional cotton.

Whenever I sew with rayon knits I remember how much I love working with them, usually I shop around to see if I can replace what I've just used. In googling around this weekend I happened to come across a posting on one of my all time favorite blogs fashion-incubator concerning bamboo and the controversy in labeling that type of fiber. This led me down the path to researching deeper into rayon in general and I was a bit disturbed by what I found.

In a very small nutshell:
  • bamboo is rayon
  • the cellulose that rayon is produced from comes from plants that are likely grown organically
  • making rayon is an extremely toxic process that produces undesirable waste products
  • there are various methods of making rayon (cellulose fabrics), some more toxic then others
  • some rayon has lead residue in it
Gosh, rayon... I'm not feeling so hot about it now. I'll enjoy what I have remaining in my stash but I don't think I'll be purchasing any more. It's not that I'm trying to prove a point or trying to play the I'm more green then you game. If anything I'm just offended, especially by the bamboo marketing strategy and greenwashing in general.

Does this go for all cellulose based fabrics? Acetate too? I think it might.... for now. Once my stash is used up then I'll revisit need plus want divided by guilt and see how the numbers look.

Besides that... I'm sewing linen pants! I haven't worked with linen all that much and considering these new developments I might be seeking out more linen. I'll see how the pants sew up and let you know.

This weeks video is all about t-shirts of course, I also show off my awesome new Italian ski jacket and the fabric for those linen pants. I have to apologize, I forgot to turn off the auto focus on the camera so you'll notice it keeps popping the focus but not enough to make anyone dizzy (I promise). I figured it was better to keep it spontaneous then re shoot.

When matching plaid.. it's the thought that counts

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I was a bit scared of plaid because everyone always told me I should be. So it was unexpected that I've determined I actually enjoy matching those little lines and boxes together!

Matching plaid is all about the pattern cutting. Yes, as you sew you have to be aware of the print but you can't force plaid to match when you didn't cut it that way to begin with. I've come to accept that plaid can't always be perfectly matched, in those cases creativity steps in and you move into plaid "blending".

Yes you've hear it here first? Plaid Blending. Ok i'm sure i'm not the first to coin this phrase but I'll take credit until someone corrects me.

If plaid still seems a bit complicated then I highly suggest stripes to start with. I found the best way to match plaid, stripes, or any fabric print is to cut the fabric in a single layer. Flip the first cut pattern piece over and match it to the print on the fabric then cut a duplicate. Smaller pieces like yokes and pocket facing require using the adjacent pattern piece to determine placement. I could get all detailed with this but I hardly consider myself an expert and after all Google just taught me so I bet she (he?) would teach you too.

Speaking of pants, David Coffin's new trouser book is awesome. This is the first sewing book I've had in a long time that I read cover to cover. Everything I criticised his shirt making book for was absolutely corrected with this newest work. Lots of encouragement to be experimental and figure out what works best for you. This is the kind of thinking I can appreciate.

Some tidbits I found worth the cover price are:
  • The discussion of cut on pattern pieces and reducing bulk. When you sew there are choices to be made at each step of the process. Sometimes I'm unsure which choices are better and I more or less flip a coin. Having the goal of reducing bulk whenever possible allows easier choosing between this way or that way as I sew.
  • Front pocket bag shaping. I have pants that every time I sit down all the change from my pocket ends up on the seat, especially in cars. Well I now know this is due to the shape of the pocket bag. It's a painless procedure to shape the bag so that change rolls froward all but eliminating this problem.
  • Button fly pants don't have to be jeans. To be honest i'm not against zippers, I just find them expensive and boring compared to buttons. I had no idea you could use regular buttons for the fly closure in slacks until I read this book.
I noticed that over at YouTube I've already had a request to do a plaid matching demo.... ok, I'll do it! on the next pair of pants.....

Here's the youtube video for this week!


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