Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sew for a Change - my March results

So, let's just be honest straight away. I didn't pass the challenge, boohoo. It is totally lame, but I am blaming time. I have hade NO time whatsoever this month - I haven't even blogged, for crying out loud!! Starting a new job has been tremendous fun, but also exhausting. As soon as the kids are in bed, I have crashed out too.

The challenge was to complete the following, and this is how I did:

1. Contact your energy supplier and check what sources YOUR energy comes from. Also investigate what green/renewable options you have.

Below is (in Swedish) a specification of my energy sources (the middle pie chart) and it reads: 
  • 69% water energy from guaranteed sources
  • 21% wind power from guaranteed sources
  • 10% bio energy from guaranteed sources
  • Carbon footprint 0g/kWh
  • Nuclear power 0 mg/kWh

Elens ursprung, diagram för 2012

2.Vacuum behind your fridge and freezer (and on their backs) and then defrost them - it will increase their efficiency and save energy.

This I have not done. I have planned to do it a thousand times, but time has not been my friend. This is not a super quick job either since they are screwed together at the top and the bottom and fetching that screwdriver just was the last piece of work that made it look like a mountain to climb...
Fair to say, though, is that it was done less than a year ago, so it isn't too bad, and they are defrosting automatically so no job to be done there.

3. Check that your fridge and freezer temperature is not colder that what is really needed: +5C and -18C respectively (41F / 0F)

This is done. They were already on these temperatures and we are happy with it. In our Sew for a change Facebook group there was discussions about these temperatures since keeping cooler temperatures will indeed make the food last longer. But that, I think, need to be a lifestyle assessment. For us, we don't need the food to keep longer than one season, since we prefer to get rotation on (i.e. eat) all the food within a reasonable time. We don't have any reason to keep food VERY long, since we can buy new food easily. But I guess if you live a bit more rural or if you're hunting and want a huge batch of meat to last until next hunting season, then you may have your reasons.
Another thing discussed, was that many freezers aren't very exact in their thermostats, i.e. if you put it to keep -18C, that is only an average the freezer is trying to keep and in reality the fluctuations may be big. The recommendations, if you notice this, is to try to keep the highest temperature to -18C (which may mean that your thermostat need to be set on e.g. -20C).

4. Leave nothing on standby overnight this month.

This is done. We did already have a switch installed on our entertainment system so this was a matter of actually stepping on the switch once a day. We have also been good at pulling out all chargers out of the sockets when not in use. We have timers on lamps that the kids want lit when they go to sleep.

5. No washing dishes under running water.

Hmm, this is yes and no. Sometimes it just doesn't seem worth it, since it is easier to quickly wash that knife after use, rather than saving plenty to do in one batch later. Most things go in the dish washer, so to save up for a bigger batch of hand washing may take more than one day, and I hate when it is clutter in the kitchen. But what I have done is, when I cook I fill one of the sinks a little so that instead of rinsing a lot of things (such as the knife between the onion and lettuce) I quickly dunk it in water and hopefully save water in the end.

* Results *

So, I will not get the 10 points this month, but on the other hand I haven't spent any points this month either!! I have been sewing a little with fabric from stash. My birthday was in March, and luckily some of the presents I got was items of clothing - from sustainable material! A beautiful linen blouse and a woollen skirt, both responsibly made. Score, or what!

Also, I have been a trooper to mend things this month! THAT, I am proud of! I have worked through the big pile of mendable items and actually made them wearable again. So boring, but such a rewarding feeling afterwards.

And da scorecard - is status quo since last month. I feel content!

Stay tuned - tomorrow, we're revealing the April challenge on "paper"!! Still with us?? :)


Star challenge #3 - The PAPER month!

Paper,  paper on the wall... who's the environmentally friendliest of us all?

Paper is everywhere. It is definitely one of those things we very much take for granted. And to be frank, I suspect most of us don't bother too much because we think of paper as pretty friendly anyway, being mainly a natures product and easy to recycle. Yes, that's true, but what is also true is that trees are the lungs of the earth and we cut down WAY more trees to make paper pulp than we are able to grow back. Let's start thinking of paper as something more like a gift from mother earth - something given from the earth "lungs" and maybe we will think twice before printing that not so necessary copy of whatever not so important document, shall we?

It's time to realise paper is too cheap, and as usual when something is too cheap, there is someone else paying the real prize. The real prize in this case is our sensitive eco systems. Only in Sweden 1800 species are endangered due to us humans messing about with their habitat. It will come and bite us, people! And we all know it.

Some facts about paper to think about:
  • The world consumption of paper has quintupled in the last 50 years!
  • Sweden is on the 11th place in consuming the most in the world! We use more than 200 kg /per person and year (c'mon, that's INSANE!!!!!!!!). 
  • The average world citizen only consumes 50 kg per person and year.
Okay, so now we all agree paper is an important matter and are eager to change our ways. This is what we want to challenge us with this month.

This month's challenge is to reduce the amount of paper you use and also learn to use paper smarter.
Complete the following:

  1. If you have to print something, print on both sides and/or print several pages/slides per paper page.
  2. Look into the possibility of changing your kitchen paper towels to cloth and see if it would work for your family.
  3. Cancel all catalogues (such as mail order catalogues), paper bills etc, where possible, and turn to the digital versions.
  4. Don't accept any ads in your mailbox - put up a sign!
  5. Give away magazines you won't read again to someone who will.
  6. If you have a paper/magazine subscription, check what your online options are instead.

If you manage this, you'll receive a star and 10 points.

Good luck!

Note! If you are a newcomer who wishes to jump on board the Sew for a change challenge, then you'll start with 61 points instead of 75. Check out all the rules here. Welcome!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Completed: BurdaStyle Pencil Skirt and Colette Sorbetto

I haven't sewn a lot lately, and what I've managed to sew I haven't had time to report... oops!

Well, better late than never so here you go. Both items are part of my spring SWAP.

The Colette Sorbetto is sewn in a plaid double cotton, bound with a (synthetic) bias strip with a slight sheen to it. I thought it may do in a job outfit, but now I'm not so sure. I think it looks a little too casual and perhaps a little too much like kitchen curtains...

The pencil skirt, on the other hand, I LOVE!! I managed to get every little bit to perfect finish, like truly invisible zip, truly invisible hem, just the right length and it fits me like a glove!
After having sewn a couple of items out of the BurdaStyle magazines I need to say that their patterns are really well made. Even though their models are super skinny, they usually fit me quite well with very small alterations (compared to many of the indie patterns that need a lot of work to fit well). I'd like to say I prefer the smaller pattern companies, and I do, but fit wise Burda rocks (and I am NOT super skinny by any means).

Here they are together:

By this, my spring SWAP is finished. The planning of my summer SWAP is on!! I think my summer plan will contain at least one remake item. Last summer I sewed up 2 Daisy dresses (during a sew along) from Eliza M's Vintage Patterns, and I didn't know about FBA att the time which made for really poor fit around the bust. Now that I do those bust alterations in my sleep I kind of want to rescue those dresses and make them fit well. I have plenty of the fabric left so I think I'll keep the (full circle) skirts and make new bodices. Or I may make one of them into a skirt and chop of the bodice.

I also want to make a cute summer dress to be worn at my friend's wedding, and I have made a wearable muslin in another BurdaStyle pattern (not hemmed yet as you can see if you really eye ball it) in a summery, crazy, vintage fabric. The dress turned out fine, but I don't think it is what I was looking for so I'm not making that again for the wedding. I might make a "little black dress" out of this pattern later, though.

Other items for the summer may include another Wardrobe Basic for work, in some nice nude suiting, maybe leggings and also, I'd love some navy Colette Iris shorts and a polka dot tie blouse in some sheer fabric. Oh, the joy of dreaming up sewing projects!

Have a nice weekend!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Completed: Anise Jacket from Colette Patterns

Sorry I haven't been very active on the blog lately, but I've spent some time with my new love; Anise jacket! This is the first jacket I've made in my life and also the first lining of a jacket (obviously) and first bound buttonholes and a lot of other firsts. I am so incredibly pleased with how it turned out!!! This, my friends, is slow fashion at its best!

Pattern review: Love, love, love this pattern! It went together like a dream with really good instructions. It runs a little large though, so after making a muslin I went down one size compared to the pattern suggestions. I also added my usual FBA (full bust adjustment), and it is a little embarrassing  to admit (since I am almost the FBA expert now), I did the bust dart too high... I don't know how that happened. Oh, well.

Love the cropped sleeves! 

Since I am so pleased with the finished result, I decided to add a name tag to prevent it from getting stolen :-) I stamped letters in gold fabric paint onto a piece of cotton. Cute? Cute.

I also decided the jacket was totally worth the flair of real leather buttons as opposed to cheap plastic ones. It does add a certain level of class, I think.

Welt pockets and bound buttonholes turned out beautiful - proud!

Bright ass yellow lining

The jacket has a relaxed fit, despite the tailoring. At first I didn't like it, but now I think it's genius! I can even ride my bike in this without risk of ripping the seams.

Hey, mom - I love your jacket! 


Planning the crops

We have a garden and we love to grow our own vege, fruit, berries and herbs.
Last year I was completely occupied with being pregnant and then I was stuck in the baby bubble for a while, so hubby did it all. "Your turn" he said with a grunt a couple of weeks ago, but then he got into it anyway :-)

2 weeks ago he ordered all the seeds that we didn't already have and also brought up all our 30-something geraniums from the basement winter sleep and repotted them!! Look at them all sprouting fresh baby leaves!!

Spring is in the air, finally!!!! Yay!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Star challenge #2 - The ENERGY month!

Energy consumption is one of the biggest improvement areas for us all as citizens of the world. We use energy too freely these days, particularly us in the western world. What would happen if we got "depowered" for a week? Freeze to death? Starve? Panik and anxiety attacks? Take a minute and think about it!

Where do you then draw the line regarding what is "saving energy"? We think a life cycle perspective is in place here. So many people want to justify throwing out their old, fully working, fridge and replacing it with a new one that consumes less (and has a cooler design?). But that is it, right there! Don't throw out any working machinery, unless it is plain bad to the environment to use it**. The energy cost of producing a new fridge is far worse than any energy saved on the switch. Just think about all the material it requires, all the energy needed to refine, melt, weld, assemble etc, and all the packaging and transportation.

Another aspect to energy, other than using less of it, is where the energy comes from. The energy equations sums up way lighter if you power your household with energy from renewable sources as opposed to from some nasty coal plant or other fossils.

There is really a lot you can do to improve your own energy footprint but it is also easy to feel overwhelmed. To not do all at once we will limit the demands for what will earn you 10 points, but will also encourage you to do more.

This month's challenge is to gain awareness about where your household energy comes from as well as to use less of it.
Complete the following:

  1. Contact your energy supplier and check what sources YOUR energy comes from. Also investigate what green/renewable options you have.
  2. Vacuum behind your fridge and freezer (and on their backs) and then defrost them - it will increase their efficiency and save energy.
  3. Check that your fridge and freezer temperature is not colder that what is really needed: +5C and -18C respectively (41F / 0F)
  4. Leave nothing on standby overnight this month.
  5. No washing dishes under running water.

If you manage this, you'll receive a star and 10 points.

Good luck!

Note! If you are a newcomer who wishes to jump on board the Sew for a change challenge, then you'll start with 68 points instead of 75. Check out all the rules here. Welcome!!!

**) Though, for fridges and freezers - if you have one older than 7 years it is actually better for the environment to buy a new IF you choose one marked A+++ and the old one can be recycled. Reference here in swedish.