Sewing Responsibly: A Guide to More Sustainable Sewing

In our current world, the concept of "ready-to-throw" has become the norm. We live in a consumer society where clothes are often designed to be used for one or two years and then thrown away. This mentality has a significant impact on our environment and natural resources. However, it is entirely possible to resist this trend and become a responsible seamstress. How to do this, you ask? Here are five tips that will help you use sewing in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

1. Repair your clothes

The first tip is simple but effective: repair your clothes instead of throwing them away when they are torn or worn out. For many, the first reaction when a garment tears or loses a button is to throw it away and buy a new one. However, with some basic sewing skills, you can fix these little problems and extend the life of your clothes.

This is a skill that can not only save you money but also help reduce waste. Indeed, every garment you repair is one less garment in a landfill. Also, repairing can breathe new life into your clothes and add a personal touch, a new style: yours. Imagine how satisfying it would be to wear a garment that you have repaired yourself!

2. Upcycle

Upcycling is the art of taking something that is no longer used and transforming it into something new and useful. It's a great way to reduce waste and be creative. For example, you can turn old sheets into handbags or old jeans into cushions. Or even, your grandmother's old tablecloths or curtains that remind you of your childhood can be transformed into accessories for your home. A vintage and modern decoration at the same time.

This practice not only gives a second life to items that would otherwise have been thrown away, but it also allows you to create unique pieces with fabrics that you already cherish.

Also, upcycling allows you to create custom items that perfectly match your tastes and style. It's a great way to personalize your home or wardrobe while being environmentally friendly.

During sewing workshops, we use a lot of second-hand fabrics: fabrics bought at flea markets, or from your old wardrobes, or even when we exchange our fabrics. This allows for a greater variety of fabrics, textures, and colors.

3. Restyle your clothes

If you're tired of a garment, instead of throwing it away, why not try to transform it? You can cut, dye, embroider... the possibilities are endless! By restyling your clothes, not only do you extend their lifetime, but you can also give them a new look that better matches your current style.

Restyling clothes is an excellent opportunity to express your creativity and personal style. Plus, it's a great way to make your clothes unique and stand out. So, the next time you get bored with a garment, think about transforming it instead of throwing it away!

4. Keep your fabric scraps and old clothes

When you sew, it's inevitable to end up with fabric scraps. Instead of throwing them away, why not keep them for future projects? You can use them to make patchworks, padding, sewing accessories, makeup remover wipes, etc.

The same goes for your old torn clothes that are no longer possible to repair: keep the fabric if you like it, and you can use it to make small accessories like children's toys.

By keeping and reusing these pieces of fabric, you not only reduce waste, but you also always have materials on hand for your next sewing projects. It's a great way to maximize the use of your resources and minimize waste.

During sewing workshops, we always keep the fabric scraps, and they are regularly used by other students throughout the year, this is part of the spirit of the workshops.

5. Buy fabrics only with projects in mind

Finally, another tip for sewing more responsibly is to buy fabrics only when you already have a project in mind. It can be tempting to buy fabrics simply because they are beautiful, but if you do not have a specific project to use them, they will probably end up taking up space in your stash and never be used.

By buying fabrics only when you have a project in mind, this will help you avoid buying fabrics you don't need and will help to reduce waste. Plus, it will help you stay organized and not feel overwhelmed by a fabric stash that keeps accumulating.

In conclusion, by following these tips, you can not only sew more responsibly but also save money and reduce your environmental impact. Sustainable sewing does not only mean being respectful of the environment, it also means being respectful of yourself and your space. So, why not give it a try? Sustainable sewing is not only better for the environment, but it can also be a source of satisfaction and creativity. So, get your needles ready!

The 5 common mistakes when starting sewing

Starting a new hobby like sewing can be an exciting but daunting experience. As a beginner, it's easy to make mistakes that can hinder your progress and discourage you from continuing. To help you avoid them, here are the top five most common mistakes that I see in the workshops, and that we all should avoid, when starting to sew:

1. Not reading the instructions

When beginning a sewing project, it is crucial to carefully read the instructions before starting. The instructions will guide you through the various stages of the sewing process and help you avoid common mistakes.

Often, we are eager to start the project and jump straight into cutting, only to realize our mistakes during assembly. At this point, it may be too late to go back, especially if you need to recut fabric pieces and have not planned for extra yardage.

When starting a sewing project, take the time to read the instructions thoroughly and make sure you understand them before cutting your fabric. If you have any questions about the instructions, do not hesitate to contact the creator of the pattern (or the company you bought it from), or come to a sewing workshop and ask your questions. Also, take the time to gather all the tools and supplies you will need before starting, so you do not have to interrupt your project halfway through.

2. Not using the right equipment

Using the appropriate sewing equipment is essential to the success of your projects. Make sure you have a good sewing machine, quality scissors, appropriate threads, needles, and other basic supplies. Using inappropriate supplies can hinder your ability to successfully complete your project.

Often, there is a tendency to start sewing with low-quality material because it is cheaper. While I understand that you may not want to invest a lot when starting a new hobby, it is what will allow you to love this new activity! Because with quality equipment, sewing will be easier and therefore more fun!

I have provided in this blog article a list of material to buy when starting sewing. You can use it as inspiration if you are putting together your sewing kit for the first time.

3. Not practicing enough

Sewing requires patience and practice. Do not expect to be an expert from the beginning. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the different types of stitches and fabrics. Practice on fabric samples before embarking on a larger project.

And even as an experienced sewer, it is always important to make your first sew (for each project) on a sample and not on the real pieces you have cut, in order to adjust the thread tension to your fabric.

It is through practice that you will learn to sew better and better. Start with simple things like small accessories, where the finishing does not matter much. Then move on to more substantial pieces like clothing, always taking care to choose easy-to-make things so as not to demotivate yourself!

4. Not taking care of your sewing equipment

It is important to take care of your sewing equipment to ensure that it works properly and lasts a long time. To achieve this, you should regularly clean your sewing machine to remove dust and fabric fibers that can accumulate in the moving parts. A small brush can be used to remove these debris.

In addition, it is important to lubricate the moving parts of your sewing machine so that it runs smoothly. Special oil for sewing machines can be used for this purpose. Moreover, it is recommended to regularly change your worn needles and dull scissors to avoid damaging your fabric and equipment.

Finally, proper storage of your sewing equipment is essential to keep it in good condition. You can use a storage box or bag to store your sewing materials, and avoid leaving them lying on your work table or in a dusty area.

By taking care of your sewing equipment, you can avoid problems during your sewing projects and prolong the life of your equipment. This will allow you to focus on your sewing and confidently complete quality projects. We go through all of these care during the sewing lessons for beginners, you can register here.

5. Forgetting to consider seam allowances

I think we all recognize ourselves in this fifth mistake, which is not an error that only beginners make 😅.

When cutting your fabric pieces for your project, it is important to consider seam allowances. Seam allowances refer to the distance between the sewing line and the edge of the fabric. If you do not consider seam allowances, your project will not be the right size and will not assemble correctly. In general, this is written in the instructions you will follow.

That is why it is important to read the instructions carefully, before starting the cuts, to know what seam allowances to use for your project.

Seam allowances can vary depending on the type of project and the fabric you are using. They are generally 0.5 to 1cm. But be careful because on clothing at the level of hems, they can be 4cm, or sometimes only 2mm if it is a pre-assembly of two pieces intended to be sewn with a third.

By taking into account seam allowances, you can avoid costly mistakes and ensure that your sewing project will be the right size and assemble correctly.

By avoiding these five common mistakes, you can start sewing with confidence. Remember that sewing is a skill that is learned with time and practice, but most of all, it should remain fun! With a little patience and determination, you will become more and more familiar with this technique and be able to sew whatever you like!

I hope these tips have been helpful in starting sewing under the best possible conditions. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions or need help with your next sewing project. Happy sewing!

A sustainable Christmas

Christmas is a time of year when we tend to consume a lot more than usual. Although it is often part of the magic of this season, I like to think that it is also possible to minimize our impact on the planet.

A big impact on the planet

Carbon impact

In a few figures, just over the 3-4 days around Christmas, the carbon footprint per person at 650 kg of carbon emissions. That's almost half of what we should emit in 1 year to stay on course for 2050 (during the Paris COP21 agreements in 2015, an annual carbon footprint target of 2 tons per person has been set for 2050)… In addition, this figure of 650 kg per person was revealed in a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute in 2007. We can imagine that with the explosion of the consumer society in the last 10 years, we have certainly exceeded this number to reach rather 1 ton per person.

Travel

Very often you will spend Christmas with your owns, i your family and it is completely understandable and part of the spirit of these end-of-year celebrations. This is why the Christmas period has such a significant impact on our beautiful planet. Indeed, while some will take trains and other means of public transport to join their families, most households will take their personal vehicle to get around. This will ultimately represent a very significant pollution during the holiday seasons, all over the world. Some families even travel by plane to join their loved ones at the end of December. On the other hand, given the number of journeys made by car compared to the plane, it is the use of cars that pollutes the most at Christmas, contrary to what one might think.

Food waste

The impact of the Christmas holidays on the planet in terms of food is essentially reflected in a disproportionate overabundance and considerable food waste. According to a 2019 study by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), throughout the year, we throw away and waste almost 17% of what we produce as food in the world. In some areas this rises to almost a third, even 50%. Food losses and waste have an estimated impact on the climate of 3.3 giga tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

Gifts and packaging waste

The impact of the Christmas holidays on the planet is also present at the level of our garbage cans, since, each year in France and in other European countries such as Germany, we observe a 20% increase in waste at the end-of-year holiday season. In addition to food waste, the culprits are gift wrap and all cardboard and plastic packaging for gifts. Very often, the papers used are used only once and are crumpled up and then thrown in the trash. Imagine all the paper (and therefore the resources used) that we would save if everyone wrapped their gifts with recycling or reusing paper from other years. The madness of gifts and the very strong belief that "you have to give a gift and a new one" remains rooted in our society. Unfortunately, consuming only new products forces production and therefore the consumption of resources. According to a Kantar study for Ebay, in 2020, 18% of French people planned to resell the Christmas gifts that had been offered to them. According to the same study, no less than 363 million euros are spent on unwanted or unpopular gifts each year. In short, it is 1 out of 3 gifts that will be bought new but will never be used. Another waste of resources.Pay attention to the quantities this year, or just eat the left overs for a long time if you’d like, but don’t waste ! There’s always the option of giving to your invités the left overs of the big Christmas dinner, if you are not able to finish everything yourself before it gets too old.

The solutions available to you

A sustainable meal, but not in quantity

If you pay attention to the food you buy, you can mostly choose local products and vegetables that are suited to the season. You can also give an extra care in buying from local providers, seasonal products and organic veggies and fruits, and even cook a vegetarian Christmas dinner!

Pay attention to the quantities this year, or just eat the left overs for a long time if you’d like, but don’t waste ! There’s always the option of giving to your invités the left overs of the big Christmas dinner, if you are not able to finish everything yourself before it gets too old.

Buying eco friendly presents

Try as much as you can to buy eco friendly gift.

No wrapping paper : use furoshikis

Do you know about Furoshiki?

It’s a Japanese traditional wrapping cloth. It can be use to wrap a present or just transport objects. It will allow you not to use to much paper this year, and it is also part of the present. A beautiful Furoshiki is already a beautiful gift. And I will make some, only on special orders this year. You can ask me for the colors and patterns I have in stock or check out in the shop.

Avoid travelling miles

If you can, try not to travel too much for Christmas as it is part of a very big pollution. If you have to travel, prefer taking the train than the plane or the car. Think sustainability. Maybe this year you don’t need to go to see your family a cross the ocean?

What we should remember…

The impact of the Christmas holidays on the planet is huge and yet unsuspected. The most important thing is to be conscious and aware when we consume for Christmas.

It is essential to remember why we celebrate Christmas even without being religious: to rest during a break, to enjoy with family and friends, to share moments together and reunite, to create memories or to show gratitude for the past year.

These reasons are not supposed to harm the planet and the environment, they are actually opposed to it. Thus, remove all the superfluous that we added unnecessarily to Christmas, to find the pure essence of this holiday: gather with your loved ones and share a great time together.

Ultimate List of Sewing Material

I am sometimes asked what material is needed to sew with a sewing machine. We tend to underestimate the equipment needed for this.

Indeed, in addition to a sewing machine, it is important to be well equipped to sew more easily and gain in efficiency.

I have compiled a list of elements that I find important to have in your sewing box, apart of course from elements such as fabric, zippers, sewing bias or other parts specific to each creation.

1. The basics

Pins and a pincushion

You will use them to stick the fabrics together when sewing. it’s important to have pins with a little colored head so you can easily see them if fallen on the floor. Of course the pincushion is needed to organize your pins, you can buy one or make your own.

Sewing clips

They are very useful to hold fabrics together when you don’t want to make a hole in your fabric. It is important to have some if you work with faux leather, waterproof fabrics, etc.

Hand-Sewing Needles

Even using a sewing machine you will probably need a sewing needle to close or finish some projects. Also if you want to add buttons or even perles to your project, you will have to do it buy hand. You can buy different sizes of hand sewing needles, larger for thick fabrics and thinner for fabrics such a cotton, silk, jersey..

Seam Ripper

When you sew the wrong sides together you will use your seam ripper. And believe me, the more beginner you are, the more you will use it !

Normally it is given together with the sewing machine.

Iron and Ironing Board

You might have already one at home. Of course it’s easier to have a very small ironing board to iron the small corners of your project, you can buy a small one or make your own. Its also nice to have a large ironing board that you can put on a table, if you have to iron some curtains or large pieces of fabrics.

2 Pairs of scissors

I always suggest to have 2 type of scissors. One to cut your fabric, and that will never cut something else than fabric. It is important to respect this rule if you want to keep a nice and easy cut! So don’t hesitate to hide them from everyone in the house if they are tempted to use it.

The second pair of scissors will be use to cut anything else: faux leather, zippers, patterns…

Measuring tape and a ruler

Of course you will need to measure your fabric. For that you can use a plastic or metallic ruler. I use a transparent one with measure and 4 sides. It helps me to have straight lines for example at 1cm from the borde pr (see picture).

The measuring tape will help you to measure longer fabrics but also your own body size when creating clothes.

2. For sewing machines

Good bobbins and a box to store them

Here again it is important to buy a great material that is suited for your machine. So when you buy your first sewing machine, buy also the good quality bobbins that goes with the model of your machine. The box will be super useful when you start to have a lot of different colors and you don’t want it to be super messy (the threads will start attaching one to each other..)

Sewing-Machine Needles

When you buy a new machine it usually goes with a pack of two needles for sewing machine. You can write down the references of the needles to keep that in mind to refill when they are too old (the pointy part is not pointy anymore).

You will also have to buy different types of needles in case you want to sew on different type of fabrics :

3. To use patterns

Chalky markers

Chalk is the oldest way to write on any fabric in an easy way. It is cheap and you can cut different colors to see it ion any fabric.

Disappearing Ink Pens

These pens are perfect for light fabrics. They are easier to us than chalk and are erased buy washing the clothe or just putting heat on them (ironing or even with a hairdryer).

Pattern paper

You will need to draw or copy the pattern on a very large paper. For that you can use pattern paper. It’s a roll of 10meters and you can buy one that has graphs on it.

French Curve

This tool is not mandatory and you light not need it when beginning the sewing lessons. It is use to adjust a pattern specifically when you want something in between to standard sizes. Using a French curve allows you to draw a perfectly smooth curve.

I hope my list will help you buy the material you need. Don’t under estimate the importance of having these at home, it will save you a great amount of time!

Feel free to print the checklist of everything that’s needed:

If you feel that I should add something to the list, let me know!

I hope to see you seen in one of the sewing workshops !

What sewing machine for beginners ?

1. Why buy a sewing machine?

If you think you're going to fix a few buttons and the holes in the bottom of the pockets with a sewing machine, I'll save you some money: it won't be necessary to buy a sewing machine! 😂

A sewing machine is for sewing bigger pieces such as clothes, accessories, bags, pouches, covers, bed sheets, cushion covers, furniture...

Thanks to the purchase of a sewing machine, you will be able to let your creativity speak. It will be a great weekend activity, you can go for a walk at the fabric market on Saturday morning to finally wear your new, freshly sewn dress, on Saturday evening or at Sunday brunch! 🤩

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2. What are the different types of machines?

So let's start by telling you what types of sewing machines are there.

2.1. Electronic Sewing Machines

Electronic machines have a wide selection of stitches (including decorative stitches) and features thanks to a mini computer built into the machine. They are no more complicated to use than mechanical machines (older ones)! They have several motors to control the movement of the needle (sideways, forwards or backwards), which allows them to operate with a degree increased precision.

2.2. The lockmachines

These machines are used to finish the edges of fabrics to prevent them from fraying and give a more professional look to seams and hems. You will not need one to start. The zigzag stich on a classic electronic machine will do to start.

2.3. The embroiderers

These machines make it possible to do embroidery on fabric. Some do just that while others can also do the job of a sewing machine. Some sewing machines also offer an embroidery unit to add to the machine, for embroidery.

2.4. Industrial sewing machines

These are machines generally designed for a single point or a single task. For example, a quilter only sews straight stitches! The most common industrial machines are overlockers, coverlocks, stitchers, buttonhole machines... These machines are robust and efficient. Of course you will not need one for now.

3. How to choose a beginner sewing machine?

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3.1. What use I will make of it?

The first question to ask is: "what use will I make of it?". If the idea is to use your sewing machine for leisure, occasionally, keep it simple. Avoid going to sewing machines that offer 30 different stitches. Quite simply, because you won't have any use for it, but also because a machine that you use using several points may quickly break down.

3.2. Robustness

This naturally brings us to the second essential criterion: robustness! A relatively heavy machine is a solid, stable and resistant machine. In summary, if you want to invest in quality equipment, avoid colorful, light machines, which offer a host of different stitches. It’s tempting, but they are not the most reliable!

3.3. Fonctionnalities

Your sewing machine must be equipped with a forward stitch, a reverse stitch and a zigzag stitch and the automatic or semi-automatic buttonhole. This is more than enough to start sewing. You can always choose a sewing machine that also offers one or two decorative stitches, but no more.

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3.4. The budget

Brands like Singer or Brother are very reliable. But there’s no real “good” or “bad” brands. I think they are all good in the end. The ideal is to go to a shop to have an someone who will guide you at the time of purchase but also in case of difficulties afterwards. On the budget side, count about 150-200 euros for a quality sewing machine, corresponding to the needs of a beginner.

4. Top 5 budget models

People often ask me which sewing machine I recommend for beginners. It is always something complicated because there is not really a “cheap” sewing machine. I would say that the first prices of sewing machines are from 150€ (to have something nice), and can go up to several thousand euros of course!

So it is not at all easy to find your way around. When we want to get into sewing we always have this dilemma. Whether or not to invest in a sewing machine. We don't really know if we're going to like sewing, since we may have never tried it, or just a few times. But if you love it, then don't you want to spend 200€ on a cheap machine and have to buy a better one later?

Especially since the more expensive the machine, the more pleasant it will be to use. And contrary to what you might think, starting out on a machine that is difficult to adjust makes sewing less fun and much more difficult in the beginning.

In any case, you can come and test the sewing during the sewing workshops of L'Atelier de Pandora. You can even come with your own sewing project and we will discuss it together!

I have therefore selected 5 sewing machines for beginners...

4.1. Singer 333 Fashion Mate 

Singer 333 Fashion Mate naaimachine (about 150€).

Strenghts of this sewing machine

  • Easy handling
  • Good finish
  • Functional and easy to use
  • Very competitive price...
  • Lightweight and easy to carry

4.2. Singer Single 3221

Singer Simple 3221 White/Blue Sewing Machine (about 170€).

  • Automatic threading
  • 21 programs
  • Extra high foot position
  • 1-step automatic buttonhole

4.3. Bernina Bernette Sew & Go

Bernina Bernette Sew & GO8 (about 380€).

  • Very quiet machine
  • Easy to use
  • Many decoration points available
  • Nice design

4.4. Brother FS 40 Electronic Sewing Machine

Brother FS 40 Electronic Sewing Machine (about 380€).

  • Simple to use
  • Silent
  • Great variety of stitches
  • Lightweight

4.5. Pfaff Smarter manual sewing machine

PFAFF SMARTER 140S sewing machine with 5 year warranty (about 260€).

  • Easy to use
  • Good value for money
  • Silent

5. The sewing machine I use every day: the PFAFF Passport 2.0

I bought this very first sewing machine in 2018. I actually started sewing in the 1900’s when I was young, with my mother's old Singer. It was with a manual sewing machine that I learned to sew, little by little. Then, during teenage, I completely stopped sewing and only resumed when I finished my studies, after my first job.

In fact, that's when I really learned to sew, and from there came my passion for sewing. I had just moved to Nantes and started as a freelancer in web communication (a job that I still do full time). I then spent half the week sewing and testing techniques, and the other half at my web agency.

I finally perfected myself thanks to youtube videos and free patterns on the internet. Something that wouldn't have been possible when I was little since we didn't even have internet! 🙈

So this famous first machine (and still current) is the passport 2.0 from the Pfaff brand. Although this is not of great importance when it comes to choosing a sewing machine, it should still be noted that the pfaff passport 2.0 sewing machine is of particular beauty. Indeed, it attracts the eye with its beautiful colors and its particular finishes. In addition, it must be admitted that it is not only beautiful to look at, it is also robust, solid and resistant to shocks!

In addition to its sleek design, the Pfaff Passport 2.0 sewing machine is also ergonomic and very light. In fact, it weighs only 6.3 kg, which makes it easy to transport (but still quite heavy I can tell you).

The Pfaff Passport 2.0 machine is sold with many accessories. Much more than necessary for a beginner, but you will end up using them some day believe me. What I prefer about this machine is its noise: it is very low.

In other words, you can easily sew your fabrics with this machine, because it is fed with great regularity above and below. This therefore makes it possible to work on all types of fabrics (thick, thin, stretchy), without folding them, and even with faux-leather. Thus, the PFAFF Passport 2 sewing machine achieves precise assembly and smooth sewing, while avoiding shifts.

To recap, here are the main features of the Pfaff Passport 2.0 sewing machine:

I am truely happy about this sewing machine and I wouldn’t change it !!!

6. The sewing machines that are available in the Workshop

I offer sewing workshops all year round, by appointment only. the workshops aim to open you up to the world of sewing, to discover your talents, and why not, to improve your skills.

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I offer projects such as making small handbags, or make-up remover wipes. You can also come with your own project, and ask me how we could work together for you to carry it out. This was the case of Virginie, who wanted to make her white dress for her civil wedding.

During these private workshops, all equipment is included! You don't need to bring your own machine, I'll lend you one. These are second-hand sewing machines, which I buy from individuals on the internet (on marktplaats or on facebook marletplace). They all work well, and are beginner machines.

Come and test them, and tell me if, following a workshop, you ended up buying your own machine!