Welcome to Clothesline Patterns

-the home of Simple, Speedy Sewing.

Why should we sew?

Here's my summer reading...

Here's my summer reading...

With clothing getting cheaper and cheaper at the summer sales, I thought why would anyone bother sewing their own? 

Found the answer in Sandy Black's Sustainable Fashion Handbook. 

Maybe we sew because we don't want some little kid working on our cheap clothes for 2 cents a garment? 

Sewing one-off, unique clothing is so much more creative, and rewarding than buying cheap, mass-produced stuff!

The real reason why clothing is so cheap!

The real reason why clothing is so cheap!

Blood Sweat & T Shirts...

Fascinated by an episode of Blood Sweat & T Shirts, a 2008 doco about 6 British fashionistas who go to work in India's textile industry.  They work lots of places, from a high-end designer clothing factory to backstreet slums.

I'll give your wife my mascara if you sew the sleeves for me!Depressingly, at a good factory, they make enough to buy a can of deodorant at the end of the day.

Richard would rather work an all-nighter than sleep at the factoryElsewhere, they stay up all night making 36 blouses (in preference to sleeping on the floor under their machines as other workers were!)The factory's overnight accomodation - tucked up under your sewing machine! 

Unfortunately only 15 of their blouses pass the factory's quality control, and they make 30 rupees each (about 75 cents AUD)  for their efforts.

Is this factory even legal?Worse still are the rabbit warren of backstreet slum factories. Conditions are so dismal,the British workers are amazed that they're not illegal. 

Carrying a load of brand name jeans through the Mumbai slumsWhat is illegal is child workers under 14  (but they still meet a 16 year old who has worked since age 10!)

What can I say?

Why you can buy a dress for $10...

Bought this dress last year for $10. In fact, everything in the store was on sale for $10.  With clothes so cheap, why would anyone bother to sew their own? 

I found a good reason while I was reading a beautiful book called Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio.  It's full of great photos of 30 families in 24 countries, detailing "what the world eats."

Here's a local family living just outside Brisbane and their stash of goodies for a week...The Browns from Riverview spent $376 USD on this weekly spread...

And a rural Chinese family with their weeks worth of shopping...The Cui's from a village outside Beijing spent $57 USD on this healthier looking selection...

Li Jinxian (in the yellow polo shirt) works in a factory making clothing for the US.  She's paid $2.50 USD for a ten-hour workday.  Unsurprisingly, she dislikes the job - she'd have to sew 70 hours a week for 3 weeks just to pay for the weekly shopping shown.  Her husband is forced to work in Beijing, coming home only on the weekends, as there is no work in the village where he can earn enough to support the family.  They never eat food outside their home.  "It's very expensive", says Li Jinxian.  " We aren't in that kind of circumstance."

Hmmm, even in my darkest hour financially, I still manage to eat out at least once a week.

So I guess this Chinese family is why I can buy a dress for $10.  Whoever made that dress probably got paid about 25 cents. 

Somehow, finding this out has made cheap clothing seem even cheaper and a bit nastier.  How much more valuable is hand-made clothing made willingly by someone who loves you!

She has a dream...

graphics from Joyce Meyer ministriesHope you have a lovely Christmas and all your hopes and plans for 2010 come true!

Do something good for those living in poverty this  holiday season.  If your friends and family have got it all, give to someone else who needs it!

This morning I visited micro-finance lenders www.kiva.org and bought one of their handy gift certificates.

The recipient gets to choose a low-income entrepreneur in a developing country to lend the gift money to .  When the loan is repaid they can get the money back or re-lend it.  Sweet!

(Organic) cotton-pickin' story

from Sunday Mail 7.6.09

Summer Rayne Oakes, author of eco-shopping guide Style Naturally was in Brisbane recently for Greenfest. (Missed it, I was out of town, but if anyone went, let me know!) The Cornell Uni graduate modelled these looks from eco-friendly companies for our local newspaper.


Nice to see it's no longer hippy, brown-sack type clothing, in case you were worried!

Lots of the pictured clothing ranges use organic cotton, and here's one of the reasons why.

This story's from Matilda Lee's book Eco-Chic...

"At just 8 years old, Modachirou Inoussa already helped his parents in the cotton fields, and 29 July 2000 started as a day like many others. Modachirou had worked hard and ran back to the house feeling thirsty. Finding no drink, he set off to search for his parents. On his way, Modachirou found an empty container, and scooped up some water to drink from a ditch. That evening he did not return home. A village search found his body next to the empty Callisulfan bottle innocently used to quench his thirst."


Just another death caused by pesticides used on cotton, the world's largest non-food crop. Why do we never hear about them in Australia? Practically all of the estimated 3 to 5 million poisonings each year happen to small farmers in the developing world. Most don't use protective gear, and the costly pesticides are often the most expensive things they own.  Lethal chemicals are kept inside homes to prevent theft. And using empty pesticide containers for water or food is common...

Hmmm... what do you say after that... except a big Yay! for green companies like Sosume (pictured) who use pesticide-free, organically grown cotton fabrics.

Carpe diem

Just a little story today...

Ann Wells from the Los Angeles Times writes:

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package... He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite, silk, hand-made - the price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached.

"Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least eight or nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion."

He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me.

"Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you are alive is a special occasion."

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death...

I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life... I'm not "saving" anything: we use our good china and crystal for every special event - such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom...

"Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now... I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and lustre to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes I tell myself that it is special.

Save the Earth...it's the only planet with chocolate on it.

Download this free t-shirt design at www.green isthenewblack.typepad.comToday, I'm officially starting work on Clothesline's next pattern range which has the working title "Green is the New Black".

Before you think I'm jumping on the sustainable clothing/environmentally-friendly bandwagon just because it's fashionable, let me whip out my green credentials.

Hanging on the wall in the Pool Room of my parent's house is my framed and faded degree from Griffith Uni. It's from their School of Australian Environmental Studies and dates back to the 1980's. Yep, I was a greenie before some of you were even born!

I've fallen off the green bandwagon a few times over the years, but you don't have to be a hippy-loving, cause-fighting, non-leather shoe-wearing, organic-eating, kombi-van-touring, do-gooder to be green. Just do the little things that you can.

I'd like to learn how to make my wardrobe a bit greener, so I've hunted down some background reading to get ideas.   Sifted through some very dull tomes, but found a few gems like these two easy reads.  Source them at amazon.com or put them on hold at your local library.

Tamsin Blanchard - Green is the New Black. For those who love to be ethical, dream of cheap clothes that don't cost the earth -  clothing with a conscience!

Summer Rayne Oakes - Style, Naturally. One-stop resource for all things green. Great profiles on ethical fashion design labels.

Plus out of Brisbane, Peppermint, a new eco-fashion magazine to hunt down... Happy reading!