Close up of eraser to be carved

Design and Make Your Own Rubber Stamps

Last week I was pleased to be welcomed for a second guest post on The Note Passer, presenting a tutorial for beginner techniques in cutting your own rubber stamp designs.

Erasers with designs ready to carveThis is the second post in three month collaboration between tortoise & lady grey and The Note Passer. You can find more information about this collaboration and The Note Passer, as well as links to the first post here.

Carved erasers

The next installment in this collaboration will present a tutorial for carving more detailed designs. This will be published here on tortoise & lady grey on May 12th. For behind the scenes updates from this project and others, you can follow me on Instagram. I hope you enjoy the series.

Turquoise Colour therapy.odt

Colour Therapy: Turquoise Jewels

I am very excited to bring you another new regular feature of tortoise & lady grey- a curation of beautiful sustainable fashion items along a colour theme. This week’s inspiration is the beautiful jewelled tones of turquoise. Turquoise has got to be one of the most striking hues around- I am surprised that we don’t see it featured very frequently on the catwalks. It has a been a long time feature of my wardrobe, and I don’t think I will ever tire of it!

1. Turquoise Sari Silk Fascinator by tortoise & lady grey – I hope you’ll indulge me in a little bit of shameless self promotion here. This fascinator is the first product I created for my Etsy store. Made with a second-hand silk sari and recycled felt made from plastic bottles. This item is a limited edition- when the sari runs out, so does the item. Such is the nature of using re-purposed materials. I have also made a lovely skirt with this sari which I wear often. 

2. Turquoise ruffle tank by Etsy seller Pierogil Picnic- this tank is made with scrap fabric, a re-purposed men’s tee and remnant mis-matched buttons. Pop along to the Etsy store to find out more about the makers commitment to sustainability.

3. Turquoise hand-painted earrings by Etsy seller Color Theary- these gorgeous studs are hand-painted on wood using water-based paints and sealed with resin to protect the beautiful hand-painted hue.

4. Topaz Chiffon Ribbon Sandals by Sseko Designs- fairly produced sandals made from local African materials, these ribbons sandals are customisable in a range of styles, and the ribbons can be swapped for different colours, enabling you have a great variety of options, using just one pair of sandals and a few extra ribbons. Sseko Designs is a social enterprise and profits are used to fund university education scholarships for Ugandan women, who also work in the factory.

5. Turquoise Baby Romper by Etsy seller Growing Up Wild- certified organic cotton romper, with eco-felt (made from recycled plastic bottles) applique and matching booties. You can learn more about the maker here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these stunning turquoise gems. The were many more that I would have liked to share, but I couldn’t fit them all in! Do you have your eye on any sustainable turquoise products? Share them in the comments section if you like :) And if you have a favourite colour that you would like to see featured, leave me a note in the comments or send me an email summer(at)tortoiseandladygrey(dot)com


Confetti design printed with pencil ersasers

Printing with Rubber Stamps for the Absolute Beginner

This week I was pleased to present a guest post on one of my favourite blogs, The Note Passer. The Note Passer- written by New York-based creative Elizabeth Stilwell- explores design, photography and ethical fashion. This guest post is the first in a colloborative series between tortoise & lady grey and The Note Passer which explores rubber stamp making techniques for printing on paper and textiles. This first post teaches readers beginner printing techniques for printing on paper with basic stationery items.

Stationery for stamping This is a technique that anyone can master (if you have little ones, you can even get them to try it out with you!). Head on over to The Note Passer for the full tutorial.

Wrapping paper printed with rubber stamps

Over a three month period we will explore more advanced techniques for making your own rubber stamps and personalising your wardrobe. Keep an eye out for the following features on The Note Passer and here on tortoise & lady grey.

 


Edition by Alice Sutton Photographer Andrew O'Toole

Sustainable Designer Interview: Australian zero-waste designer Alice Sutton

Australian sustainable designer Alice Sutton creates feminine shapes with a unique contemporary aesthetic for her independent label Edition.  Employing zero-waste pattern cutting techniques, using natural fibers including merino, silk and bamboo, and local (Australian-based) production, Alice’s collections make a significant contribution to sustainable fashion design. Alice was kind enough to grant me an interview so I could learn a bit more about her motivations, values and production processes.

Alice in her studio Photo credit: Hayley Boyle

Alice in her studio Photo credit: Hayley Boyle

Could you tell me a bit more about your label? What is the ethos of your brand? What defines your style?

“The Edition brand is primarily about creating a great product for women who appreciate unique shapes and conceptual design. Edition caters to women aged 30-65 who appreciate quality and are looking for a product to fit their individual style. My label has a strong focus on sustainability, but this is secondary to the aim of developing quality unique design. People won’t be attracted to the clothing if isn’t well designed, so the design process is central. Local-production is another important feature of the Edition brand. This preserves highly-skilled textile manufacturing in Australia, but this also increases the cost of production, thus increasing the price point of the label (around $400 for a dress). This again emphasizes the importance of good design, so that customers of Edition are getting a unique quality product that is worth the investment.”

Can you tell me a bit more about the sustainability features of your label?

“I use natural fibres in all of my designs. Merino is the mainstay textile that I use, sourced from New Zealand. I hope to be able to source some Australian merino in the future to keep it is local as possible. I have also used some hemp and silk, and I use bamboo in some of my designs. I have been able to source some bamboo from a mill in Australia, but the supply limited, so the bamboo is usually sourced from China.

I employ zero-waste pattern design processes, which means that there is no textile waste as a result of my clothing production. Zero-waste pattern design adds to the complexity of the design, and make the design process more personal. It also means that the silhouettes you create are quite unique.

Sustainable design has always appealed to me as the way forward for fashion. It is a good point of difference and gives me a way of standing out against other designers in the industry. “

What specific challenges and benefits do sustainability considerations bring to the design process?

“Sourcing fabric can be a challenge for sustainable designers in Australia. There is only one fabric wholesaler for sustainable textiles and the range is limited. This means it can be difficult to create a unique product, especially if you want to incorporate prints into your designs. The supply of prints is very limited and every other sustainable designer will be sourcing the same fabric. To get around this challenge I am currently collaborating with a local (Canberra-based) Aboriginal artist to create some unique prints on organic cotton which will I use in my future designs.

When you are small label, it can be difficult to do everything as sustainably as you would like. But each step is a good step, and I hope that each iteration will be better than the previous one. That is why I called the label Edition- I hope that each collection- each edition- will be more sustainable than the last. “

Where do you see the future of sustainable fashion heading?

“Every small step that a designer can take with regards to sustainability is a good step to take. I enjoy defending my choices and telling people why I choose sustainable design. Each conversation I can have about my choices helps to change the market.

Fashion at the moment- the fast fashion industry- it is pretty scary where it is heading. There will probably be more incidents such as the one in Bangladesh (the Rana Plaza building collapse which killed over 1000 garment workers)  before things really change. But I hope that sustainable fashion will emerge as the way forward. Free range eggs were once an obscure product, but now consumers seek out free range over other eggs and make their choices based on ethical considerations. I hope that sustainable fashion will become mainstream in the way that free range eggs have. ”

Edition by Alice Sutton Photo credit: Andrew O'Toole

Edition by Alice Sutton Photo credit: Andrew O’Toole

Many thanks to Alice for her candid interview. The Edition collection is currently stocked in two boutiques- one in Canberra and one in Hobart. For information on these stockists, and to see the full collections, head on over to the Edition website.


Turmeric dyed cowl photo 1

Slow fashion DIY tutorial: Turmeric-dyed Easy Hand Knit Cowl

I am so pleased to bring you this tutorial for this super-easy hand-knit cowl. The piece is especially designed to encourage readers to take up knitting for the first time, it really is an absolute beginner project, but the final result is quite striking. It is also a follow up to last week’s post on the environmental impact of dying. The striking colour of the scarf has been achieved using only foodstuffs, so it is proof that you can achieve beautiful colour at home without the need harmful chemical dyes.

The knitting pattern uses large needles, which enables you to knit the cowl up fairly quickly, meaning that you’ll have a finished product much sooner. I knitted this up in 4 days, just whilst watching TV or waiting for my son to fall asleep. If you have never knitted before, I have included comprehensive links to video tutorials to teach you each step of the way. I hope that this simple project demonstrates that anyone can make their own clothes. It is just a matter of finding an easy project to give you the confidence to get started on your slow fashion journey. I hope that this mustard hand knit cowl is that project for you!

STAGE 1 Knitting

For this stage you will need:

  • 2-3  x 50g balls of 8 ply (DK weight) white wool (preferably organic wool, eco wool, or unbleached wool)*
  • A pair of 8mm (UK size 0 or US size 11) knitting needles (for the most sustainable option, choose knitting needles made from bamboo)
  • Scissors
  • Yarn needle

*vegans can substitute wool for organic cotton, which will work just as well for this project. The final hue of the dyed project will vary slightly, but you will still get a good result.

With the first ball of wool, cast on 25 stitches. If you have never cast on stitches before, ask a friend to show you how, or watch short clip on how to cast on knitting stitches.

Row 1: Knit all of the stitches across the row. Again, if you are a complete beginner, you can find guidance on how to make a knit stitch at this excellent short video by Expert Village. Or if you want to see it in a little more detail, watch Knitting 101: How to knit the knit stitch for beginners.

Row 2 onwards: Knit across the row. Continue to knit every row until you achieve your desired length. For my cowl, I used 2.5 balls of wool, but I found that it stretched quite a bit after it was washed/dyed. You could easily knit only 2 balls of wool and still have a good length to the cowl. When you have knitted a whole ball of yarn, you will need to join the new ball of yarn so that you can continue knitting. To see how to do this, watch how to join your new ball of yarn for guidance on the simple technique.

Knitting up the cowl

Final row: Once you have reached a length that you are happy with (about 2 to 2.5 balls of wool will be knitted) you need to cast off your stitches to end off the knitting. For guidance on how to do this, watch Knitting for beginners: how to cast off.

Now that you have completed the knitting for the project, you will notice that you have a few loose ends of yarn at the start and end of your project, as well as where you’ve joined the new ball of yarn. You will need to use a yarn needle to weave these ends through the knitting so that you can’t see them. You can watch how to do this here.

Once you have woven all of the loose ends of yarn you are ready to sew the scarf into a cowl. Take the length and fold it in half. You should have the two short ends lined up together. Using the yarn needle, and a length of yarn, sew a seam across the two ends to join the ends together. This will mean that the long length of scarf will now form a complete circle. This completes the cowl.

STAGE 2: Dying

For this stage you will need:

  • Your knitted cowl
  • 100 grams turmeric (fresh root or dried powder will both work)
  • 10-12 used tea bags (I store my used tea bags in the freezer until I have enough for my eco-dying projects)
  • 2 large saucepans
  • 1 mesh strainer
  • Plastic/wooden spoon and tongs for stirring
  • An old or dark coloured towel

Fresh turmeric for dying

Strictly speaking, dying should not be done using equipment that you use for food. This is the case even with eco-dying, as many natural dye-stuffs are also poisonous. However, as both of the dye materials that are used in the project are food, you can safely use your normal kitchen utensils to develop your dye. A word of warning though- turmeric is a very powerful dye material, and you may find that even after scrubbing, your pots do stay yellow for a few more uses. This won’t be harmful to your cooking, so I wouldn’t be too worried about it.

Turmeric and tea in the dye-pot

To create your dye, you will need to add your dye-stuffs- the turmeric and tea- to a saucepan along with 2 litres of water. If you are using fresh turmeric root, this is best grated, but could be finely chopped if you don’t have a grater on hand. Bring the water to boil, and gently simmer the dye pot for 1 hour. Whilst your dye is brewing, thoroughly wet your cowl with tap water. This will help the fiber take up the dye once it is in the pot.

After the dye has simmered for an hour, place the mesh strainer over the second saucepan and strain the dye mixture into the second saucepan. You should capture the tea bags and grated turmeric in the strainer. Any small loose tea-leaves or turmeric powder (if that is what you are using) will flow though, but these won’t adversely affect your final product. Place the second saucepan (with the strained dye) on low heat. It only need to maintain a high temperature, but shouldn’t be simmering throughout the dye process. Thoroughly squeeze any excess water out of your cowl, and then place it in the dye-pot. Turn it over a couple of times to ensure that it has been thoroughly wet by the dye.

You will need to leave the cowl to dye for about 1 hour. If the water level becomes a little low, simply top it up so that there is about two litres of water there- enough to just cover the cowl with dye. You turn the cowl over every 5-10 minutes to help ensure a more even colour. Be careful not to agitate the fiber too much- just turn it over carefully, rather than stir vigorously. Felt is made by agitating wool in heated water, and you don’t want to felt your cowl! After an hour, remove your cowl from the dye pot and rinse thoroughly with cold water until the water runs clear. You should have a lovely bright mustard-coloured scarf. If you are unhappy with hue- if you would like it be be brighter/stronger- return the scarf to the dye pot and repeat the process for another hour.

Once your scarf has been rinsed clean, squeeze out the excess water, and then place on the towel which has been laid out flat on a table or bench-top. Roll up the towel with the wet cowl in the middle, and use this to squeeze out any more excess water. Lay the towel flat and leave the cowl to dry flat on the towel. If the weather is cold and wet, it may take several days for your cowl to dry properly.

Once dry, your cowl is ready to wear. To ensure the colour holds it’s brightness, it is best that you leave the cowl as long as possible before it’s first wash. You should always hand wash your cowl using wool soap to ensure that the garment is properly cared for. A beautiful garment like this will last a lifetime, if properly cared for. If your cowl ever becomes snared or suffers a moth hole or two, you can unravel the wool, and knit it up again. Such is the beauty of using high quality materials. If the colour fades too much for your liking, you can also repeat the dye process to renew the colour.

Turmeric dyed cowl photo 2

At the end of your dying process, you will have some left over dye bath (the dye liquid). If you think you might like to dye something else with this, you can store the left over dye bath in a glass jar until you need to use it. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated. The dye bath will usually keep just fine in this manner, but if it happens to grow some mold, simply place the jar in the freezer before use to kill off the mold spores. The dye bath will not be affected by the mold and is still usable. If you used fresh turmeric for the dye bath, you can also save the grated turmeric in the freezer for future use. This will still have dye potential as well. In this way we can ensure that nothing goes to waste. If you don’t think you will use the dye bath again, you can simply pour it down the sink. It is completely natural and won’t harm the environment, unlike chemical dyes.

Knitting and eco-dying and both lovely processes that enable you to slow down and connect with the clothes that you wear. By making your own clothing, you gain a new insight in the work that goes into garment creation, and gives you a new appreciation for the level exploitation that underpins cheap clothing manufacture. I hope this simple project gives you the confidence to take your wardrobe into your own hands. Anyone is capable of creating their own wardrobe, as long as they start simple and grow their confidence with projects such as this one. Let me know if you give it a go. I would love to hear how it turns out. And if you have any questions about the project, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment.

Resources

If you would like to delve a bit further into knitting or dying, here are some resources that I find useful:

 


Textile Review: The Environmental Impacts of Colouring Yarn and Fabrics

When seeking out eco-friendly clothing options, consumers often look to the source of the fiber (cotton, polyester, hemp, linen) to reduce their environmental impact. The choice of fiber is an important first step in the process. But in order to ensure that the clothing you buy is sustainable, it is also important to consider the dying process that has been used. The colour of your clothes can have a huge impact on the environment. That dress in brilliant vermilion yellow, or the trousers in midnight black, in most cases have been achieved using a cocktail of harmful chemicals, regardless of whether the fabric is natural, such as wool, linen and cotton, or derived from petrochemicals, such as polyester or nylon.

Discharge from a Textile Dying Factory in China ~ Photo Credit: Greenpeace

Discharge from a Textile Dying Factory in China ~ Photo Credit: Greenpeace

The colouring process for fibers usually involves two or three steps- bleaching, dying  and printing- all of which are known to use harmful chemicals in conventional fabrics. Bleaching is used to whiten the textiles, which enables the dyes to achieve a more brilliant colour. Bleaching is both water and energy intensive in standard processes, and includes the use of chemicals which are highly polluting if released in the the environment untreated. Dying is a highly water intensive, energy and chemical-intensive process. Dying processes are a major source of heavy metal contamination. Printing inks used to screen-print designs onto fabric can contain harmful solvents, and in some cases even lead. In major clothing manufacture countries, such as China, poor workplace safety practices mean that textile workers face serious health consequences as a result in their involvement in the colouring of textiles.

Textile worker in China ~ Photo Credit: Greenpeace

Textile worker in China ~ Photo Credit: Greenpeace

Greenpeace, through their own investigations and the Detox Fashion campaign have been shining the spotlight on the toxic impact of fashion. They have produced an excellent short documentary which sums up the environmental impact of textile processes (of which dying is a major contributor) on the world’s water supply. You can watch this short documentary here. The documentary cites some alarming statistics on the impact of textile processes on the environment in countries of manufacture. “In China alone 40% of surface water is considered polluted and 20% of the ground water used as urban drinking water is contaminated, sometimes with carcinogenic chemicals.” While textile manufacture is not the sole contributor to this situation, by exploiting lax environmental regulation in countries of manufacture the clothes we wear cause significant environmental harm in the cities and town in which they are made.

But the impacts extend far beyond the country of manufacture. ”The clothes we buy in Europe, North America, Asia and elsewhere are all part of a global chain of toxic pollution. Two thirds of clothing items tested by Greenpeace contain hazardous chemicals, and when these garments are washed these hazardous chemicals are washed into rivers, lakes and seas around the world.This makes us all part of the problem. But we can also be part of the solution.” The clothing that we choose as consumers can protect or degrade the environment. The market can only profit from goods that we choose to buy. By choosing sustainably produced clothing, we can contribute to lasting change.

What are our sustainable options when it comes to colouring/dying yarns and textiles?

The sustainable options around the colour of your garments fit broadly into three categories- low-impact, natural/eco dyes, and naturally pigmented fibers.

Low impact processes utilise chemicals to achieve the desired colour of a fabric, but the most harmful chemicals have been excluded from use. Low impact process also operate on a closed loop system (where chemicals are captured and reused again and again, rather released as waste) or produce waste that is considered environmentally safe for release. With regard to the bleaching of fibers, low-impact processes are those that use hydrogen peroxide over more harmful bleaching agents, minimise the use of stabilisers (which are highly polluting agents), and biologically treat waste water before it is released into the environment. Low impact dying processes include acid dyes (ph-controlled dye baths that are slightly acidic), exhausted dye baths (so that majority of dye agents are affixed to fabric, rather than released in the waste water) and reactive dyes. Printing process that are considered low impact include the use of water-based printing inks, solvent-free inks, and digital printing processes. For a comprehensive overview of these low-impact processes, I highly recommend Sustainable Fashion & Textiles: Design Journeys by Kate Fletcher, which has helped me immensely with my research. Generally low impact processes are better suited to the large scale manufacture of clothing than natural dyes, so are used by most sustainable clothing labels. Sustainable clothing brands such as amour vert and Icebreaker state on their website that they use low-impact dyes to colour their fabrics. Companies which utilise certified-organic fabrics, such as PACT ApparelPeople Tree and 3 Fish are required to use low-impact processes in order to receive their organic certification. If you are uncertain whether a label uses low-impact dying processes, it is worth contacting them to ask them for information on their dying processes so that you can be certain of the processes that are used.

Natural dying processes utilise foodstuffs, plants and in some case insect and animal materials to colour natural fabrics. These processes have been used throughout human history and have been preserved through cultural tradition. They are best suited to handmade and small scale production, as is is difficult to achieve uniformity and they are often more labour-intensive. Colouring in this manner encourages a slow fashion approach to garment production, and enables a greater connection to the local environment. Slow designers Sasha Duerr and India Flint explore the dye potential of the local environment through the collection and experimentation with dye stuffs gathered from their local area. For comprehensive information on natural/eco-dying techniques, I highly recommend Eco Colour by India Flint. Natural dying is a lovely process to explore in your own home, and is can be a cheap option because many food scraps such as used tea bags, beetroot peelings, purple carrot skins, and used coffee grinds all have dye potential. For a basic introduction to natural dying, see my tutorial for dying an organic cotton t-shirt with used tea bags. There are also an increasing number of commercially-produced soy-based and other natural textile dyes and printing inks available on the market, which means that natural dyes are becoming increasingly accessible to larger scale manufacture. However, we are yet to see these available beyond a niche market of consumers and makers.

Tea-dyed hand-printed t-shirt by tortoise & lady grey

Tea-dyed hand-printed t-shirt by tortoise & lady grey

The final option for colouring yarn is to make use of the natural pigments already existing in the fibers. This is the most environmentally friendly option, as it eliminates any use of dyestuffs, water and energy needed to colour the yarn. This is the most restrictive in terms of colour choice, but there is a range of colours that are naturally occurring and can be used by garment designers to reduce the environmental impact of the clothing. In South America, there are a number of organically grown traditional cotton varieties that are hued in soft greens, yellows and pinks and are perfect for producing beautifully soft baby clothing that are chemical-free. Similarly, many traditional varieties of sheep, alpaca and even camel are farmed for their wool in hues of charcoal, chocolate, caramel and cream that produce beautiful knits such as this  charcoal striped knit from Icebreaker. Other natural fibers such as linen and silk look lovely undyed.

The colouring of yarn and textiles is only one part of the overall environmental impact of a garment, but it is important that this impact is not overlooked. Through my investigations over time I have found it helpful to ask suppliers and designers about the dying processes used. Sometimes you will be surprised to find that a low impact process has been used. Other times you may be disappointed to find out that this is not the case, or you may even find that the company has ignored your inquiry, but at the very least you have had the opportunity to let designers and makers know that there is consumer demand for fashion to change to low-impact processes.

As consumers, the more opportunities we have to make our ethics known, the greater impact we can have on the market. Early successes with the Detox Fashion campaign have demonstrated the impact that sustained consumer activism can have when people work together for change. But even on an individual scale, we cannot discount the impact of consumers writing to fashion labels to inquire about their processes. If nothing else, it lets companies know that we care about the issue and will change our shopping habits to support change in the market place.

Have you ever contacted a company to inquire about their sustainable processes, including dying? What sort of response did you get? Leave a comment to share your experiences


Ethical and sustainable wedding hairpiece

A very close friend of mine was recently married. When I first got the news that she was getting married, I wanted to do something special for her as a wedding gift. As I had made my own wedding hairpiece some three years ago, I thought it would be a nice gift to offer to make something for her to wear to her wedding. She was thrilled with the offer, and suggested that she would like something in green. I was so pleased to be making some special for my friend, and was excited about the excuse to hunt down some sustainable materials in green, which is also my favourite colour.

Materials soon in hand, I quickly came up with a couple of prototype designs of silk flowers and showed her the partially completed pieces to let her choose which suited her style. As the time drew nearer to her wedding, I procrastinated on finalising her hairpiece and sending it off to her (she lives in a different city). Even though I had shown her the partially completed design I was wracked with self-doubt, fearing that she wouldn’t like my finished product. Weddings are so personal and I didn’t want to let her down. With only weeks to go, I finally got my act together and posted it to her. I emailed her in advance, telling her that I wouldn’t be offended if she decided that it wasn’t right for her wedding and that I completely understand if she doesn’t want to wear it.

Long story short, she did like it, and she looked absolutely stunning wearing it. Here is a photo of the gorgeous bride, looking as beautiful as the picturesque setting of her wedding.

The beautiful bride

The beautiful bride in her sustainable wedding hairpiece

The piece is made with vintage re-purposed sari silk, lace re-purposed from a thrifted table runner, vintage millinery silk and felt made from recycled plastic bottles. The piece also includes some fine strands of pearls, which are reasonably sustainable (much better than plastic to be sure) but I wouldn’t be confident that the Chinese cultured pearls are all that ethical. However, all in all, the piece fares quite well on it’s ethical and sustainable qualities.

Here is a close up of the piece

Close up for sustainable wedding hairpiece

I’m so glad I got my act together and sent it. Not only did she love it, she told me that she actually cried when she first put it on. All the worry and fear that my self-doubt created melted away when I heard those words. It was a valuable life lesson, and one that gave me the confidence to pursue my long-time dream of making millinery. I am very excited to announce that I have opened my sustainable millinery Etsy store. At this stage it is in limited opening with only a few designs featured. I will be working towards an grand opening with a larger range later in the year.

All of the designs feature beautiful sustainable materials, such as vintage silk, re-purposed lace and silk, and recycled felt. I am constantly on the hunt for new materials, and I love the creative challenge that using sustainable materials (particularly re-purposed materials) provides.

Pop on over to the Etsy store to have a look. Due to the nature of using re-purposed materials, each item is likely to be limited in number. So if you see something that you like you may want to consider buying it quickly, or it is possible that you’ll miss out. If you like a design, but you are looking for a different colour, be sure to get in contact as I should be able to do you a special order.

I would love to hear what you think of the pieces. Any words of encouragement or feedback would be much appreciated. This is a new venture for me, so it would be great to hear what you think!

I’ll leave you with my personal favourite at the moment- a fascinator in the lovely shades of forest and sage green.

Forest and sage bow peep fascinator


DIY Baby Balm

Baby Bottom Balm

This week I had the opportunity to guest post on UK-based sustainable living blog Moral Fibres, where I presented my own recipe for baby bottom balm- a soothing natural balm that helps to prevent nappy rash. It is a very simple recipe that anyone can make in their kitchen, no special tools necessary. Easy for even the busiest mum.

Ingredients

With all natural ingredients, it also makes a lovely soothing balm for irritated skin  and trouble dry spots such as heels elbows and knees, suitable for young and old alike. Pop on over to Moral Fibres for the full recipe and tutorial.


Sustainable Fashion Outfit 1: Mustard Cardigan & Navy Dress

It seems as though this month I have been inspired to introduce a few new post series on the blog. Last week I introduced the Kitchen Pampering series, which will hopefully help you to ditch your chemical cosmetics and save some money at the same time. This week I am excited to introduce my next new post series, the Sustainable Fashion Outfits.

I am a sucker for fashion magazines (well just the pictures) and love to browse them for style inspiration. But the vast majority of the magazines are filled with conventional fashion and promote excessive consumption and fast fashion turnover. These days I prefer to get my style inspiration on Pinterest, where I can browse the photos and avoid the ads, and where I can find fashion inspiration from ordinary women and bloggers and not just worn by undersized models.

This post series is inspired by the style inspiration I find on Pinterest and elsewhere on the web. For each post I will take an outfit that I love and match the style and feel of the look with an ethical and sustainable version, pointing you to where you can buy the pieces. I can’t always get the exact colour or print, but I do my best to match the feel of the original outfit.

For this weeks post, I have taken my inspiration from this lovely pic from Vixen Vintage

Photo credit: Vixen Vintage www.vixen-vintage.com

I had some trouble finding a dress that matched the print or colour, but I did find a lovely replacement that still fits in with the overall feel of the outfit.

Mustard cardigan outfit

1. Mustard Cardigan (fair trade and low impact dyed wool) from People Tree (currently on sale for end of season- be quick if you like it!) 

2. Navy Dash Dress (organic cotton and fair trade) from People Tree

3. Espresso Clutch (ethically produced) from Sseko Designs

4. Urbano Ardesia Boots (ethically produced vege-tanned leather) from Coclico

Although not pictured here, I’d also select these organic cotton slouchy socks from PACT.
I just love this look, what do you think?


Kitchen Pampering: Cacao and Tahini Nourishing Facemask

There are many reasons to avoid buying conventional cosmetics and treatments. Sustainability reasons include: they are filled with chemicals which are harmful to the environment and your health; and they are wrapped in excessive packaging, which even if recycled, embodies an enormous carbon output.

So many of the ingredients that we have in our kitchen cupboards can provide affordable chemical free nourishment for our skin and hair, yet skincare companies would have us believe that we can’t live without their products. Through my new blog series- Kitchen Pampering- I look at the easy ways that we can ditch the chemicals, make our own beauty products, and save money in the process. The more products we can learn to make ourselves (or live without), the less money we waste, and the more sustainably (both financially and environmentally) we can live.

I hope you enjoy this first installment- the Cacao and Tahini Nourishing Facemask.

When we were on our honeymoon in Madagascar, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves to an indulgent afternoon in a spa. This is where I first discovered the bliss that is a chocolate body mask. When I finished up, I was given one of the same chocolates to eat. This was a beauty treatment that actually was good enough to eat!

This recipe is reminiscent of the that indulgent body treatment. Feel free to triple the recipe if you want to try it out as a body mask. (But I wouldn’t plan on eating the mix unless you add some maple syrup!)

Ingredients for Cacao and Tahini facemask

Ingredients

Method

Mix the tahini and cacao together first. The mixture will feel quite dry. Mix the water in a half teaspoon at a time until the water until a paste is formed. Wash your face first with a warm face-cloth (warm water only, no cleanser needed unless you are removing make-up). Apply the mask liberally to your face and neck. Leave for ten minutes. Wash your face clean with a warm face-cloth (warm water only). Follow up with your usual moisturiser or night cream.

Explanations

Raw cacao is a very nourishing ingredient that is high in antioxidants and will leave your skin glowing. Ordinary cocoa powder has some of these benefits, however it has been heat treated and processed using chemicals, so it contains far fewer benefits. You can still use ordinary cocoa powder if that is all you have, but for best results you should stick to organic raw cacao. Tahini (ground sesame paste) will soften and moisturise dry skin, and is suitable for all skin types. I would still recommend doing patch test first if you have sensitive skin to be on the safe side, and avoid it if your are allergic to chocolate or sesame seeds.

I hope you enjoy some kitchen pampering with this recipe. Keep your eye out for more recipes in the series in the coming months.

I’d love to hear your feedback, leave a comment below to let me know what you think of the mask.