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Sun Block Homemade

The following information is for guidance only. None of the following recipes or tips have not been tested on anyone other than me. I strongly advise you do your own research and proceed very carefully as sunburn is not only painful and aging but dangerous.

That said the following has worked for me. And I have no melamine at all. Which makes me well skilled in the art of tanning without burning and even more so in the art of hiding from the sun. But this knowledge was not easily won.

More

There is lots more information about sun protection here. Do read up before you decide to make your own.

A Tannning History

Growing up as I did I in the 70s in the north of England sun tan lotion was something of a mystery. If it was mentioned at all it was as an expensive and rather pointless luxury talked about in the more expensive women’s magazines. My Granddad was a window cleaner, a man out in all weathers, and he never used anything more than a flat cap for protection from the elements. Even my mother who had been to Spain and had a French pen friend scoffed at such nonsense. Vegetable oil she claimed was all any one needed for tanning. On the few occasions we did see the sun we would lie like chips frizzeling in the heat – till the oil ran out. This usually happened within the first few days as we never had much of anything in our pantry. My mothers housekeeping skills were not of the best.   But even in the short time it was available, I soon came to realise that oil offered  absolutely no protection from the sun.

Having run out of oil mother now claimed that even that was unnecessary. Her latest theory was that you had to burn blistering hard once. Then, when you finally emerged from your darkened room having painfully sloughed the destroyed outer layer skin, you would be immune to the destructive power of the sun. For ever after at the first hint of summer, you would tan a beautiful golden brown. Needless to say this didn’t work either. I burnt and shed but never actually tanned. Lucky we lived in Manchester where Summer, at least one with sunshine, was a rare beast and I only had to suffer this infrequently. But I have come to realise that even if you do build up an immunity to the sun you can still burn – Even people with tans.

I was 15 before I saw real sun. We went to France and a tube of sun tan lotion was bought to celebrate. However it was so expensive that it was severely rationed and we all ended up blistered and peeling and my faith in suntan lotion rather compromised. Most people it seems do not apply enough lotion. You need to be liberal which can be difficult if you are on a budget. And sun tan lotion used to be very expensive and though there are more budget options now, cost can be a consideration.

So I went over to the pale and interesting school. Which involved a lot of covering up. Again fairly easy in Manchester where we hardly ever disrobe.

But then I started backpacking. Maintaining a pallid complexion is hard work when you spend a lot of time outside, snorkelling or mountaineering. I minimise the risk with sensible hats and long sleeve shirts but beaches demand less clothes and swimming of course is always more dangerous with the risk of forgetting the time. Somehow because I am cool in the water I think I am safe to stay out just a little bit longer. And even a short walk up that blazing beach can leave me red and painful. But also and this seems
Really unfair, even cloudy days can lead to burning.

I realised that I needed sun tan / block lotion and lots of it. And it needs to be applied regularly. Even in cloudy weather. I came to this conclusion just as I was giving up plastic. So not only did I have to learn to use sunblock and had to learn how to make it. I have been using zinc based, home-made sun block lotion for about 5 years now. I know it stops me from burning because I burn when I don’t use it. Obviously it has not been tested in a lab and I cannot guarantee results. I still try to limit my exposure to the sun but I feel this cream definitely helps me. I offer this personal account for discussion only. If you do decide to make your own lotion please do more research.

Why Sunscreen
Sunscreens help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin.
There are two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB
UVB is the chief cause of sunburn and linked to sun cancer. UVA rays, penetrate the skin more deeply, and contribute to photoaging.
You need a cream that protects from both.

SPF
Sun protective factor provided by cream is measured in SPF
SPF factors only measure protection against UVB. You will need a cream that also protect from other kinds of rays.

SPF4 filters out 75% of UVB
SPF10 filters out 90% –
SPF15 filters out 93%
SPF25 filters out 96%
SPF30 filters out 97%
SPF50 filters out 98%
SPF100 99%
Source

Zinc Oxide
I have settled on zinc oxide as the active ingredient in my sun block.
This is a fine white powder easily available on line.
It coats the skins and so reflects the damaging and burning rays of the sun.
It protects the skin from UVA, UVB and UVC. According to www.aromantic.co.uk website (where you can buy zinc and get advice on how to use it), It is one the oldest and most effective sunblock and
It can be easily added to base lotions and oils.

No to Nano Zinc

So zinc is great BUT it is a white powder and stronger mixes can sit on the skin like a pasty mask. Make your lotion too strong and you look like Marcel Marceau. You don’t burn but you look freaky. To counter this some suggest using nano zinc.
Nano or micronized zinc oxide is zinc oxide that  has been ground to a very fine powder to reduce the size of its particles. Anything with a particle size smaller than 100nm is considered a nano particle. This means it spreads more easily and does not leave a white sheen on the skin.The worry is that particles this size may be able to enter the body.
Because of that I use normal zinc. In stronger concentrations it does leave a slight white sheen. It can also leave white marks on dark clothes. Wear white linen is the obvious answer to this. Or work on your locked in a glass box mime.

Using Zinc In Homemade Sun Block

Notes
There are claims that certain oils like coconut oil have a natural SPF. This may well be true but I strongly advise not to rely on this.
None of the below have been tested in lab and you have no accurate way of knowing  what SPF your lotion has. Proceed sensibly!
If in doubt Make your lotion stronger then dilute as you tan.
Too much zinc and you end up with white clown makeup. In this case you may have been overcautious.

You can add zinc to
home made creams and lotions (if you want to make a lotion there are some recipes here)
ready bought lotions
a base oil such as coconut oil.

20% zinc oxide  will give an approximate SPF of 30. That is by weight. So you weigh your base say 100g of cream then you add 20% or 1/5th of zinc. Which is 20g of zinc.You can see from the ratios below that SPF 15 is not half of SPF 30 so you cannot use that scale to work out your SPF factors.
For SPF 2-5: Use 5% zinc oxide
For SPF 6-11: Use 10% zinc oxide
For SPF 12-19: Use 15% zinc oxide
For SPF >20: Use 20% zinc oxide

These ratios were taken from DIY Natural. They have not been tested in a lab proceed with caution

Recipes

Masking Creams
Zinc
Thicker cream
Very strong and thick. To be used on vulnerable areas that burn easily.

First I make my own rather thick cream and then add the zinc at 20% ratio. This makes a super thick cream which is difficult to rub on large areas but great for masking specified areas. I use it to protect my great big nose and around my eyes.
For general application it is too tough and sticky.
Find out how to make cream here

Oily Cream
Zinc
Cream
OIl
You can thin the above thick cream down by adding oil. N.B. You cant use water for this. Add water and your cream starts to separate when you try to rub it on.
Oily cream goes on way more easily but obviously the more you dilute is lower the SPF factor.
The advantage of this cream is that it is thicker than oil so easier to apply – less dribbling.
It does not separate.

Sun Block Oils
Zinc
Oil – I have used both coconut and rice bran oil

More recently I have cut out the middle man or rather the cream and started adding zinc directly to oil. It would seem that my mother was half right!
Which Oil?
I guess you could do this with any oil but I prefer a lighter oil less gloopy than say olive oil.
I have usually used coconut oil as a base because it is light and easily obtained in glass jars. Some claim that coconut oils has an ability to deflect burning rays but the claims made for coconut oil are prodigious. Do not rely on coconut oil alone.
The problem with coconut oil in the UK at least, it solidifies below a certain temperature. This sun tan lotion needs to be liquid and well shaken before use because the ingredients separate. So if you use coconut oil, warm and shake it before applying.
More recently I used rice bran oil which is much cheaper and easily available. At least that is the case in Thailand. It is a light oil and does not solidify.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE
The ingredients separate so the lotion must be well shaken before use. If you are using an oil that solidifies like coconut you need to be sure it is liquid and well mixed before use.

Advantages Of Oil
Oily creams and oils are great for the beach because I feel they don’t wash off so easily in the sea as home made lotions do. And the oil itself seems to act as an added protection against the general drying effect of salt water and heat. My skin doesn’t feel as itchy. But then I am only using two ingredients no fragrances, no preservatives.
They give your skin a rather nice sheen.
And it is As Cheap As Chips
Adding zinc to rice bran oil is super cheap which means you can liberally apply this lotion. Very good if you are on a budget. Plus I get to use the oil for other things.
The disadvantages? – well it is rather… oily…

Non OIly Sun Block
Zinc
Glycerine
This is a work in progress

But oily sun block is, well, oily. Anywhere near the hairline and it has the disastrous effect of making my locks all greasy. Not a problem on the beach where my hair is normally wet and again the coconut oil help protect it from going madly dry. But in town not such a good look.
Until now I have been adding zinc to a very thin, homemade lotion. It makes the lotion much thicker and I find it rather heavy to wear.

Since the oil zinc success I have tried adding zinc to neat vegetable glycerine. It seems to work fine but this is a work in progress.
The resulting lotion feels a bit sticky when you are applying it but that soon wears off.
It is much lighter than zinc creams.
The ingredients tend to separate so it needs shaking.
It is very very easy to make.

Store Bought Creams
Apparently you can add zinc to a store bought cream to make a suntan lotion. I have never tried this as I gave up shop bought years ago. But considering the success off adding it to oil I can see no reason why this wouldn’t work. Do remember that zinc makes your lotion thicker and much whiter. It might be a good idea to use a thin lotion as a base.
Apparently it helps if you warm them first.
Let me know how you get on!

Applying Cream
Sunscreens are unlikely to be fully effective after 2 hours
According to the skin cancer organisation  “you need to apply 1 oz – about a shot glass full. Studies show that most people apply only half to a quarter of that amount, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than advertised. During a long day at the beach, one person should use around one half to one quarter of an 8 oz. bottle. Sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Reapplication of sunscreen is just as important as putting it on in the first place, so reapply the same amount every two hours. Sunscreens should also be reapplied immediately after swimming, toweling off, or sweating a great deal.

More

There is lots more information about sun protection here. Do read up before you decide to make your own.

Travelling Plastic Free For Months
This discovery massively reduces your plastic when travelling. I carry all my own home made plastic free toiletries with me to avoid creating plastic waste which can present something of a problem. A years supply of sunblock is a lot to carry. So now I compromise. I take my own zinc and buy coconut oil (or rice bran oil) while travelling. I mix the zinc into the coconut oil to make a sun tan lotion great for the beach.

Microfine Titanium Dioxide

This is another product you can use to make your own sun block.

“Microfine Titanium Dioxide is accepted as a safe Sun Barrier all around the world. This is because it is inorganic and has a record of having no adverse reactions to it. This makes it ideal for products used on a daily basis.
It can be used in Sun Screens, Moisturisers, Powdered Make-up, Lip and Baby products and virtually any Skin Treatment product.
Adding 5% Microfine Titanium Dioxide to a product gives it a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of approximately 10 and protects against 90% UVA/UVB and UVC radiation. Adding 10% gives it a SPF of 15-20.
Add during the heating of the Vegetable Oil in the Fat Stage of making your product.”
The following information is from the www.aromantic.co.uk website.

< span style="color: #ff0000;">Fragrance
Many recipes on line suggest adding essentials oils. In my opinion there is no real benefit to be derived from this as
they may make your skin more sensitive to light;
essential oils are resource hungry, have a large environmental footprint and should only be used on special occasions.
You can read more here

PLASTIC SPOILER

You can buy zinc on line.
It will come in a plastic bag- booo.
The best you can do is ensure the bags are polythene and so can be more easily recycled.
As I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients, I consider it a worthwhile compromise.

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Tana Lawn Tunic

I didn’t actually need another tunic top but I have been possessed by a sewing demon and I simply cannot stop buying fabric especially when I came across this.
Liberty Tata Lawn.
It was in Abakan a Manchester fabric shops At first I thought it was some strange kind of silk. Maybe even a synthetic fibre. It was so fine and was covered in lovely design of what looked like pomegranates.
Abakan is a rather grim no nonsense shop which sell huge heaps of synthetic fabric by weight. For sure they have a small craft fabric department but since the disaster of the endlessly creasing Tabard Dress I am right off craft fabric. To find something so lovely and so obviously suitable for shirts was rather a shock.Which led to a quick bit of research.

Liberty Prints & Fabrics

I can tell you that Liberty is an amazing fabric shop in London. But also a huge part of British design history. In 1875 Arthur Lasenby Liberty  opened Libertys the shop selling ornaments, fabrics and objets d’art from the east. By 1884 Edward William Godwin  a distinguished architect joined the team and Liberty’s started making clothes. By the 1890s Arthur was working with English designers connected with the  Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movement and his fabric designs had become massively popular. In the 1920s, Liberty began to produce small floral prints known as Liberty Prints. They were printed on one of their most famous fabrics Tana Lawn, still a Liberty best-seller.
In 1924 the mock-Tudor flag ship store store was built. It was designed by Edwin T. Hall it used, timbers from HMS Hindustan and HMS Impregnable. In proper Arts and Crafts style it was built using authentic and original Tudor techniques.
By the 1940s Liberty was firmly established as the supplier of must-have silk scarves.
Come the 1950s and 60s, an Arts & Crafts revival meant even Libertys old designs were still cutting edge. Art Nouveau designs were redrawn and coloured to make them more appealing to modern designers. They were used by all the great names.
But back to me and my fabric revelation.

Tana Lawn

is extremely high quality cotton. This was taken form the Liberty website….
Taking its name from Lake Tana in East Africa where the original cotton grew, Tana Lawn cotton is unique. Made from specially selected ultra-fine long staple cotton and finished without the use of crease-resisting chemicals or irritating allergens, the result is a famous masterpiece of fabric technology: fine, cool, comfortable and durable, with brilliant reproduction of colours and prints.

Fabric & Purchase Details 

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While Abakan might be a little bit grim they  sell at a discount. Tana lawn normally retails at around £22.00 a meter I got mine for 12.00. If you cant get to Manchester they have an online store. They don’t stock the whole Tana range – for that you will have to try Liberty or other shops.

As far as I know Tana Lawn boasts no organic or fair trade credentials but it was bought locally from Abakan in Manchester and buying locally and keeping fabric shops open are both very important to me.

It is 100% cotton. I prefer to use natural fibres because on consideration they are the greenest, biodegradable option and, even better, they don’t shed plastic microfibres when washed. Just in case you need it, here is a quick  intro to synthetic, regenerated, combination and natural fibres here. And more reasons why I prefer natural fabrics over the others can be found here.

Design & Pattern
McCalls M6102 1 hour dress. Really easy. You can see my patterns here.

Fixtures & Fittings
None needed

Made With
It was  cut out with all metal scissors from the C. Booths Hardware Shop in Huddersfield, sewn together using organic cotton on a wooden reel and made using plastic free sewing supplies (you can find them here).

Sustainable Rating
Natural fibres
Fabric was bought plastic free – no packaging
Supporting a local fabric shop
Homemade by me
Made with plastic free sewing supplies

Weighs In At g.

Why the weighing? Well this item of clothing is counted as part of my fair share fabrics project. This is a self imposed rationing system. I use no more than my global share of fibres and they have to be sustainably sourced. Whats a global share? 11.74 kg per person of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres. As I don’t like synthetics I try to stick to 3.8 kg of natural fibres.

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Choir Boy Shirt

I have been making cotton tunics for a while now and while I love this very easy to make garment I fancied a change. I OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwanted something with rather more space to move. The tunic pattern has fitted sleeves which can be a bit grabby under the arms if I wear them with a T shirt. Plus the body while not fitted has no extra space. I have to be careful when removing my tunics. I am not always careful tending to yank them off to the cracking sound of splitting stitches.

So I thought I would try me a gathered shirt with some raglan sleeves. A raglan sleeve is a single piece of fabric that extends from the collar of the garment over the shoulder and down to the underarm.

There is no seam around the shoulder rather that the seams attaching the sleeve to body run diagonally across the front and back of the shoulder. This results is more room in the underarm area allowing a greater ease of movement. Which is why it is often used in sports wear. And considered less formal than a fitted sleeve.

Fabric & Purchase Details

I bought some grey lawn from the Button Box in Huddersfield Market. This is more like a muslin it is softer more crumply and looks like a looser weave. I don’t know where it was originally made and it boasts no organic or fair trade credentials but it was bought locally and buying locally and keeping fabric shops open are both very important to me.

It is 100% cotton. I prefer to use natural fibres because on consideration they are the greenest, biodegradable option and, even better, they don’t shed plastic microfibres when washed. Just in case you need it, here is a quick  intro to synthetic, regenerated, combination and natural fibres here. And more reasons why I prefer natural fabrics over the others can be found here.

Design & Pattern

I found this pattern in a charity shop. New Look 6133.  It seemed to fit the bill give or take a frilled collar. I made it longer so it was more smock like. I cut the neck lower  and rather than a draw string, I  gathered the fabric and sewed it into place and attached a thin collar.

I tried it on. I looked like a choir boy!

I had to add pin tucks underneath the bust to give it some shape. Then rather than gather into cuffs I added pin tucks to the billowing sleeves to give them some shape too.

Fixtures & Fittings
Needs none

Made With
Cut out with all metal scissors from the C. Booths Hardware Shop in Huddersfield, sewn together using organic cotton on a wooden reel and made using plastic free sewing supplies (you can find them here).

Sustainable Rating
Natural fibres
Fabric was bought plastic free – no packaging
Supporting a local fabric shop
Homemade by me
Made with plastic free sewing supplies

Weighs In At 132g.

Why the weighing? Well this item of clothing is counted as part of my fair share fabrics project. This is a self imposed rationing system. I use no more than my global share of fibres and they have to be sustainably sourced. Whats a global share? 11.74 kg per person of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres. As I don’t like synthetics I try to stick to 3.8 kg of natural fibres.

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Navy blue, A line and below the knee…

A sensible, deep blue, below the knee A line skirt. I wear it with leggings or tights. Yes it sounds dreadful but it’s good for cycling in. I made it from a soft corduroy which I think stops it looking like too much like a school skirt. While it really is much nicer than the description implies even kindest friends would class it under practical rather than glamorous

Fabric & Purchase Details

I dont know where the corduroy was originally from and it boasts no organic or fair trade credentials but it was bought from my local fabric shop LeonsAnd buying locally and keeping fabric shops open are both very important to me.

It is 100% cotton. I prefer to use natural fibres because on consideration they are the greenest, biodegradable option and, even better, they don’t shed plastic microfibres when washed. Just in case you need it, here is a quick  intro to synthetic, regenerated, combination and natural fibres here. And more reasons why I prefer natural fabrics over the others can be found here.

Design & Pattern

I used the Mc Calls M6770 Misses’ Jacket, Bustle/Capelet, Skirt and Pants patterns as a very loose guide. The Mc Calls pattern features a bustle. My corduroy skirt doesn’t!

Fixtures & Fittings

I didnt bother with a waistband just turned the top over and fixed it using used bias binding. This is 100% cotton, bought by the meter and from a cardboard roll. I fitted a zip at the back The zip is metal and synthetic fibre. It is sold unpackaged. N.B.metal zips are not so easy to fit as plastic as they are bulky, dont sit as neatly in the seam and tend to flash and glint. Plastic zips are finer and so less obvious. As I always wear long tunic tops it is not an issue for me but you might want to consider it.

Made With

They were  cut out with all metal scissors from the C. Booths Hardware Shop in Huddersfield, sewn together using organic cotton on a wooden reel and made using plastic free sewing supplies (you can find them here).

Sustainable Rating
Natural fibres
Fabric was bought plastic free – no packaging
Supporting a local fabric shop
Homemade by me
Made with plastic free sewing supplies

Weighs In At 300g.

Why the weighing? Well this item of clothing is counted as part of my fair share fabrics project. This is a self imposed rationing system. I use no more than my global share of fibres and they have to be sustainably sourced. Whats a global share? 11.74 kg per person of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres. As I don’t like synthetics I try to stick to 3.8 kg of natural fibres.

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Plasticfree, compostable, homemade and below the knee

No Daisy Dukes for me! Check out these bad boys! Below the knee, denim shorts with half gather waist. Made for when the weather was warmer only posted now!

Fabric & Purchase Details

I don’t know where the denim was originally made and it boasts no organic or fair trade credentials but it was bought locally from the Button Box in Huddersfield Market. And buying locally and keeping fabric shops open are both very important to me.

It is 100% cotton. I prefer to use natural fibres because on consideration they are the greenest, biodegradable option and, even better, they don’t shed plastic microfibres when washed. Just in case you need it, here is a quick  intro to synthetic, regenerated, combination and natural fibres here. And more reasons why I prefer natural fabrics over the others can be found here.

Design & Pattern

I thought I could adapt the Palazzo Trouser pattern I have already used for the Linen Trousers. I still wanted to use a drawstring waist (no plastic elastic for me!), but didn’t want them to be quite as gathered. The denim is much thicker than the linen so doesn’t gather as easily. I didn’t want to end up with crinoline style shorts.

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Shorts hanging in festoons?

I narrowed the legs of the pants and added darts at the back waist to make a more fitted butt. This means only the front is gathered. The bum bit works well and is a comfortable fit… but the back of the pants have a tendency to hang in festoons? It doesn’t really matter and they might soften out with washing but for my next attempt at trousers I will try a different, proper pattern rather than adapting one.

Fixtures & Fittings
Plastic free drawstring fixing.

Made With
They were  cut out with all metal scissors from the C. Booths Hardware Shop in Huddersfield, sewn together using organic cotton on a wooden reel and made using plastic free sewing supplies (you can find them here).

Sustainable Rating
Natural fibres
Fabric was bought plastic free – no packaging
Supporting a local fabric shop
Homemade by me
Made with plastic free sewing supplies

Weighs In At 414g.

Why the weighing? Well this item of clothing is counted as part of my fair share fabrics project. This is a self imposed rationing system. I use no more than my global share of fibres and they have to be sustainably sourced. Whats a global share? 11.74 kg per person of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres. As I don’t like synthetics I try to stick to 3.8 kg of natural fibres.

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Tabbard Tunic Top

This is a simple sleeveless dress with bust darts to add a bit of shape. It looks rather like those old pinafores people used to wear hence the name.

It is easy to wear – either as a comfortable tunic when worn over a tee shirt and leggings or a cool dress for those hotter days. This Summer I hardly need say I have been wearing it as a tunic, over leggings, with a cardigan!

I would be very pleased with it if it wasn’t for the fabric…..

Fabric & Purchase Details

I bought this material locally from the Button Box in Huddersfield Market.  . It is 100% cotton.

I prefer to use natural fibres because on consideration they are the greenest, biodegradable option and, even better, they don’t shed plastic microfibres when washed.

Just in case you need it, here is a quick  intro to synthetic, regenerated, combination and natural fibres here. And more reasons why I prefer natural fabrics over the others can be found here.

Notes On This Cotton – Craft Fabric

kate

It is a silky fabric that creases easily. I mean really easily. I wear it for seconds and it looks like crumpled paper. I am not sure it is a dress making fabric. It was sold in small bales folded on a cardboard board. In a section of the shop called craft fabrics. I think they are mainly used for patchwork and quilting. Is this cotton somehow different?  Rose & Hubble fabrics are sold the same way and the stuff I used for my loon pants worked out fie.  I thought with washing it would soften it as has happened with my loon pants. These are made out of Rose & Hubble cotton. They are now so soft I don’t need to iron them. Actually I never ironed them and while they looked rumpled I could get away with it. Not a chance of that with this top! Still as stiff as a board, needs ironing before I can wear it. Even with my low sartorial standard I feel I have to do at least that. Once on, it creases immediately.

As time has passed it’s tendency to crease has annoyed me more and more. As has the constant ironing.

Pattern New Look 6558

Fixtures & Fittings Cotton bias binding round the neck and arms sold by the meter at the shop.

Made with…

It was cut out with all metal scissors from the C. Booths Hardware Shop in Huddersfield, sewn together using organic cotton on a wooden reel and made using plastic free sewing supplies  (you can find them here).

Sustainable Rating

Natural fibres
Fabric was bought plastic free – no packaging
Supporting a local fabric shop
Homemade by me
Made with plastic free sewing supplies (you can find them here)

Weighs In At

149 grams Why the weighing? Well this item of clothing is counted as part of my fair share fabrics project. This is a self imposed rationing system. I use no more than my global share of fibres and they have to be sustainably sourced. Whats a global share? Share out all the fibres made by all the people on the planet and it works out, (very roughly), 11.74 kg per person of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres. As I don’t like synthetics I try to stick to 3.8 kg of natural fibres. Here are the figures in full.

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Offset Tunic

Bought some lovely organic cotton cambric from Offset Warehouse an online fabric store that sell greener than green fabrics.

Such as this lovely patterned cambric that is

  1. made from organic (uncertified) cotton
  2. hand woven and printed by hand using wooden “hand-blocks”.
  3. The dyes used in the printing are azo-free
  4. The weaving and printing is done in a cooperative and certified Fair Trade by the WFTO.
  5. As it is a hand-made product, the process uses virtually no energy or water!
  6. can be washed in washing machines.

I prefer to use natural fibres because on consideration they are the greenest option, they don’t shed plastic microfibres when washed and, even better, at the end of a long and useful life, I can compost them.

Just in case you need it, here is a quick  intro to synthetic, regenerated, combination and natural fibres here. And the reasons why I prefer natural fabrics over the others can be found in detail here.

More Information

Weave/Knit Type Plain, Woven
Thread Count 46 x 46
width 119cm 47″

Packaging

I had been assured that the packaging was plastic free and it almost was. The fabric came wrapped in tissue paper in a cardboard box but the box was sealed with plastic tape and the invoice was attached to the front in a plastic bag. Sigh!

Pattern

McCalls M6102 1 hour dress. Really easy

Fixtures & Fittings

No fixings needed.

It was cut out with all metal scissors from the C. Booths Hardware Shop in Huddersfield, sewn together using organic cotton on a wooden reel and made using plastic free sewing supplies  (you can find them here).

Sustainable Rating

  • Natural fibres
  • Organic
  • Fair-trade
  • Homemade by me
  • Made with plastic free sewing supplies

Weighs In

At 157g.

Why the weighing? Well this item of clothing is counted as part of my fair share fabrics project. This is a self imposed rationing system. I use no more than my global share of fibres and they have to be sustainably sourced. Whats a global share? Share out all the fibres made by all the people on the planet and it works out, (very roughly), at 11.74 kg per person of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres. As I don’t like synthetics I try to stick to my fair share of 3.8 kg of natural fibres. Here are the figures in full.

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The Fulsome Foolish Skirt

We were planning to visit Seville for the Feria, the big flamenco party. To say it is dreey would be understating. I spent a lot of time wondering what I could possibly wear. The flamenco dresses I had seen looked very elaborate featuring different fabrics, trimmings and all manner frou-frouery. Needless to say I possessed nothing like that. Then, while meandering through the Indonesian markets, I came across some very lively sarongs. They were highly patterned strips of fabric featuring a bold use of color and frantic patterning. If, I thought, I was to make a skirt out of such sarongs, it would look extremely ornate. Not frilly but with a general air of exuberance that would make it suitable for a flamenco night out.

So I bought some. They were amazingly cheap but I was assured they were made from Indonesian cotton. They are not. They are synthetic fibres. I didn’t realize this till I got home, tried to iron them and they melted. I was annoyed. Not only did I have to spend hours scraping away at the iron but I don’t like wearing synthetic fabrics. I’m sure you know that synthetic fibres contribute to micro plastic pollution. When they are washed, they shed tiny, non-biodegradable, synthetic fibres into the drains. These are then washed out to sea where they are now polluting the oceans and being eaten by plankton.

Still I thought I could still make the skirt, wear it for the Feria, and never, ever wash it. After all how much demand would there be for such a lively skirt in my daily life? So I copied a pattern for a circular skirt from the internet, sewed it up and tried it on. It hung nicely but it was full…. very full. Draped over my Rubenesque curves it looked rather tent like – by which I mean a big top. It might have worked if I had made it from a different fabric. Something with less pattern and nicer colors. Lord knows what I was thinking but dominant tints were bottle green and aquamarine blue covered in hot pink and purple flowers. It looked funky in the market place as a sarong; it looked insane as a swirling skirt on a wide berthed middle aged woman. So much so I will not be featuring a photo of me modeling it.

So I now have a huge and very ugly skirt which I can never wash and never wear. But as I can’t bear waste so I am keeping it as a permanent pattern for future huge skirts I may wish to make. In fact I used it as the base for my Japanese Fish Wrap Skirt.

More

Weight 243g. This counts as part of my fair share fabrics project– a self imposed rationing system where I use no more than my global share of fibres and they have to be sustainably sourced. Whats a global share? 11.74 kg per person of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres. As I don’t like synthetics I try to stick to 3.8 kg of natural fibres.

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Creams & Lotions – Recipes

It is so easy to make your own creams and lotion that once you start you will never look back. The advantages are huge; you get to control what goes on your skin, be way more eco-friendly and save a whole load of cash. You can make almost anything the cosmetic companies sell but without the palm oil, dodgy chemicals and weird colours. Though you can have all those too if you want.

Lotion and cream is basically a mix of oills,waxes or butters with water combined using an emulsifier. Lotions are thinner, cream more solid.

Do you really need to make a cream? Many times you can use an oil or butter neat. But sometimes they are just too oily.

Many commercial creams including E45 use mineral oil. That’s derived from the same gloopy black oil we use to make petrol.

ingredients

To make cream or lotion you will need

Oil, butters & waxes.
There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you. Generally speaking the richer the oil the heavier the cream, the more water you put in the lighter the lotion. There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you.  See my guide to oils here.

Water
There is much talk of using distilled water but I use tap.

Cooking thermometer
VERY useful .

Emulsifiers:
Water and fat do not naturally mix, you need to use an emulsifier.You have to add other ingredients to turn what is basically salad dressing into lovely thick cream. So in addition to oils and water you will need an emulsifier.

Preservatives
Optional. Oil on its own does not go off – there is no water for bacterial to feed on. Once you have added water to oil then it can. Now your creams are vulnerable to bacteria. Preservatives will help “keep” you r cream. I don’t use it as it can cause skin irritations. And I find cream without I less itchy on my skin. I have had a few pots of cream go mouldy but we are talking maybe 5 in the years I have been making my own creams. You can read up and buy preservatives here Aromantics

Pots
to put your cream in.

Notes On Emulsifiers

The most complex ingredient in cream is the emulsifier. The water and oils are simple enough but this is what makes them bind together.

There are a few completely natural emulsifiers  but they  do not give consistent results.
Most commercially used emulsifiers are manufactured. They are most often derived from coconut oil and palm oil. More recently, rapeseed has been used.
But some are produced from pig fats. Check what you buy.
I have tried a few with varied success BUT
A combination of VE Emulsifier, MF Emulsifier and Cetearyl Alcohol works every time and can be used to make a wide range of products from thick creams to thin lotions.

VE Emulsifier or Glyceryl Stearate is a vegetable-based emulsifier
Cetearyl Alcohol is a vegetable based emulsifying wax
MF Emulsifier or Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate  can be fermented from lactose (milk sugar)but more commonly comes  from nondairy sources such as cornstarch, potatoes and molasses.


Palm Oil
Please note that all the above also may be derived from or include palm oil. Be sure to buy from a good practice supplier. For example there should be something this note on Aromantics VE emulsifier “The Palm oil that is used in both in MF/VE emulsifiers comes from suppliers that are either members of the Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil or a subsidiary company or who are members of FEDIOL which supports sustainability. FEDIOL is a European industry federation based in Brussels”.
You can read more about palm oil here.

Process

Heat the Fat Stage ingredients in a double boiler (or a metal pot on hot water) until above 75°C. Use a thermometer to check.

Boil the water add the MF emulsifier and other Water Stage ingredients to 75°C.

Take off heat. Now pour the Fat Stage into the Water Stage in a slow steady stream before they drop below 75°C.

Mix well – I use a hand blender.

Allow to cool. Whisk occasionally to achieve a nice creamy consistency. As the mixture cools it becomes thicker and more creamy. It will reach its thickest consistency when it has cooled down to room temperature.

When the temperature is below 40°C you can add active ingredients
perfumes or essential oils and other magical things to make you look years younger.

You can also add specialist ingredients to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.

Put the Cream into jars and label.

Take Care

That everything you use is clean, very clean.
Make sure you have enough pots to store your cream in.
That you label it – and date it. Believe me you will forget!

Recipes & Kits

Here are some sample recipes.

Supermarket Cream (My recipe)

You can buy all these ingredient from the supermarket.  I cut the olive oil with the lighter almond oil because I find it rather heavy.
Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

Fat Stage

 

  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil Tesco’s or Asian Shop
  • 30ml Olive Oil
  • 20g coconut oil Tescos or Asian Shop
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Fancy Aromatics RecipeTo be honest I think this recipe has way to many ingredients but I like this company, I have used their products many times and think that this will probably make a nice cream. It is also useful to have a recipe that lists by percentages.

    You can experiment and use different oils, or even less oils. Just make sure the percentages stay the same. For example you can cut the thistle oil and use 10% Apricot Kernal Oil.

    By percentage
    Fat Stage (above 75°C)
    2% Cocoa Butter
    3% Macadamia Nut Oil
    7% Apricot Kernel Oil
    3% Thistle Oil
    2.5% VE Emulsifier
    2% Cetearyl Alcohol

    Water Stage (above 75°C)
    4.5% MF Emulsifier
    69% Boiling Spring Water
    2% Glycerine

    Third Stage (below 40°C)
    1% Preservative 12 or Eco
    1% Vitamin E Simulated Natural
    2% NFF Complex
    1% Essential Oils of your choice

    From Aromantics

    Rich Tropical Delights Cream (My recipe)

    Much easier far fewer ingredients. I cut the olive oil with Almond because I find it rather heavy.
    Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

    Fat Stage

  • 25 g VE Emulsifier
  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil
  • 30ml Coconut Oil
  • 20g Shea butter
  • 10g Cocoa butter
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Design Your Own
    You can adapt the mix of oils for the above recipes based on your personal preference.
    If you want to design you own cream from scratch, follow these guidelines…
    style=”font-size: medium;”>Emulsifiers 5-8%
  • Oils 12-20%
  • Water, Additives, and Botanicals to 100 %.

 

Trouble Shoot
Cream too thick? You cannot add more water once the mixture has cooled. This ruins the cream – it will not rub in. You will need to make a thinner lotion and mix your creams to achieve the desired consistency. You can add more oil and mix well. This of course makes your cream more oily.

Lotions

If you want a thinner cream add more water at the water stage.

Kits

If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from www.aromantic.co.uk  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.

Anti Aging, Sun Tan Lotion & Fake Bake
You can add  specialist ingredients to your base to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.

Buy

Aromantics is a good and ethical supplier of ingredients but expensive. I buy a lot of stuff in bulk from other suppliers. Ebay is a good source. Prices vary so do shop around.

I store my creams in old jars but for display  I have bought some glass jars with metal lids.

Plastic Spoiler

Most plastic base ingredients come in plastic bags but I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients so I consider it a worthwhile compromise.

Making Personal Care Products 

Its quicker then  trying to choose between a hundred different shampoos and it’s really simple, fun to do, so much cheaper  and  I get to control what goes on my  body, where it comes from and what environmental impact it has.

Lots more info here on  toothpaste and other products  
and making other stuff – here.

Making creams while travelling

You cannot carry a years supply of home made cream in your rucksack so here are some ideas about making your own home made creams in hotel bedrooms.

Kits
If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from www.aromantic.co.uk  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.

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Fabric Shops Button Box

 I got the printed cotton for my tabbard tunic, linen for the extremely wide pants, voile for the choir boy smock and denim for shorts from

Button Box, Huddersfield

At Queensgate Market where you can get a wide range of plastic free stuff

It looks more like a hobbies shop catering to quilters, stampers and card makers. But dont be put off by the decoupage, it has recently upped its fabric game. I remember the range as rather limited and extremely synthetic – think dance fabrics. Now it has some really nice stuff; funky prints, subtle colours and a lot of natural fibres.

More plastic free

They sell paper patterns and cotton bias binding by the meter. They have some hessian and cotton ribbens that look natural.

Plasticless

They do 100% cotton thread but it comes on plastic reels. You can get cotton on wooden reels online (link below), but you to be well organised and plan ahead, skills I have yet to master.

The Button Box stocks metal zips in what looks like a polyester fabric.

General

They have all the other stuff you need to sew with but it comes plastic packed (for plasticfree sewing supplies see the link below).

They have a great range of ribbons and laces which look to be mostly synthetic.

Find

The Huddersfield store is located at the entrance of Queensgate Covered Market.

Samuel Taylor’s Button Box

4-5 Queensgate Market Arcade
Princess Alexandra Walk
Huddersfield
West Yorkshire
HD1 2UJ  View on map

01484 435 235

About

Samuel Taylors is a family business that has a number of Yorkshire-based, fabric retail stores and an online shop. You can find them here…

Head Office & Internet Showroom 

Leeds Central

Leeds Market

Brighouse Store

Embsay Store

Harrogate Knitting & Haberdashery 

More

You can buy plastic free sewing supplies here.

Find other Yorkshire based #plasticfree products and shops here

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Watch – wooden

Who wouldn’t want a wooden time piece to mark the hours ? Buy one from WeWood in Australia and they will also plant  tree for you. So sweet! You can get them from Ethical Superstore.

Want something cheaper There are more wooden watches on Amazon  and you can sponsor a tree plant via the national forest scheme.

 

Thyvogue Men's Red Round Red Dial Wooden Watch with 40 Mm Size W00007
Thyvogue Men’s Red Round Red Dial Wooden Wa…

You can read more about our relationship with Amazon here…

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Chiffon Shirt

ffbb5a956a143c87b32d93c5e9ea24c8For the Feria the week-long party in Seville, I made a chiffon top. I know – get me…. in chiffon. I wanted something see through to wear over my vest and bombazine skirt that would look sort of dressy. I wanted something like this.

I had a practise run with white lawn which was partly successful. Now I was ready for the real thing. I bought some silk chiffon from Ebay. Other than it is natural fibres, there is nothing particularly sustainable about this but it was cheap, it was seen through and if it all went wrong I would not have spent too much.

Below is the top I made. It was fine for the Semana. Easter week is marked with big parades, penitents in gloomy Klan outfits incense and weeping virgins. Gloomy black was just right.

 

featured bobazine skirt 2

It is not going to work for the Feria. In the last week everyone has started on their outfits. The shops are full of fantastic frocks, people are staggering through the streets laden down with lace, flowers and shiny jewels. There are tasselled shawls fans and fedoras every where you look. They don’t do minimalism

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This is what people are planning to wear and that is the plainest dress I could find.

I can get away with black, I cannot do without trimmings

So the last few days has seen me desperately titivating my outfit.

They sell cotton crochet yarn very cheaply here so I have knitted a frilly collar through which I have threaded some lace and ribbon. I have attached this to the chiffon top.

I prefer to use natural fibres because on consideration they are the greenest, biodegradable option they don’t shed plastic microfibres when washed and, even better, at the end of a long and useful life, I can compost them.

I have also bought some fancy tights.

Hope this will see me right!

Sustainable Rating

Buy

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I bought this fabric on Ebay. It came packaged in a plastic bag.

It cost £15.00 and I have some left over.

The cotton cooler was made from cotton bought from the Chinese Grocery in Macarena, Seville and knitted using metal needles bought in plastic packaging.

The ribbons and lace are all synthetic fibres.

More

This counts as part of my fair share of global fabrics – a self imposed rationing system. You can read about it here #

And  can see what else I have made, here

See the rest of my wardrobe here.

Find other clothing related posts here