How to Sew Sustainably by Wendy Ward

As hard as I try and regardless of how pictures of my sewing room appear on Instagram, I am a messy sewer. The amount of time I spend picking up random scraps of fabric, thread, pattern pieces and instructions piled high on my “work surfaces“ looking for my scissors/tweezers/awl/seam ripper/glasses, must equate to at least one garment over the year. Another problem I have been experiencing recently is all my tools with round handles keep rolling off the table whenever they see a clear line of escape. This means getting on my hands and knees hunting through the bags of fabric stored under the table trying to find them (at least the equivalent of 2 pairs of knickers a year).

So I had a think and came up with the idea of a small cushion to put all my tools on next to my machine. Who was I kidding? All that would do would add to the amount of stuff on the table and something else I would have to hunt for.

The latest book by Wendy Ward – How to Sew Sustainably

Then, to my rescue, a copy of Wendy Ward’s new book “How to Sew Sustainably” dropped through my door, sent by the publisher for me to review, and on my first flick through my eye caught the image of the Better Together Pocket Organiser and I knew my problem was sorted.

The Better Together pocket organiser

Wendy’s latest book looks at the preciousness of fabric, how fast fashion is creeping in to the world of crafts and home sewing and how a mindful approach can help us take more pleasure in the joy of making. Wendy has included lots of pointers on making your sewing more sustainable including questions to ask about your fabric, the best thread to buy and how to unpick old garments to rescue not only the fabric but also it’s components, buttons, zips toggles etc.

The book is full of beautiful illustrations showing the methods and techniques used. These are always clear to follow, Wendy draws them all herself, making this a perfect book for beginners, as all Wendy’s books are. But Wendy does not leave it at just a book of patterns for us to blindly follow, though this is her first book that does not include actual paper patterns as every project is self drafted. Each project gives you alternatives, additions and progressions. This is brilliant for beginner sewers as they can see how they can develop their sewing skills, intermediate sewers who can jump straight to a more involved make and advanced sewers, who can develop Wendy’s ideas even further to make a completely unique item.

Some of the step by step diagrams in the book

Now, back to my first make and following the notes in the blurb which told me I could use what I had to hand, I have followed the basic idea, used what I had and made it my own.

As soon as I saw the hanger I knew it would be a perfect storage accessory for my tools and if made small enough I could hang it off and not clutter up, my sewing table. If a garment is no longer used or needed in our house, if suitable, it will be passed on to the charity shop. If not, it will join the growing pile of fabric in my sewing room. I never throw anything away if I can help it. So this is why I had 1 1/2 pairs of jeans available to work with straight away.

Just in case you are wondering what 1/2 a pair of jeans means, I had a pair of my boy’s old jeans that had two big rips along the side seam which I had repaired for him but made them unsuitable for passing on. I had already used bits of them for other projects and all that remained was from the tops of the legs up.

1/2 a pair of jeans (approximately)

In Wendy’s method the pockets are removed from different garments and sewn on to a pieced fabric that is on grain. As this was a much shorter piece and my boy’s jeans had all the pockets I needed, I decided to use the whole trouser section with the pockets attached. The fabric would not be on grain and may not hang straight but for such a short piece I didn’t think it would matter. This also gave me the opportunity to use the small coin pocket on the front of the jeans for my smaller tools and also to incorporate the yoke piece for added interest.

Sticking with using bits I already had, I wanted to highlight the sections and found a piece of silver ready made piping which I inserted using my over locker and a piping foot, the results of which I am really pleased with.

As for the backing, as I didn’t have much spare fabric either side of the pockets plus some pretty thick seams with the yoke, I decided to just lay a piece of denim, which I cut from the leg of a very old pair of my husband’s work jeans and bind the edges, instead of using the method in the book.

Very old and patched multiple times and now to be made in to other things

This method, however would mean the I could not create the loop for the wooden dowel Wendy used to hang it up, so I cut a length of the waistband, over locked the ends to neaten, as it was too thick to turn under and stitch, and attached it to the backing before I joined it to the front.

Waistband used as the casing

Once again for the binding I used what I had and this plaid binding was an unfortunate EBay purchase from last year. It is bias binding but the edges are stuck down so you are unable to attach it in the standard way. So I had to use the wrap and sew method, not as precise but did the job. And as a finishing touch I used a variegated thread that was unsuitable for garment sewing as the top thread.

The edges of this binding are stuck down limiting it usefulness

And done. A new hanging tool tidy for my sewing machine made completely from pre loved fabric and a few bits from my haberdashery stash.

My version of the Better Together pocket organiser

8 thoughts on “How to Sew Sustainably by Wendy Ward

  1. Fabulous!!! I love how you’ve adapted the project to suit your needs and fabrics available and I really like the incorporation of the yoke seam and the front cutaway pocket, it’s brilliant!! No more excuses for misplaced tools…… ;o) Wendy x

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    1. Thank you Wendy, I am so happy to have created something so useful from a pair of my boy’s and my husband’s old jeans, I can even see my old repairs. Anything that helps me stay organised is nice but this is special. So, have you got an idea for your next book yet ?😁 xx

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      1. It’s so satisfying to turn stuff like that into something so useful! Next book…..argh, I’m going to have a little breather first, never any shortage of ideas in my head though, ha ha :o)

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  2. Brill! I was prevaricating about the book as much of my refashioning comes out of my head, but I think I might invest. I don’t see any mess under your work table. You should see mine (or maybe not!)

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