Category Archives: Advices and recommendations

The toxins and the non-toxins

Dear reader, how do you destinguish? I try my best to use the  precautionary principle:

[…]  if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an act.

It does not go as far as forbidding any new action or policy just because all consequences cannot be known in advance-to do so would be so reductionist as to render it irrelevant.

From Wikipedia. - 800-475-3410I agree on the last phrase stating that FORBIDDING new chemicals and products is not a good idea (on a policy level). That said I strongly advice you to be very careful when you buy things and the best thing to do in most cases is to go for raw materials that you can trust (locally (go ahead and verify for yourself!) ecologically produced materials). This way you can then learn to craft what you need and then you know exactly what has been applied. I have done this myself to create a duvet to my child and it was marvellous as a fed-up-super-consumer to create something from scratch.

The links below could maybee help you reduce the number of toxins in your surrounding:

Sewing is a good social activity

Sewing is a creative activity for all ages, boys as well as girls.


Sewing together has a lot of benefits: you learn directly from others, you get the ability to organize into activist movements, a lot of (hand) sewing can be done on the side while talking with others, you get to create what YOU want and not what somebody else want you to buy, you get the ability to STOP SHOPPING as you learn more and more without running around naked.

Sewing the underpants model KALSON

During the sewing of pair no. 2 of underpants model KALSON I experienced the following:

  • I forgot to check the stretch of the fabric (almost no stretch) before cutting and ended up with parts being too small to fit around my hips. I found a solution: adding a new part in the length of the underpants with a width of 8 cm.
  • I used temporary stitching in all the seams and glued parts (using non-toxic cellulosa and water based paperglue for children) were needed. This was easy to remove afterwards after soaking in hot water for an hour.

More beginner advices

  • if you want to sew clothes start by sewing clothes for your own body, because then you always have the model with you
  • document what you are doing and ask others (e.g. more skilled persons) to comment/review
  • give up on making something “beautiful” – go for function. Estetics is something for non-beginners (this is similar to a lot of programming were you first concentrate on making the program work as intended)
  • if you are going to work with stretch knit fabrics then I advise to buy a temporary textile glue to help hold the fabrics together during the sewing (needles are not as good a tool here)
  • learning how to sew temporary stichings and rip them easily can be very handy (especially when working with knitted fabrics as they break easier when you use the stich cutter and seams tend to “hide” in the fabric). I use an ordinary straight stiching as long as possible (6 mm on my machine) AND SEW WITHOUT BACKSTICHING in the ends. This enables you to pull out the threads of the stich with ease when you want to remove it. Often I just leave it and make a more permanent stich on top of it.
  • turn downsides into to advantages: if you do not have the skills to repair something without it being (very) obvious, then I suggest you do as I do: repair and change color of the thread multiple times and be proud of repairing your stuff (and avoiding unnecessary shopping) 🙂

Sizing duvets, pillows and their covers/cases

As a general rule, a polyfill insert shouldn’t be more than about one inch (~2,5cm) larger than the pillow cover. For smaller covers (14”x14”(~36x36cm) or less) the insert should ideally be no larger than the cover. If you are using feather/down inserts, you may be able to use inserts that measure as much as 2 or three inches bigger than the cover depending of the ‘loft’ or volume of the insert. Source

When I sized my duvet from the cover I made it 3 cm smaller than the cover.

A beginners advices…

(to other beginners)

In getting to know the sewing lingo and special terms I found the following resources helpful:

Get to know your machine. How does it sound when working properly? Try to close your eyes while sewing and memorize the sound. If something is not right you can often tell by unusual sounds from the machine. Make sure to service your machine regularly to avoid problems.

Factors that influence on you work:

  • lightning
  • state of the machine and needle
  • right needle to the material being sewn
  • organizing (a good table/floor to cut on, doing things in the right pace/order, etc.)
  • tools (scissor, needle threader, colored tape measure, etc.)
  • (unconfirmed) one person selling fabric told me that the age of the cotton thread influences the strength of it.