How to Darn Virtual Workshop

Join us on 28th November, 11:30 to 12:30 via Zoom

Join us for a virtual workshop on taking you through all you need to know to learn ‘How to Darn’. We’ll go through the basics of the technique, how to choose the best yarns to work with and different styles of visible and invisible darning.


Ticket costs £20 and includes one of our darning kits, including darning needles, 5 different colours of Merino wool or Cotton yarns and a ‘how to’ card to look back on after the workshop. The workshop will be held over Zoom.

Make sure you get your ticket early so we can send your kit to you in time, tickets can be purchased through our Eventbrite here.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a darning mushroom. Follow our tips on what to use instead of a mushroom. Or buy a lovely vintage darning mushroom from our Etsy shop.

Hands Up – Who’s been Greenwashed?!

Me. Me. Me. So many times, and in so many different and confusing ways.

Greenwashing is described by Cambridge Dictionary as making ‘people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it actually is’. This could be through marketing campaigns that project the small, positive actions they’ve done far above the huge issues in their business model and supply chain or through just chucking out a few sustainable buzzwords and hoping they stick.

Approaching buying a new item of clothing whilst considering the sustainable, ethical and moral credentials of the company you are buying it from is not an easy task. Even fashion brands that consistently appear on sustainable bloggers Instagrams or blog posts or that are sold in specifically sustainable shops can, with a little digging, turn out to be a total letdown.

One brand that particularly got me was Matt & Nat, a vegan accessories brand based in Canada that regularly featured in beautifully-styled sustainable fashion photoshoots. I lusted after one of their backpacks for a good few years, considering them to be a sustainable alternative that was also genuinely attractive. On their own website they project their brand as better for the environment, stating that ‘in 2010, the UN reported that the best way to protect the environment is to adopt a vegan/vegetarian diet, given the harmful effects of factory farming’.

Matt & Nat https://uk.mattandnat.com/products/brave-backpack-purity

This vague reference to a UN report from ten years ago should have been my first red flag. The report did say that ‘a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from…the worst impacts of climate change’, and that the production of animal products ‘causes more damage than construction minerals such as sand, cement, plastics or metals’. So they are correct in saying that because all their products are made from vegan materials it is more sustainable, but compared to what, the absolute most damaging thing? That doesn’t seem like a good bar to judge it against if we’re looking for genuine change.

Matt & Nat make most of their products from PU (polyurethane) and PVC (polyvinylchloride), both of these are plastics with PVC being one of the most environmentally-damaging ones. The chemicals used in producing PVC have been found to cause life-altering side effects in those working with them, such as cancer and birth defects, leading to campaigns from Greenpeace asking for its production to be stopped entirely. Alongside this, other than ‘diligently visiting’, they are vague about the details of what they expect from the factories they work with, and only one of these factories operates by SA8000 standard, which means it is committed to providing a living wage for workers, no discrimination and a safe workplace.

Picking on one brand seems almost unfair when so many use the same techniques. Boohoo came into the spotlight over lockdown for its suppliers’ treatment of its workers in factories in Leicester, with many being asked to carry on working when sick with COVID-19, whilst also selling t-shirts with social distancing slogans on. Missguided, owned by the same parent company, chose lockdown as the perfect time to release a documentary on Channel 4 showing the ‘boss babe’ culture of their head offices. No mention of the poor treatment of female garment workers in their supply chain came up, and it’s striking that quite a classic dynamic within fashion companies, of a male CEO earning lots more than all the female workers who do the majority of the work in the business, was spun to be a tale of female empowerment. This branding strategy moves away from greenwashing and more into ‘woke-washing’, a term used to describe when businesses use ethical and progressive values in their advertising to conceal the bad practices of their companies.

Image from Inside Missguided documentary – https://www.missguided.co.uk/babezine/our-world/inside-missguided-documentary-nitin-passi-ceo-founder

Realising you’ve been greenwashed or woke-washed and invested in a company you don’t agree with, shouldn’t be met with guilt. It reflects badly on them, not on you. Acknowledge the ways they attracted you to their brand, learn from it and look out for those techniques in the future.

Realistically, it’ll probably happen again, because different companies use different tricks to present themselves positively and certain companies will try their absolute hardest to hide the not-so-rose-tinted facts from you. Also, there’s a lot of other stuff going on in life and sometimes you just don’t have the time or money to wade through all the lies just to get a t-shirt. Websites and apps like Good On You can be so helpful for speeding this process up, it was there that I found out about the less pleasing sustainability credentials of Matt & Nat. The scoring system is really simple to understand and their research into different fashion brands is regularly updated and reviewed.

Our part in the fashion industry as ‘consumers’ can make it seem like the only way to change the industry is to consume differently but we have so much power in refusing to consume. Obviously at FFT, we are big fans of repair and reuse as a way of doing this and trying to ask ourselves whether we can avoid buying new by first, repairing something we already own or reusing something that someone else no longer needs is always a good place to start. But using our voice, even in the smallest way, can have a real impact too.

Instagram post from Clean Clothes Campaign calling on brands to pay for cancelled orders.

Over lockdown with many brands refusing to pay garment factories for orders and a lack of options in terms of protesting physically, many people took to social media to support campaigns led by Clean Clothes Campaign and Labour Behind the Label to place pressure on these brands to #PayUp. Although tagging a brand in an activist post or commenting on their posts when they try to show off their sustainable and ethical credentials can seem tiny, brands can’t ignore thousands of people doing it. And some of those brands listened to this action with Gap and Levis changing their minds and paying up.

In a past blog post, we reviewed Lauren Bravo’s How to Break Up with Fast Fashion where she used the emotions and complications that come with getting over your ex as an excellent analogy for getting over our addiction to fast fashion. With woke-washing becoming a trend this year in both fashion and online dating (green-washing pops up here a little bit too), that comparison seems even more apt. With dating, if someone presents a version of themselves in which they care about the social, political and environmental issues that you care about, that can be attractive and make you believe they’re a good person. When you get to know them a little longer and realise their actions don’t back these ideas up, our trust can be broken. Most people don’t give up on love entirely however, we learn from it and little by little, we work out how to pick out the good ones.

Clothes Mending Workshops at Home

Our workshops at The Create Place are on pause whilst we are in lockdown. We are hoping to get back to our workshops in a socially distanced way next year.

In the meantime we are continuing with our social mending sessions on Zoom, the first Tuesday of the month. Bring along some clothes mending whilst we chat. We will be on hand to answer any clothes mending questions you have. Not joined one of our sessions before? Everyone is welcome. It isn’t a teaching workshop, more of a social clothes mending session. An hour to encourage us all to mend our clothes. Bring along one or two items of clothing to mend with a basic sewing kit. We chat whilst we mend and feel free to ask clothes mending questions to us and the group. Sign up for our newsletter to receive Zoom joining details.


Our Repair cafe offers 1:1 advice via video call. Book for a 30 minute session and we can get you started with your mend. Tickets are £9 including booking fee. £2.50 will be donated to charity (Refuge, Fashion Revolution and Trussell Trust). Email us to arrange a time and book your appointment.


Tips to help you start mending



How to Refresh & Repair Knitwear

It is that time of the year when my jumpers and cardigans swap their under-the-bed storage home with my summer clothes. Moths like to eat dirty clothes so I washed my knitwear before I stored them away in an airtight bag. Bringing them back out into the Autumn light, I can see their are in need of refreshing and repair…

Refreshing & Washing

I prefer not to wash my knitwear too frequently. It can cause more pilling (bobbling) and shrinkage. Instead I gave them a refresh. The most effective way to refresh your clothes is to hang them outside in the fresh air. I live in a flat without a balcony so this is how I refresh my clothes:

Boil half a litre (1 pint) of water and let it cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add 10 drops of tea tree essential oil and 10 drops of lavender essential oil. 30ml of witch hazel is also useful if available. Tea Tree oil is thought to work as a natural insect repellent, including moths. Lavender is a well known remedy to prevent moths and I also prefer the smell to Tea Tree, so this blend works better for me.

I added the solution to a rinsed out spray bottle that I had previously been an eco-friendly cleaning product. Any spray bottle will do but it is best not to use one that previously contained bleach just in case there is any residue as it will damage your clothes. I place my jumper over the ironing board, give it a generous spray then hold over a steam iron. Ensure the iron is on the wool setting, too hot and it will shrink your knits. I only pressed the iron very gently on the knitwear, more of a hover and using the steam to refresh (see video below). The jumper is still damp at this point so I placed flat over a clothes rack so the water didn’t weigh down and stretch the jumper.

When washing knitwear it is important to take notice of the care instructions in the label. I prefer to handwash my knits or if using a machine then I set it to the lowest spin cycle. A special wool detergent is recommended such as the one from Ecover.

Knitwear shouldn’t be dried on a hanger or a washing line / rack. The water in the knit construction will be heavy, causing it to stretch. It prefer to lay the knitwear flat on a concertina clothes airer with a towel underneath to catch the water.

De-Pilling or de-bobbling

Small bobbles seem to appear on jumpers out of nowhere. I am constantly de-bobbling! It is technically known as pilling and is caused by the friction of two pieces of fabric rubbing together. Under the arm is a common place or if you carry a bag regularly you will notice pilling where the bag is in contact with the jumper (or any type of fabric). Some fibres bobble more than others, I seem to always choose the bobbling type! The video above includes two ways of getting rid of the bobbles and the final refresh as described in the paragraph above.

Loose or Pulled Threads

I bought this jumper in a charity shop, perfect condition except for a long piece of yarn hanging from the sleeve. It had probably got caught on a clothing tag whilst in the shop. Here is a quick video on how to pull through the yarn or thread to the underside of the jumper to prevent causing a hole.

Darning

We love darning at Fast Fashion Therapy. The mindfulness of the stitching and the sense of achievement when repairing a hole. One of my cardigans had a hole directly under the button. I removed the button first, repaired the hole by darning with a matching yarn. I chose a matching yarn rather than making a feature of this darn as it is only a small hole that will be covered by the button. I sewed the button back on and voila! My cardigan is ready to wear.

Most of my jumpers had small holes in so I spent a bit of time darning before refreshing them (my tights too!). A darning mushroom is a useful tool that can be bought from good haberdashery shops and picked up in vintage and charity shops. How about following our tips on what to use around the house instead of a darning mushroom?

Or try an even more decorative method of repairing holes in knitwear as shown in our video below.


Darning Kits

We have pulled together a selection of darning kits to help you mend your knitwear, available on our Etsy shop for £10 including postage within the UK.

Clothing Maintenance 101: Overstitch

How to sew an overstitch

Overstitch is a simple and effective hand sewing technique. It is really useful when it comes to mending clothes. The stitch can prevent fraying, hold two pieces of fabric together or useful for patching.

Watch our video on how to sew an overstitch

Examples of using an overstitch

Repairing a rip on a pillowcase by cutting a square of fabric from inside the pillowcase
Using a thicker thread and a larger stitch has created a decorative effect when patching this leather bag with faux suede
Mending a bra by overstitching a piece of ribbon over the underwire channel preventing the wire from poking out and digging into the skin.
Creating an Elbow patch by using a thicker yarn and sewing the stitches very close together. Georgina from Pebble Magazine mended her tweed jacket by covering the elbow rib with the patch.

Weekend Clothes Mending

It might be a bit dull being stuck inside on a rainy weekend but on the positive side we caught up with some of our clothes mending. Although we teach clothes mending techniques to others, our own pile of clothes mending seems to get bigger rather than smaller.

First up was a vintage leather bag that’s suede outer casing contained some very big holes and tears. I patched the holes with scrapes of faux suede left over from industry waste. I used a large over stitch with a thicker thread to create a decorative effect. I’m really pleased with the result and think the mend adds to the texture and design of the bag.

Next up is a favourite dress that I managed to get bleach on. I cut off the bottom and re-hemmed giving it a re-style. We have created a video on how to re-hem trousers, I used the same principle for the dress, although I did use a sewing machine to re-stitch rather than hand sewing.

Lastly, I took in the waistband on a pair of casual trousers. The fabric was quite fine so it was simple to do. I put on the trousers, pinned where I need to take them in and made sure it was even on both sides. Working from the outside I used a sewing machine to top stitch a line on the new seam I had created. I used a matching thread so the stitching is only visible from the outside. This only works to take in a waist a few cm on each side. Any more than that and it will distort the main body of the trousers.

If you are looking for specific clothes mending advice then please get in touch and we can arrange a 1:1 clothes mending session with you for a small fee. Or join one of our free zoom workshops.

How to make a face mask from a T-shirt

In a previous blog we shared our favourite mask tutorials as recommended by attendees of our workshops. In this ‘how to’ blog we want to show how to turn an old t-shirt into a collection of face masks.

We’ve used a large men’s unwanted T-shirt.

We cut around the seams to create larger, flat pieces of fabric. We saved the buttons from the placket for another project.

We then ironed the fabric flat, smooth out the creases to make it easier to cut out the shapes for the masks.

There are so many great patterns and videos out there demonstrating how to make masks we haven’t done our own one. But what we have done is pulled together our favourite videos and those recommended by our workshop attendees.


For these masks we followed the Leah Day tutorial. We’ve made lots of these masks so we already had a paper pattern ready, created from the measurements given. Making a paper pattern speeds up the process rather than measuring out the squares each time.

We laid the pattern flat on the fabric and pinned around the corners and edges before cutting. We managed to get 5 mask patterns from one T-shirt.

Instead of using elastic to hold the mask around the ears, we cut thin strips of the T-shirt fabric. We used a piece of ribbon as a pattern, cutting it to the required length. Pinned the ribbon to the T-shirt fabric and cut 10 strips (5 pairs).

Once cut, we pulled the short ends of the strips gently away from each other. This caused the ends to curl in on each other and now work perfectly to hold the mask on around the ears, in place of elastic. Jersey doesn’t fray so the edges don’t need to be hemmed or finished with a zig-zag stitch.

The leftover pieces, too small to make a mask, have been saved for future projects. T-shirt fabric is useful for patching leggings, T-shirts and other stretch clothing.

We found that using a zig zag stitched worked best on the T-shirt fabric. We also used a jersey needle for our machine. Another tip: we used a purple thread for the bobbin so one side of the mask has a different colour thread. This is so when you wear it and take it off briefly, you know which way it was so it can be worn in the same way.

We recommend for the masks to only be worn at a few hours before being washed. Or if it has been worn for a length of time. For example, when we are travelling on the train, we wear one mask and then put it in a draw string bag at the end of the journey. We then wear a clean mask for the return journey home. We keep our clean masks in one bag and carry a spare bag for the dirty masks. Then wash the masks and bag in hot soapy water once we get home. Click here for details on how to make bags for your masks.

Important to note

All the videos note that the masks are not suitable in a clinical setting. Wearing a mask is required in the UK for shopping and travelling on public transport. They could possibly stop the wearer spreading the virus to someone else but they probably do not protect the wearer from catching the disease. The mask must be washed after each wear. Place the mask over your mouth and nose before leaving home. Do not touch your face or remove the mask whilst out and about. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face to remove the mask. Place the mask in a drawstring bag and wash them both on a hot soapy wash.

How to make a waistband bigger

With a round tummy area, I often have a problem that my shorts and trousers are too small around the waist. These shorts are not too bad when I am standing up but when I sit down the button flies off, even when I have sewn it on securely. With the hot weather we have been having I needed to make these shorts fit more comfortably. Here is what I did…

In a previous post, I cut the elastic off some worn out men’s boxer shorts. I still have quite a bit of the elastic left. I cut two pieces each measuring 6cm in length. Leaving the width as it is (it will fray if cut).

On the front of the shorts, the waistband had a stitched side seam. This was easy to unpick with some sharp scissors and an unpicker (seam ripper). I unpicked both sides.

I wasn’t able to unpick the waistband on the reverse as it was one piece of fabric. So I cut it with some sharp scissors down just past the line of stitching.

I inserted one piece of the elastic under the channel of the waistband and pinned in place. I repeated this with the other end of the waistband and made sure it lay flat before pinning. Using a zig zag stitch on my sewing machine I stitched down over the raw edge of the waistband side seam, incorporating the elastic. Zig zag stitch is useful for elastic and stretch fabric as it stretches with the elastic. I used a regular running stitch along the bottom edge of the waist band to re-fix the area I had cut.

I then repeated this for the other side of the waistband. So that I had two pieces of elastic inserted on each side of the waist of the shorts. If you don’t have a sewing machine you can replicated the zig zag stitch by hand. It is best to use a thimble as it is a lot of fabric to get through and will make your fingers sore otherwise.

My last job was to sew the button on. I had lost the original button, so I chose one from my spare button jar. Before I sewed the button on, I checked it fitted through the button hole and was large enough to hold the thick fabric of the waistband. Watch our video on how to sew on a button. If you need some odd buttons for your collection, we sell a pack on our Etsy shop.

I can now comfortably sit down in my shorts with the button safely in place and they are more comfortable to wear. An alternative way to fix a waistband is to change it completely. In this how to blog post I replace the waistband of some pyjama bottoms. The same technique can be used for any shorts, trousers or skirts.

Need help with your repairs? Why not join our next virtual zoom mending session on 14th September 2020. Sign up to our newsletter for more details.

Stitch It Up – The Dress Change x Fast Fashion Therapy

We’re teaming up with @thedresschange next week to bring you an extra online mending session!

As part of their #keepbuyingless series, they’ll be focusing on Upcycling and Mending next week. If you’re new to sewing or just want a refresh of some basic skills, you can join us for Stitch It Up on Wednesday 22nd July at 6.30pm.

We’ll be going through some simple hand sewing techniques so all you’ll need is some fabric to work on (this could be a scrap, an old pillowcase or item of clothing), needle and thread, scissors and some pins if you have them.

You can get your tickets here.

Our Favourite Charity Shops

We are very excited to be able to hit the charity shops again from this weekend. We often pick up haberdashery and sewing equipment for our workshops from charity shops. Helping to reduce waste and support these fantastic charities.

We shared a couple of our favourite shops with sustainable lifestyle magazine Pebble. Along with many other Pebble readers, creating an exhaustive list of the best charity shops in the UK.

Our friends at Ayoka charity shop in East London save us clothes that are damaged so the attendees of our workshops can practice their mending techniques.

We didn’t get chance to mention the Big C craft warehouse in Wymondham, close to Norwich. A warehouse full of second hand sewing equipment and craft accessories all neatly categorised in baskets.

What is your favourite charity shop? Join in one of our virtual mending sessions to share your tips. Sign up for our newsletter for more information.