Hi I’m Helen and you can keep up with me and my latest makes on my Instagram page @HsHandcrafts.
Like so many of us, there are 101 reasons why I sew. I love to make clothes that suit my body and my personal style, but also fit in with my personal values. For me sustainability is a really important part of my life. My job as a scientific researcher focuses on the food we eat and how we can make agriculture more sustainable and so it is inevitable that this passion touches every other part of my world too – and clothing is no exception.
It is so easy to get caught up in a million different arguments with yourself about which is the most sustainable fabric to buy, or the latest trend about which thread to use but there are lots of ways we can choose to be more sustainable in our lives. If sewing is something that brings you joy I think practicing your favourite hobby and making clothes that you will love and cherish for years to come is a great step towards sustainability.
I love to create garments that have great versatility in my wardrobe so that I can get lots of joy out of wearing them in many different ways. I really love a button up dress for this reason, as I can wear it as a dress or unbuttoned as a lightweight layer. One of my favourite patterns for this type of garment is the zero waste gather dress by Birgitta Helmersson. It is not a traditional pattern in the sense that you have paper pieces to lay out on your fabric to guide your cutting. Instead, there is a cutting plan for a series of rectangles and simple shapes that mean you can use the entire piece of fabric with no scraps left over!
My favourite part of this pattern is the extremely full gathered skirt which is perfect for swooshing around. I have found it to be especially comfortable whilst working from home as it is so breathable with no tight waistlines or cuffs but I still feel so put together for those never-ending zoom meetings that seem to have become a part of my daily life!
The zero-waste concept in pattern making is something that I find fascinating. The fashion industry is responsible for so much textile waste and so finding ways to reduce that is a wonderful thing. I know I am just one person and the amount of textile waste that my hobby creates pales in comparison, but I like to think that by making these types of garments and by supporting zero waste designers I am playing a small part in normalising zero waste fashion and acknowledging the work that they are doing with the hope that some day it will become more accepted and a normal part of fashion design.
For this make I used a viscose twill in black. I love to make staple pieces in black as they go with absolutely everything in my wardrobe and I know I will be able to wear it for years to come as my colour preferences change or my love/hate relationships with prints comes and goes. The twill weave makes for a really lovely weight for this type of garment. It is light enough to still have that amazing swoosh factor whilst being heavy enough to feel like a substantial layer for the colder months. I chose to make the fuller sleeved option of the dress to add a bit of drama there and jump on the big sleeve trend. It is also a nice contrast to the previous version of this dress I made in a lightweight viscose for the summer. I love to pair this dress with thick tights and boots in the winter, and it is even roomy enough to wear a nice thermal top underneath. As we move into the spring and summer I will most likely be wearing it unbuttoned to show off some of my hand knit tees.
You can find Helen on Instagram @HsHandcrafts.