It is no secret that over the past few years there has been a distinct change in our society, with a wonderful shift towards eco-friendly, organic, sustainable, and fair-trade items. While this covers everything from the food we eat, to the bags we carry our groceries in, today I am going to focus on the organic and sustainable clothing options available to you and your family – and most importantly, explain what it actually means!
Are you often confused about the difference between sustainable and organic, or maybe just have no idea what either mean?
Well, a few years ago before I started my business I felt the same.
The main thing you need to know is generally in the handmade clothing world, all organic cotton clothing is sustainable, however not all sustainable clothing is organic.
Where the cotton is not organic, the sustainable clothing label often refers to clothing made from second hand, repurposed, or vintage fabrics. This is sustainable because they are using fabrics that already exists, they are not adding to the waste problems we are currently facing, and instead they take something that may have otherwise been destined for the trash and create gorgeous clothing.
I personally think this form of sustainable clothing is a fabulous concept! Conventional cotton is a huge market currently, and there is an absolute abundance of conventional cotton clothing that is being sent to the tip every day, sustainable clothing businesses who repurpose fabric which has already served its initial purpose and has been toughly cleaned, removing all of the nasties is a wonderful cost-effective option of updating your wardrobe without adding to the ‘fast fashion’ waste.
Organic cotton clothing is quite different, organic cotton farming is a very regulated sector, GOTS is one term you may often hear, it refers to the Global Organic Textile Standard.
GOTS monitors the entire supply chain and testing of organic cotton, they ensure that the cotton is grown in an environment separate to any harmful pesticides or chemicals, they ensure that only fair-trade labour is used to harvest the cotton, as well as during the manufacturing process, GOTS also only allow the use of dyes that are non-toxic and environmentally friendly. They have strict environmental and social policies which business must follow, including regulations relating to waste water, and irrigation.
Organic cotton is a pesticide-free, environmentally sustainable and ethical choice alternative to regular (conventional) cotton. The production practices of growing and developing organic cotton use far less natural resources, better preserves soil fertility and cleaner waterways, leaving behind a smaller agricultural footprint supporting a more biodiverse ecosystem and healthier communities.
What is the difference between organic cotton and conventional cotton?
Why does it matter?
The production of conventional cotton (all cotton that is not labelled as ‘Organic’) has a negative and unbalanced environmental impact. Conventional cotton production relies on the heavy use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides that promote chemical-resistant pests, pollutes the environment and reduces biodiversity. A typical cotton crop needs a LOT of water, for example 11,000L is required to produce 1kg of cotton, a typical adult t-shirt requires 450g of cotton; this water consumption is 91% higher than what is required in organic cotton farming. This intensive irrigation can lead to degraded soil fertility, and the dyes that can be used in an uncontrolled production phase can exacerbate negative environmental impacts.
We’re all well aware of the power a beautifully curated Instagram feed has. In fact, you’ve already seen the effects first-hand. It begins with a quick scroll – next, you come across one of those accounts, you know the ones. You do the sloooow scroll over, and then before you know it, you’re on their follower list, liking and commenting without a second thought.
So let me ask you this. How do people feel when they first stumble upon your profile? And if they follow the candy trail from post to feed, do they like what they see?
Australia has been moving towards banning free single use plastic bags for some time. From 1 July 2018, free single use plastic bags will be phased out from major retails stores, making them banned virtually nationwide.
Bans of single use plastic bags in various states started back in 2009, with Queensland and Western Australia being the latest states to ban single use bags on 1 July.
Each year, major supermarket chain customers would use an estimated 6 billion plastic bags. That’s a lot of plastic bags!
So now what? There are plenty of options for reusable bags, but have you considered making your own?
They are not as difficult as you may think! Alana from Rosie Petal Patterns has a fabulous reusable bag pattern for the DIYers! Based in Australind in the South West of WA, Alana developed a pattern to suit the major supermarket bag packing racks – making them easy to pack, no fuss!
This is what Alana has to say about developing her pattern:
“Around August last year I began experimenting with fabric shopping bags. I was surprised to find there was a bit of a science to it! After consulting with my audience at Rosie Petal and experimenting with my prototypes, my check list of “must haves” were: They must fit in the bag holders at all the major shops, they must be compact enough to be stored inside my handbag, and they must be strong and comfortable to handle and carry. And of course, be beautiful! Many months have passed since then, and I am so happy to wake up to new stories of people having fun sewing their BYO bags. I love stories of stashes being sewn up instead of lingering on the shelves, and how they are being gifted to dear ones, school fetes and fundraisers. A practical gift is the best kind in my book!”
For once in my life, I am actually prepared for a change! I’ve been planning this for ages, as I ALWAYS forget to bring grocery bags with me!
I purchased Alana’s pattern some months ago to test them out in preparation for this change in Queensland. The pattern is really easy to follow, with both pattern pieces or measurements provided, depending on which works better for you. They don’t take long to make, but I do suggest if you are making several at a time, cut them all on one go and make them in a ‘production style’ (ie make all straps at once, sew all bag components first etc). Alana also has her own pattern group, so if you are stuck, you can always ask for tips and advice.
I love how you can completely personalise the bags – use bright fabrics, use your favourite licensed character fabric, upcycle with vintage sheets, spots and stripes – the options are endless!
They also make a fabulous handmade gift for friends and family, or end of year gift for teachers.
“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”
At the heart of any small business is a human being with a dream just trying to make it work… second to that is limited funds and limitless hours of hard work. My name is Elisha and I am the owner and creative hand behind Blue Roan Studio.
I am currently employed as a Graphic Designer Monday to Thursdays and run Blue Roan Studio in all the hours in-between.
My love for art and creativity started from a very young age. I was drawing confidently with texta’s from the age of two and started professional art classes when I was five. Art was my strongest subject throughout my schooling and I started portrait work in my early teens. When I was sixteen I was asked by a local racehorse trainer if I would draw all his highest earning horses – my pictures were going straight to the pool room! This was when it dawned on me that my drawings held real value. I then started to dabble in the art of portraiture as gift for friends and family throughout the years that followed.
Blue Roan Studio was born in early 2016 when I was looking for someway to reawaken my love of sketching, which had been pushed aside for my Graphic Design career.
Like most things it was a VERY slow burn. I would go months at a time without any work and then BOOM, another commission would roll in my door. To begin with it was a juggling act trying to gauge how long each portrait would take, so the slow start was exactly what I needed in those early days.
While I found Facebook adverts worked well in driving people to my page, the Love Australian Handmade group on Facebook was where I received the most support.
Twelve months in and the work really started to snow ball. I was receiving so many orders and consistent work, so I decided to reduce my full time job to four days a week in order to give me some breathing space and time to complete the commissions without burning myself out.
Working 2 jobs is tough, in a busy week I go to work 9 til 5:30, get home around 6:15 cook dinner then sit straight back down and work another 2 to 4 hours on a portrait – this is often the case every night of the week. I always find the tough weeks worth it when I get amazing feedback from my clients. Not to mention I know I’m one step closer towards my ultimate vision of working for myself full time.
I am the proud fur parent to my own pocket rocket called Matilda, or Tilly as she is more affectionately known.
She is just shy of 8 years old and a Heeler mix. If it were up to me I would probably have another twenty dogs and some horses as well. Having a passion and love of all creatures great and small means that I know what my customers want in their portrait. They want their pet… not just a drawing of their dog or horse, but a drawing that really captures the personality and quirkyness that they know and love. Every portrait I create is created as if it were my own. If at the end of the drawing I feel as though I wouldn’t hang it on my own wall, I start again! No portrait leaves my hands unless it’s one hundred percent perfect, even if that means extra hours, cause when you love what you do that’s just the way it is.
What’s in a portrait?
All commissions begin much the same way with a light pencil outline of the subject sketched on a piece of acid free artist paper. I always start each drawing from the far left of the page and work my way across, as I am right handed. I place a sheet of paper over where my hand rests so I don’t smudge or mark the paper as I draw.
Each commission takes on average 8 to 10 hours to complete, it involves layers of led pencil in both shadings and stroke work. Often hundreds of carefully drawn tiny lines will be involved in making up a very small section of an animal’s coat. My favourite part to draw on all of my portraits is the eyes. I truly mean it when I say it awakens the portrait and brings the subject to life. Take the eyes away and it’s really just a bunch of strokes and shadings on a page.
I like to take my clients on the journey with me. From the moment their booking arrives I send through little updates on the progress of their commission as it happens. After each portrait is completed, it is then sealed, framed, carefully packaged and sent on its way to the lucky new owner.
Pet portraits are a beautiful way to create a personalised lasting memory of a beloved pet and also make impressive gifts for those hard to buy for people in your life.
If after reading all of this you think you need one in your life, I would love to work with you. Please get in touch and orders can now be placed online at www.blueroanstudio.com.au I also now offer Afterpay.
Have a wonderful day, and give your fur friend a cuddle from me!
sparrMy first blog for Love Australian Handmade is going to help you to discover your brand, style and photography and really understand what it is you are trying to say. I have been given some great tips and words of wisdom along my handmade journey that have really helped to make my brand stand out from the crowd. Here are a few pointers to get you thinking about your brand and how you can make it shine. No cost involved, just a lot of love for what you do.