Hey, Sewcialists! I am excited to share my recent exercise in sustainable sewing. I will be the first to admit that I am typically not much of a sustainable sewist. I love to sew…a lot! On top of that, I also use a lot of polyester fabric and have a lot of scraps.
With all that being said, I have been trying to find little ways to make my sewing more sustainable. There has been a lot of talk in the sewing community recently about sustainability in sewing and it is high time I do something about it. This coat is a great example of some of the little things I have been implementing.
Some quick details about the coat first. This is the Grainline Studios Cascade Duffel Coat. I made the longer version, view B. I used a gorgeous ruby/black/cream/tan herringbone wool/poly blend fabric that I had been hoarding in my stash since 2016 for the shell. The lining is a leopard poly charmeuse that was lingering since 2015. This coat has been a long time coming. I knew once I ordered the herringbone that I wanted to make myself a duffel style coat. Adding the leopard sure makes this one loud coat and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here are the things I did to make this coat more sustainable:
Reuse fabric. I am a huge believer in underlining my wool with cotton flannel when I make coats. It adds more structure and warmth, which is great for these Chicago winters and helps them to last a long time. This coat is underlined with two different flannel prints. Before being underlining, they had a brief life as the muslin for the coat pattern. I muslin fit all my coats since I am putting so much work into it. I want to make sure it fits. I baste it together so that it is easy to take apart.
What’s more, is that before being a muslin, these two prints are the leftover yardage from when I made pajama pants out of them a few years ago. Instead of buying new flannel that coordinated with my shell or lining, I chose to use what I already had on hand. Glad I was able to use up more stash in the process.
Use vintage notions. While my toggles are brand new, my zipper is vintage. I picked up a couple of these heavy-duty metal separating zippers for pretty cheap. I opted to use the vintage zipper because modern coat zippers are typically made of plastic. I wanted a strong zipper that was going to last and the metal vintage zipper made the most sense. This zipper is olive green with gold teeth and pull. It may have some patina on the teeth, but I know that this zipper is going to last for the life of this coat and beyond. Plus, how cool looking is that vintage Talon pull compared to modern plastic pulls?
Recycle clipped threads and fabrics. This one is the biggest change for me. Recently I have implemented a new system for waste in my sewing. I have four trash cans, FOUR, that I separate waste into. One is for recyclable materials like paper, thread spools, and notions packaging. A second is for recycling scrap fabrics that are too small to reuse or save. Once this one gets full the bag goes to H&M for their textile recycling program. A third, and by far the smallest, is for things that cannot be recycled. The fourth, and the one pictured above is for clipped threads and the trimmed bits that come off the serger. I plan on using this to stuff a pillow once I have enough. For this coat project, I was actually able to pull the individual yarns from the shell fabric scraps apart. So instead of ending up in my H&M donation bin, it will be apart of a future pillow. Win!
While I don’t think I will be able to go fully sustainable in my sewing, I am going to continue to find little ways to do what I can. That is what I think the most important thing for us sewists to do. Don’t stress about trying to do it all. Make small changes over time that you know you can keep up. Do what you can with what you have.
I’m Sarah of Musings of a Seamstress. I have a BA in apparel design from Ball State, have been a professional in the garment industry as well as a technical designer, I enjoy historical costuming, and hope to start an indie sewing pattern line. I’m also on Instagram.
What a great idea to have a separate bin for the H&M recycling! I think I’m going to give that a try too. I also tend to re-use old pieces of clothing. For hoodie linings I’ve used old band t-shirts that I never wear anymore.
Ooooh, I love that idea for hoodie linings. I may have to try that with my husband’s t-shirts.
I didn’t know h and m would take fabric scraps. Thanks for that piece of the puzzle.
You’re welcome. They also take old worn out garments. Their program recycles the textiles to make insulation. They also give you a coupon for 15% off your next purchase there.
I’ve been waiting for this finished coat! 🙂 I’ve watched the progress.
Great idea to use the flannel muslin pieces as interlining!
Haha, I feel like I have been posting about it for-ev-er! I am glad I finally get to share the finished coat.
Beautiful coat! I’m excited to join your “sewcialist” movement!
Thanks! We are glad to have you!
I love the idea of underlining with your muslin fabric. That’s often been one of my biggest issues with making them, feeling like I’m wasting the fabric, but for some projects they’re necessary!
Agreed! I tend to hoard muslins for the projects I make them for, so I am always glad when I can repurpose them like this.
I LOVE that you have 4 YES FOUR bins for recycling! You are such a winner in sustainability!!! <3 The world thanks you!
Thanks! I am trying to do better.
The 4-bin system for waste is brilliant! I may copy you and implement that in my sewing room 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
Thanks! Copy away!!
I love your system. I have to get a picture up of the inside of my daughter’s recently completed wool coat. I used quilting cotton for interfacing, and then flannel for interlining, like you. It’s an interesting set of prints, to be sure!
Thanks! I would love to see a pic of your daughters coat!
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