The Costs of Fashion

And How To Calculate What You Want To Pay.

I’m not talking about the ecological price of fashion, for as long as you only use natural fibers, like I do, the cost is negligible.

The Cost To Your Wallet

This is to many this is the important point. How much do I have to pay? Can I pay less somewhere else? Before you do much of that you need to understand…

The Cost Of Making It

There are two parts to the cost of making something. The Cost Of The Materials and The Cost Of Time.

Some styles, yes probably only take an hour, maybe two, to make nicely. Especially if they are mass produced, but even some slightly customized pieces won’t take any longer. Even a fully customized to a odd body shape, may depending on the style, only take an extra hour.

But, as soon as you add lots of details, even if you aren’t supposed to notice the details, (looking at smoothly set in sleeves, they are the literal worst) the time adds up. And the more seams, particularly fussy seams, the more time.

People should be paid well for their work. Here in the USA, the minimum wage is a little over seven dollars an hour. But that is for unskilled labor, so many people recommend that seamstresses ask for more. I have slightly mixed feelings about asking for more, because it is already expensive enough to pay for many full days of work.

That is in America though. The cost of living is higher. So we need more money to survive. So… You look for somewhere with a lower cost of living and pay them!

Yes, this is a great idea. Buy “everyday”, “basic”, clothes from a shop that cares about their workers, it strikes the best balance between the cheap things that come from Chinese Slave Labor and the expensive things that will support someone.

Look for people who mention living wages and other such terms. Look for shops that talk about knowing their workers. Ask about how much they pay. You may get a slightly odd quote, but there may be a reason behind that. If they tell you they “pay per piece” glance at their price extremes and you should realize why, some garments are hard and some are easy.

So now that you’ve read through the lecture on supporting others, let’s talk about materials. Look at the specs for the dress and at the details, then look online for how much that material would cost. Then subtract up to 20% on the assumption they got it at wholesale prices.

So how much should you spend? It depends. But spend wisely.

In Defense Of Plastic Grocery Bags

What. This is supposed to be a Sustainable Tuesday post and I’m trying to defend a single-use plastic? Yep, nobody ever said I couldn’t so I am.

With most of my family being in New York state, I’ve managed to hear that recently New York has made using plastic grocery bags a fineable offense.

Most Tuesdays I volunteer at a food pantry and grocery bags are one of the most important things that can be donated. If you’re just an ordinary person there are two things that can be donated in a helpful quantity. Time and grocery bags. Food is also acceptable, but most people don’t have much extra.

The food pantry gets these “single-use” bags and we re-use them. Shocker I know. They are super useful for bagging up loose vegetables, fruits, and yogurts.

Sarcasm aside, we bring home some bags of food and re-use them again. As trash bags. And maybe then they get recycled. I don’t know. I’m not going to talk about that.

I’m going to talk about what plastic should be a finable offense. Unreusable plastic bags, like what lettuce comes in. Or any number of foods that come in little bags that can’t be reused.

Why is NY banning a product that gets re-used and recycled, when there is hiding inside that a much worse product?

Sustainable Tuesday: Library Advantages Part 1

Yes this is going to be a two-parter as today I’ll talk about how to help your library by taking advantage of it, and then next week I’ll talk about the book I’ve been reading since yesterday.

Good Action 1

Visit your library. No matter what your reason is the librarians will appreciate your visit.

Good Action 2

Donate to your library. Money, books, magazines, etc.

Good Action 3

Borrow books and movies from your library. It reassures the library that such things are being enjoyed.

Good Action 4

Use the interlibrary loan system. Find something you want to read that the library doesn’t have? Ask for it through the interlibrary loan system. It may take a couple months for new releases to get to the shelves, but they will appear.

Good Action 5

Ask if you can volunteer at the library. Some libraries don’t have anything for you to do, but others will be super excited.

Good Action 6

Use your library’s Libby/Overdrive/e-books. If you’ve asked and the librarians know nothing about it ask at other local libraries. If you’ve noticed that your library doesn’t appear in Libby, then try your library card number at all of the other local Libby libraries. I personally access Libby from a library name that I’ve never actually been to.

That’s all for now.



Sustainable Tuesday: Hanging Desk

I admit, most people won’t be able to make a desk like mine. I used what I had and spent no money. Someday, my desk will have to come down, but we hope to move, so that matters little.

Things I had before I started.

  1. Pallet Boards.
  2. Pallet Nails and a Container of Nails.
  3. Twine
  4. Two Bunk Beds about 2.5 feet apart.


Using these I was able to make an awesome desk.

Realistically I shouldn’t say that I had pallet boards. I had left one pallet only three quarters apart.

Step 1. Making the Top

It super simple. I found boards of a similar thickness and ordered them on the top side. A couple of nails each and I had a lovely top.


Step 2. The Shelf

One of a desks most important parts is the storage. Yes, having a smooth top is great, but having a place to put things nearby, is the best.

So I flipped the desk over and added a couple of boards to the bottom of the pallet. Due to the forklift slots I had to get a bit creative and used a short section of board to hold them in place.


Step 3. Making it fit

Then I had a desk that was just too large to fit into my only space so I had to cut it smaller. Sadly I only had a hand saw so this took a good amount of time.

Step 4. Preparing to hang

Part A. Drilling the holes.

Very Simple I found the drill and placed some holes.

Part B. Braiding the twine.

I didn’t trust the twine to be strong enough by itself so I found three strands and braided them together. Fun Fact I did most of the braiding while I went on a three mile walk.


Step 5.

Hang it up. This was a tiny bit difficult, but I was able to balance the desk on a couple of boxes and thread the twine through the loops.

And TADA! I have a desk.


Pallet Furniture Sustainable Tuesday

When you are a small time, cheap, or green DIYer you will eventually run across the idea of making things from pallets. Most often is the classic headboard, but chairs and tables are also popular.

Today I’m starting a three part series on my pallet furniture making experience.

Most projects will start with the most obvious of steps.

Dismantle your pallets.

But how????

Slowly and (hopefully not) painfully.

First off you need a good selection of tools. I suggest:

A claw hammer, a pry bar, a pair of pliers/dull wire cutters.

Next you need to know how to use the tools. Most of them are pretty simple but it’s the pliers that I think deserve a mention. In case any of the nails lose their heads you use the pliers to pinch the nail right at the board and pull it out. If it sticks try an different angle.

Next I suggest spending a moment studying your pallet. If there are parts you want to keep, yay. If there are boards that will come out easier. Yay.

Third you need to accept that the nails might be junk. They were put in with a really powerful nail gun, you might not be able to reuse them.

Finally a semi helpful tip. If you put the pry bar in on the side of the board, the board is much more likely to crack, so go in from the ends.