Apparently, some folks love to iron their clothes. I'm not one of them, and since you clicked somewhere to read this I don't imagine you fit into this category either!
At the same time, wearing creased, wrinkly clothing can be socially awkward or even downright embarrassing, but all wrinkle-free fabrics are heavily treated by chemicals to make them that way. So what is a sustainable fashionista to do?
Here are five great tips for looking your best, naturally:
1. It all starts with the laundry load.
You've probably been told before about sorting your laundry by colour, but did you know that also sorting by weight and fabric content can help keep wrinkles out of your clothes? It's true! But most importantly, don't overfill your washing machine and go easy on the spin cycle. 600rpm is enough to remove 30-40% of moisture, and that's all you need for an aerated clothesline.
2. Unload correctly.
Now that your clothes are clean, make sure you take them out of the washing machine right away. If not, they'll start drying out in their crumpled positions and creases will set in.
When you remove items from your washing machine, give each one a sharp snap and shake before placing it on a proper hanger or a clothesline. For shirts and blouses, the seams, cuffs, collars and button plackets can be pulled straight to smooth out the wrinkles.
For items that you don't want to hang, snap-straighten them and hand press on a flat counter. Then, fold the item neatly while continuously pulling any seams or edges straight. If it's gotten too dry, you can fine spray a little water to help relax the fibres, but don't let the clothing get too wet.
3. Keep drawers and closets organized.
I know, it can be hard to resist the urge to just cram everything back into drawers, especially after a long day. BUT, if you can get into the habit of hanging up or folding your clothes neatly after washing or wearing, you'll end up with a lot fewer wrinkles to worry about.
4. Adopt a last minute technique.
Even with the best of intentions, any one of us could slip up on those first three tips since they all involve planning ahead. The good news? You still have options for last minute wrinkle-removal.
a. Hang up wrinkly items in the bathroom, run a hot shower, and let them steam.
b. Wet a white cotton towel, wring out the excess water, toss the towel and wrinkled item in the dryer and set to tumble dry for 5 minutes.
c. Invest in a home steamer. I actually have an industrial one at home and even that doesn't take up a tonne of space, but you can get an even smaller hand-held steamer that costs even less.
5. Iron out your thoughts.
Not with an actual iron, of course, I mean figuratively. If your clothing wrinkles, it just means that it's made with natural fibres and not treated with harsh chemicals. Just like the ageing process can leave wrinkles on our skin, creases in clothing is perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of.
Going against societal expectations can be tough, but if you can get to the point where a few wrinkles here and there don't bother you so much, and even to a point of pride in why those wrinkles are there in the first place, you might just be the inspiration society needs to change it's expectations so we can all enjoy a more sustainable wardrobe, and a more sustainable world.
Do you have a great tip for keeping wrinkles out of clothing that I missed? Let me know below!
Doing things differently, even when it's for a great goal like contributing to a more sustainable future, can sometimes feel like a lonely endeavour.
To build a better world, it's so important to stay curious and ask questions, but the status quo doesn't like to be challenged.
Have you ever gotten the message from others that you're being "difficult" for asking questions, doing things differently, or even just setting personal boundaries?
I have. That's why when I recently came across this quote by the anthropologist, environmentalist, and living legend Jane Goodall, I instantly remembered that I am far from alone. There are a LOT of us who have questions and want answers. A lot of us who, when the status quo is harmful or destructive, want to help change that.
If that's all it takes to be called “difficult”, then I embrace that label with open arms.
Go on, try me ✨
Loved clothes last! There are so many things we can do to extend the life of our clothing, saving us time and money while reducing our carbon footprint too. Get into some of these good habits below:
1. Wash less.
Your clothing might not need to be washed as often as you think! Jeans, for example, should only be washed every six weeks according to experts. You can be the expert in determining when your clothes next need a wash. Put them through a sniff test first!
2. Wash without overstuffing your machine.
Overstuffing your washing machine causes clothes to rub against each other in the wash, and this friction wears down the fabrics. When loading your machine, make sure that the washer tub is no more than three quarters full. For a front-load machine, your clothes can be piled high but shouldn’t be crammed past the last row of holes.
3. Use less detergent.
Using too much detergent is not only a waste of money, but it will also leave residue that can damage your washing machine AND your clothing! So how much is too much? Most of it. You only need about two teaspoons of liquid detergent, or two tablespoons of powdered detergent. You can also ditch detergent completely and use laundry balls instead. They alter the pH balance of the water as an alternate method for cleaning. I got mine from Les Gargouilles a few months ago and they’re not paying me for saying so but I’m very happy with them!
4. Wash clothing inside out.
Even when you’re not overstuffing your washing machine, your clothing will be more protected when it’s washed inside-out. This will help preserve their colours, prevent lint and pilling on the outside, and protect decorative elements from damage.
5. Use a delicates bag.
Mesh laundry bags are essential for keeping delicates like bras and underwear safely away from friction in your washing machine. But did you know they can also be used for items with “hand wash” and “dry clean only” instructions? They’re also a brilliant idea for keeping sock pairs together. Just make sure when using laundry bags that they’re not too full and have lots of room to slosh around in the washer.
6. Don’t dry clean too often.
“Dry cleaning” is actually a misnomer. While the process does not use water, it does involve processing clothing in a chemical liquid solvent. This solvent (called perchloroethylene or “perc” for short) is used by around 80% of dry cleaners today even though it’s been flagged as an environmental and health hazard. Needless to say, harsh chemicals will also cause wear and fading in clothing. There are alternatives, of course! Track down a Green Dry Cleaner, invest in a clothing steamer, use a delicates bag in a front loader washing machine, or simply hang the item(s) up in the bathroom when you shower to refresh them with steam.
7. Use a clothesline or drying rack.
Not only is a clothesline or drying rack more friendly to your electricity bill, they will also help you avoid overheating and possibly shrinking your garments in the dryer. Air-drying is particularly important for activewear, swimsuits, and anything elasticized, as heat from the dryer will break down the fabric and cause unwanted stretching. But it will help extend the life of all your other clothing, too!
Shopping online is convenient, exciting, and a powerful way to support independent businesses through the pandemic months (thank you!!).
But I think we've all had that moment of utter disappointment when our new favourite style arrives at our doorstep, and ... it doesn't fit (insert wails of sadness). Not only is it discouraging to not have the thing we wanted to have, but we also now have to return it. Returns are at best a small inconvenience, and at worst, a terrible drain on the environment.
If you don't know how to take your body measurements correctly, you're not alone! It's not like they teach this at school, right?
Here are the right ways to take your measurements and have more success with your online purchases:
What you'll need
A "good enough" tape measure. Weirdly, not all tape measures are accurate. If yours is from the Dollar Store, for example, check it against a ruler or another tape measure. If they are giving you the same information, it's probably accurate.
Taking Your Measurements
Bust: This measurement is for the fullest part of your bust. Take your tape measure under your armpits, and pull it as close as you can without flattening your boobs. Round up to the nearest inch.
Waist: This is your natural waistline, which is generally the smallest part of your waist. Make sure you're standing up straight! Again, round up to the nearest inch.
Hips: This measurement is for the fullest part of your hips. To get an accurate measurement, make sure you're standing with your feet together. Hold your tape measure in a circle around you starting from your just below your waist (kind of like a tiny hula hoop), then slide it downwards letting it out until you find the fullest point. Once again, round up to the nearest inch.
Inseam: This only matters for pants, but if you know your inseam you'll also be able to get a good idea of where skirts will fall on your body. To find this measurement, take your tape measure from your crotch and down the inside of one leg. This can be a little tricky to do properly yourself. If there's nobody around to help you, try tucking the tape measure into your sock and measuring upwards to your crotch.
I hope this helps you get the information you need to shop online with confidence.
Here's to your online shopping success!
2 Simple question, right ?
The simple answer is, I wish ! Kind of. Actually one of the things I love about working with textiles is that there is always more to learn. That’s why when my customers started asking me about thread counts I was happy to go down a few rabbit holes because honestly, this is not a measurement that is widely used in the textiles industry.
Think about it : Do you remember where you’ve heard the term « thread count » before ? Most likely, it was when you were shopping for bed sheets. Either that, or you were looking into the controversies around « thread count » that began when it became a marketing buzzword in the bedding industry of the 1990’s. Frankly, I’m surprised that Marketplace not only missed this term as a red flag, but even put it in the sub-heading for this piece : « Thread count on cotton masks critical but not always listed on the label ».
So, why is thread count critical ? Why is it not always listed on the label ? What IS thread count in the first place ? Marketplace doesn’t give a definition in their article, so here you go :
Thread count is the number of threads in a one-inch square of fabric. It is calculated by adding the warp (lengthwise) and weft (widthwise) number of threads together. So if there are 100 warp threads woven with 120 weft threads, the thread count would be 220.
Sounds simple enough, right ? Yes, but no. I will geek out on that in a moment. After I do, you might be asking yourself (or Marketplace) why thread count is EVER listed on the label.
Back in the 1990’s, manufacturers found that consumers would pay more for bed sheets proclaiming a higher thread count. So, they set about boosting their thread counts by using creative calculations. They have, for example, counted not just each thread but also each ply (the fibres that make up the threads). So where a single thread might be four plies twisted together, one manufacturer would call that one thread while another will call it four. The end result in the second case is an inflated thread count that leads not to higher quality bed sheets but straight to an inflated price tag.
Consumer Reports once hired an independent textile lab to determine the thread count of a $280 set of bed sheets. The manufacturer’s stated thread count was 1200; the lab counted 416.
Since then, the Federal Trade Commission has ruled that for the purposes of thread count, plied yarns should only be counted as one thread. In terms of weave quality, the best fabric would be made with single ply yarns and have a single pick (the crosswise length that interlaces with the warp ends). But with this kind of construction, the highest thread count you could possibly get is about 400. To get a thread count above that, you would have to use 2-ply yarns and/or multi-picks. This is why thread counts above 400 are often referred to as « trickery » in the bedding industry, and possibly why in the rest of the textile world, are not referred to much at all.
If you’re still awake, you might be wondering at this point what thread count has to do with face masks at all. To restate my earlier question, why does Marketplace say that thread count in cotton masks is critical ?
My theory is that the authors of the Marketplace article may have confused the term « thread count » with the tightness of the weave. These are not the same things, but notice how the authors use the terms interchangeably :
“There was also a noticeable jump in filtration efficiency in cotton masks made with a higher thread count.
Masks made with 600 and 680 thread count cotton had filtration efficiencies almost twice that of the other cotton masks tested. Scott said the weave of a fabric is critical when it comes to catching those potentially harmful particles.
When it comes to cotton masks, Marketplace's test suggested the tighter the weave, the better.
Scott points out that manufacturers of consumer masks are not currently required to disclose details about thread count, and without that information it's difficult to say for certain what contributed to some cotton masks' poorer performance. “
When it comes to the efficiency of face masks, clearly, a tighter weave is better (as long as you can still breathe through it...otherwise, your breath and it's droplets will find their way out the sides of the mask). But a fabric can be woven tightly and have a lower thread count if the yarn is thicker, or if the threads are counted differently.
The truth is that fabric quality is determined by a lot of factors, such as fibre quality, yarn size, finishing and construction. Thread count might look on the surface like quantifiable data (it did to Marketplace), but it isn’t a standard measurement of anything outside of bedding, where it is mainly used to mislead customers into paying higher prices.
Another truth is that there are real, persistent problems with transparency in the textiles and fashion industries. Let’s take cotton as an example. Cotton still enjoys the reputation of being a natural fabric. Companies who sell cotton products will market their wares as being « pure » and « clean », when in fact conventional cotton is one of the most polluting crops on earth. Cotton cultivation contributes heavily to water scarcity and degrades soil quality. The agrochemicals used in it’s production leave devastating impacts on not only the biodiversity in and downstream from cotton fields, but also on farm workers and nearby populations. This is why I only use organic cotton, and wish that more of us would too.
I know we’re all exhausted right now, and that having some metrics and easy-to-spot reference points when it comes to choosing masks would come as a great relief. But journalists like the ones who wrote the piece in Marketplace really need to stop throwing around terms like « thread count » without knowing what they mean, and could stand to be more responsible when they are recommending « cotton » and « polypropylene » as the standards for face masks. (Polypropylene, by the way, is a non-woven « fabric » that is a type of plastic. Made from substances derived from hydrocarbon fuels, once discarded it will persist in the environment for up to 1000 years. Call me a downer, but I can’t see the upside of surviving the virus if we are left with a world that cannot sustain human life).
Could there be other metrics ? Of course ! The now famous candle-test and the light test are good indications of whether a mask has a tight enough weave. These might not have a numerical value, but at least we can trust what we see for ourselves. And even Marketplace ends their article by mentioning that your mask should fit you properly, covering your nose and chin. Marketplace signs off their piece by reminding us that « the average person does not need the same level of protection as a health care worker on the front lines », and that « any mask is better than no mask at all ».
Now if someone could please inform whoever wrote that sub-heading…