I’m so excited about this project, dear readers! This is a really special product review, as it’s probably one of the most sustainable collaborations I have ever had. It’s a bag that is quite high up on the sustainability scale: it’s made with fabric from post-consumer recycled garments woven in the Netherlands, recycled leather, uses a zero-waste pattern and it’s handmade.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Kate (Time to Sew) is a good friend and she offered me the fabric and pattern for free to test the kit out. She didn’t actually ask for a review, just my honest feedback on the instructions and a few pics, but I wanted to share this with you on the blog.
You may already know Kate from Time to Sew from Instagram or her blog, but if you don’t, she is passionate about sustainability in textiles and sewing. She often writes posts to debunk myths or dive into complicated topics, opening up sustainability to regular people (you can see how we became friends). She recently moved to the Netherlands and came across a local weaver that makes fabric using yarns made from recycled post-consumer garments. So taking waste into something new that we can use again and again. So she decided to buy some of this fabric and make it available to the sewing community as a limited edition kit, along with a zero-waste bag pattern that she designed especially for it.
So, let me tell you all the deets.
TIME TO SEW ZERO WASTE BAG – THE KIT
As I was saying, this comes as a kit, which contains the main fabric and the lining, the pattern and all the accoutrements you will need to make this.
- 0.5m fabric for the body and 0.35m chambray lining
- upcycled leather bag straps
- leather “me-made” label
- organic cotton sewing thread
- 2x sewing machine needles
- rivets for attaching the straps
- a digital copy of the pattern via email
There are only 14 kits available, so if you fancy one, speak to Kate quickly!
TIME TO SEW ZERO WASTE BAG – THE PATTERN
Well, the clue is in the name, it’s a pattern that was designed in such a way so that there are no leftover pieces at the end at all. It uses the entire width and length of the fabric in a clever way so that the pieces can be used in very creative ways, mostly pockets (and of course, a tote really needs loads of pockets). I counted 5 of them, and there is an option for a 6th.
There are also many customisation options, using the right and wrong sides of the main fabric.
TIME TO SEW ZERO WASTE BAG – THE FABRIC
The fabric is woven by Annemieke of micro mill Enschede Textielstad in the Netherlands. It is a blend of recycled cotton or denim, together with wool, viscose and virgin cotton.
With a sustainability hat on, a few words as to why fabric with recycled content is a good idea (this one, or in general, if you can find it in RTW clothes).
The waste topic aside (it’s a responsible thing to deal with the fashion waste we consume and produce), recycled materials have the best environmental footprint out of all materials. Yes, I will put it out there, recycled cotton is a much, much better option that organic cotton! Also, mechanically recycled fibres, like cotton or wool, tend to be colour mixed before they get turned into yarns, so they are saving a lot of water and energy in the dyeing process compared to the virgin alternatives. You can read a past post on this topic here.
Of course, there are downsides. The current technology had limitations with regards to quality. The cotton or wool fibres are shorter, so the yarns tend to be less fine and mostly used in woven products rather than knitwear. So bear in mind that the slightly slubby look and the colours are features, not bugs.
SAVE THIS FOR LATER ON PINTEREST
A quick note on the straps: Kate’s kit include upcycled leather from old sofas. I used recycled leather (reconstituted) that my husband got me years ago and I never found a good project for.
CONSTRUCTING THE ZERO WASTE BAG
The construction is quite simple, if you can sew a straight line. I found the instructions really good and I would definitely follow them for the first part. This is about arranging the panels on the main body of the bag. Then just follow normal bag making steps for bagging the lining. Just be sure to add the interfacing on the wrong side of the facings.
I messed up my pattern cutting a bit (entirely my fault for not paying attention), so the diagonal pocket on the front is a bit short. This also left me with too little fabric for the second inside pocket, so I had to skip that.
I sewed the straps myself, but the kit comes with pre-sewn straps. All you need to do is rivet them on.
I ended up piecing the fabric part using the punch hole, as the layers are quite thick for me to get the rivets through.
TIME TO SEW ZERO WASTE BAG – VERDICT
It’s a fun make that will take no time at all, but will leave you feeling very satisfied and a bit environmentally smug at the end of it!
Also, don’t forget to use the pockets for all your reusable items, like the water bottle, coffee cup, reusable cutlery, foldable shopping bag etc. One of the front pockets is perfect for the water bottle and the inside pocket (which I messed up as per above) would work great for the reusable cutlery set.
As I mentioned, there are only 14 kits available, but Kate might make the pattern available on its own.
HAVE YOU USED SEWING KITS BEFORE? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SEWING MORE SUSTAINABLY? LET ME KNOW IN COMMENTS.
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