Catpaws Cafe

Random musings from my virtual fountain pen

Archive for the month “June, 2019”

Creating from a earth-friendly point of view

I make a lot of stuff, and while not being exactly zero waste, Love is in the Details certainly comes close. A lot of re-use, re-purposing, and everything is made to last. Unlike the fashion industry. Lucky me my taste is classic. I share my ideas with anyone who asks.

Yesterday I listened to a podcast recommended by Avery Trufelman on Twitter about the rarity of zero waste in the fashion industry. About the waste of fabric to facilitate speed in the production of inexpensive clothes, giving dirty clothes to charity, and the amount of landfill and burning of branded new clothes that the fashion industry does.). It was called “Pants on fire” and made me feel angry and sick in equal measures. Find it here

I had no idea the clothing industry was this bad. Sure, I saw burning or destruction of clothing as well as interior design objects whilst working at International Fairs after exhibitions, which shocked and made me despair, but this…and on this scale?!?
That people wear something 5-7 times before getting rid of it…I’ve never lived in that kind of world.

If you know me you know I’m good with a needle and thread (among other things), and I recycle, up cycle, reuse, re-purpose everything ad nauseum *because I can*. I realise not all have the skills, time, and the eye to do so, but for me it is a mental/creative challenge I enjoy. The only downside is there’s no outlet or market for it here. People don’t care. Not as long as there’s sweatshop produced clothing freely available.

I learnt to sew before I was into double digits, and continued because as a teen I couldn’t afford the clothes I wanted. Simple as that. It’s not something I particularly enjoy, but my perfectionist streak did not allow me not do it well. I’m mostly self taught. A couple of weeks ago I made me a few shirts, not because I’m particularly virtuous, I just can’t find any I like where we live in a size that fits. They will last me years. Why? Because my mother and a fashionista best friend way back when taught me how to look after clothes properly to make them last. I’m fortunate I don’t have the kind of job that requires a lot of presentable clothing. It frees up money to spend on things more interesting to me.

Wearing my PA Design shirt on a trip to Cobá, it has since been dyed blue to disguise the rust-stains it acquired in this rusty climate.

So, I’m not into fashion and my taste could be described as casual and classic. I really lucked out with the oldest shirt in my wardrobe – which I love – it is 31 yrs old. It was bought in a seconds store, and it was love at first sight. The 100% cotton is soft as butter and still feels fresh after countless washes. I recently repaired the collar which was praying and the fabric is starting to break down in this humid climate. When it eventually dies, I will make something else out of it. Perhaps it will live on as book-cloth for a journal, the lining of a bag, and a few pieces may find their way into a quilted cushion cover as a fond reminder.
That’s what you get from choosing quality over quantity.

That said, humidity is a real challenge where we live, and as a result fabric takes a proverbial beating. Mexico is the land of rust, everything rusts and stainless steel is rare to come by. Mexicans also have an unrivaled fondness for white t-shirts to match. Hubby wears his no longer presentable ones to do ‘talatcha’, ie maintenance work on the boat he captains. I sometimes remake them into ‘i-shirts’ or undershirts if it is a particularly good one. Once they’re worn thin or ripped they are saved in a pile to cut into strips to crochet into cushiony bathroom/bedroom mats. If we had a shed there’d be some adorning that floor too, lol. It’s free, functional, and I know it’s not to everyone’s taste.

As Love is in the Detail I created – among the many things – cat/dog baskets; using blackout fabric (for it’s sturdy and waterproof qualities) with a removable, washable cover. Filled with recycled fiber waste, shredded thinly and padded in an ingenious way, it makes a comfortable and hardwearing basis for seat cushions, floor cushions of a futonesque kind. But it takes time, commitment and foresight, and a lot of thought, not to mention skills. It would be much easier to grab something of the shelf in a supermarket for sure. In a year you get to replace it when the cover has worn thin or the seams ripped, and the stuffing flattened into nothing. Fine if you want to redecorate and have the funds. Not so with mine.

So called “waste” fabric is made into reusable shopping bags for sale (and occasionally handed out at the local market for free),  journal covers, pot holders, coasters, and very little is ever thrown away. It would be quicker and easier to make it from new material, but that’s not my game. It is to make you aware of the endless possibilities to landfill or burning. Waste not want not as an old acquaintance used to put it.

Tabi-Cat in a nest of reusable shopping bags!

Book me for a day or more; I’d love to share my skills and ideas with anyone who wants to know.

This blogpost was inspired by this short video shared by a friend on facebook

Avery Trufelman created a miniseries for 99% Invisible called Articles of Interest which deservedly went on to win clutch of prestigious podcast awards. You can listen to it here:  or find it in your podcast app.

Catpaw Rosales is a European transplant residing with their husband and cats in Mexico. A soft-spoken, highly introverted being who avoids socializing, and prefers cozy dinners with a few friends to going out. Passionate about restoring and upcycling furniture.
At one time or another they has been a silver-smith, artist, magazine editor, graphic designer, edited audio-books, worked in repro-graphics and in finance, and a wide variety of insignificant temp-jobs .

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