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VIDEO: Women’s Co-operatives in Africa


Africa. Women in the developing world. The garment industry. In today’s political climate, when we hear these things, we instantly react almost viscerally, expecting to hear something somber. We think of injustice, violence, sweatshops and, most often, poverty. Now when these things are combined into one topic, “African women in the garment industry”, we expect even more negativity. While it’s true that there are indeed many injustices and troubles that this group faces, there is also another story. A story of hope, a story of women banding together in a sisterhood and supporting each other, economically and personally, through cooperatives. This is the story I want to tell today…

This video is associated with the following article:

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what makes me sew: laura
what makes me sew: laura

Evolution of a home sewist

Why do I sew  Well, I can tell you all the obvious (and true) reasons (I’m guessing some of you can relate):

an innate desire to create;
an opportunity to carve out some time for myself in this world filled with the demands of little people;
the feeling of satisfaction I get by engaging both the creative and technical sides of my brain;
the personal challenge of pushing myself and learning new things (often through failure/trial and error);

…but for this post I want to delve a little deeper.


To uncover this motivation let’s first go down a very well-trodden route for us home sewists.  We’re starting a new project.  We have the pattern and and fabric and we want to get started.  As we are all too aware, there are now lots of steps involved – if it’s a PDF pattern we’ve got to print and tile that damn thing, then trace the size, then cut the fabric, then mark the fabric, then the actual sewing process can commence.  What is it that makes this whole (often tedious and definitely time-consuming) process worthwhile  Why do we keep at it  Have you ever tried to explain to a non-sewist the steps you go through, in detail, to create something  I usually lose them at then I print off 36 pages of pattern pieces and try to accurately tape them all together.  But for us sewists we stick at it.  We keep going.  And, not only that, we actually enjoy it (does anyone else get butterflies in their stomach before starting a new project !).  But, why do we do it


After much soul-searching about my true motivation for sewing, I’ve come to the surprising conclusion that it’s all about CONTROL.  By making clothes for ourselves or our children we are taking control of a process, of a finished garment, and, to a larger extent, of the fashion industry.

Let me explain. I’m guessing the vast majority of us (myself included) started out by buying ready-to-wear clothes off the shelves and racks of well-known shops.  At some point we made a decision to try to make something ourselves – usually by following patterns or online tutorials.  Over time, as our skills and experience grew, we started to change and adapt these patterns until we could actually design our own clothes.  Each of these steps gives us more control of what we or our kids wear.

I say this is a surprising conclusion (I don’t consider myself a control freak in other aspects of my life) but, then again, maybe it’s not that surprising at all when I consider my motivation for other interests.

COOKING.  I, like all of us, started by eating food someone else has prepared, then I decided to cook for myself so I followed recipes.  Over time I would change and adapt these recipes until, in the end, I was creating my own dishes from scratch.  Again, you can see this theme of control; in this case control of what I eat, where the ingredients come from and exactly how it’s all prepared.

As another example, let’s look at PHOTOGRAPHY (bear in mind I am NO photographer but my interest is growing and so is that desire for control).  We start by taking pictures on Auto mode and hope for the best, as we learn we start playing with settings, light, aperture, and shutter speed to get a desired result.  Before we know it we’re taking photos in full RAW mode and doing lots of post-editing to boot.  Do you see a trend  Yup, more control.

Everyone’s passions and interests will be different but I dare say that this sense of control over the subject is a common thread.

I could stop here.  I am motivated to sew in order to have control over the stone island polo black clothes I and my kids wear.  But, as we’re delving, why don’t we look at what this control actually means  By looking at the evolution of me as a home sewist, I can now answer the question what is my sewing motivation , but the answer also has some unexpected and yet entirely desirable consequences/effects.  These can be summed up as:

Independence from mainstream clothing consumerism.
Increased clothing self-sufficiency.
Supporting and advocating sustainable fashion…and, sustainability in the textile sector in general.

Each of these effects sits easy on my conscience and makes me feel that, in a very small way, I’m making a difference.  I’m not here to preach and say that everyone should adopt this path (let’s face it, if I didn’t love sewing I wouldn’t be doing it no matter how lofty the ideals or goals), but these three issues are ones that have been playing on my mind for a while now and ones that I hope to explore in greater depth on my blog in the coming months.  (In particular, I’d like to get more involved with initiatives such as Fashion Revolution Day due to take place on 24 April).

To conclude, I am thankful to Meg for setting me the challenge of writing this post.  These self-reflective ones are always the hardest and most time-consuming!  But in the end I have learned two very important things about why I sew which, in turn, will effect how I sew in the future:

My core motivation for sewing is a desire for control.
That this desire for control is a means to other, greater goals and not just an end in itself.

I know this is post is rather heavy-going so, if you’re here till the end, thank you!  It’s great fun to sew cute clothes but it’s also nice to reflect on these issues now and again. So, what would your sewing journey look like  Do you agree with this evolution or has your sewing taken an entirely different path  I really would love to hear from you.  In the meantime, let’s all keep doing what we’re doing – using our creativity to make ourselves and the people around us happy.


Laura x

PS – And if you missed Brienne’s post on the same subject – go check it out – it really strikes a chord. x

january 2014laura

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What Are Your Thoughts On Womens Vests
What Are Your Thoughts On Womens Vests

I have shared my love for vests with you in the past. Womens vests have always been one of my favorite wardrobe pieces after jackets, but I have had a hard time finding vests for women in stores. On occasion, I have had to buy men’s vests in small sizes and have them altered to fit me. For this reason, whenever I come across a great women’s vest while shopping I make sure to grab it. The vest I am showing you today is one of those finds. I bought this beautiful hounds tooth vest a couple of years ago when I was visiting Miami. Besides the fact that I love the pattern, I also love the shape and the cut especially in the back. I have worn this vest in many different ways, but this time I decided to wear it with my wide leg trousers. I’ve been seeing a lot of wider leg pants coming back so I thought this would be a good time to pull out one of my favorites. Since the armhole of the vest is cut really low, you can wear any kind of top under it but I chose to wear a tank top because it is currently quite hot in Los Angeles, and I wanted to stay cool.

I have been working on some new jackets and blazers for women for Jacket Society and I have been thinking of adding some vests to the line, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to ask your opinion about vests. What do you think of women’s vests Would you wear them Of course you can also send me any comments or questions about my womens blazer line.

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Vest – Privee
Pants – Laundry
Tank top – Massimo for Target
Platform sandals polo stone island – Calvin Klein
Bag – Gucci
Sunglasses – BCBG

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Where in the World Would You Like to Go

Where in the World Would You Like to Go
dweber posted this October 17th, 2012

Sometimes we think about where we’d go on our ideal vacation.  After all, it can’t hurt to dream…

Haley:  My dream vacation would include three parts:  2 1/2 weeks in New Zealand; 2 1/2 weeks in Indonesia and 2 1/2 weeks in Greece.
In New Zealand I would spend some of my time surfing and exploring the little town of Raglan. I’d leave the remaining time undetermined- with lots of room for spontaneous adventures in other towns.  In Indonesia I would spend most of my time in Bali surfing and working with a close family friend who runs a midwifery clinic.  And my time in Greece has not been mapped out yet; however, I have a long list of places there that I would love to see!  The goal would be to keep all of these parts loosely planned with lots of room to go where the trip pulled me.

Chelsey:  One of my dream vacations would be to spend autumn in Europe— specifically Edinburgh, London, Paris, and Vienna. I would ride on the ferris wheel over old world-sy Edinburgh, stroll through the incredible Viennese Christmas markets, people watch while trying to blend in with locals at sidewalk stone island classic sweatshirt black cafes and street markets in Paris, and just wander around in London. I’m a sucker for fall, it’s so dreamy and romantic to me, and so are all of these places. Just google Vienna Christmas Market and you’ll see what I mean! It looks like what Christmas felt like as a little kid.

Guin – One of my dream vacations would be at Tahoe skiing with all of my friends and family in a giant ski-in-ski-out cabin that could accommodate us all. There would be food, drink and cards in addition to music and a snowy fireside marshmallow roasting session.

Ian – New Zealand.  For probably about a 6-month vacation, because I would need that long to do everything that I want to do there.  But if I could only go for a couple weeks or a month or two, that would be fine.  I would also have to include a layover, probably a week or two, in Mallorca, Spain.

Brian: For me it’s a trip to Spain, starting in Barcelona and traveling down the coast, popping over to Morocco for a week, back up and over to Portugal for another week.  The trip ends in Madrid.  Along the way taking in the culture, the history, the beaches and some Spanish soccer.  Traveling with me are my wife and son.  Would love to stay for a month if life allowed.  This is the dream trip for us because it offers such a great blend between the present and the past.  The diversity of the various cultures along the way would give great variety in a relatively small geographic area.  While not for a month, this dream trip will become  a reality, at least for a couple of weeks, next Spring.

David:  Beach + sun + waves + beer + tacos/beer + surfboards + live music + hammock + nighttime dancing.  Sprinkle in some hiking and I’m sold.

So where would you go and what would you do

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Underwear Day – Why Not Go Organic


Underwear Day. It’s time to talk about organic stone island cheap polo underwear. 
Underwear day is upon us, time to bust out your favourite pair and rock them with pride. When we put on our undergarments in the morning we probably don’t stop to think about where it came from or how it was made. We only want the best for our behinds, but when we put on our normal non-organic bloomers we may be inadvertently causing harm to our private parts. Wearing organic underwear can have benefits that you may not realize.

Related Article: PJ’s & VJ’s

Wearing organic can help resolve chemical sensitivity issues. Many people have chemical sensitivity or sensitive skin. Our clothes are loaded with chemical additives from pesticides to flame-retardants. Organic products can help to reduce this problem.
Bamboo can help reduce bacteria. Bamboo has anti-bacterial properties that can help protect against yeast infections.
Organic materials are absorbent, comfortable and breathable. No one likes to feel wet and sticky on those hot summer days or while exercising.
When you buy organic it helps reduce pollution in our environment. Pollution from the textile industry is huge. Anything we can do to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals used should be considered. If we destroy our environment, our ability to grow fibers needed for both our undies and normal clothing becomes impossible.
Buying organic doesn’t always mean ethical, but many organic underpants retailers do take steps to source their products from local ethical suppliers. This reduces the carbon footprint our clothing leaves on the environment and helps the local economy.

Related Article: Organic Cotton Bra’s: A Guy’s Perspective

Here are some places to shop if you are thinking of making the switch to organic undies.

Blue Canoe  

Underwear Day - Why Not Go Organic  trusted clothes

Blue Canoe has a selection of panties to satisfy your organic needs. This pair is made from 28% organic cotton 66% bamboo and 6% spandex. If you dont like this style or colour there are plenty to choose from. And they sell matching bras!


Underwear Day - Why Not Go Organic  trusted clothes

Why buy one when you can buy two Rodales makes these from 95% organic cotton. They boast of a soft feel, even after many washes. This pack is on sale right now and at a very reasonable price. Your bottom will thank you.

Faeries Dance

Underwear Day - Why Not Go Organic  trusted clothes

There is a lot of selection at this store! stone island cheap polo Many different styles and colours to choose from. If you want a reasonably priced 5 pack or a pair that’s a little fancier, Faeries Dance has it. The pair above is made form 95% organic cotton and made in the USA.

Underwear Day - Why Not Go Organic  trusted clothes

I really like the idea behind this pair made from 55% jersey knit 44% organic cotton and 6% spandex, the idea behind this pair helps to reduce waste!

The Motley is made using scrap fabrics from our other Soy Lace panties to reduce waste. 
So if you order this pair it may not be exactly as shown because they are using leftovers from the making of other pairs. Pretty cool!
There are a lot more options to choose from these days when you are shopping for organic panties. There’s different retailers, different styles, colours and various organic fabrics to choose from. The best part is that you dont have to sell your car to afford a pair! Do good for the environment and your tush, make the switch to organic fibers. Being green never felt so good!
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What’s Your Current Size Clothes Mentor Has You Covered
What’s Your Current Size Clothes Mentor Has You Covered

Size fluctuations are a part of every woman’s life. Whether you recently lost a significant amount of weight, had a baby, forgot to exercise for a couple of months (or all of last year), etc., Clothes Mentor stone island off-white crew-neck sweatshirt can help you update your wardrobe to suit your current size for a lot less than department store prices.

You’ll find styles from all of your favorite brands and designers in sizes from 0 to 26. And because new items arrive at Clothes Mentor stores daily, there are always many pieces to choose from. For winter, you’ll find sweaters, pants, coats, and more. Workout wear is also a hot item this time of year. Have you started working on your New Year’s resolutions yet The time is now!

Plus, don’t forget that your local Clothes Mentor store will also buy your gently used clothes that you no longer wear in sizes 0 to 26. Even if it no longer fits you, it’s likely the perfect size for someone else, so bring it in today.

Click here for a list of items that we buy and sell in stores.

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weekend wrap-up: kcw august 2016

I think you guys really blew it out of the water this weekend! I had a hard time choosing pictures for this wrap up since I missed a few days (mostly, the entire weekend). Not because I was ignoring…. Just because so many things happened stone island large logo t shirt relentlessly. Phew!!!

kcwweekend collage 1 Clockwise from top left 1/2/3/4

But seriously, seeing all these makes really pushed me to look at my future sewing plans (i.e. back to school/fall) and step it up because you guys! All the goodness! From little details to stone island large logo t shirt the fabrics themselves to make an outfit. There are so many ways to be unique and create beautiful pieces for our kids.

kcwweekend collage 2Clockwise from top left 1/2/3/4

I’m also probably going to be remembering to think outside the box on what patterns to use and for whom 😉 We’ll be closing up the season with the wonderful contributors over the next few weeks. And I’ll be posting up a wrap up post about running KCW for the first time, where I’d love to hear your input! So keep on eye out for those. But for now, I’m sure you’re wondering who the giveaway winners are for our last giveaways 😉 So congratulations to Stephanie Williams on winning the Raspberry Creek Fabrics giveaway and Annie McGee on winning the Oliver + S giveaway. I’ll be in touch soon!!

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Weekend Flats – Charleston

Weekend Flats – Charleston
dweber posted this June 6th, 2013

WF Charleston

Horny Toad loves weekend getaways, and we know you do too… so every month from March until August we’re picking a great town and giving you the insider’s scoop on where to eat, drink and play. For the fourth month we’re taking you to historical Charleston, SC.

A key ingredient to a successful weekend getaway is packing well. Enter our Weekend Flats Instagram contest and consider yourself outfitted.  All you need to do is hashtag a great photo you’ve taken of one of your favorite weekend destinations with #HTlovesweekends @hornytoadactivewear until 6/30/13.  At end of June we’ll select the photo we like best and the winner will get a $150 Horny Toad gift card!

Without further ado – and with very special thanks to Carolina Heartstrings who provided us with much of this great information on what to do and where to go in Charleston, here’s the scoop.

1.  Our Conversion Dress blue stone island sweatshirt (pictured above in Dolphin) is exactly what you want for a weekend in Charleston. The graceful V-neck is topped by convertible straps, meaning it can be worn many different ways, plus it’s made with our eco-friendly blend of Tencel®, organic cotton and spandex, whose supple superpowers are designed to triumph over the confines of a cramped suitcase.

2.  Have drinks at The Cocktail Club! It’s a refined atmosphere on upper King Street dedicated to the art of the craft cocktail. Check out their extensive selection of house-made infusions, rare spirits and farm-to-shaker beverages featuring fresh squeezed juices and modern ingredients. Their rooftop terrace even has a custom garden that provides the fresh garnishes for their drinks.

3.  For great local music at a fun venue go to Awedendaw on the Green.

4.  If it rains (or if you’re just hankering for an awesome bowling alley experience), head to The Alley for food, blue stone island sweatshirt bowling, skee ball and every old-school video game imaginable.

5. Our men’s Honcho Shirt was constructed for a weekend in the South Carolina’s oldest city: Thanks to 100% organic cotton chambray and thoughtful details, its relaxed good looks grant it passage to restaurants, museums and dive bars alike, and its feather weight means its primed for hot and humid weather.

6.  For a glimpse of Charleston (and our nation’s) history, catch a ferry over to Ft. Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

7.  Have dinner at SNOB.  The restaurant’s erroneous acronym stands for Slightly North of Broad and its casual and intimate setting is the perfect backdrop to sample incredibly fresh ingredients supplied by organic farmers on nearby Wadmalaw Island. Try the local shrimp and grits made from heirloom corn grown and milled nearby.

8.  Visit our friends at Half Moon Outfitters!  Not only do they sell Horny Toad, but they happen to be some of the most community-minded, friendly and knowledgable outdoor retailers in all the land.  We recommend them for renting stuff like paddle boards and other gear too big to pack as well as giving you the scoop on where to go for your outdoor adventures.

9.  Don’t forget to pack our women’s Swept Away Jacket. Made of elegant linen and earthy cotton, its casual, classic styling is both feminine and street-wise. You’ll appreciate the intelligent pocket placement for purse-free exploration of Charleston.

10.  It might be hot as asphalt in August while you’re there, but you can keep your cool with our men’s Easystreet Short. Made from debonair linen and hard-working cotton, it manages moisture, wears like iron and has the kind of clean design that give it social versatility as well as amazing comfort.

11.  Rent paddleboards from Mt. Pleasant Half Moon Outfitters and go paddle boarding at Shem Creek.

12.  The Saturday Farmer’s market in Marion Square was rated as one of the Top 10 Best Farmers Markets by Travel and Leisure magazine in 2008. Enjoy fresh crepes, omelets, donuts and po’boys while you shop for fresh produce.

Got a suggestion to add to the list  Let us know!

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What’s changed since Rana Plaza


I’ve spent the past three years studying sustainable fashion. That’s also three years since the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory. In that time, awareness of sustainable fashion has grown. Organizations like Trusted Clothes are springing up, bringing people together to address this important issue. However, while awareness of sustainable fashion and issues in the fashion industry has grown much work is still needed. Another Rana Plaza remains a possibility.

Rana Plaza progress trusted clothes

Despite demands for change, and promises from major fashion companies the garment industry has not seen the reforms needed to prevent another Rana Plaza. In the words of Lucy Siegle, “not much” has changed. There has been little evidence of improvement. Poor legislation remains a problem. Meanwhile, companies like H&M hide the lack of real improvement on their part behind sustainability reports. H&M does conduct inspections in factories, however, workers have stated that these inspections often fail to uncover any problems. Factories remain dangerous places where workers are underpaid and overworked. Any attempts by workers to unionize and demand better conditions have been met with violence and threats of job loss.

Rana Plaza progress trusted clothes

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The fact that demands action continue is a sign that people want real change. Overall, there is growing support for sustainability in the fashion industry. Sustainability has become a topic of conversation among mainstream fashion press Even Lucy Siegle, has expressed optimism that consumers will demand major changes to how fashion operates.

While she considers it a long and difficult journey, it can be done.

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What to Wear to the Races

Going to the races is a long-standing tradition here in the UK and lets be honest, you can’t beat dressing up and sampling a bit of fizz on ladies day. If you’re planning on donning your finery and heading to the race track this season, then make sure you avoid any Daily Mail style fashion dilemmas with our what to wear to the races guide.

We’ve pulled together three fabulous outfit ideas that’ll be the perfect combination of glamour and comfort whilst flattering your figure.

The New Navy 

Whilst ocean-worthy shades might conjure up images of nautical styles, this season’s navy has been reworked into pretty floral stone island over shirt looks to give it a more feminine feel. A wonderfully flattering colour, figure-hugging dresses in this go-to shade are perfect for any formal occasion, especially an elegant day at the races.

We love this Joanna Hope layered jersey dress with it’s chic floral lace and figure-flattering folds of fabric. Perfect for a curve-complimenting look that embraces classic style, the dress looks gorgeous with the matching fascinator and a pair of sleek nude shoes.

Ladies' Day

Bright and beautiful

If you like an outfit with a little more colour, then this stunning floral dress from Joanna Hope is the perfect piece for a contemporary splash of colour. With a beautiful array of pink flowers in a modern, faded design, this gorgeous gown is so flattering with it’s figure-hugging style and half sleeves stone island over shirt that cover the upper arm. We love letting this dress take centre stage by teaming it with nude heels and some minimalist accessories.

Day at the Races

White Out

Embrace all white for a statement summer look this season. Very on trend and so easy to pull together, our fave all-white look features this tribal embroidered dress to add some extra detail to this simple style.  The panelled design of the print draws the eye towards the centre, which gives the illusion of a more flattering figure, whilst making a stylish statement. Dress this lovely number with all white accessories for the ultimate summer look.

Best Dressed Guest

Hats off to you…!
No day at the races would be complete without a gorgeous hat or fascinator. But, finding the right style to work with both your outfit and face shape can be a bit of a nightmare. So, to make the decision a little easier we’ve launched this handy hat finding app called If The Hat Fits – it’ll take you through a couple of questions and then offer you some fab advice on which hat styles suit you best.If the Hat Fits  How to Choose the Right Hat for your Face Shape   Fashion World

Get more formal fashion advice here >>>