How to panic-do a last minute Halloween costume.

Really late halloween content

Perhaps your plans to go on an over the day trip with your mother has also been canceled due to an uprise of corona cases. That is very disappointing, especially the lack of kebab that you will not experience. But on the other hand, you can now join your friends for a small and very much safer corona wise social gathering. The only problem: it is in less than 24 hours and you have no costume. Fear not, I have had the exact same thing happening to me, and am therefore qualified to talk you through it.  

Step 1: 

Looking at fabric options and freaking out

For me, this step was all about pulling fabric out of my overstuffed drawers and walking around panicked. I realised that most of my fabrics are with and/or green, but I also had some blue.    

Step 2:

Come up with a concept

The fabrics you have available will determine this, but for me with my nature-like fabrics the obvious choice was some kind of witch or fairy or other supernatural being. I did not have enough fabric to pull off some other full length clothed supernatural being, and I did not have enough time to do a pair of wings, so I chose the witch. 

For my witch I went with a blue see through fabric with a white organic looking patter for my skirt, and since I didn’t want to flash everyone I used a dark blue cotton fabric for a lining. I then chose an off-white fabric with embroidered leaves to make a top out off.

Step 3:

Making a skirt pattern.

I already had a pattern for a great skirt, it’s a high low skirt with pointy endings and it is just one big piece of fabric so it is quick to make.

Originally I had planned to make a full on circle skirt, but I did not have enough patience to lay my fabric paper in such a way that I could draw a perfectly round shape, and thus it ended up pointy. You can of course make a round skirt instead, but then you will lose the high low effect. To make this type of skirt pattern, I recommend using the magic of the internet to find a circle skirt calculator. I  used this one, it works in both centimeters and the American way of measuring.

Step 4

Assembling a skirt

For this skirt I took the outer layer and my lining layer and laid them right to right, pinned around the entirety, except I left two openings at the back, and then I sewed around it with a simple straight stitch. After sewing, it is important to press the seams with a flat iron, even if it always feels really boring. Then I turned the skirt “inside out” so the right side of the fabric was seen. 

I think my great resentment of ironing stems from having to take out one very clumpy ironing board.

Now I had an almost finished skirt that I could not finish, because I did not yet have a zipper. 

Step 5

How the fuck do I make a corsettop?

This step was started with a lot of watching of instructional videos, many of them on tik tok. Eventually I found a step for step tutorial by Nava Rose with a free pattern that could be printed out and used. Great I thought, except we still don’t have a new printer. I long for the days of innocence when I did not yet know what a luxury it is to have my own printer in my home. A time when I did not have to rely on my parents to print things out for me from work. A time when I could print everything I needed for my craft at once. 

Anyway, I had to re-think. Since I was short of time, I wanted to have it as easy as possible and preferably not have to make a whole new pattern, because that takes time and skills that I mostly lack. Luckily I had a pattern for the top part of a dress that I made in school forever ago that would just need a little adjustment. 

Step 6

Everything is going so well

To make the top I took the old dress top pattern and traced it on some plain white cotton which was left over. I have rarely felt as satisfied as when I did this, because there was just enough fabric. Then I took my parts, assembled them at their side seams with a straight stitch, after that I manipulated the bodice so that it would look just like I wanted. If you use an already perfect pattern there is no need for this and your life will be easier. 

After the bodice looked like I wanted, I traced it on to pattern paper so that I had a version of the correct pattern to trace out on my nice looking fabric. The assembly was as with the test object, straight stitched down the sides and don’t forget to press the seams flat.

Old and new pattern

Step 7

Things are still going fine with the top

Since I already had a perfect replica of my bodice (aka the one I manipulated) I decided to use that as my lining. I did as I did with the skirt, took the two parts, placed them right side to right side, pinned and sewed around with a straight stitch. I left an opening of around 5 cm to turn it “inside out”. But firstly I pressed all of the seams. A great idea is to cut small notches at the curved part (on the outer part of the seam that is!) so that it will lay flat when turned.

Then I turned it. Another great tip is to use something pointed to poke the corners out so they look nice and sharp and not rounded. I used the legs on my giraffe ruler, but closed scissors or a pen also works.      

Step 8

Shopping and putting in a zipper 

Now it was time for a shopping break, I needed to buy a zipper, some ribbon because I wanted to do a lace up back and some grommets to make the holes for my ribbon. The store had all of this. 

I did not have time or energy to sew a hidden zipper, so I chose to buy more of a statement zipper with silver zipper teeth. This was also the first time I tried the skirt on, and there for the only time I had to make adjustments in the size. It was a bit too big for me in the waist, so I made an angled fold in on both sides so that it would fit me and then I put the zipper on there. 

To sew in a zipper, the best thing is to use a zipper foot on your sewing machine, this allows you to get just right next to the teeth. You can also use a regular foot, you will just not get as close to the teeth. It is just like sewing regularly, you go down along the zipper, I used a straight stitch. It gets a little tricky when going past the pull thing, because it will often be in the way of the machine. Depending on the situation I either sew the side down in two parts, to the pull thing, then I stop, remove the fabric and change the place of the pull thing, then I return and sew the last part down. Or I simply lift the foot but leave the needle in, pull the puller upwards, let the foot down and continue sewing. 

After sewing the zipper I closed the rest of the back side up by putting the fabric right sides together and sewing straight up. I fucked up the part where the edge meets the zipper, so I can not explain how to do it and still make it look good. If you can, please tell me.  

And so I had finished a skirt fit for a witch. 

Part 9

Things goes really bad, really fast

Now it was time to finish the top, something I had very little time to do. No problem I thought, how hard can it be to add grommets? Turns out, really fucking hard. Firstly I could not do it at all, but then my father came to my aid and it turned out, that I was just not hitting the thing hard enough. Still, not even he managed to make all the grommets behave, so we tried other things. Like just cutting holes. In the end the straps on the top looked like shit and I was officially out of time.   

Part 10

Time for improvising  

The skirt was still wearable, so I only had to find a fitting top out of all of the tops I own. In the end I chose a black shirt with lace details that I felt were witchy enough. I have a pair of tights patterned with flowers that works really well with my whole “modern flower witch” aesthetic. To finish the look, I put on every necklace that was kind of occult looking, somehow I lucked out and they were all of different length making for a cool layered effect. I also put on a lot of rings and some bracelets. Worth noting is that I put on all of this in the car because I had no time to do it at home. 

For my hair I had slept with many braids the night before it was very fluffy. I did a half up half down ponytail. To disguise my hairband I cut out a long strand from the same fabric as my skirt and tied it in a bow around my ponytail. I had also brought some fake flowers that I bent into a  flower crown. To finish off the look I put on my ghost earrings and my dark red/purple lipstick.  

And that is how to do a last minute Halloween costume.

Side note: To make a garment look really good it is often good to do a top stitch around the entirety of it. This is to make sure that the seams lay flat. I did this on my skirt the day after the Halloween party when I had more time.

The story of why I quit fast fashion

‘it is now our responsibility to stop supporting a company that allows it to happen’

Let me take you back in time. It’s 2016, life is both easier and harder (my mental health sucked, but there were no pandemics). It’s spring time, it has just started being warm outside again. I’m taking what I hope is my last economics class. H&M has just had another scandal about how their seamstresses are severely underpaid.  

I’m in the first row, to the left next to the window. We are in one of the nicer classrooms, with high tables and chairs. They are all a greyish black. I’m wearing my obnoxious neon green blouse, it was made in Italy. The first page of our economics book is the story of how a white dress is made. Beginning with the cotton farmers, who get close to no money and work with harmful chemicals. Next is the fabric workers and seamstresses, both who also get close to no money and work in harmful factories. Then it is the transportation, the seller and the profit. In the end the dress is bought by a girl who is about to graduate, for a low sum of money, ie, around 300 kr. The majority of the money goes to the company selling the dress, not the people who made it. 

Our first lesson is a debate in responsibility. Is it the companys’ responsibility, the manufacturers? Or is the responsibility ours, the consumers? Since the H&M scandal became public literally days before our lesson, it quickly became what the debate revolved around. I say “Because we now know how badly the workers are treated, it is now our responsibility to stop supporting a company that allows it to happen. It is our responsibility to stay away from H&M until they fix the problem.”

I am not capable of saying something and then backtracking. It is not in my character. And since I had said it was our responsibility, I had to act responsible, thus I stopped with H&M. Eventually that stop spread to all other fast fashion companies, because even if there had been no news scandals about them there is no way to sell clothes that cheap without exploitation. We all know it, so for me to boycott H&M and not Zara would be hypocritical. 

During this time I was spending a lot of time with my grandmother, and a lot of that time was in thrift stores, so I had few problems with finding clothes that hadn’t recently been mass manufactured. It also helped that I had a good base of clothes, and that my feet stopped growing early. I still have and use socks from third grade. (They are great, the names of the weekdays are underneath, so when we had a spelling test on the weekday I simply wore the Wednesday socks and cheated.) Of course I will eventually have to buy new socks, just like I buy new underwear, workout clothes and pajamas. Since I’m still a poor student these things are bought in fast fashion stores, I do not get them second hand (even I have limits). But eventually I will be buying all of my clothes in a sustainable way, from places where I know no women have been exploited to make them. I look forward to that day. There are tons of great companies, so if you can support them instead of fast fashion, do it. 

So, that is the story. Nothing to do with the environment, just solidarity to women.

A brief analysis about the positive and negative aspects of leather and faux leather

Despite using this site for almost a year I have not yet take time to properly learn how to use it, there for my source list is not up to my standards. I am truly sorry for that. It didn’t help that the links really weren’t cooperating. Or that I procrastinate doing this, 23.44 is technically still Tuesday. Good night

I like leather, I’m not going to lie about that. This is a pro leather blog. Most often when you read about leather it is the opinions from a very biased vegan, who wants everyone to live like them and aren’t afraid of using loaded words and somewhat false claims to persuade people to go vegan, this is a prejudiced based on too much internet time. Also, I think that there is some kind of hypocrisy in the whole “we should stop using plastic” movement, given that they almost exclusively talk about plastic packaging. I have not once seen plastic clothing mentioned.  Therefore I felt like writing a defense of the usage of leather.    

Let me start with this; nothing is good if overused. There is a reason for the fashion industry producing 10% of the global carbon emission (UNEP, 2018). That includes both vegan and non vegan fashion; in order to reduce that number all kinds of fashion will have to be reduced. We will have to go back to an older way of thinking, when we didn’t buy tons of new clothes that we barely use, “the number of times a garment is worn has declined by 36 per cent in 15 years” (UNEP, 2018), and Americans* throw away on average 81 pounds (36,7kg) clothing a year (Goldberg, 2016, 9 june). All of that has to stop, otherwise all other environmentally friendly actions will be fruitless.   

Now, let’s dive into what vegan leather actually is. This is the boring research part of this text. 

I’m going to start with what is in H&M vegan leather products. I start by searching for “faux leather” and then I pick the first result, a faux leather skirt in two colours. It is made from “Polyester 100% Coating: Polyurethane 100%” (HM, n.d.a), that’s just different kinds of plastics. Next I looked at a jacket, it was the same there. “Polyester 100% Coating: Polyurethane 100%” (HM, n.d.b), still plastics. One of the first things they teach us in lab class is that you always want to try at least three times, so I choose a pair of pants after some scrolling. This time it was a bit different, because there was also plastic in the pocket lining “Polyester 100% Coating: Polyurethane 100% Pocket lining: Polyester 100%” (HM, n.d.c).  

HM does have a conscious collection, and I scrolled thru all 404 objects without finding anything labeled faux leather and could therefore not check what it was made of. When I looked at other clothing containing plastic, for example a pair of bikini bottoms the description said where from the plastic was sourced, most of it was recycled (HM, n.d.d). From that I feel confident drawing the conclusion that the plastic in their “normal” line is not recycled, if it was, it would most likely say in the description.       

Next I went on to Zara, the biggest fast fashion company if one looks at their economic profit ( Hanbury, 2018, 9 Dec). I, once more, started by searching “faux leather”. Side note: the search bar writes in capital letter and I found this so jarring that I almost missed spelled leather. I started with a skirt again, because it was the first thing to appear. Zara has the composition of their clothes somewhat hidden, but it read “OUTER SHELL BASE FABRIC 100% polyester COATING 100% polyurethane” (Zara, n.d.a), same as in H&M. My next pick was a pair of pants, the composition was the same “OUTER SHELL BASE FABRIC 100% polyester COATING 100% polyurethane” (Zara, n.d.b). My last pick was a jumpsuit, because it looked fun. The composition was, to no surprise, “OUTER SHELL BASE FABRIC 100% polyester COATING 100% polyurethane” (Zara, n.d.c), plastic. 

Similar to H&M Zara has an eco friendlier line called “Join Life”. As with H&M I was unable to find anything “Faux Leather”, although I did find real leather, therefore I once more looked at another type of garment containing plastics, this time a bodysuit. This time Zara wrote clearly that it was made with “at least 50% recycled polyamide.” (Zara, n.d.d). I therefore feel comfortable coming to the same conclusion as with H&M, if the plastic used in Zara’s “normal” line was recycled then it would say so in the description.  

Having only two stores as my research objects,  it is not in any way a scientific standard, but since this is not a science paper and I’m only trying to prove a point it will have to do. Of course it is not only fast fashion companies that make faux leather, but I felt like starting with them, given that these stores are stores with a large clientele. But now we are going to look into some more bougie brands and see if they have any alternative ways of making faux leather. 

First up is Bleed Clothings “cork jacket”. They describe it as “Die [sic] first vegan “leather jacket” made out of cork, the gold of the forests.” (Bleed Clothing, n.d.). And honestly it seems totally fine. Then there is ocean leather, that also seems to be the name of a perfume. Ocean leather appears to be in the early stages of development (Greener Ideal, 2014) and I was unable to find any place that sold it. There is also grape leather which H&M actually sold at some point (Vega News, 2020) but I was unable to find it on their web page now.          

The boring research part is now over, now comes the consequences of fake leather. 

What I’m trying to say writing this, is that there are many different ways of making fake leather, yet the one most common is with plastic. That is a shame, given that plastic is bad for the environment in so many ways. Let’s dive into the ocean of plastic problems.

I think that was a really smooth transition, given that the first issue on my list is the microplastics released by plastic garments, when they get washed, that end up in the ocean. Tucker from The Guardian really says it best, “One washload of polyester clothes can release 700,000 microplastic fibres into the environment. It is estimated that half a million tonnes of these microfibres end up in the sea each year.” (2019, 23 june). As we could see in the text above, all of the faux leather from Zara and H&M contains polyester, therefore when the clothes are washed microplastics are released. By now, I think that we all know that plastic in the ocean is bad. If not The Guardian has a good article about it, focusing on microplastics.      

The other obvious problem with polyester is that it is plastic, with all of plastics’ problems. One of the big problems with plastic clothing is that it isn’t biodegradable, and as I said before, we throw away a staggering amount of clothes each year. So when plastic clothing is thrown away it just remains. Heaps and heaps of plastic clothes, left for generations to come….

There is of course vegan leather, and other plastic clothes, made of recycled plastic. And that is good, I love recycling. But those garments still releases microplastics. So, not as good as it sounds. Still, if you insist on wearing plastic, please do wear recycled plastic.  

Yeah, that was a lot of talking about faux leather, turning into a general conversation on plastic clothing. So after that let’s talk about real leather. 

Leather can be sourced from most animals, but according to Mahi Leather the most common animal is cows (n.d.). As we all should know by now, cows are very bad for the climate. Kaplan from the Washington Post wrote  “If cows were their own country, they would be the third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter in the world” (2019, 18 November). That’s an insane amount, and the only way to cut the emission down, is to have fewer cows. So even if the actual leather garment may be better for the planet, than a plastic one, the process of acquiring the leather is not good.    

It is worth mentioning that it is difficult to see the difference between cow leather and other types of leather. The leather could be from any animal.     

Lucy Siegel from The Guardian writes that “Nearly half of the global leather trade is carried out in developing countries – from Ethiopia to Cambodia and Vietnam – where, despite a backdrop of exploitation of animals and humans and the extraordinary level of pollution caused by unregulated tanneries and processors, the pressure is on to produce more.” and “workers, including children, performing hazardous tasks such as soaking hides in toxic chemicals and using knives to cut the skins” (2016, 13 Mars). While this is awful and something that should concern buyers, it is sadly not exclusive to the leather branch of fashion. 

Poor working conditions are a staple thru the entirety of fashion. Poor people in developing countries work for almost no pay in unsafe environment with unsafe infrastructure (UNEP, 2018). If you are interested in knowing what terrible consequences bad infrastructure can lead to I recommend that you check out Röhsskas temporary exhibit forensic architecture.  

Siegel brings up another good point: “in reality we buy leather goods without knowing where the hide originates or what conditions the animals were kept in. We’re comforted by “Italian leather” stamps, but this could mean that the leather was imported and finished in Italy. I’m fond of saying that if all the “Italian leather” merchandise was of true provenance you wouldn’t be able to move for cows in that country. They’d be drinking from the Trevi fountain.”. 

So, even if you think that you are buying nice, environmentally friendly leather of good quality. Made by workers in good working conditions, there are few ways of ensuring it in fact is so.

I guess that the conclusion is, that there is no truly ethical consumption of either type of leather. This comes as no surprise to me, the fashion industry is garbage, all of it. The only way to guarantee that what you buy is good for the environment and for the workers, is to buy locally produced, where you can trace the materials and know the workers. Or, to buy from brands that are very up front with how their stuff is produced. If that is the case, then I would still prefer leather over plastic. Partly because plastic doesn’t decompose and releases microplastics. Partly because I generally don’t like the look of faux leather and partly because leather clothes lasts longer then faux leather. I don’t remember how many bad plastic shoes that I have worn down over the years, but there were many. A far cry from that are my leather boots that I have worn the entire fall/winter and before that they were my grandmothers. They are still in almost perfect condition. 

*I was unable to find a clear number on Europeans, but given our cultural similarities we can assume that the number is similar. 

Bleed Clothing. (n.d.). CORKJACKET MEN. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from 

https://www.bleed-clothing.com/english/corkjacket-men

Goldberg, E. (2016, 9 june). You’re Probably Going To Throw Away 81 Pounds Of Clothing This Year. Huffington Post. Retrieved from 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/youre-likely-going-to-throw-away-81-pounds-of-clothing-this-year_n_57572bc8e4b08f74f6c069d3

Greener Ideal. (2014). 3 Natural Alternatives to Leather Shoes. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from 

https://greenerideal.com/guides/7042-natural-alternatives-to-leather-shoes/

Hanbury, M. (2018, 9 December).  20 companies dominate the world’s fashion industry. Here’s who makes the list. Business Insider. Retrieved from

https://www.businessinsider.com/nike-zara-tj-maxx-top-list-global-fashion-brands-2018-12?r=US&IR=T

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https://www2.hm.com/en_us/productpage.0856232002.html

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https://www2.hm.com/en_us/productpage.0783126001.html

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https://www2.hm.com/en_us/productpage.0825700003.html

H&M. (n.d.d). Bikini Bottoms. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from  

https://www2.hm.com/en_us/productpage.0854683004.html

Kaplan, S. (2019, 18 November). Are my hamburgers hurting the planet? Washington Post. Retrieved from 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2019/11/18/are-my-hamburgers-hurting-planet/?arc404=true

Mahi Leather. (n.d.). How is leather made? Retrieved 2020-06-24 from 

https://mahileather.com/blogs/news/how-is-leather-made

Siegel, L. (2016, 13 Mars). Is it time to give up leather? The Guardian. Retrieved from 

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2016/mar/13/is-it-time-to-give-up-leather-animal-welfare-ethical-lucy-siegle

Tucker, I. (2019, 23 June). The five: ways that fashion threatens the planet. The Guardian. Retrieved from 

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/jun/23/five-ways-fashion-damages-the-planet

UN Environment programme. (2018). Putting the brakes on fast fashion. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from   

https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/putting-brakes-fast-fashion

Vega News. (2020). H&M DEBUTS COLLECTION MADE WITH VEGAN GRAPE LEATHER. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from

https://vegnews.com/2020/2/handm-debuts-collection-made-with-vegan-grape-leather

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Zara. (n.d.d). LIMITLESS CONTOUR COLLECTION 03 BODYSUIT. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from