Tuesday, 28 July 2015


And now for something slightly different here on PJTF.  One of the lovely things about blogging is that you get to speak (in virtual terms) to all sorts of interesting people.  I have had a few back and forth emails with Anneliese Helmy, director of Fairsew, a sewing workshop whose focus is on ethical fashion. I am really interested in ethical fashion and I like to reflect that interest/passion on my blog.  Anneliese has answered a few questions about Fairsew which I thought would be great to share with you the lovely readers.

When was Fairsew set up? Why did you feel the need? and how did you do it?

I set up Fairsew in 2012 after I started my wedding gown brand Anne Noelle Bridal. I needed to have help to sew the wedding gowns and there were no established workshops that could cope with the level of quality that we needed. At first I was working from our house and I employed one woman who could sew and cut. Then we started getting clients who needed small production runs as well as our wedding gown orders so I added another sewer and not long after we moved to a larger space with more sewers and more machines. Now we have 6 staff working in Fairsew with plans to add two more staff by the end of this year.
In general the client base has grown organically via word of mouth but we are finding now we can grow again so we are being more proactive in finding customers by reaching out to brands directly who might be interested in working with us.

I just checked out your Anne Noelle Bridal website and wow the gowns look so, so, so beautiful! (Shame i'm not really the marrying type!) What other companies use Fairsew?

Our Fairsew clients are mainly independent designers who need or want to offshore their production but are looking for more ethical options when it comes to getting their products made. Our clients are based in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Singapore and Germany. In many places getting garments produced locally {to the designer} can be either very expensive or just not available. We also help the designers with pattern making and sample development as well as fabric sourcing if they need.
Two of our biggest clients are Voon in New Zealand and LizAlig in USA. Both have great products that we really love, and they both sell online so please check them out. Our other main client is Anne Noelle Bridal with made to measure and ready to wear wedding gowns.

I love the way that Fairsew treats it's staff. It seems obvious that basic things such as sick pay, holiday pay and health insurance would benefit your staff but on a personal level how do you see the fair conditions you offer benefiting your workers.

We have worked hard to create a good place to work where everyone feels valued and an important part of the team. One of the things the women like about the work place is the freedom they have to chat while they are working and to not be restricted in taking breaks, and that they have some say in the planning of the targets that are set. Each week they plan how the work will get done. Some of the differences I am seeing in staff are things like fewer sick days being taken and everyone is eating well.

The other thing I was interested to know is where you do you source your fabrics from and are they sustainable?

In Cambodia there is almost no large scale fabric production, only hand loomed silk and there are no textile agents making finding specific fabrics sometimes very difficult.
Fabrics that are sold in the markets are usually left overs from large factories. This has pros and cons. It means that we can get some very interesting fabrics for quite good prices and we are using up fabric that would otherwise become landfill. On the downside when you see a fabric you like, you need to buy it then and there as it will never be available again and it is usually not possible to have clear information about the content and origin of the fabric.
Cambodian silk is handmade and hand dyed and comes as 2 ply and 4 ply taffetas, a raw silk and as an organza. They also make ikat and pictorial designs that are very intricate.

What are you hopes for Fairsew in the future? And more generally what are your hopes for the fashion industry in the future?

We would like to continue to grow the number of staff we can support with Fairsew. We would also like to create a beading/handsewing workshop in a local community. Sometimes in communities that are a little out of Phnom Penh there are people who would like to be able to work but find it difficult or too expensive to come into Phnom Penh for a job. By setting up smaller workshops in a community we can offer some stable jobs that can support some families that may otherwise have very limited opportunities.
We hope to see more awareness from both the makers and consumers of fashion in how making clothing affects people’s lives. We would like to show that it is possible to make clothing and be responsible at the same time. We would also like people to understand that it costs more. At the end of the day paying more salary and taking care of the environment is a cost and it can’t be ignored.

Where can readers find out more about Fairsew?  Also any good ethical clothing resources out there on the internet that you recommend?

If you would like to learn a little more about Fairsew you can visit our website www.fairsew.com or get news from us via our facebook page Fairsew

I have found lots of really interesting information on Clean Clothes and on Ethical Fashion Forum about sustainable fashion and the issues.

I am currently taking the 20 Day Sustainable Fashion Challenge from Tortoise & Lady Grey which is very interesting for me as a bit of a hoarder of clothing (usually vintage or made by me )

Ah yes I took part in the 20 Day Sustainable Fashion Challenge!, it's a really great reflective tool! I wasn't aware of clean clothes so thanks for sharing, it looks like a great resource. Anneliese it was lovely to have you over on PJTM and many thanks for taking some time to answer my questions. It's been a pleasure exchanging emails.

All the photos used in this post belong to Fairsew.


Saturday, 25 July 2015

Banana Oat Cakes

It probably comes as no surprise that I love cooking with ingredients that are left over or soon to go off.  I get a weird kick out of cooking with something that may have ended up in our 'yet to make any' compost bin.   

If i'm honest left over fruit is a rare occurrence in our house my daughter would quite happily be a fully fledged fruitarian and if anything I actually struggle to keep the fruit bowl full. Black bananas almost never happen in our house!  I do however often buy reduced bananas at the market for pennies with the intention of creating some sort of cheap as chips banana concoction. These said bananas were kindly gifted by a lovely neighbour who was going off on holiday (not quite as black when gifted).

You will need

230g mix of brown sugar and 2 or 3 very ripe bananas (the more banana you use the less sugar you need)
1tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 beaten egg
115g butter
230g porridge oats

How to make
  1. Pre heat the oven to 190C/Gas mark 5 grease a baking tray or cut greaseproof paper
  2. Mix all the ingredients together.  I used a hand blender to do this 
  3. Melt the butter in a pan before adding to the dry mix. Add the beaten egg.
  4.  Use a spoon to spoon the mixture onto the prepared tray.  The mixture will run so leave enough space between the oat cakes.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack and store in an air tight container.
The recipe is very forgiving.  I made these with my daughter who adds a bit more here and then when i'm not looking.  I do know for a fact that more sugar was poured in when I was at the sink!  They were a real hit (probably because of the extra sugar!).

Happy Cooking 


Monday, 20 July 2015

Thrifty summer plans

Summer holidays are nearly upon us and although I don't have a school age child, I do have a partner who works in a school and we are very much looking forward to having him off for the summer.  I will still be working my usual part time hours and Frieda will still be going to nursery but for a few less hours to give her a bit of a break too. 

So we are looking forward to a good lot of extra family time.  Things are pretty tight over here at the moment so I have compiled a list of thrifty activities to do with Frieda over the summer.  This will be our last summer as a family of three and i'm keen to drink up every last moment of being a parent to one child.  Generally if the weather holds out and you can rustle up a cheap and cheerful picnic, the summer is a super easy time to be thrifty. 

 1. Walk and picnic at Ashdown Forest. 
Ashdown Forest is so beautiful, it was the inspiration for AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh. I still can't believe we haven't visited as a family yet.  I really want to play pooh sticks with Frieda. 
2. Chalk painting our patio.
An oldie but a goodie, I think we will all enjoy having such a large blank canvas.
3. Collect pebbles from the beach and paint them.
East Sussex beaches are mostly pebbles, We already collect a lot of hag stones but I think it would be nice to collect a few smooth ones and paint them when we get home.
4.Write letters and post them to family.
Frieda's new thing at the moment is pretending to write, she is constantly marking paper and saying she is writing to family members.  It will be nice to involve her posting a couple of these to people.
5.Make lot's of ice lolly's.
Frieda has worked out what the sound of the ice cream van means.  We have been having lot's of fun making our own ice lolly's, I pull these out when we hear that familiar sound.....cheaper and healthier.  But obviously we don't begrudge the occasional visit to the van in the summer.
6. Visit Pett Level.
I have wanted to go to Pett level since reading this article. A sunken forest that is 6,000 years old can be seen at low tide.  I then discovered, through This is your kingdom that there is a quirky little coffee shack that sells Monmouth coffee.  So I think this may be one trip that I allow myself to spalsh out and leave the Thermos at home. 
7. Press flowers and make cards.
I found a flower press in the charity shop for 50p.  I loved pressing flowers as a child and am keen to have a go again with Frieda.
8.Visit Covehurst Bay.
The beaches round our way are pretty busy in the summer.  I think Covehurst Bay will be as close to secluded as we might get
9. River swim at Barcombe Mills.
We live pretty close to Barcombe Mills.  We have attempted to go twice but never made it. I read that it's a good one for a spot of wild swimming.
10 Rock pooling at Rottingdean Beach 
I love Rottingdean, it's a family favourite.  My partner loves rock pooling and this beach is great for that.

And the rest

Follow Hannah Taylor's board Thrifty summer on Pinterest.

Monday, 13 July 2015

For the love of retro sheets

We all have our weaknesses, for my partner it's Casio keyboards and for me it's retro sheets.  I was sorting through my sheets the other day and realise that I must put some of them to work as pieces of fabric, for I simply have far too many to use as bed linen! I do occasionally dream of simple crisp white sheets  but generally bold clashing colours is what puts a smile on my face. 

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