Betz White Q&A and Book Giveaway

sewinggreencover

Today True Up welcomes Betz White, author of the new book Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made with Repurposed & Organic Materials (STC Craft), on her blog tour.

Betz is the queen of crafting with felted (or fulled, if you’re a stickler for terminology) thrift-store sweaters — her first book was Warm Fuzzies: 30 Sweet Felted Projects (North Light Books, 2007). It was natural for her to start crafting with other reclaimed and repurposed textiles. Sewing Green features more projects using recycled wool … as well as vintage bed linens, men’s shirts, old jeans, juice pouches, and Tyvex envelopes.

betz-aprons

But Sewing Green is not just about finding and using the materials already around you — there are also several projects that will help you reduce your impact on the environment (and save your money, too): a lunch tote and water bottle cozy, reusable produce and shopping bags, napkins. My favorite? A door draft buster shaped like a log, complete with woodgrain stitching.

betz-log

Sewing Green also features wonderful little profiles of leaders in the repurposed/organic textile world: Harmony Art Organic Design, Alabama Chanin, Crispina ffrench, Morsbags, and Swap-o-rama-rama.

For this stop of the blog tour, I focused on the raw materials: repurposed and organic fabric. Sewing Green will help expand your world view of what “fabric” is — but it’s one thing to have an open mind and another to find the inspiration to incorporate these things into our daily lives. So I asked Betz how she did it …

Why should people seek out organic fabric?
Great question! Organic fibers are healthier for the environment and for you, the end user of the product. Conventionally grown cotton is responsible for 25% of the world’s pesticide use. Organically grown fiber uses no toxic chemicals. By purchasing sustainable and environmentally conscious fabrics, you are essentially voting with your dollars. By choosing organics we send a message to textile manufacturers that we care about the earth. This leads to creating a stronger demand and ultimately more organic fabric production and options to enjoy!

betz-fabrictypes

In Sewing Green you cover different types of organic fibers — have you had a chance to work with them all? What are some of of your favorites beyond cotton?

I’ve really not ventured too much beyond cotton as far as sewing with organics goes. I touch on a few other organic and sustainable fibers in the book. The industry is evolving so rapidly that I felt it best to approach it in general terms, exposing readers to some of the options available. It’s an educational process and also an ethical one.

For some sewists so accustomed to thinking “I need fabric, so I need to go to the fabric shop,” it’s hard to make that mental leap to thinking of things already around us as fabric sources. How did you make that leap? Or have you had that mindset all along?

I think all sewers struggle to use their own stash before buying new. New often means exciting! The trick is to try to uncover the “newness” in materials you may already have whether it’s piece goods or other items that can be repurposed. I keep an ongoing donation box in my closet of my family’s outgrown/out of style/worn out items. Fortunately, I don’t have my act together enough to toss the box in the car on my way to the thrift store, because I often end up dipping into it for materials! Sometimes I’ll be working on a project that needs a simple lining, for example, and that old T-shirt or blouse might just fit the bill.

There is a big simplifying/decluttering movement going on these days that goes hand-in-hand with environmentalism. Crafters (including myself!) seem especially prone to craft-supply clutter, so collecting old shirts, sweaters, juice boxes, etc. to repurpose can get out-of-hand fast! What do you personally do to find the balance — or are you a happy hoarder? What do you recommend for others?

I guess I am a hoarder and luckily for me, I live with hoarders, so this behavior is perfectly acceptable in our household. Everyone has their own style of organization. I tend to have things loosely grouped by like items in the hopes that I’ll be able to locate what I need when the project mood strikes.

The projects in Sewing Green are not only about using organic and re-used/repurposed materials, but about making re-usable items (napkins, produce bags) to replace disposables. What do you say to creatures of habit who want to be more eco-conscious but have a hard time letting go of some of these everyday conveniences?

I’m certainly not perfect in this department. I suggest choosing your battles and try incorporating one change at a time. I love using cloth napkins. Each member in our family has their own special napkin ring. Using cloth napkins makes the meal feel more special somehow. I still have paper napkins on hand for certain instances, but we as a family are weaning ourselves off of them. I think back to the time of my parents and grandparents. They didn’t have the convenience of disposables. They used everyday dishes, silverware, cloth napkins and tablecloths, etc. Afterward they washed them (by hand!) and put them away for the next use. There’s something to be said about the frugality, sensibility and even the ritual of caring for our possessions in that way. Convenience doesn’t necessarily mean better.

betz-wrapskirt

How did you get into vintage fabrics? What is your stash like? What is your favorite design era?

I’m not a huge vintage fabric junkie, but I do like to collect colorfully printed sheets and pillowcases. I love florals from the 60′s and 70′s.

What are your favorite sources for vintage fabrics? Organic fabrics?

For vintage finds, I prefer thrift stores, flea markets, and sometimes eBay. For organics, I love Harmony Art Organic Textiles. I am also currently collaborating with a few other eco-friendly designers. We are developing a line of prints on organic cotton for the quilting and home sewing market. So stay tuned!

Thanks, Betz! You can follow Betz on her blog. Keep up with the blog tour for lots more inspiration, information, and projects, and many more chances to win your very own copy of Sewing Green.

For my giveaway today, confess an un-green habit in your own household that you’d like to change. Comments will close and winners will be chosen Friday around noon central U.S. time and announced on my Twitter.

121 Comments

  1. golden star says:

    My ungreen habit: I waste water when I wash dishes. It’s so easy to cure. So, I am just starting to do the right thing. I wash a bunch and then rinse all at once rather than leave the water running while mess around.

  2. Deborah says:

    I take long, hot showers as often as I can get away with it. I know, it’s BAD, and I’m a big water use snob–but it feels so warm and soothing, and the rest of the day is so hectic! Maybe I should start using a timer??

    Loved the interview, looking forward to seeing the book!

  3. Confessions – I love it.
    What I’d like to change is how much “stuff” I buy. I don’t need it, my kids don’t need it, the landfills ultimately don’t need it.

  4. [...] over at True-Up – She is giving away a copy of the new Betz White Book “Sewing Green”.+ All you have [...]

  5. Alessia says:

    I’d like to drink less or none mineral water! Too many plastic bottles… I recycle them but it’ll be a great chance buying less!!

  6. ~Heather says:

    The evil that is our minivan! If only I could ride my bike everywhere… ~H

  7. Stephanie says:

    Mostly out of convenience, we continue to use plastic grocery bags and have a mountain of them piling up in our pantry. I want to find a way to use them without them ending up in a landfill.

  8. Alli C says:

    Beautiful book!
    I confess I use paper towels. They’re quick and easy and hard to resist!

  9. edina says:

    One of the worst things we do is throw out yogurt and ricotta cheese plastic containers. We collect them for awhile hoping to recycle them somewhere but unfortunately, our city doesn’t take them so we end up throwing them all away when they start to take up too much space. It’s so terrible!

  10. Catherine says:

    I must confess that I am great about bringing reusable bags to the grocery store but still end up putting my produce and meats in plastic bags! I need to make some of those produce bags…Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. Sherri I says:

    My family uses way to many paper towels!

  12. Melissa says:

    As the mom of a kid in (disposable) diapers, I have a lot more waste at home than I’d like. Hopefully we’ll be potty training soon!

  13. betsy says:

    I echo many of the post-ers above on the paper towels and paper napkins. Sometimes the convenience factor just takes over!

  14. Sarah C. :) says:

    This book looks SO WONDERFUL!! I can’t wait to get it and see all of the ideas inside. Thinking about projects that are reusing what I have or that will help me do a better job at going green really gets me excited!

    My shameful habits that I would like to change include consuming too many bottled drinks – even though we do recycle – and forgetting to bring a tote to the grocery store, thus having to get plastic bags.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    sarahbcrawford(at)gmail(dot)com

  15. billie says:

    ziplock bags – use way too many

  16. Lulu says:

    I guess it would be fabric. I’ve never deliberately looked for thrifted fabric, although I have been given quite a bit.

  17. Nathalie says:

    For us, certainly plastic bottles. Thank you so much!

  18. Dawn says:

    I have had a slight toilet leak for several months. It kills me every time I hear the water running.
    I do try to recycle as much as I can and I don’t waste anything if I can help it.
    I would love a copy of that book by the way!
    Thanks.

  19. Wendy says:

    An un-green habit at our house is to run the dishwasher even if it’s not full.

    I’d love to win the book.

  20. Sharon says:

    I wish I opted to walk, bike or use public transit more often

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