Monday, 30 March 2015

Finding and Reviewing SLS Free Products

SLS free products review Green People
Today I want to talk about something a little bit different.

I once read a book called Cradle to Cradle, it was about how we could improve our future by basically finding a way to recycle everything we use. Its a great book and has some wonderful ideas, but what struck me most was some of the facts about the chemicals and toxins that are in our environment. I've read similar books since which support their ideas and honestly it got me a little concerned at what we are exposing ourselves to.  

It's not really something we are often made aware of, not like the media treat food anyway. Everyday we seem to hear some new piece of information about a type of food that is bad for us, but we aren't being given any information about what is bad for us to put on our skin or in our hair. Probably because the majority of it isn't very good for us I would imagine!

After I read the book I looked into the ingredients in some of my own beauty products, and found that a lot of them were just plain nasty. One that stuck out in particular was Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLS).  In layman's terms its basically the ingredient used to make most products foam up, and it is used in nearly everything. Its also found in a number of industrial cleaning agents such as engine degreaser!

There have been links of use of Sodium Laureth Sulphate to Cancer, although nothing has been proved yet. But it is certainly an irritant, and will not help you at all if you have sensitive skin or eczema. It has been linked to hormone imbalance and poor eye development in children. I'd really recommend doing some research yourself into this as there is a lot of information out there on the subject, and it is definitely worth being aware.

Now I'm no expert, and I can't say for sure if there are any negative effects of using these products, but I have read a fair amount about the subject and personally, I'd definitely prefer to err on the side of caution! So I've decided to have a bit of an overhaul and try and remove as many chemicals from our house as possible.  I've started with shower products, deodorant and toothpaste since I use these everyday.  I did a little bit of research and found online that Green People were getting good reviews, so I thought I would give them a try. Their products are  made without SLS/SLES, parabens, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, phthalates, alcohol (ethyl alcohol, ethanol), colourants and artificial fragrance, and the majority of their ingredients are organic!

I've been pleasantly surprised with the result, have a look at my reviews on each product below;

Moisturising Shower Gel - This is great, there are no down sides to using this as opposed to any normal shower gel, it works just as well.

Intensive Repair Shampoo -  I knew that the shampoo would be the hardest to find a replacement for. I had tried a natural shampoo a few years ago and my hair did not like it, it all ended up in one big greasy knot! However, I think Green people may have cracked it!  Their shampoo is a little more difficult to distribute throughout the hair than a normal shampoo, and it does take a little more time, but I find that applying the shampoo to 4 sections of my head does the trick. My hair feels clean and I definitely think it is worth the little bit extra time it takes.

Conditioner - I've had no problems with the conditioner. It seems to work well!

Natural Deodorant - I'm pretty happy with this. It is perhaps not quite as effective as an antiperspirant, but still does the job.  I will probably continue to use this as an everyday product and maybe occasionally use a normal antiperspirant for special occasions!

Natural Toothpaste - Again this is totally useable, but rather more watery than a normal toothpaste, I squeezed out far too much on the first go!  This toothpaste doesn't use fluoride, which I know is bad for you to ingest, but is good for your teeth. Since I don't really know enough about fluoride and how lack of it would effect my teeth, I've decided to use this fluoride free toothpaste for my nighttime brush, and stick with my normal toothpaste in the mornings. 

One thing that I have noticed, is that the eczema that was developing on my arms has definitely cleared up a lot! It is now just dry skin, and no itching yay!

The only downside of these products really is that they are rather expensive compared to normal products. However, I definitely think it is worth it and will keep using them!

I'd love to hear if there are any natural products that you like. It does seem pretty tricky to find them! What are your opinions on SLS?

Laura xXx

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Friday, 27 March 2015

My Handmade Aztec Pattern Cami Top

Sew over it silk cami top diy
Okay, so I have now attempted my second hand made item of clothing (you can see the first one here), and it is pretty much a success!

This time I tried something a bit simpler, which was the 'Silk Cami Top' by Sew Over It (my new faves!)  

I was actually able to buy this pattern as a downloadable PDF, which was great because it meant no waiting for it to arrive!  It does mean that you have to piece together the pattern though, so you need to make sure you have some tape or glue and set aside some time to make sure you do it accurately, but it didn't take me too long, especially since it is only a small garment. I'm not sure I'd be keen to do this with a dress though, I think I'd prefer to pay the extra to buy the ready made design in that case!

What is most definitely a bonus with a printable PDF, is that if I want to make a different size top, I can print it out again, whereas, obviously with a ready made pattern once you've cut it out to a size, you can't make it bigger again very easily!
Sew over it silk cami
Once I had my pattern all I needed to do was to find a suitable fabric, so off to my local Fabric Land I went! I needed a very light material for this top, they suggested silk crepe de chine, rayon or crepe. I hunted high and low but I couldn't find a pattern I liked in the right sort of fabric. Then I spotted this sort of Aztec tribal number, and thought it would be perfect! It didn't have a label on it so I'm still not sure exactly what fabric it is, but it seemed to be the right sort of weight and feel.

It has a very bold pattern so I wanted to make sure that it was balanced well once the top was cut out. I'm glad I took the time to do this because I think it definitely made for a better top on the end. You can see the points of the triangles in the centre of the top, and had I cut it any other way it would have looked a little odd.

handmade cami top aztec pattern
I found that I had to adjust the shoulder straps and shorten them to give me a better fit. I did the same thing with the dress I made, so perhaps I have unusually small shoulders!

I'm really pleased with the way it has turned out, I'm looking forward to some nice sunny weather so that I can actually wear it without a cardigan over the top. The top can be worn tucked in or out, but I think I'm preferring tucked in at the moment, especially with high waisted trousers (which these are clearly not!)
aztec pattern silk cami top
handmade aztec cami top
Now that I have the pattern I think I will try making this top again and hopefully make a few small improvements on the fit. What do you think? Would you try a downloadable PDF sewing pattern? Have you used Sew Over It patterns before and what was your experience?

Laura xXx
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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Decorating The Lounge - An Update

hexagonal yellow shelves
Hi Guys! I'm just popping in quickly today to show you something I am very excited about!  We recently redecorated our lounge and I am just adding the finished touches now. I can't wait to show you the finished product in the next few weeks! I posted the 'before' pictures of the lounge back in November 2013, so it's taken us quite a while to get our bums in gear, but finally we are nearly there!

One of my favourite (and most extravagant) purchases, are some lovely hexagonal shelves. I bought them made to order from Etsy so that they would match our grey and yellow colour scheme, and they arrived last week! Eek! You can see one of them above but we have three all together. I can't wait to get them up on the wall!

Yesterday I had a day out with my Mum and Grandparents, and on our little shopping expedition I found the glass terrarium above for a barganous £14.99, so I had to snap it up so I could display it on the new shelves!

We're going for a kind of botanical theme to the room, and I'd love to get one of those school wall hangings, like the one below from MightyVintage, but they are rather pricey, so I'll have to keep thinking on that!
school botanical wall hanging

Have you spotted anything that might fit with my theme? I'm after an old botanical encyclopaedia as well so that I can hang some of the pages in kiko frames, so let me know if you see any of these on your travels!

So far, everything else we have bought has been from Next, H&M home, and Ikea, as well as a few things I have bought from the dump and spruced up!  Where are your 'go to' shops when choosing new furniture and decor?

Laura xXx

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Monday, 23 March 2015

DIY Felt Doughnut Collar Tutorial

DIY Pink Doughnut Collar Tutorial
The other day I bought a massive bundle of felt, and ever since I have been having crazy ideas of creations I could make with it. So here is my first crazy creation! (no doubt there will be many more to come)

Doughnuts are pretty good right? I mean, they taste good, but they also have the potential to look rather lovely too! Whilst mulling over felty ideas, the thought of a doughnut collar popped in to my mind. I envisioned a bite having been taken out of said doughnut, which would form the front of the collar. Luckily I had the perfect coloured felt to start putting my idea into action, there's nothing better than a pink doughnut, I'm sure you will agree!

I thought it would be nice to take you through a step by step tutorial, so if you like it, you can make your very own!
craft supplies
You will need;

  • 1 sheet of pink felt and 2 sheets of brown felt (A4 size). You can use one lighter and one darker brown if you prefer to give the top a baked golden brown look!
  • Embroidery threads to match the pink and darkest brown felt.
  • My doughnut template which you can download here (you will need to download this to computer first and then print it to make sure it is the correct size.
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Your choice of coloured embroidery threads (to make the hundreds and thousands) 
  • Beads (optional) 
  • A button
pin the felt
First of all print out the template, cut it out, and check that it will fit your neck. If it is too big/small, now is the time to alter it! Once you think it is a good fit, simply pin the template to each piece of felt in turn, and cut out.  So eventually you will have one pink and 2 brown doughnut shapes (as shown in the 'supplies' picture).  The pink one is going to be the icing, so you now want to cut this out in a slightly more wiggly fashion, as shown in the picture above. Leave one piece of the brown fabric aside (the lighter one if using 2 shades), as we won't need to use that for a while, it will essentially just be a backing.  

Pin the pink felt onto the darker brown felt, and then, using 2 strands of the matching pink embroidery thread, we are going to stitch it on using blanket stitch. If you haven't used this stitch before you can find a tutorial here. Try and keep it as even and near as you can. If you haven't done it before it might be best to practice on some scrap felt first.
Use blanket stitch to attach the felt
Trim the felt
Felt tends to warp a bit when working with it, so once you have finished this stage you may want to trim the edges of the felt to make sure they both match up.
selection of embroidery threads for embellishing
Now for the really fun bit, the sprinkles!  You can use whatever colours you want for this but in the end I decided I wanted to stick with just white sprinkles. Embroider these evenly but randomly across the pink felt,  making sure that the fabric is not puckering in any places as you go.
white sprinkles using embroidery thread
I found some little blue beads in my craft stash and I decided to embellish the collar with some of these as well.  I used one single blue embroidery thread to attach these. At this stage, it doesn't matter that the back of your brown felt is getting a bit messy with stitches, as this will be covered later with the lighter brown felt.
beads and embroidery threads
buttonsOnce you are happy that your doughnut is perfectly embellished with sprinkles, it is time to make a fastening.  Now you might want to try your own method of fastening, since mine was a bit trial and error, but it seems to work pretty well, I'm just not sure how durable it will be in the long run.

I started off by picking a button from my extensive button collection. It was a tough decision but in the end I went for a simple little while one.  Then I tied a knot in some thick embroidery thread, making a loop around the button. I tied it so that the button could just about squeeze though.
making the fastening for the collar
Next I stitched my loop onto the collar, underneath the pink felt, so that it would not be seen from the outside. The button will be stitched on right at the end of the process.
attaching the fastening for the collar
Now we just need to finish it up by taking our lighter piece of brown felt, and pinning it to the back, then trim the edges if needed to make sure they all line up, and again we are going to blanket stitch around the entire edge of the collar. This is slightly different than before because we are sewing 2/3 pieces of fabric together, rather than sewing one on to another, but it is the same principle. Use the brown thread on the edge with the brown felt, and the pink thread on the inside edge and at the bottom.   

Now all you need to do is sew on your button and you are done!
finished doughnut collar
Here is what it should look like when you have finished...
completed DIY Donut collar tutorial
Pink Doughnut collar tutorial including sprinkles
I am super pleased with how it turned out, what do you think?

I really enjoyed sewing this and it has given me lots of ideas for other felty embroidery projects. Have you ever made anything from felt?
DIY Felt Donut collar tutorial
felt doughnut collar tutorial diy

Laura xXx

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Friday, 20 March 2015

DIY Quote Pennant - I've Got Blings!

tutorial DIY Chappie quote pennant
Hey chaps! Today I want to try something a bit fun.  I'm currently on the hunt for pretty things to hang on the wall in my study, so I thought I'd give making my own little pennant a go.

There were so many quotes I could have used, I thought about all the usual motivational ones, but in the end I went with something that had tickled me recently and would make me smile every time I looked at it.  A couple of days before we and been to see the film Chappie, which is about a robot which develops a consciousness, but essentially he has to grow from a child. Unfortunately he is being brought up by a bunch of pretty gangsta' criminals, so he learns a lot of funny stuff. At one point they give him some chains, and he gets very excited that he's 'got blings!'  It was a very cute and funny moment, and its definitely a film worth seeing, Chris and I have both said it has been our favourite film so far this year by far.
chappie film I've got blings
Anyway, back to the DIY. It's a pretty simple one, all you will need is the following;
  • Your choice of coloured card
  • A paper straw
  • Sticky letters. (I got mine here)
  • String
  • Pencil
  • Craft knife and ruler
supplies for diy
First up we need to cut the card into the right shape.  The one I made measured 18cm by 25cm, then to cut the triangle in I drew a line on the back 8cm up form the bottom, and then marked the halfway point (9.5cm) and drew lines to join it up to the bottom two points, then I cut it out with my craft knife and ruler.
pennant outline
Next, you want to very carefully cut as straight a line as possible through one side of your straw using the craft knife. Then measure your piece of sting to about 75 cm, and thread it through the straw. This is how you will hang your pennant.
Then you can simply slide your card inside the slit you have made in the straw. It should hold it easily, but if it feels loose you may want to stick it down at the edges with some glue. Lastly you just need to arrange your sticky letters into your chosen quote and you're done!
Now it is hanging happily in pride of place on my pin board alongside lots of other film and TV related goodies!
Chappie DIY Quote Pennant Tutorial

Laura xXx

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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

My first homemade dress!

sew over it betty dress
Hi guys, I'm baaack! You might have noticed that I've been out of action for a while on the blogging front. I'd sort of run out of enthusiasm and ideas, so I decided to have a little break and give myself some time to replenish my creative brain bank! I am happy to say that I am now brimming with ideas and I can't wait to share them with you! I hope you have all been well, let me know what you have been up to!

I'm going jump right in to something I've been really excited about today, dressmaking!  During my time away I have been following The Great British Sewing Bee with eagle eyes. I love everything about it and it has really made me want to give sewing a proper try.   Back last year you may remember I spent a lovely day at The Handmade Fair  where I bought a dressmaking pattern from Sew Over It! The pattern was for a rather pretty 1950's/1960's style dress inspired by Betty Draper from Mad Men. The great thing about Sew Over It, is that as well as the little instruction booklet you receive with the pattern, you can also view a step by step guide on how to make the dress on their blog! Perfect for beginners!
betty dress pattern - sew over it
However, in the end I didn't need to refer to their blog, as I had a little bit of real life help!  A couple of weeks ago my Dad went away Skiing, so my Mum and I, and her neighbour, decided we would have our very own Great British Sewing Bee, and each make a dress in a couple of days.  It was handy to have their help, as they were both fairly experienced in dressmaking, whereas this was the first ever garment I had attempted to sew! (Aside from a project I attempted whilst at Uni, which got halfway finished and then I had to give up through complete confusion!)

Aside from the invisible zip, and sewing the shoulder straps together, this dress was actually very easy to make! It only had 6 pattern pieces which made it pretty simple to keep track of.
cutting out the betty dress pattern
I was really chuffed with how it turned out, it is actually a wearable dress, and a pretty nice one at that! There are a couple of tweaks I could make if I make the same one again, just to get it fitting perfectly, but as far as a first attempt goes, I am super pleased with it. I was worried I would struggle and that it would put me off sewing for life! But because it went so well I can't wait to get stuck in to more!  Here I am doing the 'I'm a little teapot' pose to  show off its lovely skirt.
my first homemade dress - sew over it
the betty dress
the betty dress back
It goes well with a nice belt too. It's definitely a twirly kind of dress, so I thought I'd better demonstrate!
1950's dress pattern
This project, along with my constant watching of The Great British Sewing Bee, has really got me in the mood for more sewing! I shall definitely be sewing up a storm in the near future, so watch this space!

By the way, it was a total coincidence that I bought the exact same fabric as is shown on the drawing of the dress pattern! I didn't realise until I got home!

Laura xXx

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