Monday, October 13, 2014

Eco Wedding Venues

One of my bridesmaids is getting married next August, and has picked an eco park as her wedding venue. We're all about ethical clothing here at Ears and Whiskers, and given that Sophie is beavering away making ethical wedding dresses we thought it would be fun to take a look at some other wedding aspects that you can put an ethical spin on.

We've picked five of the most beautiful ethical and eco wedding venues we could find across the UK - first up...

1. Mount Pleasant Eco Park - Cornwall

Located near Porthtowan in Cornwall, the Mount Pleasant Eco Park offers a beautiful, unspoilt landscape. This is the venue that my bridesmaid has picked, so perhaps I'm a little bias, but doesn't it look absolutely stunning?

Cost: from £2200 for 100 guests during May-September
Location: Cornwall, England
We like: It has a beautiful amphitheatre ceremony site, a wedding tipi for the wedding night, plus a campsite for your guests. You also get use of the barn for your wedding breakfast - very rustic!

2. Fforest, Cardigan

Fforest is a 200 acre camp and farm, tucked away in West Wales, and a beautiful location for a relaxed, informal wedding. 

Cost: from £8950 for 80 guests
Location: Swansea, Wales
We like: You can have a Humanist wedding, eat some beautiful local and homegrown food and then dance the night away in a giant hat tipi. Gorgeous!

3. Pines Calyx, Margaret Bay

Hidden in plain site near the White Cliffs, Pines Calyx is a gem of a venue. If you're looking for that natural, relaxed vibe it might be a good choice for you!

Cost: from £1950 for a week day wedding during low season
Location: Dover, England
We like: Pines Calyx is a zero carbon venue, with lots of sustainable building features, organic gardens and absolutely stunning sea views.

4. Beach Weddings Bournemouth

I've always thought it was a shame that you can't get married outdoors in the UK, however Beach Weddings Bournemouth offers just that and goes one better - you can get married on the beach! Amazing!

Cost: from £8950 for 80 guests
Location: Dorset, England
We like: You can get married on the beach, under a locally made driftwood arch. Swoon.

5. The Bivouac, Ripon

Bivouac comes well equipped for a magical woodland wedding, probably the only thing missing is phone reception.. ;)

Cost: Unavailable online. Contact for more details.
Location: North Yorkshire, England
We like: Community fire pits, beautiful Yorkshire countryside and a hot tub (!) - the Bivouac seems like an idyllic place to get married.

What do you think - have you ever considered an eco wedding venue? :)



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Not Sure Where to Find Ethical Clothes? Try Etsy!

Sometimes it's hard to find ethical clothes on the high street. Some of the big chains like H&M have an eco range, but it's not always very big or well labelled, and it's easy to buy the wrong thing thinking that you picked up an organic cotton t-shirt only to find when you get it home that it's not!

If you're looking for an alternative place to pick up your ethical threads then try Etsy - there are a ton of sellers on there and it's growing all the time. I've picked five of my favourite UK sellers to give you a taste of what's available! :)

1. CollieCo

CollieCo creator Nicole says "ColieCo on Etsy is your online hub for ethical fashion made in Yorkshire! Using reclaimed fabrics and all beautifully hand made in a small studio in Leeds. We are a brand that specialises in well designed, hand crafted ethical clothing and accessories." Perfect!

We like these gorgeous Anna shorts (they come in a range of colours) and they're even vegan, which is pretty awesome :)

We also really love this gorgeous Woodland winter coat which has bunny ears. Suddenly all of our coats seem rubbish in comparison. It's the last one of its kind so snap it up, quick!

2. Charm And Laundry


Kerry from CharmAndLaundry started making underwear as an alternative to the sweatshop-made high street options. We especially love these beautiful bird print undies - functional knickers can still be cute, right?! :)

CharmAndLaundry also produces ethical swimwear - isn't this swimming costume a dream?


KOMANA is a family affair; designed and crafted by sisters Nina and Livia, who are based in Zurich and London. They say "our luxuriously soft t-shirts and leggings are made of high quality organic cotton, bamboo or equally environmental friendly Tencel fabric, all produced under ethical standards. All pieces are then handprinted and painted with water-based ink by ourselves in our London studio."

We're a big fan of functional pieces that you can create a capsule wardrobe from, and these leggings definitely seem to fit the bill!

We're also utterly in love with this body con dress - the print, the stark black and white colour scheme, the sleeves - all of it!

4. Sister Organics

Natalie is the brainchild behind Sister Organics which she describes as "Chic dresses made in beautiful organic & eco fabrics."

Her dresses are so cute - she has a few different styles available at the moment but we are crushing hard on these two, that triangle print fabric is just beautiful.

5. milliepepper

Last but not least we have milliepepper, which is "dedicated to creating an ethical and sustainable clothing range that brings together original limited edition paintings/illustrations and core eco-friendly fashion practices" which sounds pretty awesome to us! :)

milliepepper is perfect for your little ones - after all no-one said ethical fashion was just for grown ups, right? This romper suit is hand painted and utterly adorable (apparently birds are our thing this week!).

This cupcake print dress also stood out, we definitely know a few toddlers who'd be more than happy to dance around in this!

So there you have it! Five super cute Etsy shops to add to your regular shopping rotation when you're looking for ethical fashion. Do you have any other picks for us? :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ethical Designer Spotlight: Vivienne Westwood

"People should not consume without thought, buying up stuff all the time. Buy less and make it last; if you love something, wear it all the time. Find things that suit you." - Vivienne Westwood

We stumbled onto this quote recently and loved it - it fits in really well with our ethical vibe: reduce, reuse, reconsider! We thought we'd do a little spotlight on Vivienne Westwood, since our views seem to align so well! :)

Now, unless you've been living under a fashion rock, you are likely to know who Vivienne Westwood is. Previously recognisable by her shock of red hair (she's recently shaved it off) and her inimitable style, she's been working the scene for decades and most people know of her, her collections and her spunk. 

What you might not know, however, is that she's doing her best to combat climate change and to shift the view on the world of fast fashion. For Dame Westwood less is more, so in celebration of that we've picked some our favourites from her stunning bridal range (well, that plus the fact that they're just beautiful!). Not everyone will want to spend a lot of money on their wedding dress, but if you do have the budget you could definitely do worse than picking up a Vivienne Westwood gown...

Couture long ball tie dress with embroidered lace, feathers & crystals
The detailing on this dress is sutble, but we can imagine that up close it's breathtaking. We're also fans of the champagne colour - a nice detour from the traditional white or ivory.

Ready-To-Wear long ball tie dress

Vivienne Westwood also has a ready-to-wear bridal collection - we love the demure nature of this dress, with the lacy shoulder caps keeping things elegant and timeless.

If you're looking for something with more of a statement style, then this princess dress is worth considering- even with the dipped hem and layers of tulle it still manages to look elegant, not over done.

Made-To-Order long cocotte dress in printed ivory organza with sequins

We just can't resist sequins, so this made to order cocotte dress is right up our street. Can you imagine how it would sparkle under a spotlight? Heaven! :)

Ready-To-Wear long glazing dress
Lastly, this one shoulder ready-to-wear dress is understated but still with that trademark Westwood glamour. 

Aren't they beautiful? If you're still not sold on a designer dress, just remember - if Vivienne was good enough for Carrie Bradshaw... ;)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Organic Fabric Lust List

In my quest to start sewing my own clothes and textiles, I've started looking for fun and interesting fabrics that I can use. I'm under no illusion that it's worth spending a lot of money on fabric when you're a beginner, but I'm definitely planning to treat myself once I've got the basics down and I can trust myself not to mess it up!

Here are some of my favourite organic fabrics that I've found while trawling the web (because if I'm going to give up ready made clothes I might as well go the whole hog and make sure my fabric is ethical, right?! :) )

First up we have:

The Birds & The Bees

Clockwise from top left: Swallows | DeerHoneycomb | Spokes | Clouds

I've fallen hard for that glorious yellow cloud print, I'm imagining maybe some cushion covers, or a sweet little skirt? (Maybe a Tilly & The Buttons Miette skirt?). 

There are a lot of prints around at the moment featuring animals - I don't think I'm brave enough to pull off some of the more outlandish prints but I love these subtle varieties :)

Next on the lust list...

 Got The Blues

Clockwise from top left: Swimmers | Sails | Stars | Chevrons

I'm a redhead, so I know my natural colourings work well when paired with blue tones. My wardrobe is probably 60% blue tones so it's no surprise that I was drawn to these beauties. How cute is that vintage swimmers print?!

Back to Nature

Clockwise from top left: Trees | Poppies | Clouds | Dandelions | Leaves

Lastly I've found these gorgeous nature inspired fabrics. Is it weird to want a skirt with clouds on? Because I totally want a skirt with clouds on.

Organic fabrics are more expensive, but with that spend you know that the people (and animals) creating your fabric have been treated fairly - which sounds pretty good to me!

What other fabric shops (and patterns!) should I be checking out? :)



Sunday, July 27, 2014

H&M: Garment Collection Initiative

I noticed a leaflet next to the till last time I was in H&M, proudly proclaiming their Garment Collection Initiative. Intrigued, I took to the web to find out more - H&M are one of my favourite stores for basics so it's always nice to know that they're working hard to be a ethical, responsible and sustainable company!

Essentially, H&M are aiming to create a better life cycle for fabrics, by recycling and reusing clothes. They're accepting donations from the public and giving old clothes new life :)


They've put together this little video, detailing the initiative and it's aims - the most shocking statistic for me was this quote:

"Of the thousands of tonnes of textiles that people throw away every year, as much as 95% could be re-worn or recycled"

95%! That's nuts! Most of my old clothes go to the charity shops, but I must admit I've thrown away damaged or stained items in the past because I didn't think that anyone would take them.

H&M are collecting clothes of any brand, quality and condition, so don't worry if you didn't buy the clothes from H&M, you can still donate them to be reused :)

There are three ways that H&M are proposing to repurpose the unwanted garments:

  • Rewear – clothing that can be worn again will be sold as second hand clothes
  • Reuse – old clothes and textiles will be turned into other products, such as cleaning cloths
  • Recycle – everything else is turned into textile fibres, or for other uses such as insulation.

They're also planning to invest any money they make from this service into social projects, as well as research and innovation projects on how old textiles can be turned into new fibres. Good job, H&M! :)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ethical Festival Fashion

It's festival season here in the UK so I thought it'd be fun to have a look for some ethical versions of the festival essentials. Festivals can be one of the worst culprits for encouraging 'fast fashion' - you worry that things will get lost or broken so you stock up on cheap items so that if they do it's not such a big deal, right?

Maybe instead of buying lots of cheap things that you don't care about, how about buying something that you love, so you're encouraged to look after it and keep it safe? Ethical goods aren't always prohibitively expensive, despite what a lot of people thing :) You'll be minimising waste, supporting the ethical community and not becoming a slave to fast fashion - triple win! :)

So, first up - let's look at the clothes! As much as we expect the summer to be wall to wall sunshine, every year it rains (it's raining right now in fact!) so it's worth stocking up on items like a good mac and a pair of wellies, to try and keep yourself as dry as possible. I also love this 'dress in a bag' - no one wants to carry a giant rucksack around with them so something that can fit in a wrist bag sounds great to me! :)

I've also picked a bright t-shirt to help your friends spot you in a crowd, a cosy hoodie for when the nights cool down and some sunglasses in case the sun does decide to make a rare appearance ;)

Wellies - £50
Sunglasses - £22
Hoodie - £35
Leggings - £20

But of course, clothes aren't the only things you need to take with you to a festival, so lets look at the other essentials you'll need. There don't seem to be a lot of ethical tents on the market at the moment, but hopefully that will change in the coming years. A tote bag will help you carry your bits during the day, and this reusable drinks bottle helps to keep your drinks cool while not contributing to the millions of bottles that get left at festival sites every year.

I've also thrown in some eco-sunblock (sun safety first, kids!) a super cosy sleeping bag and a cute purse to keep your phone, camera and cash in :)

Sunblock - £10.95
Gin - £10.36
Camera Case - £2.40
Drinks Bottle£18.99
Sleeping Bag - £55
Tent - £160

While I was researching this post I also came across Love Your Tent, which is an initiative designed to encourage people not to leave waste at festival sites, which I think is a great idea! :)

Are you going to any festivals this year? Would you be more inclined to bring things home if you'd paid more money for them?



Monday, July 14, 2014

A Little Inspiration: Some Awesome Sewing Blogs

It's official - I've caught the sewing bug. I've bought patterns, I've got my sewing machine set up and I've been found stroking the fabrics in John Lewis on more than one occasion...

I've actually been wanting to get into sewing for a while now, but it's thanks to some rather lovely sewing blogs that I've finally taken the plunge so I thought I'd share them here in case anyone else is considering it! :) (Thanks also to my mum who has leant me her spare sewing machine. Now I really have no excuse!)

First up: Tea for Two. Jen and Elena are twins who share a love of crafting as well as a blog! :) They took part in Me Made May this year and it was fun to see what they came up with for the challenge. I'm hoping that by the time it comes around next year I might be able to participate!

Katie is one of the original crop of bloggers that I have been following for years. She recently branched out from her main blog to this dedicated sewing blog and the pieces she has created in a relatively short period of time are so inspiring! 

 Lisa is new blogger to my roll but I'm already enjoying her infectious style - check out these beautiful pink trousers! She also took part in Me Made May, I'm so impressed by all these bloggers! :)

Gertie's blog is really one of the greats. Not only does she sew fabulous dresses (like this gorgeous hot pink number or this wonderful flapper dress!) but she also has a range of her own patterns and she does guided sew-alongs for them. Yay!

Angela's blog is a relatively new one to me but I like her style and perseverance when it comes to making practice pieces (I'm so impatient that I want to dive in and make the real deal first but I know 'practice makes perfect' is a well known phrase for a reason!

You might remember Elena from the interview I did with her about her 'Seamless Pledge' back in January. Len has a 'can't jar' that she's slowly working her way through, and is currently creating a maid of honour dress. Talk about pressure! :)

And last but certainly not least, lovely Tilly! She's just released her first pattern book (which is fabulous and very yellow, I'm in love ;) ) and her blog is chock full of resources, tips and beautiful, inspiring projects. What more could you need? :)

What sewing blogs do you read? Are you getting the urge to start making some of your own clothes? :)