Guide to Ethical Swimwear

Guide to Ethical Swimwear | thenotepassercom

It's finally starting to feel like Spring here in New York. I'm transitioning my wardrobe for warmer weather which, of course, got me thinking about swimwear. I started shopping ethically back in October, so this is the first time I've faced the already difficult challenge of finding a swimsuit plus the ethical quandary. 

The search for ethical swimwear brands is daunting. I think the fabric poses a special challenge to the process. Most conventional suits are made of synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon, which are made from petrochemicals that have significant environmental impacts. In addition, nylon manufacturing creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. 

Most of the brands I found utilize recycled or Oeko-tex certified textiles and eco-friendly dyes, offset with renewable energy, reduce waste, reduce water consumption, and/or form partnerships with non-profits. However, each brand approaches ethics in its own way. Take a look at the possibilities below and click through to learn more about the brands and styles.

Click to enlarge. Hover for details.

Ethical Approaches

Some brands use conventional materials, but try to mitigate their impact with the rest of the process. For example, the brand Cala Ossidiana uses a nylon/Lycra blend fabric from an Italian mill run on sustainable power. They recycle and reduce water consumption, participate in World Land Trust, and run their business locally in NYC. 

Other brands, like Nikki Saya, make their suits from sustainable soy, organic cotton, bamboo, and other natural fibers. Vitamin A swimwear uses EcoLux™ green fibers, a superfine matte jersey manufactured from recycled nylon fiber. Eco-swim, as well, uses recycled materials for some of their swimwear. LUZ swimsuits are made of certified organic cotton and must be treated with care. CurleeBikini Swimwear is made solely from remnant, vintage, and organic fabrics, as are those from Billy and Lola. Designer Natalie Golonka creates swimwear made from vintage fabrics she has collected during her travels around the globe.

Still others, like RubyMoon, turn their profits into micro loans which help women entrepreneurs throughout the developing world. African brand laLesso works with SOKO, an independent eco and ethical clothing production unit that supports local talent and provides employment to Kenyans. Amitiwi swimwear is made of eco-friendly fabrics screen printed by hand on Bathurst Island by Tiwi artists using traditional methods which supports aboriginal art and the development of sustainable art centers in remote Australia. As a company owned and run by women, the team at Zero + Maria Cornejo endeavors to develop collaborations with women artisans around the world.

Check out more options at:

And if none of these do it for you, you can make your own bikini from an old t-shirt or have one custom made!

On another note, I was pleased to see more diversity than I did when I researched lingerie brands. One of my favorite in the bunch, Bombshell Bay, is committed to designing for all shapes and sizes and never testing products on underweight or underage models. All brands should commit to this and make more effort in regards to body size, conformity, and ableism. 

While the ethical options for women are fairly slim, for men, the situation is downright dire. Of the few brands carrying men's options, my favorite is Riz. Riz creates colorful board shorts from 100 percent recycled and recyclable polyester, print with water-based, earth-friendly inks, and run a recycling program called "Rizcycling".  Faherty and Tyr use recycled fabrics as well. Brands Onia and Glass are both manufactured in NYC.

As you can see, there are many ways to address the ethical issues of materials, production, employment, and profit. This makes it difficult to determine the best ethical options even among what are considered ethical brands! I'm providing some direction here, but everyone has different priorities and you all have to decide for yourselves what's most important to you. 


Get the watercolor brushes I used for the title free on WEGRAPHICS.


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Guest Post: Rubber Stamp Making 201 with Tortoise & Lady Grey

Today's post is by Summer Edwards of the sustainable fashion blog, tortoise & lady grey. From her home in Australia, Summer works tirelessly to promote ethical and sustainable wardrobe choices and a slow fashion lifestyle. Her efforts have helped her to accumulate knowledge from designers and brands, which she freely shares on tortoise & lady grey, along with reviews, slow fashion skills, textile craft tutorials, and organic beauty products. If you like The Note Passer, you'll love tortoise & lady grey.

In Rubber Stamp Making 101, Summer showed us the simplest way to start stamping. In 201, she will show us how to design and cut our own stamps.

Guest Post: Rubber Stamp Making 201 with Tortoise & Lady Grey | thenotepasser.com

Cutting your own rubber stamp designs

Once you've given the absolute beginner techniques a go, you can try your hand at cutting your own designs into erasers. To begin making your own personalised stamps, you will need:

  • A number of erasers - these can be rectangular, square or any other shape you might like to work with, as long as the face is flat (some erasers will have the brand name in raised letters on the face of the eraser - make sure you don’t select this type).
  • A set of lino cutting tools. A basic set of 6 cutting tools should give you enough versatility to cut a variety of shapes/designs.
  • A pencil for drawing your designs on the eraser
  • A cutting board or mat to protect your work surface

Instructions

  • To begin, you will need to draw your design on the surface of your eraser. Keep in mind the the more detailed the design, the more difficult it will be to carve. It is best to start with simple shapes and straight lines- these are easiest to carve. Below I've drawn a stripe design and a simple design of three rectangles onto my erasers. 
Guest Post: Rubber Stamp Making 201 with tortoise & lady grey | thenotepasser.com

Designs such as these are much easier to work with as a beginner while you get the hang of using the carving tools. 

Guest Post: Rubber Stamp Making 201 with tortoise & lady grey | thenotepasser.com
  • With the cutting board on your work surface, place the eraser on the cutting board, and use the cutting tools to cut away the excess rubber from around your design (this is the negative space of the design). You will need to experiment a little to choose which blade shape works best for the different edges of your design. Take it slowly and try a few different tools until you have the one that feels best to cut the rubber from around your design.
  • Take care to only cut about ¼ inch deep or less; if you cut any deeper, you risk cutting your eraser in two. Make sure that you keep a few extra erasers on hand so that if this does happen you can just start again. Practice makes perfect!
Guest Post: Rubber Stamp Making 201 with tortoise & lady grey | thenotepasser.com

Whether you wish to print on textiles or on paper with the stamps you've carved, I recommend using a foam roller rather than a paint brush to spread the paint onto your stamp. This provides more even coverage when working with carved stamps. 

Technique for Printing on Fabric

The stamps you've created can easily be used on paper with acrylic paint. For this you will just need paint, paper, and a foam roller. If you want to use them on fabric you'll need an extra step to ensure the design is set properly and colourfast. For printing on fabric you will need:

  • A t-shirt/tea-towel/pillowcase or any other piece of fabric you might like to print on (choose organic if available)
  • Textile printing ink in the colours that you wish to work with
  • A foam roller for spreading the ink 
  • An old plate or large paint palate for inking up the roller
  • A piece of cardboard (an old ceral box will do) or a cutting board to place under the fabric and stop ink from coming through the fabric onto your table or the reverse side of the t-shirt or pillowcase
  • An iron & ironing board

When choosing your printing ink, look for solvent-free ink, which will ensure that no harmful chemicals will be used in your project. You will also have two options for printing ink: opaque or transparent. Opaque ink will sit on top of the fabric, whereas transparent ink will colour the fabric, but not sit on top of the fabric surface. I personally prefer to work with transparent ink as I think opaque ink can appear quite amateur. But that is a personal preference, and you may feel that you prefer opaque. It just depends upon your personal preference for the project. 

Instructions

  • To begin with, you will want your fabric surface to be flat, so you might need to lightly iron the fabric to remove any creases or folds.
  • Before printing, place a cutting board or piece of cardboard under the fabric. If working with a t-shirt or pillowcase, the board should be placed in between the two layers, so that no ink soaks through to the bottom layer of the item.
  • Place some ink on the plate/palate and roll the foam roller over the ink until there is a good coating on the roller.
  • Use the roller to ink up your rubber stamp and carefully print your stamp onto your fabric.
  • Repeat the last step. Make sure you ink up your rubber stamp each time you wish to print on the fabric. If you are unhappy with the coverage of one print, you can carefully go over it with the newly inked stamp, or you can try to touch it up with a paint brush. As you work, you will work out the optimal pressure to give a good coverage the first time, but this might take you a couple of times to perfect. 

Here's a t-shirt I printed with one of the designs:

Guest Post: Rubber Stamp Making 201 with tortoise & lady grey | thenotepasser.com
  • Once you have completed your printed design, you will need to leave your work to dry completely. This will take several hours. Make sure that you leave the board in place whilst the fabric print is drying.
  • When it is completely dry, you will need to iron your print to set the ink. Follow the instructions for your particular ink for the time and temperature required to set the ink with your iron.
  • Once set with the iron, you will be able to wash the fabric in the washing machine as you normally would for the type of fabric you've printed on. 

If you’d like a more detailed look a printing on fabric, check out my tutorial for simple printing on a t-shirt. 

I hope you've enjoyed my introduction to printing techniques and it gives you the inspiration to give printing a go for yourself. It is a simple technique that anyone can master and once you get started you'll be encouraged by how many creative personalised items you can create for your own home and wardrobe or to gift to others.

This post is one of a three-part collaboration between tortoise & lady grey and The Note Passer. In part 2, I will teach readers how to make a more detailed stamp design as an intermediate tutorial. This will be published on tortoise & lady grey on May 12th. Part 3 will continue the printing subject with creative project by The Note Passer, to be published here in June. Keep an eye out for them both, and happy printing!

 

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Guest Post: Rubber Stamp Making 101 with Tortoise & Lady Grey

Today's post is by Summer Edwards of the sustainable fashion blog, tortoise & lady grey. From her home in Australia, Summer works tirelessly to promote ethical and sustainable wardrobe choices and a slow fashion lifestyle. Her efforts have helped her to accumulate knowledge from designers and brands, which she freely shares on tortoise & lady grey, along with reviews, slow fashion skills, textile craft tutorials, and organic beauty products. If you like The Note Passer, you'll love tortoise & lady grey.

Guest Post: Rubber Stamp Making 101 with Tortoise & Lady Grey | thenotepasser.com

Welcome to Rubber Stamp Making 101, a tutorial that introduces you to this basic technique for printing on paper and fabric. Rubber stamping is a simple and versatile technique that can be used to personalise gift paper, cards, clothing, linen and more. 

I first became interested in rubber stamp making as an easy way for me to personalise my wardrobe and the gifts that I give to friends and family. I try to strictly buy sustainably and ethically produced products, but I found that sometimes these can lack a bit of personality. It is easy to find organic cotton tops, but they are usually so plain - not a polka dot or stripe in sight! And it's easy to find recycled brown paper for wrapping, but it's always just brown paper - not cute animal prints or florals. So rather than abandon my ethics, I decided to take design matters into my own hands. 

Techniques for Absolute Beginners

If you're an absolute beginner, and a little nervous about the idea of cutting stamps or creating your own designs, the stationery store is a great resource to find interesting shapes to try stamping. There are range of erasers designed for children that come in a variety of shapes and are ideal for stamping. 

Guest Post: Rubber Stamp Making 101 with Tortoise & Lady Grey | thenotepasser.com

My recent trip to the stationery store uncovered erasers in the shape of basketballs (perfect for polka dot designs), footballs (another interesting shape), flowers (for a simple floral design), and alphabet letters (for creating typography). And let us not forget pencils with the small round eraser at the end; these are perfect for creating tiny polka dot designs. 

Guest Post: Rubber Stamp Making 101 with Tortoise & Lady Grey | thenotepasser.com

In this photo, I’ve created a simple wrapping paper pattern using circle and flower-shaped erasers to print on recycled paper. This project uses only acrylic paint and a paintbrush to spread the paint onto the eraser for printing. 

In the photo below, I've used watercolour paint and watercolour card. I created a confetti-inspired design by dipping the small eraser on the end of the pencil into watercolours and stamping onto the card. 

Guest Post: Rubber Stamp Making 101 with Tortoise & Lady Grey | thenotepasser.com

To try these simple techniques for yourself, all you need are some interesting erasers, some paint, some paper, and a paintbrush. Try acrylic paint and simple brown paper for wrapping paper, or watercolour on thick watercolour card for cards and gift tags.

IN THE NEXT POST: Summer will share how to make your own rubber stamps! 

You can check out more from Summer on tortoise & lady grey. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

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