Are You a Conscious Consumer?

May 30, 2013 in Customer Experience, DIY, Fashion & Design, Going Green, Gratitude, Inspiration

Are you a conscious consumer photo for blog post Are You a Conscious Consumer?

by Tabassum Siddiqui, Head Designer

I had a very different blog post planned for today but when I thought about the  tragic Rana Plaza garment factory collapse near Dhaka, Bangladesh earlier this month, I wanted to say something about it.

I just think it’s insane that  more than 1,000 people—mostly women—had to lose their lives all because big fashion brands continue to cut corners  to drive down costs and churn out even more products, even if it endangers the lives and safety of their workers and our environment.

But why are fashion brands trying to get their clothing made as cheaply as possible? Is it only to have bigger profit margins or is it also because we keep demanding more stuff and really cheap stuff at that?

Are we also responsible for what happened in Bangladesh?

So I thought that this blog could either go 2 ways—I could go on this long rant  about how our blind rampant consumerist lifestyle and this “fast fashion” model have reached a cataclysmic level of destruction in the lives  and homelands of those who produce our goods and in our world at large (which I‘m sure you are aware of…I hope). Or I could share 4 ways that can help us become more compassionate when it comes to how and what we consume, how to extend the life of our clothing , and more importantly how to become the change that we desperately need in our world right now. Yeah, I thought the second option was more motivating too.

4 Ways To Become A More Conscious Consumer:

1. Buy less but of more quality.

Yes, the “less is more” phrase is back. Think about how refreshing it would be to open a closet that isn’t exploding with stuff  but rather housing only a few well-made, beautiful and loved pieces? The focus here is on buying “high quality, well-made” clothes that make you look your best. They last longer and you save more money in the long run. Also, having less stuff means less stuff to clean and keep up.

To help you get a zen-like closet, for every new item you buy, you have to give something  away.

This strategy prevents you from accumulating more stuff and when you have to think about giving up something you love in order to get something new, you’ll think twice about that next purchase.

2. Choose sustainable brands whenever possible that have organic and fairly traded products.

This is important. We can’t change this “fast fashion” model if we continue to support unethical fashion brands. When you’re out shopping and there is an ethical option available, then chose it. And if you can, actively search for sustainable companies and shop from them too. Many smaller brands are trying to do things more ethically, using textiles that are free from pesticides and other highly toxic chemicals, and making sure that if they outsource work that it is done with a cooperative where the artisans directly benefit from the venture and their local community too.

We want to increase the demand for not only ethically made goods but also ethical companies and hopefully this will set the standard for bigger fashion brands.

It is has already started. Now, some well-known fashion companies have slowly started to work with organic textiles and have gotten involved with fair trade cooperatives.

3. Stretch those creative muscles

Before running out to the mall or hopping online to find another new outfit for that event you have to go to, check your closet first or that of your sibling, or your close friends. I’m sure you have something in there that you can re-style or add different accessories to make it feel like a different outfit.

Gotta a sewing machine that’s just collecting dust? Up-cycle some of your clothes to give them a makeover and give it some personality. Since most  of our clothes probably come from the same mainstream stores, we all tend to look alike, so break out of the norm and add your own touches. Need some style inspiration? Check out this book from the sustainable fashion brand Alabama Chanin where they sew everything by hand.

If you wish you knew how to sew or fix your garments yourself, then check out some of the thousands of online tutorials on You Tube or websites like Creative Bug where you can pay for video tutorials to learn all kinds of techniques and skills.

Another cool idea is to try creating a workshop with other skilled people in your community and learn how to quilt, knit, sew, darn, and more.

You’ll not only have a lot of fun, spend the day learning something new, but also strengthen your community. Haven’t got a clue what a workshop like this could look like? Check out the website and this video about the Sew It Forward program:

Sew it Forward:

I know you’ve got a stack (or two) of clothes that is occupying valuable real estate in your closet and dare I say, some with the price tags still on them? Hold a community clothing swap or with just a group of friends and get creative with it. It’s a great way to refresh your wardrobe without spending more money and you get to hang out with your friends too. Oh, and did I mention it’s another awesome community strengthening activity ? Don’t know how to get started? Check out for more ideas and details.

4. Expand your heart.

The single biggest problem we have in our world today is a lack of love.

I was listening to an amazing interview with Marianne Williamson the other day that totally blew my mind. She’s  an international author and lecturer she explained how our lack of love in our interactions with others is what causes misery and suffering not only in our own lives but in the lives of others no matter where they are in the world.

When we act from a place of love, we wouldn’t allow people to work in slave-like conditions. When we act from a place of love, we wouldn’t create a system of consumption that creates an imbalance in our ecosystem and that forces even children into working in highly toxic cotton fields (for example, in Uzbekistan) so that we can have new cotton tops to wear every single day. We wouldn’t look at children in other parts of the world as “their” children but as “our” children. When we use this pure intelligent energy that is love, then garment companies wouldn’t use  toxic dyes to dye our clothes that would later contaminate the water and leave people without safe drinking water.

Once we shift our perceptions from out of control, fear, and scarcity-based thinking to a mindset that is positive and abundant, and shift the type of energy we use to operate in this world to one that is based on love, then a harmonious existence on our planet is possible. We can practice this right now on a personal level in the choices that we make every single day—we have to choose love.

In the comments section below, please share 1 way how you pledge to become a more conscious consumer or what are you already doing right now as a conscious consumer that can inspire others. If you liked this post, “like it” and please share it with your friends and subscribe to our blog.

Top Stain Removal Tips

April 2, 2013 in Customer Experience, DIY, Tips & Advice

Here at SHUKR, we love natural fabrics. Natural is wonderful, but it comes with a learning curve–like, learning the best ways to remove stains! After carefully selecting your ideal wardrobe of modest clothing, the pain of a ruined skirt from spilled coffee is not one we want our customers to go through.

StainRemovalChart Top Stain Removal Tips

So, here is a general list of simple rules about removing stains from your favorite clothes:

1. Fortune favors the bold! Deal with the stain immediately–the longer it stays, the harder it is to remove.

2. Always treat the stain before throwing it in the washer–not afterward.

3. Use finesse, not force. This means blotting gently, not rubbing.

4. Try to avoid synthetic stain removers as these can damage natural fabrics.

The following household items are great stain removers:

1. Vinegar/Lemon juice (good for berries, coffee, ink, mildew, mold, perfume, tomato sauce,

2. Milk (good for ink stains)

3. Rubbing alcohol (good for ink, lipstick)

4. Hydrogen Peroxide (good for blood, chocolate, herbs like tumeric, mustard)

5. Baby powder (good for cooking oil, olive oil)

6. Your freezer (you can freeze gum, crayons, and candle wax to pull it off)

7. Shampoo (good for perspiration, ring around the collar, as it is designed to remove the body’s oils)

Some quick notes on stain removal:

For crayons and candle wax, try first freezing the stain. Then while it’s still frozen, remove the residue, and pull off the wax. Next, heat an iron, cover the wax stain with an absorbent cloth, and melt the wax onto the absorbent cloth.

For oil, you need to move quickly! Cover with the stain with baby powder immediately and allow it to sit at least 30 minutes. Then brush the powder off, apply some detergent, and wash in the hottest water the fabric can tolerate.

Wonderful sources I consulted: GAIAM Life and Esquire Magazine
(believe it or not).

To Shave or Not to Shave…Your Tunic.

May 10, 2012 in Customer Experience, DIY


So, I have this particular tunic I really like and wear a lot (not SHUKR, unfortunately), and I made the terrible mistake of washing it normally when the only tag I found on it clearly states, “dry clean only.”


It pilled terribly, of course.


mjYAyYk To Shave or Not to Shave...Your Tunic.

Note: not my photo, but a pretty close representation of my catastrophe.


After gnashing my teeth for a while, and wearing it a couple of times, it started to get to me. I couldn’t take wearing a tunic that looked like it had been washed 1,000 times…in the ’80s.

In desperation, I turned to Google.

I was looking for a cheap, easy, and quick solution. Shopping around for a clothes shaver really isn’t an option when you live in Jordan. One intrepid soul on a blog suggested just shaving the thing with a Bic Twinblade razor.


disposable razor 0808 lg 82737737 To Shave or Not to Shave...Your Tunic.

Necessity is the mother of quick and dirty fixes.

Although some advice suggested not to actually “shave” your clothing with a razor (you may snag or cut the fabric), the cost-benefit analyst in me said, “if it’s a choice between potentially snagging the shirt (status quo situation of unwearability) or not wearing the shirt due to pilling, it’s worth a try.”

So, I took the gamble:


206461964137416097 WKlLJ4K3 f To Shave or Not to Shave...Your Tunic.

Photo credit: The Burlap Bag. Result: complete awesomeness.


There it is. I was stunned for almost an entire day that it actually worked, and that Armageddon had not yet come because I hadn’t used a professional electric clothes shaver.

Success…mostly. It doesn’t look like new, but it’s pretty good…wearable, anyway.

Have any of you ever tried this? What are your quick and dirty methods of clothing repair?


How to Sew a Hem

May 7, 2012 in Customer Experience, DIY


Many of our customers with a more petite stature often send us messages saying that the length of our garments are too long–be it trousers, dresses, or skirts. If the garment otherwise fits you properly, this is easily remedied!


I found a great video that shows you how to sew a hem, either by hand or machine. I haven’t tried it myself, but she makes it look really easy, even if her voice is a bit soporific. icon smile How to Sew a Hem



Let us know what you think in the comments!


D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress

June 2, 2011 in DIY, Fashion & Design





We all have tons of plain long sleeved tees to layer under those tops and dresses that don’t quite cover us as much as we would like. But then you get to a point where you accumulate too many and instead of throwing out the ones you don’t need, I’ve got a quick and eco-friendly chic solution for you. Take your long sleeve tee and upcycle it into a chic maxi dress. For this summer,  you can never have enough flowy maxi dresses! And, the longer the better to elongate your frame and to add a bit of grace to your step. So if you’ve got about 2 hours to spare, a plain tee (or embellished), some basic sewing skills, and 2 meters of fabric, you’re good to go. Being modest and chic has never been any easier. If you do try this out, post your pics on our facebook page. And as always, post your comments below!


-Tabassum Siddiqui, Head Designer


What You’ll Need:


merged D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



-1 long sleeved tee

-2 mtrs of fabric* (I chose a 100% lightweight ombré dyed cotton)

-fabric scissors

-straight pins

-sewing machine w/ matching thread

-iron and ironing board

-serger, optional


*This depends upon your height and how much fullness you want your skirt to have. To find out how much I needed, I measured myself just below my hip bone and doubled it more or less to get the width, and then measured myself from just below my hip bone to the floor (+ hem allowance!) to get the length.


Step 1:


step 11 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



-Take your fabric, fold it in half and cut it to get the front and back pieces of skirt.

-Sew 2 loose running stitches close to the top edge. I’m using a ½” (1 cm) seam allowance so my running stitches will be on the seam allowance and not on the sewing line or they will show on the right side of the dress when completely sewn.


Step 2:


Step 2 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress


-On each side of the fabric, you’ll have 4 strands. Tug on the top 2, and gently pull on them so that the fabric begins to gather. Work on both sides of the fabric to get the desired result.


Step 3:


Step 3 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



-I’ve gathered the fabric and pinned it to the dressform. You can arrange the distribution of gathers here before knotting the ends off. Make sure the gathers are evenly distributed.



Step 4:


step 4 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



-When you like your results, knot the ends so that the gathering doesn’t loosen up while you sew up the side seams.



Step 5:


step 5 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



-Since I don’t have a serger at home, I did a French seam to finish off the seams nicely on the inside.

-To do a French seam, you’ll need to sew your side seams at approx. ½” (1 cm) and on the right side of the fabric. This may sound weird if you don’t know about French seams, but later you’ll be turning the fabric right side in and sewing the side seams again to neatly incapsulate the seam allowance.



Step 6:


step 6 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



-Now cut your seam allowance in half. Be careful not to cut the rest of the skirt! The pic is magnified, but after cutting your seam allowance it should be just a thin strip (1/4” or 5 mm.).


Step 7:


step 7 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



-Press the seams, pushing the seam allowance to one side.



Step 8:


step 8 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



-Press the seams closed. Pressing the seams this way is a trick to make it easier to do a good French seam.



Step 9:


step 9 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



-Turn your skirt right side in, pinch the side seams and sew right next to the seam allowance making sure the seam allowance is inside the stitch.

-When you turn the skirt right side out, it should look like the pic above with no seam allowance on the outside showing and on the inside a clean finish with the seam allowance encapsulated.

-Press seams. (The picture above is before pressing it again.)



Step 10:


step 10 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



-Pin the bottom of tee to the top edge of the skirt. Be careful not to loosen up the gathers.

-Distribute the fabric evenly around.



Step 11:


step 111 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



-Stitch close to the last running stitch removing pins as you go around.

-When that’s done, press the seam allowance to the side of the skirt.

-Add your hem. I did a baby hem (no more than 5 mm.). You can also do a larger hem. But on this type of dress a blinstitched hem or baby hem looks best.

-Press the entire dress and style your look.



Look #1:


Look 1 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



*Polished: Adding a blazer (this one has gathered sleeves), some statement jewelry, and wedges or flats gives you a polished look. If you haven’t stocked up on short blazers yet, I would because they are great to layer over maxi looks.



Look #2:


Look 2 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



*A Pop of Color: a chic casual look teaming a mustard yellow cardigan, subtle jewelery, and a wide belt. This would go great with some strappy flats or wedge espadrilles.



Look #3:


Look 3 D.I.Y. Project: Turn Your Long Sleeve Tee into a Maxi Dress



*Go Long and Lean: To even further elongate this maxi look, team this dress with one of my favorite pieces–our Jersey Shawl Cardigan.