I have been wanting to sit down and write this post for a while. And then after that, I want to do the things I’ve written.
For the last year, I’ve been circling around a group of ideas and trying to figure out how to make them my own.
This is what I have been thinking about.
Otto von Busch–
Otto is an academic whose work focuses on empowering people through the democratization of fashion. According to his website, >self_passage<
“is a brand of research project that explores how fashion can be used for empowerment, self-development and personal growth instead of being a phenomenon of top-down decrees and collective anxiety. The self_passage projects try to bend the power of fashion to achieve a positive personal and social condition with which the Everyperson is free to grow to his/her full potential by means of engaged fashion practices.”
At last year’s, Surface Design Conference he was one of the keynote speakers. His talk was funny and thought provoking.
Sonja, with little sewing experience, decided to embark on a year of making 100 dresses. Here is the description of the project from her website,
“100 Acts of Sewing explores making versus manufacturing. This personal challenge to sew one hundred dresses in a year, also aims to reacquaint people with the skills required to make clothing. Knowing how to sew creates an appreciation for workmanship, provides an essential link to crafting tradition, and acts as a means to reclaim personal style. Most importantly, this knowledge makes us more discerning and conscientious consumers.” As each dress is made, a photo is uploaded to the project’s website.
Indie Sewing Patterns–
In response to the mass produced pattern industry many clothing designers have launched new pattern companies. I knew these patterns were out there, but I didn’t, until about two weeks ago, really understand what they were about. Instead of being cheap and generic, these patterns are beautiful made with wonderfully detailed instructions. You learn as you make. Many of these patterns are designed with the goal of the maker having some ownership in the design–they can be varied both for personal style and seasons. I love this idea, and it has made me a bit bonkers.
According to Wikipedia, “Fast Fashion clothing collections are based on the most recent fashion trends presented at Fashion Week in both the spring and autumn of every year. These trends are designed and manufactured quickly and cheaply to allow the mainstream consumer to take advantage of current clothing styles at a lower price.”
This is the opposite of Fast Fashion also know as McFashion. It is about sustainable home grown clothing.
Last fall, I decided I wanted to create a sweater line called ArctiCouture. I wanted to up-cycle old wool sweaters that I had felted in my washing machine into new beautiful garments that were suitable for wearing in our sub-arctic climate. My hope was to make and sell these sweaters locally.
There are other tangental ideas too, but the sum of these parts is that I’ve been thinking about how making your own clothes out of primarily up-cycled materials is a really good thing to do on a lot of levels.
And from this discussion (all carried on inside of my head) I have come to know several things–
- I need to improve my skill set when it comes to crafting garments. I am a good seamstress, but there are many, many things I do not know. At first, I thought I could just wing it, but I now know that’s not me. I prefer to deeply engage with the craft–to become an expert before I go about breaking all the rules. This is the slower path, but it is the right one for me.
- I want to learn how to draft patterns. Learning this will also be a slow process. I may never get there. I am okay with that.
- I want to make as many of my own clothes as possible. That’s what I want to do. It just seems to me that our bodies are our original canvases.
So that is what’s next for me.
And it starts with this pattern.
What’s next for you?
Have you heard of Andrea Zittel? I think she’s cool. http://www.zittel.org/works_vertical.php?a_id=48
What’s next for me is to hunker down and create a solid body of artwork.
I need to rewrite the post and add her! We watched an Art 21 documentary about her and she is actually the real, real reason all of this started. Thank you Barb!
A hunker down sounds good. I also like to call it extreme quilting. Walt calls it a bender.
Fashion! I’ve always resented the whole industry, but you’ve challenged me to think differently. Meantime, I’m with Barb, solid body of artwork is good. “Deeply engage with the craft” sounds good too!
Sharon- I love/hate fashion, and I think that is part of what this slow fashion movement is about–taking clothing and making it personal, meaningful, real for the individual wearing it. I am looking forward to seeing your new body of work!
Oh gosh, I’ve been sewing clothes like crazy. I hadn’t made any clothing since high school and here 40 years later I’ve been sourcing merino wool from LA and make my own “Simple Wool” garments in gorgeous colors! Those Colette patterns are great, I’m making the tie front blouse out of lawn cotton. I love watching what you do!
I think it is wonderful to be able to make what you really want to wear! Maybe we need to have a show and tell session.
I just may be the original upcycler with a closet full of clothing that I have scavenged, altered, restyled to fit my strange body. Have learned from deconstructing garments and how to alter. Also discovered that most of the garments I made from scratch I was never pleased with. Too many variables. But when I obtain one already made, the hand of fabric matches the pattern and mistakes in that choice were eliminated and I could start from there. Also, the garments were comfy from washing, preshrunk etc. When I search the racks I include men’s clothing as they are made to last, usually more expensive so quality is usually better. Have fun, it will be a creative ride expanding your skills.
I’m into the repurposing too. It makes going to the thrift store a real adventure. Everything has possibility.
Just curious – Does your passion for fashion mean you’ll stop making quilts now?
Sharon- I can’t imagine ever not quilting. Sewing garments is very intriguing to me right now. I think of quilting as my vocation and garment sewing as my hobby. A lot of the reason I started showing my quilts was that I wanted to be part of the conversation about what was going on as far as art and quilts are concerned. The same thing is happening with for me with garments–I want to join in on the conversation. I am not sure where it will lead exactly, but I do know I will improve my sewing skills AND get some new clothes!
@ Carole, when I took up sewing again, I learned that I needed to know my body measurements and understand garment construction better using pattern alterations. It’s really opening up having a satisfactory end result.
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