Post #2062: Blogging along with #slowfashionoctober

Coming off of Wednesdays’s post on mindfulness and creativity, I feel compelled to join in with October’s blogging theme over at Fringe Association which is Slow Fashion (#slowfashionoctober). Some of you may have noticed that this blog has recently developed two strong themes which are growing from my current interests: meditation/mindfulness/zen and creativity/diy garment-making/textiles. I see these two areas of focus as linked in many ways – and as my meditation practice has developed, so has my approach to making garments and other handworked items.

The first quilt I ever made on my bed in Gibsons, BC (circa 2004).

But just to back up, for those who might be visiting through the #slowfashionoctober hashtag, a little bit about me. I am self-taught in quilting, sewing, crochet, and (most recently) knitting – though I did not start to develop these skills until I was in my early thirties owing to the fact that I was told from a young age that I did not have a natural aptitude for anything that involved scissors. While I’ve come to realize that was never the case, what was true is that I did not possess the patience for learning these skills when I was younger – it really took a spell of living on my own in a rural community to find the time and space. Somewhere around 31 I bought a sewing machine with the intention of making some basic household items, took a quilting class in which I learned how to make a potholder, and then proceeded to make a queen-sized quilt as my next project. Super-basic though that quilt was, it still is used in my household, eleven years later.

What I realized at that time is that I wasn’t going to sit down and be creative, or make things, for the sake of it – the items I was/am most interested in producing needed to be somehow useful in addition to bringing beauty or ornament into my life. I made quilts then, and pillows, stitched large tapestry cushions, and sewed up tablerunners and (lots of) potholders – but I never believed I would make garments because I felt that was beyond my skills.

About five years ago something shifted and I bought some fabric and a sewing pattern – and made my first skirt.  Following that was a dress, some more skirts, and another couple of dresses. I sewed a lot in 2011/12 – trying out different items, choosing patterns that I thought would be quick to make, and rushing to finish them.

In the summer of 2012, I also learned to crochet, and started making sweaters and accessory items for myself and my family. This past summer I added knitting to my repertoire and am currently working on three different knitted garment items (a sweater, a shawl, and a outdoor vest for my husband).

So really, I haven’t been at the garment making very long when I think about it. I have a goal of a wardrobe that is at least 75% handmade – which I am working towards, though slowly. Although I have made a number of garments, only a few of the early outfits are in my wardrobe still. A lot of them have gone to thrift because either I didn’t know how to choose a pattern that worked for me, or the item had poor fit/wrong fabric issues. On the other hand, I have several items that get weekly wear, including my roses dress (can’t find a picture at the moment), which was made with 2.5 yards of sale fabric, costing me a total of $15. Yesterday I wore a me-made skirt and a me-made sweater to work, in addition to carrying a me-made bag.

The point is that, after five years of making garments, I pretty much have something on or carried every day that was made by my own two hands – and that is pretty satisfying. In the next few weeks, I am going to write more about the whys and hows of my own process and why the movement around *slow* everything is important to me.

I don’t have any particular goals for this month except to add one or two new items to my wardrobe which I’ll write about (as I always do) – but given that I’ve also been thinking a lot about consumer waste – I am going to put some thought towards up-cycling/re-cycling a thrifted garment or the fabric from one. We’ll see if that happens, but it’s not something I’ve had a ton of success with in the past – partly because of my own impatience – but as I’ve developed a more mindful approach to making in the past year, I think it’s time to revisit this.

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