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.
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.