In 2015, I am going to set myself a simple but challenging goal, and I hoping a few of you will join me.
Make one outfit out of fabric sourced and made locally, that uses no synthetic dyes, and is sustainably farmed. Other than sourcing this fabric I will buy no new fabrics in 2015.
I don’t know about you, but I find the lack of information provided by fabric retailers (online and brick and mortar) really frustrating. It is very difficult to find certified organic fabrics in Australia so most of the time you are in the dark about what you are buying.
So I did some reading. I tried to find life cycle assessments of each raw fabric type, but after reading a few papers, realised that many of them are sponsored by a manufacturer or industry association, rendering their conclusions, shall we say, difficult to interpret. I found it particularly hard to find good information relevant to Australia, and so, I was left with a load of questions:
Then, I the listened to this Fibershed podcast featuring Rebecca Burgess. I loved her approach of focusing on buying local so you can get insight into the process. Rebecca used a 150 mile radius to source her the fibre, dyes and labour for a years worth of clothing. I got wondering, could you even finding any fabrics in that meet those goals in Australia? Let alone Western Australia?
The Ground Rules
Well, over the next year I am going to find out. I aim to make an outfit (a top and bottom, or a dress, or a bikini – who knows?) out of fabric that meets the following guidelines:
– the fibre must be farmed and processed wholly in southwest Western Australia (a generous 500km radius)
– all fibres must be natural
– any dyeing must also use local non synthetic materials
– all fabric and clothing made must be of quality construction so as to ensure the life of the clothing is long, and not need excessive ironing or washing.
In addition, I will not purchase any new fabric in 2015 that doesn’t meet this aim. All other sewing will be from the stash. Don’t worry, there is plenty of stash to be sewn!
Pretty stringent requirements, but to me, using secondhand fabric is far superior in terms of sustainability so any new fabric best be worth the resources used. Along the way, I hope to answer all those lingering questions, kicking it off in the new year with some insightful interviews.
This is all an adventure, one that you are welcome to actively join in. Do you think you could find a local fibre that meets these aims? Is there a fibreshed program in your area that you could link into? Or a spinning and weaving group? Do you want to learn more about how fabric is made? Do you want to learn a new skill like natural dyeing, weaving or spinning? You can modify the goals to suit you (particularly the no new fabrics bit!) as needed as long as the intent is still there.
Or just read along as I find out whether it can be done. Just one teensy tiny outfit and a whole year to do it. Couldn’t be that hard….you in?