I collaborate on projects that tell stories of connection, origin and resilience so that we can begin to mend ourselves, our communities and the earth.
The Cloth Hugger

Welcome back to the second edition of The Cloth Hugger. A hug of eco-dressmaking tidbits.

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To Inspire..

.. Perth artisan Elizabeth Leslie hand weaves and naturally dyes all of the exquisite contemporary clothing in her shop.

.. I am excited by this zero waste dress and even more so by the fact that we might convince Marilla to do some zero waste patterns!

.. have you ever made a garment out of old ties?  I know I have! I think Mary Katronski somehow managed to make it cool again.

.. I love that an exhibition led to a whole micro-business selling felt mending kits.

.. I love watching Emily Steele’s journey into mud dyeing and weaving.

To use..

.. Great Ocean Road Mill are now selling all Australian Yarn grown and spun in Victoria.

..string harvest is a great place to source vintage threads for weaving and knitting.
To skill up..

.. Learn to mud dye with Judy Dominic in Meeniyan (I believe she’d doing other workshops around Australia too)

.. Learn to make felt shoes and a bag with Felt West next year
..Upcoming courses in Victoria in weaving, spinningfelting

 

To Read..

.. this refashioned book  is full of refashion inspiration from 46 international designers.

To advocate..

.. Fashion Revolution week starts April 24, snap a pic and show your makes. Is it nerdy that the release of all the related reports and data excites me?

.. The Global Fashion Exchange is holding clothing swap events around the globe.

 

#1year1outfit 2016 Final Outfits Perth – Australia

Welcome to my brand new website!  I now have a dedicated page to welcome newcomers to #1year1outfit, where you can see the rules, find links to participants in your area, and even sign up.

If you needed some motivation to sign up, then look no further! I proudly present the 2016 Master Makers.  First up, Perth, my home town.   These ladies are proof that although this is an individual challenge, that having a supportive team is the key to success.

Doing the challenge for the second year running meant that many of the Perth crew could focus more completely on design as opposed to finding suitable fibre.

Hand knits, weaving, and felting all featured, but the common theme was learning more about local natural dyes and incorporating colour.

Some of the informative background posts you might like to read include:

Sue from Fadanista

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Sue had two parts to her project this year both using locally farmed and produced Merino and Corriedale wool. The first being this machine knit dress featuring beautifully delicate lace circle work.  Sue over dyed the dress with avocado pits to completely melt my heart into a soft pink haze of lusciousness. aaaahhh.

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For the second half of her project, Sue took to refining the felting skills she learnt the previous year to make this fabulous jacket and bag.  As Sue points out, felt is forgiving substrate to work with allowing you to shape, meld and fix things over time.  Hop on over and read all about her projects here.

Megan from Meggipeg

Megan used local wool rovings to make her gorgeous bag and shoes.   She then added some traceable silk to the mix to nuno felt her dress.  Megan was keen to find a way to make her felt more wearable in the Perth climate, and I am pretty sure she achieved that with the addition of the silk, in her own words “every inch of it was planned and designed and made lovingly agonisingly by hand in a process that was exhilarating and difficult and immensely satisfying.”  Megan has all the details on her blog.

Kyra from Once Woven

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Kyra was a first time participant this year, but look at what she did!  Kyra wove her skirt from a local black alpaca (a friend of Zac’s from my outfit last year!) and designed her hand knit jumper to take advantage of her natural dying trials.   She used local dyes from purple carrot, peppermint tree leaves, madder, WA shiraz, avocado, and fennel leaves.    She  comments that the project has motivated her “to (even more) carefully curate the fabric I use for my clothes. I am also making a concerted effort to purchase Australian wool for my projects, where the processing of the yarn is traceable…”

See her full post here.

Carolyn from Handmade by Carolyn

Carolyn and her talented hands made the most of this challenge again this year.  Everything in this photo was made by her from local materials, right down to the shoes, bag and beanie. Carolyn used locally hand spun merino to knit herself this cuddly showcase of natural materials and dyes. She used coreopsis, sourgrass, indigo and avocado to get the pops of colour.  I’m not sure about you, but I would be wearing this constantly over winter!  She even designed the dress and beanie herself and is offering the patterns up for free.

The details are here.

Nicki from This is Moonlight

And finally, my coatigan made from West Australian alpaca Roselea.  I completed this project as part of finishing my certificate in 8 shaft hand weaving.   I learnt a lot, and as the weather gets cooler am really looking forward to wearing it on chilly days.  My full post is here.

I will be back soon with more stories from around the globe…

one Year one Outfit – More Info

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Who’s In and Interested

Firstly, thank you to all of you who shown interest in the project and especially the brave souls who have already thrown their hats in for the outfit adventure.  There has been some discussion about working in local groups, and I think this is a winning idea.

So that you can see if there are others to chat to locally, here is a rough geographical list of interested sewcialists:

Perth –  Carolyn (In), Sue (In), Megan (In) and Me

SydneyRosie (In), Susan

Melbourne Helen (In), Reduce,reuse,recycle

NSW – Raquel

New Zealand – Libby

UK – Elle (In), Steely seamstressRachel, Zoe

North America – Jess (In), Debbie, Morgan, Ericka, Rebecca, Mari, Tasha, Threadlover

GermanyUte , Jule and Silvia

HungaryCheryl

Have I missed you?  Did I get something wrong? let me know : )

Note that the local area in WA is quite large (500km round), and you may also find you need to go a little further to find fibre that meets the goal.  Everyone is free to set the local area that works for them.  I see this project as a learning process, to be frank, I have no idea if I will have anything to wear at the end of the day. I invite you all to dabble as suits your time and inclination!

How to Post

If you post an update or photos on your progress use the hashtag #1year1outfit and I will find you! I have made a Pinterest Board to link to posts and will do occasionally do round ups here.  The logo is available to grab from Flickr.

My Outfit Plan For the Year

So this is what I think my year will look like.  Until the end of April I plan on researching fibre options and visiting some farms, mills and suppliers. At the end of April, I hope to have enough information to make a decision on which fibres to use and what kind of processing they will need to be made into cloth. I then plan on using May to September to getting any spinning, weaving, knitting, felting or other cloth making shenanigans done. I am super excited about the natural dye part of this project so I am proposing a natural dye retreat in May where we all get together and share knowledge and trial different techniques on sample collected.   By October I will firm up my design and getting sewing and doing final dye batches from October.  Phew.

Perth folks, get in touch if you are keen on site visits, dye retreat or stash swapping and I will email the group with more information soon.

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I also plan on sharing interviews with some knowledgeable folks along the way fitting in with the bimonthly topics above.

How I Plan to Manage My Stash

One aspect of my project that seems to have gotten people thinking is buying no new fabric that doesn’t meet the aims of the project.  I wanted to throw a few ideas out there I am planning on using to get me through the year:

– I have planned my makes based on my stash – I love colour coding my stash and then dreaming up wardrobes to fit.  I have lovely colourful sketches for three mini wardrobes (navy, purple/grey and…you guessed it, teal) all drawn up that I will pick and choose my way through over the year.  I have managed to work in a vintage pattern pledge too, and I think this approach fits well with the wardrobe architect project too if you are following along there.

– Local Stash Swap – hold a stash swap day mid year with Perth sewing ladies : )

– Online Stash Swap – I am going to try using the hashtag #stashswap in Instagram to post fabrics I am happy to swap in exchange for a few bits and piece I need.  I have a need for knit fabric so if anyone likes the look of any of these watch out on Instagram for a #stashswap! (Yes, that is purple velvet you see..)

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– A Mend and Make Do Me Made May – This year I plan to use Me Made May to mend and remake any garments that are not working for me rather than making new things.

– And finally, if all else fails – buy secondhand – thrift/charity shops, markets, car boot sales, ebay and etsy all have treasures to be found.

So go on, reach out and invite other crafters along to site visits, stash swaps or workshops, and the road will be merry.

Any other questions give me a shout!

one Year one Outfit 2015

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The Aim

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.

Some History

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:

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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.

An Invitation

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?