I can't believe I'm almost half way through the year of my fast-fashion fast. I imagined it would be so much harder than it has actually been. When I first conceived of the Make Thrift Mend project I gave myself permission to buy new clothing that was ethically made but half way through I'm realizing that isn't going to be necessary. I won't buy any new clothing (even sustainably made) for this entire year. Instead I'll only buy secondhand, mend my own, or make my own garments.
Trust me, this would have sounded impossible if I just thought about it as an abstract project--who doesn't buy any new clothing in an entire year, right? Well, me. I don't. Or I don't this year and it's totally okay. It's better than ok--it's awesome! It's changing how I see fabric, garment construction, and the ever-impending pressure of a fashion trend. I'm not suggesting we cast fashion to the wind--quite the opposite. I'm suggesting that by paying more attention to the fabrics, construction, and make up of my clothing I feel liberated to see beyond the trend.
So as I'm drawing all my attention to my buying habits I'm also drawing attention to my mending habits (or lack thereof) and my making habits too. I feel more inclined to mend my clothing because I have a better idea of what options are out there. And I have a better idea of the actual quality of the garment. (If it isn't worth mending then it goes into the scrap fabric pile. Hopefully that pile will be reduced in years to come.)
I'm also realizing where I need to improve my sewing skills. I can make simple dresses, tank tops, tote bags, quilts, pillowcases, and my heart has really been in making art objects from textiles. But this project is pushing me outside of my sewing comfort zone. More specifically? Well, it's winter and I can't wear tank tops and simple dresses even if I do live in the very temperature Bay Area. I need some sleeves. Long sleeves, to be exact.
Sleeves. Gasp! Yes, I'm going to tackle sleeves. And what better way to start my first sleeve project than with my dear friend Sonya Philip's new Taproot Tunic pattern in Issue 8 of Taproot magazine. That's right, a pattern. I've decided that I need to tackle a few sleeve patterns before I can improvise my own. So that's what I've been doing the past few days when I can sneak away from work deadlines or squirrel away in the studio while the little one naps. Tackling sleeves. Or wrestling sleeves might be more appropriate as I've far from tackled them yet. Not quite yet.
I love working with linen and I love wearing linen for the way it drapes. In focusing on natural materials I've been looking mostly to cotton and linen for my handmade garments. I'm leaving the wool and silk to the future dye vats for now. And, truth be told, I'm only a mediocre knitter or I might commit to knitting a sweater instead. But for now it's sleeves. And in choosing this gorgeous gray linen that meant I needed to confront the unfinished seam. I'm fine to use my pinking shears or to use a zig zag stitch when finishing a cotton seam but with linen I find that it unravels too quickly. So... enter the French Seam. (And enter the Jaws theme song, please.)
I'm determined to figure out a way to use this gorgeous Taproot Tunic and make all the seams French seams so the linen will not fray after several washes. I'm just not sure how I'm going to negotiate the bulk of the corner at the sleeve hem. (Suggestions, my friends?) So Google searches will have to be my best friends for the next few days until I figure it out. If I can't make it work I'll have to rip the stitches out and try, try again.
While I'm talking about the mid-way mark of my project, do you want to know my best Make Thrift Mend secondhand find yet? I just scored a pair of Frye boots at the local consignment shop for $24! What?!? It's true. They were marked at $85 and after I traded in some hanging-in-the-closet-not-being-worn clothing I only had to pay $24 for seemingly new black Frye boots. I almost passed out at the register I love them that much. Dear Thrift Gods, I thank you.