Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Slow Fashion October Week 3 - The How of it All

My Aviatrix Pullover: starting to look like
something vaguely resembling a sweater.
I am about to tuck into sleeve #2.
Here we are already in week 3 of this slow fashion month - which, to me, seems to be flying past us. This week we're focusing on the how of it all: in terms of skills, thrifting strategies, and wardrobe care, as well as how we carve time for the making.

I am going to start with the last of these things - the time. I make a lot. As I've stated, I enjoy it; nevertheless, I still make a lot. And because I am always in design mode, the making for myself is definitely relegated to last place. Not good, in my estimation. I will state, however, that Octobers and this month-long awareness campaign actually has made me focus and carve out time during this very month for, like, the last three years. That's a great thing, also in my estimation. Balance when estimating is a beautiful thing.


In the middle of all the making this month,
this also became a new design thing.






My wardrobe care is quite something else. I have had extenuating circumstances that has made my wardrobe care take on additional facets, in addition to the normal wear and tear mending. I really don't purchase that many pieces anymore, and now I find myself in need of several basics. For instance, I really only have two pairs of pants for winter, one of which is jeans. I need to rectify that. I also am in desperate need of foundation pieces, including cotton camis in all colors, as I wear them under everything. Because I am trying to source these pieces ethically, I really need to up my source knowledge, and because I have a lack of the aforementioned time, I find myself putting off the task. Then I place undo stress on those pieces I do have by, literally, wearing them into the ground. I have not yet found a happy balance between what I have and what I need because my wardrobe seems to be evolving right before my eyes. I just breathe deeply and take it one day, and piece, at a time.

As for my skills, I just do it. I make. I mend. I learn from the making and the mending. I did learn how to hand sew basic things (read: hems) when I was fairly young, and that knowledge has actually held me in good, albeit grudging, stead. I have a few well-worn knit and crochet technique books that fill in gaps and provide ideas on how I might approach making dilemmas. I don't thrift too much for myself - I have, however, taken to thrifting when styling designs for photography. This has actually turned into a fun activity, and then when the shoot is over, if models want the pieces I've thrifted, they are welcome to them. Everybody comes out ahead. I like that.


 

 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wardrobe Wednesday - Second Slow Fashion October Edition

Happy (late) Wednesday, everyone! In keeping with my promise last Wednesday, here's my second outfit of the month that I have actually worn, utilizing parts of my handmade wardrobe.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that both items I made in this outfit are two that definitely fall into the "well worn" and "much loved" #slowfashion description categories. The cardigan is my version of the Nichols Cardigan from Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace; the cowl design is also from the same publication, the WASPs cowl. I have worn these two particular items a lot since I've made them. In fact, the cowl is the one that hangs right inside my front door, so it's my go-to cowl in most situations, and it is starting to show it around the edges. 

I am planning on making a second version of this cowl design for my own personal use, and I may make another of the cardigan. I wore this with a pale pink cami, and I actually would like another cardi in a different color so I can mix things up. This is a perfect time to invoke Sonya Philip's influence - while I am not necessarily looking for a uniform of sorts, if you look at her wardrobe photos, you'll see that she's made the same basic patterns (her own sewing patterns), over and over and over in multiple colors and textiles. She's found what works for her, it's definitely not boring (!), and she's sticking with it. I love these two pieces, they get worn ... so why not make a few more versions for myself? 

 

 


Sunday, October 8, 2017

The What of My Slow Fashion Closet

Welcome to week 2 of Slow Fashion October. Initially, let me provide a visual update on some of the projects I am working on during this month. You will see the completed back as well as the lower portion of the front of my own Aviatrix Pullover; the bottom right shows the shrug portion of my Quimby Hooded Cover-up. I am trying to complete both by the end of this week - we will see how far I get. 

I started this post with a projects update because it is directly relevant to this week's #slotober prompt: the what - specifically, what am I doing differently than I have in the past vis-a-vis my clothing, how has slow fashion impacted my closet, and what projects or individual pieces do I feel strongly about, and why. 

Initially, because I am also a designer, slow fashion has had an impact on what I design. I have been having this very conversation with a few of my fellow designers on social media for a while now - I have become rather picky in terms of what calls I respond to. Some aspect of the call itself needs to speak to me in order for me to put together a submission. I am also being very particular with those designs I self-publish - no more designing just for the sake of it. 

However, I do want to make clear that aesthetics can be a high motivator for me. Function is important, but I view fashion and home design within an artistic framework - so if a design idea really speaks to me along aesthetic lines, it might very well get made, irrespective of whether it is the uptheenth bag in my accessories repertoire. It is, for me, always balanced by the fact that I will never make a sock, so at least I know which rabbit holes I can easily and successfully avoid.

What is animating my personal making, as well as my closet, leads me back to my opening update. When I first started making things in earnest back in mid-2009 (when I joined Ravelry), it was all shawls all the time. I look back on that introduction to making fondly. I met many fellow shawl makers (some of whom are now my fellow designers), and I learned a lot about color, fiber, and finishing. But I am mostly (although not completely) over my shawl making phase. I am slowly but inexorably going down the sweater and skirt paths. I have not yet attempted a dress, but I am certain it is on the design and making horizon. As I am making more and more of my clothing that makes my everyday wardrobe rotation, this is a natural progression. This is also an area in which I still have a fair amount of curiosity - both with designs I may devise, as well as those of other designers. Heck, I have three + decades of Vogue Knitting designs to work through, my favorites of which inhabit a Ravelry working queue that will, quite literally, outlive me. However, each of the designs in my queue speaks to me (and trust me, that queue has gone through several rounds of editing over the last few years!), so making any amount of them would satisfy me on many levels. I am working on those designs for which I have yarn already put aside. That, along with my regular designing activities, will keep me busy for quite a while.

I design for myself, and hope that what animates me is also animating other publishers and makers. I take this approach for a particular reason - I am not willing to blindly feed the consumerism monster. I absolutely do not see my design activities as merely an extension or tool of those who need to sell magazines and yarn. Of course, I've written about this extensively with regards to advertising and content on this blog. I take a public broadcasting approach to advertising, and by extension, designing ... like Ken Burns' approach to documentary film making (in a far, far bush league sort of way). One can design and make with purpose, and still be prolific, but do so based on what deeply animates. That will necessarily mean that choices are limited and edited, but in the best possible way. 

However, once the editing occurs ... then all bets are off. If I want to make 5 of the same sweater in many colors, I will do so.