1.27.2014

Make Thrift Mend and Tackling Sleeves


Dear Friends, 

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.


Apologies for getting off topic there for a minute--I've been so excited about my Frye boots and just had to share the excitement. Phew. Now, back to my French seams before the little one comes home. And you can find Sonya's special tunic pattern for Taproot magazine right over here. Sonya and I are scheming and dreaming about ways we might collaborate in the future. (Hooray, Sonya!)

xoxo,
k

10 comments:

  1. Anonymous1/27/2014

    To reduce the bulk of your seam, you should grade the seam. If you google "grading" under sewing techniques you should find some instructions.

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    1. thank you! this is very helpful. thank you so much.

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  2. I just did a couple patterns with french seams, and in each of them, the hem was done with bias tape/binding, which alleviates any need to fold over the french seam. It worked really well! If there are instructions in the pattern for bias binding/tape around the neck opening, you can basically do the same on any hem, especially if it's a straight hem (and not the kind where it comes up at the side, which is a lot finickier!)

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    1. yes, i was just seeing something about using binding tape in seams. i'm going to look into this further. thank you, ariane!

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  3. you are so inspiring! i do love your ideas (i remember one post where you wrote about poems sewn into garments and such... swoon!). i have serious boot envy.. i thrift often and the boots are always two sizes too small... :( but i shall keep on looking.

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    1. oh, thank you for your kind words. the poem tags were a special collaboration with a printing friend but i've still yet to use them. i'm going to try to get them into this top. and the boots were a magical find. i felt so crazy lucky. nice to meet you!

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  4. I think a lot about your project, and I ponder it alot. I can't sew (one day, this will be omitted from my profile) I love it. I hate shopping, so I am in a way, rallying to maybe do this in a few years. I look at the things you do, and buy and make, and I think it's very cool. I think my rules would have to be a little different, but I am seriously thinking about doing this.
    I set a goal every year (not particularly as a resolution). I take something on that is a major life project, or an improvement of some sort. This year, I am working on me. (sounds so ridiculous) I have had my kids, I am out of shape and over worked, so I have decided that I DO have time to run, and be outside and go to the gym. Having said that, my clothing sizes, styles and needs will be changing, so it's not realistic to think I can take this on this year, but once I get acquainted with my old body, or maybe a new one, I would love to try this. I would be on a fashion drought, I think, but I think I can do it. I love that you are doing this! I have so many questions about it, and I am looking forward to more months of your journey.

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    1. oh, beth. it's so wonderful to know that my project has you considering how you might tackle your own fashion goals at another time. regardless of our sewing skills i think we can really make big changes with our wardrobes. maybe over a lifetime. maybe over a year. but i'm just really really honored to know this is in your thinking. thank you for the good cheers. xoxo.

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  5. I pretty much only sew clothes with French seams. I made a couple of dresses using Sonya's pattern, and I sewed both with French seams (and I used the invisible hem foot). I skip sewing over the seams with my machine, and just sew those by hand. It's worked really well, though it takes a little bit of extra time.

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    1. i'll have to study your technique. i'm definitely willing to take the slow route but i can't seem to get the armpits to pivot the way i need after the french seam. i will try, try again. i think i'll wear this top quite a bit so the time is worth it. thank you! xo

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Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.