Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Zero waste dress and handmade buttons

Hello, hello. I am really looking forward to sharing this blog post. Last week was brilliant on Instagram and totally buzzing with conversation about sustainable fashion, what we can do to improve our own personal practice and a general increase in awareness of humanitarian and environmental issues to do with the fashion industry (search #fashrev #makersforfashrev). It was a great week and really got the creative juices flowing. I was participating in a week long daily photo challenge organised by the lovely Emily of 'In the folds' and I wasn't really expecting to get as much out of it as I did, but it really helped me to re-evaluate how I work and address how I want to work going forward. My attention also returned back to the issue of zero waste fashion. It's something that has been on my mind, but it requires a lot of thought and consideration and I manage to make myself too busy all the time to really get into it!

 I opened up the discussion on Instagram a month or so ago and was directed to the book 'Zero waste fashion design'. I subsequently bought it, had a good look through and then put it on the shelf. I knew I needed to step back from it to really get a sense of where I wanted to go with it and how I can execute an idea successfully.

It seemed easier to think of making a dress just to explore the concept a bit and I knew that I was going to use a sizeable length of fabric from my stash (I used 2.5 metres of a 110cm wide fabric). I then needed to plan all the seam and edge finishes before I started cutting, plus a garment style and also how I wanted to use the fabric.

In the book mentioned above there are all sorts of examples of garments with the cutting plans. Some garments are made from lots of smallish bits creatively cut, but for my first go I wanted to use the whole piece of fabric as is and cut into it/manipulate it.

My process was to start with the neck and shoulders and work my way down. I haven't taken step by step photos of this garment, but as I was cutting the neck line I was careful to build the neckline facings into the design. The interesting folds along the sleeves and lapels are basically a result of this thinking and a really nice detail.

Another consideration was to include enough volume in the front and back by way of a pleat, which was calculated when cutting the neck opening.

Once I had worked out how I was going to cut these areas the pressure was eased somewhat when fumbling with what to do for the rest of the garment.

There was a lot of trying on and pinning once the neck and shoulders were established! Eventually I cut into the body and got pinning again and decided on pockets and sleeve shape etc...

What I have ended up with is some kind of sewing origami and I'm really pleased with how it has come together and the fact that it is wearable. One of my biggest fears was to waste the fabric on an exercise to reduce waste!

It is difficult to go into too much more detail as this is the beginning of something for me really. It is a wearable prototype I would say and now I have achieved a concept I like I can refine it to have stronger junctions at the neck and underarms and more planned seams rather than topstitched areas. Also different sleeve lengths with different fabric widths as this is not my favourite length!

 I'm excited to have new direction and I really want to explore this idea further and build upon the experience. It is a muslin, but I'm wearing it now, so I guess it must be a success! Two rather irksome scraps were left over however!!! I turned them into a lavender bag, so don't worry, they weren't wasted! ;-)

Just room for a bit more sustainable ramble???

I need to show you these buttons!

These are a result of a prompt from last weeks discussions and without thinking how it would be possible I mentioned I wanted to make buttons from shells! What? Crazy? My husband thought so, which got me more determined than ever. The shells were collected on a recent family holiday to Tenby in Wales and they are very sea worn and flat oyster shells.

A bit of sawing and gentle piercing with an awl followed by a gentle file turned them into beautiful hand made buttons. I only used two or three of the shells we collected because I didn't want to go overboard, but I have enough smaller buttons for a light garment and some larger for a jacket or something.

It was great to be doing something new and I feel I learnt whole load about the structure of a shell. The very same day a couple of other lovely sewists also posted some buttons they had recently finished, so there is definitely something in the air. One set was made from a lovely found piece f wood, whilst the others were beautifully crafted from porcelain. Maybe we are all feeling the desire to connect with the materials we are working with?

How about you? Are you questioning a lot more or wanting to try something new with your sewing/garment making?