Monday, 2 October 2017

Slow fashion October

I have just come to the end of one Instagram challenge and have fallen straight into another. Last month I participated in House of Pinheiro's #sewphotohop which I usually take part in because it's light hearted and fun and this month I plan to dip in and out of slow fashion October, the brain child of Karen Templer. I enjoy this challenge and the discussions that arise from it. I am always considering how I can be more mindful in how I live and create and consume, but it's great sometimes to just air some of those views and opinions and get some feedback on how others feel and whether or not I can adjust my thinking to further my understanding of the topic.

I have taken to wearing a sort of uniform lately. Not a uniform in the sense of a boiler suit or a plain top and jeans, but a uniform of shapes or silhouettes I like to wear that is unintentionally formed of a limited colour palette. I tend to always stick with denim blues, orange, red, yellow, khaki green and anything with navy and white stripes or polka dots. There are other things in the mix, but I would say that this is fairly representative of what you would find inside my wardrobe.

I am kind of losing my train of thought a bit, but I guess what I'm getting to is that I have a well defined sense of style at this point and am able to easily identify if there is something lacking within the selection of garments I already have. This differs from past me as I used to like to have a lot of choice. Getting dressed for work or a night out was a fun experience and I never knew what I would be in the mood for. To accommodate this way of dressing I used to have shoes, bags, jewellery and clothes galore. Of course the clothes no longer fit since kids so most of that has been donated and the shoes (mostly heels) were never going to have the life they deserved as I tend not to enjoy teetering around after small people, so with an empty space I have been able to rebuild my wardrobe with what is relevant to my lifestyle now. I don't need to pack away seasonal clothes as I have room for it all to live together all year round and a lot of my things are fairly transitional anyway!

I am losing my train of thought again...

Sometimes when I hear the words "slow fashion" I think that this can be interpreted as something which has been sewn slowly or carefully. Of course it can be that, but this alone does not a successful garment make. Much more consideration is needed as to the proportions of the garment and how it will combine with everything else. Even details like topstitching or button selection can determine a garments success or failure. Our individual style is based on so many different elements and I really enjoy working my way through them all and stepping back to think about what works and what doesn't. On a whim I sewed up a back pack and a dressy dress last week to take away for the weekend. I picked patterns, fabrics, trims and finishes based on what I already know about myself and which are good quality, durable textiles. I don't mind confessing that I could have done with taking more time on both things to make them look spectacularly well finished, but they will still last as long as if I'd done that and I shall still enjoy them just as much (I shall blog these at a later date). It is slow fashion in the sense that they are timeless pieces in the context of my wardrobe space, but they did not take very long to make.

If I haven't worn something for a while, but still like whatever it is, I take the garment out and look at it to try and work out why I don't reach for it or what I can do to modify and make it more appealing. My Rose jacket that I made from a gorgeous ink denim from Merchant and Mills was screaming out to be worn. I didn't pre-wash the fabric as I didn't want to destroy the finish, but it was stiff as a board and felt too crunchy to wear. I bunged it in the wash last week and now I want to wear it all the time! It's gone lovely and soft and the colour is richer with more variation where it has worn on the edges.

Link to jacket pattern here!

Changes can be small. My aversion to wearing the jacket was very much led by my senses and how a fabric feels, which is definitely an important factor. I tend to sew mainly (not exclusively) with natural fibres as they are the ones I feel a warmth from and a happy connection to. I am trying to think about what the impact of the materials we are consuming and what we will be leaving behind, but we have so much responsibility regarding this in all areas of our lives that it certainly feels more than a tad overwhelming! To an extent I feel like rolling over and saying we are where we are and unless the whole world changes then there is no point in caring, but it does make me feel happier to be at least considering how we as a family can live better even though we are always going to leave a mark on this planet.

My fabric stash is fairly sizeable. The fact is that I have too much and there are definitely pieces I am no longer fond of. I am finding that sewing for others is a good way of working my way through it (school fundraisers and sewing for the family). I am not in a hurry to get rid, but it does bother me a little that I have pieces I don't love and I do buy fabric on top of what I already have. Funnily enough, the fabric I buy on top of what I already own tends to get used fairly rapidly as I buy for specific projects rather than in the past when I was always in a panic as if all the fabric would run out! I am finding it less of a burden than I used to, but although I have reduced the capacity of my wardrobe I am still failing dismally when it comes to my fabric. It is moving though and I can see the old and unloved pieces shifting slowly but surely.

Anyway, I am looking forward to the month ahead and listening to other peoples thoughts and figuring out ways I myself can improve my approach to life as a sewist, a designer and a consumer. Nobody's perfect, but at least we are trying to make a difference!

I have no idea if what I'm saying is at all cohesive, but ramble over. Follow the hashtag #slowfashionoctober on Instagram to follow the discussion!