Here’s what I made with my special natural-dye printed fabric as part of my one Year, one Outfit project: an every day skirt. In fact I designed the print with this skirt in mind. Keep reading for some skirt-construction details, as well as thoughts about what I figured out and where I’m going with #1year1outfit after this.
For the pattern, I copied a skirt my aunt gave me ages ago. It’s one of those items that I probably would never have picked on my own, but once it was in my wardrobe I wore it non-stop. I can’t describe it better than to say that it’s the perfect shape for biking in: wide enough for easy movement but not so wide that it flips up in the breeze.
The original skirt at the Udvar-Hazy Center during Me-Made-May ’12 (I made the pink top).
This skirt seemed appropriate for practically every activity. The large-scale, colorful print also seemed to go with everything I owned, and was part of my inspiration while thinking about how to print my fabric. Maybe needless to say, I’ve worn it so much it’s literally falling apart, and had to be retired after finishing the pattern.
Pretty much the only time I document what I’m wearing is during MMM. Here are the essential elements of the skirt from 2014, when I decided to draw my outfits. Also pictured: the beginning of this sweater.
Although I was pretty sure the pattern would make a wearable skirt on the first try, I knew there would inevitably be some little things I’d want to change. And I would have to be certifiably nuts to cut into my carefully printed fabric without trying out my new pattern first. So I made one from stash fabric, green floral linen/cotton blend I bought ages ago and turned out to be great for this.
And I did in fact have a short laundry list of things to tweak for the second version, including the length.
Judging by the amount I wore this test version before the weather got cold, I’ll wear the snot out of both these. I just have to convince myself not to treat the natural-printed one as too precious. I’m also super curious about how the dye will hold up in real life, so hopefully that will help!
This is my favorite thing to do with quilting cottons that I apparently couldn’t resist buying in the past. I quite like these two fabrics together, especially since you can occasionally see the facing when worn. This project made me consider making a lot more faced hems.
Once the pattern was tested, I was confident enough to cut out my printed fabric, but then hit a few delays, mainly in figuring out what other materials to use. My original plan was to source the fabric as sustainably and “locally” as possible per my pledge, but to worry less about where the notions came from. I’m a firm believer in one step at a time, in breaking things down so that I move towards my goals without feeling totally overwhelmed by the hugeness of what I’d like to accomplish. Still, after seeing the beautifully creative ways that Nicki crafted her totally local clothes (she made her own clay to make buttons!) I was inspired to dig a little deeper.
There seems to be just one organic sewing thread on the market, Scanfil, which is made in Holland and available lots of places online. I’d seen it around the web but hadn’t tried it. After all, Holland is not exactly local to me, and I assumed it would be more expensive. In fact, it turns out that it costs barely more per yard than the Mettler thread I normally get. And that thread is made in Germany … so I got some of the organic stuff to try. It’s silky smooth and soft. I think it breaks a little more easily, but I had no problems running it through either sewing machine. For topstitching I used it doubled (two spools) with a 3mm length, and I really like the results, kind of subtle but shiny. If you try this, I highly recommend tightening the bobbin thread the way you would for buttonholes.
I usually just use a thin, firmly-woven fabric for interfacing, and I’ve been looking for a new source since I ran out of the perfect interfacing fabric (origin: total mystery) found in my mom’s stash. I got a swatch of every fabric I thought might work from Organic Cotton Plus, whether made-in-USA or not, but ended up rejecting them all and using another bit from my stash.
While I was at it, I ordered a zipper made with organic cotton tape. The only difference I can see is that unusually, the zipper matches my fabric perfectly.
Guts. I think I’m finally getting the hang of making the inside fly guard thingy like it’s supposed to be. This lining fabric is a super soft linen, also from stash. The cute little pocket applique is due to an unfortunate moment while rotary pinking …
I should say that the skirt fabric itself is quite nice (I linked to the fabric I bought in the printing post, but as of today it doesn’t appear on the Organic Cotton Plus site, they must be out). It has a twill weave. It’s on the thinner end of what I would consider for this project, and very soft and drapey for a cotton. It was also crooked when I got it, but easy to pull straight (check out how I do that in this article I wrote for Seamwork), even after printing (phew!).
I had this skirt shape in mind I was printing, and knowing that fabric I print tends to be sparser in design than commercial fabrics, I included a section of dense motifs at the bottom of the yardage, and took full advantage of that to cut all the small pieces for the waistband, etc.
So there you go, my finished project! Since I joined the #1year1outfit challenge late, I knew I wouldn’t make a whole outfit by the end of the year, but I really wanted to see how I could integrate making more conscious choices about the new fabrics I buy with what I already do. And in that sense I succeeded! I’m wearing my skirt below with things I previously made from secondhand garments (this shirt and this camisole if you’re curious), a scarf woven by my grandma, and mended socks.
Moving forward, I’ve decided to keep going with my no-new-fabric-unless-sustainable-and-made-in-USA pledge, at least until July, which will make it a full year. Even though at some point I’d like to add in some of the wonderful artisan fabrics from around the world I found during my fabric research, I do think that being on this materials “diet” is really helpful in encouraging me to be thoughtful in my choices, and creative with what I do with them. I’ve loved being part of one Year, one Outfit, and it’s really fit in well with a lot of the other things I’ve been thinking about, and helped me move forward in directions I’d like to go in.
I have enough of this delicious wool yarn from Mountain Meadow to knit a sweater, and that is totally next on my list of sustainable/local-ish/slow fashion garments to make. It will probably be next fall before it’s done, but that’s fine with me. In the meantime I’ll continue to work from stash, and search for more local fabric options, and I will definitely keep you updated!
Brava! The colors and print of your skirt are so pleasing. Beautiful and inspiring.
Thanks Morgan! I keep reading that you can’t go wrong putting colors together if you’re using natural dyes, and it seems to be true.
So glad you managed to sneak a make in just six months. I love how you sought out organic notions to compliment your beautiful fabric. Thank you for all the support and coming on this ride.
Thanks for the great idea and all the inspiration! I’m really looking forward to seeing what everyone else came up with. The projects I’ve seen so far have been so unique and beautiful.
It’s a perfect use of the print! Thank you for sharing your resources, too. I have to admit that when I heard of this project, I was thinking of it in terms of what grows in my state. And I’m not making clothes out of chickens. Within the country sounds much more doable!
I know what you mean! On the one hand, I have nothing but admiration for those who went on great adventures in order to make clothes that truly came from their Fibershed (I think the limit is 150 miles around you or so). And doing this project has inspired me to look more for those kind of resources around me as well. At the same time, I think that’s a really intimidating prospect for a lot of people, especially if they don’t yet have any knitting/weaving/spinning skills to help them get from fiber to fabric, and I wanted to show that there are some more sustainable fabric choices out there. I know at least some people are going to do some kind of #1year1outfit project in 2016, and I definitely encourage you to make your own challenge for it if you want to.
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