Joining in with Karen Templer of Fringe Association for Slow Fashion October.
I remember my first hand made outfit vividly. My mother and grandmother had done some sewing with me before, but this was different. My parents were away for the weekend, and with my three younger siblings in tow (amazingly) my grandmother brought me to the fabric store. She helped me pick out a pattern, fabric and notions. We spent the weekend sewing my baby blue pants (with zipper!) and coordinating faux-tie-die tank top (with darts!) After that I was hooked. I think I was around 14. I spent days and nights at my mother's sewing machine in the hallway/living room sewing clothes whenever I had free time. I especially (fondly) remember the yellow terry cloth running shorts with white piping that were total favorites. (Hey, who says impossible? They were awesome and totally trend-bucking.)
For my sixteenth birthday my grandmother bought me my first and very own sewing machine. After that I would stay up all night in my basement bedroom sewing clothes for the next school day, or for some special event. I made all my own prom dresses, getting a little zanier and experimental with each one, using commercial patterns as starting points for my own ideas. Later I made my wedding dress too - gold with a red sash (pictured above, sewn from this pattern). Stubbornly unique. And though my grandmother swore she wouldn't help me with it unless I wore white, she did. Perhaps a blessing and curse both, as my grandmother, a professionally trained seamstress, would never let me cut any corners. I always had to take the long, ahem, RIGHT way to the finished garment.
I seriously thought about fashion school for a while, and ended up at art school instead. I'm so glad I did. If I had entered a fashion program, I think I'd be in another world of fashion than the one I'm in now, one which I arrived at in a natural (albeit slow) way. I spent my time in the Mass Art fibers department and my nights knitting away. I used to read Interweave Knits wondering, who wrote these patterns? How did they get into the pages of this magazine? And after leaving two jobs to stay home with my kids, here I am, designing hand knitwear. And I couldn't be enjoying it more.
Any slow fashion intentions that existed before came from both refusing to spend tons of money on something I could make myself, and refusing to give my money to huge evil corporations with unethical practices. (As well as a total lack of money altogether.) It's created an alway-thrifty attitude: buying clothes second hand, but spending money on good wool yarn. Recycling old wool and cashmere sweaters (bought for $5 at the Goodwill) into warm wool pants for my babies and sewing each of us clothes when I find some time. The recent chatter on social media about Slow Fashion has me thinking about this in a much more conscious and intentional way. It's wonderful to find like minded folk who value hand made, and are willing to put in time - bucking our fast-paced, throw-away culture.
While I'd love to set myself some goals of making some clothes for myself this month (as I dreadfully need some, two pregnancies and a whole different body later), I know that it isn't realistic. With a big (knitting) deadline project on the horizon and a one and three year old in tow, making things for myself is low on the list of possibilities. Nonetheless, I have a stack of fabric that's been sitting on my sewing table all summer, with patterns already in mind. If I got to even one, I'd be thrilled. Tracking down a few secondhand fall/winter garments is a definite need as well, as today's chilly weather reminded me.
Welcome to Slow Fashion October Folks, it's going to be fun.
P.S. The photo on top right, taken of me on my wedding day, was taken by my friend Marc Dimov, a very talented photographer, whose work you can see HERE.