Is it more expensive to make your own clothes?

Is it more expensive to make your own clothes?

We talk about all the many reasons there are for making our own clothing (chief among them being the joy and learning and pride), and “saving money” is rarely cited as one of them — even though historically that was the case. You might have noticed as I’ve been documenting my finished objects this year, I’ve stated the cost for each one,* which I’ve done as a form of research and so we could talk about it here in Slow Fashion October. It seems to me the general consensus is that it’s more expensive these days to make clothes than to buy them (feeding into the frequent refrain that only “privileged” people can make that choice), but that depends on about a million things. First and foremost: more expensive as compared to what? In a world where fast-fashion chains will sell you a “cashmere” sweater or tailored blazer for $19.95, we’ve lost all baselines and benchmarks, and all sense of perspective. There are, of course, costs beyond what’s on a price tag — from the human and environmental cost of fast fashion to the value of the time we put into a homemade garment. And there’s also plain old subjectivity. I used to wander into an Anthropologie once in awhile and marvel at the fact that there are apparently quite a lot of people who’ll pay $200 for a poorly made polyester dress. But if you’re accustomed to shopping at Target or Old Navy, you’ll think Imogene+Willie $195 jeans (made in LA of Japanese denim) or a $160 Lauren Winter top is “expensive,” when in reality those prices reflect the cost of quality materials and construction and workers making at least our minimum wage, etc. And then there are Designer prices, which are obviously much higher, even though quality and materials and transparency often aren’t better. So what do we compare our homemade garments to?

I honestly don’t know, in a broad sense, but what’s amazed me as I’ve tallied up my homemade clothing costs this year is how truly inexpensive it’s been, by and large. Here’s the breakdown:

$15.00 : Wool gauze pullover
30.00 : Blue striped dress
15.00 : Muumuu
7.00 : Black sleeveless top
6.00 : Striped sleeveless top
29.00 : Striped skirt
26.00 : Black sleeveless t-shirt
9.00 : Linen box top
7.50 : Striped box top
18.00 : Indigo camisole top
13.50 : Ikat camisole top
14.00 : Green camisole top
$190 — average price of $15.83 per garment

$27.50 : Black lopi raglan
140.00 : Bulky blue pullover
122.00 : Black vest
75.00 : Black cardigan
$364.50 – average price of $91.25 per sweater

For me personally, the best comparison is J.Crew, since that’s who got 90% of my clothes money in my store-bought wardrobe days. (And also: I could have bought that many garments in a couple of orders from the J.Crew clearance section back in the day. Cost aside, this represents a huge reduction in the number of garments acquired within any 10 months of my life.) Obviously, every one of those sewn garment numbers is substantially lower than even 40%-off-the-clearance-price prices at J.Crew. (Compare my cotton camisoles to this, for example.) The sweaters are a different story. Even with that $27.50 lopi sweater in the mix, the average sweater price might be higher than I would traditionally pay for a J.Crew sweater. It’s hard to say, having never tracked and averaged it, but I would guess between the mostly sale purchases and the occasional splurge, I probably spent an average of more like $65-70. Some of which I’ve worn for ages and still cherish; others of which looked like crap in no time. Regardless, I think ninety bucks is a very fair average price for a well-made, natural-fiber sweater.

So yes, between the reduced cost of these items and the fact of homemade clothes necessarily appearing in my closet at a slower rate (I can’t make things nearly as quickly as I could buy them), I am definitely spending way less money on clothes than I used to. That works out to $55 a month! (Or less, in reality — since Purl Soho gave me the yarn I used for the cardigan.) Even if you factor in the handful of store-bought items I’ve acquired during these 10 months, it’s way less than I used to spend.

I should note that the sweaters currently on my needles will have skewed that average by year’s end. One of them is lopi, so another $30-ish dollar line item. My striped Pebble sweater is probably about a $200 sweater when all is said and done (although Shibui gave me yarn). But I also made a very conscious decision to spend about $300 on my Channel Cardigan in progress, and it will be by far the most expensive garment I’ve ever owned. If I saw that sweater at J.Crew for that price (in 100% undyed baby-camel yarn) I would snatch it up in a heartbeat and consider it a worthy investment piece. But in reality, they’d be charging 2-3 times that much for it, and I wouldn’t be able to have it.

There is also the question of start-up costs to consider. For a new knitter or sewer, tools costs real money. And sewing requires space. I don’t know how to factor for that, but it does have to be said. And again what this doesn’t take into account is my time, but I wouldn’t put a price on that — those are my pleasure hours. If anything, I’d credit the learning and enjoyment I get against the cost! How much are those many hours of enjoyment worth to me? And aren’t those the same hours most Americans spend wandering malls or surfing shopping sites? I think choosing homemade over store-bought is a way of buying the time to do it, if you see what I mean.

Anyway, this is the first time I’ve stopped to add up the year’s costs like this and there’s a huge grin on my face right now. But I also want to say these numbers will go up in the future. I’ve been lucky that almost all of the sewn garments up there are in fabric I bought as remnants from local fashion companies. I feel really good about being able to both save money on the yardage and put those remnants to good use, and those aren’t the only fabrics I own that I feel good about. But during the course of this month’s discussion I’ve decided I only want to buy known-origins fabrics and I’m willing to pay for it. So beyond what’s already in my stash, I’ll be trying to stick to good traceable linens and wools, or fabric from my friend Allison’s mill or that’s been woven from the organic cotton of farmers like Sally Fox who are trying to survive. I want to support these farmers and businesses and to know the fabrics have clean origins, which means the yardage will cost me much more than I’ve spent in the past, which will put the garments back in J.Crew full-price range. That alone with keep my stash in check and my new clothes infrequent, and I’m ok with all of that.


*Except things made as gifts. That seemed gauche.


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: How much can we know about where clothes come from?

Top-Down Knitalong FO No. 1: Jess Schreibstein

Top-Down Knitalong FO No. 1: Jess Schreibstein

Hey, guess what — there’s a member of the panel for the Top-Down Knitalong who finished her sweater! Brandi is either also there or on the brink, and Jen and I are still plugging away at it, but today I am pleased to show you the finished object of the lovely Jess Schreibstein. In case there’s anyone who doesn’t know her, Jess writes the Swatch of the Month column for Fringe Association, charms Instagram as @thekitchenwitch and just launched her new website. So let’s hear about this sweater—

. . .

You’re the only panelist who will have completed the same sweater you started — yours is true to your original plan. Be honest: Feeling at all smug about that? ;)

You know, I didn’t even realize that I was the first person on the panel to finish her sweater until I wore it the first time. Then it just dawned on me – like, WOW, how did that even happen?! But all along, my primary goal was to stay dedicated to getting the sweater exactly how I wanted it, and I took it as a given that that process would take time and trial and error. But once I made it through yoke and neck shaping, the rest of the sweater came together easily, and I set myself a deadline of finishing by the Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. Which I did, but barely, in true Rhinebeck fashion. The sweater finished drying the morning I left!

You wound up admirably spending a lot of time and revision on your neck, in an effort to get it just how you wanted it. To recap, you cast on your neck stitches and worked the funnel neck in the round, and initially weren’t going to do any neck shaping. But then you decided to add short rows, which took a few tries. Can you talk about why you didn’t want to shape the neck the traditional way — I know some people were curious why you chose the route you did — and how you feel about the short rows in the end? Do you feel you solved all the problems you were trying to solve?

You’re right – instead of casting on stitches and working the neck shaping back and forth before joining in the round, per the method you describe, I worked the neck in the round and then used short rows to get the neck shaping I was after. To get a turtleneck or mock neck with the traditional method, I would have to pick up the cast-on neck stitches, which wouldn’t really be an issue except that the simple lines of knit and purl are so important to getting my particular design to look right. I wanted those lines from the neck to move seamlessly into the yoke and body, without any funky jogs or noticeable seams around the neck.

I ran into setbacks on the short rows because I really just hadn’t had to use them much before, so didn’t know about some pitfalls in particular methods that make them unattractively visible. The knit/purl rib can also be less forgiving for short rows. On the recommendation of my friend Olga Buraya-Kefelian, I used the German Short Rows method, and spaced the turns 2 stitches apart from each other to lend a gradual grade to the shaping. It definitely worked, and I’m pleased with the result!

It seems like once you got over that hump, it was smooth sailing for you. Were there any other setbacks or revisions along the way?

The biggest revision was on the sleeves. I originally intended to knit them flat, as you’ve recommended for multiple reasons, but found after working half a sleeve that the seam would look sloppy with the decreases and the K1P1 rib. Instead, I worked them in the round, working in a knit seam down the center of the sleeve with a purl stitch on either side – which were later seamed up with a basting stitch. I was worried that a basting stitch on either side of this center “knit” seam, effectively creating two seams on the inside of the sleeve, might look bulky or feel stiff, but after blocking they melted into the sleeve and they look great.

You chose YOTH’s Father in Olive for your sweater (which they generously provided, I should note — thank you, YOTH!) How do you feel about your yarn selection for this sweater — are you into the Rambouillet, happy with how it’s performing this particular job? Anything you might have done differently there?

I loved working with YOTH’s Father and am so grateful to them for providing the yarn! The color is so rich and the stitch definition is stunning. Thankfully, Veronika at YOTH reached out to me before I started knitting to let me know that she recommends alternating skeins, since there is slight color variation from skein to skein. This definitely helped blend any slight light and dark differences in the yarn.

How did you wind up treating the lower edges — the cuffs and hem? And did you include other basting stitches anywhere or knit anything flat?

The edges of the neck, sleeves and hem were all worked in a size or two smaller needle than the body of the sweater to create some subtle shaping and a snug fit on the wrists. I bound off all edges with a tubular bind off, which looks great with the rib. I also added a few rows of decreases on each side of the hem of the body for the same reason – some subtle shaping and a snug fit. No parts of the sweater were knit flat, but I added basting stitches on either side of the wide raglans and to the inside of the sleeves, as I mentioned. They added so much great structure to the sweater and look great.

This was your first time knitting a sweater top-down — and apart from the neck shaping, you mostly followed the process described in my tutorial, right? What do you feel you got out of the process, if anything, and would you do it again?

That’s right, no other major changes from your outlined process besides the neck shaping. I have to say that I learn a lot each time I knit a new sweater, but this one was different. Thanks to this process, I now have a much deeper understanding of sweater construction than when I started. But even more importantly, I was part of a larger community of knitters trying, failing, and trying again to design their own sweaters, which helped me stay positive and focused on the ultimate goal – learning how to make a killer sweater for myself! I definitely plan to use this method again, specifically for some basic cream and black cardigans I’d love to have in my closet.

Thank you, Karen, for organizing and hosting this KAL and inspiring so many of us to create our own improvised sweaters! So grateful to you.


(Where’s my blush face emoji?) Thanks so much for playing, Jess!

I’ll have the rest of the panelists’ sweaters to show you as they/we finish up! Meanwhile, there’s still action on the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 hashtag and the Improv top-down tutorial is here (or on Ravelry) for you anytime.


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: WIPs of the Week No.7

Elsewhere: Slow Fashion October edition 3

Elsewhere: Slow Fashion October edition 3

So I have some terrific links for you guys this week, but what I also would really like to do is hear from YOU! There’s been so much shared all over the web throughout Slow Fashion October — in comments on the posts here and on the @slowfashionoctober highlights at IG, on blogs all over, and of course the entirety of the #slowfashionoctober feed. What have been your favorite posts and moments and ideas so far? Please link to your favorites in the comments below!

– I’ve read this post three times it’s so good: “This is what I’ll carry with me when I wear my sweater in the wide world. Secret, humming power.” (photo above, left)

– Felicia Semple on trying to define Slow Fashion from the consumers’ point of view: “All we can do is our best; to be informed and make choices that make the most sense on any given day. We need to accept that often we will make those choices in uncertainty, but strive to take responsibility for them regardless.”

– “I want to talk about what I sometimes feel is the elephant in the room when it comes to Slow Fashion. Not the longevity of the garments but the longevity of Slow Fashion as a movement.”

– “Apparently I paid a lot for marketing

– “Every day I do just one thing before bed — press a seam, sew a block, mend. I make tiny progress and I end my day with what I love.”

– “To others it’s just a white shirt but to me it represents what can be achieved in small steps and finding focus in a chaotic season.”

– “A thing I know is that making for my favorite people is a way to take care of them.”

– “Sewing has given me a lot: a mental capacity for new skills … an appreciation of quality work … and a moral sense of responsibility for all people the world over who make clothes — because some of us do it in our homes for ourselves and some of us do it in unsafe factories for other people. Sewing taught me to care about that as more than just an idle worry.” (photo above, right)

– “Hoard your clothes, kids!!!

– “Even if you only make one garment in one year, that’s something. And even if you knit one scarf, that’s something too. No shame if you cannot make your entire wardrobe; you still have a place in slow fashion.”


Hey, if you’re in Middle Tennessee, I hope we’ll see you at Fiber in the ‘Boro tomorrow. And I hope you have a marvelous weekend no matter where you are!


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: Walking a mile in self-made shoes


New Favorites: Hoods

New Favorites: Hoods

Eventually it will cool off, right? I’m not actually complaining — don’t get me wrong — this Indian Summer suits me just fine. It looks like Fall but feels like the sort of summer weather I can get behind, and because it’s October I can get away with boots if I feel like it. But it does feel very faraway to think about needing a hat. Here’s the thing: As much as I love to knit hats, I have trouble wearing them. I’ve only ever had one that didn’t leave my hair destroyed, so once I put on a hat, there’s no taking it off. Which is why I’ve always wondered if I wouldn’t prefer a hood, which has the added benefit of protecting your neck at the same time! Norah Gaughan’s pattern from her new book (Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook, which is now out, by the way) got me mulling it again, and brought me to the others I’ve saved in the past:

TOP: Sourcebook Balaclava by Norah Gaughan is the coolest dickey in history

MIDDLE: Icicle Hood by Kari-Helene Rane has an Amelia Earhart vibe about it and I especially like it worn unbuttoned

BOTTOM: F627 Hooded Neckwarmer by Vanessa Ewing (free pattern) is a little more Hunger Games


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Every stitch of the Tov collection

Make Your Own Basics: The shawl-collar cardigan

Make Your Own Basics: The shawl-collar cardigan

In all honesty, Make Your Own Basics is my favorite series I’ve done so far on the blog. (Scroll through the whole collection here.) I have a deep and abiding love of basics, but I also increasingly find basics to be the most rewarding things to make. As proud as I am of my trophy sweaters, it makes me really happy to wear clothes so classic and hardworking that nobody would ever think to ask me if I made them. (The new black cardigan is the epitome.) My number one goal in life is to someday be wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt and have made them both.

I just wanted to say all of that at the outset of this installment because we’re in the midst of Slow Fashion October and I think it’s an important point! So with that said …

I’m of the mind that every good wardrobe requires a good shawl-collar cardigan, the coziest of garments and useful even for warm-climate people who find themselves at a beach bonfire on occasion. It’s just a thing you have to have! My love for big slouchy cable cardigans is well documented — my beloved Bellows, which I wear multiple times a week in my studio; the incomparable Channel Cardigan, which I’m currently knitting after more than two years of yarn deliberations for what I expect to be a lifelong companion; in fact, a whole raft of shawl-collar standouts from BT. But this is Basics, and so while I think you could argue that any of those would actually qualify, let’s talk about these simple stockinette gems today:

TOP: Georgetown by Hannah Fettig is equally appropriate at work or with pj’s in front of the fire

BOTTOM: Fredericton by Kiyomi Burgin, with it’s two-strand marl and contrast edge, has that classic professorial flair; leather buttons recommended!

See also the previously noted Fable and Killybegs.


PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: The sweater vest

Why I make my own clothes

Why I make my own clothes

To kick off Handmade week of Slow Fashion October — being as we’re nearing the five-year anniversary of this blog and with so many new people reading all the time — I thought it might be good to take a step back, reintroduce myself, and talk about why I make my own clothes. Or why I make as many of my own clothes as I do, and why I care where the rest of them come from. It’s a subject I’ve talked about in a lot of essays and interviews and podcasts elsewhere, and that I write about as a gradual and omnipresent matter-of-course on this blog, but I don’t know if I’ve ever tried to put it into a single blog post before. It’s really, really long but I hope you’ll find it worth your time, and I look forward to your thoughts! So here goes—

I come to this naturally — you’ll see it’s been an evolutionary process for me, but one that has everything to do with how I’ve lived my whole life, and that I trace back to my roots. My parents both grew up on the farm. My mom and her sisters made their own clothes, and she made ours when we were little. She raised me the way she was raised, passing along all of the domestic skills she had learned and used in her daily life on the farm — from hand-stitching to canning to whatever. But as I was a child of the suburbs, I didn’t use it much. Other than sewing. I was obsessed with clothes from the time I was a toddler (I still remember the day I told her that after careful consideration I had decided I no longer wanted to wear patent-leather maryjanes) and in the ’80s, we were all about tampering with our clothing. Between “Pretty in Pink” and Madonna, cutting, recombining, embellishing and otherwise personalizing one’s clothes was all the rage. I’ll spare you the tales of the pegged men’s 501s and hospital scrubs turned into Hammer pants, but I also had proper sewing skills, and wowed my 8th-grade sewing teacher by showing up with a pattern and fabric to make a popover anorak with a front placket and hood. (It was navy blue duck, well-made, as I remember it, and I wore it so proudly!)

But before that, I was a little kid in and of the ’70s — when Earth Day was invented and community recycling began with newspaper drives at the elementary schools. Watching Saturday morning television meant being treated not just to Schoolhouse Rock, but the crying Indian and “give a hoot, don’t pollute.” We were raised to be environmentalists, and that has never felt like a passing fad to me. A constant uphill battle, yes, with some eras more in tune than others, but not something anyone who believes in it ever stops believing or caring about.

There are countless ways in which this informs my life. As a print designer in my first years out of school, I would never have considered using anything other than recycled papers. At Fringe Supply Co., we almost never use paper bags — 95% of orders are packaged in muslin bags which I count on you to reuse, and you won’t find any promotional trash in there either. I’m not perfect, by any stretch — and I never mean to preach when talking about these things. I’m just offering a few small examples in an attempt to describe who I am.

Interior design is another lifelong fascination, and for a time I was editing and writing books on the subject, but I’ve never liked store-bought furniture. Every home of mine has been chiefly furnished from garage sales, flea markets and hand-me-downs (or pass-arounds between my sister and me and some of our friends), with just a little bit of Ikea thrown in here and there. I buy couches and mattresses new, and have recently bought two small pieces directly from local makers, but just about everything else comes with its own past life and stories to tell.

And yet until a few years ago, I hadn’t found a way to approach my closet with the same mindset as the rest of my life. I’ve never had the patience for thrifting — although Ann has me thinking — and my love of fashion made me gluttonous for store-bought clothes … as it does. (The very opposite of how I feel about furniture.) When I learned to knit, it made me want to sew again, and I also started following or hanging around with some extremely thoughtful makers for whom making their clothes was about more than just the clothes. I’ve written an ode to some of them here, and I am so indebted to them and the rest of this community that opened my eyes to the rewards of the effort. It’s been a slow and gradual evolution in my brain and in my closet these last five years, but at this point there’s rarely a day where I’m not wearing at least one item I made — something that seemed inconceivable to me only a couple of years ago — and I’m working on the “directly from local makers” part, as well.

It might have taken me a lot longer to get here, but for me, there’s no going back.

I make my clothes for many reasons:

1) It’s fun. I love the entire process: hunting for inspiration and/or patterns, choosing yarn or fabric, plotting out my garment … and I love the time spent doing the actual sewing or knitting. I work very long hours, usually seven days a week, and have very little free time — so that time is precious. I snatch an hour to knit before bed when I can, or a few hours to sew on a Saturday once in awhile, and it’s that time that feeds my soul — and where I feel the most like myself.

2) It fills me with pride and satisfaction. I love learning, and love being capable of things. Knitting and sewing provide endless opportunities to expand and explore new skills, and the feeling of finishing a garment and putting it on defies description. It’s an awesome experience — and one no purchased garment can ever hold a candle to.

3) I’m a control freak. I’ve spent my whole life with ideas in my head about how I want to dress, and an inability to match it with what’s available in stores. I’m also, like pretty much every human alive, not a perfect match for the standardized measurements that mass-market clothes are made to. I have broad shoulders and a small chest, a long torso and arms for my height. It was great in the ’80s when everything was giant on top anyway, but otherwise challenging. And I loathe plastics and synthetics, which are taking over the world. Literally. By making my own clothes, I have control not only over the color and fiber content of my clothes, but the fit as well. It takes time to develop the skills to modify things to one’s liking, to understand how a yarn will behave, and so on, but exploring all of that is part of the joy — and again, the payoff is beyond worth it.

4) I know who made my clothes. When I was first hoarding store-bought clothes as a teenager, they were at least made in the USA. My mother taught me to look for that on labels when I was a child, and in those days 80% or 90% of the clothes sold in the US were made here, so it wasn’t that difficult. But as the entire garment industry moved offshore in recent decades, it became nearly impossible. The best of the big brands who have overseas factories cranking out crappy clothes at earth-damaging rates of production might insist on working only with factories that abide by local labor laws, but the whole point of manufacturing in those countries is they don’t really have much in the way of labor laws. And they also can’t know if the factory is subcontracting behind their back. The fact is, when you buy a garment in a chain store, you don’t have any way of knowing where it was really made, by whom, in what kind of conditions, and how poorly they may have been paid. When I’ve made something myself, I know nobody was harmed in its making. (We’ll talk a lot more about all of this next week, as well as the challenge of knowing where your fabric and yarn come from.)

5) I value every garment. It’s not just about pride — although, again, there is that. When you’re making clothes yourself, you (learn to) take your time in deciding what to make and with what fabric or yarn, and consider how it will fit into your wardrobe and your life. You may spend hours or months in the process of making a single garment, and you don’t think of it as disposable. Each garment is a treasure and a time capsule — a record of where you were literally/physically and skill-wise as you were making it. Just like growing your own food changes your feelings about what you eat, making your own clothes changes your relationship to getting dressed.

6) I no longer have a taste for store-bought clothes. The end result of all of the above — of having a closet full of clothes that each have a story to tell — is that what I once spent so much time and money pursuing, I no longer have any interest in. Store-bought clothes feel as soulless to me as store-bought furniture always has. For that — and for the fact that I no longer ever set foot in a mall — I am so grateful.

A few years in, my closet is not 100% handmade or known-origins — maybe more like 50%. I have clothes left over from my shopping days that I will wear as long as they last, and then find ways to repurpose. There are still times at present (although rarer all the time) where I buy a garment that’s the equivalent of an Ikea piece in my house. But it’s called Slow Fashion for a reason. Nobody’s closet was built in a day, and rebuilding takes years. Fortunately, it’s a ton of fun getting there.


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Slow Fashion October edition 2

Elsewhere: Slotober edition 2

We’ve still got the weekend to talk about the Long-Worn theme for Slow Fashion October this week, which is a good thing because I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface! Hopefully everyone saw the two related posts here this week — 21st-century thrifting and My week in the Craftlands — and both have loads of great comments on them at this point, so click back and take a look at those, as well as the contributions I’ve featured on @slowfashionoctober so far this week, and my post about how to wear worn clothes without looking shabby.

More highlights from the great discussion—

– So many amazing heirlooms and hand-me-downs have been shared on the #slowfashionoctober feed throughout the week. I want to mention that the aran sweater Jess’s grandmother knitted is from a 1967 Bernat pattern book called The Bernat Book of Irish Knits and has made two separate appearances on this blog – here (top right in the bottom photo grouping) and here (no. 5). It’s always amazing how many people say “I had that book” or “I had that sweater.” I have the sense it was the Boxy of its time! And it’s fun to imagine a single pattern being such a huge hit in a pre-Ravelry world.

– I’ve been falling down on the job with the My First Sweater series, so I especially loved Dianna’s blog post about hers, in the Long-Worn context.

– “It’s amazing to put on a piece of clothing that was made decades ago, worn by a woman I love and respect so much, and passed on to me.”

– “My involvement with slow fashion is organic to the way I’m trying to live my life – in a way that reflects my values and ethics and is mindful.  It is also a way to assert individuality in an increasingly homogenized world.” (Don’t miss @proper_tension on IG — I love her style!)

– “I’m not sure how precisely I define ‘slow fashion,’ but for me a big part of it is about being thoughtful — thinking through what I need, being willing to wait for it (either because of the time it takes to make it or the time it takes to save for it), and then committing to keep it for a long time.

– “Last night I started Kate Fletcher’s new book Craft of Use, and I’m excited, amazed, emboldened, and more. …” — omg I’ve lost track of who posted this! Please raise your hand if it was you!

– “However, don’t wash your clothes unless they need it.”


– “I often hang on to quality pieces that still fit me well once I get tired of them. More often than not, I’ve found the item gets resurrected after a break in the back of the closet and becomes an oft-worn favourite all over again. … I’ve been thankful so many times that I didn’t pitch great clothes in a fit of closet purging.”

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about and would love to discuss is the question of whether SMALL matters. This was actually one of my themes last year, and I’ve said already I feel a bit repentant for having suggested — as is so often done — that a closet clean-out is an important starting point. I’ve long felt that, especially with anything that was potentially sweatshop goods, the best way to honor that sewers work is to not banish it but to put it to use. The more I think about it, and the more I know about what happens to donated clothes, the more I see the capsule concept conflated with slow fashion (there are lots of people making fast-fashion capsule wardrobes — they may overlap, but they’re not the same thing), the more I wonder about this. There’s no question that simply buying less — participating less in the fast-fashion marketplace — is a good thing. But what about our obligation to those clothes we already own? What if — IDEALISTIC RHETORICAL SCENARIO ALERT — all you buy is small-batch, locally woven, organically-grown fiber clothes made by lovely people whose small business you’re supporting with your purchase? What if — EXTREME EXAMPLE TO PROVE A POINT —  you’re stylist-designer Rachel Zoe out buying up and preserving decades of significant vintage garments and preserving them in your immense closets, thereby honoring them and keeping them from the landfill. What I’m saying is buying less is critical, absolutely, and what we buy is critical, but a smaller wardrobe isn’t automatically a more virtuous one, is it? Who was it that made the great point on IG about having more clothes to choose from meant each garment got worn less often and lasted longer. Fair point? Discuss!


– Knitting for victory (thx, Kelbournes)

– If you loved Jane Richmond’s sweater from the Cowichan Knitalong last year, it’s now a pattern!

Thanks for all the incredible input this week, everyone — have a fantastic weekend!


The images up top coincide with links above or posts I’ve regrammed this week; click through for the originals — top lefttop rightmiddle leftmiddle rightbottom leftbottom right.


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: My week in the Craftlands