The fall/winter on Fringe Association

Fall Events: Marlisle Knitalong + Slow Fashion October

I know, it’s barely even August and we’re still in the thick of #summerofbasics, but in my world it’s November already (I’m up to my eyeballs in Fringe Supply Co. holiday plans!) and Fall is not only in between there, it’s right around the corner. Official knitting season! So I wanted to take a minute to talk about the big blog events of the coming months, so you can get excited AND get planning—

—Fringe and Friends Knitalong—
The first few FAFKALs were each held in September, but I postponed the most recent one (the Logalong) to January instead. While I liked being able to concentrate on it with the holidays behind us — and feel like you did, too? — I missed having a knitalong going in September. So this time around, I’m doing both! The big FAFKAL will be in January again, and I’ll announce the specifics on that in the next couple of months — it’s such a good one!! — so you’ll have plenty of time to swatch during the holidays. But in the meantime …

—Marlisle Knitalong—
For September, I’m thinking something less sprawling, quicker and still tons of fun. Since trying my hand at Anna Maltz’s brilliant “marlisle” technique is high on my list for this year, and I want to do a smaller project as groundwork for my pullover idea, I think a marlisle knitalong sounds like just the thing! So between Sept 1 and 30, that’s what I’m hosting. The challenge is simple: Just knit any of Anna’s marlisle patterns or invent one of your own using her technique. There will be prizes and further details, which I’ll post at kickoff, but meanwhile, pick your pattern!

The bulk of the patterns can be found in her book on the subject, Marlisle: A New Direction in Knitting, and there are several small-scale options very easily doable within the space of September, from fingerless mitts and mittens to hats, scarves and shawls — you can see all 11 of the book patterns here. There are also sweaters in the book, which you’re of course welcome to tackle, and another one available through Ravelry, called Humboldt.

The intro in the book is a great read, as is this interview with Anna on the East London Knit Podcast, so I highly recommend starting there, where you can see her holding up the samples and everything.

Again, I’ll post the nitty gritty about prizes and categories and quals at kickoff, but feel free to start using the hashtag #fringemarlislekal to share your plans at any time! Sept 1 will be here in no time.

—Slow Fashion October—
Following the Marlisle fun, we’ll dive right into our fourth annual Slow Fashion October. I’ve got some special plans and people and a little bit of a format shift in the works for this go-round, and I think it’s going to be amazing. So I’ll tell you more about that as time approaches, as well, but for now know that #slowfashionoctober is coming back around!

Are you excited?


PREVIOUSLY in Make-alongs: Summer of Basics 2018

20×30 outfits and after-thoughts

20x30 outfits and thoughts

My whole big 20×30 experiment for Slow Fashion October turned out to be more fun and informative than I might have imagined. And also a little bit addictive! (It was also the cause of my taking more selfies in one month than I have over several years. I managed it almost every weekday.) I began the month vowing that I wasn’t going to be a slave to the plan — as I said to the Crafty Planner, it was meant to be a game not a sentence — but once I got started, I found I didn’t want to waver from it. I really wanted to know if I could go a whole month wearing only 20 garments. The answer is … sort of!

For one thing, operating off of a limited number of clothes — especially if you wash them comparatively rarely, like I do — requires a certain level of organization if you’ve got things like a trip and a photo shoot on the calendar. So there were a couple of days where I had pretty much the whole set in the wash and had to wear something else. There were also a couple of weekend days at the start of the month where I basically didn’t get dressed. And while I originally thought I would treat the Rhinebeck trip as a time-out from all this (with the notion that it would be cold there), the mild weather made it possible to mostly stick to the plan after all. The exception being that I only wanted to take one sweater, and it needed to be one that would go with everything, every day, so I traded the camel cardigan in the original plan (which hadn’t been worn) for my little black cardigan.

I also didn’t actually wear 20 garments. The natural pants never got finished, nor the raglan seam fixed on my striped sweater, so neither of those made an appearance, which wiped out a lot of the possible outfits from the lineup. And the persistent warm weather meant the five sweater-sweatshirts in the mix were of essentially no use until late in the game. So in reality, I was working with more like 14 or 15 garments for the majority of the month.

That and the fact that the only real color in the group was in those sweater-shirtshirts meant the risk of boredom was even greater than I originally thought. (It was definitely an unintentional lot of black/white/army.) But it all worked out, and I either made or reinforced some useful observations along the way—

20x30 outfits and thoughts

1) Novelty is critical. My beloved State Smocks — with their unusual volume — are really fun to play with, and brought in an element of newness, which kept things from getting too dull. The two outfits in the middle got repeated on the Rhinebeck trip with just the addition of the black cardigan, and a shoe swap (snake instead of silver) for the second one. Also, I love this cardigan so much with the smocks that I’ve decided not to lengthen it, at least for the time being.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

2) A uniform doesn’t have to be uniform. An easy formula for me is to put on my white linen shell and one or the other of my toddler pants, then throw just about anything on top. These don’t look like five of the same outfit, even though they all have the same foundation.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

3) “Jeans and a t-shirt” can be reimagined. There are a lot of days in my world where all I want to do is put on jeans and a tee, hair in a ponytail, and get to work. But of course those are the days where I inevitably run into someone and feel bad about looking so blah. The fact that I didn’t include a t-shirt in the mix forced me to think differently on those days. The silk smock is as easy as a tee and so much nicer looking. Same goes for the sleeveless tee with my wide-leg denim toddlers instead of regular old jeans. The mix in the middle was my travel outfit en route to NY, perfect for the plane.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

4) Even a little bit of print can go a long way toward keeping things lively. I was soooo happy I had the camo pants and snake-print flats in mix, and had on one or the other just about every day. (Sometimes both.) Had this all been solids, I might not have gotten through it! The outfit upstream with the black vest and camo pants got repeated at Rhinebeck with the black cardigan and snake flats. You can also see here that I actually wore two different pairs of dark jeans in Oct — my handmades one day and the J.Crew made-in-LA pair on several others. So I guess technically that puts the worn tally back at 19 garments.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

5) And last but not least: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This photo is the same outfit I wore home from Rhinebeck (including the black cardigan in my hand), albeit with different shoes, but this was actually taken on November 1st. I thought I was excited to wear something different once the calendar flipped over, but when it came time to get out the door yesterday morning, the fact is it was much simpler to stick to the list. After all, there are still quite a few unworn outfits on there … and I’ve never felt this reasonably put-together on this many successive days in my entire life. I’d say that makes it a rousing success!

One other thing I want to note: When I picked out the 20 garments for this little parlor game, I didn’t think about their origins. I just picked 20 items that I thought I could wear for a whole month. This post in the #slowfashionoctober feed led me to go back and tally it up. Of the 20 items, 11 were me-made, 1 was a refashion of a RTW piece, 3 were storeboughts from before all of this, 2 are upcycled thrifted goods (the State smocks), and the remaining 3 were bought more recently from known-origins brands. I think that’s a pretty amazing balance and a fair representation of where my closet currently stands.

For a rundown on all of the garments, see my Fall inventory. Photos mostly at Fringe Supply Co. HQ during our little expansion — pardon the dust!


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: October outfits! (The 20×30 plan)











Slow Fashion Citizen: Rebecca Burgess & Fibershed

BY KATRINA RODABAUGH // Sometimes individual contributions to the slow fashion movement result in larger systems thinking, advocacy, and even establishing a nonprofit organization to better support this work. As was the case when Fibershed founder Rebecca Burgess embarked on a local wardrobe project aiming to source her clothing from a 150-mile radius that would become the seeds of launching the now internationally recognized Fibershed. I’m fortunate enough to have met the small staff behind this massive effort and I’m thrilled to share the story of the organization — and its creation by natural dyer, author, and leader Rebecca Burgess.

As the slow fashion movement gains momentum, expands to include multiple voices, priorities, practices and professions, it’s thrilling to see an organization like Fibershed support these efforts through various programs and projects. I’ve been eyeing the biannual fashion shows and annual symposium, and each newsletter — spotlighting a new initiative or highlighting a new member — is like a mini course in sustainable fiber farming. I’m grateful for the sharing of knowledge every time.

But mostly, Fibershed is a great reminder that a group of focused and committed citizens can absolutely spark and sustain change, and sometimes two of the most important things we can do as concerned citizens are to better educate our selves and to support the tremendous efforts of the organizers forging the way. I applaud the efforts of this incredible organization in so many ways. Welcome, Fibershed—

. . .

Fibershed is such a hub and an incredible advocate in the sustainable fashion movement. How do you describe the organization and its work?

A fibershed is a strategic geography, akin to a watershed that traces how tributaries flow into streams and lakes in a hydrological system, or how a foodshed describes the movement from farm to table. By defining our natural textile resource base we begin to understand the people, processes and places that contribute to our clothing and shelter, from soil to skin, in our home region.

As a non-profit organization, Fibershed works to advance bioregional fiber systems that build healthy soil, sustainable livelihoods, and account for the true cost of textiles. We do this through public education, research and prototyping on “soil to soil” goods and garments, and cultivating economic and social connections between urban and rural communities. The Northern California Fibershed is our home base, where we organize an active Producer membership of nearly 150 farmers, shearers, spinners, weavers, knitters, designers, manufacturers; we host an annual Wool & Fine Fiber Symposium to cross-pollinate educational resources and hands-on skills; we support a biannual fashion show including this past September’s Climate Beneficial Fashion Gala; and we loft supply chain collaborations that strengthen our regional fiber system, such as the Community Supported Cloth program.

Engaging with our fibershed fosters a systems-thinking approach; we like to think that in the Northern California Fibershed we are putting forth a new approach to decentralized textiles – bringing production back home and drawing on ancient technologies while being firmly rooted in the place, context and community of today. We are honored to support a grassroots network of over 50 Fibershed Affiliate communities around the world, who share these values and are self-organizing and adapting this approach to revitalize their regional fiber system.

Fibershed grew out of your founder, Rebecca Burgess, launching a project to dress locally — within 150 miles of where she was living. Did the project bring the awareness of the need to organize and create systems within slow fashion or was she interested in launching an organization before she started?

The 150-mile wardrobe began as a personal project – a challenge to truly embody a fossil-fuel-free closet with known origins and really rely on one’s community. The wardrobe was a functional experiment in that Rebecca wore it for 18 months or so, but really it was a catalyst for building community through the collaborations that resulted in clothing: taking California College of the Arts students to meet the farmers and sheep as a source material for a design, learning the history of naturally colored cotton breeding from Sally Fox, and sharing feedback from knitters with fiber producers and mills to make softer and more consistent yarns.

Community members who gathered together through and for the 150-mile wardrobe hatched the mission of the organization to continue to grow this work, and Fibershed became a 501(c)3 non-profit in 2013. Although it wasn’t a premeditated trajectory, the challenge of dressing locally served in a way as the initial needs assessment for organizing Fibershed, by tracing the supply chain from soil to skin and asking questions like “Who grows or raises fiber? Where can it be milled? How and where and by whom does it transform into clothing?”

Slow Fashion Citizen: Rebecca Burgess & Fibershed

I’m in such awe of the work that Fibershed creates from beautiful newsletters, annual events and member spotlights, to national organizing, and constantly forging new pathways for farmers, textile mills, and producers of sustainable cotton, hemp, and wool. Can you tell us about the vision for the future of Fibershed? What’s the dream for, say, 5-10 years?

First of all – thank you! We truly appreciate your kind words and support. The strength of our work speaks to the incredible talent, skill and vision of our community, from our Producer members to the affiliated Fibersheds around the world, and the many individual supporters who share with us the ways they are engaging with their regional fiber system.

Our dreams for the immediate future center around doing all that we can to support the stabilization of our climate and the nourishment of right livelihoods. There’s a very exciting and tangible way that we can reverse the effects of climate change: by supporting the drawdown of carbon from the atmosphere and into the soil through a variety of techniques called Carbon Farming. These practices — like cover cropping, rotational grazing, planting a windbreak, or applying compost to rangelands — can be implemented at any scale of agriculture, from a homestead to vast ranch, and with proper planning we can actually measure the carbon sequestration and soil health benefits.

Climate Beneficial materials are those raw fibers and even dyestuffs that are raised in a Carbon Farming system, and by adding a small price premium to those goods, we can pool funding for land managers to cover the costs of these practices. This means that brands and consumers alike have a direct role to play in supporting and scaling Climate Beneficial Wool and supply chains.

California is also supporting Carbon Farming at the state level with the Healthy Soils Initiative launching this year, which will support more farmers in adopting and measuring their positive climate impact.

Scaling this work will take greater attention from all angles: land managers identifying potential Carbon Farming practices, brands designing with and investing in Climate Beneficial materials, consumers affirming these decisions and asking for more Climate Beneficial goods, government agencies like Resource Conservation Districts as well as non-governmental partners providing technical support, and communities working to weave these pieces together in their home region.

Along with the rapid adoption of Climate Beneficial fiber systems, we envision a near future of resilient, decentralized textile systems, where fossil fuel reliance in the form of synthetic dyes and long-distance transportation is replaced with local infrastructure that values the natural hues of fibers complemented by colors from organic (fresh carbon) sources. This is a paradigm shift calling on investors to recognize and fund economic actors who play a vital role in supply chains – our mills, manufacturers, and small businesses – coupled with a cultural transformation as we place value on the textile materials that are already in circulation and consciously add to our wardrobes to build the future of our fibershed.

There’s such a range of specialties to consider in slow fashion, from farming, mills, weaving, dyeing, pattern design, construction, distribution and retail, to the life of clothing in and after our closets. Fibershed focuses on the beginning of this process from fiber farms to sustainable designers but how do you research the processes at each stage to better support the systems?

Our work evolves out of needs assessments, through listening and responding to the Fibershed community. It’s really about tapping into the fiber system and the wealth of knowledge that is contained on the landscape and in our network. For instance, an early Fibershed Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of the ecosystem footprint of clothing was created in partnership with Dr. Marcia DeLonge of UC Berkeley. Technical partnerships with researchers in formal institutions as well as those who are experienced in the field form the backbone of our research.

In the case of hemp research, we are fortunate to work alongside agricultural and mechanical partners in Kentucky, Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota and Nebraska. Everyone is bringing skill and dedication to the table, and together we are prototyping and refining these blended textiles: gathering data from field tests, exchanging feedback on fiber softening, sharing yarn blends with local partners, and communicating the results.

So much of our work hinges on connectivity. Harkening back to the 150-mile wardrobe, where the supply chain stakeholders were literally connected to form clothing, our research now involves drawing together collaborators and open-sourcing our work to proliferate collaborations. With textile systems there can be so many gaps in any one body of knowledge – fashion designers receive incredible training without ever learning what it takes to produce cotton or how polyester is made, or fiber producers with a wealth of information about grazing their animals but little understanding what weavers look for in a yarn – we support regional, regenerative fiber systems simply by bringing people together to bridge these gaps.

Slow Fashion Citizen: Rebecca Burgess & Fibershed

If you could ask Slow Fashion advocates — the makers, artists, designers, consumers and other folks really looking to be active in this movement — to do just one specific thing to support regenerative fashion, what is that one thing that we might be overlooking?

There is so much talent and inspiration in this movement, and the diversity of activities and approaches is what makes it so strong. When it comes to regenerative fashion, or engaging with your fibershed, it’s hard to prescribe one pathway to recommend across geographies and economies.

The one thing we can (and should) all do to be active in this movement is to identify what you can contribute to your regional fiber system. As mentioned above, these forms of research, economic models and educational resources are created by connecting community members – to get involved in your local fiber community, we should consider what kind of skill or resource exchange we can offer.

Perhaps that takes the form of contributing by investing in local fiber through buying supplies for your next project from a nearby farm or mill, or maybe it means writing or photographing stories from your fiber system to raise awareness.

We can all start by identifying what we’re able to offer, and reaching out to understand what our community needs. Within the soil to soil circular system, there are so many access points to take part in growing a resilient and regenerative fiber system.

Lastly, what project of Fibershed’s are you the most excited about right now? I’m swooning over the reintroduction of hemp, climate beneficial wool, and also the fashion show you just hosted in California. I know it’s so hard to choose, but what currently has your heartstrings?

The annual Wool Symposium is just around the corner and absolutely has our hearts this year – it’s our “keystone” to connect to and with community, to frame the work that we’re supporting and moving forward. This year’s theme is Nature’s Resilience: illuminating the cycles and processes that clothe us, and we are exploring that through panels and presentations that touch on some of the most pressing negative impacts of the fashion industry, and shed light on examples of projects and paths that ameliorate or internalize these costs. It’s a rich day of educational exchange and a way of roadmapping a way forward for our community.

The Symposium is November 11th from 9:30 to 5 at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station — a gorgeous place to spend a Saturday. The programming will also be broadcast live from our website so that anyone can tune in for free; afterward, we make the video recordings available on our site too.

Another component we get excited about each year is the hands-on demonstrations and marketplace at the Symposium: for two hours in the middle of the day, the grounds of the Dance Palace showcase elements of the value chain from soil to skin, including sheep shearing, spinning, weaving, felting and more. This year we’ll have a mending circle, and specialty fiber activities like angora shearing, flax processing, and a heritage breed sheep display.

The demonstrations and marketplace are free and open to the public, and offer the best opportunity to get to know your fiber farmer, clothing designer, natural dyer, yarn producer — the people who provide for our essential need to clothe ourselves. The marketplace is open throughout the day to connect with and support the small businesses of our fibershed, who come from nearby and farther reaches. In the wake of the recent North Bay wildfires, it feels restorative and hopeful to host a communal gathering in support of one another and the landscape that sustains us.

Slow Fashion Citizen: Rebecca Burgess & Fibershed

Katrina Rodabaugh is an author, artist and slow-fashion advocate. Visit her website or follow her on Instagram at @katrinarodabaugh


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion Citizen: Jen Hewett

Photos by Paige Green Photography, courtesy of Fibershed




The cost (and payoff) of handmade

The cost (and payoff) of handmade

Once again, in light of Slow Fashion October, I’ve been tracking costs on my handmade clothes this year because I wanted to see how it held up over last year’s tally. And again, it’s a weird thing to talk about publicly (at least if you’re a born-and-raised Midwesterner like me), but I think it’s really illuminating in terms of the impact of acquiring less and making what you can, even when some of the handmades are an investment—

$18.00 : White linen shell
6.00 : Grey wool pullover
20.00 : Striped muscle tee
54.25 : Blue button-up shirt
12.00 : Olive pants
73.00 : Blue jeans
17.50 : Denim pants
21.25 : Camo pants
$222.00 — average cost of $27.75 per garment

$175.00 : Black yoke sweater
213.50 : Camel Channel cardigan
110.00 : Linen Sloper
112.00 : Fisherman sweater
38.50 : Purple lopi pullover
$649.00 — average cost of $129.80 per sweater

So even with the top-shelf denim (for my jeans) and a couple of comparatively pricey sweaters in there, I’ve spent a combined average of $87.10 per month on my handmade clothes. If those were the only clothes I had added to my closet this year, and I had spent less than $100 per month, I’d be utterly floored and perfectly satisfied.

However, that’s not all I’ve spent or acquired. Since $87/month represents a savings for me, I’ve been able to invest in some coveted pieces from companies I feel good about supporting, such as my natural Willie jeans, my Elizabeth Suzann silk top, and my State smocks.

Far and away the most astonishing thing to me is I’ve added only about 2-2.5 garments per month to my closet. In my past life, 2 garments would have been a slow day at the mall, not a month’s total, yet in no way do I feel deprived or like I’m making do. Just the opposite: My wardrobe has never been better looking or higher functioning. So my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has inspired and encouraged me in this endeavor.


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: Slow Fashion Citizen Jen Hewett





Elsewhere and then some

Elsewhere and then some

First things first:

1) I’m in Rhinebeck this weekend, where our lovely stockist Harrisville Designs will have a nice juicy Fringe Supply Co. display in their booth. (That’s building 39, booth 3!) I will also be hanging out in their booth on Saturday morning, from gates-open until falafel time, so come say hello if you’re there! After that, I’ll be roaming the fairgrounds, and I have a The Future is Female pin for anyone who is carrying any Fringe bag around the festival (while they last), so if you see me, show me!

2) Meanwhile, back at the ranch, DG will be holding down the fort at Fiber in the ‘Boro, our favorite show of the year. This is a fantastic little Middle Tennessee fiber festival, and if you’re in the area, don’t miss it! That’s all day Saturday.

3) I’m seriously dying to tell you what we’re cooking up for the next Fringe and Friends Knitalong, but it’ll have to wait until I’m back at my desk, so look for that on Tuesday!

4) The Slow Fashion October topic for the final 10 days — is WHERE. As in, share your sources, people! Clothing and shoe brands, services, fabric retailers, yarns, whatever it may be … where do you get the stuff you feel good about? Share it on #slowfashionoctober.

And with that, a fully Slotober edition of Elsewhere:

– The warm and wonderful Sandi Hazlewood interviewed me for her Crafty Planner podcast this week and asked me a bunch of good questions nobody has asked me before! (Let me know if I said anything stupid.)

– Samantha Lindgren has posted the full details of the big fabric swap she’s organizing — I’m so excited about this!

– Coincidentally, Sam referenced the very next link I wanted to share this week, which is Felicia’s post Enough is as good as a feast — have you read it?

– Seamwork on personalizing vintage clothing to give it new life

– “In April, 2017, Markham became the first municipality in North America to support textile diversion by banning textile waste from curbside collection service” (thx, Erin)

– “Of course I want to make every new pattern I see, and to buy all the beautiful yarn and fabric I can get my hands on, but then I’m just back to fast fashioning my slow fashion — and how many of those projects will I actually finish?”

– “We could argue all day about relative merits of recycled polyester versus organic cotton, or how much you’re benefiting the environment by paying more for organic cotton, but it’s hard to argue with a mother getting paid a fair wage in safe working conditions.” (thx, Leila)

Wherever you are, I hope you have a fantastic weekend! Thank you for reading—





Slow Fashion Citizen: Jen Hewett

EDITOR’S NOTE: After three years of collaborating with Jen for Fringe Supply Co. (and taking her online class), I’m thrilled to have her on the blog today!

Slow Fashion Citizen: Jen Hewett

BY KATRINA RODABAUGH // It’s an honor to share the work of talented printmaker, fiber artist and surface designer Jen Hewett in this week’s interview. I adore Jen’s use of color and shape in her bold and wildly inspired prints but I was also smitten with her Print, Pattern, Sew project where she printed her own fabric to make into garments. This allowed her to fuse her abilities as a surface designer and a sewer — rendering her garments unique and also imprinting her aesthetic not just in the silhouettes or combination of color and fibers, but in the bold and beautiful graphics of the garments, too.

I’ve known Jen for several years through the San Francisco Bay Area arts community, and while I loved her work from the very beginning, I always appreciated her candor, commitment and critical eye, too. Also, several years ago she brought champagne to my birthday brunch with a silver spoon because it’s known to keep the bubbly from going flat, and I fell for her then and there. Who knew silver spoons keep champagne from going flat? Jen did.

It’s that grace, humor and thoughtful nature that she brings to her work and her community. Watching Jen continue to push herself in her prints and in her technical skill is something that makes my heart race — she’s always inventing new projects, experimenting with new color palettes, and pushing outside of her comfort zone to make work that is simultaneously refined and absolutely alive. Welcome, Jen!

. . .

Your printmaking work is sublime. I adore your graphic prints, choice of fabrics, and the particular way you combine shapes and color to create bold and beautiful prints. Can you talk about what inspired you to start printmaking?

I’ve always been creative, and had started a stationery company in my twenties. I ran that until 2004 when, carrying a lot of credit card debt from the business, I sold the stationery company and started working a corporate job. My job was very uncreative (although I worked with a lot of designers and writers), but it allowed me to pay off my debt, and it gave me the time to figure out what to do next.

I needed a creative outlet, so I took a screenprinting class on a whim in – I think – January 2007. I was quickly hooked, and spent a lot of my free time in the screenprinting studio. I was laid off from my corporate job in December 2008, at the peak of the Great Recession. No one was hiring. I went to the studio as often as I could, and began selling my prints. My art career grew from there.

Slow Fashion Citizen: Jen Hewett

I remember when you launched your Print, Pattern, Sew project and it was thrilling to see your printmaking work applied to your wardrobe. This was a beautiful moment in slow fashion when your craft was transferred to your wardrobe and resulted in unique and meaningful garments. What led you to start Print, Pattern, Sew?

In 2014 I had a weekly project called 52 Weeks of Printmaking. Every week I’d create a different print, and would share it on my blog and social media. Halfway through the year I decided I wanted to do something more complex in 2015.

I took Jess Swift’s class, Pattern Camp, which is an online class about creating digital repeat patterns. It wasn’t much of a leap to figure out how to do this manually. At that point, I had been sewing my own clothes for a couple of years, and thought it would be fun to merge my love of sewing (and clothing) with my love of printmaking.

Every month in 2015, I hand printed yardage, then sewed that fabric into a different garment using either a self-drafted pattern or one from an independent pattern designer. At the end of the year, I had twelve truly custom garments, as well as a book proposal based on the project.

So many folks are intimidated to begin making their own clothing. Fear of imperfection, clothes that won’t fit, poor craftsmanship or somehow getting it wrong. Of course, we all have to start somewhere but were there any specific classes, patterns or tutorials you adored when you first started making your own garments?

As a working artist, I’m used to starting things that are just beyond my abilities and then figuring out solutions along the way. I approach sewing in this manner, too. Of course, I started with simple garments – April Rhodes’ Staple Dress was the first garment I sewed, quickly followed by Sonya Philip’s Dress No.1 and Dress No.2. None of those garments were perfect. Nothing I sew now is perfect.

Really, the best advice I can give anyone is “practice.” You can spend a lot of money on a good machine and nice fabric, but none of those things will make up for lack of skill. The only way to build your skills is to work on increasingly more complex garments, learning from (and fixing) your mistakes along the way.

Printing your own clothing is really a beautiful act in reclaiming fashion and making the garment truly your own. Designers talk about emotional attachment or why we keep certain garments forever even if they might be more sentimental than practical — the wedding dress is the typical example. Your printed clothing has the added emotional attachment of being designed and printed by you. Do you feel a certain attachment to these garments that you haven’t experienced in a store bought garment? Would you think twice before sending one to the Goodwill?

I don’t really treat any of my clothes as precious. I believe that clothes are meant to be worn, and not to be stored away in a closet for a special occasion (except for true special-occasion clothing). Wearing a garment regularly means honoring the time and money that went into its creation. And I tend to wear my clothes until they fall apart, so that by the time I’m ready to discard an item, I feel that I’ve gotten full use from it.

I probably won’t ever discard garments made with my hand-printed fabric, though. I do have an archive of my printed fabric, and will likely just add the garments to that archive.

Slow Fashion Citizen: Jen Hewett

It seems we’re craving connection and that’s one driving force in Slow Fashion. We’re exhausted by mass production and want something special or something valuable that can’t be so easily replicated in fast fashion. We often equate value with money but it’s also that triad of money, time and craftsmanship. Do you think making your garments for Print, Pattern, Sew altered your concept of the value of your garments?

I have always valued quality over quantity when it comes to clothing. I grew up wearing a uniform to school. I had five white blouses, two skirts, a sweater and a blazer. I got two pairs of school shoes each year, and they were meant to last the year. These were unexciting but durable clothes, and I had to take good care of them. But because I didn’t have to have a different outfit every day, my parents allowed me to splurge a bit on non-school clothes, buying a few pieces of well-made clothing that would hold up under repeated wearing. I didn’t have a lot of “free dress” clothes, but what I did have was of a good quality.

Sewing has changed how I shop for clothes, though, breaking my occasional impulse shopping habit. I rarely go to the mall or shop in boutiques anymore, unless I have a very specific purchase in mind. But the real excitement for me in making clothing is less a desire to opt out of fast fashion (partly because I never really bought into it in the first place, except for a couple of years in college) and more in the ability to create something that fits me and my style.

Any tips you might have for someone just starting to sew their own garments? Maybe tools you particularly love or something else that you learned through your project that inspired you to continue?

Always make a muslin when you’re trying a new pattern. It may seem like extra work to do so, but it saves so much work down the line. From my muslins, I’ve figured out that I’ve cut the wrong size, or that I need to make bust or dart adjustments. It’s much better to discover this before you’ve cut into your good fabric and have started sewing.

Also, buy good fabric. Your garment is only as good as the time and materials you put into it. Why spend all that time making something with shoddy fabric?

And finally, invest in a serger and an invisible zipper foot. I spent so much time making French seams before I had a serger. That was time I could have spent on something else! And I used to avoid anything that required an invisible zipper because I found them so intimidating. Once I had an invisible zipper foot, a whole new world of sewing opened up to me.

Lastly, your first book is underway. Congratulations! When can we expect it to be published? And could you tell us maybe just one thing about the book that you’re particularly excited about?

My book, Print, Pattern, Sew, will be published by Roost Books in May 2018. I’ve just reviewed the final, pre-press layouts. I think it’s such a beautiful book. I worked with the best team, and I’m excited for us to finally have it in our hands. I’ve been teaching some of the practices that are included in the book both in person and through my online classes, and I’m also thrilled that I’ll be able to reach so many more people through this book!

Slow Fashion Citizen: Jen Hewett

Katrina Rodabaugh is an author, artist and slow-fashion advocate. Visit her website or follow her on Instagram at @katrinarodabaugh


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion Citizen: Kristine Vejar

Photos © Jen Hewett, used with permission


Bento Bags in recycled grey or pink

Happy Friday, friends! #slowfashionoctober is off to such a strong start that I’m struggling to keep up with all the introductions! Which is awesome, and I look forward to catching up over the weekend. On that subject, first up for today is next week’s topic, which is: WHAT. As in: What are you doing differently than you have in the past; what shape does “slow fashion” take in your closet; what are the items in your closet (0r your stash or your project bag) that you feel the strongest about … and why?

And with that, an extremely meaty Elsewhere:

– Knitter, programmer and DIY community member Kelsey Leftwich has been working on a wardrobe-planning iPhone app for the past year or more, and it’s now available in the App Store: it’s called Capsule Wardrobe and it’s on sale this month in honor of Slotober— huge congrats, Kelsey! I haven’t downloaded it yet, but if you beat me to it, please report back!

– Great advice from Heather on how to boost your sewing (or knitting) confidence: Just make it already!

– Charity knitting drives to consider: Knit Big for Little Lungs and multiple Warm Up America! intiatives

– Have you heard? Squam lives on!

– Incredibly beautiful NYT piece about Mexican weavers and natural dyes (thx, Holly)

– I’m Fascinated by Solidwool

– One of many alarming notes in this bit of guidance for companies manufacturing in Asia: “… figures compiled in 2013 found that there was more than one factory fire per week in Bangladesh.”  (thx, Angela)

What do synthetic fibers and shellfish have to do with each other? “Outdoor gear manufacturer Patagonia found that the average synthetic jacket releases 1.7 grams of microfibers per load of laundry. Each load may generate hundreds of thousands of fibers, which can slip through filters on washing machines and wastewater treatment plants and eventually make their way into ocean waters.” (thx, Dania)

– How come no one ever told me you can make a rug out of finger-knitted chains?

– Ella Gordon’s vest from the Cowichan-style Knitalong is now a pattern!

Free yoke inspiration

I would knit with Alan Cumming (thx, DG)

These vintage sweaters

This beautiful little story from Katrina

Stunning socks

New smock pattern alert

Carina’s lace shawl tattoo is the coolest (thx, Tunet)

Top 100 Knitting Blogs — what are your favorites?

Sweetness overload

– And why didn’t I think of that?

IN SHOP NEWS: There are two new colors of Bento Bags available! Pictured up top, the fabric is a 100% recycled hemp/organic cotton blend with a lovely slubby tweediness to it, and it’s available in grey or pink (aka light red). Conscientiously made in California.

AND IN OTHER NEWS: I’m SUPER excited for next week because I finally get to reveal the details of the next Fringe and Friends Knitalong! So have a great weekend, and I’ll see you back here next week—