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My wardrobe

My latest stitching for the Stitch-A-Long has been freeform patches for a useful but uninspiring jacket. In that post I mentioned that I have been thinking about my wardrobe.

Like all good thinking there are a few threads (that pun is for you, Kate!) that have come together. A couple have been inspired by the Soul Craft Festival. (I would highly recommend this to you for next year!)

Thread One

Last year the various speakers and the warm and thoughtful Felicia herself encouraged me to think about what happens to our clothing after we have finished with it. I don’t have a lot of clothes to move on, but when I do move them on the op-shop is my choice. I realised that what I was really doing was shifting my responsibility for the garment to the op-shop. I felt good that I hadn’t sent it to landfill, forgetting disregarding that someone else had to make that decision.

So I decided to be more conscious about what I bought and made.

For example, I wanted to knit over this last Winter. Normally I make quick decisions without considering where a garment will fit into my wardrobe. This time I spent time considering patterns and wool to make the sort of jumper I wanted.

Unfortunately, when I finished knitting I realised that it was too small. Not unbearably so, but enough to make me overlook it when I was considering jumpers to wear. So out it all came and I knitted it up again a couple of sizes larger, only to realise that it was slightly too short in the body and arms. Same problem….I would overlook it and the time, materials and energy would be wasted. So, I undid the rib of the body and sleeves and knitted it longer. (It was a pattern that you knit from the shoulders down, so I could easy unravel it.) Now I enjoy wearing it. And each time I do I think about taking the time and making those conscious decisions to get it right so that I would enjoy wearing it, and have it for quite a few years to come.

Thread two

This is along the same lines of making conscious decisions….the ideas around wearing clothing that have positive values in them, and values that fit in with my own. Are they made from more sustainable fabrics? When buying this garment/pattern/fabric/yarn am I supporting an indie maker or local shop? Can I get a sense of the environmental and social impact of this garment?

I realise that there will always be some social or environmental impacts. And I am honest enough to know that I am only going to put in a small amount of research into those impacts, instead relying on the integrity of those I buy from. My aim is to be as thoughtful, considered and mindful as I can.

Thread three

For a while I have been wanting my clothes to be more interesting. I am so tired of reaching for jeans and jumpers and jackets.

So….

After listening to some wonderful women* speak at the Soul Craft Festival I was inspired to really think about my wardrobe. I even made notes and drew sketches of the garments that I enjoy wearing! I came up with some ideas:

  • I love, and need, my clothes to be comfortable. The tops I enjoy wearing pull over my head ~ no zips, buttons, belts. I like them to drape and hang, and to have pockets where possible.
  • I love layers, and scarves. This is great, because I don’t like being cold!
  • I want to get into the habit of really considering new clothes. Do I need it? Does it fit in with other things I have? What will happen to it at the end of its life with me? How was it made? Where have I bought it? Would I get pleasure if I made something like this rather than buying off the rack?
  • I want my clothes to be interesting. This might be handmade (like the patches on my jacket pockets) or a quirky brooch or a different combination of clothes.
  • I want to severely limit the clothes I buy from mainstream shops.

This is a very self-indulgent post, written mostly to get my thoughts in a coherent fashion. However I wonder if you have been thinking about your clothes? I would love to know what is important to you.


* These are some of the women who spoke at the festival

Meg McElwee from Sewliberated She says that clothes should be treasures and heirlooms, that reflect who we are and the story we want to tell the world. I like that.

Leeyong Soo who blogs at Style Wilderness. She has some wild creations made from op-shop finds. After looking at her work I was inspired to create the patches for my jacket. Mine are nowhere near as flamboyant as her outfits.

Katrina Rodabaugh. You may already know her work, especially those menders among you. I have just finished reading her book Mending matters

And for more inspiration:

https://www.instagram.com/tumanualidades.de/ was suggested to me by Dawn, who, by the way, makes the most beautiful jewellery.

I hope those of you overseas can access this documentary from the ABC. Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson were icons of the Australian fashion industry, and their creations are inspirational.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and sew – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and emerging.

By anne54

Botanic artist

8 replies on “My wardrobe”

I have just bought a (secondhand) copy of a book called Mending Life by Nina and Sonya Montenegro – amongst other things, it highlights the respect we show for people and the planet when we mend our clothes. I don’t think your post is at all self-indulgent, indeed I think it embodies your care and thoughtfulness… things that the world certainly needs more of.

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I know you are a great mender, and that you are very thoughtful consumer. Isn’t it lovely to be able to show respect for those that have made our clothes by mending them? And of course making a slight indentation on the resources used in the clothing industry.

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Like the Snail, I mend a lot. And when things have gone past the point of no return, I tend to chop them up and turn them into something else, whether it’s quilts, or cushion covers or bags, or whatever. As I write, I’m looking at a pile of cotton summer tops that have worn out in places that make them unsuitable for polite society, and past the point of mending. However, there’s still a lot of useful and pretty fabric left, so they’ll be launching into a second life at some stage. And we all know I force the Husband to walk around in patched pants and mended shirts too!

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I admire your thought process. I’m not much of a sewer or knitter but I’m a mender which enables us to get good use out of our favourite and much-worn clothes. But… Your post reminded me of something that is apparent to me on an ongoing basis -as recently as last week when when I sorted my wardrobe(s!) from winter to summer… I have too many clothes, and only regularly wear a small proportion of them: for the main my around the house clothes, covid having truncated application of my going out apparel. Except for underwear, all items were purchased long ago and have had many years of use or hanging around waiting for another occasion, or are more recent op shop finds… I find it hard to resist a colourful, classic or black t-shirt bargain! At least covid also circumscribed that opportunity for a while. However, now we are out and about more, I’m trying to limit my future op-shop visits and purchases.

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I think many of us have got used to “fast fashion”. I have spent a whole life in charity shops/op-shops largely because clothes are affordable, but also because I might find good qulity garments (many of which I have owned and worn for a very long time). It’s much harder to do if you have a proper job and have to look tidy, though!

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That is a lovely thoughtful piece Anne – not self indulgent at all though if it helps you fix ideas for yourself all to the good. I buy all my clothes (except underwear and socks) from charity shops and once they are too far gone they go for gardening until they are too bad even for that when they get put in the ragbag for scrappy projects. However your piece made me realise I don’t give much thought to what I buy – it is cheap and ‘virtuous’ so ‘good enough’ (?) and I now have a ragbag big enough to supply all my grandkids with a lifetime supply of scraps! I will enjoy following the links and your list will be a big help. Thank you.

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Anne, over the winter, some garments decided that it was “time up” and I decided to purchase 3 of the same coloured leggings (really thermal underwear) and then rotate them daily – as I tend to select the items I really like. I guess I’ve probably walked past by people who have thought “that’s underwear” but they look alright, a little patterning on them.
Then as I thought about summer – this within lockdown (we are still in L/down) – I got out some of my summer clothes and then thought “well let’s wait and see” – I did that 2 years ago, and I think I probably bought one or two new items…and truly until I actually decide to face a retailer again, I don’t need anything!!!
I don’t usually mend much, because when they become less “outing material” they become art gear! And when they finally bite the dust, rags!
When I take my daily walk, I whip off a top and put on a respectable top…and usually then gel/spike my hair which is very much in lockdown mode – dreadful but at one point I was wondering if I could get “braids” done…
Catherine in NZ where there are proposals to ease some more restrictions…ummm

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