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The Wardrobe Project: My stylish sweatshirt

I decided to take “something new” in the sense of never been used scraps of fabric and something “old” from my wardrobe.  It’s really pathetic how many sweatshirts I have in my closet that don’f fit me and I don’t wear.

Inspiration: The movie Pride and Prejudice.  It’s my new favorite movie because of the clothes.  (Yes, I judge a movie by it’s garments,).  I love the cuts of the tailored clothing and the impeccable details that accent each garment.

My starting point:DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO

The finished project:

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DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPROAccented with a brass button to give a warm accent to the overall cooling colors.

Sewer’s tip:  Find  a muse that inspires you.  Creativity is not placed in a vacuum, it is inspired by other’s creativity.  Trust me, it’s not copying.

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Why I recycle t-shirts; Or my struggle with sewing and the world of clothing design and construction

Dear all,

I had found it very much so a joy and amazing moment as I created my first several scarves out of recycled t-shirts and material.  I would like to further explain the meaning behind my t-shirt scarf, but before I begin I need to explain and confess that I am struggling with further sewing projects.  My struggle is not in the creation of the projects, but more so the ethical nature behind the projects.  The t-shirt scarf was a way around these ethical struggles that I internalize by being local, a form of upcycling/recycling/being green, treating all workers (me) fairly, cleaning out my closet space, and wearing a bunch of sentimental t-shirts all at once.

I suppose when one thinks of fabric, the green ethics are somewhat ignored.  We typically think about using alternative fuels, transportation, eating a local and plant based diet, and refraining from using plastic bag usage as forms of being “green”.  One of the biggest ethics in the clothing industry is the carbon foot print that it leaves on our planet.  I realize that it is not as big as a foot print as automobile emissions or methane gas from livestock, but I also can’t ignore its presence.   Last time I looked fabric and clothing is not made locally, unless you live in New York City.

Then there is the ethical issue of fabric choices: natural and manmade fabrics.  One would think that natural would have less ethical issues than manmade, but that is not always the case.  In my opinion, the most unethical form of natural fabric is cotton.  There are questions that I have from the damage of over spraying the crop with pesticides to the treatment of workers.  The world’s cotton pickers include children who are trafficked to pick, enslaved labor, and unfair wages.  The amount and types of pesticides used on cotton crops are very toxic to the workers and can cause illnesses such as cancer and birth defects.  In addition to ethics, cotton can change an area’s ecosystem since it is a crop that requires so much water.

(for more information about the ethics on cotton go to: http://www.ejfoundation.org/page141.html)

As for most manmade fabrics their chemical makeup is linked to usages of petroleum.   Not only is  the idea of wearing petroleum disturbing (at least to me), but it is unable to biodegrade once it is tossed.  Of course many could become defensive and argue with me that they would donate their clothes before they would toss them.  However, if you have a stained shirt should you really be donating it to some in need? It may be giving them a shirt, but is it giving them dignity? Or should we really provide them with something better than that?  Handmade scarves get around the issue of repurposing t-shirts into something else.  And yes I know that you could shred them and make them into rags, but in all reality how many rags does this country need?   And on top of that, are we dodging the question: Do we consume too much clothing?

And when it really comes down to purchasing or making clothing ethically, it would be much easier if the world’s population didn’t wear clothes.  Since public nudity is not a reality, THANK GOODNESS, I desire to do my best with understanding and moving into the ethical forms of clothing.  This may be making clothing with an ethical purpose or using alternative fabric, such as used t-shirts.  I know that I won’t get it all right, but I think upcycling t-shirts into scarves is one of the many steps that I could take in hopes of enjoying the art of sewing and bringing social justice into my work.  Forgive me if form here on out I contradict myself….I just ask for the grace and encouragement of trying.

 

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From plastic to fabric: The Timeline Scarf

Anything can be recycled

Recycling and repurposing materials can create some of the most interesting projects and statement pieces.  I have enjoyed the project of repurposing plastic bags into purses, totes, and mats; however I am always antsy to try something new.  That something new I stumbled upon while cleaning my closet, believe it or not.

About two months ago I was attempting to downsize my closet for two reasons: 1) there isn’t a lot of space in my closet, and 2) my friends were getting together for our yearly clothing swap and I wanted to bring something.  I ended up forming quite a large bag of clothing that I was willing to part with, which cleared a lot of space in my closet.  However the problem that emerged from this closet cleansing were clothes that I marked with sentimental value.  For me these clothes were all t-shirts….favorite high school t-shirts, college t-shirts, favorite band shirts, the shirt that you wore on your fist date, and goofy t-shirts with ridiculous sayings.  All of these shirts had seen better days, and the problem was that they were taking up room in my closet,  And yes I know that if you (the reader) were to have seen this pile it would have been an eye sore.  And yes I know that many of these pieces seem like a sorry excuse of a t-shirt, to me it was a bookmark to a swarm of memories represented by a t-shirt.

I had decided to save them, but the question became: What do I do with them?  They were too stained and worn for a t-shirt quilt….I was stumped.  I really can’t say how I went from stumped to “ingenious”, and I don’t really know how the idea came about…. but I decided to create a t-shirt scarf.  I mean one can always use another scarf, right?  With this creation I could create space in my closet, wear my favorite t-shirts all at once, and have a perfectly acceptable reason for keeping them.  Sounds like a win, win, win situation to me!  What can I say I made a t-shirt scarf, but its development didn’t stop there.

I showed it to my sister-in-law, who I knew had an appreciation for scarves.  She was in the process of downsizing and her “sentimental t-shirts that took up too much room” where those worn by her son.   She wanted a t-shirt scarf, but out of her son’s old t-shirts that he had out grown.   So came up with the idea of making a Mom Scarf that she personally customized.  Then I made another one for her husband, out of his old volleyball t-shirts and Food for Thought t-shirts….creating the Timeline Scarf.  The name is self-explanatory, a Timeline Scarf is a timeline of all of the wonderful memories that one has from sentimental t-shirts.

I created a couple more and sold them at the Art Walk.  I will be creating more to show at the Art Walk come September, and afterwards on my Etsy account.  For those who desire a custom created scarf out of your sentimental t-shirts, I offer a customizing service which includes a consultation on your t-shirts and design for a standard price of $30 (altered designs will vary in price).  Each scarf is sewn with professional equipment that surges the material to prevent fraying.  Like I said earlier, the best part about this scarf is that you can wear all of you favorite/sentimental t-shirts at once and have more space in your closet.

Contact information for custom scarves:

dianalynnschiewer@gmail.com

419-704-1405 (please forgive me if I don’t pick up, I respond better to email)

Mom Scarf

                         Eyes really do exist on the back of every mother’s head!

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The Handbag made from Plastic Bags

Three years ago I started crocheting mats for the unhoused/homeless in my home town out of plastic bags.  While crocheting bag mats out of plastic grocery bags I pondered about the material that I was using to mold my creation.  The truth was that I did not know much about the plastic grocery bag world.  Rumor was that they, the plastic bags, were not recycled and that this whole recycle and reuse pitch was just a way to make one feel better for consuming a product and then consuming more of that product.  Inquiry is always the best form of learning, so I allowed my curiosity to get the best of me and was sicken to find out that only 1-2% of used plastic bags were recycled.  That means that only 1-2% of the yearly world consumption of 500 billion – one trillion plastic bags are recycled.  That means only 1-2% of the United States yearly consumption of 380 billion plastic bags, created from about 12 million barrels of oil, is recycled.  Disgusting, right?  But then to further that thought if plastic bags are not being recycled, then where are our used plastic bags going?

I obtained my answer through the United Nations Environment Programe (UNEP), who claims that many plastic bags end up in dumps, rivers, and storm drains.  However, a majority of the plastic grocery bags end up in the oceans where they are broken down into tiny particles, and since plastic cannot decompose it is mistaken as food.  Wildlife eats it and, well you probably have guess it, died due to digestion complications.  It is probably even safe to say that plastic is somehow connected to our water table (but don’t quote me on that….this is my assumption not UNEP’s).

So if plastic is so awful to our well-being and environment, so then why aren’t we recycling? The answer to that question comes down to cost efficacy.  In order to recycle one ton of plastic bags it costs an average of $4,000; however, in order to create this same amount it only costs $32.  So plastic bags are not being recycled due to costs?!?! I really wanted to point the blame at someone, but realistically there is no one to blame because plastic bags are only being created to feed the demand of the one consuming the product.

In addition to this thought, I felt completely mislead and was infuriated over the fact that the plastic bags I was consuming were not being recycled despite my efforts of being a “good consumer” and returning my plastic grocery bags to the recycling bin in front of my local grocery store.  I had decided that the least I could do was take a stance against using plastic grocery bags by using reusable bags.  But instead of using the cliché cloth bags I thought about how ironic it would be if I took used grocery bags, that were not able to be recycled, and recycled them into a reusable bag.  It would become my own political stance on the usage of plastic grocery bags, and a way to carry my groceries.

After about nine hours of work, not consecutively, and about 500-600 bags later I had a reusable grocery bag.  I won’t lie, my first one didn’t turn out so well, so I created another and then another and another.  I currently have three reusable grocery bags made from different types and colors of plastic bags that vary from newspaper bags to bread bags.  I personally felt so connected with the idea that I created my purse from recycled bags, and later made a colorful beach bag.  The great things about these bags are that they are lightweight, strong, waterproof, and a great conversation piece that allows me to talk a little bit about the not so much recycling of plastic bags.

It’s been about three years since I created my purse and grocery bags.  I still get stares, but I try not to notice because the bags aren’t for the attention they are to call attention to the plastic bag issue.  From time to time I am flattered with strangers coming up and asking me to where I got my plastic bags and if they could touch it.  One lady asked if she could take her picture with me, and one insisted that I enter an art fair.  Tourists from Europe pointed at my purse, and I wish I understood what they had said.  Farmers at the market don’t really know me by name, but by my plastic bags.  I am sure that there are other incidents of people I have encountered, but I really don’t remember nor do I keep track.  The bags are my stance on the plastic grocery bag issue because I really can’t find words to express my feelings about the issue….so instead I made a plastic bag that could express my feelings for me.

(For more info on the world’s plastic bag issues and the movement of banning plastic bags in other countries please visit : http://www.unep.org/themes/consumption/pdf/The_Dangers_of_Plastic_Bags.pdf …this is were I retrieved some of my information:).There is hope to reviving our world into the best shape that it could become for ourselves, our children, and generations yet to come.  Instead of using and recycling….just don’t use.

My husband, myself, and my plastic bag purse.

Close-up of one of my bags.

Letter to my little bundle of joy…..I am sorry for other’s judgements

Dear son,

Since this topic is on my mind I feel the need to write it down in hopes of discussing it later.  I am not sure how to say this other than I am sorry for the severe judgement of your gender.  I have realized that strangers over the past couple of weeks have made comments such as:

“He’s a boy…..good luck with that selective hearing”

or

“Oh man, boys are rough….they break everything.”

or

“Just wait until he is older and needing you to drive him to all those sports practices.”

 

As your mother, I find it interesting that some of these comments categorize you into stereotypes that may contradict your developing character.  Furthermore, I find it fascinating that strangers feel very confident with identifying your character better than your own mother.  Who’s to say you’ll love sports over art…..and that girl’s don’t have selective hearing?  (Just ask your grandpa about my selective hearing….I am sure he could tell you some hilarious stories!)

I understand that being shy of six weeks old, this all seems very confusing.  But allow me to explain.  I don’t understand these people anymore than you.  What I do recognize is that some people are judgmental.  They are the people that will criticize you for not being vegetarian when you love bacon, and will turn around to criticize you for not loving bacon if you are vegetarian.

If there is any one thing I could teach you from this….it’s people aren’t perfect, the world isn’t perfect, and while we are on the subject……. neither is your mother.  We are living in a society where some love to categorize by titles (such as gender), push expectations (whether it’s intentional or not), and challenge one to perfection…..which does not exist. The most we can do is strive to be our best selves and to create boundaries from others’ judgments that make us feel anything else but that.

As our relationship grows with your development…… I hope to continue to get to know the real you.  Please know I will always love you for who you are.

Love,

Mom

Hand Fabricated Bracelet 

IMG_0260 (2)This summer, I challenged myself with the goal of learning one new task…….jewelry fabrication.  I will admit, the idea of using tools that are strong enough to cut and melt metal made me a bit nervous.  However, I was enthused to learn fabrication techniques that heavily involved safety.

This piece was inspired by geometric embroidered and lace design from eastern European fabric patters.  Everything is hand-cut, including the design within the larger squares.  I hope you enjoy looking at it as much as I do!   Thanks for following!

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My Handsewn Sweater

  As the cooler weather dwindles, I was inspired to create something that could withstand the last stretch of cooler temperatures.  The  sweater below was created with a thicker stretch knit material that is patterned with a spring Lilly.  I particularly love the blend of a winter garment with a spring pattern, how ironic!  Aside from it’s irony, it is uncertain to me if I should classify this one as an ugly sweater or a modern take on patterns.  I suppose that’s for the viewer to decide.  Despite one’s decision on it’s classification, I am wearing it until the weather decides to warm up.

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Side

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front
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back

Sewer’s tip: Worry more about what you think, and less what other’s think.

Secrets to Creating a Cheap, yet Chic Wardrobe

Having a versatile and current wardrobe can become an expensive upkeep.  Clothes shopping can be tedious when social pressures and desires for ethical practices roll in the back of one’s mind…..it’s a wonder how anyone can conscientiously obtain a wardrobe without the guilt. Below are ten of my conscience secrets to a current wardrobe that doesn’t break the bank.

102_056010. Clean the Wardrobe

How many times do we clean our wardrobe and find garments that we haven’t touched in months? years?  We are all guilty.  Finding these pieces and bringing them to the front of our wardrobe gives us an opportunity to recreate newer outfits.  And look, no money spent!

9. Analyze the Wardrobe

Think of your wardrobe as an investment.  Getting to know the garments you already have can be the foundation that determines future  purchases.  The last thing anyone with a  tight budget wants is the purchase of  a shirt that doesn’t go with anything.  Sometimes saving money is simply not spending it.  The beginning steps to knowing your wardrobe can be simply noticing its color schemes, style, and silhouettes.  Spend some time here, it’s worth it.

8. Photograph New Outfits

A friend and I got together one evening and challenged each other to create new outfits with her wardrobe.  The outcome allowed her pair existing garments together in ways that were never done before. She photographed the ones she liked, and now there is a record of different ways to wear particular garments.  Try it with a friend, you’re in for a great time!  No money required.

blog 0037. Visit a Tailor…..or know a  Friend who can

Gaining weight, loosing weight, having garments that we like but don’t quite fit are all great excuses to visit a tailor.  It’s true that some garments are much cheaper to repurchase over a tailoring fee.  However, I argue against the disposable waste and the fact that if one is truly investing in a wardrobe with long lasting clothes it’s worth the money….especially if you have a tailoring friend who is willing to barter or trade talents.

6. Purge and Swap

Almost everyone has garments that they don’t wear. For whatever reason, I cling to these garments like a two year old does to its blanket.  A more advantageous strategy is to use these garments as bartering pieces.  Throw a party with your friends and invite them to swap unwanted clothing.  Accessories are fair game!

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5. Upcycle Old Clothing

There are tons of DIY projects on multiple websites that can turn unwanted clothing into great gifts, pillows, clothes, ect.  The ideas are endless, use your imagination and create!

4. Thrift, Garage Sale, and E-bay

Just because I sometimes want new clothing, doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be ‘new’.  I just want the garment to be new to me. Purchasing second hand can be a great investment because 1) the prices are lower and 2) you avoid the controversial issues of garment production.  Besides, many garments from thrift shops eventually move into the dump once their shelf life expires……we need to save the garments!

3. Shop with a Versatile Purpose

This goes back to knowing your wardrobe.  If you need a shirt for the office and one for going out, attempt to find one for both purposes and refuse to settle.  Modern designers take into consideration the need for multi-purpose.  The little black dress has been replaced with a versatile version, great for the office, weddings, and date night.  Just accessorize according to the event attire.

2. The Clearance Rack Trick…..  Cheap doesn’t mean bargain

I am a sucker for making a direct path to the clearance rack.  But remember,  declaring a ‘sale’ doesn’t mean that the piece is a bargain.  Ask yourself if you can get it cheaper somewhere else? Do you already have one?  Are you more in love with the price or the garment? If the answer every question stopper is to proceed with the purchase,  then walk away and see if you still want it in a hour.  Sometimes a little time and distance clears the head to make a practical decision.

S50001961. Accessories go a long way

When I say accessories, I don’t just mean jewelry or purses.  I am talking about scarves, shrugs, shoes, make-up, nail polish, even hair styles.  The outfit is only one piece of your entire look.  Changing your hair from an updo to flowing curls is all an outfit may need…..and you didn’t spend a thing!

Good luck!

Jersey Knit Versatile Dress

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I love 1930s wear.  The romantic drapery adds such a simple sophistication to a garment.  When I saw the Vogue pattern, I just had to have it!  (Note to the reader: I am not ashamed to by-step my own pattern drafting for someone else’s work!  That’s how one learns.) The nice part about this dress is that it made with a jersey knit, so it is versatile for the occasion.  Wear a blazer with it to work, and change into boots and tasteful jewelry for a night out on the town.  I believe I will enjoy wearing this beauty.

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Sewer’s tip: Know what you like, and sew what you like!

Multiple t-shirts + inspiration = Summer Dress


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There are t-shirts everywhere in my closet…..literally, of course.  Some of them for sentimental reasons, while others are there for some unknown purpose.  I sometimes wonder if the void in the dryer steals my socks in exchange for unwanted t-shirts.   I suppose I will never know.  These t-shirts  were being disposed from a loved one, and I pitied the fabric from being dumped.  I can’t stand the idea of waste, even if it is as simple as a t-shirt. My inspiration was to give the fabric some new life, and my thoughts trailed off into summer.  Summer is a long way off for this cute little dress, but it’s something wishful to think about during the negative temperatures.  Stay warm!

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Sewer’s tip: Go with what inspires you, not with what others expect from you.