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Saturday, October 31, 2015


I've struggled with this weeks theme, known. And to be honest I've struggled a little with Slow Fashion October in general. While I've been given lots to mull over and think about as far as where my things are coming from, I've also been wrestling with the reality of my material limitations.

My sad truth is that as much as I wanted to sew myself some tops from sustainable material I couldn't. I cannot afford to spend $44 on two yards of fabric, no matter how "awesome" that fabric might be. There's a classism inherit in this Slow Fashion movement. There's an expectation that in order to participate or seem legitimate one must source materials that are costly, too costly for a person like me to afford. So what's a girl to do?

I almost threw in the towel on Slotober. I thought, "if I can't get that hemp jersey, I'm just not going to sew anything." I drafted and deleted 4 different posts for this week because I didn't feel that I could legitimate my participation in this movement by creating garments with some "unknown" fabric from a chain craft store.

Well, instead of giving up and being complicit through my silence I thought that I would take a chance in this post and acknowledge that Slow Fashion is complicated. Far more complicated that I think many makers realize. It's not just makers vs. the corporate machine, it's also makers vs. other folks who lack access to sustainable materials. Who is being left out of our conversations (or alienated by our conversations) on making because of a lack of material resources? What can we do to include these people who want to participate but cannot legitimate their standing in this movement through the purchasing of known or sustainable materials?

The bottom line is that sewing your own clothes is a radical act, always. And yeah, of course, knowing where your materials come from is really important but there are other ways to participate in Slow Fashion that don't require a ton of cash or self immolation. My breakthrough this week was when I realized that I could purchase second hand fabrics. Not only was I not consuming a bunch of new material and feeding into the capitalist apparatus but my wallet didn't cry.

I spent all of $4 on a total of 3 1/2 yards of vintage fabric at a local thrift store today. While I don't know where it came from originally, I do know that it was purchased secondhand locally, it will be sewn into a garment by me, on a sewing machine that was purchased secondhand on Craigslist.

No, I don't know everything about where my fabric came from. But I don't think that knowing everything is the end all be all of Slow Fashion. Just knowing where things will end up can be enough.


  1. Wonderful post! I agree with you completely. I can't afford to spend $20 a yard on fabric for a t-shirt or $150 on sweater yarn. (Not to mention that I'd be terrified to even wear a $150 sweater!) I've heard several people mention secondhand fabric, which is a great idea. It's been a long time since I've been in a thrift store, but next time I plan on looking to see if they have any fabric...

    1. It can be pretty hit or miss, but definitely worth it when sewing on a budget and trying to be thoughtful about material sourcing.

  2. I found this aspect of slowfashionoctober a bit difficult as well. I can't sew, but I do knit and it is expensive. And clothing, if you're trying to source it in an ethical way, is very expensive too. I ended up not participating as much because I didn't really feel "qualified" in a way. Bristol Ivy started some really good conversations about this on instagram though. And good on you! Second hand is always great!

    1. Knitting can be super expensive too! I'm sorry to hear that you didn't participate as much as maybe you had wanted to, it's strange how supportive this online crafting community can be and yet also so alienating. I hope that next time around you'll feel empowered and jump right in! Thanks for the heads up on the Bristol Ivy posts, I'll have to go check them out.

  3. ohhh grrrl. i am learning how to knit lace with a beginner's project of 8 linen yarn face cloths, each a different lace-esque pattern. i did not purchase the recommended $23 per skein linen yarn, but rather two $2.99 cotlin blend balls, for $6 apiece. say it takes me 8 hours to knit each, at the local minimum wage of $7.50. not including overhead (electricity, Wifi for the David Harvey lectures on *Capital* i sometimes watch while knitting), that comes to nearly $70 per face cloth of ascribed value. they'd have to last for 35 years to commodify properly. i am pondering this as i keep knitting and reading.
    gridjunky did some great posts on recycling thrift shop sweaters into yarn.
    and here is david harvey, who has been lecturing on marx for 40 years: