Week 2 Turmeric Tunic

This weeks inspiration came from a cute Short-Sleeved Baby Dress in Organic Cotton
Looking at the image, I wondered how I could design a zero-waste pattern for this dress. The focal point was around the collar and its curves. In the pattern these are shared by the curves in the arms of the bodice. The sleeves then share the same lines as the neckline.  
By using symmetry the resulting pattern is simple, yet has all the elements of a typical dress pattern. I was able to fold the yard of fabric into quarters and cut out all the pieces with only 4 cuts!

The construction was not quite as straight forward as the pattern making.  The first step was to sew the shoulder seams together.  I determined how much I needed to gather the sleeves in order to get them to fit.  I love the resulting puff sleeve.  Next, I put the garment on my dress mannequin and removed some of the extra width in the back panel by creating the button closure.  I tried various ways of attaching the collar, but the excess fabric in the front was draping so naturally that I simply had to twist it slightly and tack it into place.   Although the collar looked good, it just wasn't working.  Once I was able to let go of my original idea of having a collar, the construction moved forward quite quickly. Simply put, don't be afraid of change. What began as a collar ended up as sleeve adornment.  Finally, the additional material in the body, became pockets.  I was so impressed with how these pockets folded in, that I intend to try it again in a pair of pants or a skirt.  The finished tunic was dyed naturally in a bath of turmeric which gave a golden yellow colour.

Into the second week of my zero waste design project and I struggle with the irony that it presents.  The idea of creating numerous items of clothing, that may or may not be wearable could be viewed as wasteful.  Therefore, I need to challenge myself to see purpose in each garment beyond the pleasure I get from creating them.

I cannot claim that these clothes are sustainable, ecochic or even slow fashion, but these are terms I intend to explore during this process.  Maybe there is a way of classifying a garment according to scales of sustainability.  Wear-ability, durability; construction process, life-cycle; composition, economics; these are all factors that might make a garment sustainable. 

I challenge you to continue to question whether sustainable fashion exists. I am inspired by Yan Larosa of Leigh Textiles as he describes sustainable development as a "personal quest", "intrinsic to the individual" in the documentary Architects of Change.  "Sustainable development isn't a concept that exists outside of us, its inside us, its part of an equilibrium."

As I dive into this project, I am excited to find an entire community that exists around zero-waste design!  I am humbled by their work and discoveries, and am grateful to learn from their knowledge. In particular, I came across fashion-incubator.com and Kathleen Fasanella who summarized her thoughts about a zero waste fashion exhibit.  

The qualities she discusses (and that I will continue to explore) are organic vs. geometric, simplicity vs. complex construction, and usability vs. amount of material and finally, attractiveness.  I could get all scientific about these qualities and draw a graph exploring the relationships, but I will spare you from this (for now!).

I am equally as excited to discover that clothing can be healing.  Weaving wellness into fashion is the mission of Seam Siren who goes as far as to create custom garments that support each clients healing needs based on a questionnaire.  They only use natural dye, like turmeric as I have used in this tunic, and they choose fibers like nettle, which I did not even know could be woven!

There is a common element of the individual and small scale production, repeating on my quest for sustainable fashion. Designs that allow the purchaser to choose what product they want based on their own personal values. Maybe this is the future of fashion!

I am that I am.


Popular Posts