Recycle, Reuse, Remodel
Late last year I had the privilege to bring to life a bride’s extraordinary vision. She presented me with a rough sketch of her design and several bags of remnant / scraps of materials, beads, braiding and chiffon flowers. From a large mound of fabrics (my cutting table overflowed!), I created a boned bodice, circular skirt (although for that we did buy extra fabric!), and a splendid train. The bride, an artist, had amassed this collection of trims and fabrics over a number of years and from various trips abroad, making the dress extra-special.
i have to admit, when I commenced the project, I was skeptical. What was effectively turning scraps of fabric into a patchwork dress would be a success. However, as I became more involved, and disregarded the conventional tailoring / dressmaking norms, it became a creative challenge to produce the most elaborate textile design, in fitting with the style of the bride.
Whilst the dress was might be a little overwhelming for some tastes, the concept of recycling, reusing or making do made me think. As we are becoming ever mindful of over-use of natural resources, and the effects over-consumption is having on the plant, and in particular the harm caused when producing fabrics, why not utilise what would ordinarily be discarded?
For Christmas I received Fashionopolis: the price of fast fashion & the future of clothes which makes eyebrow raising reading. Whilst I’m nowhere on the scale of fast fashion, a tailoring studio can be a wasteful environment. Many suppliers only sell in full metres – so if a part-metre is required, you need to round up (obviously!). Likewise, some styles (especially the circular skirt) are simply wasteful. With the most careful cutting, there can still be a good half metre left at the end of the project. Not enough to make a garment, but too much not to feel guilty about throwing away.
Whilst my production is small scale and will not make a tremendous different to the planet, I feel I should still do my bit. Because, if none of us are mindful about use / waste, then change will never happen. I’m not going to stop buying new fabrics and creating new clothes, but I’m going to be mindful of waste and make a few things over the course of 2020 as a Project Recycle/Reuse.
My first project for Project Recycle/Reuse is a panel circular skirt, using a remnant from my 2018 Christmas dress (there was a reasonable amount of remnant fabric from the bias cut sleeve), a part-metre of red cloth left over from a sample made a couple of seasons ago, and finally found some rich taffeta paisley lining.
Voila! A skirt!
Admittedly, the process cutting takes longer when using remnants… the panels are mismatched according to the quantity of fabric… and the sewing can also be more time-consuming with the extra panels to be joined, but the joy of wearing what is effectively a free skirt is immeasurable.