Me Made May Wrap Up

I wrote this last week and had plans to host a giveaway for the book. It doesn’t seem right to start this week without mentioning all that went down this weekend. Sustainability and environmentalism are important, and are absolutely tied up with racial justice, but right now protestors around the country are focused on ending police brutality and I think the Black Lives Matter movement should be the number one focus. 

I have been sharing a lot of resources on instagram for white people to start/continue antiracist work and I want to continue those thoughts here in ways that are helpful without centering me and my whiteness. I want to do the work and continue the work after the protests are over. So I’m going to be trying to do that and I may mess up, but black people cannot afford our silence because it’s more comfortable for us anymore.

I still want to share what I learned throughout the month of May during this challenge but I want to begin by sharing how we as a sewing community can support black business owners. Thanks to the work of @sewnaturaldane and @onesewsweet I was able to find a number of black owned fabric stores and I’m going to link them here. I am hosting a fun challenge this month that I’ll talk about on Thursday, and you’re going to need fabric for it! Comment with any others you know and love and I will add them to the list!

Fiibers Fabrics

Sew Much Fabric

The Fabric Fix

Ankara and Lace

My Daily Threadz has a monthly fabric box

Ta-osh dyes mesh fabric to match skin colors. Perfect for all of you that make your own bras!

We did it! We made it through May! I really enjoyed Me Made May this year and wanted to take a minute to reflect on what I learned and solidify my thoughts.

Part of my challenge this month was not just to wear handmade clothes, but to really take a look at my closet and use the things I learned from The Conscious Closet to start building a sustainable wardrobe that I love. Here’s what I learned after a month of dressing intentionally!

I genuinely liked everything I wore By taking the time to have a closet cleanout before this challenge and really evaluating my clothes, I found myself liking all of my clothes. Maybe that sounds weird to you, but I’ve always had clothes that make me uncomfortable in some way or are almost right but something is off. This month I felt good in everything. About my body, my comfort level, and just like myself.

It’s worth taking the time to change things that bothered me And anything that didn’t make me feel great, I took off and evaluated if it was worth changing or keeping at all. So a dress became a top, another one a skirt, I fixed the hem on a jumpsuit that was bothering me, tightened a waistband that was too big. All of these little fixes barely took any time and made a huge difference in me wearing the clothes.

I can see a consistent color/style I feel like I am coming into my own with my style and am beginning to be able to define what it is I like wear. I don’t like prints as much as I like colorful solids. I love a fitted waist and the color yellow. I like basic shapes with fun details over fussy clothes and I’d prefer a natural fiber against my skin over something synthetic.

I love separates more than I thought I guess I’ve never had that many handmade pants to wear for this challenge, but now that I do I see that I really like wearing separates on a day to day basis. I have always loved dresses, but this year I saw myself veering away from them more. It will be interesting as the weather heats up to see if this remains the case!

Getting dressed and playing with clothes is fun I had fun getting dressed every day. It was fun deciding what to wear, if I wanted an ‘outfit’ or just clothes on my body that were comfy. I had fun taking the pictures and managed to last the whole month without dreading them. I felt like what I wore was a reflection of who I was, and that has not always been the case for me. I want more of it!

There are so many inspiring people out there Maybe I just paid more attention or maybe so many people had plenty of time on their hands, but I was so inspired by all the makers that participated this year. Everyone’s makes, their style, their photographs made me feel  deeply connected to this creative community and I found myself feeling proud of everyone. There are so many makers out there creating conscious closets and expressing themselves even during this horrible time in history, and that gives me hope and makes me feel less alone in the world.

As someone who puts clothes on my body, I am a part of the fashion cycle, whether I buy ready to wear clothes or not. This is the biggest lesson I learned from this book and from this month long challenge. Whether or not I consider myself a fashionista, I wear clothes. Therefore, I play a part in the global fashion cycle. Thinking about where my clothes and fabric comes from and where it’s going when it leaves my closet, needs to be a part of my consciousness for the rest of my life. And I think it will be!

Thanks for following along with me and if you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest checking out The Conscious Closet and doing the work of thinking more about the how and why of getting dressed you get dressed.

Step Six, Continue the Fashion Revolution!

This is my final post on my thoughts while reading The Conscious Closet. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and feel inspired to pick up this book yourself and start building your own conscious closet. I will have a post up Monday with details on how you can win a copy of this book for yourself!

Today we are looking at Part Six, The Fashion Revolution. This section is all about the history of fashion activism and gives great information on the different countries that make our clothes. Cline gives a bit of her personal history on how she became a fashion activist and she spends a lot of this section giving resources and ideas on how we as her readers can take what we’ve learned throughout the book and start making changes to the fashion industry.

I loved how Cline noted that there are different kinds of activists and she gives avenues for action no matter what your preferred method may be. As always, Cline understands that one size doesn’t fit all and that there are many different ways to make an impact depending on who you are and where you are in life.

She ends the book encouraging us all to build a conscious closet and I have to say that even in one month I see a difference in how I get dressed and how I value my clothes. My biggest take away from this book is that I am a part of the fashion cycle, however I get the clothes on my body, and that I can make a difference just by how I purchase my clothing. What we wear matters, not just because it can make us feel great, but because it can have lasting affects on the world around us.

I’ve learned so much from this book and I am so glad I read it during the month of May when I was taking the Me Made May challenge and really scrutinizing my handmade clothes. I hope to take this awareness with me in the coming years and share here new tips and tricks I learn as I keep trying to build an intentional, sustainable wardrobe that is full of clothes that I love to wear!

Step Five, Take Care of Your Clothes

We are in the last week of May and the last week of our read along of The Conscious Closet. Today we are diving into Part Five: Make it Last. Cline has given us tips for getting rid of clothes, bringing in new clothes, and how to decide what is worth being in our closet. Now, with these next few chapters, Cline provides some basic tips on how to combat the disposable clothing culture and make our clothes last. “Part Five is dedicated to easy, sustainable, and -yes- enjoyable clothing maintenance skills that will help you keep your clothes looking great for longer.”

To begin, Cline focuses on how we launder our clothes. She claims Americans wash and dry our clothes way too much and explains the harm this does to the environment and also the toll that it takes on the clothes. Her biggest tips are to wash less, wash in cold water, and to use the dryer as little as possible.

Laundry is my least favorite task as an adult and parent and there was a time not too long ago where I tried to have a load going every day to stay on top of it. Now, there are five people in this house. One of them sometimes poops his pants, two of them are known to play in a lot of dirt, and Chris and I regularly work out. These factors all mean that we produce a lot of laundry and I don’t know that I can have everyone go a few wears between washing clothes. However, Cline got me thinking and now that it’s summer and we’re not going anywhere, it may be a good time to experiment with our laundry and see if we can change our habits.

I bought a clothes line and plan on air drying most of our clothes and saving the dryer for sheets and towels. I already use environmentally friendly detergent- I love Molly’s Suds- and wash most things on cold. Chris and I rewear a lot of things and I think I can get the kids on board with not having to wash every single article of clothing after one wear. I also have started having them help with laundry and would like to continue this as Cline says that “A 2014 study found that the millennial generation, raised on fast fashion, lacks mastery of basic clothing repairs and laundry skills when compared to their parents and grandparents.” I hope my kids leave my house knowing how to take care of their clothes!

Cline also explains how to best clean synthetic and natural fibers and I love that she has a section on taking care of cheaper clothing. Cheaper doesn’t mean disposable and everything will last longer if you treat it right!

While I won’t be washing clothes in the sink, I do think I can use some of Cline’s tips to make a difference in how we do our laundry and take care of our clothes in this house.

The remainder of part five is about repairing clothes and mending, Cline even gives some basic stitches and techniques to get you started at home. As someone that sews I love the idea of more people taking the time to mend their clothes and there are so many great resources online. I immediately thought of a recent Love to Sew podcast all about mending. I would suggest that if you’re new to the idea to start with that episode as there are many great resources!

Step Four, Know Your Fabrics

First off, apologies for being a day late in my read along! We had a weekend full of celebrations and are wrapping up school (hurray!) so it’s been busy, busy over here. Which I admit is very nice, especially after almost 2 months of what has felt like Groundhog day.

Anyway, here we are with Part Four our read along from The Conscious Closet, The Sustainable Fashion Handbook. This section begins with the chapter that I am most interested in, Chapter 18, Sustainable Fashion Lunatic. I think it’s easy when we make our own clothes to feel like we’re above the fast fashion industry, that what we’re doing is automatically more ethical than shopping. But if we ignore the fabric we use and where it comes from, we could still be contributing to environmental and human rights concerns in big ways.

In fact, Cline says “The majority of fashion’s environmental impact on the planet happens while manufacturing textiles, in the phase where fabric and materials are grown or made, then spun, dyed, and finished into something we recognize as clothing.” This should be a huge concern to us sewists and seeking out sustainable fabric should be just as important to us as seeking out sustainable clothing companies.

But of course, it’s not just that simple. This chapter goes through common materials and describes the process of how they are made and what their environmental impacts are. It also explains how to buy as consciously as possible and Cline gives a lot of resources on organizations that offer certifications or that make it easier for consumers to know what they’re buying.

I think I was most surprised to read about the impact of viscose rayon and the damage it does on the environment and to the people that make it. Rayon is sometimes touted as sustainable, especially if it’s made with bamboo, and I realized that I need to do more research when I purchase fabric and look for certifications that make it more sustainable and not rely on the branding.

I also found it interesting how much humans and the environment are tied together when it comes to making materials for our clothes. When harmful chemicals are used, both the earth and the people working with them are put at risk. When water is wasted or trees deforested, there is a direct link to us as human beings and what it means for our future. This isn’t surprising to me, but to see it broken down step by step makes it harder to just run out and buy any old t-shirt. We need to start looking at our part in the fashion cycle and know that each step affects all of us.

So what to do as someone who makes clothes? Here are ways that I try to buy fabric consciously and sustainably.

Buy what I need Lately I have been trying to plan out my makes and only buy for clothes that I know I will be sewing. While plans do change, I find that this has made sure my fabric stash isn’t massive and it also lets me invest a little more in high quality, sustainable fabrics instead of just accumulating more.

Shop from places I trust I love Blackbird Fabrics as they offer a lot of information on all the fabric they source and their goal is to find sustainable options for the home sewist. Deadstock fabrics are great and many fabric stores are offering them for sale. Deadstock means they were manufactured for another purpose, a designer or big brand, and whatever was left is being sold off. This means it isn’t just being thrown away and these fabrics are usually high quality. Check out this list from Amy Nicole Studio and this one from Half-moon Atelier. 

Reuse other garments for fabric We’ve talked a little bit about this, but there is a huge refashioning movement among the sewing community. It’s more than just resizing or fitting a garment. Refashioning usually means completely deconstructing something and making it into something brand new. A great way to keep otherwise wonderful fabric out of landfills.

Buy vintage fabric There are a lot of resources online (checkout the lists I linked above!) and plenty of people on instagram selling vintage fabric. Sometimes you have to think outside the box (don’t be stuck on the fact that it was curtains or bedding!) but old fabrics can absolutely be made into modern clothes. I haven’t had as much luck sourcing fabric from thrift stores on my own, but I’ve heard estate sales are where the action is!

As expected, the other chapters in this sectional are full of useful information and action steps. Chapter 19 talks about what chemicals to look for, and get rid of!, in your closet and chapter 20 is how to find sustainable clothing brands and what to look for with big brands. Cline offers great tips on what to look for and how to start demanding change within brands that you already love.

I think the first step of realizing we all have a part to play in the fashion cycle because we all wear clothes makes it easier to go from there and care about who you buy from. We have the power to demand more of brands and this section is full of information on how to do just that!

 

Step Three, Shop Consciously

Welcome back to my read along of The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth L. Cline. Today we’re looking at part three, chapters 13-17, and learning about ways to shop consciously.

This section is called the Art of More and in it Cline explains how to take everything you learned about your style and closet back in part two, and go out and add to it. The purpose behind this section is really one of my favorite things about this book. Cline isn’t saying to only buy a set amount every week, nor is she saying to banish buying together, instead she is all about looking at affordable and conscious ways to still have fun with fashion but not be a part of the problem. “The Art of More is dedicated to strategies for sharing fashion and viewing it as a service we lease, access, and enjoy, rather than a product we buy.”

Chapter 14 is titled Resale not Retail and it is all about consignment stores. I am new to shopping thrift and consignment, but I will say I have found a few that I love. For in person shopping, one of my favorite businesses is Buffalo Exchange. There are also at least two smaller consignment stores in my town that I hope to hit up as soon as it’s safe to do so.

I prefer consignment stores mainly for the time aspect. Thrift stores can be hit or miss and you usually have to dig. The upside is you can absolutely find some treasures for cheap, but for me I like the stores that have done some of that work for me. I’ve still found good deals at consignment shops but mostly I’m looking for unique, special pieces more than I am a bargain.

However, I was particularly interested in the online stores Cline mentions, as that is really what we have access to right now. Here are three sites that I have used and thought I would share my experience with if you haven’t dipped your toe into the online resale world yet!

Thredup I have bought and sold on thredup and I will say it’s one of the easiest ways to sell your clothing. You sign up for a bag, they mail it to you, go through it, post what they think will sale, then give you a small percentage of that sale. I don’t know that you get the most bang for your buck with reselling, but it’s easy and then you can use the credit you earn to shop. I’ve had the most success finding kids clothes on the site as well as some work out pieces.

Poshmark is different in that you set up your ‘storefront’ to sell clothes and are in charge of getting it to whoever wants it (with a lot of hand holding along the way!) I haven’t sold anything on Poshmark but I would say you could definitely make more money off of this site, especially with quality or trending pieces. For shopping, there are a lot of great options and I’ve had success looking for really specific things. I’ve bought snow pants for the kids, a leopard skirt for me, faux leather leggings, and a sequined bralet (this all together makes me sound kind of exciting!). My only really con with this site is that shipping can get expensive, especially if you buy multiple things from multiple vendors, you pay full shipping for each item.

The Real Real I haven’t actually purchased from this site but I have to mention it if you want designer or are a collector. This is a really easy site to use and I have a few friends that have bought amazing things from them.

I know there are plenty of facebook groups that resell specific brands as well. I’m not on facebook so I can’t speak for these, but I have a friend that is a part of an Anthropologie resell group and gets some great pieces there.

Chapter 15 is full of tips on how to shop at a thrift store or for vintage pieces. I’ve recently found some great Youtubers that focus on thrifting and I’ve learned so much from them! In case you want some thrifting inspriation, check out

Taylor Made Style   my favorite thrifter. Taylor does a great job of talking through what she’s looking for when she’s thrifting and has so much fun styling her finds that she inspires you to look at your closet in a new way. I always enjoy her take on things, even if it isn’t my style.

B Jones Style I know she’s been around for awhile but I only just started following her. Again, she has a different style than I do, but is able to show how different trends can be found in thrift stores or updated to look new. I also love her vintage collection and just her whole motto on playing dress up and having fun with fashion.

Little Acorn manages to thrift and make things look expensive and minimal. She’s someone that is very clear on her style and it’s fun to see her take things she finds in thrift stores and style them up in her unique way. She also mixes in new pieces with a focus on sustainability.

Sifted Clothing  Their youtube channel isn’t updated as often as their instagram, but this duo thrifts and then sells what they find in their shop. I like seeing how they style up pieces and enjoy the thought process on why they think something will sell.

Chap 16 is called Rent your next wardrobe and this is something I absolutely love to do! I’ve ordered from two companies and have a lot of thoughts about them.

Rent The Runway

This is the first clothing rental company I ever used and it’s still my go to when I need a formal dress. There was a time when we had at least one black tie event a year and it just didn’t make sense to me to invest in dresses that I wouldn’t get much wear out of. But I also didn’t want to show up in something cheap or blah. Rent the Runway is a perfect answer (I know they have subscriptions too which I think would be great for those that work in an office or have evening events on a regular basis). They let you rent two different dresses or different sizes and one time they even sent me another size overnight because the original one didn’t fit.

Nuuly

I have used Nuuly quite a few times this year and the only reason I’m not using it now is because I’m not leaving the house and I’m participating in Me Made May. Nuuly is a subscription service where you pick six items of clothing to wear for the month, then return them to get six more. You can of course buy anything you fall in love with and don’t want to give back! I love that the clothes come in a reusable bag- there’s absolutely no waste- and the company is a part of Anthropologie so the styles and brands are all one s that I really love. I’ve had fun using this when we went to Austin City Limits and I wanted hippie, festival clothes and for our recent trip to Mexico.

Chapter 17 is about how to afford a conscious closet with tips on what is worth spending money on, how to budget, and factors that should go into your buying decisions.

My addition to part three is to share some restyling inspirations. These are women that take thrifted clothes and turn them into something else, which is a great option when you can sew yourself. It’s also an easy and affordable way to get into sewing. I like these Youtube channels

Lydia Naomi I just found Lydia and love her mix of sewing tutorials and restyles. She’s funny and cool and worth checking out.

Elizabeth Bryson is one of the first you tubers I found that restyled thrifted clothes and made them look cool. My only real gripe is that she often takes larger sizes and changes them. I’ve seen many plus size women comment that this isn’t the best practice for a number of reasons and it’s made me rethink how I look for clothes to refashion in a thrift store.

With Wendyhas a lot of fun tutorials and makes very fashion forward DIYS with great production value. She always stays true to her style and manages to make everything look cool.

And if you don’t follow Amy Nicole Studio, you should! She’s a pattern designer, a talented sewist, and she hosts the restyling exchange each year. She focuses on sustainability in her makes and again is someone with a very specific style point of view that is fun to see her create for her wardrobe.

I think the main point Cline tries to make in Part three is this, once you know what you love and what you will wear, it’s fun to treasure hunt for great pieces. Whether you do that through second hand shops or by saving up for more expensive clothes, you will become an expert at building a closet full of outfits you love to wear. I love her tips, but more than anything, I love this message and it’s made me look harder at things I want to purchase and things I want to make.

 

Step Two, Make a Well Built Wardrobe

Part two in our read along focuses on the Art of Less. Cline says, “The Art of Less is a philosophy based on the thoughtful, intentional consumption of fewer items of clothing.” It’s a philosophy that is not anti-fashion but instead it’s anti- mindless consumption.

The following chapters have some great advice and tips. There is the practice of sustaining from buying clothes and learning from that and then how to use that information and go out and add to your wardrobe. Cline recommends trying a fashion fast and chapter 9 is full of ways to identify quality in garments.  Even as someone who makes clothes and understands finishes, I found this chapter helpful. There is also a section on footwear and it concludes with tips on how what to ask yourself as your buying new clothes.

The section I want to focus on here is the Well Built Wardrobe, chapter 11. I’m interested in using Cline’s principles and applying them to things I make as well as things I buy.

“When every garment has a purpose and every color and cut goes with something else, your wardrobe can carry you through life in style, no matter the occasion.” There are so many options for clothing to make and buy, it can seem overwhelming, especially at the beginning when you’re just learning how to sew. There are plenty of times I’ve made something only to realize that, nope, that’s not something I like to wear. Using Cline’s Four Fundamentals is a great starting point to looking at what I want to add to my wardrobe and what I can enjoy on others and not bother making myself.

Identify Colors This is something I recently started paying attention to. Last summer I fell in love with the color yellow but for whatever reason, I had it in my head that this was a color I “couldn’t” wear. But I found fabric I loved and had a dress in my head so I went ahead and made it and now it’s one of my most worn things in my closet. From there I’ve fallen in love with wearing mustards, terra-cotta, and other earthy tones. Without consciously doing it, I started creating collections that followed a specific color scheme.

Jasika has been really detailed in documenting her color journey and it’s because of her that I started taking a closer look at what my colors are. After investigating, it turns out, I’m an autumn palette, which absolutely falls in line with all the clothes I love and the ones that get me the “that looks great on you!” comments. I’ve just started this color deep dive, but judging from my winter collection and a snapshot of my handmade clothes, I think I can safely say that warmer colors are becoming my go to. I also know I love black, and maybe that doesn’t count, but a great black dress or top will absolutely get worn.

I think it’s worth looking at prints and patterns in your wardrobe along with colors. I’ve learned that I prefer rich, solid colors to busy prints. I love looking at prints, turns out I just don’t wear them much.

Settle on cuts and silhouettes This is one I’m still learning about. I’m excited to look at all of my documented outfits in May and examine what it is that I like wearing. I know I like simple, more modern shapes and don’t love frills or stereotypical girlie clothes. I like to feel strong and grown up in what I wear and need more time to articulate exactly what this means for me.

Say no more than yes Like I said, there are so many options in the sewing world, which is fantastic!, but it takes some practice in saying no. My best tips for deciding on if you need that new pattern is to think about the following

-It ain’t going anywhere. Yes, it may be on sale, but I like to have a wishlist going of patterns I’d like to try. When I go back and check the list weeks later, if I still want to make something or see it clearly in my wardrobe I may pull the trigger

-Follow the hashtag. Look up the hashtag to the pattern to see it made up in different fabrics and on different people.

-Make sure you don’t own basically the same thing! I’ve gotten a new pattern and realized quickly why I love it so much, I already own it!

-Copy ready to wear. I love to find clothes in ready to wear and copy them. This helps me know if a pattern is just well marketed or if it’s actually a shape I’m drawn to and want to wear.

Hone your Personal Style Another work in progress, but I’m getting close to being able to define my personal style. I like simple clothes with a bohemian twist. I like sexy details but not overtly sexy clothing. I appreciate prints in small doses but tend to like solid colors more. I love when clothes play with masculine lines more than I like frills or girly silhouettes.

After examining these four fundamentals Cline says to look at your core pieces and then add in accents and accessories from there. I think the Me Made May challenge is a great way to look at your handmade wardrobe and see what makes up your core pieces. A lot of the challenge files into Cline’s ideas nicely, planning outfits, experimenting with what’s in your closet, documenting what you wear. I’m going to look at everything at the end of the month and decide what my core pieces are then and also come back to these four fundamentals and see if  anything has changed for me. Already I’ve found a few holes that I want to fill and they are not things that were at the top of the list a few weeks ago.

I hope your week is going well and that you get to celebrate Cinco de Mayo today with delicious taco and a margarita if that’s your thing. Stay safe and well and I’ll see you next week to talk about part 3: the art of more.

 

 

 

 

Step One, Clean Out the Closet

Today is we are looking at Part One of The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth L. Cline: Good bye fast fashion!

Part one of this book is about assessing what we already own and figuring out what to do with what we no longer want. So today is step one, the great cleanout! This is actually the chapter that first got me hooked on this book and here’s why, Cline is adamant that cleaning out your closet is not about getting rid of everything you own and starting from scratch. The point is to understand what you have and to put what you no longer need to good use. Then to use that information and go forward to make ethical, sustainable purchases in the future (which we’ll get to later in the book!)

So here’s how I cleaned out my closet.

First, I have to admit that I had done a bulk of the work before we moved. Trying to decide whether something is worth moving cross country is a great way to purge everything in your house! So before my move I looked at everything and got rid of anything that didn’t fit, that I hadn’t worn in a really long time, or that I just didn’t like anymore.

This past week I went through my closet and I actually went against Cline’s advice and looked at all my clothes, not just my seasonal ones. I did this for two main reasons. One, I have a much bigger closet now and can keep most everything out at all times. Two, I live in a place where spring means one day I could be in shorts and the next I’m going to be layering on sweaters. I would rather just have it all out where I can see it. Plus, with this strange time in history, I have plenty of time to just tackle it all now, so why not?

I sorted everything into two main piles, keep and give. Then within those piles I sorted again.

In my keep pile I have the following.

Things I love. These immediately got put back in the closet

Things that are a maybe. Cline says to keep the maybes, try to figure out what you like about them and what you don’t and see if you can get more wear out of them in the coming months.

Things that need to be altered or repaired. I have a few things that need a button sewn on, need to be taken in, or that I love but want to alter a bit. These are all headed down to my sewing machine and my plan is to use the month of May to work through them.

Things that I can keep and use the fabric for something else. This is where knowing how to sew comes in very handy! I have some clothes that can absolutely be reworked into kids’ clothing and I plan on using them this spring and next winter. My rule is that I have to know exactly what it will be, just like when I buy new fabric, otherwise it will just sit in my office and never turn into anything. If I know what I want to make with it, chances are it will actually get made.

For my give pile I have things to sell and things to donate. It’s a weird time right now so honestly this may be a box that sits in my closet until things open back up again and I’ll just have to be ok with that. For the sell I like Thred Up. I don’ get the biggest returns on this, but it’s the easiest to use and for me it’s worth it. I’ve used my credits to buy a couple of things off the site before and the process is really simple. Cline uses the other chapters in part one to discuss other ways to sell and she has some great advice.

For donating, I’m not quite sure yet where I will be taking my clothes. Again, Cline has great advice and again, I’m going to have to wait until things open back up to really research this. For now I will sort like clothing (more business, dressy, casual) so that when I find places that will take them, I’ll be able to be a bit more specific. Some shelters for example ask for work wear or seasonal things.

The final part of the cleanout is to look at your Wardrobe Statistics. I added in the category of handmade into mine and came up with this. I’ll be filling this in in the weeks to come and hope to share my final count at the end of this month.

Wardrobe Statistics

# of articles of clothing:

% Worn:

Thrifted:

Handmade:

Ethical brands:

Fabrics:

Orgins:

Knowledge about environmental impact in fashion:

Knowledge of social issues in fashion:

The following chapters, 2-6, go into greater detail on ethical ways to take care of your clothes and how to donate, sell, and swap your clothes. I think it’s important to know how much of our clothing that we donate goes into landfills because people just dump things off at Goodwill to make themselves feel better (I say this as someone who has done just that.) Taking the time and effort to make sure your clothes are being recycled, reworn, or put to good use is absolutely part of a conscious closet. All that work will also help in making you (me!) more mindful about what you bring back into your closet.

I feel really good about where I am in my closet clean out and will update as I go along. I’m hoping that Me Made May will really help with this process and get me motivated to make alter alterations and changes I have planned. I hope it’s helpful to see how I cleaned out my closet and inspires you to clean out yours in a conscious way!

 

What is a Conscious Closet

Before we start our read along, I think it’s important to define what exactly a ‘conscious closet’ is and acknowledge that this will mean different things to different people. Cline defines the term in the introduction, “A conscious closet is a wardrobe built with greater intention and awareness of clothes, where they come from, what they’re made of, and why they matter.”

Clothes are political, even if you don’t think you are, and what you wear matters. Apparel is a 2.5 trillion dollar business and holds up 3% of the global economy. It employs hundreds of millions of people, most of whom are young women. Only a handful of garmet workers earn a living wage- anywhere! Understanding that what you buy directly affects people around the world is important.

Apparel is also one of the largest industries contributing to carbon emissions and water pollution. Again, knowing how your clothes are made and understanding the impact your purchases have on the planet is a good thing.

We all need to realize that something as simple as buying a t-shirt is tied to our environment, human rights, and a global economy. Pretending these things don’t matter or succumbing to convenience over consciousness over and over again is creating a major problem in the world. Looking at your closet is a great place to start changing how you make decisions and can truly make a lasting impact on people’s lives you may never meet.

“Conscious fashion is a mind-set, a movement, and a way of life. It is a manifesto and a call to action.” I also think it can be fun! Getting dressed is fun, supporting local artists, hunting for thrifted treasures, all of these things can become a new fun way of filling your closet. I love Cline’s approach because before, everything I had looked into about creating a sustainable wardrobe had revolved around a minimalist mindset. Cline’s approach works for whatever way fashion plays into your life. Maybe you do only need set number of garments. Maybe you prefer an overflowing, endless supply of inspiration. Maybe you collect, maybe you only want trendy. Maybe you’re a mix of all of the above. It doesn’t matter! A conscious closet can be built however works for you.

When I think of my own closet and knowing what I know now about the real place fashion has in the world, I want my conscious closet to be

A place of inspiration! I love getting dressed. I like dressing how I feel for the day (or how I want to feel). I’ve tried capsule wardrobes and they don’t work for me but I’m not someone who needs the trendiest piece at the moment either.

Full of clothes that make me feel good I hate putting something on and it almost feels good. The fit is off, something is scratchy, or the color just isn’t right. I want to pay attention to what feels good on and makes me feel good and then know when I’m in a store or making something that almost isn’t good enough. To live in my closet it has to work when I put it on.

Full of clothes that I actually wear and take care of I’m ready to let go of pieces that reflect a person I want to be or used to be. I am fine with having a sparkly dress in the back for special occasions, but I want most everything else to get worn. I also want to mend clothes that need it, meaning I love them so much I want to extend their life.

Full of clothes that I feel good about how they were made I want to know the people that made my clothes are getting a decent wage and that the process to get the clothes to me didn’t destroy the planet along the way. I want to support other artists and save up for things I want instead of filling my closet with cheap things I kind of like. I also want to take the time in planning and making clothes. To know that care went into my makes and that they will last and be worn for years to come.

Going forward, these are the things I will be focusing on in building my conscious closet. Your list may look different, but that’s great! We all have different values, different needs, and what we bring into our home and wear on our bodies should reflect those things. The main thing is to think about and pay attention to what you have and wear it came from and then from there you will have plenty of room to play and get dressed!

My Winter Makes

This year I wanted to approach my sewing in a more thoughtful way. I decided focusing on seasons would help me make pieces that would actually get worn and that thinking in terms of a collection would be a great way to build a wardrobe that’s cohesive and full of clothes I love.

I divided up the year into the seasons and focused on my winter collection and what I would want to make from January through March. Here are the results!

Adrienne Blouse by Friday Pattern Co.  This knit top is so great and it makes me want to try more from this company. Very simple construction, really a simple top but the sleeves make it a little more special. I used a bamboo knit that has lovely drape and feels comfortable on the skin. I believe I sewed up the size small in this with no modifications.

Nikko Top by True Bias in the long sleeve version. This is going to be a pattern I make again and again. The weight of this bamboo rib knit is perfect for the weather right now and I think I need about 3 more in different colors. It’s cute on it’s own and perfect for layering. A great beginning pattern, I sewed up the size 6.

Nikko dress by True Bias in the sleeveless version. The same fabric as above, I love this dress. It can look sexy or casual depending on how you style it up. I’ve worn it a few times now even though we’re just hanging out at the house because it kind of feels like wearing pajamas. I made the size 4 with no adjustments.

Nexus blouse and Axis skirt by Papercut Patterns I 100% copied the pictures on the website for this make and I love the color combo. The blouse is made out of a rayon and the blue is a corduroy, both are sewn up in the size 4 with some fit adjustments on the skirt. This is a great button down shirt as there is no collar and it sews up quickly. It can be worn either way (here the buttons are in the back!) and I love the sleeves. The skirt is going to be a go to this spring, I think it will look great with a t-shirt and sneakers.

Adrienne Blouse by Friday Pattern Co and Axis Skirt by Papercut Patterns This blouse is the exact same as the black, just in a plum color, and this skirt is in a flannel I picked up at the end of the year. It’s warm and cozy and I’m very proud of my pattern matching on this one. I made the size 5 and it took considerable adjustments to get the fit right, but I think I got there! I love this skirt with a chunky sweater and boots.

Persephone Pants by Anna Allen Clothing Maybe my favorite make of the past few months. I love these pants and have been wearing them non stop. I made a size 8 out of this denim I think I picked up a couple of years ago. The fit is great and they are so comfortable- I wasn’t sure with the high waist if they would be something I reached for on a regular basis. I am needing more pants that fit in my wardrobe since Sam was born and this has inspired me to make more and look for other great patterns!

 

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