Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Zero waste dress and handmade buttons

Hello, hello. I am really looking forward to sharing this blog post. Last week was brilliant on Instagram and totally buzzing with conversation about sustainable fashion, what we can do to improve our own personal practice and a general increase in awareness of humanitarian and environmental issues to do with the fashion industry (search #fashrev #makersforfashrev). It was a great week and really got the creative juices flowing. I was participating in a week long daily photo challenge organised by the lovely Emily of 'In the folds' and I wasn't really expecting to get as much out of it as I did, but it really helped me to re-evaluate how I work and address how I want to work going forward. My attention also returned back to the issue of zero waste fashion. It's something that has been on my mind, but it requires a lot of thought and consideration and I manage to make myself too busy all the time to really get into it!

 I opened up the discussion on Instagram a month or so ago and was directed to the book 'Zero waste fashion design'. I subsequently bought it, had a good look through and then put it on the shelf. I knew I needed to step back from it to really get a sense of where I wanted to go with it and how I can execute an idea successfully.

It seemed easier to think of making a dress just to explore the concept a bit and I knew that I was going to use a sizeable length of fabric from my stash (I used 2.5 metres of a 110cm wide fabric). I then needed to plan all the seam and edge finishes before I started cutting, plus a garment style and also how I wanted to use the fabric.

In the book mentioned above there are all sorts of examples of garments with the cutting plans. Some garments are made from lots of smallish bits creatively cut, but for my first go I wanted to use the whole piece of fabric as is and cut into it/manipulate it.

My process was to start with the neck and shoulders and work my way down. I haven't taken step by step photos of this garment, but as I was cutting the neck line I was careful to build the neckline facings into the design. The interesting folds along the sleeves and lapels are basically a result of this thinking and a really nice detail.




Another consideration was to include enough volume in the front and back by way of a pleat, which was calculated when cutting the neck opening.




Once I had worked out how I was going to cut these areas the pressure was eased somewhat when fumbling with what to do for the rest of the garment.

There was a lot of trying on and pinning once the neck and shoulders were established! Eventually I cut into the body and got pinning again and decided on pockets and sleeve shape etc...




What I have ended up with is some kind of sewing origami and I'm really pleased with how it has come together and the fact that it is wearable. One of my biggest fears was to waste the fabric on an exercise to reduce waste!





It is difficult to go into too much more detail as this is the beginning of something for me really. It is a wearable prototype I would say and now I have achieved a concept I like I can refine it to have stronger junctions at the neck and underarms and more planned seams rather than topstitched areas. Also different sleeve lengths with different fabric widths as this is not my favourite length!




 I'm excited to have new direction and I really want to explore this idea further and build upon the experience. It is a muslin, but I'm wearing it now, so I guess it must be a success! Two rather irksome scraps were left over however!!! I turned them into a lavender bag, so don't worry, they weren't wasted! ;-)

Just room for a bit more sustainable ramble???

I need to show you these buttons!


These are a result of a prompt from last weeks discussions and without thinking how it would be possible I mentioned I wanted to make buttons from shells! What? Crazy? My husband thought so, which got me more determined than ever. The shells were collected on a recent family holiday to Tenby in Wales and they are very sea worn and flat oyster shells.


A bit of sawing and gentle piercing with an awl followed by a gentle file turned them into beautiful hand made buttons. I only used two or three of the shells we collected because I didn't want to go overboard, but I have enough smaller buttons for a light garment and some larger for a jacket or something.



It was great to be doing something new and I feel I learnt whole load about the structure of a shell. The very same day a couple of other lovely sewists also posted some buttons they had recently finished, so there is definitely something in the air. One set was made from a lovely found piece f wood, whilst the others were beautifully crafted from porcelain. Maybe we are all feeling the desire to connect with the materials we are working with?

How about you? Are you questioning a lot more or wanting to try something new with your sewing/garment making?

26 comments:

Jess said...

I just want to say, you look like Nigella Lawson ...

Meg said...

That dress is amazing! I love the sleeve/neckline/facing junction... so clever! I'd love to learn how to do this zero-waste type of thing.

Elizabeth Made This said...

What a cool process! I love the sleeve shape and the overall texture of the various folds--origami is the right word for it! I'd love to take a draping class at some point just to explore these kind of ideas. It's funny--this zero waste thing is what I remember doing as a kid with dolls. I just draped fabric over them and stitched and folded as need be just because I didn't know you could cut fabric. Being able to refine and really understand the process of making a rectangle into a wearable garment without waste sounds like a pretty thrilling exercise.

Marilla Walker said...

Thanks Jess, not sure I see it, but I'll take it! ;-)

Melissa said...

That dress is so cool. I like the shape of it and the fabric pattern suits it. I'm going to see if my library has this book so I am see what this is about.

Loved seeing the button process via IG!

Marilla Walker said...

Meg and Elizabeth - draping is where it's at for this kind of design. I want to try flat pattern cutting a zero waste garment next, but I think I need to step away once more and plan a new approach. Thinking about something is key for me, as I problem solve in my head first before heading to paper. Definitely recommend a draping course. I really enjoy it and it often leads to more interesting lines and shapes that you may not have thought of otherwise! :-)

Marilla Walker said...

Thanks Melissa, I would definitely recommend checking it out in a library first! It's a good resource, but it's not really a how to kind of thing, it's more of a guide to what is happening now and how to look at zero waste as an innovative way of designing as well as ecological.

Marilla Walker said...

I'll try and talk more about the book in a future post!

Heather Gibson said...

This is amazing Marilla!! I love The neckline and the sleeves are so cool! I'm in total awe of your button making too!

Carol said...

Looks great. Zero waste interesting. I love the way early garments depended on width of fabric with gussets for shape and movement. I have long wanted to have a go at a bog coat.

Helen said...

This looks amazing, and I love the fold details. They really make the dress interesting. Well done! (And thanks for making me feel less guilty about buying jeans on IG! ;))

aklat said...

That is brilliant!

Marilla Walker said...

Thanks Heather! I'm amazed the buttons actually worked out ;-)

Marilla Walker said...

Hi Carol - I love early garments too and find them so inspiring. Sometimes simple is best!

Marilla Walker said...

Hi Helen - ha ha, we can't all do everything all the time. I keep saying I may make jeans, but I'm not sure I'll ever really be won round ;-) Thanks for the lovely comment xxx

Marilla Walker said...

Thanks aklat! x

englishgirlathome.com said...

Fascinating post & I love the dress - looking forward to seeing how you further refine it. The buttons are also amazing - they remind me a bit of horn buttons with their colouring & patterns.

Gillian said...

I enjoyed seeing your button progress come together on IG! I think no waste is interesting - but I think using scraps wisely is probably more my speed! :)

Susan Collinsworth said...

On the one hand, I appreciate and support the idea of reducing waste. On the other, sometimes I get so tired of hearing about "sustainability" and all, that I throw something perfectly recyclable in the garbage just because I still can! I have comparatively few clothes, and most of what I own is thrifted. I sew very slowly, and honestly, I'd like to see some sewist bloggers' closets, the rate they post new things they've made! So this is not a movement I feel strongly that I need to become a member of right now. Okay, rant over, thanks! Having said all that, i love what you've done here! It's so intriguing and attractive!

Marilla Walker said...

Hi Susan - I totally appreciate what you're saying. You should read the post that follows this one. I don't believe anyone should feel as they are being preached to as life is for the living and as individuals we should live the life that makes us the happiest and create our own rules. This dress is exploring a concept, but is in no way devoid of criticism. In my following post I address the fabric quantity used and the fact that if I was not trying to use the entire fabric length then I probably would have saved half a metre of fabric! There is no right or wrong here, but rather an introduction to a different perspective.

Fabrickated said...

I really like the origami dress. I made a zero waist skirt with just the right size of fabric. Wrapping it around me and pinching out darts including at the side seam. It is an interesting concept, but like Susan, and you, its not about being holier than thou. The home made buttons are fantastic. Really very special and so much nicer than plastic. Lovely work as always.

Kathryn said...

This is so clever Marilla! The shape of it lying flat reminds me of Issey Miyake dresses I saw a few years ago. I sorted out all my fabrics last week & took all the teeny fabric scraps to the nearest textile recycling bin but kept Jersey ones I thought were big enough for underwear & woven ones for quilting. I don't think I could get my head round the folding & design elements of zero waste clothing!

Sonja said...

I can't quite wrap my head around how you did this! It's so interesting! Well done!

Marilla Walker said...

Thanks Sonja, if I showed you a step by step you would be amazed at the simplicity, but then that's what makes sewing fun! ;-)

Marilla Walker said...

Oh Kathryn, I just love Issey Miyake so appreciate the comparison. Well done for sorting your scraps!

jane said...

Incredibly exciting! And those buttons...love! I am totally into zero- (really lower) waste in all aspects of my life. When it comes to this kind of sewing, however, I have to be honest that I don't know if I'm totally into all the fabric being somehow attached to me. I love the look of your dress...but usually when I look at this type of design, I'm just not always into all the volume and layers of fabric just stuck onto me and flapping about on me. I try to get away with less fabric than patterns call for by manipulating pattern pieces for a tighter fit on the fabric...and then I use the scraps in quilts and bags that I use or donate...still zero- (again just lower) waste. I'm sure that's what most of us try to do, but I love how you are exploring this in different ways!