Slow Fashion October: Week One

As I’ve mentioned on the podcast a few times, I’ve been really excited about Slow Fashion October, a movement that Karen from Fringe Association is hosting this month. I’ve already been thinking a lot about the subject of slow and handmade fashion throughout the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge. Karen’s invitation has led me to dive a little deeper into my own journey on this path. I’ve decided to blog my way through Slow Fashion October with a series of weekly blog posts in response to Karen’s prompts. I’ve been really enjoying the chats on these subjects on the Curious Handmade Ravelry group, and I hope the added richness of Slow Fashion October will spark even more wonderful conversations.

Here’s Karen’s prompt:

“Slow Fashion is a big subject, and I want every week to be inclusive of everyone who might be interested — from sewers and knitters to thrifters and menders and anyone just trying to be more mindful and informed about where their clothes are coming from and what environmental impact their buying habits have. So I’ve broken the month down into weekly themes that encompass everyone, hopefully—

Week 1,  October 1-4: YOU
First let’s introduce ourselves: Where are you at with all this / What first got you interested in Slow Fashion / What are your skills / What do you hope to get out of Slow Fashion October / What are your personal goals for the month / Do you have a special project you plan to tackle this month?”

It all started out wanting to live with less about 7 years ago. It was something that started in a very small gradual way and there have been several different influences and reasons for making changes.

A few years ago I started to get disturbed by my increase in consumption — partly prompted by the birth of my children — each affected me in quite different ways.

When I had my first child I foolishly spent a LOT of my precious maternity leave (and pay) shopping both in shops but mostly online, with one hand while feeding/patting/held captive with a sleeping baby on me, too scared to move. I thought I could solve every child rearing problem (that wasn’t a problem at all, in retrospect) with a gadget or soothing device. We survived the first couple of years of parenthood and my rate of shopping eventually slowed down a bit.

When I had my second I had started to think a lot more about environmental issues (something about having kids often prompts this awareness and it certainly was true for me). So by the time Lexie arrived I had a very different mindset

I had kept most of my baby clothes and stuff in the hope of having a second child – but before she was born I actually started selling and giving a lot of the extra things away. I knew that I didn’t need or want a lot of the extra stuff and that it actually just got in the way and slowed things down a lot of the time.

Then I returned to work but found I really didn’t enjoy my job any more. I started thinking that if I didn’t need to buy so much “stuff” then perhaps I didn’t need to earn as much.

I was very influenced by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits as well as other blogs on minimalism. I remember sitting at my desk reading them and starting to change my thinking and increase my awareness of my own behaviour. I started noticing that a boring or upsetting day at work meant a treat: ie shopping.

My best friend also passed away after losing a 4 year fight with cancer around this time so I had been investigating lots of topics around being healthier and less stressed. It seemed to make even less sense to be working in a job I didn’t enjoy to pay for childcare and a bunch of disposable clothes and stuff I didn’t really need.

Now I’m interested in dramatically reducing my and my family’s consumption generally but especially of plastic items.

I am still a long way from where I would like to be in this regard. I find it very difficult to avoid buying plastic and I still enjoy shopping and buying clothes. But I’m happy that I’ve also come a long way and have a lot less in my wardrobe and hope to make more of my clothes myself. I have all the skills I need to sew, knit and make things. For me the bigger challenges are finding time and not just quickly buying things for convenience sake. Also a challenge that we all face is sourcing the sustainably produced materials such as yarn and fabric.

I have sewn my own clothes since I was 7 and was taught by my mother, but stopped sewing when I was in my 20’s. I’ve been knitting and designing for a few years now but haven’t made many garments (yet!).

I will think about whether I can add another special Slow Fashion project to my making list this month but I think realistically, and to keep things nice and slow, I will stick with my Curious Handmade Wardrobe challenges of sewing the Dress Shirt by Merchant and Mills and knitting the Times Square vest by Norah Gaughan.

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