January 17, 2016 by New Capel Street: Fabric Division
Or so goes a card from one of my favourite party games, Fluxx. It’s a game where the object is to change the rules and objectives to make it easier for yourself to win. I highly recommend it. And it’s as good a place as any to get to the point.
I’ve been reading a lot over the last few years about the Slow Fashion Movement, and minimalism. I like the basic principles, and I find that the more I streamline and simplify my possessions, the more I am enjoying what I keep. In particular, that goes for clothing. If I have less, what I do have needs to work harder or perform a wider range of functions in my wardrobe. My ‘nice tops’ must be appropriate for my work environment, but also pair with more casual garments for socialising, or just wanting to head downtown wearing something more presentable than paint-stained too-big jeans with questionable crotch integrity. Don’t judge me, sometimes if you’re sewing to a deadline you just don’t have time to change into real-person clothes to buy thread. If you try to tell me you’ve never done anything like that, please forgive my disbelief.
This simplification is changing the relationship I have with my clothes, and with my sewing. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, and I can’t be fucked checking previous posts to see, but I feel more comfortable in my own skin when wearing clothing I’ve made. Ah, I must have written it before. I know I say it in person all the freaking time. I’ve really learned to enjoy the process of picking a pattern, learning the best seam finish or whether my fabric and pattern will take a French seam well, because French seams are my favourite. Taking my time with my makes has massively improved their wearability and quality, while at the same time utterly nerfing the number of finished garments I actually produce. That was frustrating for a while, until I realised the magical effect that wearing those carefully-constructed skirts and sweaters had on my confidence. Part of it is that I’ve gotten a lot better at choosing patterns that actually fit my core style. I like fitted tops, my short waist defined rather than disguised, and short skirts with enough space that I can take a full stride. Pencil skirts or sheaths need not apply!
It’s led me to think more about what I want from my Slow Fashion experience. The pattern designers I favour don’t necessarily champion it exclusively, although one or two do. But they work so much harder to foster a relationship with their products – giving garments names rather than blank ID numbers or product codes. Fangirl alert, but By Hand London are one of the best examples. Each pattern named after a friend that inspires them, leading to sewalongs that lead to the participants blogging about, photographing and describing ‘their Anna’, ‘their Victoria’ and so on.
The end result of this is that the natural human urge to personify one’s possessions is deepened. You develop a deeper relationship in my opinion with something that you have worked on, taken time over, maybe even fucked up or bled on or injured yourself producing. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe you have now developed a severe hatred of the item that means you must either give it away or burn it to fuck rather than have it in the house. Either way, it’s more meaningful than just going to H&M or Penneys and getting something that’s a quarter of the price of the fabric but won’t last a tenth as long or fit you half as well.
On an almost-completely-unrelated topic: Why do Fashiony People call everything feckin’ pieces? I know I live under a rock in the terminology department, but I just don’t understand it. Why say ‘piece’ when you can say ‘skirt’ or ‘bag’ or ‘jacket’? Anyone got light to shed here?