I own eyeliner.
She owns “perfume”.
Both are stored in this room.
So I guess it is appropriate to can call it, “The Make Up Room”.
It is also the home of the dragon.
The dragon is really the water pump that gives out a roar when we turn the water on in the morning.
We chime in together, “Good morning Dragon” when she first makes her presence known.
She has become our friend.
Cubby gets one side of the closet and I have the other. The baskets were handmade by my sister and I, and hold our underwear, socks, leggings and other wearables that can not be hung up.
Slowly, I am replacing the plastic hangers with antique wooden hangers.
Wooden hangers create charm.
Wooden hangers make my clothing look adventurous.
So, there you have it. This is where we keep our clothes. I will never go back to owning more clothing than what I can wear in a week. It simply does not make sense to do otherwise.
Cheers to less decisions in the morning.
Cheers to the same about of laundry.
Cheers to dragons and other mythological creatures that live it the corners of dark closets everywhere.
I did not realized how convenient zippers and elastic are until after I set up the “rules” for my Compostable Wardrobe series. Because neither will biodegrade, I can not include them in my articles of handmade clothing. At first this seemed limiting but slowly I am finding ways to create without their presents.
For example, I chose to use 100% organic jersey cotton for the summer dresses because the fiber stretches. The dress can be put on with ease and avoids looking like I am wearing a big formless sheet. The cotton also keeps my body cool during the humid summers.
Leaving it the off white of the organic cotton, was not an option due to my skin tone and to feeling uncomfortable wearing white-ish colors. My friend Sam and I, first tried dying the dress in red cabbage because cabbage was in season when I completed the dress. Apparently cotton and cabbage do not care for each other. In fact, I have found that cotton does not care much for any natural dyes.
I did not want to use walnut ink again, so we purchased indigo dye. Indigo is a plant native to Japan and used for natural dying. I originally wanted to use only natural, local dyes, harvested myself, for this series but I made an exception with this piece.
Because I have to keep the patterns very simple, I have started looking for pieces of antique lace to spice the outfits up. They are 100% cotton and dye similarly to the organic, jersey cotton of the dress. Both pieces will biodegrade together when the dress has completely worn out.
Until then, I’ll wear my simple, little indigo dress because it reminds me of the ocean.
The ocean is powerful.
The ocean relaxes me.
The ocean can not be controlled.
The ocean is predictable, yet complex.
The ocean always makes me feel at home in the world.
Photos by Debra Eby.
I was really self conscious about wearing my Alpaca dress without something underneath it. My friend Sam, who seems to be able to answer all my fiber and knitting questions, suggested that I make a slip to wear underneath it. This would serve twopurposes. First, it would insure you could not see through my dress. Obviously, this is a good thing. Also, the slip would help the dress last longer. While wearing the slip, the dress will not be constantly rubbing up against my skin, wearing the fiber out. After spending so much time knitting the dress, this was a much welcomed tip.
The slip is made from 100% silk that I purchased using the ASPiRE grant money and sewn together with 100% unbleached cotton thread. I used a vintage pattern found on Pinterest and altered it to fit my figure.
Afterwards Sam and I had a dying party…any reason to have a party, right? We prepare the dye bath with two heads of red cabbage. I choose cabbage because it was in season when I completed this piece and I really adore the color.
I am pretty happy with the results and it feels so good on.
Side note: I probably should not admit this, but I feel so ridiculously silly modeling the clothing I have made for this series. Thankfully my photographer, and friend, Debra Eby works her magic to only show my good side. Thank you Debi!
The goal of the Compostable Wardrobe is to create a set of clothing for each season that I love and feel good in. Each garment must be created from natural fibers, fasteners and dyes.
Natural fibers include: wool, alpaca, silk, cotton and hemp. I will probably not include bamboo because of the extensive process needed, typical by a petroleum fueled machine, to turn the bamboo from its natural state, as a grass, into a fiber. It is probably easier and more Eco-friendly to turn bamboo into the floor of my house than into fiber to wear.
The fasteners needed to create the wardrobe must be from natural fibers and materials as well. I have found 100% cotton thread and flaxseed/linen thread for sewing the pieces together. The tricky part has been finding an alternative to zippers. I have experimented with making my own wooden buttons but due to the labor involved in this process, I will be finding a local woodworking artist with more efficient tools to create these little gems. I can now appreciate the price of their talent.
Ideally, the natural dyes will be created based on the local flora of the area of the world I am living. I have already ran into a hiccup when trying to dye cotton, which I’ll explain in a later essay. The reason I will only uses these fibers, fasteners and dyes, is because I want to be able to take the garment, when its life is over, and let it biodegrade into the earth. It will be as though the garment never was. If the fiber was made from partially synthetic materials, such as acrylics, rayon and polyester, then the piece would never fully biodegrade.
At first, these seem like insanely, crazy guidelines but in reality I have found more options and combinations than I have time to explore. You could really do so much within this scope!
It keeps what I have, going.
It keeps my trash bound clothes from turning to rags.
It keeps my rags from entering a landfill.
…at least for a little bit longer.
But of course it keeps me from having to buy something new.
It keeps me from wasting valuable time shopping when I could be fulfilling the need to create.
It keeps me from wearing the same clothes everyone else has.
…at least not in the same way.
My winter long john shirt was worn for sledding down hills, shoveling snow, and drinking hot cocoa. The sleeves were stained, worn and just about shot. But it received a facelift with a bit of lace and darts.
It still continues to be my favorite, just this time, in a different season.
Slowly, I am recreating my waredrobe from oil base materials into pieces made of natural fibers. When I need to create and am bored with what is in my closet, I reconfiguring until the fiber’s life is truly over.
I can not share this dress with you without telling you the story behind it. I can not share the Compostable Wardrobe with you without sharing this dress. This is probably why I have waited so long to share the project in public form. So beware, it is about to get personal. There has been time, so I am able to say it now, as it is, without the emotion. As a friend said to me, “Unfortunately, it is what it is.” You accept it and move forward, or you drown in a sea of bitterness. This dress kept my head above water during the early months. It kept me focused. It gave me something to keep my hands and my brain moving.
I created this alpaca dress 1 1/2 years ago during a very rocky time in my life. After putting my husband though 7 years of school, and working an extra year just to pay off a huge chuck of his school debit and just starting graduate school myself, he decided the marriage was over and left.
Just like that. It was over.
I was hanging on a strand of hope for 3 1/2 weeks, because he said he had a marriage counselor appointment made for us. When the day came, I realized he had never made the appointment and had no intention of working on our relationship.
He told our daughter, at the time, he was never, ever coming back. To say I was stunned, would be an understatement. I was completely convinced he had a brain tumor and I needed to get him back to the doctor. But what happen next completely threw me off my feet. The next day, my husband calls, not to say he was sorry or clarify his reasoning for not making the counseling appointment but rather to say our best friends were in a car accident. He survived, but she did not. She had been holding my hand through the last 3 1/2 weeks. She was my voice of reason. She was now gone.
I started knitting.
It did not matter that I could barely knit and purl. I had made a pair of socks though shear force and a lot of patience on my instructor end, but the dress was pure craziness. It did not matter. I was going to make this dress and I was going to make it right now. Cables, charts, sleeves, blocking…
I needed that.
I needed to be able to fix something. To make something better. To feel something nice. To be surrounded in something soft. To feel like I was accomplishing something. And when I finally put it on, to feel good.
It is lovely.
It looks like the animal it came from and has truly made me a fiber snob. I appreciate pure fibers now in a way I could not understand before.
But I also understand kindness in a way I never could before too.
Thanks to the ASPiRE Grant, I was able to purchase several yards of organic cotton grown in the USA.
I choose a simple pattern and altered the neckline by adding an antique piece of lace and cutting away the extra fabric. My mother found the piece of 100% cotton lace years ago. She had incorporated it into a maternity top for me when I was carrying Cubby.
**Photos taken by Debra Eby, April 2015, Florida
I have had this idea of creating a compostable wardrobe twirling around in my head for awhile. I remember the day I was hanging my clothes out to dry when I realized that all my clothing was future trash. I walked in and around the clothes flapping in the wind, reading the care tags and being shocked that I did not own even one item that did not have at least a little bit of a petroleum based fiber in it. Then the dyes…who knows what they are made from. A few of the names on the care tags I even had to look up. Ugh…
I was wearing oil.
I was wearing plastic.
Thus sparked the Compostable Wardrobe Project.
I walked down to a locally owned yarn shop, Ply Fiber, and told them I needed to learn how to make socks. Of course I knew how to knit. I could knit back and forth and I made a few scarves in college. So of course I am now ready to make socks.
…it seemed logical at the time.
I know, first I am crazy lucky to have a locally owned yarn shop in town. Secondly, the fact that I can walk there is amazing. Of course thirdly, the fact that they didn’t openly laugh at me when I said, “Now is the time to learn how to make socks!” was sweet of them.
Lastly, when I told them my socks needed to be made of wool, preferably local and without being dyed, they actually walked me to a section of the store and where I had choices to make.
A month later, I was finally wearing the most comfortable pair of socks I have ever own on my feet. …and as often as possible. I can’t say that tears were not shed, or that my anxiety did not go up when they handed me 5 needles instead of just two or that I didn’t have to take out and redo more times then I cared to keep track of. But I can say I had one extremely patient teacher who has now become my friend.
I hope you enjoy.
***photos taken by Debra Eby***
She is crazy talented and I greatly appreciate all her help.