Archives for category: Sustainable

I can’t believe how fast time passes! After a super fun and creative Fashion Week Brunch, The Mending Circle is meeting again tonight, from 6.30 – 9PM at the Textile Arts Center. I’m looking forward to new exciting mending projects and meet all of you with sewing/altering/mending and/or creative skills.

I thought I would leave a teaser of inspiration mending projects… Hope to see you all tonight!

Cardigan mended with bird-shaped patches

(via thimblythings)

Mending buttonholes and holes on sweatters

(via Martha Stewart Livings)


Crocheted patches

(via Craft magazine blog)

Mended Sweater by Esther K. Smith, part of Mend Exhibition at Proteus Gowanus, 2008-2009

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I meant to write this post a long time ago, after attending to a lecture last October at FIT by Sass Brown, on “Eco-Fashion”. In the lecture, were presented several examples of designers around the world doing sustainable fashion. Some of the examples shown were working with African countries, and their work was simultaneous supporting the local textile industry – by training people, producing locally, developing the organic production of materials, promote local economic opportunities etc; but also being inspired by the African fashion and textiles.

SUNO, Spring/Summer 2011 Collection

When I moved to New York, the first project that I helped with on my fellowship at the Met was the installation of “The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End”. I wasn’t very familiar with African textiles at the time, but after this first immersion, my love for them kept growing stronger. Africa has an enormous textile and fashion tradition and I thought I would share some of it today!

Amongst the best known African textiles are the Kente cloths (or stripwoven cloths), made by Ewe and Ashanti people in Ghana. These super elaborated were prestige garments, a symbol of status and wealth and, therefor, only worn on special occasions. These very long cloths (some would have more than 9 feet of length and width) were worn draped like togas around the body, creating voluminous garments. Kente cloths were constructed by several woven narrow strips woven continuously and cut at fixed lengths , sewn together, selvage to selvage. Both weaving and sewing are normally carried by men. Initially the only material used was indigo dyed cotton, but after the 17th century, with the arrival of Europeans, silk unraveled from trade cloths was introduced. Nowadays, synthetic fibers like rayon are sometimes used too.

Detail of Kente Prestige Cloth, Ghana, Ewe peoples, cotton and silk, 19th century

The British Museum, London, Provenance: Collected in West Africa between 1880 and 1900  by Charles Beving Sr.

And we couldn’t leave Ghana without mentioning the amazing hand-printed Adinkra cloths worn in special ceremonies. Adinkra cloths made for funerals and mourning are normally overdyed red or black, while the ones used for festive occasions retain their white background or are dyed with bright colors. The stamps for adinkra are carved from the outsides of calabash gourd and include geometric forms and also stars and half moon shapes.

Boys wearing adinkra robes, 1973, Accra

(via http://angelasancartier.net)

Stamp carver Joseph Nsiah of Ntonso, Ghana, holding an adinkra stamp, 1988.
Photo and caption information by Dan Mato,
Professor Emeritus of Art History, The University of Calgary

From Cameroons comes this beautiful prestige gown, made of indigo dyed cotton, embroidered with with chain stitches in white cotton. The blue and white geometric design was probably adapted from the famous resist-stitched indigo dyeing technique of the Bamileke people from grasslands Cameroon called ndop.

 

Prestige Gown, Cameroon, Grassfield region, cotton and wool,  19-20th century

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Dr. and Mrs. Sidney Clyman Gift and Rogers Fund, 1987

Ndop Tunic, Bamileke people, Cameroon; cotton, trade cloth, goat hair; first half of 20th century

(via Andres Moraga Textile Arts)

Also, from Central Africa comes other of my favorite African textiles – the uber-long skirts made by the Kuba people, Republic of Congo. These skirts are made of woven raphia panels, sewn together. They’re often decorated with applique with geometric forms  and/or embroidered. One of the most amazing features is that the applique has both a decorative and utilitarian purpose. Raphia cloth can be very stiff and hard to wear, so to make it more comfortable it is normally washed and pounded several times. Raphia cloth isn’t also very durable so several holes and tears will appear during this process, and the applique is used to cover them. Other particularity is the fact that the hems aren’t turned under, but face the surface of the fabric, giving it extra volume. Kuba skirts are worn by men and women, and normally several are worn at the same time.

Applique Kuba Skirt, raphia fibers dyed with natural dyes

(via http://www.textilesofafrica.com)

Women wearing skirts, Kuba, Congo

(via http://www.heritageofafrica.com)

There are so many amazing textiles and techniques from Africa missing in this post though! So, if you’d like to continue exploring the world of African textiles I strongly recommend reading the catalog of “The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End”, with essays by curator Alissa LaGamma and textile conservator Christine Giuntini; and the amazing “African Textiles, Color and creativity across a continent” by John Gillow.

 



Not in  New York for fashion week? If you happen to be flying through Atlanta’s international airport be sure to check out Nancy Judd’s Recycle Runway fashions.  Judd brings new life to things that have outlived their original purpose and displays these intricate items in high traffic locations like shopping malls and airports.

Aluminum Drop Dress


Photos by Eric Swanson

 

Jacket made from old cassette tape

(Photo by Sandrine Hahn)

(And this is a cassette tape, kids.)

 

 

Rusty Nails

Transformed!

(Photos Courtesy of Nancy Judd)

 

 

 

Yesterday, Isa and I had a very nice ending to a day of bad news. We headed up to the American Folk Art Museum for the Fashion Lab in Process panel discussion “Re-Made in America” moderated by Daria Dorosh and featuring a wonderful group of speakers:

Sarah Scaturro, the textile conservator at the Cooper Hewitt; Eileen Fisher; Melissa Kirgin and Xing-Zhen Chung Hilyard of Eko-Lab; Meiling Chen of Fearless Dreamer; Jose Martinez; Gayil Nalls; Despina Papadopoulos; Sabine Seymour; and presenters from Shima Seiki (creator of WHOLEGARMENT knitting machine)

The discussion was meant to examine the future of fashion, and exploring what the next evolution for fashion will be, and whether or not sustainable practices are compatible with technology and further advancements.

The conversation was very interesting, and I attribute this to the wide variety of speakers and backgrounds, as well as great questions coming from Daria Dorosh, founder of FLiP (Fashion Lab in Process) While the conversation went through all the most pertinent topics related to sustainability in fashion, and how possible it is, I was happy that the main idea that came out of the discussion was that it would not be one thing that could save us all, it will be a combination over time — but the key will be to take the developments and educate the consumer.

So many interesting things were touched upon like the WHOLEGARMENT knitting machines, and an interactive app being developed by Jose Marinez that would provide tags in clothing that will pull up vital background information on the garment.

I was also so happy to finally meet Daria, who will be participating in the upcoming Earth Day event with Abigail Doan, and learn more about FLiP:


(EkoLab deconstructions for FLiP)

“Fashion Lab in Process, (FliP™) is a new company created and directed by Fashion Institute of Technology, NY, educator and artist, Daria Dorosh, PhD.

FliP™ uses a public performance process to communicate a sustainable design philosophy with a
social responsibility agenda that addresses the current state of the fashion world and beyond.

The concept behind FliP™ is to bring designers and customers together through a creative retail experience. FliP™ presents fashion surrounded by video, art and performance to celebrate its reconstructed, repurposed, don’t-waste-anything aesthetic. The public is invited to join in the fun, watch a garment makeover, and walk away with a unique fashion purchase.

FliP™ will demonstrate how mass produced fashion can be made sustainable by being transformed into one- of-a-kind fashions through a process that re-values garments and involves the public in a unique fashion experience.

Fashion Lab in Process is ready to share its novel concept and program that increases
opportunities for young designers. To find out how this can be done for retailers who would like a FliP™ fashion makeover in their store, please contact Daria Dorosh, Director.” – (www.fashionlabinprocess.com)

Which brings me to the plug : )

Help us get you educated — join us Sunday, February 13, 1-4PM for a Fashion Week Mending Brunch!

(Courtesy Dr.X’s Free Associations, Lewis W. Hine)
  • Bring (1) item from your closet that needs some TLC
  • TAC staff will help you transform it through dyeing, screen printing, and sewing
  • Go home happy with something brand “new”!

rsvp@textileartscenter.com

Both Ikat Weaving and Natural Dyeing classes have kicked off.But don’t be sad if you missed these opportunities to get started on the art of dyeing. There is more! We still have spaces open on our Fiber Reactive Dyes Class in March.

Don’t get turned off by the name.. we’re not tricking you into a Chemistry 101 Class. Fiber reactive dyes (aka Procion dyes) are actually one of the simplest dyes available. They were developed in 50s, specially for cellulosic fibers (such as cotton, linen, hemp and rayon) but can be used also with wool, silk and nylon, just with a different twist on the procedure.

Whats makes these dyes so special? First they don’t need a fixative, mordant or to be set. The dye, as the name says, reacts directly with the fiber, forming a permanent bond, that is both wash and lightfast. The dyeing process can occur with lower temperatures (yes, no hot baths!) and it uses a minimal quantity of water, making them one of the most eco-friendly dyes available. They’re great for tie-dye, printing, batik, painting of fabric and the colors are bright, bright, bright.

Still not convinced?! Check the next amazing examples..

Hand dyed fabric with Procion dyes, by Vicky Welsh

Tie dyed top with Procion Dyes, by Shabd

Hand dyed with Procion dyes and snow dye technique, by DyeSmithy

Hand dyed cotton perle, by Sassa Lyne

At the Fiber Reactive Dye Class we’ll cover the principles of dyeing with Procion dyes and several techniques, such as tie-dye (but much more than your high school tie-dye), low immersion, painting, snow dye, resists, etc.. Or, in less words, you’ll acquire all the skills to become a real-deal dyer.

 

It’s been nasty out lately – snow, snow showers, slushy snow, freezing rain.. Well, you know!!  And even if this is my 3rd Winter in NYC, my wardrobe is still not prepared for this weather (talk about Winter denial..).

And it was with wet weather on my mind that I came across the exhibition ” Beauty Born of Use: Natural Rainwear from China and Japan”, now on view at the Textile Museum of Canada. The exhibition features examples of rainwear made in mid 20th century in China and Japan. The garments were made using plant materials that were available locally and renewable, like bamboo, tree barks, reeds, etc, without compromising in a bit the fantastic design.

Rain cape, rice straw, bast fiber, cotton, China, mid 20th century

According to the Textile Museum’s most recent educational tool, Social Fabric (please make a minute to check it, it’s so worth it!), this cape was made using rice straw that was folded and stitched together, assuming the appearance and functionality of a thatched roof. People in remote areas of China still wear these capes to this day.

Rain cape; palm bark fiber, bast fiber, cotton; China, mid 20th century

Rain hat, plant material, grass, Japan, mid 20th century

Since early times, the people in these countries have been using the materials locally available to construct waterproof garments. For instance, in China, this kind of garments go back earlier than Ming dynasty, and where woven using straw, grass and pipal tree leaves. In Japan, people also always used what was readily available to make garments, like rice and wheat straw, reed, bark, vines, and seaweed. However, all these skills and traditions for making weather resistant garments are being forgotten, and like everywhere being replaced by the ubiquitous plastic.

I think rain and snow wouldn’t be so bad if I was protected by one of this! If you’re going to Toronto before May 1, make sure you make a stop to go see and admire these garments. And please tell me more about it!


I am so pleased to be working with the Textile Arts Center as part of our initiative at StyleSalt to support independent fashion artists and designers. Fiber art is the first step in wearable creations, and I couldn’t be happier with the shift from people looking for mass-produced pieces to wanting something special and unique–real statement-pieces that can be an extension of their personality and view of the world. It’s a push to individuality, and with the luxury market back in swing, customers don’t mind paying more to get it.
I have spent a large portion of my career working with designers, both emerging and established, as a fashion editor for magazines like ShapeNatural Health and Fit Pregnancy. Passion for creating something original is an attribute highly visible in this industry.
Now in my role for StyleSalt.com’s boutique , I am able to take on an even more hands-on role for artists, not just witnessing the journey, but also in helping. Our goal is to make apparel design a more accessible career for new talent, give designers a free place to sell their creations, free promotion, free blogging and an instant audience.
If you are interesting in becoming involved in StyleSalt’s boutique for emerging and independent designers, you can contact me at misty@stylesalt.com.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Misty Huber
CCO, StyleSalt.com

(from Eden Jewelry)

(from Kahri)

Apologies — Isa and I have been very bad with sharing stories and photos from our long-lost trip to Peru in early December.

Aside from the obvious favorite spot (Machu Picchu), by far the most rewarding part of the trip was getting to take a tour with Annie and Emma from Awamaki up to Patacancha, where they work with women for the weaving project.

A couple of years ago (pre-Textile Arts Center and in a hurry to get out of a bad job) I was planning to spend 6 months in Ollantaytambo volunteering with Awamaki. Time passed, and suddenly Textile Arts Center was starting, and Awamaki moved to the back burner. Then, one day in October, Tara St. James of Study NY emailed me to introduce Annie to us. Tara had been work as a mentor to a new project, Awamaki Lab, where a fashion designer would spend a few months in Peru to create a capsule collection using traditional Peruvian designs, with the goal of training local women for production (and eventually design, as well)

I was so happy to be put back in touch with the organization, and thrilled that someone had taken the initiative with such a project there, that we immediately made plans to spend plenty of time in Ollantaytambo when we went to Peru. Annie generously let us join a tour, taking us up into the mountains — far from paved roads, toilets, electricity — to Patacancha.

(from the road, drive to Patacancha)

(standing in the valley, at Patacancha)

We were shown what Awamaki had set up for the community of families (several small structures; the first working toilet in the area) and went through their processes of spinning, natural dyeing and backstrap weaving. The group of women, who ranged in age, then each took out their individual work, from which Awamaki places orders to sell in the Fair Trade store in Ollanta.

Starting with our wait at 6am in Ollanta’s main plaza, we got to see the inner workings of the small town. While Ollanta is quite touristy, being one of the main stops in the Sacred Valley, getting to see the more day to day operations of the people in Ollanta, as well as neighboring village, was absolutely incredible.

(5am, Heart Cafe in Ollantaytambo)

And NOW… Annie, Awamaki Lab, and Nielli Vallin get to share their hard work at their launch party/pop up shop.

Join us, and many others, to celebrate the launch of the first capsule collection by Nielli Vallin tomorrow night:

January 20, 7-10PM

208 Bowery St, 2nd Floor (between Prince + Spring)

Everyone that asks me about Portugal will get trapped in a long, detailed, complicated and uber-adjectivated monologue about food, weather, music, politics and people.
However, I normally fail on talking about of one of the things I love more about Portugal (and being Portuguese) which are the Portuguese textiles.

Recently, while browsing through some portuguese fiber-lover blogs, I came across with the fashion brand SENNES. SENNES means search of essence and it was the result of the collaboration between fashion designer Nele de Block and Pedro Franco, who introduced her to the traditional wool weaving of the Serra da Estrela region in Portugal.

Serra da Estrela is the highest point of Portugal, and the coldest one too. SENNES collection was inspired by a traditional super dense and water-proof blanket (or manta) produced in the region. Textile industry has been an intense activity on Serra da Estrela area since the 12th century, and its recognized by the extreme quality of the wool and woven work.

Portuguese shepherd blankets or mantas

(photos courtesy of ECOLA, one of the few remaining local textile industries)

SENNES collection is totally made in Portugal and only the wool from sheep that live in the mountains is used and it’s spun, carded and woven locally. The wool is not submitted to any after-treatment, to maintain its natural quality, and felting occurs by washing it in the cold, soft and non polluted water of the natural springs of the region. Colors are based on the natural range of color of the wool and no chemical dyes are used.

(photos courtesy of SENNES; more photos, catalog and info on their website)

If you are feeling inspired and would like to try portuguese Serra da Estrela wool on your fiber endeavors, you can get it from here. And look how soft and nice it looks!

Isa and I have been talking a ton about things we want to change in this coming year. I’m not a huge believer in “resolutions”, per se, but I do really enjoy the new year. It marks a very clear end and beginning for me, that mentally frees up space to suck it up and let some things go. Or take on new things

We talked yesterday about making the time again to go see gallery shows, and be even more involved in the arts community, particularly textiles. I mean, it’s out job. But the other thing I have avoided for some time are movies. I can’t really relate to award season for anything other than the dresses (totally fair) but I do feel I could be better when it comes to movies (haven’t ever seen any of the Godfather series..whoops) I generally shy away from having to sit in an uncomfortable chair with a group of strangers, unable to press pause and do something else for awhile.

But with all the free films in the summer time, and interesting independent projects going on, I want to promise to see more. I can allow myself some time to relax, sit in a dark room, and absorb new information that takes me outside of my general little world. And there is no excuse for not cuddling up on the couch in the comfort of my own home with a remote control.

So, been meaning to post this trailer for some time, but as I stopped at Rite Aid this morning and was given a double-shopping-bag for my pack of gum, I decided it was time:

I know, I missed the NY screening by a long shot (resolution fail) but I’m hoping it comes back around soon!

(courtesy Bag It Movie)