Addressing “The Challenge”

The Rebel Weavers and Spinners of Bloomington are all working hard at what we call The Challenge. The goal: to weave five garments each by next year, and then to host a public fashion show to draw attention to the idea of locally-made clothing.

Winter-weight silk top with striped top panel and cuffs of gold Tencel. Thanks to tailor and costumer Alexandra Morphet for being brave enough to cut into handwoven fabric.

{Click to enlarge photos.] Winter-weight silk top with striped inserts using gold Tencel. Thanks to tailor and costumer Alexandra Morphet for being brave enough to cut into handwoven fabric!

 

Non-weavers roll their eyes and don’t get it. “Why go to all that trouble and work?” they say. But we Rebels are extremely excited by the fact that our looms, even small ones like rigid heddles or Weave-Its, are quite capable of making yardage that can be cut and assembled into garments. To realize that we have the power not just to weave endless repetitions of placemats and scarves, but real and usable clothing that we can wear and show off, is quite empowering and energizing. Even (dare I say it?) intoxicating.

  • We are inspired by California’s Rebecca Burgess, who for one year wore only her own handmade clothing in an initiative she called The 100-Mile Wardrobe.
  • We are dismayed by the fact that the vast majority of commercial clothing available today comes from sweatshops or even from slave labor.
  • We do not want Asian textile mills to continue polluting their waterways with toxins and carcinogen, byproducts of the dyeing process.
  • We are proud of our American fiber, proud of our weaving skills, proud to be making clothing as the pioneer women did.

The rules are flexible. The Challenge is open to all weavers and spinners, and knitters can join us as well, although it would be preferable to spin the yarn that will be used for the final garment. Felting, crocheting, etc. are all fair game. Garments do not have to be made of local wool, although it’s certainly better to do so. There is no local cotton or linen to resort to, so we will work with what we can find.

An asymmetrical jacket of Tencel designed by Alexandra Morphet.

An asymmetrical jacket of Tencel designed by Alexandra Morphet.

 

Interested in learning more?

The original California Fibershed’s “About” page: http://www.fibershed.com/about/why-fibershed/

Previous essays on this topic from my other blog:

Localism Extends to the Wardrobe, http://housesandbooks.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/localism-extends-to-the-wardrobe/

A Slave Made Your Clothing For You, http://housesandbooks.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/a-slave-made-your-clothing-for-you/

Forming a Fibershed, http://housesandbooks.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/forming-a-fibershed/

The YouTube video on The 100 Mile Wardrobe, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEJmXmTFpMg

 

 

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