Sweaters make a great holiday gift (or gifts), but seem to be vanishing from the shelves of most ready-to-wear department stores and boutiques the rest of the year. There are many theories for this; mine is that they are largely too warm or bulky to wear comfortably under most winter jackets, and that fabric technology has advanced enough so that today's jackets are efficient enough to do the job this garment was originally designed for. Also, unless you live on the east coast where you need sweaters for most air conditioned events in the summer time, they take up a lot of drawer space for a garment that is not used very often.
A good solution? Up cycle them into hats and scarves. Other accessories such as boot socks and/or arm warmers are easily harvested from sleeves. The point is that your entire sweater can be used and enjoyed again.
Mantra Handmade Treasures helped me stand out from the crowd at the Pivot Fashion Show at the Anne and Mark Art Party's closing night bash. The event featured fashion designer, artists, and performers, so so I needed a little help from my friends , like a cookie can use some chocolate chips, or ice cream hot fudge. So my daughter Morgan Levay stepped up to the plate and offered to make some of her hand knit hats for the event.
These outfits would have paled without them, but I also could have slapped blue jeans on these girls and there presence would have been just as stunning. So if you are reading this blog, and have any winter sports activities planned for the upcoming winter season, visit her web site at www.morganbarrylevay.com and pick out a hat to make your winter appearance unforgettable!
Hats are truly statement setters that can turn an ordinary outfit into couture fashion. Coupled with scarves and boots, hats are the equivalent of icing on the cake.
My favorite do it yourself hat is the baseball cap, because the transformation from the original to the re-purposed hat is unbeatable. Your hat will always be more interesting and notable than the hat you started with.
For the hat in this illustration, I used last season's furniture samples from a home furnishing store. I covered the bill with a leather sample and used a faux suede sample for the hat design. A home furnishing curtain tie tassel finished it off!
If you want to learn more about how to transform existing garments into new designs, Eco Fashion Sewing (http://www.ecofashionsewing.com), provides tutorials, and highlights designers who are pioneering in the Eco Fashion Industry. Founder Mariana Kirova is reaching out to her local constituency through workshops and speaking opportunities. And to further illustrate the importance of this category of design, she is presenting one of her collections at Australia's Eco Fashion Week in November of this year (see http://www.ecofashionweekaustralia.com).
Mariana is also the author of the E-Guide titled "Create Your Own Designer Clothing from Vintage and Unloved Garments", available on her website. “Women have lots of clothing that they do not wear in their wardrobes, many of which could use a simple technique or embellishment to completely transform them" Mariana observes. "Fast Fashion has become so disposable, it would be a lot gentler on the environment if people learned a few up cycling tricks to re-purpose rather than discard their clothing."
Fish leather is available in many colors and finishes, and makes a great leather substitute for making belts. Colors are unlimited, as every 'tanner' can use any dye available in the marketplace. Finishes typically include satin, silk, and suede; I prefer the silk and suede for a softer finish and richer look. As you can see from the belt in this photo, the fish scales are clearly visible on the surface texture of the pelt, which adds an exotic finish to the belt.
The best pelts come from Salmon, Perch and Carp, although Wolf fish and Tilapia skins are also used. Rays and Sharks are also harvested, but its important to make sure to be selective about the skins you use. Rays are used exclusively for their skins, so are not farmed responsibly. The same is true for Sharks, who are often farmed for part of their bodies and thrown back into the ocean to die. Salmon, Perch and Carp are, in most fishing industries, farmed responsibly, meaning they are subject to fishing regulations and restrictions, so they are sustainable according to current market conditions. This could change, so its important to stay on top of current events.
Up until fish skins were harvested into leather pelts, this part of the fish was always discarded, so by using fish leather, you are supporting a recycling process, which is part of participating in sustainable fashion. However, the fish skin does need to be soaked in a brine solution, which depending on the volume of product being processed, can create a disposable waste issue. So just stay on top of your environmental issues at all times, and try as best as possible to balance production with the environment, so we can all breathe deeper!