The thing I love about upcycling is that I can almost always find an unloved garment that goes with something that could use a facelift. This ensemble combines old and new upcycles comes from 5 different garments, representing a collective ensemble of 12 shades of gray. The hat (a two year old upcycle) features a circle design of triangle stripes from a discarded t-shirt, and a band of silk from the man's silk tie that was used to make the neck scarf (a new upcycle). Capri length leggings, also new (folded under belt and shoe), are upcycled from a man's short sleeve t-shirt. The belt (a five year old upcycle) combines the collar and cuff of a man's snap front dress shirt, that circles below the waist. One of the cuff's snaps connects to the center front snap on the collar. which gives the belt an asymmetric curve.
Shoes are new (Blow Fish from Fine-Things in Arnold, California). Outfit was pulled together and designed to coordinate with the detailed pattern on the shoes. Tops
(second hand rescues not shown) are a charcoal gray tank top, and a dove gray lace top for dressier occasions.
Considering the waste of fabric scraps alone, zero waste designing is becoming more and more strategic in the Slow Fashion movement in the United States. In New York City, if 10% or more of your commercial waste is textile material, you are required to recycle it. This law has produced a secondary market of designers using these remnants in their designs. One such example is Leanne Marshall. You can see an amazing video of her wedding dress designs at https://www.facebook.com/rackednational/videos/1906089999421183/.
Leanne gets her scraps from Fabscraps, a company dedicated to the middleman business this city law has produced, collecting this waste and redistributing it
creatively (http://fabscrap.org). In the Bay Area, Fabmo is stepping up to this plate. This non profit organization (http://www.fabmo.org) collects seasonal waste from design businesses
all over the Bay Area, bringing exquisite textiles, wallpapers, tiles, leathers, trims, etc. to local makers, and in the
process, diverts about 70 tons/year from landfill! Most of these samples are swatches, so designers have to think small (and accessorize) with these
But zero based designing is not just about figuring out what to do with someone else's scraps. The most efficient design strategy is not to create scraps in the first place. The
vest that Stormy is wearing in this picture is a scrap of leather left over from a custom architecture utility belt. The only scraps discarded from this hide were the circles cut out for
Photography can add excitement and allure to many subjects. As an up-cycled designer, I have engaged with professional photographers as much as possible to position my craft in the most favorable light. But using professionals is not always possible or affordable, so using DIY options can be an excellent alternative. In this picture, I photographed my up-cycled ensemble on a mannequin, and then erased the background in Photoshop. Using publicly available stock photo sites, I found a suitable photo to drop my picture into! The results, I think, are better than the parts!
First, start by noting the following measurements on a piece of paper:
You will need two t-shirts that are wider than the circumference of the top of your thy, measured from under arm to underarm, across the width of the t-shirt. One will be your pattern, the other your sample garment.
Cut off the top of the pattern tee at a slight angle, directly under (and as close as possible to) the neckline of the tee. You want this angle to be an inch or two higher at the end of the cut than when you started (or more, depending on how much room you need in the rear). Now cut the width of the t-shirt to your thy measurement + seam allowance. Fold the t-shirt in half, matching side seams, with shortest angle on top, and smoothing so that there are no hidden folds. Using your crotch measurement from the shortest angle of the 'waist' cut, cut through the four layers of the tee, creating a shallow curve and straighten out toward the top. You will create a deeper curve for the back using the front crotch as a guide, so keep this curve shallow to begin with. You can cut deeper cuts as you adjust, but you cannot add to fabric already cut.
To guide you for the angle you need for the back of the pants, unfold the tee and measure half your waist (30" waist is 15") from the front crotch cut and place a pin. Stretch this to make sure the waist will fit over your hips (has to stretch to 20" + seam allowance for 40" hips). This is your guideline for the back crotch curve (and for adjusting the front curve). Your back crotch curve will be deeper and curved at an able that ends in a straight angle at the back top of waist. This curve will depend on your body type. If you carry more weight in your waist than your seat, the curve will be shallower than if this is reversed. This is the 'wiggle room' you will need to adjust as you perfect your pattern.
You should baste stitch your pattern together to see how close you are before cutting out your sample garment. Sew right sides of front and back crotch seams together, then sew inseams front to back, right sides together (there are no side seams in this design). Make adjustments, etc., including tailoring inseam and bottom/length of your pant to your liking. When cutting the inseam, fold in half matching crotches, and cut all 4 pieces together.
Cut a piece of elastic for the waistband that is smaller than the waist of the garment (and comfortable), and fold into the top of your sample garment, matching front/back and side seams of garment and elastic. Zig zag in place! Hem bottom of pants, or leave raw. Enjoy!
Recycled, Up Cycled, Re-Purposed Clothing Design: A Slow Fashion Movement
Fast fashion, while its economic value is powerful, has left in its wake such an environmental wasteland, that advocates have been for many years actively rallying around and promoting solutions to this problem. One of the early pioneers in this movement was Kate Fletcher, who, eight years ago in 2007, then a member of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, UK, coined the term Slow Fashion. Originally, Slow Fashion only recognized handmade clothing; later advocating fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and encouraging zero waste. But as the movement has expanded over the years, it has embraced countless interpretations of eco-friendly design methodologies, including recycled, up cycled, and re-purposed clothing design.
Fashion, now a throwaway commodity in almost every country around the world, has created mountains of waste that now have to be addressed and managed. Recycle, up cycle, re-purpose design methodologies are emerging design solutions. Why buy new fabrics that require precious resources to produce when we have more waste products than we know what to do with?
With this in mind, Rachael Boyd helped me illustrate this design practice by modeling an upcycled t-shirt over a pair of re-purposed t-shirt pants. The top was re-fashioned from a man's t-shirt, sculpting cap sleeves and a heart shaped neckline for a more feminine look; the pants cut and remade from another t-shirt. The colors and design are complimentary, giving this ensemble a unique look that you cannot buy from a department store!!