By Tracey “Halyma” Vibert
With everything that is going on these days, the busy, the frantic, the chaos, I find that I can get happily lost in my sewing, especially when I have time to work on my own projects and let my creativity flow.
I mainly sew for clients, and have recently begun to work on things for myself again in a variety of ways, and this has been a wonderful reminder of why I started sewing in the first place a few years back [read: over 25 years ago], when I was about 12.
Economics and frugality were always strong factors in my sewing choices as I was learning to sew as a teen. I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town with two fabric stores, so I could go and browse, and buy small pieces to use. My mother sewed, as did my grandmother, and so there was always a wealth of information, supplies, notions and goodies to choose from as well!
I don’t remember specifically having a scrap box growing up, but I am sure there was one. I always had access to small fabric pieces for doll clothes – I sewed for my Barbie – evening gowns and such!
Over the intervening years, I have been running my own custom sewing business since high school, and have always had a problem throwing away those scraps. Now, please note, I am not a quilter. These fabrics are not often cotton, nor even natural fibers! I make wedding and evening gowns, so I luxuriate in silk peau de soie, crystal organzas and sequined chiffon. And I keep my scraps! I return scraps to clients, but often they have no use for them and just leave them with me.
At one point, about 3 years ago, I decided it was time to clean up my fabrics. By the end of that very busy and somewhat fibrous weekend, I had over 10 office boxes of scraps that I really had no more room for. I found www.Freecycle.org and was able to give them all away to a variety of very grateful crafters, designers and entrepreneurs. Yay! No pile of textiles going to the landfill, and people made happy!
Since then, I have done the same thing a few times, and have now embarked on a new design journey that allows me to be creative and use all of these reclaimed textiles in fun new ways.
But what about the fact that so much of it is synthetic? How do I counter that in my grander scheme of environmental awareness? I have not yet decided to tell clients that I will only sew natural, sustainable textiles, that create little or no pollution in their production. It’s really not that easy to find that perfectly acceptable fabric.
I have been able to work with some beautiful hand woven fabric done by a local master weaver – gorgeous and very sweet to work with! I have also been able to find some great hemp, and nice cottons for other endeavors I have undertaken, but there is still shipping and exchange rates to deal with – thus creating an interesting economic choice and carbon footprint with which my psyche must contend.
I know I am not the only person tackling these issues on a regular basis, but I wonder how much quilters explore these choices? Cotton production has such a bad rap, the dyes can be so toxic, both the standard and “natural” ones. Organic cotton would seem to be the way to go, but is the cost prohibitive?
Already the artistry and time involved in quilt making astounds me, and while I am very happy to sit and spend 24 hours hand-beading a wedding dress, the thought of cutting up perfectly matching shapes and assembling them like a big puzzle holds no interest for me at all! Kudos to you folk whose patience comes out in this field!
But I am curious, do environmental issues contribute to your choices of fabric in your projects? Do personal economics rule your decisions? What choices do you make to be frugal? Green? Vegan? Non-Toxic?
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