Hello Sewcialists! I’m excited to be given the opportunity to write about Slow Sewing one garment my wardrobe really needs, but first I want to introduce myself. I am a transplant to the PNW, by way of the deep south, and live here with my partner, step-son, and dog. I am a special education teacher, artist, and sewer. I got my first sewing machine when I was 11, and come from a talented line of sewers, including my mom, dad, and grandmother. I am fairly new to sharing my sewing online, but I am excited by the community of makers I have found. You can see my sewing on IG @comeseecomesew.
Last year was a tough year for me. I had moved to Oregon late in the summer, and took a teaching job over an hour away from my home. This led to very long days. It started to take its toll on my health. I have fibromyalgia, and because I wasn’t managing my stress levels, it really flared up. I was uncomfortable and in pain all l the time. I couldn’t stand the way my clothes felt. Certain fabrics bothered me. I was depressed, tired, and in pain. I went down the worst RTW rabbit hole ever…ordering a ton of patterned leggings from a certain multilevel marketing empire. Looking back, I don’t know why I ever wasted my money, because these clothes didn’t really fit my style, but I was struggling with my body mentally and physically and had next to zero time to sew.
This year, I’ve got a new job, much closer to home. I teach Life Skills to 12-21 year olds and absolutely love it. The commute is much shorter…so that means more time for SEWING!!! This has given me the time to make clothes that fit my style and are comforting. To me, this is the essence of my Slow Sewing/Slow Fashion practice…taking time to consider the fit, fabric, and wearability of a garment. This year, I am paring down my wardrobe and dedicated to only wear things I truly love. Sewing also gives me time to slow my life down. Working in special education can be fast paced, and sitting down at my sewing machine at the end of the days always helps me reset.
So, when I was considering what my wardrobe was lacking, it was definitely shirts. I love making dresses, but they are not always practical to wear to work. I also wanted to use my skills as a printmaker to customize the fabric. I made a 100 Acts of Sewing Shirt No. 1, modified with a button front, and split-faced high low hemline. I love the 100 Acts of Sewing Shirt No. 1 pattern for its ability to be easily modified into so many different silhouettes.
To this, I linocut a stamp inspired by one of my favorite paintings by artist, Lois Dodd. Instead of adding color to my fabric, which is a rusty orange linen/rayon blend, I used a bleach-based (read: toilet bowl cleaner) printing method to remove color. The removed color left a beautiful millennial pink flower.
I really enjoy how this turned out, and the fact that I was able to use my skills as an artist to customize the fabric. I miss having the time to dedicate to all of my creative outlets, but this shirt was such a wonderful combination of sewing and image making.
In order to achieve this look, I drew out my design on a piece of tracing paper and then transferred it onto the soft cut stamp block. I then used my linocutting tool to carve out the design.
I did a few test runs with the stamp in black ink to make sure that I was happy with my design and made the changes necessary until I was happy with the stamp. I also precut my pattern pieces, so that I could control the placement on the shirt.
Instead of traditional block printing, by adding ink to a surface, I decided that I wanted to try removing the color with bleach. I needed a ink like consistency, so I opted to use gel toilet bowl cleaner–I know…a little crazy, but it actually worked really well.
In order to control the bleaching process, I also had to use a bleach-neutralizer. Luckily, 3% Hydrogen Peroxide is a good low-fume neutralizer.
I laid out my cut pattern pieces and got to work. After printing all pieces, I gave them a good rinse out to remove any residue from the bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
After letting it dry and giving all the pieces a good ironing, I sewed it according to the instructions on the pattern.
I received some wonderful complements when I wore my new shirt. I feel like the fabric and print is perfect for summer, and the silhouette made me feel comfortable.
Slow sewing with intention has given me so much this year– a creative outlet, a community, a reset at the end of a long day, and clothing that makes me feel good physically and mentally. Thanks for reading!