In honor of National Sewing Month, on line retailer Fabric Mart Fabrics is sponsoring a 2 month event with a fashion sewing related challenge every week. One winner is chosen for each challenge, based on a combination of viewer’s votes and judges’ evaluation, and one is eliminated.
The contest is called the Fabricista Fashion Challenge and I have been selected as one of the initial 10 participants.
I email my interest after a lot of waffling between “Boy would that be fun” and “Girl, you have a full time job. Are you ready to dedicate your evenings and weekends to this?” What the Hey! I hit the "Send" button. My baby, son # 2, is now in college along with his older brother. And Hubby is working on a big project that requires him to be out of town Mon thru Friday. It is just me and kitty in the evenings. When I found myself staying later and later at work, which will never be rewarded in any tangible way, I knew I had to do something drastic.
The first challenge started last Monday - The Recycle Challenge.
Make a garment out of recycled materials or materials that would have otherwise been thrown away, such as scraps from your sewing room or grocery bags. You can reconstruct a garment to make it more fashion forward and utilize unconventional items to add accessories and embellishments. Be creative!
This post is about my entry for the challenge. It and the wonderfully creative garments of the other participants can be viewed on Fabric Mart Fabrics Blog sometime on Monday, Sept 16th. Please visit and vote for your favorite, which I am hoping is me.
I keep my sewing scraps and I stock pile unique “found” materials for creative projects. Neat stuff like bottle caps, corks, packaging material, ribbons from candy assortment boxes, old lace and leather, moss, skeletonized leaves, palm fiber, shells, vines. I always have lots of ideas, but not the time to execute or experiment. I was hoping this contest provided the motivation.
One of the items I have stockpiled are the mesh bags that large quantities of apples, oranges, onion and limes are frequently packaged in. I love the different woven textures and the flexibility of these bags. They come in many colors, usually matching the fruit or vegetable they contain. They can be used as stencils or printing material and I often thought it might be interesting to weave strips of fabric through them. I immediately thought of them when the challenge email arrived.
|mesh fruit bags|
Monday - Day 1
Somehow I get through work so I can rush home and get started. I find and sort through my mesh bags. The largest ones are the orange and apple bags. (Orange and red). I watch TV and rip out the serged stitches around the side and bottom of bags, so that I have large rectangular pieces. My next ”normal” sewing project would have been a bomber jacket, so the inspiration pictures and patterns are close at hand. I decide that might be good choice for this mesh fabric. A bomber jacket has no shaping and all the garment edges are finished in a way that will anchor the loosely woven mesh fabric.
I pull scraps from scrap bags. I have fun remembering the garments I made from the original fabric. I decide to limit scraps to solid colors that contrast with the red and orange color of the mesh, specifically browns to creams. Most of the mesh has openings of about 3/8 inch. I tear or cut strips roughly 3/8 wide or in a width that was a multiple of that if the fabric was lightweight and would need to be folded to fill the space.
Tuesday Day 2 - Researched material that mesh is made of - polypropylene. OK , no irons or prolonged exposure of UV rays. I hold a scrap to candle flame to see what it does. It melts away from heat source. A good way to seal loose ends that may unravel. I trace bodice and sleeve patterns onto paper that can be taped to work surface and mark some lines for suggested color changes. I put mesh on top of pattern. I overlap smaller pieces to make them big enough to cover the pattern.
|mesh over pattern|
I weave using a bobby pin as a needle. I learn that bias cut rayon chiffon shreds.Torn strips tend to have a lot of threads on the torn edge. Knits and lace works great. The rougher the fabric, the harder it is to weave through the thin strands of polypropylene. I like the look of the weaving, lots of texture, but pliable. Note to self , extend mesh past edge of pattern because ends shred, and be gentle. One sleeve takes 3 hours to weave . I estimate the two front pieces and back will take 5 hour each, Start to panic about limited time. Decide to have a solid back.
|woven sleeve piece|
Wednesday - Thursday Day 3, 4 – after work, weave my fingers to the bone, over and under, over and under
Friday Day 5 I cut lightweight red fabric for underlining. This fabric is basted to the mesh along seam allowances, then the raw edges of the mesh/underlining are serged to catch the loose ends of the strips and mesh. And to cover the mesh cut ends, which are a bit scratchy.
|Sleeve underlining pinned to woven piece|
|Underlining pinned to front woven piece|
Finish assembling the jacket. - I need a separating zipper in a coordinating color. Local sewing stores have a pathetic selection of separating zippers. So I find a boxy brown 90’s suit jacket, with a front separating zipper at the thrift store. I remove the zipper and cut the bomber jacket back from thrift store jacket back. Red wool ribbing is from my stash.
Sat Day 6 - I take jacket for its first outing, to the ASG meeting . This group of ladies is my sounding board. Did I go too far into Bizart - Art too (bazaar) to Wear? Their reactions are favorable and they do not call the orderlies to come take me away. Our ASG group meets at a convalescent center, so this was plausible.
|Mesh Jacket front|
|Mesh Jacket Back|
Day 7 – I take pictures and write blog post. I discover the advantage of using scraps is that the jacket coordinates with other garments I have sewn. And guess what I found yesterday...decorative gourds in a purple poly mesh bag. A new color way!