New Life for Old Clothing: Moving Forward

549694ea98f16d43759ca18e22b17b1cI have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to adjust my clothing use and my wardrobe to reduce my allergic reactions. My daughter and husband can still wear polyester, even though my propylene glycol allergy means that polyester and possibly spandex are off the table for me. More than half of my clothing falls into the polyester and spandex categories, including most of my bras and all of my socks.

I said before that it’s not financially feasible to change my wardrobe, and that’s true. Nonetheless, knowing how I react, I can’t see myself ever choosing to put on my polyester bras and shirts. I’d rather wash a shirt in a sink with bar soap and re-wear it half-wet than wear polyester and suffer the consequences. Why hang onto something I will never wear? Also…why throw out or give away a shirt that’s under a year old? It’s easy to decide to re-purpose and redesign some of my clothing for my daughter. She’s growing, so she always needs new clothing. She’s small, so my clothes provide ample fabric for her needs, and I have the tools to do it right. But what about me?

Luckily, I have some sewing skills and a lot of fabric. Here’s my problem – most of it’s woven fabric. Most casual shirts are knits. And linen may be good for shirts with a certain stiff drape, but for most it’s not the right choice. I’d rather stick with natural fibres, and I don’t have a lot to spend. Wool is generally itchy, I have some cotton, but it drapes a bit like linen, hemp is often heavy, and bamboo is seldom used on its own.

8193495917_e0e1912801_oSilk is expensive, right? I thought so, until I discovered vintage saris. True, you won’t find very much plain-coloured fabric, but that’s easy to get anywhere. Vintage saris may be out of style in India, but here they can gain new life. Their patterns are far more sophisticated and classy than the quilt prints from your local fabric store. Saris come in cotton, silk, rayon, and polyester, and are generally five to seven yards of colourful pattern, with various designs along their length, and can be obtained for US$15 to 25 each. Obviously polyester ones are out, and ones with woven borders in synthetic fabric might require a bit of lining, but they’re a great deal on fabric, and most will drape in casual designs a damn sight better than stiff linen. Plus you can use them for all sorts of other things, too. I’m still searching for the best vendors, but I have a few saris to start me off. There’s an alternative. Feeling artistic? Buy plain fabric and dye it however you like. You’ll pay more than if you buy used saris though.

Fabric needs alleviated, I need patterns, or at least designs for which I can make patterns. My top choice lately has been They provide all sorts of free patterns for almost everything you ever wanted to make.

What should I make first?

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