Introduction: Stacie participated in Sol Inspiration’s second scholarship contest, an event that happened in juncture with the fall 2013 fashion show at the Textile Center. All of the applicants submitted amazing outerwear garments that they each worked exceptionally hard on, at the end of the day the attendees of the show voted Stacie the winner. This is Stacie’s account of her experience and I am so glad to share it with you all!
– with much fondness and glee, kp
I’ve been re-using fabric and leather for about 8 years now; making purses, costumes, clothes, accessories. Part of the reason was cost. It was cheaper to make something, hate it, and not feel bad about the material loss! I just couldn’t afford new leather hides and $15/yd fabric! After a few years, many conversations, some specific college courses, and current events, it became more about ethics. There is so much waste in the textile and apparel industry. I wanted to focus on sustainability and redesign. I want to make clothes that will endure through the trends, seasons, years. When I read about the outerwear challenge for the Eco Fashion Scholarship Show, my first thought was the vintage fur collar my friend gave me a few years back. I wanted to incorporate that somehow into the design. I started sketching and paying attention to other people’s jackets. I knew I wanted something warm, feminine, and tailored. I went to the thrift store in search for wool. I found a men’s XL wool coat in really great condition. The wool looked high quality, new, clean, and the color was perfect. Before I walked away, I happened to spot a jacket a few hangers away that looked interesting. Turned out it was an old Minneapolis police jacket. Score! The dark navy went perfect with the charcoal wool and I loved the difference in texture and feel. The gold buttons went perfectly with the fur and wool. I liked the luxe functionality that was happening with the combination of the materials.
First things first. De-construct the jackets. An exacto knife is handy for this. A challenging part of designing something from a previous existing garment is pattern layout. You have to work with existing seams, lines, pockets, and grain line. The sleeve of the men’s wool jacket became the front bodice of the new jacket. I met with my model after the bodice was constructed and found out I had to refit the sleeves. A lot of ripping, sewing, ripping happened in the month of October for me! I’ll never forget the feeling of putting it on her and seeing the sleeves finally fit! I squealed and literally jumped up and down. Making the skirt of the jacket was a bit challenging because I was running out of wool fabric! I had to incorporate existing seam lines in the front that were not initially designed because that’s all I had to work with. Thanks to the sewing gods, it looked great and as if I had planned those lines to be there. Next came the ruffles for the center back skirt. The sleeve of the police jacket became these ruffles. It looks like I added grosgrain ribbon to the bottom of the ruffles, but that is actually just the “wrong” side of the fabric turned up and edge stitched. I used an old dupioni silk curtain to line the ruffles and finish off edges. I decided to add the flap pockets from the police jacket and, instead of buttons, use hook and eye closures from a costume vest I had. After about 100 hours of designing and creating this from start to finish I was ready to be done! Then came the lining. I used the existing lining from the men’s jacket and more from another XL jacket I had to purchase since I didn’t have enough. (Another wool coat, which I will recreate into something else. Wink.) The lining was the most challenging for me and resulted in a couple melt downs; and even though I “made it work,” I’d like to perfect it. The jacket took on a military look with the fur and clean lines. I was very happy, and exhausted and ready for the final fit and completing the hem. Day of the show: ran around my apartment, figuring out what I was going to wear. Remember scissors, thread, needle, water, comb my hair, put on deodorant. My model and I did a little photo shoot outside the Textile Center while waiting for the show to start. Here’s what my amateur photo skills captured. I learned more from this experience than I ever thought I would. Initially I just wanted to win $500 for school. The experience of creating a garment from start to finish, fitting a model, alterations, time management, pushing through even when you think you’re stuck, and then seeing your work go down the runway and having people love it is so rewarding. It took every lesson from every class and put it into one huge fulfilling learning experience I will never forget. I am so grateful and thankful to Sol Inspirations, the Textile Center, my friends and family I abandoned to complete this garment, and all the people that voted and supported me. Thank you. Congratulations to the other designers, models, hair and makeup artists, and volunteers who worked their butt off to put this show on, who are passionate about sustainable design and putting Minneapolis Eco Fashion on the map. Cheers, xoxo. s