Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My planetary t-shirt

I fear that, if I don't write about some of my projects in the past year, I will lose my street cred as a sewing and knitting blogger.

Have you heard the Planet Money T-shirt series about the life of an ordinary cotton t-shirt? They started from the seed, and then followed the story through the farmer, yarn spinner, fabric knitter, sewer, first consumer, recycler and second consumer.  That's old news to readers of this blog, but I was surprised by how little ordinary consumers know about who makes their clothes.

Why ship a t-shirt to Africa to remake them?  We can save on transportation costs by mining our old stuff for raw materials in situ.

I present the third life of my current favorite t-shirt.  Does this look familiar?

Do you remember the Tie-dye family?

I tie-dyed two thrift store shirts and purchased a "prepared for dyeing" (PFD) blank dress for this family photo.  Those were second life t-shirts.  (Hmm, these are two different men's shirts that I dyed in the same batch back in 2006.)

Bad dad's shirt had frayed at the edges and developed a few holes.  I cut a smaller t-shirt front and sleeves from the usable sections of the front and back, hence the odd placement of the chest pocket.  I purchased a small piece of incredibly soft cotton jersey from an odd-jobber that sells scraps from the LA garment industry.

I used that for the back and binding.

This was the first time that I tried Kwik Sew 2555's binding finish and I love the results.  You can replicate this with a plain old zig-zag machine, but I used my serger for speed.

I used a narrow zig-zag on the shoulders because serged shoulder seams irritate my skin.  You can't see that I stabilized the shoulders before sewing with narrow strips of fusible knit interfacing.

If you are keeping track, the original pocket t-shirt enjoyed a first life as a white T with it's primary owner until it got stained and was donated to Goodwill. I purchased it from GW for $1 and dyed it in my kitchen in 2006. That was the shirt's second life.  In 2013, I recut the usable parts of the shirt, added cloth scraps from a local factory and created a third life for the t-shirt.

How many lives do your clothes enjoy?  Tell me stories!

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11 comments:

  1. I used fabric from my wedding dress and veil to make my daughter's baptismal dress, then later, to make her first communion dress. I used an old blue tshirt of mine and made my son's Superman costume. Old tablecloths from the thrift store make wonderful aprons-they have a great weathered quality. Old sheets make great muslin fabric, as every sewist knows, and also make the best window cleaning cloths.
    Old jeans are great for making sturdy grocery tote bags. People have asked me in Trader Joe's where I got them. My son's old jeans, I tell them.

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    1. Can you post a pix of the blue jean bags? I'd really like to see them. I use denim short pieces from a LA-area odd jobber. They are the roll end scraps after premium jeans are cut out in LA factories. So I guess we shop at TJs with pre- and post-consumer waste denim bags.

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  2. I did was a 1980s leather jacket from a second hand market and made it into a skirt. Then there was the lace kitchen curtain that was made into a dress this year.
    But to be honest, most of my clothes and DH's go straight to goodwill.

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  3. I've got a couple of souvenir t-shirts that I love but can no longer wear because they are too tight. I have a few ideas bouncing around for how I might rescue them, but nothing I'm ready to try to implement yet!

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    1. Do you have a sewing machine that can produce a reliable zig-zag? I can post a tutorial if you like.

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  4. I did a whole series on my LJ one year when I remade maybe a dozen garments (including skirts, pants, and tops) into new garments (mostly tops) for myself. I'm still wearing them and happy with them so no third incarnation for anything yet. I also use worn-out sheets as fabric both for muslins and for final garments.

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    1. Can you leave a link here to your refashion series?

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  5. I got one of the Planet Money ones too. Have you read Rivoli's book? Surprised that they don't mention her much. She did exactly this analysis 8 years ago and updates her data/interviews/opinions regularly.

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    1. Yes, I found the lack of mention of both The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy and The Blue Sweater kind of troubling. They put so much effort into developing the story and they couldn't mention the people who had done the story before them?

      http://www.amazon.com/The-Travels-T-Shirt-Global-Economy/dp/0470287160/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387040257&sr=8-1&keywords=rivoli+fashion
      http://www.amazon.com/The-Blue-Sweater-Bridging-Interconnected/dp/1605294764

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  6. Your skills in recycling is unparalleled! It's amazing that the fabric has held up so well to so many lives :)

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  7. *are* un-paralleled :S

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