Category: Ethical Fashion

01 Nov

My Ethical Commitment

Preservation of the natural environment continues to inspire me to recycle fabrics to prevent more landfill and less waste of water. 

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All unique garments are made exclusively from recycled fabrics carefully chosen from the plethora of good clothes in the charity or 'thrift' outlets which proliferate in the UK high streets, which is important to keep out of landfill.

Patchwork robes and dresses show how well combined colours and prints of recycled fabrics can be transformed into beautiful clothes, worthy and robust .  Every garment I make is unique, governed by the limited supply of printed fabric components available for each garment, usually at least three, and up to seven different fabrics create the patchwork.  

Up-cycled patchwork couture better describes my craft, as each garment is very carefully hand made from scratch, using cut up recycled clothes.  My casual women’s wear: dresses, jackets, skirts, dressing gowns, coat-dresses, pinafore dresses and robes are real ‘slow’ fashion; unique one-off garments.

Design process is one of being inspired by the groupings of fabrics into colourways, weights and textures.  These are collected as spotted adaptable with existing colourway collections, adding to the ‘colour baskets’ of many ‘ladies-in-waiting’.

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Tasmanian Blues fabric coordinates
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Beth's Lilies jacket
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Purple Shimmers
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Aldebarran dress

Silk Painted panels with designs from natural forms are incorporated as panels in most garments. Some examples below.

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Stylized bird with feathers
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Stylized bird with Gheko
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Stylized Bird
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Butterflies with Nigella pods

Motivating factor for recycling is also linked to awareness of other pollution in the environment from the use of chemicals: crop growing pesticides, fracking, fabric manufacture, industrial dyestuffs.

Jeans, T-shirts and the Cotton Problem -  a staple diet of fashion since 1960s.  However, the growing and processing of cotton requires a lot of water.  In wealthier western nations, there has been a ground swell of interest in organic cotton; grown without pesticide use, as more people become aware of soil contamination.  Fertilizers [Link Monsanto Glyphosate Roundup] are expensive for farmers in poorer countries, making crops less profitable.  Whilst organic cotton is all the rage, cotton itself requires so much water to grow and process, that in the long run it's not sustainable.   It takes 8,500 litres to make enough cotton for a pair of jeans. [Link video] This is clearly unsustainable,  even immoral, when many areas of the world suffer drought.  The Aral Sea has dried up due to the over use of its water for Uzbekistan cotton growing.

Good quality cotton, linen, viscose and silk for dresses can last many years.  Linens are useful as one pair of trousers, cut open, provides large pieces, as does a flared skirt. Dresses and blouses often in viscose, provide prints and lace.  I Previously I wouldn't work with polyester due to the chemicals used in manufacturing, and the issue that it never biodegrades, however, now to save some from landfill, I have started using new almost un worn polyester fabrics with nice prints as lining for dresses and gowns. 

The only fabric which will not wear well are mixtures with acrylic as the acrylic polymer threads always 'catch' and ruck up bobbly after wear and washing, making a garment surface look 'worn out' and certainly undesirable.

Synthetic fibres like polyester are one of the worst inventions ever, and its use was increasing exponentially in recent years! It doesn't biodegrade for hundreds of years and eventually leaches chemicals out beneath landfill sites 

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Reduce - Reuse - Recycle

For these reasons I believe more businesses will take on this challenge; to produce textile products from recycled fabrics, that customers will want just as much as new. Up-cycled Clothing has become mainstream, with increasing numbers of inspired fashion designers making clothes from UP-CYCLED and VINTAGE fabrics and sharing their ideas on Pinterest and selling on ETSYOne of the best things everyone can do is to stop buying more new stuff and redesign what we already have. 

Five garments may go into one new garment, giving a basic materials cost of £15 – £40 on average: not a cheap option, which needs appreciating when considering final garment costs, but the new creation process is nevertheless very satisfying.

All fabrics are washed at 60 degrees, to prevent shrinkage at variable rates.  40 degree wash thereafter is recommended. 

Detailed information about the designing process, cutting and sewing, are often uploaded to this site during making and when a garment is finally finished.  There is sometimes a delay between finishing blog and garment appearing in ETSY shop, but all enquiries welcome by email

This blog site is to be a portfolio of garments made and sold, (plus the dye processes).  Newer garments will appear on a new site layout.  I started selling at local craft events, and have and some garments are available in my ETSY shop.  ( Online Shop  currently under re-construction. )  Half of the garments on the website shop are now sold, but they stay as an example of making, to inspire others, and as a guide to what commissions may be possible.

For bespoke commissions with your own up-cycled clothes, using garments no longer fitting, or print designs you would like to give a new life – and a silk painting if wished – contact me via email.

Email Amelia J Hoskins (owner)

Shamanic Nights Fashions Board on Pinterest (Amelia Jane Designs)

22 Aug

Clothes Treasure Paradigm

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'Stonewashed Angels' - (Angels in the silk painted panels) Designed by Amelia Jane Hoskins

 

A NEW FASHION PARADIGM being experienced by designers, businesses and consumers is one by which clothes are treasured and valued for a variety of reasons other than a traditional economical 'brand' and the buy-today, throw-away-tomorrow fashion business model.

THE SLOW FASHION CONSUMER enjoys clothes with individual stories which use upcycled fabrics.

Shamanic Nights uses fabrics from charity shops, mostly very new and good quality. 'Stonewashed Angels'  uses coffee/white dress prints, combined with original silk painted panels of angels and plants in colours to coordinate with fabrics used in dress.

VINTAGE FASHION FAIRS are enjoying a wave of popularity as consumers look for more original garments which offer a higher emotional value than the current season’s clothes.

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Shamanic Nights original, 'Guinevere', modelled at Cockington Court Vintage clothes fair.

CHARITY SHOPS are brimming with last season’s clothes. Textile recycling and disposing companies are selling old clothes to Africa, impacting indigenous economies by reducing artisan production.  There are now ethical fashion companies sourcing fabrics more carefully from local communities, such as small scale silk producers, and embroiderers.  

STOP CONSTANTLY MAKING CLOTHES - TO REDUCE TEXTILE LANDFILL

High street chain fashion stores rush to produce ever cheaper clothes to compete.  Perpetual demand is created by companies who put out seasonal fashion 'trends', providing clothes cheap enough for customers to buy new stuff every season: and every week.   Cheap clothes are only possible due to sweatshops in far away lands, where labour is very cheap, in order to increase companies' profits.  The Rana Plaza factory collapse alerted everyone to slack business practice outside of countries with safety regulations.

This merry go round results in a proliferation of cast away clothes, a wasteful situation.  Textile waste statistics are alarming: 13mn tons per year in USA.  UK statistics ?  The constant waste of materials, with their associated production costs, is both an environmental and health dilemma. If you value the raw materials, textiles of ecological origins, you may value your garment more highly, and wear it for many years with a focus more on your clothes being timeless.

A CIRCULAR ECONOMY FOR TEXTILES

Organisation are growing to help with this problem: via the Circular Economy. Repair company. Hiring company. 

Video Nov. 2020

SOME GOOD BOOKS

'To Die For' - 'Is Fashion wearing out the world'? by Lucy Siegle

'Shaping Sustainable Fashion' - Changing the way we make and clothes, edited by Alison Gwilt and Tina Rissanan.  Pub. Earthscan.

'Refashioned' - Cutting edge clothing from upcycled materials - by Sass Brown.

22 May

Design Philosophy

Harmonising Designs

Design inspiration comes from seeing themes evolve between disparate fabric prints and colours, rescued to be recreated into a new unique garment artwork.

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Print patchworks in 'Jade Garden' robe

Textile Prints

As an artist and trained textile designer, I have a keen eye for colour harmony and the illustration and patterns in textile dress prints. The prints I source and collect are variously of a mix: classical floral illustrative, mille-fleur coverage (tiny flowers), geometric, abstract markings and astral space.  A combination of all these together with coordinating plain colours makes a good patchwork.

Not all prints are of personal favourite by themselves, but depending on their colours, I will see a way they would contrast or blend within a theme.  A dress full of rose bouquets can be cut up to introduce patch areas highlighting the best flowers.  A smaller piece of fabric can become more special than the full repeated print area.

Choosing Fabrics

Cotton lace tops (often cotton/acrylic mix) are another good find, as they can be layered over other colours.  Most synthetic lace fabrics also surprisingly take up plant dye to some extent, which removes any stark whiteness, too brilliant for patches amongst colours.

Choosing a print fabric to start with, start to make a pile with other colours and prints (5 is usually sufficient to start with).  As you do this, one choice may be removed and replaced with another, as the combined effect literally ‘shouts’ too dark, too light, too blue, too pink, etc., depending on the theme in mind. The most subtle patchwork is when the overall effect is of fabrics of a similar tone; i.e. nothing too light, nor too dark, on its own.  I often do include black with a strong colour collection, due to its fashion favouritism, but am more careful with lighter tones and darks mixed, when making patch-worked garments using panels larger than traditional patchwork.

Silk Painting Inspiration

The print designs on fabrics in each bundle of coordinates collection may suggest new design themes, using their various elements, to create a new design as silk painted panel.  I also use some elements to copy combined with other images of my own.  While working, I may be inspired towards a new design theme, to be developed yet further again.  Scale can be considered: a small image from existing prints can be enlarged as a main feature.  Colour mixing dyes to match the existing prints is an essential skill.

 

Videos are available of some silk painting works.

Ahimsa ‘Peace’ silk  has similar thickness to viscose: it is made by allowing the silk worm’s cycle to complete. I buy offcut remnants from an Irish fashion maker. Habotai silk (also used) is shiny.
Professional Kniazeff silk dyes fixes the colour through both sides when steamed (unlike some silk paintings of surface-only fabric dyes).
Machine washable, recomended at 30-40deg, Even the darker silk dyes are proven not to bleed out.
(Note: these wonderful dyes are no longer available from my supplier and I continue to eak out their remaining existence.)
Images copyright Amelia Jane Hoskins Please email for use permission.