A sustainable clothing/wardrobe plan

Marie_TX(z8 N Houston)September 18, 2002

I attended a lecture about Permaculture (similar to homesteading but with a greater emphasis on sound ecological policies maybe) and one question from the audience was "Why do promoters of the honesteading/self-sufficiency movement always give lectures in designer clothes, or clothes from the upscale outdoor equipment places? What would the true believer's wardrobe consist of? Home grown flax, home-woven fabrics? Home-sewn garments?" The speaker was silent through several minutes of laughter. He was definitely wearing the cool safari shirt from REI and camper shorts and probably $200 hiking boots. I tried to bail him out and suggested that focusing on re-use and re-cycling would fit the picture, but the topic left our "expert" speechless. My children and I used to shop at the bottom end second hand shops, but we now have enough in this house right now to last the rest of our lives. I mend and patch and we are mostly satisfied. I guess I am not completely over the need to be "fashionable," however, since I recently bought a linen jacket under the pretense that it was good quality and would last a lifetime. I would like to hear from others on this because I think we fuss over the budget and the home grown stuff with food and shelter, but what about the wardrobe? Maybe it is just cheaper in the long run to buy the industry-produced clothing. But wouldn't that be true about foods and furniture and lots of things, because of mass production and economies of scale? -- Marie

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TezinGA(z7b GA)

What a great question! I loved the description of your speechless speaker, btw.

I would think a homesteader would choose their clothing like their tools ... maybe spend the money on the good, quality stuff because it will last longer. Is that out of line?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2002 at 12:32PM
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Jwj__(Rocky MT 5)

Hi marie,
well since I do happen to have a fashion horse for a son who earns his own money and shops for what he likes, I cannot say much,, LOL,, really we have always looked through the thrift stores as well, it is what our budget allows us to do,, however even there I tend to look for a higher quality clothing,,When the kids were younger we used to belong to a trading group where we would bring all of our no longer fitting ot wanted clothing and exchange it with abut 10 other families,, which was great,,
I also lean to the recycle mode, things wear out and get turned into quilts, rugs and what have you,, I do not sew much anymore either simply because I cannot sew things like my kids jeans any cheaper then I can buy them,, and if I find them second hand there is no way I can compare,,
LOL,,part of that also comes from having teens,,I realize the need to fit in now that they are older,, however I still get hit now and then to help them sew something they want,,
I think that clothes is an item that comes down to personal choice, and budgets,,

    Bookmark   September 18, 2002 at 2:01PM
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Marie_TX(z8 N Houston)

All true. I did tell the questioner at the lecture, I would draw the line on second hand underwear!! She didn't agree!! So, in summary, to live self-sufficiently off land, one would have to bring money in from some source to provide a fund for things like clothing and tools, and probably some supplies, which would be purchased since it would be more cost-effective to do so. -- Marie

    Bookmark   September 18, 2002 at 2:21PM
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I'm with jwj, I used to sew all of our cloths until it was cheaper to buy the styles the kids want than make them, but we do not buy anything at full price, we wait for the sales or buy at the discount houses. I still sew for myself and everything I can for the house, drapes, slipcovers, etc. But you are so correct Marie, you have to have an outside income from the land if you even want to purchase cloth. Very few of us card spin and weave, anymore.

I am one to wear it until it is worn right out, even if it is not in style, much to my kids embarassment. I do keep in style for my work, but at home, comfort and durabily rule. There are only two things I don't cheap out on and that is socks and shoes. If they don't fit properly, then you cannot be comfortable.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2002 at 9:58PM
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Marie_TX(z8 N Houston)

You're right, Rose. Another factor is "The Threadbare Game." Years ago there was a popular book, "Games People Play" and one of the games was Threadbare. The idea was that someone was trying to draw attention to themselves by wearing really worn out garments. It was a way to control family members, too, in some cases. The threadbare person would try to get sympathy for him or herself. I used to have to caution one of my sons, who loved "super casual" clothes, to stay out of that danger zone.

You're also correct about shoes. The ability to work without harm to the feet is so important!!

-- Marie

    Bookmark   September 18, 2002 at 10:17PM
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modjadje(Willamette Valley Zone 8)

Hello you all, I was so intrigued by the subject. I was hoping someone would suggest a framework for the minimum one can get by on. Don't laugh, but in my case I was so enthused by thrift stores that for a while (whilst still working fulltime at a job I hated) I would buy something because it was a wonderful buy - cheap, and such good quality!
Having recently retired and moved, I plan to unpack all, and really be ruthless in weeding out stuff I don't wear and then donate it to the local Goodwill store. BUT ... I am one of those souls who act somewhat impulsively at times, and I bet I'll be overenthusiastic and err the opposite way.
It's just that I remember my small closet as a 19-year old, with 3 skirts, 3 blouses, one dress, two sweaters, and one coat in it ... and I got by.
I do agree that the sustainable living philosophy is well-served by recycling clothing. Yes, that person asked a very relevant question of that lecturer!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2002 at 12:48PM
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Good point. What does it take, or not take to have a sustainable wardrobe. I can tell you what I have, not including the business suits for work.

3 pair of jeans, one with the knees almost worn through.
2 pair of shorts
3 very loose, cool cotton skirts
6 cotton T's
1 jean jacket
2 sweat pants
1 hoodie jacket
2 heavy sweatshirts
1 pr workboots
1 pair sandles
1 parka
2 ball caps
1 straw sunhat

They only things I bought were the workboots, ball caps, sun hat and hoodie. The rest were all given to me by friends cleaning out their closets and the skirts I made.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2002 at 11:46PM
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Marie_TX(z8 N Houston)

Another point the protester made (and I agree with her reasoning, but I am not sure about the extent of the damage) is that store-bought fashions are often very socially and environmentally irresponsible. They use labor under nearly slave conditions in many parts of the world, and that is one reason why they are cheap. They use highly polluting practices (such as clorine bleaching and other forms of dyeing, and synthetic fabric manufacture), and they require vast amounts of truck transportation that pollutes. More to ponder. -- Marie

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 12:07PM
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modjadje(Willamette Valley Zone 8)

Rose, thank you for sharing your wardrobe info with me. Yes, simpler is better.
I have always disliked synthetic materials. Now that I am retired I plan to combine old hobbies of batik-making and sewing with growing dye-plants like indigo. Old bedsheets of 100% cotton (a past acquisition from the thrift store) takes dye very well and will make into cool summer clothing. I have already stocked up on a few basic sewing patterns at the thrift store. Very much in harmony with the sustainable lifestyle, don't you think?
I had also stocked up on yarn at the thrift store ... amazing how expensive it is new, and how cheap after someone gives up on their project and donates it.
I look forward to reading more postings on this subject, and thanks again for your input, Rose. Delina (modjadje)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 3:05PM
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What all else do you use for natural dyes? I have used dried marigolds, onion skins, saskatoon berries. And what kind of mordants do you use? I shy away from the coppers, but I do like alum. It has been a few years since I have done any natural dyeing, but I would like to note others successes and failures for future reference.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 10:31PM
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modjadje(Willamette Valley Zone 8)

Rose,this is a wonderful forum! Just the place for folks who like to do for themselves. Unfortunately, my home-made dye is still only a twinkle in my eye; I have not made own dyes before. I found a used book about growing indigo, and am gathering info off the web while scouting for seed supplies. So neat to be able to interact! This Homesteading/Sustainable Living forum is the best.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2002 at 4:11PM
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Well, I don't weave (yet--I traded for a 42" 4 harness loom a few years ago and it's learn soon or trade it again) but I do shear my 3 pet sheep with hand-powered shears, spin and knit a most of our winter stuff--hats, gloves, sweaters, socks and afghans, etc.

As far as "wardrobe", I'm sitting here in an old shirt from my husband's closet and a pair of jeans that need the patches patched but then I've been out painting and having a ball on this beautiful day.

Modjadje, I don't know if indigo would grow in Oregon as it requires a long season and a lot of heat. Do a search for the Black Sheep Handweavers Guild and follow their links--a lot of good information there. Please feel free to email me if I can help you find more info, suggest books, etc.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2002 at 4:34PM
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I would kill for a 4 harness floor loom. One of the classes I had in college was weaving. Had to wash card and spin wool as well. Remember how soft my hands got afterward. It has been 20 plus years, and I have been looking for a loom ever since. Well on that is affordable anyway. lol

Maybe this should be a new thread, get lots of ideas from others on their dyes, mordants, weaving, etc. I would love to get more ideas on dyes, even if it is only for prewoven cotton fabric, and not hand loomed.


    Bookmark   September 24, 2002 at 12:05AM
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Prarie rose and modjadje, you may want to check out Seeds of Change's latest newletter. They had a letter to the editor concerning using plants for dyes. I thought it was interesting. She also listed her own web link which shows pictures and discusses her experience with using plant dyes.



    Bookmark   September 26, 2002 at 2:40PM
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Jeans will never fail you...I'm talking Lee, Wrangler, etc. not any designer c***! T-shirts, flannel shirts, thick socks, good work boots, flip-flops for warmer weather or/and some 3.00 white tennis shoes from Walmart, long underwear for cold winter climates, wool scarf, sweater,windbreaker, sloppin' boots, and a wool cap...suits me just fine. B.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2002 at 11:28AM
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modjadje(Willamette Valley Zone 8)

daughternature, thank you for posting the links about natural dyes ... I didn't know about Seeds of Change having a newsletter, will now read it often. Delina

    Bookmark   September 27, 2002 at 8:32PM
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I am concerned about the conditions most clothing is made under especially in the Far East,,,child labor etc.
I try to buy most everything from Goodwill. Often I can find better quality there than I could afford new anyway.
We go to a Goodwill in an affluent area every couple months. It is fun to be able to shop without guilt over the cost!
I do buy jeans and shoes new because both for some reason never fit right if they're secondhand!
I could care less about fashion and wear whatever I like, especially vintage clothing. (I have a persian lamb jacket, probably from the 20s and yes I wear it!) For work I mostly go with long colorful cotton skirts with sandals in summer, boots in winter, silk blouses in summer, sweaters in winter. Not exactly dressing for success but ask me if I care!,,,ha.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2002 at 8:14PM
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I am a very accomplished Seamstress. I always presumed that I would make most of my families clothes. However, the cost of fabric and the time to do this makes it not very cost-effective.
SO I buy at consigment shops, 2nd hand and have a very large circle of friends who participate in passalongs.
We are never in want of clothing and if anything we have too much. I only budget for shoes, socks and underwear. Which, BTW is no small item considering the size of my family. Haha...

I love the description on the "yuppie" promoting environmentalism. Too Funny!!

Great thread~~"On Threads"!!
Carolyn the Gardninlady

    Bookmark   October 6, 2002 at 3:01PM
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Gardinlady -- I sewed all my clothes when I was growing up but I haven't done much in the last 15 years. Why? First -- it is the lack of good quality fabric, the price and the time factor. I feel if I take the time to sew, I want something that will handle numerous washings with good success. Last year, I went to make a suit and couldn't find a store that carried wool suiting fabric -- in fact, they didn't carry any wool!! And that is the ONLY fabric store in our area.

I still darn socks -- not well -- but I feel if I can get another 6 monthes out of a pair --- that saves me a couple of dollars and it gives me something to do with the 80 darners I've collected over the years!!!!!


    Bookmark   October 7, 2002 at 3:53PM
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There was an artist I saw on a PBS show a year or so ago. She expressed her art in part by making one set of clothing each quarter, and then only wearing that set of clothing every day, for that quarter (Ie: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.) The outfits were non traditional, simple, but clever and I thought quite attractive (but not exactly 'fashionable'.) She'd been doing it for about two years at the time. I can't remember the 'point' this art was getting across, but I remember being fascinated by the story, she seemed like a very sharp and clever and creative individual.

I've been trying to find out if she's somewhere on the web, but my searches came out empty. I wish you could see her clothing she came up with, very clever and attractive. :)

Just another thought :) After all, when people were making a living off the land, they DID only have one set of nice clothes, one set of working clothes, and so on... Not exactly 'socially feasible' in this society, especially if you are holding down a serious job, but perhaps that best answers one of the original questions...

    Bookmark   October 9, 2002 at 3:05AM
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Yellowhammer(z7 Bama)

With seven kids, it's pass it on down! We have lots of friends that give us clothing and I shop at thrift stores. When they were little I made everything, from diapers on up until they were about 4 for the boys and a bit longer for the girls. My boys are terrors on clothing.

My oldset son works and buys his own, but really has never bought into the name brand game. How do you miss something you never had? lol.

I would love to own a loom, but don't have the space right now.

I recycle clothes by quilting or making rag rugs.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2002 at 9:27PM
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maureen1953(Z4 Central NY)

We mostly buy our clothing at second hand stores, Salvation Army, etc. My husband has a pair of Bean Boots that he has had resoled 6 times in the past 12 years! I wear uniforms at work and make the scrub tops and get pants at the thrift store. I have made drapes, curtains, comforter covers, dog beds, cat beds, decorative pillows, tablecloths, napkins...also get great buys at garage sales. Fashion trends have never been an issue with us... well made, sturdy, comfortable clothing and shoes are what we're after.
My husband dresses in layers and doesn't even own a coat. He has one suit jacket for "special" occasions. He has resoled moccasins with old tires! (to the embarrasement of our two boys who are now grown and on their own....they now think it's kind of neat how inventive their Dad has been over the years reusing, recycling, and making do with what we have)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2002 at 9:43PM
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Marie_TX(z8 N Houston)

I just "inherited" a box of clothing that didn't sell at someone's garage sale. It includes a HUGE pair of bib overalls. I could make an apron with the bib and one leg!! I need to make some of those things that you put at the bottom of a door to keep cold air out. Denim would be great, don't you think? There's also a very large polo shirt and a Ralph Lauren oxford cloth shirt that was starched and ironed. It's a great jacket for me on cool days. My boys can't use any of this because of the size.

-- Marie

    Bookmark   October 18, 2002 at 10:01PM
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annebert(6b/7a MD)

I buy all my clothing second hand (except underwear and socks). Like many who've written, I find this much cheaper in time and money than sewing. I often get items for 25 cents each at Goodwill. The majority of my work clothes are Talbot's, Ann Taylor, and pricey designers, and it's not unusual to find something that has never been worn. If I find I don't wear an item much, I just donate it back. I wear some casual clothes till they're worn out (holey clothes are for garden work) then take to the dump which has a fabric recycling bin.

Buying second-hand doesn't really address the "right-livelihood" of the people who made the clothes, though - I haven't really come to grips with that. The last time I bought running shoes (at a discount place, of course), I looked for shoes made in the US, and couldn't find any.

I do have too many clothes, though. When I was in the Peace Corps, I had 2 suitcases full, and got along fine for 2 years.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2002 at 12:49PM
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gumbootmama(z 7(Canada))

On an Alaska gardening site I read about some people who
tried to make a serious go at growing flax. They said it was extremely extremely labour intensive and eventually decided they didn't want to major on doing it.
In the 60's, us back-to-the-landers tried to do EVERYTHING (bees, fruit trees, pigs, garden, chickens, etc.), taking on so many things at once, that time, energy and quality could get a little thin. We ended up learning that altho it's good to diversify as much as you can handle, some people just are better at...and should specialize in.. certain things like apple orchards, grain, cotton, etc.)
Not many of us have the amount of land or the right climate to grow the material for making cloth or to raise sheep, (sheep are the most labour intensive herd animal I believe).
Maybe we should be supporting the Amish or Hutterites, and people that try to specialize in producing homespun cloth, and doing it without pesticides. I bet the cost for the material is high tho and they wouldn't need my barter offers since they have each other.
My son outdoes me in back-to-the-land-ways .....he has been teaching himself for yrs. to work in all manner of materials (wood, bone, metals, glass, cedar, stone etc.) to MAKE most things for himself...if he wanted some pulleys...he made the rope out of cedar and carves the pulleys out of wood...if he wanted fish hooks he made them out of bone. If he wanted a bread kneading bowl he carved one.......
He wants to make a rain cape next, to match the cedar-bark woven rainhat he made for himself.
He apprenticed with a tanner/taxidermist to learn how to butcher and prepare deer skin and we want to make some quiet hunting clothes out of deer skin (sick of noisy raingear, and it rains alot here on the Queen Charlotte Islands). He's a bachelor still so he has time to work in all his spare time on these goals. He feels he can teach people these back-to-the-land skills but they would have to do it for themselves because these things are time consuming. We try to unplug from the cash thing by learning to make everything we can for ourselves from natural things that are around locally, or stuff from the dump and second hand stores that are around. I don't feel guilty about buying second-hand clothes since there isn't enough time in the day to specialize in growing and making everything. The old native gramas(nonnies) around here tell me that they never threw anything away because there were no stores here in the old days.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2002 at 12:32PM
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my two cents... i have discovered that linen clothes last much longer than cotton. cotton fades, and looks bad after about a year.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2004 at 4:27PM
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babanna(z5 NY)

some recycle clothing tips...
I cut apart thin linens and crochet or knit them into the most beautiful shawls and ponchos. cut up tshirts etc and crochet into soft rag rugs. jeans make great everything from totes to aprons to skirts and shorts.
thrift stores and yard sales are a must as well as freebies from people cleaning out their closets.
I look for unwanted yarn and material to use. Also cotton clothing makes great quilt material. The ideas are endless!
I used some sheets and a pattern to make my nursing scrubs from and now they sell scrubs from sheets...go figure!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2004 at 4:30AM
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Does anyone know of a brand of bib's that are NOT 100% cotton ? The cotton is comfortable but 20% nylon would extend the life a bit. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 10:15PM
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madspinner(z7 WA skagit)

Sheep are very easy to take care of. I have a few shetland sheep and do very little except worm them, trim feet, feed them in winter, and have them sheared. They are mostly pets and are somewhat spoiled for attention! They love chin scratches. I think most housepets are more labor intensive.

If you are looking for used spinning or weaving equitment this web page is great. I have bought and sold there.


also, local guilds are full of folks who often have stuff to sell, trade, or give. I get a lot of free weaving yarn at my guild, as well as books.

If you are not getting yarn free, or spinning it yourself, weaving can be a really pricy hobby.

I buy my clothes at thrift shops. I have too many clothes, but when I tire of them or decide they don't flatter, I send them back again. I pay more attention to how my clothes are made and what materials they are made of than where they are made. The money I spend on them does not go to other countries or to child labor. It goes to the local charities that run the shops (local thrift shops are better for your town or area than chain thrift shops!) like the humane society and christian school that run my favorite stores. I prefer clothes made of wool, linen, silk or cotton. If these clothes wear out, at least the fibers will break down and decay. Many synthetics have a hard time doing this.

I do weave or knit some clothing, but definately not all of it, or even more than one or two items a year.

Oh, and some thrift stores also sell fabric.

I do sometimes spend more on shoes... good shoes are important. I'll buy used if I can, but will spend real money on a good pair of shoes that are comfortable and will last.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2004 at 8:45PM
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Maid_in_the_Shade(z10 SE.Fla.)

I've read all the posts on this thread, I'm right there with you all: acquiring all the family's clothes @ the thrift stores, not being concerned with staying on the cutting edge of fashion, just looking for well-sewn garments that will last & are comfortable...

I got to thinking about homesteaders in the past & how they managed their wardrobes...& then thinking about the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Remember reading those? (NOT the TV series, but the books)
She writes that they were doing all that pioneering wearing CORSETS and HOOP SKIRTS and being anxious to locate the one existing copy of the current fashion magazine to know what style to sew their own clothes. I wonder if that was really how it was or was she reconstructing her family's history in order for them to not appear so provencial.

I cannot imagine having to endure all the hardships they encountered AND being concerned with staying fashionable at the same time, can you?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2004 at 10:59PM
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madspinner(z7 WA skagit)

I wear clothes from thrift shops, but I do like to look good. These days, clothing is so cheap it is not hard to find good name brands in thrift stores. I wouldn't call myself fashionable, but I think people in all times and places place a fair bit of emphasis on looking as good as they can, no matter their surroundings. Look at colonial america. However, there is a big diffrence in what I think looks good, and many other folks. For instance, I don't wear makeup and wear nothing but sensible shoes.

I do punch up my wardrobe a bit with a few carefully chosen new items. I tend to like shops that cater to hippy and artist types... natural fabrics, batiks, embroidery. I try to buy items that come from co ops that help the people that make them with fair wages and encouraging traditional crafts. It only takes a few of these items to punch up a wardrobe. One vest I bought for $20 (on a clearance sale rack) is made of batik patches in colors that go with most of my clothes. I have several items of handspun, handwoven, and veggie dyed fabric from india that was from a weaving co op formed to help people in a rural village. They tend to be pricey, but when I compare them to what most folks pay for clothes, I don't feel so bad. And I only buy a couple items like this a year.

As for clothes that wear well, when I can find them at thrift shops I am a big fan of LL Bean and Eddie Bauer. The fabrics chosen are usually better quality, and so are the clothes themselves. I never buy them new, but I hoard any I can find used in sizes and styles that I can use.

For shoes I tend to want berkenstocks when I can get them, those lovely felted clogs (spend for the good ones!) at least one pair of leather sandles (strappy), a pair of "swim" shoes, and at least one pair of good ole rubber boots. Berks can even be re soled several times. I actually have my favorite pair that I inherited from my grandmother!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2004 at 11:51PM
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BradleyQT(z5 Westminster/Broomfield)

So for the yuppie permaculture lecturer...

It is likely that the "REI clothing" is actually Patagonia. Patagonia is a very well known, environmentally active company. They can recycle at their factories in ways none of us can. They take pop bottles and turn it into high performance synthetic fabrics. They participate in fair trade practices with carefully researched sustainable producers. Have you ever tried to figure out who produced the fabric at your local shop?

Patagonia also funds the heck out of environmental causes (consistent with permaculture/enviro viewpoint). A fellow educator in NorCal worked at their in-bound (catalog sales) call center. They had forest activism (tree-sitting) workshops at the center that staff could attend on company time. Want to know more : http://www.patagonia.com.

Compare them to WalMart who does not support sustainable agriculture in any way...By shopping at WalMart (except when necessary) you are supporting farmers being screwed by corporations. I understand that in rural areas WalMart is frequently the only option. I lived in that environment and I know that it is extremely tough to avoid WalMart in an emergency situation (i.e. catch last pair of jeans on machinery and need a replacement immediately at 6pm on a Saturday). But by using catalogs from companies that support sustainability and Goodwill, you can help stop supporting WalMart.

For me I've found sustainable clothing to be:
4 work blouses*
2 pairs of Carhart slacks
2 work skirts (long so I can layer running tights underneath when it's cold out)
4 running/working out/gardening t-shirts
2 " " shorts
2 pairs of running tights
1 pair of heavy duty Dickie or Carhart type jeans
1 hoody sweatshirt
1 nice work wool sweater
2 vests (one fleece, one dressy wool)
1 heavy duty winter jacket (and other snow accoutrements - fleece hat and waterproof gloves)
1 partially rainproof outer layer/shell
1 swimsuit
8 pairs of cotton socks, 4 pairs of high tech socks (running/hiking/snow)
under garments

*(including 2 patagonia lightweight warm base layer shirts - zip neck...I use these for work one day and then wear them a couple of times as base layers underneath other gear before washing)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2004 at 2:23PM
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Kathy547(z8 AR)

Wow!!! This is one long thread! LOL!!!!

I hardly ever buy clothes for myself or my husband but when I do, I usually buy them from the thrift stores run by the humane society, Salvation Army, Goodwill, or one of the churches. Or, I try to catch yard sales or clearance sales. I have two kids who are teen & pre-teen (that age where looks matter!). Their clothes are usually gotten at the same places.

I read in some frugal book a neat idea that I try to do.

Take a notebook or binder & have a sheet of paper for each child. List every article of clothing each child would need for a year, including shoes (dress, tennis, etc.). Have 3 columns - one for the size your child is now, & the next 2 sizes (we're only talking a couple of years the way kids grow). As you acquire clothing in that particular size you make a mark in the proper column. Take your list when shopping or going to sales, & that way you don't end up getting Susie 30 shirts & no pants. Say she wears size 8 now - Have a box or boxes with her name & the next size.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2004 at 10:45PM
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madspinner(z7 WA skagit)

Permaculture Yuppie? I wonder who that refers to? I don't think that's me, but who knows?

I like REI clothing, just a bit rich for me! I spent $8 on a pair of socks there once and thought I would die!

My brother in law is a yuppie... and when we bought our dream property, I could tell he thought we lived in a hole. No sense of potential. All he could see were the dead cars (now mostly gone) and our old mobile homes. Sigh. Couldn't invision the home we would build, or see the beauty in our lake and island, river , or orchard.... poor guy. He probably feels sorry for us, and here we feel the same about him stuck in the city with a morgage for a house with no land and car payments....

    Bookmark   June 5, 2004 at 8:57PM
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punk_r_doodle(Twilight Zone)


The artist name you are refering to is Andrea Zittel. As well as her clothing I beleive she also makes her own modular furniture and designs trailer homes. She is a very inspiring creative woman. I wish I had a bit of her creativaty :)


Here is a link that might be useful: zittle's web page

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 1:54AM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

Hello, I found this old thread (almost a pun in this case) quite interesting. I have more clothing than I need, but that is mainly because I keep almost all of my old clothes in perpetuity. I have 'nice clothes' I almost never wear, from when I had a corporate job, but every now and then I wear them. Yesterday I wore something nice to attend a friend's baby's baptism. If clothes don't fit now, well, I am optimistic that they will fit again sometime. For a long time I kept some old pants I had loved (purple jeans and blue jeans, each colorful, stretchy and not denim) that I decided I would really get rid of since they hadn't fit me in years. Then I lived in Ecuador for a year (out of 2 suitcases of clothes) and lost weight and they fit me again (briefly.) So now I think I am justified in keeping them a few more years just in case. :-)

Freecycle helps me, as when I see a person near my size really needs clothes I try to find them a bag of mine that I don't need. But I also get free clothing on freecycle a lot. I have gotten clothing from one sister a lot, I give her some sometimes (as we reverse who is gaining or losing weight) but she complains because what she gives me is almost always nicer than what I give her. Then there is a third sister that we both give clothes to, she never gives any away. Once her washer broke and she said she could go 3 months without having to wash any clothes except underwear!

I think the reason that homesteaders and organic gardeners and home canners and bakers mostly don't make clothing is just that the clothing most of us could make ourselves wouldn't be very good/comfy. Whereas the organic vegies and the homemade bread and jam way exceed the quality of ordinary grocery store items. Clothing from stores is just way better than what I could make myself, I can hardly patch my jeans.

One thing Marie said I must take exception to: "The idea was that someone was trying to draw attention to themselves by wearing really worn out garments. It was a way to control family members, too, in some cases. The threadbare person would try to get sympathy for him or herself." I and my hubby both tend to wear really worn out things, where the material is thin or has holes, whatever. We get fond of certain things and wear them over and over until they are totally shot. I don't stop wearing favorite shirts until they are so worn out they rip down the back and are unrepairable. It is always cotton comfy shirts in a color or pattern I liked a lot, and I just won't stop wearing them until I absolutely have to. I used to date a guy who had holes in his clothes, really ratty underwear, and so on. He also had a weird short haircut. I initially mistook him for a punk (back in the mid-80s.) Turned out he was just excessively thrifty and paid no attention to his appearance. So although I imagine some people could wear worn out clothing to make some sort of statement, some of us are really just that thrifty or lazy or attached to a particular garment.

As for shoes, I have short wide feet with high arches. I always had to wear shoes longer than my feet to get them to fit comfortably in the toe area. In college I wore a friend's shoes and was amazed how nice it was to have shoes already busted out a little. I soon got used shoes from a lot of people, in particular a friend who was a serious runner. She ran about 10 miles a day, so after a few months would need good new running shoes. But they were great for walking around for YEARS more. And fit better and were more comfy since already broken in. So I am lucky that old shoes are better for me than new. My other solution these days is to buy boys shoes, somehow boys get to have wider feet than women. I get almost all garments free and used, so that is about as sustainable as one can get.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 12:24AM
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huisjen(z5 ME)

Some random thoughts here:

When I was in college, I would sew my own pants. It was the late '80s, and everything easily available was styled tight. I had large thighs for my waist (bicycle legs) and store pants just didn't fit, so I made my own, patterned loosly on my military BDU pants.

I had a housemate from China who, when he saw me sewing, commented that in China he'd buy his underwear as yard goods, pre-printed with the pattern. He'd take it home, cut it out, and sew it together.

There's a documentarly series done by Chinese and Japanese TV in the early 80s about The Silk Road. One episode has a brief scene in the Himilayas, where an itinerant weaver is working. He gets yarn and directions from customers, and weaves it to order on a loom that attaches to a wall and to his shoulders, and produced cloth about 18" wide in the scene. The pedals hung from the loom, and he marched as he wove, 1,4,2,3,1,4,2,3,... The yarn was local, and the cloth was then used to make local, sustainable clothing.

Shoes: I've got two pair of Dutch klompen. They aren't super comfortable (instep too low) but I could see how one could get used to them, and they were traditionally made with hand tools out of local willow wood. There are other designs for indignenous footwear. Wooden soles are one option. In many places, old tires are recycled and used as shoe soles. (American POWs in Vietnam wore a prison uniform referred to as "Dress reds and retreads".)

I used to buy cheap Hi-Tech brand hiking boots and wear out a pair a year, but I've found that a pair of Birkenstock plastic clogs, made by Germans, last about three years, so they're cheaper in the long run. I also have taken to knitting bulky socks which I felt down a bit. I wear them in the clogs or in a pair of relatively cheap rubber boots in the winter. Yarn isn't cheap, and it takes a skein of Brown Sheep bulky to make a single sock, but I really like them.

I understand some people are making money on ebay by buying random thrift store sweaters and disassembling them to sell the yarn.

The fastest way to make "cloth" from wool is to felt it. It's not streachy, but for many things (cloaks, boots, vests) it works just fine.

If you're making your own cloth, you hate to cut it. Clothes in the middle ages often reflected this. They were made from full width cloth, and sometimes baggy because of it, but could be disassembled and recycled more easily.

The simplest pattern I've ever seen for pants is that for martial arts uniforms. One straight piece of cloth that's wide enough to go half way around you and long enough to go from waist to hem for each side, plus a triangle or diamond shapped gusset below. Hem and add a drawstring.

If I had to produce all my own clothing from scratch, I'd probably look to scotts and viking models. Wool and leather. Woad in summer.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 6:23PM
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Buy stuff at places that are going out of bussiness 90% off or more , also clearance sales . Buy everthing that fits well . This should last you 2 years until some place else goes out of bussiness . It works for me.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 2:11PM
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There is a huge in & out door flea Market in Englishtow, NJ since the 1920's. LOTS of good bargains. I took a friend there on a Sun afternoon. Many leave behind what they don't sell, usually in the large metal trash boxes. She found a full wardrobe and I found a step stool, ceramic tiles and a post hole digger. She threw out her old clothes. Her co workers would not believe they were dumpster dive clothing. She also took home a very nice oriental style rug. There is a church in the Catskills near Mt. Tremper that has a basement clothing + sales every week. I found HIGH quality clothing there, many with tags still on. I buy VERY little. I scavenge, take free. My good clothes last forever as I seldom wear them.
My friends and dogs don't care what I wear.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 6:33PM
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