We’re rounding the three-quarters mark into the One Year One Outfit challenge and at this point I’m only half-dressed! Proposed by Nikki of This Is Moonlight, the One Year One Outfit challenge is to make a locally-sourced, handmade look using local fiber and dyes. The idea is directly inspired by Fibershed and Nikki has linked it to the non-profit by making it a virtual Affiliate Fibershed.
Back in January, I vowed to create one outfit this year that could proudly wear the Fibershed badge: local fiber, local dyes, and local labor. At that time, I was actually already on my way toward my first local garment because I was knitting my first sweater using Twirl Yarn, a luxurious small-farm yarn bred and based in Napa, California. I’ve since finished this sweater and it has become a pillar of my wardrobe. I want to do it justice with a full blog post very soon… but today, with the very first of the crisp fall air in my new home of Minnesota, I want to write about my plans for the rest of my outfit.
I left California in late May, so in effect I will have lived half of this year in the Northern California Fibershed and half in a Minnesota Fibershed. There was a brief moment where I thought I could bust out a full California outfit before moving, and create 2 local looks, but then I realized what better way to sum up my year than a half West Coast and half Midwest ensemble? Enter the Minnesota wool wrap skirt…
Have you seen Carolyn’s incredible hand-felted local outfit? It is stunning. Pictured above is the dreamy local wool felt that she made — click over to Handmade by Carolyn to see the results! When she posted about her felt-making process from raw fleece to sumptuous Australian wool fabric it was kind of a lightbulb moment for me. I had been considering knitting the rest of my outfit, since I know I can find Minnesota yarn and I already know how to knit. But I want the outfit to have some textural diversity, and yet I don’t really want to spend months teaching myself how to weave and several more months weaving fabric for the outfit.
Felt, I hope, will be a fun and slightly more forgiving exploration through which I can produce cloth from Minnesota wool and stitch a garment to complete my outfit. Once I had felt on the brain, the daydreaming was nonstop. First, I thought of Oakland-based designer Laura Schoorl and her modern, fleece and felt silhouettes (pictured above). Then, I started thinking about my fall wardrobe plans and how much I love the minimalist styling of the Alabama Chanin wrap skirt pattern. Realistically though, winter is coming and wool felt will actually be much better suited to Minnesota winter than cotton jersey.
Suddenly, wool wrap skirt inspiration seems to be everywhere from my Pinterest feed to my mailbox (above, Pin-spiration from Madewell, Emerson Fry, and Hackwith Design House). I think I’ve found the perfect sewing pattern: the Osaka wrap skirt from Seamwork Magazine by Colette patterns, pictured below. Osaka is a reversible mini skirt with an angled front seam and simple button closure. It is shaped by the same kind of waist darts as the Alabama Chanin pattern, but calls for woven fabric panels to create two skirts in one. This seems handy to multiply my One Year One Outfit wardrobe, but may be bulky in felt, so I’ll definitely make a muslin and perhaps change it to one-sided instead of two (which would also cut down on the amount of fabric used, which may be necessary depending on my felting abilities).
Now that I’ve made all these lovely inspiration collages, the next step is to get started! As fate would have it, I purchased some beautiful local wool roving at the Minnesota State Fair last week (see the top photo of this post). It’s only about 4 oz., which I think could make just shy of one yard of lightweight felt (figuring 4 oz./yard is an average woven lightweight shirting fabric), but a new fiber-loving friend here in Minneapolis gave me a lead on where to get more… Stay tuned for my felt-making adventures!