creativity · home life

Existential Crafting


Some quick explanations of photos – the seeds we planted in our garden are actually coming up (and didn’t rot in the rain thank goodness) and I am excited for our first rhubarb harvest; baby Bird is wearing a sweater set that was mine as a baby; making dandelion apple bitters from the Taproot Weave recipe; Auntie Naomi came up for a visit after finishing her nursing practicum and was loved by both girls; and I discover it is impossible to do any sewing work – even measuring – while Bean is awake.

I’m joining with the Crafting On link-up, even though I don’t really have a current project to share. This week I finished a cross-stitch for Bean’s room, sewed some car seat strap covers in anticipation of our road trip, and darned some socks. I took out some thrifted fabric and a jumper pattern that I’d been thinking about making for myself for a while, and realized after much deliberation that it was the wrong fabric for the pattern. (Sometimes I’m just as productive by not making something poorly, haha.) But mostly my current “makings” have had to do with the existential questions behind them, not completed projects.

As my attention turns from knitting to sewing this season, I’ve been thinking a lot about how my clothing choices fit into our greater values, like supporting just and fair working conditions for workers around the world, caring for creation, reducing our environmental footprint… I wrote a little while back about my one-year break from clothing purchases, and what it taught me. Recently Christopher and I have been talking about what ethical consumption choices may look like for us, and trying to develop resources to make those choices as well-informed and clear as possible.

But oh man, it certainly feels complicated sometimes! During Naomi’s visit we had a long conversation one night about ethical fashion and all the levels of decision making that affect our choices. Like, our first principle should be to not buy – make do with what we have. But beyond that, if we do need to buy, is it more important to buy secondhand first, even if it’s not well-made or more worn out, or invest in ethical companies above all? When you have limited finances, do you invest that dollar in something made locally? Or made with natural organic materials? Or made in fair and transparent working conditions overseas? What if you can’t find (or can’t afford) an option that ticks all of your value boxes? Sometimes this is when the best becomes the enemy of the good – I want to make the “best” choice, become overwhelmed by nuance, discouraged by partial solutions, and end up feeling like buying this one thing here or there won’t make any difference in the global fashion industry. (Or in the world of material production at large – it’s dizzying when you start to consider!)

So I’m trying to align all these thoughts – and there are great resources out there once you start looking, maybe I’ll share a few when I have myself more organized – and figure out how things are going to look for us right now. I’m really excited about the idea of sewing more of our clothes myself, both as a way to really appreciate the time and energy it takes to make something, and in order to make things that I really like and suit our needs. (But again, I’ve been thinking about where I buy my fabric and supplies – should I buy organic? Or search thrift stores for second-hand fabric? The shops that sell ethically-made fabric are few, and cost more than what you get at the big chain retailers. Where do I put my few dollars? What trade-offs do I feel good about making?) And always, always, learning to live with enough. Not more, not necessarily less – whatever is enough. Minimalism and capsule wardrobes attract me because they encourage living with less, but I’ve also learned from some misguided attempts to live with less that getting rid of things that I end up having to replace later isn’t very efficient or financially responsible. 🙂

For now, however, I guess I have enough of a fabric stash and projects I can make with those things that I shouldn’t have to buy sewing supplies for a while…except that I’ve just started following all of these indie sewing pattern-makers and fabric shops on instagram and OH!! I want ALL THE FABRIC!! Sigh…

Do you have a set of principles or decision-making tools that help guide you through all these questions? Or favourite ethical fabric or fashion companies that you regularly buy from? I would love to hear about them.


One thought on “Existential Crafting

  1. It’s certainly a conundrum in this global consumer world we live in. I had quite a surprise to discover that there used to be a linen industry in North Yorkshire, weaving linen from locally grown flax. I suppose that until we return to producing raw ingredients locally and using them locally, we can’t ever be truly ethical. Look forward to reading your further thoughts.

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