Ultra-Local Clothing: Making a Homegrown, Handspun, Naturally Dyed Cotton Shirt


Cindy in homegrown shirt 11-27-16 - BLOG

I first grew cotton in the late 1990s. However, I had no idea what to do with it. After I enjoyed looking at it and feeling it, I put it away in a box, seeds and all. I decided to grow cotton again in 2011, and this time learn to spin it.

Choosing the Cotton Variety and Materials

I grew Nankeen Brown and Erlene’s Green that year. Seeds are available for these varieties from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I bought a takli spindle and joined a handspinning group. The key to all this is joining that group because I found people who could help me along this journey — and it has been quite a journey. Learning to spin seemed to be slow going at first and I got sidetracked writing two books — Grow a Sustainable Diet and Seed Libraries. Once I got back to it, I finished a vest in 2015 and now a shirt!

For this shirt, I spun my cotton into singles on a book charkha and plied the singles together on a Louet10 wheel. I wove my two-ply homegrown cotton yarn on a small 12-inch table loom that I had acquired used at the swap meet that my spinning group has every two years.

Choosing a Shirt Pattern

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