Learn to Grow Your Own Clothes

| 3/1/2019 9:39:00 AM


The author in a homegrown cotton vest.

Photo credit: photo of Cindy Conner taken by Walt Conner

I have made my own clothes since I learned to sew as a 4-Her growing up. Having arms and legs longer than the norm was a big incentive. I can also grow things. My work has been researching what it would take to grow all one’s food, including the cover crops to feed back the soil, while keeping a small footprint on the earth. Yet, I had no idea how to get the cotton I could grow in my garden to become clothing to wear until I decided to make that my focus when I grew it again in 2011.

I needed to know how to spin the fiber, which is a skill that takes some time to master, and how to ply it, scour it, weave it, and then decide on an appropriate pattern for the vest I intended to make.  I joined a handspinning group in my area and spent the next several years working toward my goal of making something to wear. Besides new skills, I garnered new friends and it has been a wonderful journey.

Once my vest was finished, the teacher in me decided that I needed to teach people to grow their own clothes, but since not everyone could grow cotton in their area, I would need to learn to grow textile flax and make it into linen. That threw me back to the beginning of learning new things. Besides learning from books, I took a flax to linen class at the John C. Campbell Folk School. I have since made a shirt incorporating both cotton and linen homegrown fibers. I haven’t written about that shirt yet, but I have written about a homegrown cotton shirt I made. A project I expect to finish this spring is a dress woven from my homegrown, handspun cotton and flax/linen.

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