Sustainable Closet, Handmade

Alterations Class

Confession: my relationship with apparel sustainability tends toward cyclical.  Sometimes an outside force causes me to pull back and examine my clothing habits.  Sometimes I read a new book and I feel old concerns renewed.  I wish I could say that I steadfastly shun all of the tempting apparel out there, but I do fall prey to over-priced pretty things that probably contain questionable products and which also probably did not earn their maker very much money, even though I know better.  Why is that?  The question bedevils me.

I signed up for an alterations class this semester for a few reasons.  I felt that I needed to do some skill-building, I knew the professor (and he's good), and also it felt like unfinished is a class that I had had to drop several years ago due to life circumstances, but that I had was disappointed I had not completed.  

I'm a few weeks into it now, and it isn't scary any more.  I ripped into a pair of Oscar de la Renta pants last night that I am pretty sure I know how to render wearable again.  And I have been able to pull things out of my closet and turn them into completed homework.  But probably the best side effect of getting back on the horse with this class is that I'm feeling a reconnection to sustainability.  It is so much easier to shop less when you can make changes to what you already have, and to shop creatively when you can select something with the right price, but imperfect fit.

During the course of the class, we learn how to do all different kinds of alterations and the homework is generally to perform an example of the alteration that we learned in class.  I have hemmed some jeans, and tapered some other ones. I have also lengthened some trousers, turned my husband's old pants into shorts, and taken in the waist of another pair of shorts.

Alterations take the mystery out of clothes, much like working at a restaurant removes the mystery from fancy food.  It can be disheartening so see the messy insides of your outwardly-perfect garment, but the resulting empowerment of  knowing that you can control it's final appearance outweighs the reality.  

And how great is a class that not only trains me in a bankable skill, but also helps me reduce my clothing carbon footprint?