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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Washi Tape Computer

This project is over a year old, but I needed to post pictures before it started to get too much  more wear and tear!

In Spring of 2015, I became obsessed with washi tape. I ordered a few collections off of Etsy (10/10 would recommend, but it can be a little pricey) I used it to decorate my crutches, my travel sewing kit, my notebooks, everything. So it was not a very short leap before I was decorating my technology too. 

And decorating it in a very involved and elaborate way. 

And maybe decorating during class as well. Probably a good idea I waited until after graduation to post this. 

Seriously, what's not to love about washi tape! You can find all the colors and patterns imaginable. 

Those are some wonderfully feminist stickers I have since added to my computer. 

But wait...there's more!!!!

Yes, I decorated the keyboard too. So much Netflix-ing while I worked on this. 

You might notice the super-duper cool chalkboard math notation print tape around the edges. Yes, I am that much of a math nerd. I got a whole role of that tape instead of just a sample!

I started by cutting off a piece of washi tape in the approximate size of the key. I put it on one of the keys and then used an X-acto knife to round out the corners and cut off the excess.

Then I used a felt-tip marker to write the letter or the function of the key on top of the tape. 

I gotta be honest, this is not the most functional art project. The tape has worn out on a few of the most-used keys and gotten really sticky and needed to be replaced. (You can see that especially on the space bar). 

Everyone else has a very difficult time tying on this keyboard, although that may be just because everyone except me uses a Mac. But not everyone can touch-type or read the loopy script on the keys, which can only make that harder. 

I'm not complaining, though. It just means no one else will try to use my computer or micro-manage what I'm working on at school. 

So rating this project: If you can touch-type and don't mind a little bit of upkeep, I would 10/10 recommend this project. 

If you can't touch type but are willing to re-draw the letters every once in a while in a more legible font, then maybe a 7/10. 

If you hate typing and wouldn't want to deal with upkeep, then I'd give a 4/10. It's not a zero because this project is still hella cute and everyone deserves to smile when they open up their computer :)
-Taft WK

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Ready-to-Wear Fast and Building a New Wardrobe

On July 4th weekend in 2015, I decided I wanted to take a more decisive step in my growing interest in clothing sustainability and ethical fashion. I had also just finished reading the amazing book Women in Clothes and wanted to push myself to discover more about what clothing and sewing means to me and how I can better harness that energy. 

So for one whole year, I did not buy any new clothing. I was only going to find clothing at thrift stores, clothing swaps or make it myself. I did make a few exceptions for things I know I can't thrift or make: shoes (but I would make a valiant thrift effort first), anything with underwire, shoes and tights. 

A notebook page where I first wrote out what my rules would be. 

When I first started this journey, I thought I would be sewing and thrifting all the time so I could have all the clothes I wanted. But as the months went on, I focused more on paring down my closet and working to create multiple outfits out of garments I already had. 

I didn't buy any tights all year. Turns out, I didn't need more than what I had. I also only bought one pack of socks a month before my RTW fast was over. I threw out socks along the way as they became too worn to wear, but instead of replacing them, I decided it was okay to have a smaller sock drawer that wasn't overflowing. 

I only bought one RTW pair of shoes: 

And the rest of my shoes have come from thrift stores. But I also only bought a couple of pairs this whole year. All the shoes I had before are still in great shape, and still fashionable enough to wear. Lesson learned: you don't need a dozen and half pairs of shoes to have cool outfits. 

I sewed my own formal-wear for events and bought jeans secondhand when my favorite pair wore out. I found black sneakers at a consignment store and got all sorts of interesting shirts and dresses at clothing swaps. And I kept wearing all the clothes I had accumulated in years before, instead of pushing them to the back of my closet. I wore so many garments until they were worn out - and then I salvaged or donated the fabric so it could be used again. 

Here's the best part: I didn't even miss ready-to-wear clothing. I saved so much money this past year and I love the clothes I have more than ever have before. I felt like I was pushed to dive deep and ask myself about what I really truly wanted to wear and what I was most comfortable in. After doing so much capsule wardrobe research, I could feel myself gravitating towards a few shape, silhouettes, fabrics and looks that I loved the most. There was a capsule wardrobe emerging from what I already had. So I started donating and giving away garments I didn't wear so often anymore. 

There were still several garments that I wanted very badly and I had a hard time finding at thrift stores. Things like high-waisted jeans, a good denim skirt, a casual black dress, or the perfect green t-shirt. After several months without good high-waisted jeans and wishing every week I had a pair again, I know I'll get good use out of them and want to bring them back to my closet. 

When my RTW fast was over, I didn't want to immediately go on a shopping bender and buy a ton of garments who's origins and impacts I didn't know. But I also wanted to finally craft my ideal wardrobe before I went off to college, and I definitely didn't have enough time to sew a dozen garments this summer.

My main color palette

So I decided to design my own conscious wardrobe. I looked at the garments, shapes and fabrics I loved the most and sketched them out. I looked at the colors I know are most flattering on me, but also work together as a color palette.

Accent colors and silhouettes for pants/shorts

 I love variety, so it was difficult to finally pare down what I was drawn to the most, but I think I'm almost almost there. 

Silhouettes for shirts and dresses. 

This project was very similar to designing a fashion collection, but instead I was designing a collection for myself. 

Silhouettes for skirts and a pair of overalls. 

I made several copies of the silhouettes and colored in each one. Then I spread them out and moved all the pieces around, making sure each garment could (hypothetically) be worked into several outfits. 

And about the part where I'm a variety junkie: I realized a completely minimalist wardrobe was not going to be 100% me. You'll notice I didn't sketch shoes or sweaters/jackets, because that's generally where I throw in some weird thrift store find that makes the outfit special. I decided I was reserving those areas (and my 90s floral print mom jeans) for the off-kilter, non-mainstream looks I love. 

A photo posted by Taft Weber-Kilpack (@taftisseamstress) on

Then I put each of my final pics in my sketchbook, and looked around online for a sewing pattern to match each one. In some cases, I had the same pattern in multiple colors. 

I also noted what I needed for each pattern. Sometimes, I knew I had fabric that would match or already owned the perfect pattern. So I noted where I needed to go shopping or save up to buy the PDF online. 

In some cases, I already had the perfect garment!

And in other cases, I just needed to slightly alter something I already had. 

I also decided that if I can find the garment at a price I'm willing to pay and I know it was ethically manufactured, then I will buy it ready-to-wear. I don't have time to sew all these garments, but I still want to maintain the minimal-consumption shopping I've kept up this last year. 

Of course, I will try to thrift the fabric or find the garment secondhand if I can, but that isn't always a guarantee. 

And then I made a plan for what I'm doing moving forward!

My next step is finding out where I can buy ethically manufactured fabric and notions. I'm looking to support business that have little to no negative environmental impact, are made locally, pay all employees a living wage, or support other social initiatives. Right now, I'm going to try salvaging fabric from thrift store garments, but if anyone has suggestions, I would love to hear them!

I'll keep you updated as my Conscious Wardrobe adventure continues...
-Taft WK

P.S. You might have noticed there was not a post last Wednesday. Since my summer is coming to an end and I'm moving to college soon, I will be going back to a post every other Wednesday. I'll try to keep this up as long as I can - it just depends on how much sewing and crafting time I'll have when classes start.