Sustainable Textiles

This past Saturday I took a break from painting our studio walls to check out the Georgia Sewn Expo in downtown Athens. This was part of a larger event hosted by the Athens Fashion Collective and the Wilson Center for Humanities at UGA. The one-day expo was about connecting local manufacturers and designers around the region, mostly focusing on organic and sustainable practices in the fashion industry.

Natalie Chanin from Alabama Chanin was in town for the event and gave a talk on Friday night. It was fascinating to hear about her difficulties establishing a sewing shop and regional source of organic cotton. I'd love to visit the factory in Florence and see what an ethical, small-scale clothes manufacturer looks like (it's only a 6 hour drive).

While in Athens, she and Rinne Allen worked with a class at UGA to make handmade paper from her textile scraps. Everyone in the audience received a piece upon leaving the lecture. It's so interesting to think about the full circle; from seed, to plant, to fiber, to fabric, to fiber, to paper.

The whole event got me thinking more about sustainability and waste in the textile industry. I'm proud that Simon and I reuse, compost, or donate as much of our fabric scraps as we can. Since we moved in, our smaller scraps have been great for building up our depleted, eroded yard, and the larger pieces block out weeds in our planting beds. Our fabric is organic and not bleached so it breaks down quickly when mixed into the soil.

Being around so many like-minded people at the Expo was very inspiring. I was thrilled to find a local dyer, local yarn and thread, and a local sewing contractor.

Here's a few highlights from Expo:

Georgia Rustic Wool - Joanne Maki raises a unique heritage breed of sheep called Gulf Cost Native Sheep. She shears the wool, spins it to yarn and offers the skeins as dyed or undyed wool. Very pretty wool that's light for our warm weather in Georgia. 

Georgia Yarn Company - from Penfield, GA, makes yarn using cotton grown and ginned in Georgia. Very nice stuff - the spools range from $10-$50 and they offer samples.

Rework & Repair, Inc. - From the little town of Crawfordville, GA, Mimi Vickers and her team employ locals from this small town for cut-and-sew contract work. 

Sea Island Indigo - A natural dye house here in Georgia run by Donna Hardy. Donna grows indigo to harvest for her natural dye baths. She will be hosting workshops starting March 12th.

Erin Geagon, working on her MFA in Fiber and Material Studies at UGA, displayed weavings using reclaimed fibers and recycled materials like cotton curtains, Walmart bags, and polyster tapes. 

Erin Geagon

It was fun to run into Kim Woods from Willaby Clothier. Kim uses naturally dyed fabrics in her collection and is connecting with other local artists to grow her adorable line of clothing. Keep an eye out for her new collection.


x Sara 

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