Eco-Fashion Design Project

Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project

Rebecca has been working on fashion projects throughout the year with her History & Literature with Fashion 8th grade course. When a local reuse sewing shop announced a fashion contest, she was eager to enter. What followed was the Eco-Fashion Design Project.

Below you will find the task and the judging criteria along with Rebecca’s own words regarding her project.

The Denim Plus Eco-Fashion Challenge

Enter original or redesigned fashions and accessories made from reused denim, plus at least one other reused material (thread & fasteners can be new). All ages and skill levels are invited to enter. You may enter as an individual or as a team. Original designs are encouraged, but refashioning an existing garment is allowable.

Denim Plus Eco-Fashion Judging Criteria

The entries were judged by a multi-generational panel on the following criteria:

  • wearability
  • comfort
  • creativity
  • quality of construction
  • cost
  • non-wasteful use of materials
  • and general coolness

Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project

The Vision of the Eco-Fashion Dress

The general idea of my dress was to have a bell tutu on a denim bodice with a swinging grapevine of ruffles and doodads. From sketch to the finished tutu, the dress is my original work. Enjoy the story of my dress with pictures and facts.

Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project

What is Ethical Fashion?

The idea with eco-fashions is to use clothing and textiles already used or in need of rescue and turn them into something new. The fashion industry is infamous for churning out garments at the expense of the workers who make them. Ethical fashion is the new way to go.

  • It doesn’t support exploitation of factory workers.
  • It’s better for the environment- many of the processes of preparing fabric for garment making is toxic
  • We have literally tons of abandoned textiles and clothing already-  so reducing the demand for new fabrics and clothing is a smart idea.
  • You can make something truly unique -instead of only wearing “off the rack” clothing.
  • Choose a selection of well made and timeless pieces for your wardrobe- which can be mixed and matched with a few things and you’ll have less to steward and a variety of good looking items to wear at any time.

I am delighted to learn that I am not cheap! I’m just into ethical fashion.

Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project

Eco-Fashion Dress Materials

A combination of sewing “stashes” came together to provide the materials for this project. The only new material in the dress is the thread in my sewing machine. Below is a list of the rescued items I used with their previous uses:

  • Denim- old work jeans
  • Black Tulle- an underskirt from an old prom gown (the material from the gown was already used in a project and this tulle was leftover from that)
  • Tshirt- a two year old 4-H Duck Race shirt given to me as a prize
  • Black Trims- leftover from a Steampunk doll gown I made this year
  • Ruffle- leftover from a Civil War Ball gown I helped to make two years ago which was originally from a prom gown
  • Bias tape- purchased as a rescued item from Sew Green and given to me as a gift last year
  • Zipper- rescued for reuse from Sew Green and given to me as a gift last year
  • Rhinestones- leftover from a beading project for a prom gown from many years ago
  • Flowers- Dryer sheets I saved and vinyl which was left here when the previous owner of our home left some of her sewing stash for me (knowing I love to sew!)
  • White/Red Tulle- leftover from projects in a friend’s sewing stash
  • Serger Thread- The thread is 30 years old and came with my serger which was given to me as a gift from an online friend of my mom’s who sent it to me after reading that I would love to have a serger.

Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project

The Making of an Eco-Fashion: The Process

Making the dress was a lot of fun, here are some of the things I did.

  • Draped fabric on the dress form to see what would work
  • Took the denim, sewed it into one long piece,
  • Serged the edges and attached a zipper to construct the bodice
  • Sewed darts into the denim to make it fit my dress form and cut the armholes
  • Cut the bottom off of a 2XLtshirt, gathered it, and attached it to the bodice
  • Cut two long strips of white tulle, gathered them, and sewed them to the skirt where it met the bodice- repeated the process for a second layer
  • Cut red tulle with a wavy rotary blade, used a gathering foot to gather the red tulle and sew it to a piece of red ribbon- tacked the ribbon to the bodice
  • Inserted horsehair hoop into the hem of the tshirt
  • Serged a piece of black tulle to some denim and tacked it to the skirt between the red and white layers of tulle
  • Put bias tape in the armholes to finish the edges to create a strong under layer for the straps
  • Took the red ruffle and tacked it to the bodice to form the dress straps and finished edge for the top of the bodice
  • Braided the red ruffle, red tulle, and trims to create a wave across the bodice and skirt
  • Tacked on the white flowers on the back at the top of the zipper and at the end of the braid on the front of the dress
  • Glued rhinestones to the black tulle layer

Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project

Glitches in the Eco-Fashion Process

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. One thing I love about watching Rebecca’s creative process is how she adapts to the needs of the project without missing a beat.

  • Sewing machine glitch- her machine doesn’t enjoy sewing bulk. So, she had to start hand sewing the layers of tulle onto her dress. The need to visit a friend with a machine which could handle it led to a scalloped edge on the red tulle and some other goodies like the rhinestones!
  • Skirt layers- once the red and white tulle was attached, she new something was missing. Enter some black tulle from her closet, detached from another dress.
  • Coming up short- once she serged the black tulle to the denim and tacked it on to the dress, it didn’t quite make it all the way around. So, she improved and made a bustle from some additional white tulle.
  • Running out of time- the original design called for denim straps made from the same pair of jeans, but she switched to bias tape spaghetti straps. This provided a fabulous finished edge for the bodice neckline and armholes, but required a lot of tacking for the ruffle.

Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project


Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project


Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project


Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project


Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project


Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project


Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project


Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project


Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project

Recycled Materials for Eco-Fashions

One item Rebecca wanted to incorporated into her dress was dryer sheets. She was experimenting with various flower designs and settled on this one after I suggested it might make a great dryer sheet flower. It does!

She placed several on the dress including on the sash and on the back to cover the top of the zipper. She also wore one in her hair and still does often!

Everything else was a recycled prom gown item or other garments in rescue status. The highlight were the rhinestones she was able to score from an 80s era prom gown project.

Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project

The Finished Denim Plus Eco-Fashion

I love the way the dress turned out. My favorite parts are the swooping braid across the front and the flowers. The best parts of the process for me were putting in the darts and adding the details. Before I began, I knew I wanted to incorporate the dryer sheets and the flowers seemed to be the perfect way to use them.

This dress was made using the draping technique, although I typically prefer to draft my own patterns. Drafting patterns is appealing to me because it makes me more familiar with the pieces and I know how they all fit together. Drafting patterns helps me to deconstruct the garment in my mind and shows me why parts of the process have to be done in a certain order. The best reason of all is that working from my own designs and patterns/draping gives me independence – it’s my pattern, my way.

She turned in the dress with the entry form and a document on The Dress with a Story to Tell.

Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project


Blog, She Wrote: Eco-Fashion Design Project

Rebecca was invited to participate in the Denim Plus Fashion Show that accompanied the contest as both a designer and a model. I’ll also share the contest results!

Project: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

It’s time to report on the wrap up of our Literature, History, & Fashion unit on Jules Verne and Steampunk. Rebecca had been working on reading Jules Verne and learning more about Steampunk origins and fashion. In the first post I shared the content of our unit and the beginning of the dress making process. Today, I’m following up on that post with the conclusion to the project- at least this time period for the ongoing history & fashion project.

Jules Verne Project Review

The main elements of the project included:

  • Reading Jules Verne books
  • Learning about the life of Jules Verne
  • Writing an author profile & some analysis essays on Jules Verne and his work (these came from Excellence in Literature)
  • Steampunk Fashion- learning about what it is and where it came from
  • Fashion Design- Steampunk style

You can see the original post by clicking on the link above or the picture below. There are more details on the books and assignments there.

Blog, She Wrote: Jules Verne Literature, History, & Fashion

I interviewed Rebecca to find out what she thought of this project and if she had any tips or advise for you all. In the first post, you can see how the pieces of the pattern came together in the bodice and below you can see the first fitting.

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

What Is Your Favorite Part about Drafting Patterns?

  • Drawing the designs
  • Choosing fabrics best suited for the fashion
  • Drafting the patterns from my sketches

By far her favorite is the drafting which is curious considering it requires effort and math! Rebecca is always up for a crafty math challenge. What better way to apply skills?

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

Why Do You Prefer to Draft Your Own Patterns?

Rebecca has always preferred to make her own patterns rather than follow store bought ones. What makes pattern drafting so appealing? She has some very specific opinions on this:

  • Makes you more familiar with the pattern
  • I will know how all the pieces fit together
  • I know how the garment deconstructs in my mind.
  • Gives me independence- I don’t have to stick with the pattern I’m given. It can be my pattern, my way.
  • Shows me why something needs to be done in a certain order

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

What Would You do Differently?

She learned a few important things from this project. Even mistakes lead to better understanding and she did have to take the garment apart at least once during the process.

  • Make sure the sleeves have the proper seam allowance and make sure they do not taper but stay straight. Dolls cannot cup a hand to squeeze an arm into a sleeve! You can see how she chose to modify the design so she would not have to recut and sew the fabric.
  • Whatever you do to the front of the dress, you must do to the back. In this case she had four or more pattern pieces that made up the bodice and she had to make sure they lined up well once they were put together.
  • Make the lining from the same fabric or a similar color so that if the fabric peeks out from the seam it is less noticeable! Rebecca made a fabulous lining to the bodice, but it easy to see when it’s out of place.

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

Tools for Drafting Patterns

Here are some basic items to have on hand for pattern making:

  • ruler
  • pencil
  • bendable ruler- helpful for tracing curves for the armscye (armhole in the sleeve) and necklines
  • large pieces of paper (larger than printer paper)
  • doll (or a person if you are sewing for people)
  • tape measure
  • pins- for fittings
  • fabric marking pencil or pen
  • dress form

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

Some Helpful Drafting Tutorial Sites

Rebecca has learned a lot from books and websites on how to draft her own patterns. Here are a few of her favorite sites.

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

How Do You Go from Sewing Tidbits to Drafting Patterns and Putting Together Garments?

Rebecca has been sewing since she was 8 years old. At three months shy of 14, she’s been sewing for 6 years and I’ve watched a lot of growth in that time. My sewing skills are fairly basic, so how did she go from sewing simple projects to drafting her own designs from sketches and successfully sewing a garment that is tailored? I know what I’ve done to mentor her and she had some ideas to share as well.

  • Build up endurance for longer projects! How? Sew a lot and get better at it. It doesn’t matter if they are small projects at first just as long as you keep at it.
  • Try new techniques- once you have the hang of the basics, challenge yourself to keep trying new skills. Build your skills slowly and steadily.
  • Use a visually pleasing tutorial- so it’s easy to understand and use the books and tutorials to tackle the drafting. Rebecca’s Kindle Fire has proven to be very helpful in following the tutorials right where she is working. I can’t recommend this homeschool tool enough! See all the ways we use this economical tablet in our homeschool, 10 Reasons to Use a Kindle Part 2- Kindle Fire
  • Provide materials for the work- make sure your sewing student has the tools of the trade that allow her to learn the new skills.
  • Provide space for the work- I can’t emphasize enough how much this helps the learning process. Rebecca would not get nearly the work in that she does if she had to make a big deal about getting started every time she wanted to work.
  • Give them the time- Time to work is a huge part of the success of Rebecca’s skill acquisition. She is given long blocks of uninterrupted time to work out the drafting process and fix mistakes without distractions.

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

Costume Design

This project area has spurred a lot of interest in costume design. The dress that Rebecca put together is all her own idea based on some steampunk influences including a dress that was made for me and the Steampunk Pinterest Board I created for her.

She adored the process of envisioning a dress and making it come alive. The last piece to the puzzle was in all the details of this dress. We scoured the craft stores for the hardware to add to the steampunk design. We found the perfect accessories and doodads! Steampunk is all about late 1800s style with futuristic capabilities all made from steam power and gears that do work.

She is already thinking about how this work could be a part of her future.

Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting


Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting


Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting


Blog, She Wrote: Steampunk Fashion Design & Drafting

This history and fashion project for the year has been very successful. Rebecca is building quite a portfolio with the next step being the county fair. She has read books on period clothing and learned a great deal about culture at the same time – whether it’s the steampunk genre or life in the middle ages.

She is about to take her skills to the next level by constructing her own gown for this year’s Civil War Ball. I can hardly wait to see the finished product.

Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool

Blog, She Wrote: Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool

Welcome to blog sponsor Explorental!

Have you ever considered a LEGO Mindstorms kit for your kids? Maybe you’ve seen them, but are unsure whether the investment is a good one for your family. For less than the cost of a popular game console system, you can have a tool for teaching endless concepts and a source of engineering challenge for your kids.

Reasons to Use LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool

Working with the Mindstorms kit requires a lot of different skills from students even when you are just starting out. Take a look at some of the subject areas accessed by work with the Mindstorms.

  • Math- Although not always a student favorite, math is applied to the robot building when it comes to programming it. Geometry, particularly circle geometry is necessary to accurately get the robot to rotate the wheels the requested distance.
  • Robotics- Who doesn’t want to build a robot and take over the world? Or at least the LEGO world!
  • Mechanics- Part of the robot building has to do with putting the robot together with the technic pieces. How those fit together and work efficiently is a big part of the task.
  • Physics- Along with efficiency, you need a stable structure. We spend a lot of time learning about which designs are the most stable.
  • Fun- There is no shortage of fun when it comes to exploring with a LEGO Mindstorms kit.

Blog, She Wrote: Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool

Using Technology in Your Homeschool

Our kids use a lot of technology in our home- whether it’s a Kindle eReader, tablet or computers for programming and playing. One thing we really try to keep in check is how much our children are producers vs consumers when using technology. In other words, are they watching a lot and engaging in passive participation or are they being makers and creators?

LEGO Mindstorms uses software that is drag and drop so you only need to know some basics about how to get the robot to follow your commands. It takes time to master, but it’s worth the end result. I don’t mind my kids toiling for a few hours at a computer if they are actively problem solving. 

Enjoy a look at Ethan (and our basement!), our 15yo 10th grader, explaining one task he and his fellow FIRST LEGO League team members completed for their FLL regional competition in December. Our teams spend 7 hours a week pouring into this particular piece of technology and it earned them Grand Champion at their qualifying tournament.

Teaching with Technology G+ Hangout

Last week the iHN hosted an informative G+ Hangout on Teaching with Technology. I was excited to be one of the participants. Click and view at your leisure to hear how others are using technology in their homes.

Using Explorental to Experience LEGO Mindstorms

LEGO Mindstorms is a wonderful resource for homeschools, but it may not be the right time financially to invest in your own. How do you get a chance to work with the kit without making that big financial investment?

Take advantage of Explorental’s wonderful inventory of technology gadgets and other kits. They offer a LEGO Mindstorms rental for $43.99 for two weeks.

Blog, She Wrote: Explorental