Rust Belt Fibershed x Praxis Fiber Workshop Present:

One Year, One Outfit

Participants will take the next year to design, source, and create one outfit within a cohort of other makers. The goals of this undertaking are to:

  • Provide a structure for imaginative, slow fashion to thrive
  • Celebrate the incredible amount of local talent and production in our fibershed
  • Connect folks to each other through bi-monthly cohort meetings where we can share projects, progress, hang-ups, connections, etc. (this is not a competition).
  • Create a collection of stories and a body of work that will provide a glimpse of our unique region and steward our valuable material and human resources. 

Our definition of an outfit: Three pieces of clothing, adornments, or accessories.

Three Parameters for Participation:

  1. You live within the Rust Belt Fibershed, which is anywhere within approximately 250 miles of Cleveland. The culminating show will be in Cleveland, but all cohort participation will be virtual. If you live outside the Fibershed but still want to participate, we can offer to help you organize a local One Year, One Outfit challenge in your region.
  2. All fiber is sourced from within the Rust Belt Fibershed bounds, or within 250 miles of Cleveland. The only exception is for notions (thread, buttons, etc.). Our region’s primary fiber is protein fiber, so we expect to see a lot of wool, alpaca, cashmere, etc. Any animal fiber is fair game, but the animals need to live within our fibershed.  For example, if you’re a knitter and you support your local yarn shop, please be sure that the animal the wool came from is also local. Participants will be asked to document and cite their fiber sources. Note: We have a limited amount of unprocessed flax-for-linen that was grown for The Cleveland Flax project, which could be great for blending with a protein fiber (or using on its own). If you/your team are interested in processing the flax, spinning, and weaving it, please email rustbeltfibershed@gmail.com.
  3. If dyes are used, they must be natural and not synthetic. If you will be naturally dyeing your garments, the dyes should come from within our fibershed. We will allow for mordants (example: alum) and scouring agents from outside of our fibershed.

More details about participation:

  • If you’re an independent participant, wonderful! We also very much encourage the co-creation of an outfit in teams of up to three people.
  • All participants will have the opportunity to go through this process with other humans in a cohort. We’ll meet once every other month—6 times total—on Zoom. The folks at Rustbelt Fibershed and Praxis Fiber Workshop will be available for logistical questions, but these folks in this cohort are your people.
  •  Photographs (provided by participants) of all participants’ outfits and the participants themselves, as well as the story of their outfit and documentation of their process and material sources will be published on the Rust Belt Fibershed and Praxis websites. Depending on the number of participants, all or select stories will be featured on the hosting organizations’ social media and email newsletters.
  •  All participants will have the opportunity to display their outfit at the end of the year in Cleveland, with the goal of being nominated to be in a culminating fashion show, depending on the number of participants and the state of the pandemic next October.
  • If there is enough interest, you will also have the opportunity to auction off or sell your pieces to our audience afterwards (or, of course, keep them and rock them yourself or give them to someone you love) 😊
  • Commit to being a part of our project by signing up here, and join our virtual kick-off meeting in mid-October.

Q&A

How do I find local fiber?

Check out the Resource Guide or run a Google search for yarn shops that might carry what you need. Ask friends, friends of friends, and artists/crafters/makers that you know. Surf Etsy shops and see if there are local artisans you haven’t discovered yet. Reach out to local farmers’ organizations and market vendors or organizers.

How do I find local dyes?

 If you’re new to natural dyes, we can point you to introductory materials and a list of local producers in our Resource Guide. Keep in mind that you do not need to dye your work.

How should I construct my fabric?

That is completely up to you! Knit, crochet, weaving, felting, and quilting of scraps or any combination of those methods are great options.

 What can participants expect at the end of the challenge?

After a year of research and work, participants will have a local outfit of their own design, new or further developed relationships with local makers and community members, a deeper understanding of the challenge of creating clothing, a deeper sense of place, and time and space to share their work.

 It seems expensive to source local fiber, spin it, weave it, sew it, etc. I want to participate, but how can I afford this?

Yes, unless you have your own animals, equipment, etc., using local fiber could be more expensive than buying fiber and textiles through the global supply chain… or, it could not be, if you get creative. Here are some ideas:

Consider bartering. The beautiful thing about keeping it local is that we aren’t dealing with corporations. Time, goods, and skills are other sources of capital that could be used. Would a farmer trade a sheep’s fleece for a few hours of work? Can you exchange skills or goods for borrowing someone’s spinning wheel or using an artisan’s handspun yarn? Keep in mind when bartering to value, value, value folks’ time and resources: respectfully ask them if they’re open to bartering, and what they think it might be worth.

Work in a team and split the cost.

Look into opportunities for funding. We have provided a list of producers and funding sources – download the Resource Guide below.