|Another blogger of homemade underwear|
I got the idea for sewing my underwear from a seamtress' website where she was finding new uses for old favorite T-shirts, particularly those with great slogans. After a bit of research, I decided to follow the instructions of ripping apart an old favorite pair of underwear and using them as a pattern for the new pair. ehow After carefully cutting apart the pieces I discovered that the front and back did not have left/right symmetry. The curve out of the back corresponded to the curve in of the front and visa versa.
I've had a bit of challenge with the elastic. With the first pair I tried to follow the example of the traditional store bought pair I pulled apart. I got wide elastic for the waist and thinner stuff for the leg holes. I debated whether to make a separate band of fabric to cover over the elastic but decided against it. I stitched the elastic on to the pantie and then folded the elastic under and stitched it again so fabric covered the band. I decided not to do the leg elastic for the second pair and as long as I don't wear tight fitting pants the lack of elastic is not a problem.
I have not quite figured out how long to make the elastic for the waist. I measured my waist and cut to the right length. I needed to stretch the elastic some when sewing it to the pantie, but apparently I used too much elastic because it doesn't pull as tightly around my waist as I would like.
I may decide to find a different way of securing the waist. Elastic in small quantities is not cheap. I hate the fact that the cost of the elastic makes homemade underwear almost as expensive as store bought ones. But my desire to make homemade underwear was not motivated primarily by saving money. I want to change how I get my clothes so as to reduce my environmental footprint.
Reuse is a great way to reduce my environmental footprint. The environmental footprint of new clothes is huge. Cotton is farmed using large amounts of irrigation. One notable example of cotton irrigation misuse is the Caspian sea. It is much smaller today because so much river water has been diverted to irrigate cotton fields. Irrigation in general is not a practice that is good for the environment. It increases the salinity of the soil thus increasing the amount of irrigation necessary to grow crops. It decreases aquifers. Water from aquifers is useful in cases of drought, but used as a general practice is harmful.
Cotton is grown using lots of pesticides and herbicides. After it is grown, it is bleached with more chemicals. There is some organic cotton out there. However, there is not enough demand to bring down the price with economies of scale. Eventually, I would like to buy bolts of organic cotton to make my clothes, but at the moment I am focusing on figuring out how to reuse what I have.
My goal is to turn all my old T-shirts into underwear. Then I want to turn all my old turtlenecks into T-shirts. The parts of turtlenecks that wears out the quickest are the cuffs and the collar. If I cut those off I essentially have a T-shirt. I figure if I turn the turtleneck inside out and restitch the seams the out facing fabric will look nearly new; the T-shirt will fit better and more snugly, making it easier to layer under other turtlenecks. If I bought organic cotton to make turtlenecks and then converted the worn turtlenecks into T-shirts, and the worn T-shirts into underwear, then the extra cost of buying organic cotton would be spread over three garments instead of one.
Making my own clothes reduces my carbon footprint. Most of the world's cotton is grown in the USA. It is then shipped overseas to be spun, woven, and then made into garments. Each of those processes could require material to be shipped to a different country. By reusing old garments to make new ones, I am reducing the amount of material that needs to get shipped around the world. When I get around to buying my own organic cotton fabric I'm hoping to buy something where all the spinning and knitting has been done locally so that the carbon footprint of the fabric is significantly smaller than that of a ready-made garment.
Making my own clothes takes away jobs from poor people in other countries. I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand I want people to have jobs and recognize that my purchases give people jobs. But on the other hand, I feel like the conditions under which those people have their jobs is not good. By purchasing ready-made clothes I feel like I am supporting a system which takes advantage of other people.
The economic argument for trade benefiting both parties does not seem to apply here because the exchange of goods is not coming out of a surplus of local resources, but out of a surplus of cheap labor and subsidized fossil fuels. If fossil fuels were not subsidized, it would not be economical to ship resources around the world. The reasons there is a surplus of cheap labor has to do with how unfair trading practices have undermined local industry; how local governments do not protect the welfare of the worker; and how education is significantly lacking in some parts of the world. Subsidized fossil fuels have only exacerbated these problems.
I don't feel like I have influence to change system structures which cause people to work in clothing sweat shops. But by entering into their world by making my own clothes, I can better empathize with their situation and reduce my small contribution to the system that binds them.