Sometime in the near future — when food items on your grocery store aisles will start to bear the label “Regeneratively Produced” — look closely at the tags on clothing at the clothing stores, too. I bet that we’ll start to see something similar there, too: a label that reads “Regenerative” or “Climate-Beneficial.”
Because just as food can be grown in ways that build healthy soil and sequester carbon underground in the process, so can fiber, and therefore textiles. Think hemp, flax, or cotton fields managed in ways that build soil organic matter. Think sheep and other fiber animals living on pastures where carbon farming methods are practiced.
If you can sew or knit your own, that day has already arrived: You can purchase yarn or cloth made out of wool certified as Climate-Beneficial™ Wool by Fibershed, the California non-profit developing regional and regenerative fiber systems, and create a unique garment or an entire wardrobe from regenerative sources.
This is what I did. This is the story of the “Climate-Beneficial” apron dress I made this summer.
Fibershed’s Community-Supported Cloth program allows customers to purchase a unique wool cloth woven out of wool from Lani Estill’s Bare Ranch, the first certified Climate-Beneficial fiber farm. (We dove deeper into this program in an earlier post.) The cloth was produced as regionally and sustainably as possible. When you pre-pay to reserve yardage of this uniquely produced cloth, that investment helps to cover the manufacturing costs and fund further Carbon Farm implementation work.
As soon as I heard about this initiative, I knew I wanted to be a part of supporting it. I placed my pre-order already last year, and in June the long-awaited package finally arrived: 3 yards of gorgeous Community-Supported Cloth.
With fabric as unique and precious as this, you don’t just start randomly cutting the fabric and sewing something (which, I admit, is how I’ve begun many sewing projects before). This time, it had to be just the right garment, and it had to be done right. After a lot of indulgent research and dreaming, I settled on the Maria Wrap Apron by Maven Patterns. A wraparound apron dress — also called a Japanese maker’s apron —was something I’ve long wanted to have in my wardrobe. And here was the perfect fabric and the perfect opportunity.
Sewing the apron was my evening project for about a week this July. I held my breath as I started cutting out the pieces after laying the pattern pieces carefully onto the cloth. Thankfully, all the pieces came together.
And here — after almost a year of planning on my part, and many years on the part of Lani the fiber farmer and Fibershed’s network — is my finished Climate-Beneficial Apron Dress:
The apron dress is perfect: at once flattering and really comfortable. I love the versatility of this design, too: the apron can be worn with a skinny t-shirt and leggings, or maybe with jeans or a skirt underneath.
Though a bit thick, the Community-Supported Cloth worked beautifully for this project: it’s firm and solid, yet descends beautifully towards the hemline.
Last fall, Fibershed organized a Climate-Beneficial Fashion Gala in California, showcasing garments designed by local clothing designers using the Community-Supported Cloth. It looks like I’ll be having my own one-person Climate-Beneficial Fashion Gala right here on the streets of Asheville, NC!