There was a time when I unleashed my creativity and started making stuff cause what I wanted to wear was not available in stores. It caused me to dabble in all sorts of crafts. For starters there was leatherwork.There’s a certain confidence gained when you make your own shoes. Just get some materials, trace your foot and voila.
Wore these with a patchwork dress I made. Granny glasses and love beads completed the look.
One of my first jobs after high school was working in the Green Giant asparagus cannery. Good experience for me, learning what it was like to work 12 hour shifts, learned to order breakfast in Spanish, gained admiration for what hard workers the Mexican contract workers were. Cesar Chavez had been working for improved migrant farm workers conditions so when it rained we all got a day off. For entertainment we would hitchhike to the next town 30 miles over to go to the movies.
In the off hours one of my co-workers taught me the magic principle of sewing 2 lengths of fabric onto one increasing length and flounciness of subsequent layers. I wore my 3 tiered black calico skirt quite comfortably with my hippie peasant blouse. Another co-worker showed me the magic of transmuting an extra large classic men’s tshirt into a comfy and feminine top. Cut out the neckband and in the scoop shape that’s left run an elastic or a ribbon through the casing made by the hem for a gathered neckline. Carefully take off the pocket if there is one. Also slightly adjust the angle of the sleeve and run a ribbon or elastic through the hem casing creating a bit of a puffed cap sleeve. We were upcycling before it was cool. Huraches completed the ensemble.
There is one look that I probably wouldn’t bring back. Wearing Osh Kosh overalls was a thing for a while. When I was feeling militant or lazy I didn’t care that that in their bagginess they weren’t too flattering. We would cut them off into short shorts or modify them into dresses. At least it was easier to use the bathroom with the dress.
Thinking back to one of my earliest endeavors I embroidered some simple vines and flowers around the ankle hem of my jeans. I didn’t know how to use embroidery hoops or thimbles and just winged it even though it made my fingers sore and took forever. They turned out well enough that a couple of girls hired me to do it to their jeans. I think I collected the princely sum of $3 each pair.
When dashikis were popular I bought some India print bedspreads to cut up in order to make shirts and skirts. I may still have the maxi wrap skirt in storage somewhere. I think I wore it with my Danskin leotard.
Your story is such a memory jogger, with each image—black calico skirts, hippie peasant blouses, Huaraches, Osh Kosh overalls, dashikis, maxi wraps, Danskin leotards—taking me back in time. I admire your creativity in doing all these for yourself.
Should society ever implode, you are well prepared to clothe yourself without benefit of Anthropologie or Target!
Was such a walk down memory lane to read about your clothes. I was’t a good seamstress, but I made a slit button decorated skirt in navy with mostly antique buttons. And simple blouses tied at the neck and sewn up at the sides with broad holes for my arms. Really enjoyed this light hearted trip.