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  • Writer's pictureAmber Rose Ostaszewski

One Year, One Outfit

Updated: Jul 15, 2023

Where do I start with this one?! This project was one of the most meaningful endeavors I've participated in within a group setting. Starting back in 2022 I first joined the cohort of farmers, makers, and other fiber enthusiasts in the year-long challenge of creating three individual, wearable pieces that would form an outfit out of materials sourced entirely within the Rust Belt Fibershed. The project was aimed at exploring the question of where we source our clothes, and the result was more than twenty outfits all showing the very real possibilities of what an alternative future could look like when we start to localize our textile systems.

My initial idea for my outfit was based on the four seasons our Fibershed is blessed to enjoy, after all, the project lasted a full year, and I wanted to illustrate the seasonal elements with color, motifs, textures and materials used. I sketched out the following:

Spring: an "easter" hat, crafted of dried daffodil leaves, a hallmark of the season with their blooms hat shine their cheery petals even in the most ruthless spring rainstorms.

Summer: a woven linen shift dress, breezy and cool, and dyed blue with indigo, a color I associate with playing aside lakes and other bodies of water during the long, hot days.

Fall: a knitted overdress made of leaf motifs and dyed in various hues of orange, yellow, and brown. Seeing the trees change color in autumn is what makes it one of my favorite times of year, and the handspun wool adds some warmth as the temps begin to drop.

Winter: a felted wool purse, evocative of warm, heavy winter coats, and dyed with pokeberries, a native plant that not only produces a gorgeous color of fuchsia-red, but is one of the delightful snacks available to birds during the winter season.

Over the course of the year, I really got to use all my skills, from processing wool and linen, spinning, dyeing, weaving, knitting, braiding, sewing, you name it. And of course things changed and shifted as I began to work--the epi in my weave ended up being a little less than I wanted it, and my pokeberry dye browned out at too high a temperature, that I had to smoosh on the last bit of pokeberries I had saved in my freezer to bring out the red hue, and dip dyed in some walnut dye to even out the color. There were some improvisations too--changing the shape of the overdress to be asymmetrical, and getting overly excited about the cotton I grew and processed and added a band and strap (and some fun pompoms!) to my hat. But overall, the design remained pretty close to my initial imagining, and I'm really happy with the final result.

When it came to the exhibition though, that's when everything really seemed to come together. Seeing all the outfits at Wave Pool, and speaking with all my other cohort friends and sharing our experience was so heartening. We spoke about how each of our pieces truly felt alive, a natural evolution from working with materials, people, and tools that are interconnected. And for those who came to the exhibit, seeing their curiosity and willingness to want to learn more about natural textiles and processes was a delight. A feeling that what we dream possible is actually possible now. And while the exhibition has come to an end, and our outfits are all packed away safely, I'm persistent on carrying that feeling with me, and I hope you will too. Check out all the outfits from this year's project here, and if you're so inclined, snag a copy of the zine about the project here, with all funds going to support the next year's One Year, One Outfit project.

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