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Is there enough interest in learning how to grow your own clothing?

 
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I'm toying with the idea of making some online classes.
It would be heavy on the video element with a written component and a place to ask questions and share projects.

I like the idea of helping people grow a textile from seed to cloth.  Or maybe break it down into different classes.  This class on basic weaving (including making your own loom from stuff that is easy to source).  That class on how to grow flax.  and so on.

I finally feel that I have the skills to make the videos to the quality I'm happy with.  If I start now, I figure it would take just over a year to get a few classes made and ready to share with the world.


The problem, to do the editing, I would need to upgrade my computer system.  
I've already upgraded this one as much as I can.  I've priced out building a computer system that will last me 10+ years, but it's beyond my current savings.  It sure would be nice to have a system that doesn't spaz out if I ask it to think about two things at once.  Basically, I need to earn money to get my dream (a new computer) and I like the idea of using another dream (online classes) to earn that money.


To make the classes, I would need to do a Kickstarter.  

To do a Kickstarter, I would want to have the project almost finished.  This means I would make this pretty much my full time, unpaid job for most of a year.  That's a lot of time and energy for something that might never work.

Is it worth it?  
Is there enough interest in this?
Are there already too many online classes out there?
Am I worth listening too?
 
r ranson
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If I did make classes, what topics would you like to learn?
 
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I would be interested in such a project!  I read your stuff on Permies with great interest and have a goal of eventually growing my own clothes.  I'm trying to take it slow - I've managed to get to weaving cloth for a shirt and shorts (I don't love my finished products so far), and may invest in a wheel over a spindle in the future.  My handwoven clothes are a work in progress, though.  I need to get my sewing skills up.  And my spinning up.  Oh, and learn more about weaving cloth that works as clothes....  :)

I don't know how many people in the world are as fiber nerdy though.  I like the idea of reaching out in pieces, perhaps to the spinners, gardeners, sewists, etc.  And offering a whole course.  Definitely some type of community so we can all talk through it.  Heck, I'd just love a place to find tips on sewing with handwoven clothing.  

For me, at least, I'd be interested in what people can grow in their backyards.  It would reach a larger audience, too.  I live in the 'burbs, and while I might try growing fiber, I'm not getting sheep.  I can definitely see your idea of cheaper weaving helping, as not everyone has a loom.  Backstrap weaving could work there, though that seems to be more of a thicker fabric (or at least that's what happened when I did it).  Spindles.  Even handsewing tips perhaps.  

It's a really exciting idea.  It could go in a zillion different ways.  For me, it's annoying when I want to find something helpful out there about making handwoven clothes and end up with crickets because the information is so hard to find.  Having a community and knowledge out there could be really helpful.  I know there are other people out there who would be interested.  You would just have to find them!
 
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This is a great idea. It would be really good to see a downloadable version available, for people with unreliable internet access.

I'm more of a book person rather than a video person, but I can see how being able to see this stuff in video form would really help when it comes to learning the skills, so I would back it if there's an option that fits my budget.
 
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So far, it's only been in my dreams to grow anything that could be made into clothes, but definitely interested. I, for one, love online classes.
 
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YES PLEASE!!!

Alexa.
 
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Years ago, I read an article about a woman growing clothing using different fungi. It was in a British magazine.
 
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I would interested - more than interested, excited - to have a class focused on growing my on plant-based fiber. I have two alpaca and have many sources for others fleece (sheep, goat, etc) because I belong to a spinning guild and many members are shepherds. However, no one I know is growing fiber plants, and I’ve never seen a class for it (other than your own very fine video about flax I watched on YouTube awhile back; thank you for that).

I’m interested in any cellulose fiber I could grow in the pacific NW. I would absolutely support a Kickstarter for that. I would also be happy to serve as a tester or whatnot, if that would be of any use.

[Useless note:I was going to say guinea pig, but it struck me that it may be a term that connotes negative practices. I must be showing my age, that it occurred to me at all (the term, that is). Something else to ponder as I chop down invasive blackberry.]
 
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I think it is a very interesting idea.  As a potential consumer, my first first questions would be about logistics.  I don't even know if I have space to grow enough flax to end up with fabric for one shirt.  As a suburbanite, I think space would be the limiting factor for me.  But I really love the concept.  I would be interested in steps further down the line in the process
 
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I think that would be brilliant Raven! I’d totally support the adventure. I’m not sure what I can grow in Alaska besides nettles for fiber. And luckily they grow themselves.
 
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It doesn't matter how many online classes there are out there already.  If you create a quality product and market it to the right people, it will succeed.

There is definitely a market for survival skills right now.  As in any market, the more you niche down, the better.  And if you are already an expert in that niche, you are starting on solid ground.

If you've never done it before, you will need help with the online marketing - make sure you put that into your plan and budget.

There are lots of free webinars and youtube videos out there for learning the basics of launching your own course.  Its fairly easy to research it without spending money.

Have you considered doing a barter exchange with someone who has the skills and equipment to manage the techie stuff and video editing?  There might be someone out there with just the skills you need who wants to learn what you have to offer.  That way you wouldn't have to buy a new computer and learn all that stuff in addition to building your course content.

P.S. Its funny that I saw your post.  All day yesterday I was mulling over the idea of creating a website dedicated to offering 'made by hand' video courses.

 
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Oh my goodness we’d be interested in this. I wish it would’ve been available 2 years ago when we still had land. We’ve moved (overseas) and are temporarily in an apartment in town and I hope soon we will have land again and could really make use of this kind of thing!
 
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Oh this sounds great. Please publish info about your Kickstarter if you do it!
 
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Kate Downham wrote:This is a great idea. It would be really good to see a downloadable version available, for people with unreliable internet access.
.



I second this idea since I have a not so good connection.
I'm very interested in growing my own. One of the projects on my list is building my own spinning wheel.
 
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See if your area has a weavers guild, or a store that caters to them. They would be a good place to start. Also see if the Society for Creative Anachronism has a group near you. Many of them spin and weave, and hand sew clothing. They could be a good resource.

Backstrap weaving can be done with very fine fibers. Do a search for Laverne Waddington.

Do a search for Yarn Worker. Rigid heddle weaving.

In Eugene OR there is the Eugene Textile Center, they have an on-line shop with books on a varety of topics. Long Thread Media has a magazine called Handweaving.

Most clothing made from hand woven fabric that I have seen is based on rectangles, (often) woven to size. To make sturdy clothing you need a firm fabric. I bought a beautiful loose top made from a handwoven fabric which was not very firm, and the fabric pulled and threads shifted to leave big holes after a couple of wearings.

Like any handcraft, it takes time and a LOT of practice to ,

I am in awe of the ambitious projects mentioned. Has anyone tried an early medieval warp-weighted loom?
 
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Hi R. It's a good idea. Classes like that are really useful. Personally I think I have those skills ... only I need to use them more actively!
 
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Wonderful post. Have you heard of Rebecca Burgess? She started the Fibershed https://fibershed.org/
https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-11-20/fibershed-growing-a-movement-of-farmers-fashion-activists-and-makers-for-a-new-textile-economy-excerpt/
 
r ranson
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Thank you everyone for your feedback.

Question:  Would project or skill-based classes be more interesting to you?

For example

grow a linen apron
Learn how to grow, process, spin, and weave flax into a linen apron.

Growing cotton yarn
Learn how to grow, card, and spin cotton yarn.

or just
Grow cotton
How to grow cotton for fibre.


 
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Hi R,

Personally I say all three!  I think the more ways approach this subject, the more followers you will attract.

That being said, my recommendation is to start with whatever aspect interests YOU the most.  Your  enthusiasm will drive viewer/follower interest.  From there branch out into other areas.

Just out of curiosity, I know you grow linen, but will cotton even grow at your latitude?  Just curious.

I think this is a great project and I look forward to seeing how it works out.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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But maybe more specific to your question, perhaps start with a project based approach.  This engages the audience.  

From there you could move to a skill approach to show your audience just how to do specific activities.  

Basically build interest first then provide details as curiosity and ambition builds.

Just my thoughts.

Eric
 
r ranson
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They say cotton grows anywhere that grows tomatoes.

I find cotton a bit daylight sensitive - it doesn't like our long summer days.  It also makes a beautiful houseplant.  That would be good for people living in small spaces without access to land.  It's perennial when cared for by someone without such a brown thumb as me.  

More on growing cotton in Canada. https://permies.com/t/canadian-cotton
 
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I am currently trying out a few varieties of cotton to see if it will grow where I live. I am 99% a book person and dont mind spending on books. I would love to see info on growing cotton in northern-ish climes (I have a warmer micro climate) and making simple looms. I currently spin wool from sheep I sheared, on a hand spindle I made and knit many of my garments. I often am faster at spinning on my spindle than my freinds who use spinning wheels. But knit wool everything is not all i want to wear...
I am very interested in your project...
 
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I'm seriously thinking about trying my hand at growing cotton, next spring. I want to try some of the naturally growing colored versions, as well as the classic white, too.

As far as the videos, I have to agree with Eric. I think it might also be easier to do a single video for each general subject, then dub in different narratives, and where necessary, edit in details for the skill teaching ones. That way, you're not starting from scratch, each time, and there's a sense of familiarity between them.
Content minimized. Click to view
 
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Carla wrote: That way, you're not starting from scratch, each time, and there's a sense of familiarity between them.  



Good point. What I would prefer are the individual steps. Some of the steps I am well versed in. Ha! That is, I think I know the theory. Practice is needed. badly.

 
Eric Hanson
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Wow, R, I just would not have expected cotton to grow so well so far north.

I live in what might be considered to be the border between the American Midwest and South.  Actually, my specific locality is not clearly defined.  Nonetheless, cotton is not grown here except for some very small experimental patches.  I assumed that I lived too far north for cotton to grow.  I just always associated cotton growing well south of where I live and I live pretty far south.  Very interesting that it will grow so far north.

Fascinating!

Eric
 
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Tanya van Breevoort wrote:Wonderful post. Have you heard of Rebecca Burgess? She started the Fibershed https://fibershed.org/
https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-11-20/fibershed-growing-a-movement-of-farmers-fashion-activists-and-makers-for-a-new-textile-economy-excerpt/


O yes, sure I heard of Fibershed (and Rebecca Burgess). Some people here in the Netherlands were inspired to start something like Fibershed here too, about 5 years ago (and I was with them too). Part of that is still going on, now with the name Deventer Schaapskudde Wol Project (so that's about sheep wool).
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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r ranson wrote:Question:  Would project or skill-based classes be more interesting to you?
...
grow a linen apron
Learn how to grow, process, spin, and weave flax into a linen apron.

Growing cotton yarn
Learn how to grow, card, and spin cotton yarn.

or just
Grow cotton
How to grow cotton for fibre.


For me only growing and processing flax/linen would be interesting.
I did grow flax in my front yard. A little bit every year. Still I don't think there's enough to make an apron ...

Probably cotton can grow in some regions that are as far North as where I live, but I think the climate here is too wet (and often cloudy, not sunny).
You're probably right about cotton needing the same climate as tomatoes. Growing tomatoes here is always a challenge. Some summers have plenty of sun and then it's possible to have tomatoes that really ripen, but there are many years when they get phytophtora (blight) or they don't ripen soon enough. (That's about tomatoes outdoors. Lots of tomatoes are grown here in greenhouses with heating and lights).
 
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In the PNW there are nettles galore. Lol
A very useful plant with a very long native history of fiber production.
 
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I am interested but I don't know many others who would be. This is necessary information but I don't think it will be a big seller until the 'system' crashes and then it may be too late. Who knows if people will have internet access or even electricity then? I picked some nettles this year to learn how to process them into fabric. For starters I'm just trying cordage but I think they are too mature. The fibers are rather brittle. If anyone who knows wants to give me input I'd love that but was really writing to suggest you include it as a class in your repertoire. Tanning hides is another avenue and once you've exhausted fabric and clothing you might expand into basketry. But I wouldn't give up my day job if I were following this path. It's just not that popular of a topic.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Rob Teeter wrote:In the PNW there are nettles galore. Lol
A very useful plant with a very long native history of fiber production.


Yes, lots of (stinging) nettles here in the Netherlands too. As far as I know they have to be treated in the same way as flax fro fibers.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Carmen Rose wrote:I am interested but I don't know many others who would be. This is necessary information but I don't think it will be a big seller until the 'system' crashes and then it may be too late. Who knows if people will have internet access or even electricity then? I picked some nettles this year to learn how to process them into fabric. For starters I'm just trying cordage but I think they are too mature. The fibers are rather brittle. If anyone who knows wants to give me input I'd love that but was really writing to suggest you include it as a class in your repertoire. Tanning hides is another avenue and once you've exhausted fabric and clothing you might expand into basketry. But I wouldn't give up my day job if I were following this path. It's just not that popular of a topic.


Here in the Netherlands all people (probably) who are interested in natural fibers and who are on social media are in contact with each other through some facebook groups and instagram accounts. But most of the conversation is about sheep wool. There has been a nettle project, but it was a 'flop' (they wanted to grow big and make money much too soon, of course that didn't happen). If the percentage of the inhabitants who are interested is about the same in the USA and Canada, there must be enough for these courses!

 
r ranson
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Thank you everyone.

I'm going to take what was said here and see what comes from it.  It would probably be a year before we see anything more on this.  I want to make certain the quality is there.

In the meantime, I'll be publishing some more videos for free on my youtube channel while I find my style.  please subscribe if you want to follow the journey.

Subscribing helps a lot and if I can get enough subscribers, I can monetize which will help with a huge chunk of the funding to make these courses.


Personally, I would much rather earn the money by producing free content I can now rather than try to pre-sell the unfinished classes with a Kickstarter.  I need at least 1,000 subscribers so please spread the word.  
 
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From teaching at the yarn store, it seems that people are most attracted to project-based classes. Some people will take them just to learn the skills and make a different project... but many people don't have the imagination to do that at the start.

 
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Hi S,
The people who  go to your store seem to want project based classes, but most of the folks I know doing fiber arts on the farm never go to classes. I know at least 20 guys and gals like this just in my county. Andi don't get out much..... so there are all these different folks all over. I am glad your store provides such a needed service to get folks into this way of life!
 
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I just joined a challenge through my Chesapeake Fibershed, where you have a year to make a textile that was sourced entirely from within your fibershed.  I was aware of Fibershed but just learned that there is a Chesapeake one through my weaving guild.  I liked the idea of a fibershed challenge, as though I want to grow my textiles, I'm in no way set up to do that right now.  But with baby steps, I can support my local community and challenge myself to learn more about growing and processing my own fibers.  

Anyway, it got me thinking about learning to grow your own clothing.  I wonder if there would be more interest in making from scratch if people didn't have to grow their own?  I mean, we are growers and makers, but I can see many of my weaving guild members aren't growers.  I would love a course on growing my own clothes, but starting out with smaller challenges/classes about making your own from raw fibers could be good as well and reach more people.  

That said, as excited as I was about the fibershed challenge, there were only 16 people in the zoom meeting.  Four of them were presenters.  I don't know if the interest is not there or simply that the marketing isn't.  I think they plan to use this challenge to help market more, to make people aware of how much effort goes into making clothing.  

For Raven, I'm throwing out ideas to help her consider the market and directions she might want to go.  For anyone else reading, go check out fibershed.org and see if they have created a fibershed affiliate near you.  I'm hoping that over time they will grow and have options out there for sourcing local materials, or even the potential for business opportunities/customers for those who want to sell local fibers.  

If anyone is interested, I signed up for the Maiwa natural dye class next month.  I'm happy to report back on how it goes.  I also learned about a clothes fitting class by Gina Renee Designs, which I might take to up my sewing game.  Raven, while there are lots of classes out there on making clothes, dyeing, weaving, etc, I have yet to find any place that brings it all together.  I'm trying to piece together my own education.  There have to be more people out there.  Makes me wonder how hard it is to grow cotton inside (i've heard it could be a houseplant) so that more people out there without land that want to grow their own clothes could pull that off?

 
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cotton houseplant - https://permies.com/t/108601/fiber-arts/Cotton-House-Plant

It's easy if you are good at keeping plants alive in pots.  I seem to lack this skill but my first plant is a year old and produced one boll.  It's working on its second now.

 
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I would be interested! For me it would come down to cost, since I'm a broke just-out-of-college student.  I don't think I'll have the land/time to grow & spin my own fibers anytime soon, but I might still consider buying the course just because it sounds fascinating. Let me tell you, a LOT of people my age are becoming very enamored with the idea of cottage living. Admittedly for a lot of people it's more aesthetic than anything and most of us have no idea about the work involved. But there's definitely interest and if you can channel that into a real skill that could be very powerful. Also, with it being an online course with the ability to reach a global audience, I'd say you have a great chance of attracting people to your course.
 
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A month ago, I would have said no. I read your post and didn’t feel saying so would have be a useful contribution.

Since then, I’ve started knitting, used a sewing machine, invested in some tools, worked through BB’s which is a fascinating journey.

I’ve been to a yarn shop and met some really lovely people.

And now I want to grow my own clothes . . . In maybe a couple of years, so good timing if it takes you a year to start.

A month on, it’s a ‘hell yeah!’
 
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2022 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop, Oct 10-14
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