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Sustainability Matters to us at Textiles West!

Textiles are a major contributor to pollution and waste worldwide. Some even say they are second behind the oil industry. 

This can seem like an overwhelming problem to tackle but each of us can do our part to reduce textile waste. 

  • September 14, 2020 7:43 PM | Elizabeth Kettle (Administrator)

    Finished the 100 Day Dress Challenge one week ago. It was a crazy fun thing to do and I am glad I decided to take the challenge. 

    I have to say that getting dressed in the morning is suddenly a whole lot more difficult. During the challenge the only choice I had to make was what sweater or shirt layer I wanted to wear when it was cooler. I didn't actually get to spend much time accessorizing as I thought because I was mostly home during the pandemic and summer weather didn't call for much more than the dress itself. Today, I missed my dress but it was a bit cool for it.

    Laundry...ugh....back to the laundry grind. I still try to wear my clothes several times before washing but I have gotten away from wearing an apron when cooking and not as careful when eating and cleaning. Need to adopt the apron habit again! Beats washing clothes so often

    Some things I learned along the way

    I have way too many clothes. They have been weighing me down visually and emotionally. I used to go into my closet and just feel .....uggh! It was a disaster. Not enough room, stuff all over the place. And, I always felt like I had nothing to wear! I did a whole closet clean out with the help of my friend Cecelia Harris. We pulled out every single garment and it went in a donate, re-purpose the fabric or keep pile. I got rid of half of what I owned and now when I walk into the closet I feel light and happy with how organized and tidy it is. Most of my clothes went to a community swap and it was really fun to see other folks loving the clothes I sent back out into circulation. 

    I will shop differently from now on. I had a lot of clothes that I had purchased because they were on sale for a great price....many of them I wore only a couple time and some never because they didn't go with what I already had. My new rule is for every new thing that comes in, something has to go out.

    No one noticed! People following me would ask how it was going but no one else noticed I was wearing the same dress every day.  

    Dresses are way more comfortable than pants or shorts...especially when working at a desk all day. 

    The Dress

    I wore the Sierra Tank Dress from Wool&. 

    The wool is a lightweight terry weave and super comfy. It did not itch or absorb odors. I was never too hot and it was easy to pair with leggings on cold days.  I washed it about every 4-5 days (cold water, hang to dry). 

    The dress looks as good as when brand new and ready to take on another 100 days...though maybe not in a row this time. 

    The dress is merino wool, nylon and spandex. I wrote to Wool& to ask about their fabric choice. Here is what they said:

    We use nylon in some of our fabrics for a few reasons. Although wool by itself has a plethora of performance factors, it sometimes needs a boost of durability in lighter weight fabrics and constructions to give it the longest lifespan. We run all of our designs through filters of sustainability AND durability to create the best, most versatile product in the end. As for 22% nylon, this is because we use a patented spinning process with nylon wrapped on the outside of the merino core yarn. This creates a fabric with outstanding pill-resistance which still looks great after years of wear (hence the 100 day challenge!). The spandex in this case is for stretch retention and construction of the overall French Terry fabric

    Sustainability well thought out. I love this thinking.

    You will see me in this dress again....well made, comfortable and it has pockets!

  • August 14, 2020 11:41 AM | Elizabeth Kettle (Administrator)

    Wow! This summer is flying by! Anyone else feel the same way? 

    I can't believe it is already day 75 of wearing the same dress every day. I have learned some interesting things along the way.


    1- it has been much easier than I thought. There is a simplicity around starting the day that I have really enjoyed. 

    2-I didn't get to play with styling much as I thought I would because I didn't get to go out much…I am sure you can relate! Also, it isn't really scarf weather…I have a lot of scarves because I love fabric so much. This is sort of an ah-ha for me…less clothes, more scarves!

    2- I really don't need or even want all the clothes I have. A couple friends have been sending me pics of new garments to purchase when I am done but I am not even tempted.

    3-The closet makeover was a lot more fun than I thought it would be and I love walking into my closet every day and seeing it clean and tidy with space for everything to breathe! So many clothes to release. Video link coming soon. 

    4-The closet clean-out has inspired me to move into other areas of the house to get rid of stuff that is just stuff. We have lived in this house for 29 years....so much stuff just because we had room for it. Don’t even ask how many sport water bottles we had.

    5-No one notices….or maybe they are too polite to ask?  More like no one cares. My husband noticed only because I started taking pictures of myself all the time. People who know about the challenge ask because they can’t believe I am not sick of it.

    5- Dresses in the summer are the way to go unless you are weeding the garden and getting muddy.  This wool dress is way more comfortable and cooler than most of my shorts and crop pants paired with tees. 

    6- Taking a photo every day is hard for me...it reveals just how much time I spend at the computer.

    7- This wool dress is amazing for travel, baby proof, long enough for swings and sitting in the grass with kids.  

  • June 11, 2020 1:38 PM | Elizabeth Kettle (Administrator)


    11 days in...89 more to go! I have to say wearing the same dress every day hasn't been too boring so far. It has been cool so I have changed it up with different sweaters and added leggings on our recent snow day.

    Of course, I did drop chocolate on it the very first day and had to do a quick spot clean but it all came out. 

    the one thing that still surprises me is when I go into the closet after my shower and think...what shall I wear today....oh yeah....I don't need to think about it! Funny how we are such creatures of habit.

    Some things that have popped up for me:

    What else in my closet have I worn more than 11 times? There are quite a few basics I wear all the time but boy is there a lot of stuff I don't wear very often that is cluttering up the space.

    An apron is a very good thing! I used to wear an apron all the time but over the years got lazy about it....I have a washing machine and am quite addicted to using it often. But I know I have ruined quite a few T-shirts from wearing while cooking and getting all splattered with grease (bacon!). 

    I wash my clothes way too much.  I try to wear everything twice before I wash it (unmentionables excluded of course). But, I have only washed the dress every 4-5 days and it hasn't suffered and no one is running away screaming because of the stench. Wool does breath and wear really well. 

    For those of you wondering....it is a lightweight wool knit. Even after a day sitting at my desk the wrinkles just hang out on their own.


    Follow my dress journey on Instagram where we are posting every day or less frequent updates on our Facebook page. I will also post fairly regularly here!

  • June 01, 2020 11:31 AM | Elizabeth Kettle (Administrator)

    The 100 Day Dress Challenge!

    Liz Kettle, our director, is taking on the Wool& 100 Day Dress Challenge! 
    She will be wearing the same wool dress for 100 days!
    YES! you read that right....100. DAYS! 8 hours a day.
    The. Same. Dress. Every. Day. 

    100 Days!
    June 1- Sept 8 2020

    We asked if she had lost her mind staying home for 11 weeks.....

    Here is what she says: 

    Yes, I admit it is a bit crazy but, the dress does have pockets! 

    Actually, for the last 6 months, our Textiles West team has been considering the question, how does someone change from a Standard American Wardrobe to a healthier, cleaner wardrobe and home decor that is better for the planet, our bodies and our budgets. We had some ideas but nothing that clicked.

    With more time to peruse social media while staying at home,  I stumbled across this interesting challenge on Instagram. Holy Cow! This sounds like a fun and somewhat crazy way for us to raise awareness of the massive impact of the textile industry production and waste. 

    I did take more than 10 seconds to think about this and I didn't commit until the dress arrived. I am not sure it is going to be very easy...what if I can't do it? Yikes! I grew up wearing a uniform from kindergarten thru high school and there were some things I really liked about wearing a uniform. There is the added benefit of less laundry....so what the heck...I have nothing to lose.

    But, here is the reason I am taking this challenge, textile pollution is real, it is massive and quite frankly it is a women's issue. We had a hand in creating this crisis and we need to fix it. But we can have fun at the same time. So, I am taking the challenge. Along the way we will be talking about how to create a friendly textile home and having a closet makeover (getting rid of the stuff that is just hanging around) and beginning to sew up a capsule wardrobe that is functional, fits me and is made from sustainable fabrics.

    We want to inspire you to create a more sustainable textile home and make it fun and easy so we will be sharing tips along the way and the first one is don't wash your clothes so much! Try to wear each garment twice or more before you wash it. See....less laundry....so easy. 

    Starting June 1, you can follow the 100 day dress challenge story on Instagram, Facebook and in our blog posts. 

    Check out Wool& site


  • April 10, 2020 2:03 PM | Anonymous

    Hello Textiles West community. Today I have gathered some resources for you about making masks to help support our healthcare workers. There is a lot of information out there regarding face masks and COVID-19, so hopefully this post can help organize and streamline for those of us who were feeling a little overwhelmed.

    My favorite source during these uncertain times has been the World Health Organization (WHO) website. To do a brief overview of their page, titled “When and how to use masks,” the WHO urges the public to wear a mask only if you are coughing or sneezing. If you are otherwise healthy, the WHO says, “you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with a suspected 2019-nCoV infection.” Here is a link to the page I am referencing if you have not already visited it: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks

    It is important to refrain from buying and wearing masks when we are healthy in case we indirectly take masks away from those who need them the most. Personally, I find this difficult to completely adhere to because of the potential for delayed symptoms. Going grocery shopping feels just slightly safer if I can cover my nose and mouth. For that reason, I decided to sew my own mask and found it to be a very simple project. After making a few more for my roommates, there was still plenty of extra fabric. I realized I could keep going and donate the rest to healthcare workers in need.  JoAnn fabrics has an extremely easy donation program going. All stores are accepting masks with the goal of reaching 100,000.000 donations nationwide. (They’re already at 47,384,940!) Simply call ahead and drop off any sewn masks at your local JoAnn fabrics store.  Link: https://www.joann.com/make-to-give-response/?icn=hpz1&ici=make-to-give-response

    Finally, if you’re looking for an easy pattern, I have two different options for you. This pattern from Washington Post was how I started off. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/05/how-sew-your-own-fabric-mask/?arc404=true

    The materials and measurements you will need are the following:

    (1) Two pieces of 12-inch-long and 7.25-inch-wide 100 percent cotton fabric (tight-weave cotton or quilting cotton). If possible, use two different colors to indicate the mask’s inside and outside.

    (2) One piece of 12-inch-long and 7.25-inch-wide interfacing or lightweight, breathable, stiff fabric.

    (3) Fourteen inches of 1/8-inch flat elastic, stretch yarn or additional fabric for ties.

    If you feel like getting a bit fancier, here is a 10 minute youtube tutorial for a mask with a filter pocket by Melanie Ham. This mask uses extra fabric as ties instead of elastic, which was more appealing to me than trying to find elastic right now. 

    The measurements for this tutorial are:

    (1) 9 inches x 6 inches in Color A

    (2) 9 x 6 in Color B (for filter pocket)

    (3) 1 3/4 x 40 strips of fabric for ties

    (4) 4.5 inch piece of pipe cleaner

    I sincerely hope this helped a little bit. If you have the time to make some masks, feel free to post a picture on social media and tag Textiles West! I look forward to seeing them. :-) 

    Photo credit:

    Pink and white mask- Photo by Tonik on Unsplash

    Mask pattern from Washington Post staff

  • March 23, 2020 6:31 PM | Anonymous

    Greetings Textile West Community. I think we can all agree that the past few weeks have been rather frightening. In light of this COVID-19 crisis, I feel the need to take a more Art-Therapy related stance with this post and talk about the ways working with textiles can improve our mental health at a time like this. I have no doubt that plenty of us have been self-soothing with creative hobbies lately- I, personally, have been knitting up a small, apartment-sized storm. Therefore, this study I dug up to share with you might not be shocking in it’s findings. Please let this information serve as a reassuring reminder and validation.

    The article I am highlighting this week comes from the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association and is titled The Well-Being of Women Who Create With Textiles: Implications for Art Therapy. Quite a relevant title right? In this study, 821 women textile handcrafters were asked to report on the how often they engaged in making, their reasons for choosing fiber as a medium, and whether they used their crafting to combat difficult moods. The most popular techniques in this population were knitting or crocheting, weaving, and spinning, (Collier p.106). One of the four hypothesis being tested was the following; “Textile making for psychological reasons is an effective way to cope with difficult moods; that is, women who use textiles to change difficult moods will be significantly better adjusted than women who do not use textiles to cope,” (Collier p. 105). The results for this hypothesis were in our favor. Women who use textiles to cope were shown to be “more successful at changing their mood, feeling rejuvenated, and feeling engaged when involved in a textile coping activity as compared to the non-textile-copers, regardless of baseline levels of depression/anxiety, health QOL, or overall mastery,” (Collier p. 109).

    Nothing helps ground me the way textile-making does. As I mentioned above, I am primarily a knitter. Everything from the tactile sensation of the yarn to the repetitive rhythm of the needles to the stitches building and growing right before my eyes helps remind me to stay present. My hope is that we can all find what helps us stay present and cultivate calmness in the coming weeks. Keep creating, and stay safe out there!

    Feel free to comment if you would like a copy of the journal article. Another, less academic read can be found at the following link: https://www.davidwolfe.com/why-crafting-is-great-for-mental-health/


    Collier, A. (2011). The Well-Being of Women Who Create With Textiles: Implications for Art Therapy. Journal of the American Art Therapy Associationdoihttps://doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2011.597025 

    Photo 1, person doing handcrafts, by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

    Photo 2, by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

  • March 01, 2020 1:04 PM | Anonymous

    In my last post, I briefly mentioned the shocking lack of practical textile skills possessed by my generation and the generations that have followed. We covered the ways this impacts the environment, but not the way this impacts individuals in their day to day lives. The truth is, I wasn’t quite clear on the benefits of textile skills beyond repairing clothing and enjoying myself as us right-brainers do . Of course there is an art therapy perspective, but that can get a little more abstract. Because of this, I was very relieved to find an article by Heidi Ambrose-Brown, who does a fabulous job of outlining why textile lessons in the 21st century are not only still relevant, but indispensable.

    This article, titled Sew What? - Why Textiles Lessons Need to be Brought Into the 21st Century, examines the UK textile industry alongside their National Curriculum in schools as of 2016. Her argument centers around the way the general population is taking the textile industry for granted including fast fashion, diminishing work forces and, most distressingly, schools cutting textile design curriculum and funding. To drive her point home, Ambrose-Brown meticulously lays out skills acquired through textile lessons as they apply to each area of study. I will include a direct quote below, as I found this to be incredibly valuable. 


    • Drafting the pattern – measurement, scale, tolerances
    • Dyeing fabric – ratios


    • Researching and applying information with regard to properties of fabrics
    • Understanding and writing patterns and instructions clearly


    • Knowing the structure of plant and animal cells to determine the properties of fibres
    • Understanding the principles of polymerisation to manufacture synthetic and regenerated fibres
    • Knowing the chemical reactions that take place when dyeing fibres and fabrics, in order to get the desired outcomes
    • Sublimation (digital printing) – applying the physical change of transition from a solid to a gas and back again
    • Testing properties of fabrics – for example, tensile strength


    • Developments/inventions affecting fabrics and clothing as linked with social history


    • Environmental impact on the manufacturing of textiles products and the social responsibilities of companies


    • Use of CAD/CAM to create accurate designs and patterns, before employing these as prototypes or in batch production
    • Development and application of new smart/ technical fibres and fabrics
    • Inclusion of wearable electronics through the use of conductive thread and fabric


    • Development of technical fibres engineered for a specific end use
    • Drafting technically accurate pattern pieces that relate to a 3D outcome
    • Understanding how the key components of a sewing machine operate in relation to each other

    Art-making has long been stuck in it’s own category and somewhat undermined in that way. I greatly appreciate the recognition that Ambrose-Brown brings to the subject and applaud her for such an articulate rallying call. Textile artists, feel pride! To engage in this art process is to be skilled in much more than aesthetics. 



    Photo 1, embroidery, Image by Anita Smith from Pixabay

    Photo 2, boy in classroom, Photo by Gabriel Rodrigues on Unsplash

  • February 21, 2020 2:41 PM | Anonymous

    As a young adult, I am frequently embarrassed by the lack of practical skills which I feel I possess. Even more frequently, however, I am reminded that I am ahead of my peers in this regard. I know how to change a tire and the oil in my car. I can confidently assemble furniture, even from Ikea. I can write in cursive and still send “snail” mail. Most impressive of all, I know how to sew a button back on to a shirt or a pair of pants. For those of you reading, that may not seem the most impressive, or impressive at all, and I’d have to agree. Unfortunately, according to ATTN.com, a popular educational media platform, 70% of young people do not know how to sew on a button- a statistic which puts me on the endangered species list. We’re just talking about one little button! If the statistic is that high for a button, I immediately wondered, what about patching the knee of some jeans? What about darning a sock? How many articles of clothing are being thrown out because millennials lack the basic ability to repair something that was completely salvageable? Why aren’t more people concerned about this?

    But others are concerned about this. We, Textiles West, are not alone. And when I say “this”, I mean Post-Consumer Textile Waste, a term that was rather new to me. A fantastic resource I found is the Redress Design Award website under their LEARN tab. I will be attaching a link at the bottom of this post. Their LEARN platform has multiple articles about sustainability in the textile industry. My favorite one was called Sourcing Textile Waste. In this article, Redress defines Post-consumer textile waste as “waste generate and collected after the consumer has used and disposed of it.” They identify two different types. The first is Secondhand clothing waste, which includes clothing and accessories, or wearable textiles. The other is non-clothing waste such as home furnishings like sheets and curtains. According to Redress, millions of tons of textiles are discarded every year;

    “In Europe and America, it is estimated that 10 million tonnes of textiles are discarded every year. In China the total annual production of pre and post-consumer textile waste is estimated to be over 20 million tonnes. Not only does this textile waste pollute our environment and clog landfills around the world, but the precious resources that went into making these textiles are wasted,” (p. 3).

    To update that report, 16 million tons of textile waste was reported in 2014 by the Environmental Protection Agency. Again, I ask myself, how many tons could be saved if people simply knew how to repair or repurpose their textiles? In this time of extreme wildfires, melting icebergs, and Greta Thunberg, the maker communities can not be ignoring such harmful environmental consequences. Certainly not in the Pikes Peak Region! 

    This is where Textiles West comes in. Sustainability is a major value here, and I urge you to reference the Sustainability Matters page on our website. There you will find “18 Simple Tips to Reduce Your Textile Eco-Footprint” and cool ways to Up-cycle. Chances are though, if you’re on our website, you already possess basic textile skills. I bet you can even sew on a button! Therefore, my next post will be further addressing the textile skills that we should be reintroducing to our young people to combat textile waste. 

    Until then, I leave you with one last article to assist you in your clothing shopping. The Good Trade provides an extensive list of ethical clothing brands. Note: the first one is based in Colorado!




     About the Author

    Olivia is an enthusiastic new intern for Textiles West. She is currently located in Boulder County where she is finishing her undergraduate degree in Art Therapy at Naropa University. She can usually be found knitting an absurdly long scarf in a coffee shop or procrastinating her responsibilities in the ceramics studio. 




18 Simple Tips to Reduce your Textile Eco-footprint

  1. Wash your clothes only when you need to - this prevents wear and saves water!

  2. Only buy what you need - a simple cotton t-shirt takes seven full bathtubs of water to make.

  3. Choose natural, biodegradable, and organic products and fibers over synthetic materials.

  4. Get thrifty - you never know what you can find!

  5. Shop local!

  6. Aim for quality over quantity.

  7. Treat your items with love and care and they will last for longer!

  8. Only throw away what you need to throw away. Before throwing clothes away in the trash try donation bins, charity drives, clothing swaps.

  9. The 30 Wears test! Buy items that you know you will wear more than once and can style in many different ways over the statement piece that you may only wear once.

  10. Shop vintage! 

  11. Shop ethical and eco-friendly brands.

  12. Try renting clothes.

  13. Eco-dyeing and printing - use natural materials such as onion skins, avocado pits, and flowers to dye and print your own fabric and clothes!

  14. Learn how to sew! Making, mending, and reusing your old fabrics is a lot of fun and can save money and support the environment.

  15. Follow ethical blogs! They can give you lots of information about ethical and sustainable brands that have wonderful pieces of clothing.

  16. Swap clothes with friends and family! 

  17. Organize your wardrobe before buying more clothes - you may have cute pieces that you have forgotten about.

  18. Air dry your clothes - this saves energy and prevents wear and tear from machine drying.

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