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Keila McCrackenDesigner and WeaverBare Cloth, Northern Minnesota Fibershed
When I was a sophomore in high school I traveled to New York City to take summer classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Floral Flare Skirt was my final project in my first draping class. This skirt is the accumulation of countless new skills and countless beginner mistakes. My favorite mistake is the waistband. Not paying attention to the natural curve of the body I had cut a straight band instead of a curved arched for the waistband. In my haste to fix an unflattering fit I made two steep darts that were far from the solution. To this day I see beginner sewers make the same mistake as a solution, this is a perfect example of how sewing can retrain the brain to think. Instead of thinking in 2D or basic geometry, sewing helps us think using applied geometry that is living and moving in the 3D world.
This garment marks a significant transition in my design work. In 2015 I purchased a Hattersley Loom from London, England. This loom is known for being the looms used to produce Harris Tweed from Scotland. A few years previous I had learned about the Fibershed model in which local fiber, dyes, and labor are used to produce clothing for local lifestyles. The Hattersley loom made it possible to weave beautiful cloth using local wool at a speed much faster than a traditional floor loom. This garment marks two significant accomplishments; making a garment out of fabric that I wove and making a garment using local wool from the Northern Minnesota Fibershed. By far, my favorite part about wearing and living in this garment is the feeling of the local wool and knowing that the work of local farmers, sheep, mill workers, and an industrial loom made this shirt possible.
Keila McCracken is an Anthropologist and design activist. She believes that the behaviors that fill our days, and the objects that fill our homes, can serve as tools to fuel sustainable cultural change in our world. Keila is the owner and operator of Bare Cloth, a sustainable design and clothing business that uses its supply chain to positively impact its local economy, environment, and community. She has a certificate in Sustainable Design Entrepreneurship from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, graduated with honors in Environmental Anthropology from Wagner College in New York City, and is currently earning a master’s degree in Design Anthropology from St. Mary’s University, MN.