Back in 2015 the YouTube channel How To Make Everything did the rounds for an incredibly ambitious idea – to make everything going into a chicken sandwich completely from scratch by mostly one person. The process took six months, cost $1 500 and resulted in a meal that was fairly underwhelming. Now the channel is back again to tackle clothing.
As you’ll see from the title of the video, embedded below, things have been kicked up a notch with this project taking three years to complete and costing around $5 000 ($5 140 when tallied up). If you’re wondering why it took so long and cost so much, the goal here was to make, from scratch, every single fibre, dye and stitch that went into the shirt by hand, growing or making all the raw materials as needed.
As such this, of course, started with growing cotton. This process started indoors as the project started in colder months before it was moved outside. After moving the crop again to avoid too much rainwater, the lower than expected yield was harvested.
This raw cotton was spun on a custom electric spinning wheel and then woven on a special loom. With a large sheet of material finally produced, it was cut into shape and then sowed into a T-shirt.
While that could have been the end of things, the goal was also to dye and colour the shirt, which started back when the cotton was being grown.
Several plants intended to be used for dying were grown alongside the cotton but they, um, died. After trying to regrow them indoors a select few were salvaged together with some red bugs from cacti, walnuts for a brown colouring, carbon for black and a few other odd choices.
After learning some outdated dying techniques and applying them to a custom design, the shirt was completed. It looks a bit wonky and very scratchy, costs about a thousand times more than a regular T-shirt and took three years to make, but damn it they stuck with the idea.
The next time we bemoan going shopping for some clothes that don’t fit exactly right or are a bit too pricey, we’ll be thankful for the fact that it doesn’t cost $5 000 and doesn’t appear to be a coarse woollen sack fashioned into a shirt.