Slow Fashion 2019 with Cal Patch, Jessica Marquez, & Liz SPencer

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Sunday afternoon, July 14th through Friday late morning, July 19th

College of the atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine



Slow Fashion is moving North to the beautiful campus of the College of the Atlantic, with the backdrop of Acadia National Park and all it’s majesty. We return with the same format but some new faces as instructors, and a dreamy new location.

A small group of just thirty stitchers will spend five days in exploration of ways to make your wardrobe ethical, sustainable, handmade, and beautiful! We will do all this with the expansive beauty of Maine's rustic landscape as our backdrop, and inspiration....

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Let's hit the pause button, and see what we can learn about Slow Fashion.  Maine is a beautiful place to turn down the volume, shut off the email, leave the phone in your room, and spend some time exploring this relevant movement.  Join this group of three world class makers: Cal Patch, Jessica Marquez, and Liz Spencer to learn ways to make your garments both beautiful and ethical, and also an expression of your beliefs. All while treading lightly on the planet. And having a sweet Summer respite…!

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If you are a Maker of any sort interested in the world of handcraft, chances are you’ve seen the term Slow Fashion pass by. Maybe you have gone on a fashion fast and abstained from buying any new garments. Maybe you’ve done some mending of beloved items, or played in the dye pots. This retreat will be an opportunity to dive deeper into these practices and further explore what it means to expand your wardrobe of ethical and sustainable clothing. Three day-long workshops in pattern drafting, visible mending, and natural dyeing will put new skills in your creative toolbox. We’ll have all sorts of conversations about what the term slow fashion refers to, what the concept is, what it means to apply these ideas to your life. And of course we’ll have fun! Oh yes, making your own clothes is fun, especially once you have some basic skills under your belt. Cal, Jessica, and Liz will share their deep knowledge and experience with you. By the end of the retreat you’ll have a whole new set of skills and a new outlook on your closets.

The format for this retreat focuses on slowing down your practice to absorb the joy and beauty of Making with your own two hands. We all move so quickly in our daily lives, it’s hard to focus on new and different ideas. I believe that slowing down, even for just a few days, allows new concepts to take root, and for joy to sprout in our psyches. I build a lot of open time into these days to give you the opportunity to ask questions, play with ideas, and fully absorb the material, all with the gentle of guidance of three lovely human beings. You will spend a full day with each instructor working through basic pattern drafting, mending, and natural dyeing.  The skills you’ll learn in each workshop all work together to give you a new perspective on your wardrobe. Each workshop provides a different element of Slow Fashion.

Our evenings will include some easy going and optional activities. One night we’ll have a clothing swap. Bring items from your closet that just don't get the love they deserve and see if someone else might take them home. Each year there are all sorts of cool ideas that come out of the swap, combined with what Cal, Jessica, and Liz teach, that give new life to closet misfits.  It’s always a fun party!

We’ll also be treated to an evening talk by Amy DuFault, Sustainable Fashion activist and journalist, who will give us the background of the Slow Fashion movement and talk about where it’s heading. Amy returns as our sustainable fashion speaker-in-residence, giving ongoing encouragement as we mend, knit, and make on the porch, and will be on hand to answer any and all questions you might have throughout the week. As she feels the process of becoming more conscious about the fashion industry starts with baby steps, we'll take a 5 day journey with her to look at how every aspect of our lives can be an opportunity to look closer at ourselves, and how that reflects what we buy.  Part 12-step program, part fashion-bootcamp, we'll all (hopefully) come to terms with just why it is we live in a world driven by fast fashion and what our place is within it.

We will all stay at the College of the Atlantic location for the first time this year. In the shadow of Acadia National Park and on the edge of the Atlantic ocean, with the ocean breezes drifting through all our classrooms. This new location is quite stunning, we’ll all be staying in a former ‘Summer Cottage’ of the 19th Century, eating delicious food sourced directly from Maine, and prepared fresh for us each day. After three days, one spent with each instructor, you’ll have one full free day to take all you have learned and play with the ideas, making a special item to take home with you, or further exploring the ways to make it all yours. Cal, Jessica, and Liz will be on hand to answer any questions that come up, and encourage you to explore in your own direction!

~Cal is returning with pattern drafting for a simple pair of loose-fitting pants. What could be comfier? You will draft your own custom pattern, make a muslin to test the fit, and then sew a real pair of your new favorite comfort wear! This versatile pattern can be made with an elastic or drawstring waist, added pockets, in woven or knit fabrics, and in various lengths for all seasons. This will be your opportunity to make a stylish alternative to those jeans you wear all the time. A quick look around the internet and one finds all sorts of wide legged, easy fitting pull-on pants. The Robbie pants from Tessuti Fabrics, the new addition to the Elizabeth Suzann line-up- the Wyde Clydes, even Karen Templer’s ‘toddler pants’. This silhouette is striking a chord with so many Makers right now. Once you’ve got your fit down, the possibilities open wide. Wide legged? Pegged? Patch pockets? In seam pockets? No pockets? Drawstring? Elastic waist? Soft and drapy? Sturdy and architectural? Oh the pants you’ll make…! Drafted by your own hands, to fit your own body dimensions! Think of the potential. With some basic drafting knowledge under your belt, commercial patterns take on a whole new light!

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~ In Jessica’s workshop you’ll learn artful and practical skills to mend, patch, repair and embellish your clothing and textiles inspired by time honored Japanese sashiko techniques. You’ll learn about the history of sashiko and see many inspiring examples of sashiko patterns used for both embellishment and functional visible mending. Tools and materials will be covered, as well as how to prepare a patch several ways, stitch sashiko, and create a flawless finish inside your garment. You will learn how to create a fully customizable pattern with guidance on how to draw patterns directly onto your garment, customize patterns to your garment and change the pattern dimensions. Throughout the workshop tips and tricks will be shared. Stitching on clothing can be tricky, since it’s cut to be three-dimensional it often doesn’t lay flat or have easy access points for hand stitching, so we’ll go over many practical, useful tips to make stitching on clothing easier.

Each mend or embellishment will be different, so you’ll receive individual feedback on your personal projects with guidance throughout the process. You’ll also be able to practice the techniques on provided fabric swatches before jumping into working on your clothing.  


~Using plants foraged from the wilds of Maine as well as ethically and sustainably sourced dyestuffs and minerals, join Liz of The Dogwood Dyer to experiment with, and gain basic knowledge in, the time honored art of natural dyeing. The dyeing portion of this sustainable textiles making centered retreat will introduce you to indispensable components of creating color from nature for textile application including: how to make, work and maintain different types of natural indigo vats; proper methods of textile preparation to achieve wash and light-fast color results; extracting the maximum amount of vibrant color from raw dyestuffs; surface design techniques including tie & bind; and making natural paint, as well as how to breath new colorful life into tired or stained existing items in your wardrobe and linen closet.
Liz will go over multiple ways to pre-treat textiles using various different natural binders or 'mordants' so that you can feel armed to confidently select your pre-fixative of choice, depending on the fiber type and desired resulting color. You will discover much about yourself through the almost unlimited variables this craft can present- learning how to navigate those choices depending on your priorities as a maker (process centered, color predictability with application, durability of color, or playfulness and the inherent emphemerality of this medium in contrast to synthetic petroleum based dyes).
The all important and universally loved indigo vat will be covered in full. Liz will discuss making a vat from scratch (making a small test vat together) and you will have the unique opportunity to play in two distinctly different types of organic vats made from 2 different types of indigo bearing plants. Liz will share some of her very favorite plants to seek out along road sides, and in the wild for the dyepot, and how to responsibly collect plants in nature. She will also share some of her favorite surface design methods such as how to make natural paints, outlining the whole process from plant to painted composition, the water wise bundle dyeing technique, and the resist pattern making skill of shibori. You will leave with your own naturally dyed textiles in various natural materials (silk, wool, hemp, linen, etc), as well as informational handouts outlining the techniques and recipes to recreate this beautiful art at home.

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Cal Patch

Cal has been a maker since she was a Girl Scout in the seventies. She sews, crochets, spins, embroiders, knits, prints, drafts patterns, dyes… hence the name of her label: Hodge Podge. Cal has been teaching textile arts for over 15 years, and loves showing people new skills. She designed clothes for several big names in the fashion industry before leaving to forge her own path as an independent artisan and create one-off handmade pieces. Cal owned a boutique in Manhattan and later opened one of the first indie craft schools in 2002. After seventeen years of designing clothes in New York City, she recently relocated to the Catskills, where she is becoming a crafty farmer. Her book on drafting sewing patterns, Design-It-Yourself Clothes, was published in 2009. Currently she teaches at various shops, studios and retreats around the country and sells her work at craft fairs and online in her Etsy shop. You can see what she's up to at


Jessica Marquez



Jessica is a life long maker who found her way back to textiles while working on an MFA in Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. After countless hours working digitally, retouching images and staring at a computer screen she longed for hands-on analog making. She taught herself embroidery and then never stopped stitching. In 2008 she started a creative handmade business, Miniature Rhino, named after a young cousin's imaginary friend, a dentist she called Dr. Rhino. Miniature Rhino became a symbol of creativity and imagination and seeks to inspire and teach hands-on skills through a line of embroidery kits, patterns, classes and books. She's taught throughout the country, internationally and online through Craftsy classes in embroidery and photography. Her work has been featured in publications including, Grace Bonney's bestselling book, In the Company of Women, Real Simple, Bust, Country Living, and InStyle magazine. She's written two books Make and Mend (Ten Speed, 2018) and Stitched Gifts (Chronicle, 2012), and a regular contributor to online and print publications such as Mollie Makes and Design*Sponge.


Liz Spencer



Liz Spencer- also known as The Dogwood Dyer, has years of experience foraging, growing & processing plants for dye in both urban and rural locations. Her most recent experience of tending a dye garden nestled between rows of her family's heritage orange grove in California on the cusp of an ever sprawling human population has taught her much about water conservation, waste stream tapping, and how to push her craft in a more sustainable and environmentally sound manner. 

She holds a Master of Arts from the world's leading sustainable fashion graduate program  'Fashion Futures' at the London College of Fashion where she discovered natural dyeing. She has taught fashion, sustainability, and natural dyeing at Parsons/The New School and continually teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was a venture fellow at the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator (BF+DA) and now splits her time each year teaching between California and New York with the ambition to increase sustainable literacy & practices in the fashion and textiles industries.

She is now finding a new rhythm by the ocean in San Clemente, CA with her partner and two small children.

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If your time in Maine opens up even more pathways to creativity, our good friend, Katherine Ferrier will offer up her workshop, Making, Being, and Being Made, Contemplative Writing for Makers, again this year. This mini-workshop is entirely optional, and the time for it will be decided on site by all who are interested.

Katherine Ferrier is familiar to those who have spent any time at an AGOS event, but for those new to this forum, she is a poet, dancer, maker, teacher, curator, and community organizer. Her research grows out of a deep practice of paying poetic attention to the world, and lives in the intersecting communities of movers, makers, writers and activists. A self-taught quilter, she has improvisationally designed and constructed nearly 100 quilts, drawing on her studies, both formal and independent, of movement, poetics, painting and architecture, among other forms. She is the Director of the Medomak Fiberarts Retreat in Washington, Maine, and has recently expanded her fluency as a maker by embracing felting, weaving, and natural dyeing. She regularly teaches and performs throughout the US and abroad, and believes in patchwork as a radical practice of being patient, saying yes, and making space for everyone at the table.

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A veteran of the slow fashion movement, Amy DuFault is a sustainable fashion writer, consultant and Director of Communications at Pratt Institute's Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator. Having spent the past 20+ years as a journalist (12 of which have been laser focused on sustainable fashion), with bylines in The Guardian, GOOD and other publications, Amy has morphed as a professional writer penning stories about sustainable fashion trends to a less embraced part of the industry focused on human rights, environmental protection and transparency. In addition to her writing, she has served as digital content director and consultant for natural dye guru Kathy Hattori of Botanical Colors for the past 6 years, and continues to work with brands looking to improve their ethical and sustainable benchmarks. Amy also co-organizes the Southeastern New England Fibershed whose mission is to create a regional fibershed that unites fiber to finished product. From farmer to processor, from financing to cut and sew, Amy and team are connecting the dots of the supply chain to bring production back to reinvigorate a once-thriving New England textile industry.

Amy splits her time living on Cape Cod with her husband and two teenagers and in Brooklyn and loves the balance.

Registration includes lodging in a room with one roommate, all meals, and all instruction for five days.  We’ll be staying in Seafox! The rooms are rustic and spare, but modern and comfortable. Think slightly fancy dorm rooms. The bathrooms are shared. All the Private rooms are now spoken for. If you are coming with a friend, just let me know when you register and I'll put you in the same room.

If you have any severe allergies or food restrictions let me know when you register. Otherwise the food is fresh and healthy and I know that you will find plenty to nourish you during your time at COA.

Please note, if you came last year the fee you paid to AGOS did not include housing & meals, as participants took care of their own arrangements with the location. So if you are having sticker shock, please keep in mind that, other than your transportation and supplies, this is the total cost for the retreat.

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A supply list will be sent out at least a month in advance of your arrival in Maine.

Otherwise, all you have to do is get yourself here, I'll take care of the rest.  I will send out recommendations for what to wear and bring in advance. I send very detailed emails about how to get here, what to bring, how to prepare. Read them when they show up, most everything you could need will be in there…


College of the Atlantic is a small liberal arts school that emphasizes the model through the study of human ecology .A human ecological perspective integrates knowledge from all academic disciplines and from personal experience to investigate—and ultimately improve—the relationships between human beings and our social and natural communities. The human ecological perspective guides all aspects of education, research, activism, and interactions among the college’s students, faculty, staff, and trustees.“

COA is approximately a 5.5 hour drive from Boston, 3 hours from the Portland Airport, and 1 hour from the Bangor Airport. More travel and direction info are available here, and here.

A tour of the campus last Summer convinced me that COA was a perfect place to hold Slow Fashion….


In order to give you plenty of time to check, and double check, your schedule, and confer with partners, bosses, children, parents, and pets, to make sure this will work for you, I am delaying the opening of registration. Registration will open on Sunday, March 3rd at 3:00pm EST.  It will be announced through my newsletter first!  So if you are not on the newsletter email list, sign up now! The link is at the bottom of the home page. You will need to pay a non-refundable deposit to register, and then arrangements can be made for how to pay your balance.