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Dresses made from waste materials

Projects | March 1, 2018 | By:

Designer Christy Dawn Petersen saves fabric destined to go to the landfill and uses it exclusively for her one-of-a-kind designs. Photo: Christy Dawn.

It’s called deadstock—the fabric left over when clothing is manufactured. It’s a common practice for fashion houses to order more fabric than they need, as a precaution. The problem is that the leftover fabric adds up quickly into billions of square feet of textile waste each year. Much of that ends up in landfills instead of being recycled, and some of that fabric leaches toxins.

Designer Christy Dawn Petersen is addressing this problem. She uses only deadstock for Christy Dawn, her line of vintage-inspired clothing, which makes her designs especially appealing. Because she rarely finds large quantities of any one leftover fabric, she has limited production runs, sometimes creating as few as one or two dresses in a specific fabric or print. Like artwork, each piece is numbered.

Once Petersen designs a piece, the pattern is hand-drawn and cut—a painstaking process that can take hours. Each design is handmade by skilled sewers in Los Angeles. In addition to sustainable sourcing, Petersen and her husband/partner Aras Baskauskas also emphasize fair working conditions, ensuring that the sewers make a fair wage and work in a healthy environment.

The designs are sold online; each order comes to the customer in a handmade cedar box complete with a bundle of lavender. For more information, visit

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