Friday, August 1, 2014

Sixth Extinction Couture: Passenger Pigeons

Passenger pigeon elbow patch

In case you hadn't heard, we are currently in the midst of the sixth extinction. There have been five previous extinction events causing planet-wide species loss. The last, the fifth exctinction, was the one involving the meteor, subsequent Ice Age, and extinction of the dinosaurs. Scientists are predicting that this sixth extinction, caused by man in what is now called the age of the Anthropocene, looks to be more devastating than the fifth. 

Passenger pigeon specimens, Cornell

An early victim of the sixth extinction was the passenger pigeon, once the most abundant bird species on the planet, completely wiped out by us. Passenger pigeons were so thick in the sky in North America that a flock going overhead could blot out the sun for hours. The last recorded pigeon in the wild was shot in 1900. The last in captivity, Martha (named after Martha Washington) died in a zoo in 1914. On this 100-year anniversary, we are introducing the first in the line of Sixth Extinction Couture.

Upcycled Old Navy shirt

Stylish passenger pigeon elbow patches enhance this second-hand Old Navy shirt. The unsightly Old Navy label on the front of the shirt has been over-sewn with an image of passenger pigeon specimens.


Patches and label

There is also a sepia version, with sepia-toned elbow patches sewn onto an old Cotton Basics brown linen jacket.

Sepia elbow patches

Create Your Own Couture
I've included templates below that you may download and print out onto iron-on transfer paper to create your own Sixth Extinction Couture with passenger pigeon elbow patches. When people ask, tell them about Martha.

Template: click to enlarge

Once printed onto transfer paper, cut fairly closely around the images and iron onto cloth (white cotton works best). Then print out the oval patch template below onto cardstock. Place an oval atop your iron-on bird image and use as a template to cut out oval patch. 

Click to enlarge

The Old Navy patches above were done on white T-shirt material and sewn on unhemmed. The sepia version, done on smooth white cotton, was hemmed. Allow a little extra seam allowance around the oval if you're hemming. A strategy: roughly cut out the cloth about 1/4-inch larger all around than the oval. Place oval on cloth, iron around edge over oval template to create even hem and then slip template out.

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