Sewing our dream wardrobes: Countering fast fashion through sewing
Following on from our post about mindful consumption and pattern hacking, we thought we’d delve a bit deeper into our reasons for sewing, the benefits it brings, and how the craft can help to tackle fast fashion. Marie-Emilienne of I AM Patterns reveals her secrets to creating a handmade wardrobe you'll love.
For over six years, I have been sewing all my clothes. Apart from a small number of items, everything else has been lovingly handmade by me. If you are thinking of committing to a fully handmade wardrobe, it can initially seem unattainable. However, when thinking of buying or making new clothes, I’ve learned to ask these two questions:
- What are my real needs?
- How many items of clothing do I actually need?
By asking yourself those two questions, you can truly assess whether you need to buy that fabric, that dress, that new sewing pattern. These may seem counterintuitive questions for a pattern designer to ask, but I actually don’t own many items of clothing! They are all of high quality, I value and love each piece, and in the morning, I don’t need to think twice about what to wear.
Rather than this approach feeling like a way to deny yourself small pleasures, it’s actually a way to bring joy into your life. The joy of saying no to fast fashion, and yes to creating a wardrobe that reflects who you truly are.
Saying no to ready-to-wear fashion can easily slip into saying yes to every new pattern and fabric released. So how do you go about sewing your ideal wardrobe, while minimising your contribution to the damage caused by fast fashion? We made a handy free download to help you to start answering these questions.
Identify what you feel comfortable wearing
What shapes do you feel good in? If button-up shirts are trending but you feel constricted wearing them, don’t buy into the trend.
What fabrics do you enjoy wearing? As with styles that come and go, fabric types go in and out of fashion. If you prefer flowing fabrics, stick with them. There’s no need to buy fabric that you’re not going to genuinely enjoy wearing and feel comfortable in.
What colours do you like wearing? Bold, vibrant colours might be everywhere this season, but ask yourself if you really feel good in those tones. Look at your existing clothes that you love, are there any themes?
Identify your lifestyle and your clothing needs
Once you’ve assessed your style, it’s time to think about what types of garments suit your lifestyle.
What are your day-to-day clothing needs? Do you need to be able to move freely, do you work from home, do you need to appear traditionally professional for a more corporate setting? Do you do lots of walking, cycling, driving, or do you always end up running to catch a train?! Really think about what you need your clothing to do for you.
What activities do you take part in? Look at what you already own and see if there are items that get frequently worn, or are needed. How many items of clothing do you need for each activity?
What do you already own, and what do you need to sew or buy? Try an audit of your clothing to see what you already have - it might surprise you.
Our main takeaway is to slow down and to plan. Try to avoid impulse purchases, and plan your projects ahead. The benefits of sewing your own wardrobe are vast: personal, environmental and ethical. We have shared a more in-depth blog post about this, with a free PDF planner, so click here if you would like to read more.
To help identify your needs and plan your sewing projects, we have put together a free template. By reviewing what we already have and need, we can all help to lessen the negative effects of fast fashion. We hope this article will inspire you to sew yourself a mindfully chosen, valued and loved handmade wardrobe.