Sustainable Sewing: 5 top tips for garment care
Whether your garments are handmade or shop-bought, they deserve to be taken care of. Follow these expert tips to find out how to be a more sustainable sewist.
We spoke to sustainable sewing experts, and designers behind much-loved sewing pattern brand Named Clothing for their top tips to give your handmade garments extra years of happy wear.
Choose the right materials
Good garment care should start even before there is a garment, from choosing quality materials. You can eliminate most needs for garment care by choosing quality fabrics and components. Instead of going for the cheapest option, try to look for a fabric that lasts long. It can be hard to detect quality; even though price is a good indicator to start from, expensive doesn’t always equal quality, and you can just as well make great finds at a low cost. Recognizing quality might take a bit of intuition; by sewing and wearing different kinds of fabrics you can gain a good understanding on what raw materials, weaves and styles of fabric to favor, and what to avoid. It can be better to shop fabrics in a physical fabric store, preferably in small shops with a carefully curated selection and an experienced staff. But even when shopping online, you can always ask help from the customer service.
Quality over Quantity
After quality comes more quality! You can, once again, eliminate the need of garment care by sewing your garments as well as you can. Invest some time in making your clothes, don’t opt for quick solutions if a more time consuming method will offer a more durable result.
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Learn to love labels
Memorize or save the fabric care labels (and follow them), so you can care for your garments in the right manner. Avoid washing your clothes too often to save both the garment and water. Most often you can either air or steam the garments instead of washing to refresh or reshape them. Washing can wear out your garments, but a tumble dryer will most definitely do that, so avoid tumble drying if possible. When line drying, make sure to hang the garments as neatly as possible to avoid wrinkles.
If your garments develop an odd scent, a vinegar soak might help in getting rid of it (choose a spirits vinegar or a vinegar that is especially intended for textiles to avoid staining). Bile soap works wonders on most stains, so it’s a very handy tool to have in your garment care box. Remove any stains before the wash, if possible. If your garment becomes pilled, a wool komb is a more sensitive option than the pilling trimmer.
The Magic of Mending
Some wear and tear is inevitable once in a while, but it’s important to fix any tears, loose buttons, ripped seams and broken zips as soon as possible, to prevent the garment from becoming irrepairable.
Store your handmades in a way they deserve. Use hangers of a right size, so that they don’t stretch out your clothes or cause weird, pointy shoulders. Make sure your closet is dry and not too full. Hang or fold the garments as neatly as possible to avoid having to iron them. Store clothes you don’t wear often – such as evening wear or winter clothes – in a garment bag.