Here are my answers to those MIY March 20 week 1 questions in my last post:
1. Why is sustainable sewing important to you?
Ever since I wrote my dissertation in 1999 about the social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry, sustainability in textiles has been on my radar.
After graduating I worked at 2 polar extremes of the fashion industry. My first job was as a designer for Matalan (a cheap fast-fashion UK based fashion retailer). I churned out designs in that job, I had no idea where the garments were being made, by who or where the fabrics and components were sourced from and neither did anyone else in the company that I asked. Even as a graduate that seemed completely wrong to me.
I lasted a mere 7 months at Matalan before moving on to be the sole designer and product developer for a fair-trade organic cotton clothing brand called Gossypium for 4 years where I saw first hand how things could be done better (you can read more about my experiences here, here , here and here).
Since I started teaching people how to sew in 2007, I’ve seen some of the bad habits of the fast fashion industry start to creep into the cosy world of craft and home sewing, namely: the desire for more and more (fabric, components, books, patterns) for less and less, the speed of making going faster and faster and the phenomena of the “must make pattern” and the way social media encourages a kind of “fear of missing out” frenzy when a newly released pattern is suddenly all over social media and there’s a mad dash to the sewing machine to whip up your version. I started to see such a huge volume of clothing being made by some people, that I thought, how do you possibly wear all those clothes let alone find space to store them all….. There was a really interesting article about the impact of Instagram on the fashion world in the Guardian about 18 months ago, I wrote a piece about it on my blog asking if the same thing was happening in the sewing world and it’s obviously a subject close to our hearts as it sparked a really passionate and thought provoking discussion in the comments, have a read.
2. What are your main motivations for sewing and making?
This is a tricky one for me as I sew with a few different hats on: as a teacher, as a pattern designer / author and as someone who loves to sew! Having said that I do try to carry my same ethos into all the sewing that I do;
- I always try to use good quality fabric from a reputable source.
- I most enjoy making everyday clothes that can be made in a wide range of fabrics and that I know will get plenty of wear.
- I always try to remind myself to relish every stitch and to enjoy the process with the mantra of “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”, because if not, you might just as well go out and shop for ready-to-wear surely?
Aside from that a big motivator for me is obviously that it’s my job! I made a conscious effort to change my job from working as a designer in the fashion industry to being more hands-on around 14 years ago. I love the process of making, I love that feeling when you get into “the zone” and you think about nothing else and hours can slip by. Working as a designer I was so completely disconnected from that and it just felt wrong to me.
I suppose my final bit of motivation is that despite being a trained fashion designer I’m not a follower of fashion, I don’t want to look like everyone else, I don’t want to settle for poor quality fabric and badly made clothes. I want to feel like I’m my own person and making my own clothes definitely helps me feel that way!
3. Why are you taking part in MIY March?
Well, other than being the organiser, I’m keen to meet more like-minded makers keen to slow down, move away from the “more is more” approach to sewing and create their own individual style. I’m also hoping to find recommendations for sources of more sustainably produced fabrics and to share some inspiration and tips for sewing in a more sustainable way. I’ll be sharing lots of my tips, sources and inspiration in week 2, I hope you’ll be sharing yours too!
4. Share with us your most worn and least worn makes.
Most worn warm weather and between seasons makes:
Left: Kinder Cardigan and Derwent trousers from Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics.
Right: Fulwood dress.
Most worn cooler weather makes:
Right: Batwing jumper dress – pattern still to be released…..
Least worn makes:
Left: Finsbury bubble skirt from Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts – I love the style, I adore the fabric, but I just can’t stand anything very fitted around my waist.
Right: Closet Case Files Sallie Jumpsuit – I love the style but just not on me, it’s way too fitted and body-con for me to feel comfortable.
The lesson I take from this is that there’s never a “wasted project”, you discover a lot about what you like to wear (or not) in those least worn makes and it helps to refine your making habits. Thankfully both of these garments went to good new homes when I had my recent downsize and sale and hopefully are now getting plenty of wear.
Don’t forget to complete my survey about your sewing habits here and I’ll be choosing the most thought-provoking blog / Instagram post at the end of this week and I’ll send that person a copy of my new book Sewing Basics for Every Body.
OVER TO YOU!!