Sustainable Sewing was a clear winner in our vote for upcoming Sewcialists themes, so we are happy to announce that we’ll be exploring the topic this November!
There has been a notable sea change in sewing over the past year, with sustainability becoming a bigger concern for many makers. On Instagram, hashtags like #sustainablesewing , #slowsewing, #ethicalsewing and #zerowastesewing explore different aspects of sustainable sewing. (The list goes on: #makeyourstash, #sewingleftovers, #ecosewing and I’m sure there are many more!)
What more is there to be added to the conversation? Well, we’re hoping to take a big-picture view at the resources available on sustainable sewing, and host discussions on the plethora of ways to be more sustainable! For some, that might mean buying certified organic fabric… for others, it might mean slow-sewing a classic, timeless wardrobe… and for me personally, it means wearing my polyester knit dresses for years and altering clothes to get the most life out of each piece. There is no right or wrong way to be sustainable, and it’s certainly not a competition!
We hope you’ll join us by sharing your eco-friendly makes, thoughts and process on Instagram with the hashtag #SustainableSewcialists ! We’ll regram as many of your posts as we can to share what is happening in our community. As always, we’ll have a month of inspiration about fabrics, patterns and refashioning in October, leading up to the main theme month in November.
We will also be asking for a few volunteer authors who want to make a finished project and blog about it in November. We’ll take 3 volunteers here on the blog at 7am EST Wednesday, and 3 more volunteers on Instagram @sewcialists on Wednesday at 7pmEST. First come, first serve, with preference to people who haven’t written for us before!
How high a priority is sustainability in your own sewing? Do you have questions or gripes about the topic? Let us know below!
This is a great theme! I only use recycled leather from old jackets and coats for my sewing projects, lined with men’s dress shirts. I’m excited sustainability is getting more and more exposure.
That sounds so great! I hope you’ll tag some of your projects #sustainablesewciliats so we can share them!
I love this theme! switching to a sustainable closet/ sustainable sewing is definitely a process! especially when you barely have time to sew like myself, since I have a 5 moth old to take care of (brand new mommy here) As of right now, I’m doing sustainable sewing by thrifting outfits and tailoring them to fit me or refashioning them, since it takes too long for me to sew something from scratch but my goals are definitely to sew with more eco friendly fabrics which I know will be a bit of a challenge. Our world is changing, and we treat this world like we have somewhere else to live! and fashion is at the top of the list with earth pollution which is so sad. I’m really excited for this theme and hope to contribute to that awesome new hashtag!
I’m so glad you are excited about the theme! I’ve always found it daunting to feel like I need to be fully sustainable, all the time, right away… so you’ve got a great approach of doing it step by step, as time and resources allow! Looking forward to see your tweaks and refashions on IG!
I chat with many women about what to do with fabric scraps. We often see people with buckets full wondering what to do. It take a community of like minded people to be creative about not filling land with garbage bags full of fabric. So, we talk about: quilting, making new fabric by matching or combing, scrap busting ideas (more books are coming out to help with this endeavor), doll sewing, embellishments etc… That is where some of my focus has been THIS year. And it has helped me to be more conscience about how I layout and cut patterns. I now look for less wasteful ways to do that. I feel better when I am more aware. I am excited to see what other Sewcialist have been up to! Thank you for having this theme month! This could last a year and I bet we would not exhaust ideas! <3
That’s so great! All my scraps are jersey, and I’m never quite sure what to do with them… hopefully I”ll have more ideas by the end of this theme month! 🙂
I’m excited about this! It’s definitely something that I’ve been thinking about more over the past years, and I’m actually feeling rather tempted to try to volunteer for the November series (if I can manage to finish a project in time! ) Honestly, my main gripe is scraps and closet purges. When you’re a garment sewist and working with lots of fabrics that aren’t great for quilts, there’s only so much you can do. And I haven’t found any viable textile recycling options around here, other than the not very transparent one of H&M. I heard after the last closet purge that the thrift stores just toss most donations, and since my handmades were unlabeled, it breaks my heart to think that those lovingly crafted garments that just happened to be too small for me after babies are probably just sitting in a trash heap.
I struggle to know what to do with jersey scraps too! I try to give most of my clothes to friends or family when I don’t fit/wear them anymore, because at least then some get picked and loved before ended up in donation piles… where yes, I’m afraid they are not fully appreciated! There needs to be a better way!
I just haven’t had anyone of a similar enough size to pass things on to- even my mom won’t work because I’m curvier than her all over! But we’re both saving our scraps right now to stuff into some big floor pillows that I’m making for our playroom. If I can’t recycle them, I might as well use them as little boy crash pads!
I have realized over the years in teaching children to sew, that they treat every scrap of fabric as a treasure and see what they can do with it. As they are older they are more concerned about their environment. This has caused me to do more research on sustainability in sewing. Visit my page with some of my findings: https://youngsewists.com/2018/09/26/sustainable-sewing/
How exciting! I wish they had this when I learned to sew in Jr High!
That is so inspiring! I work with kids too, and I really hope that their generation holds resources more dear than mine has.
I love how my sewn clothes are sustainable. I can deconstruct or do alterations on them easily. My teens enjoy re-fashioned hand-me-down RTW just as much as the new clothes I make them. Last year I could not justify buying clothing for myself anymore. The price, the cheap construction/fabric, and the ill fit. I’m done with that! :o)
I bet the benefit of a large family is that there is always someone to pass hand-me-downs on to!!!
Not really! You’d be surprised. I’ve had slim kids, curvy kids, tall kids, short kids. I ended up with boxes of really nice jeans from the 90’s that never fit anybody! :o(
Great theme! I’m always interested in this topic. The thing that bothered me the most when I first started sewing was what to do with the scraps I couldn’t use (I don’t quilt) and the little bits that end up in a heap after cutting. I discovered that H&M recycles textiles, and also found a few friends who quilt, so I send my selvages to them, and the rest goes to the recycling bin. It is also a solution when a garment is worn out. It isn’t perfect, but I feel a lot better about that than putting it all the garbage. (I admit, sometimes the little scraps do go in the bin because I’m tired and lazy). This summer I did a mini sewing workshop with a friend, and we made a bunch of simple shirts for her out of the wide selvages in my fabric bin–I just had to add a center seam to the pattern which gave visual interest to an otherwise plain garment. It was the best stash-buster ever!! I also try to refashion garments or cut them down for my girls as much as possible. I also sew with natural fibers as much as possible, as I prefer them to wear, and they are easier to recycle and have less impact on the environment in terms of breaking down into a decomposed state.
I struggle with the balance between sewing (and styling /fashion) as a hobby and the sustainability aspect of making and having less. I am not a maximalist but certainly not a minimalist either! (mediumist?)
But having a connection with your clothes as intimate as you have when you made them does help to cherish and care for them! And one of the luxuries we have as makers is that we can repair using scraps of the very same fabric the garment is made of (although not all my me-mades are so well loved that they get repaired at a point where new fabric is needed).
I also started measuring pattern pieces before ordering so I know exactly how much to order! I did make a mistake (measured all pieces for a t shirt but forgot the neckline binding, so now I have a shirt with a folded neckline rather than one with binding) but well, that furthers creativity.
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