One of the most interesting things about our upcoming theme month is how varied (and even in some cases, divisive) interpretations of the theme can be.
It’s also something that can feel a bit overwhelming – like you can never do enough to really meet the goal of sustainability and just when you feel good about a certain approach, someone pops up with a new article or study to tell you that isn’t actually as sustainable as you thought. It’s also more likely to be expensive and less accessible to all, depending on the interpretation again!
Having said that, it’s also critically and increasingly important for many of us – as reflected in the fact that it topped our poll. Before we get too much further then, we should spend some time hearing from people in our community about what it means for them and what they like about the theme.
Personally, I am looking forward to getting some ideas for bringing more sustainability into my sewing. I have always felt like sewing itself is an opportunity for me to invest time in things that fit and will last, so a much more sustainable approach than buying cheapo fast fashion, though I struggle with finding better fabrics and with making time to use up scraps, etc.
I am also hoping to experiment with something new – like a zero waste project – to see how that works for me and to balance some serious thinking with some fun!
What does sustainability mean to you and what are you most looking forward to sewing or learning in the theme month? Let us know in the comments below!
For me, in sewing and in other aspects of life, sustainability comes down to only buying, making and consuming what I need. Sure, it’s nice to buy organic fabrics, upcycle, sew quality garments and sew with other sustainable goals in mind, but none of that matters if the project was not needed in the first place and does not get worn or used.
I have a very small fabric stash and very small pattern stash compared to most sewists I know. I try very hard just to buy what I need for a project that I need, when I need it. I may spend a little more money this way, but I save in the long run by not having spent on things that sit around in a closet for years. A “sale” does not save you money if you buy things you wouldn’t buy otherwise.
Also I plan out my wardrobe sewing plans, separating the “needs” from the “wants” and coordinating everything so I don’t have so-called “orphan” projects. It’s fine to sew “want” projects, for fun or challenge every so often, but I do this mindfully and balance those with the needs.
This is so on-point for me! I’ve recently done a massive culling of the stash, but I certainly have more than I can use in a year. I feel a lot of us, myself certainly, have a fear of scarcity. For me, I know I grew up literally dirt-poor…Like our house didn’t even have a foundation growing up, but I also feel fear of scarcity and the false economy of “sales” drives the over-purchasing as well. Knowing is half the battle, right?
I love this answer. I think I need to donate or sell at least half my stash – the more I sew, the more my tastes and the types of clothes I want to wear evolves a bit too, this leaves me with a useless stash that someone else could use! If I only bought when I have a project in mind I would be so much more likely to be happy with the fabric type and colour/style etc.
Couldn’t have written it better my self I share your views. I too only now buy needed items and colour Co ordinated items, I also donate to charity shops and buy from charity shops if I really need too. I’m currently working through my fabric stash.
Thanks – good to know there are like-minded people out there!
I think that “sustainability” can men different things to different people. “Mindfullness” in shopping for clothing is “sustainable” depending on your point-of-view.
My definition of sustainability, other than becoming a refashioning expert, is making educated choices in both the RTW clothes and fabrics that I buy. I now make all of my “top” clothes and when I do by a RTW piece, I pay a bit more for quality. It may pinch my wallet initially, but the items will last so much longer!
Reading Elizabeth Clines book “Overdressed; The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” really opened my eyes to fashion choices and it is what got me back to sewing my own clothes. I have never been a follower of fast fashion but there was a time when I did enjoy scooping up “a good buy”. Now I look for the fabrics that I like wearing to go on sale….organic cottons and beautiful textures call to me. I wear “me-made” every day now and I can see a point in time when everything I wear will be “made by me”.
For me sustainability means becoming an educated consumer.
Oh yes – that book stayed with me too. She walked a really good line between being clear and staying away from easy answers (that aren’t really answers) I thought. I would definitely agree that just being more deliberate or mindful in how we purchase is an expression of sustainability.
To me it means 1. using up my fabric stash,(to the best of my ability- or donating it to interested sewists)
2. re-fashioning clothes I already have (mostly RTW, but increasingly more me-mades) ,
3. buying as few garments as possible.
Last year I purchased no RTW for the children and myself. I re-fashioned what we had.
This year even with my “sustainable sewing” I bought 3 much needed RW jackets that flatter my figure and match my style. They will last me a long time.
Yes I could have made the jackets, but time constraints make it a time consuming job I can’t handle right now. I don’t think its sustainable sewing if I sew things that stress me out to my personal limits. :o) I end up hating them.
Buying quality RTW is a must now. No more disposable RTW.
So I’m always on the look out for new ways to use what we have.
That is how I think of sustainable sewing. :o)
I think your approach is really sensible – I also have a time consuming job and so have to let myself be realistic about what I can sew, how much and whether I will enjoy it: it’s a stress buster for me usually! Kudos to you for managing a year without sewing for the kids – I have abandoned most kid sewing recently as they just grow out of things at the moment!
Sustainability is important but it does sometimes feel like an insurmountable mountain to climb. Eco fabrics tend to be more expensive but luckily as I live hundreds of miles from the nearest fabric shop (and have a limited budget) I tend to sew using the fabric I already own.
When sewing I save all the scraps. They’re then graded by size and the larger bits might be used for boas binding, facings, pocket bags etc, but the smaller bits go into cushions and I use them for padding. I love floppy, relaxed cushions and find this an effective way to not waste any fabric.
That’s cool – I could do with the discipline of sorting the scraps by size when I finish the project (rather than hunting about for a pocket bag and never finding something big enough or the right shape!). I might try that on the cushions – do you cut them all up to be more even or not bother?
I’d also like to hear how you prep the scraps to be used as stuffing, or not. I’m trying to use my and my mom’s scraps to make some big floor pillows, and cutting the scraps smaller is taking forever!
I chop them roughly so that there’s no big chunky bits, but I don’t fuss too much about it!
For me, sustainability is firat about bringing my dreams/hopes/expectations of my sewing time and sewing output closer to my actual ability. It’s a sustainability for my mental health.
After that, sustainability is about taking good care of the clothes I have, and working toward staying approximately the same size, so I can wear all my clothes.
OH YES! Quote of the week for me is: “it’s a sustainability for my mental health” 🙂 that is sooooo much how I view (and need!) sewing!
One thing I do a lot is to buy clothes made with high-quality fabrics at thrift stores like Goodwill and then alter them to fit well (or even cut out a shirt pattern from a full-length skirt). That way I’m not using newly made fabrics, I can get high-quality fabrics that I might not be able to afford otherwise (I’ve gotten nice wool, silk, and cashmere this way!), and it’s incredibly cheap! I also tend to look through the men’s section for things like button down shirts and jackets because the fabric quality tends to be much higher for men’s clothes (and even at Goodwill, they’re usually cheaper).
And at a certain point, I also just try not to worry too much. I think it can be easy to feel so worried about not being sustainable ‘enough’ that you don’t even try (or worse, feel continuously guilty about whatever choice you made, which doesn’t help anything). And it’s better to do one tiny thing than to do nothing at all. Also even if I was the most sustainable sewist possible, my actions alone won’t solve climate change or resource depletion or income inequality or pollution. So I just try to do what I can in ways that work well with my budget, time, and wardrobe!
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Sustainability for me is being able to sew patterns that I can wear more that once .. have changed the style of fabrrics I now purchase to being versatile linens etc
I am a sucker for beautiful fabric that are really for Race Wear , but need a streemsess for them!!
I am loving the independent patterns … still remains difficult for some wall tall carting s little weight but who is not curvey…. only me to all of this.. haven’t seen for myself in many year’! Looking forward to see over fifty!! Many thanks,