'Fast fashion' and textile waste being talked about more in the press in recent times, but it's unclear how much people are changing their attitudes and behaviours in this area. So it's great to see organisations like 'Sew Confident' teaching people the skills to repair clothing - thereby keeping it in use for longer.
So to inspire you to see what you can mend, we've got a guest blog here from Colette Cameron, an International fashion business graduate who says of herself "can be found near animals or sewing / being creative at one of the @sewconfident studios". You can find her on Instagram @ColetteCxo. Here are her top tips for repairing your clothes and reducing waste.
In Britain, in 2017, 300,000 tonnes of textiles ended up in the bin. (To put that in to perspective, that is not far off the weight as the empire state building!) The one thing you’re allowed to throw away after reading this blog is the assumption that sewing is only for old ladies and mundane home economics classes. With the ongoing issues we face with the current climate emergency, now is a better time than ever to disregard your prejudgements and pick up a needle and thread.
Learning to alter and repair clothes you already have will not only save you cash but will give the environment a break in the process. Plus, learning how to sew also gives you a new skill and helps you learn to de-stress / be creative! Win-win! I could go on and on about the various scary facts about fashion and what it is doing to our planet… I could also go on about the cool upcycling projects I’ve done or the 12390 ideas I currently have saved on my pinterest boards but I will try keep this short…
Are you really only throwing away one pair of jeans?
The harsh reality is one pair of jeans including its production and general wear uses up to 2,900 gallons water. To put that into perspective, that is the same amount of water usage as you going for a full day long shower. Denim can be subjective to several chemical washes, not only does this lead to polluted waters in poor manufacturing areas, it creates serious health risks to workers and those forced to use contaminated water… and then there is the negative environmental impact of nonorganic cotton farms!
Create beauty in imperfections
Although denim can be tricky to do invisible mending, it does not mean they need to head for the bin. Visible mending (also known as sashiko) helps put a unique, creative flare on what you may have considered a ruined item. The best examples of visible mending are hand embroidery and machine embroidery. As the names suggest, hand embroidery requires no sewing machine – just a simple needle and your desired colours of embroidery floss. Machine embroidery requires slightly more skill as you would be using a sewing machine and a special free-motion embroidery foot but its nothing youtube or the ‘machine doodles’ class at Sew Confident can’t help you with! I would also recommend some iron on interfacing for any kind of embroidery if you can source it easily enough.
Once you have the right equipment and skills, it is time channel your inner Vivienne Westwood and get designing. Whether it’s basic shapes, or environmental slogans, the possibilities are endless (unlike our earths resources)! Struggling for inspiration? Here are just a few I found via our good friend pinterest :
OK BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN IT REALLY CAN’T BE FIXED AND WORN?
Even with my sewing and mending experience I can even admit that some items are just past the point of no return when it comes to mending BUT, that still doesn’t mean you need to head for the bin just yet. You have probably heard of this saying ‘upcycling’, but what does it really mean? Put simply, upcycling is creating something new out of something that is old and used. Again this is were having some creative skills under your belt can go a long way! My favourite upcycling class at our Sew Confident studios has to be our t-shirt yarn crochet class. In one evening everyone is shown how to turn old, ruined tshirts in to yarn and then taught the crochet skills to turn the yarn to such items as plant pots! (Check out my very first attempt at tshirt yarn crochet which I am still super pleased with to this day!)
Going back to the above example of jeans and denim. Although it has various negative environmental impacts, denim is made to last (hopefully), this makes it perfect to be cut up and used to create various other project such as make up bags, shorts, rugs, lunch bags, tote bags, aprons, shoes… you name it, you can probably make it using what you thought were ‘end of life’ jeans!
I hope this blog has given you a brief insight to the damage our clothing has on our planet and the amazing benefits skills such as sewing has not only on helping reduce this damage but to help save some pennies and help you de-stress in the process!
Want to find out more? Check out Colettes favourite Instagram accounts relating to this topic are: