Have you found yourself wondering if creating your own clothing is worthwhile? Sure, it takes up time, and yes, it is a skill that requires practice, but I am here to tell you that it is 100% worth your time and effort! Besides the fact that you can make clothing to your exact specifications and tailor anything to suit your style and needs, there are tonnes of reasons why you should learn to make your own clothing.
In this post, I’ve put together 5 of the most prominent reasons as to why I believe making your own garments is the way forward, no matter what your experience level is.
The term ‘fast fashion’ gets thrown around quite a lot in the sewing community. The term refers to the replication of popular fashion trends and mass producing them at a low cost. These garments are then distributed at low prices to huge conglomerates that turn a high-profit. Cheap clothing sounds fine, at first, until you take a closer look at the environmental impacts.
Did you know:
The only way to challenge the fast fashion industry is to become more mindful about our wardrobes and think carefully about the type of fabrics we’re using. Repurposing spare fabric and fabric scraps is one way to do your part in fighting the environmental impact of fast fashion, another is to start producing your own clothing.
Perfectly fitting clothes, every time.
I see social media posts about the variation in UK sizing all the time! You’ve probably seen them too - how a pair of size 12 jeans from one brand happens to be about an inch smaller than the same sized jeans bought from a different clothing brand. How crazy is that? Not only does that feed into the landfill disaster of unworn clothing being thrown away, but it also causes havoc with our self esteem.
These tremendous inconsistencies and the emotional impact that comes with them, can be completely avoided when you choose to make your own clothing. Learning how to measure yourself for clothing is easy, and once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll always have perfectly fitting clothes to suit your style and needs.
Boost your confidence, self esteem & your overall mental wellbeing.
Mastering a new skill is one of the most widely suggested ways to boost your self esteem. Learning how to create something new, or or improving a skill you previously struggled with gives you an overwhelming feeling of achievement and satisfaction. This in turn boosts your confidence and self esteem, as well as giving your whole mental state. 2020 was one heck of a year for many, however my trusty sewing machine, along with the Kernow Sewcial Facebook group, and Cornwall Scrubs kept me sane. Quilting and garment making is an act of self care for many, and I have personally spoken out about my mental health and the role that sewing has had in my own mental health progression.
Save yourself some money.
We spoke about how fast fashion mass produces popular fashion trends at a low price earlier, and I think many people fall into the trap that because the garments are cheap, they’re saving money. In actual fact, these clothes are often made to be disposed of; they’re made cheaply and aren’t built to last for more than a season or two. Many items break or become unwearable so quickly that the low costing items soon add up that you’ve spent more money on fashion items than you’d originally planned to over the course of a year.
Sewing your own garments can save you money in the long run because you will be making your clothing with longevity in mind. By using good quality fabric and thread, you can easily make simple garments, even if you’re a total beginner. All it takes is a bit of practice and patience. If you want to brush up on your sewing skills, our Beginners Online Course is great for going back to the basics, or learning everything you need to get started. We also offer an Intermediate Online Course which serves as the perfect introduction to garment making.
You are your own designer and creator.
By sewing your own clothing, you are effectively running your own factory. Sourcing your fabric well can bring employment and income to your local areas if you purchase your fabrics and supplies from small local businesses. By working on your own garments, you’re cutting the chemical usage that pollutes our planet with toxins, and, absolutely brilliantly, you’re cutting out the use of child labour.
At the start of this year I committed to not buying any new clothes year if I could possibly make them myself. I wanted to use my sewing skills to be more intentional in my wardrobe, being aware that if I was spending money on fabric and pattern and then spending significant time on creating the garment, then the investment would be bigger and therefore the hope would be that what I make would last longer.
I made a holiday wardrobe in a very short space of time before my trip to Marrakesh in February ( just pre Pandemic mayhem ) and then Covid hit, and I got consumed by Cornwall Scrubs and somehow blogging about it all just wasn't on my radar.
But here we are 5 months later, and I'm starting to think about what i have achieved this year as we make our way to Autumn and a wardrobe transition once again.
By far and away my most favourite pattern of my holiday wardrobe was the Zadie Jumpsuit by Paper Theory which I made in a heavyish weight denim which I found very cheaply on Ebay, many moons ago.
I read so many reviews about this as I didn't have time to make a muslin first and in general I decided I needed to lengthen the bodice by two inches and reduce the rise by one and on the whole I am just so thrilled with this make. I feel amazing in it, and always get compliments and the Zadie Love has spread like wildfire through the sewists in my lovely sewing community Kernow Sewcial ( come join us it's free and so much fun!! ) and I even made one in Ankara as part of the August Get Set Sew Challenge for my little girls 2nd Birthday. Which I will share in a blog post another day!
The only thing I would change for next time is the leg length... I would like this to be more wearable in the winter and I hope to make one in Corduroy for the colder months once I have got through the massive backlog of sewing I am looking at as I type! Oh and there is an odd bump on the wrap point that I think needs grading out.
I sized down by two sizes I think as it is very loose fitting in terms of ease, and I also took an extra 2 inches out of each leg to reduce the fullness as I wanted the legs to be slightly more streamlined
I would recommend this pattern for anyone - it's clearly illustrated and the instructions are great and the fit is spot on. It is such a flattering and comfy garment and totally feels like pyjamas disguised as clothes!
Ok, so I'm about 5 weeks too late to announce my big plans for 2020 but honestly this year has run away with me already! I've been setting a new group of beginners free on their sewing machines, and making some plans for future classes and courses - too many plans! And not enough time!
Earlier this month I was invited to Mylor Yacht Club to talk to the ladies there about sewing, learning to sew, and the fight against fast fashion, and it was a brilliant place to share my personal objectives for my sewing activity this year...
The slide below from my presentation gives you some stat's as to why it is so important to pay attention to our clothes and textiles buying habits...
In the past I have bought things from Primark and the supermarket chains, as a quick pick me up, or in their sales, because I've fancied a bit fo a wardrobe lift. I have never just thrown clothes away, I always send things to charity, but at least two black bags of stuff go to charity from our house every year, and that is with extremely limited buying ( we are a family of four... ) as I we have more important things to spend on most of the time!
I really got thinking about this towards the end of last year ... Where I live in Cornwall in the UK we are culturally extremely aware of environmental impact, surrounded as we are by sea on three sides, incredible natural landscapes and all living very outdoors lifestyles. We see on a daily basis the impact of plastics and other waste on our beaches. I am so proud to live in a place where every business is making sustained and concerted efforts to improve their environmental foot print, and cluster of villages where I live is home to environmental campaigners and leaders of textile sustainability Surfers Against Sewage and FinisterreUK. I can't escape it!
With a background in fashion design I have always loved clothes, and their ability to shape my mood for a day, but my budget in recent years hasn't allowed me to be much more than vaguely functional in my dress sense, and I really wanted to change that this year, now that the baby producing days are over, and I can start to remember who I was before the girls arrived in my life!
So for me 2020 will be the year of of the memade wardrobe.
I have set myself a rule:
What I have found already is having this rule is really really making me consider what I make - my time is so limited, and so if I'm going to spend time making something, I really have to either want it or NEED it, which in turn is ensuring that I am creating items which will surely have longevity in my wardrobe...
In addition I want to be more environmental in my fabric purchasing - I'm a huge van of viscose, a fabric made as a by product of the wood industry. Its production does use up a lot of water, but it is made from otherwise wasted materials as far as I know. Bamboo is the most sustainable and wonderful fabric ever, but it is expensive!
I'll do a blog post later in the year on more sustainable and environmental fabrics, but for now, I'll stick with using up my stash, buying viscose when I can - and keeping my eyes peeled for bamboo that is an affordable price point for me!
I love a free sewing pattern, and this is no exception!
It's a departure from my usual style, I love the look of swing cropped peplum tops like these but I worry that with breastfeeding boobs, and a mummy tummy it's just entirely the wrong thing for me to attempt wearing.
But, when I found this gorgeous teal double gauze from My Fabrics, I just knew it would become a top like this so I stepped outside of my comfort zone, searched for and found the perfect pattern in the form of the Peppermint Peplum Top and spent a wonderful couple of hours in my studio while Mr S2S took the girls out for a swim so I could sew in peace.
I LOVE this pattern, Its very simple, easy enough for a beginner and a satisfying and quick make. The only thing I did differently from the instructions was stay stitch the curves first as the weave of the muslin I used was so loose, and I think with hindsight I would probably add an inch or two to the length of the main bodice so it is slightly less cropped for this 'approaching 40' mumsy-mum.
The muslin is divine and the colour is gorgeous - but one word of warning, the gold spots melt off with an iron so press on the reverse or through a pressing cloth. This didn't matter for the bias facing but I did lose a fair amount along the way as it was all too much to fiddle with pressing cloths in the time I had available to get it finished before 2020...
I am thrilled with this and really glad I have a length in coral as well to be able to make one for next summers Cornish beach going and hopefully a holiday too.
Have you made this top? How was it for you?
Sewing. pattern cutting, teaching, tea and Jelly Babies!