On Making Do and Mending
How many people these days have a sewing machine?
Hell, how many people these days know how to sew?
Not even pattern cutting or garment-making, just simple button sewing or repairs on a piece of clothing?
Not enough, that's the answer. And, the number is declining.
Teaching myself to sew with my Singer Tradition Sewing Machine when I was 12 (what a fabulous Christmas that was!) was a very smart move on my part. The things I used to make were poor quality, but with practice at the wonky, wobbly desk in my dad's office, without the AC on, often working up a sweat, playing whatever pop punk band I was listening too on my IPod Touch, swearing and pricking myself and going over the same thing ten times over, the garments I made or mended slowly got better quality and my hard work paid off.
I still use the same sewing machine that's almost ten years old, and have no doubt I'll be using it for the rest of my life.
In GCSE and BTEC level Art, I honed my techniques and took up more specialist topics of textile art, from felting (hand and machine) to embroidery, to fabric art.
In this day and age, it seems I'm the only person I know (millenial-aged) who knows how to sew and uses those skills regularly.
Why do I still do it?
Because, it's sustainable.
Fixing a button back onto a garment or sewing up a tear gives a piece of clothing extends its' lifespan infinitely. Instead of throwing out these pieces of clothing and wasting them, even the cheap ones, by fixing them I'm wearing and re-wearing them again and again.
This is my little bit to help and avoid the fast fashion culture we have in this country (and others who exploit factories abroad for cheaper goods).
By wearing and re-wearing my pieces, and investing in those higher quality, sustainable pieces and fixing both those and cheaper pieces I've had to buy due to budgeting, I'm reducing not only my carbon footprint (yes, our carbon footprints include those of the clothing we've purchased) but also the money I put into companies who exploit the environment and factories abroad.
'According to Treehugger, UK consumers have an estimated £30 billion worth of unworn clothes languishing in their wardrobes. This may be because an item no longer fits, it never fitted well in the first place, is broken, or it just doesn’t capture your interest anymore. We don’t want to throw these items away, but never wear them either, leaving them in a sartorial limbo. With clothing alterations and repairs, these pieces can become cherished wardrobe staples again!' Source
So, maybe next time you go to throw a torn t-shirt or broken pair of jeans in the bin, think twice about the journey that piece of clothing has been on, and whether that journey should come to an end just yet.
Do your bit for the environment and go forth and breathe life into your clothing! Follow this link for beginners and more advanced tips on clothing care and alterations, as well as fixing them. And if you're interested in sustainability in fashion like I am, check out this article on the 4 R's and re-defining the fashion industry.