I wrote a little while ago about losing my sewing mojo. I got a lot of great responses from the sewing community, a lot of empathy and a lot of advice. Thank you all again for engaging and sharing. (Btw, I’m still not there yet in finding my sewjo, though working on it).
There were some particular comments that really made me think about this topic from a different view-point and what can be the underlying cause.
One person told me on Instagram that they feel scrutinised by this new trend of slow sewing and all the conversation about sustainability. Another friend told me in person that she feels like her creativity is being stifled because she can’t always afford organic and sustainable fabrics and feels guilty because she is sewing with conventional, less sustainable materials.
What if perhaps my lack of sewing mojo might also be linked to my intense concern for sustainable sewing, and for my own consumption of fabric and notions? I genuinely do not need anything new to wear, so maybe my subconscious is telling me that I should not be making anything new by means of my lack of interest in sewing.
So this got me thinking about today’s subject. Is it possible that sustainable, slow sewing is in fact killing off our creativity?
Sewing is not sustainable by definition…
I have been talking quite a lot about sustainability on the blog and on Instagram. Sustainable fashion is what I do in my day to day job and I am a firm believer in the fact that the fashion industry and the way we consume clothes needs to change.
It really is part of my belief system and I am working hard to live by these beliefs every day (most often failing).
I have stopped buying clothes at the beginning of 2015 and never looked back. Of course, I can do that because I can sew myself most of the things I need and I have a lot of old RTW that I still love wearing.
But before I start patting myself on the back for that small ‘achievement’, how sustainable is my sewing? How much do I sew with a plan, with sustainable materials, how much do I reuse my scraps and curb my general consumerism? Moderately so, I would say.
So then, is my sewing truly more sustainable?
Yes, if I sew from the stash, make clothes I know I will wear loads, that are carefully considered, sewn and cared for, if I reuse or recycle my scraps. And yes from a labour perspective, at least from a garment factory level, as I know that no people were exploited to make me feel and look good.
No, from the perspective that I probably do not need a new item of clothing, that my wardrobe is already bulging with clothes I may or may not wear. As Orsola de Castro, one of the founders of the Fashion Revolution likes to say ‘the most sustainable clothes are the ones already in your wardrobe’. And I guess that goes for sewing, right? Yes, perhaps my t-shirt made by me with organic cotton has a smaller environmental footprint than one I might have bought in a shop. But do I really need another T-shirt? Most likely, not.
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But sewing is creativity, mindfulness and feeds the soul…
There are countless discussions in the sewing community about the benefits of sewing for mental wellbeing. Remember the SMYLY month last year, where people were sharing how sewing makes them love themselves. There were also many contributions on the Sewcialist blog on the topic, and I really encourage you to go have a read.
Sewing is also a way of expressing our creativity, especially if that is lacking in our day jobs or other parts of our lives. Making our own clothes helps us express ourselves and let our personalities shine through.
Sewing also plays a great role in relation to body positivity, as people are empowered to make clothes for the body they have rather than the one that clothing companies tell them they should have.
For other people, sewing is a time of solitude and self-reflection, a space for mindfulness. It’s the time they can get away from work, daily worries, family duties and be themselves, not just parents or carers or spouses.
Plus, some people just love sewing! They want to sew all the patterns and all the fabrics, and delight in fabric hauls and showing their makes. And that makes them happy, who are we to judge?
So we mostly agree that sewing is good for you, but it may not be as good for the planet as we think and fast sewing is just as bad as fast fashion.
So how do we square this circle?
I have been thinking a lot about this lately as I struggle with being part of the sewing community, being a blogger, fuelling my creativity in a way that has been the central point of my self-expression for 10 years now AND feeling like I’m living up to my sustainability principles.
A few ideas I came up with:
- Sewing from the stash
- Fixing and mending
- Reworking older pieces aka tweaking all the bits that annoy me and stop me from wearing that item
- Taking on very long projects that require time and skill to complete
- Doing an inventory of what I truly need and make that instead of frosting (like another dress for a wedding that I will only wear once)
- Refashioning or altering
- Sewing other types of projects, like bags, home décor etc
- Sorting out my UFOs
- Sewing for charity
- Sewing for other people – provided that they actually want what I’m making
Maybe a bit of restriction or working within certain parameters can also be a source of creativity, the same way that doing a 10×10 capsule style exercise really gets my inspiration flowing.
Obviously, there is no such thing as right or wrong in sewing, and I hope I’m not sounding judgemental to people for whom sustainability or slow sewing is not a priority. But it really is for me and I would love your thoughts too.
DO YOU CARE ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY IN YOUR SEWING PRACTICE (AND OVERALL EVERYDAY LIFE)? HAVE YOU FELT THAT IT IS A DRAIN OR A SOURCE FOR CREATIVITY FOR YOU?
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