Permaculture in Action

Monday, May 27, 2013

Slow Living week Five

Another area in which I am striving to live more simply is in manufacturing my own clothes. For ethical reasons I have been buying second hand clothing and/or hand made local garments, for over 10 years now. But for the last little while I have had the urge to produce garments for myself, and more specifically sewing garments. I have been knitting and sewing for babies and toddlers for a couple of years and have been the recipient of some "made by me" knitted hats and scarves, but have not seriously thought of sewing for myself.

Shopping at Op shops has been quite satisfying, but mostly I'm limited to fairly basic items. Although not much inclined to fashion, I have of late felt a desire to create items that relate to a sense of who I am. I started tentatively with a simple tunic style pattern and changing the look of it by using different fabric combinations. The style suits me, not only in comfort but who I am. I have looked at other patterns but nothing else ''grabs me'', so I've stuck to the original pattern and altered it to fit. The altering of patterns was a bit scary to begin with, but as I started to do it, I got more confident, creating my own style. Sure it may look like that of others but I created it myself.

A little bit of history here. I did do sewing as an elective in years 7,8,9,10 at school, just as it was becoming unfashionable to do so. And I did a 3year sewing course at TAFE when my children were babies ,nearly 30 years ago. I sewed a little bit for my children when they were very small but it was always looked upon as a hobby, nothing very serious. I have had a change of heart since then and I am reclaiming control of what I wear. I am reclaiming my skills. I will not be dictated to by fashion or 'fast 'clothing. I take time to choose what I might need in the area of clothing; do I really need another garment? Where will I find the fabric? Up until lately I have purchased fabric from op shops but that is very limiting. My latest garment was made from fabric purchased from a retail outlet. I had a colour and fabric in mind and chose according to that . Added to that was an ethical decision about where the fabric was made.

A few days ago I came across this blog. Quite often  I read a post written by someone else that echos my thoughts so well. It's a remarkable thing that our thoughts can be so linked in to someone else.  It happens quite a lot with me. I read a blog post and think to myself 'wow that could be me talking', only usually they have written it much better than I ever could. And it is just such the case with Sonya. She talks so passionately about sewing garments and how..
Making clothing is a conscious choice; it is an investment of time over convenience
 ....... allowing people to recognize that they can sew clothes, an awareness that simultaneously creates conscious consumers, offers a connection to the past, and provides a means of reclaiming personal style.

But more importantly, in this case, when talking about slow living, Sonya mentions the term 'fast fashion'', a term coined by Elizabeth Cline in her book Overdressed which aligns cheaply made clothes with fast food.

Do you choose an ''investment of time over convenience'' ?



  1. Absolutely! I have been wearing mostly self-made clothes for a few years now and I feel I can now express my style better, with fewer garments, that I wear and cherish for longer. So even though I am using new fabrics I pretty much wear things until they fall apart, which has to be more sustainable than 'fast (and disposable) fashion'.
    I love the style of your tunic top. And isn't one of the best things about sewing for yourself the ability to make another of something you love!

  2. so very true, i love this kate and i love your tunic too.

  3. Whilst I can't sew ...they I do have a pattern I love and a sewing machine waiting for me when this skill finally emerges- I do alot of op shop shopping. There is nothing compared finding an op shop item that suits who I am . My children always had clothes from op shops too and no one noticed the difference . One of my favourite outings with our kids now is an 'op shop ' day where they get $10 each and can buy whatever they want at the op shop - they are in 7th Heaven trying to compete to get the best outfit!

  4. A great post, Kate. I haven't touched a sewing machine for years but taught myself many years ago (with a bit of advice here and there), made clothes for the boys when they were young and prior to having children, made some pretty flash clothes for work and evening wear. I look at old photos sometimes and can hardly believe a) I wore them (splits in the skirts and all, to go with the high heels, can you imagine it?!) and b) that I made them.

    Sewing my own clothes is definitely on my list of things I want to return to when I get a working machine. In the meantime, I do as Jane up above does, and basically wear things till they fall apart.

  5. Reading your post is echoing my thoughts, just as those you read echoed yours!

    Love to make instead of buy - the way I look at it is the amount of time invested into making something wearable is only a fraction of the time that will be spent wearing it. This way of thinking helps me to 'give' myself the time to create..although I still struggle at times with the amount of time it takes to churn out something. This is definitely where the op shop comes into play!

    Loving your tunic - and you are very fortunate to have the three year tafe course behind you for your sewing projects. It can be so frustrating at times not knowing those little tricks and techniques that really 'make' a garment and have to be found out along the way.

    Great post, Kate. :)

  6. I haven't done any sewing for years and want to start again. I still have items I made in my early 20's that my daughter is wearing. They still look good and have not dated! I shop for need not want and have made the commitment to let things wear out before replacing them. I seem to wear the same things all the time because cloth does not wear out easily if cared for. The other day I pulled out a pair of jeans that I have had for years and not worn. It was like having a new pair. How absurd is this mentality that you need a new wardrobe every season. So wasteful.

  7. yes, loving the slower home-made approach to our life. I'm also inspired to sew my own... I've mainly been doing lots of knitting these days, but come spring-time - I think sewing will be on the agenda! xx