Sustainable Sewing

But ladies of Selkie Patterns, how is sewing sustainable?

What’s unsustainable about the fast fashion industry:

  • Fast fashion has created an urgency for us all to buy more, buy cheaper, and buy more often. Clothing has now become something that we use and then get rid off, as if it’s disposable.
  • All those discarded clothes are headed to landfill, which drains economic and environmental resources: 350.000 tonnes of clothes go to landfill every year in the UK alone.
  • The men and women (mostly women) who work in garment factories all over the world, work under harsh conditions to meet the high demands.
  • Nearly 35% of the microplastics in our oceans comes from washing clothing with synthetic fibres.
  • Leftover fabrics in garment factories add up: 60 billion square metres of fabric are thrown out globally on a yearly basis.
  • Printing and dyeing fabrics with chemicals is dangerous to the world’s waterways and uses a lot of water. 10-15% of the dye disappears into the wastewater, which is flushed out into oceans and rivers.

There is loads to read and learn and there are many reliable sources out there where we can educate ourselves. Knowledge is power! You can make yourself a cuppa and check out Fashion Revolution and the Clean Clothes Campaign to start with, to read more about the stats mentioned above. There are increasingly more independent, responsible fashion brands popping up, as a reaction to the fast fashion industry. Here at Selkie Patterns, we of course like to teach you how to make your own clothes! And here are a few reasons why:

What’s sustainable about sewing:

  • It spreads awareness of how much time and effort goes into making a garment.
  • You are in control of the fabric and haberdashery you purchase.
  • You can decide what you would like to do with any leftover fabrics.
  • Sewing for yourself adds value to an item in a way that will make you care for it longer and better.
  • It reconnects us to how something is made, rather than buying into the disconnect of disposable consumables.
  • Sustainability comes in many forms: if you create a happy work environment whilst sewing, you have created a sustainable work environment.
  • By making something to your own measurements, you don’t have to buy into the unsustainable ways of fashion sizing.

So what does this mean for you?

  • You can make something that actually fits you!
  • You have greater control and knowledge of what you are actually wearing.
  • You will purchase fewer items, and care for the ones you already have in a great way.
  • You will enjoy the process of making something with your hands, when our lives are becoming so digital and disconnected.
  • You will gain a hobby for life, which transcends age, gender, race, sexuality, language and background.
  • That feeling of ‘where has the time gone?’ when you are making something? It’s called flow state and it makes us feel calm and centered.
  • You will be aware of the time and skill that goes into making clothes, something that men and women all over the world do on a daily basis for a very low fee.

You are making a difference to yourself, your wardrobe, your environment and the industry, stitch by stitch. Whilst looking stylish, of course! We encourage you to embrace sewing in all its wonderful ways and for all its wonderful reasons.

Top Tips and Tricks to Make Your Sewing More Sustainable: 

  • Choose your haberdashery wisely: metal zips instead of plastic zips, vintage buttons, and go for organic cotton thread or recycled polyester thread. 
  • Use your offcuts wisely! See our Blog for inspiration or our section on Recycle & Reuse
  • Select your fabrics with the help of our criteria

How many airmails has this fabric traveled to get to me? 

Is this a low impact crop, such as bamboo, linen, or hemp? 

Is this an undyed/unprinted fabric or has it been dyed or printed in a low impact way, for example with low water waste? 

What are the labour circumstances of the people who made this fabric? Is it Fair Trade, for example? 

Do I know the country of origin for his fabric? 

Does this fabric require limited use of pesticides, by being for example certified organic? 

Is this a natural fibre or a synthetic fibre? (for laundry tips for synthetic fabrics, please see Garment Care

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