There’s nothing like the sense of achievement when you’ve made something yourself, whether its a lovely meal, a birthday card or a piece of writing, the creative process can be very rewarding, not to mention low in cost and eco-friendly.
The same goes for your wardrobe, making items of clothing or accessories means you can have so much more control over the sourcing of the materials and production of the finished item. That’s one of the reasons I’m learning dress-making skills. Don’t get me wrong, I think we should leave the good stuff to the experts, the makers and designers who do this professionally, but a little self-sufficiency in the wardrobe can go a long way.
I love browsing websites like Modish and Indie Fixx, looking for independent designers. Especially those who use innovative techniques to create clothing and accessories in a responsible and ethical way. However, as much as I love them I can’t always afford them and it leaves my fingers twitching, wanting to make my own goodies.
The fashion industry is huge and resource hungry. The wikipedia entry on cotton tells us that the production of non-organic cotton uses “approximately 25% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of the world’s pesticides and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 20,000 deaths occur each year from pesticide poisoning in developing countries, many of these from cotton farming”. Cotton is also a thirsty plant and when researching my ‘blue jeans‘ article I found that between 2000 and 6000 litres of water may be used to produce just one pair of jeans.
Now we’re only talking about cotton here, what about other natural and man-made fibres? When you buy a lovely winter jumper do you know where the wool came from and the treatment of the sheep? The source of Polyester is crude oil and do I really need to go into the issues around that one? Then there’s the actual production of the garments, if your gorgeous new jacket isn’t Fairtrade how do you know that the workers were paid a decent wage and given a safe environment in which to work? The issues are many and complex but they shouldn’t be ignored.
Now, consider what would happen if you gained a few sewing skills here and fitting skills there. Perhaps you could treat yourself to some organic cotton and make your own unique summer top. Visit the charity and vintage shops in your town, see the potential of a once loved garment and give it a new lease of life. Compare the resources and energy put into your wardrobe now against the brand new non-organic, cotton skirt from the other side of the globe. There’s no contest.
There are lots of dress-making courses available these days and needless to say picking up these skills will take time but they are transferable, sustainable if you like!
Making and customising your own clothes could well save you money, leaving that bit extra to treat yourself to the beautiful garments and accessories made by professional, eco-friendly dress-makers.
I’m learning my dress-making skills at the Textile Workshop in Nottingham and have set up a blog to share my learning experiences, mistakes and hopefully some progress too. Pop by and say hello at www.victorialouise.co.uk
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