Hand Sewing is Slow Fashion

Hand Sewing is Slow Fashion

Hand Sewing is Slow Fashion

Hand sewing is easy! Surprisingly how little of it anyone does anymore. It is a basic skill we could use all the time… for hemming?

You would not believe how we all make excuses for not hemming something. It seems so hard. Well, I am here to tell you yes it takes a little time but it is also very gratifying.

How easy would it be to make a small seam if we only thought of it as something we do as a basic skill like any of the others?  If there is a rip and what do we do, tape it, staple it, glue it, instead of grabbing *a sewing kit?

At one time, they used to be in hotel drawers and included in any handy emergency kit. I haven’t seen one included in a long time.

…But I do get people asking me if I can fix a button or sew a little seam that ripped. But most of all to hem the simplest of straight edges.

Sometimes I think a little dingle ball or fringe would look good on my jean pockets or the neckline of a t-shirt… And I do grab a needle and thread and sew it on.

Have you ever wanted to tack a rolled-up sleeve that was all floppy, you grabbed a needle and thread to attach it better? You look and feel so much more comfortable. Even if it the sewing shows or it ripped out from a too big basting stitch, nothing else is going to rip and it is charming. Add a quick sewn on decoration too!

*While writing this blog I put together some sewing kits as giveaways with my upcycle clothing orders.

It is so very doable to make a gathered shirt hem or sew pants that are too full to be flattering. Just thread the needle and make some big stitches for a gather there. Rei Kawakubo of Commes De Garcon did that in her line from the eighties. She made a rushing where you stitch two rows ¼” apart and pull them together placed randomly but yours can work quite traditionally, just use big stitches and double thread to keep from breaking. Use big stitches pull and knot and there you go.

To emphasize:

Sewing is pretty easy and although it looks great it does not have to look perfect.

Hand-sewing is so foreign these days that we now have a name for clothing that is hand made at home, slow fashion. When I hand sewed my first big sewing project as a kid, orange zinnia corduroy overalls, people were surprised it was possible.

It wasn’t so weird to me after years of hand sewing clothes for my dolls, yes I was that girl. It did not seem possible to hand sew a whole outfit but I did. It was actually pretty easy and maybe more convenient than setting up the sewing machine and hoping the tension was working.

Playing with dolls can be the game to keep girls from growing up too fast. I saw this interesting article about girls, especially young black girls get treated as if they were adults, and a wonderful woman who noticed, brought dolls for all the girls she encountered in her work to just play like the kids they actually were.

How I decided to sew my own clothes by hand was when my mother encouraged me to find some fabric to get started. I went to the store with my best friend to buy fabric and a pattern to make whatever we wanted to wear and I didn’t have a sewing machine. In those days we had to buy a pattern from the store but these days you can get patterns for free.

My mother was not the most domestic, though she famously made a zebra print long skirt, I have to find that picture! She made it, and the orange sheath dress that I have only seen in black and white photos, but I see the color from an early childhood memory. She used a sewing machine that had been long gone.

My mother did not want to inflict homemade clothes on us, eating liver, or living with antique furniture. Funny then I grew up to make a lot of my own clothes, love liver on occasion, and I can appreciate antique furniture to the extent that it is ok to paint it.

*side note: When things get back to a new normal, we are giving away little pre-threaded sewing kits to use for those quick fixes.

Handmade Overalls
Hand Made Zebra Skirt
Painted Furniture
In the Future Call It Fashion or Clothing?

In the Future Call It Fashion or Clothing?




Intersectional Connection​ is what sustainable fashion is really all about. We consume with our money and we do not always check for the transparency of manufacturing and energy use in the corporations we are patronizing.



For every purchase, we make it is important to check the sustainability quotient of the company behind the garment. Good Trade has a nice list of reputable sustainable companies.



Is the fabric dead stock or innovative hemp or mushroom leather? Did you know leather is just plain bad? ​The rainforest is being mowed down not by soybeans but by leather. ​Forget about the dead cows it is bad for the people working in the tanneries that have a life expectancy of fifty years old. IE: Chemicals, river​ The faux leathers all have their own controversies but non as bad as real leather.



It is important that we demand transparency. What we are looking for?
Is the manufacturing local or overseas?
Are the wages a living wage?



Is the fabric organic cotton, recycled polyester, hemp, farmed silk, viscose, ag fibers trying to scale up.



Spending time a few weekends ago at the Impact Fashion Summit my initial takeaways are that maybe we shouldn’t call it fashion at all. Call it clothing. Slow fashion, sustainable fashion, be the change, start in your own small community.



The intricacies of fair-trade are beyond me.
Our trade agreements, like walls, keep foreign factories from having a better standard of living. Interesting and complex, we are always close to getting something humanitarian ratified.



The miracle fabrics of the future are truly plant-based grown in regions that can handle certain plants. 2.5 billion people now will remember when we had choices in our fabric but the next 2.5 billion will have to rely on scaled-up versions made from plants.



Child labor is alive and well. San Salvador company closing after employees worked there for 10 to 35 years. Offered some old machines but no severance pay.



Fast fashion came about by the fashion industry feeding us clothing as fast as humanly possible to the point we kept consuming it since it was so affordable that now the fashion industry knows it has created a monster.



We need to get back to four or five seasons a year. Enjoy a regionally made garment of quality. Not exactly Slow Fashion in the strictest terms but back to enjoying the work, the product, and the necessity again for something we wear for a while because we love it.



How do we want to scale up? Most likely with a plant-based fiber that grows in a permaculture environment. The Tropical Regeneration ag movement is doing amazing work.



Is clothing disposable? Not from anyone’s standpoint is it disposable but it has become just that creating the leading cause of Climate Change on the planet.



We live in a time where clothing is so available we tend to buy it and dispose of it.



How we dispose of it is pretty key. Sell, and remake seems to be our only choices. Donations to people make sense or manufacturers but places like Goodwill usually end up taking it too the landfill eventually.



My personal favorite sustainable clothing is made from other clothes or upcycling. But I get sick of hearing that term. At its simplest, It is mending what you have, patching a hole, washing a stain out, sewing on a button, hemming, adding elastic, or taking inside seams for a better fit.



Sometimes it is deconstructed. Opening up all the seams to reveal pieces that can be put back together in a new and interesting way. Usually, it is a drastic artful altercation. But it also creates fabric to make whatever you want, and details to add wherever you want.



It is the ultimate utilitarian military-style or highly functional original dresses, shirts, and suits, clothing that fits and works with style.