Sewing Sustainably & Restyling Old Makes

by - 10/23/2018

Hi pinups! Something a little different for you today and a topic I've been thinking a lot about this year, it's also a topic which is certainly in the media at the moment too with the popularity of that Stacy Dooley documentary 'Fashion's Dirty Secrets'. But this doesn't just apply to RTW fashion, but dressmakers too and our demand for fabrics. So I've been thinking about how I can make a change with my dressmaking habits, including restyling old makes.

In general, the amount of dressmaking I've done in 2018 has been a lot less than the previous 2 years of having my sewing blog. When I started dressmaking and blogging, I would sew something every week and blog every week so I could share a new pattern review. I wanted fresh content to share constantly as I felt no one would be interested otherwise. It was something that this year I think finally caught up with me, resulting in a total break from dressmaking over the summer after juggling an unrealistic workload resulting in a wardrobe of half loved me-made clothes I would likely never wear more than twice.

I could feel myself drowning in my handmade clothes that weren't making me happy and it was time for a BIG sort out and a reassessment of my sewing. Whether it's getting carried away with creativity or the fear of not keeping up (I've been guilty of both), it's time to change and to sew more sustainably, not only for the betterment of the environment, but also for my own mental health.

I'm lucky that I work for myself, and sometimes my work projects involve dressmaking, sew alongs and reviews. But I'm making a conscious decision going forward to really assess my style, wardrobe and needs, to only sew new clothes that I know I'll get a lot of wear out of, made with higher quality fabrics and sewn with better finishing techniques for longevity.

I'm definitely guilty of getting carried away with the idea of a project. Of sewing a garment I think will be fun and popular rather then 'when will I actually wear this?'. I'm not someone who's going to get dressed up daily, working from a desk all day I need comfort over style. But that's not to say I don't want cute pjs or stylish casual wear for popping out, I just need to sew realistically instead of frivolously. Something which I think I've been achieving recently. I've also never been one to have a large fabric stash, but I have noticed it growing recently (thanks to a new fabric shop opening in my town) so I'm on a mission to get it down to one space in my Ikea Kallax shelf!


So that's what I'm focusing on going forward, but what about everything I've made so far? Well I've been digging through my wardrobe, having a massive clear out (recycling or donating old makes & RTW clothes) and keeping the things I actually wear. I like the rule that if you haven't worn it in a year, it's out. I'm not sentimental at all and hate clutter so having a good purge always feels so good! I feel like when I started sewing blogging I made a lot very quickly without a lot of thought. Makes that now look a little rushed or ill planned. I think it's a difficult thing to confront, but a good lesson to learn.

I thought the topic of this post would be a great time to style up some old me-made clothes and bring them to the front of my wardrobe again with some new life! This Vogue coat is one of my most worn handmade items of clothing ever, and this Butterick 1940s tea dress definitely hasn't been loved enough since I made it in 2016. I thought it was too low cut to wear in the day time (my personal self consciousness!), but I never thought to actually wear a vest underneath before. Paired with tights and boots, this is a comfy and cute outfit with a little nod to vintage.

In this post I'm wearing...

Pattern: Vogue V9123
Read my original post HERE.

Pattern: Butterick 5209
Read my original post HERE.

I just wanted to share my thoughts on the topic of sustainable sewing and how I'm trying to improve my own habits. I also think learning to knit has slowed down my whole thought process on creativity. I'm learning to slow down and appreciate the time and be more mindful, which has then also reflected on my dressmaking.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I'd love to do some more featuring restyling old makes in the future. What do you think about sustainable sewing?

Thanks for reading, pinups!
Abi xo

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  1. Loved reading this! I have been having similar thoughts recently and I've been making a concerted effort to really slow my sewing down so what I am left with is considered and well made. Love your outfit too! xx

  2. When I first started knitting, I think I was more eager and impatient to produce finished projects - especially wearable ones. After some time I grew to love the process more than just the result, and enjoying frogging and adapting projects rather than settling with what I spontaneously made and realized won’t work for my life or my body, whatever the reason I think it won’t be used. In general one of the advantages to knitting is that you can back up, rip up a project and do something else quite easily (in comparison to sewing where the cutting of fabric might limit you). On the other hand there are other ways to re-vamp things of course. Loved reading this, and that coat is absolutely stunning!

  3. I only started sewing in May of this year and have been pretty conscious of the fabric waste / left overs. I've started to keep all my scraps so that I can shred them and use them as stuffing. More recently I've been thinking about charity shops and finding fabric there instead of purchasing by the metre, particularly for toiles; I haven't made many clothes for myself because I don't want to make for makes sake and only make something for the likes. I really love this blog post and hope the community can come together and do more. Thank you for getting this out there ��

  4. Fantastic post! Some good suggestions in the comments too.

  5. Loving this post. I have recently blogged about this issue (though not as articulate as yourself!) I do believe you made a difference and if it inspires others too then that is amazing! (If I had the hand clapping emoji on my laptop I would use it!!)

  6. A good read. I am beginning to critically assess my me made wardrobe and am trying to make items that work not just as stand alone items but with other items in my wardrobe. I'm trying to make beautiful items that will fit into my day to day life that suit my (still evolving) style. I'm moving away from 'make all the dresses' to building a wordrobe of seperates that will coordinate well. Or at least that is the plan!

  7. Great post. A best under a dress is heart but sometimes a bit warm. You can make a "modesty bib" to fit with press studs across a low neckline. A while lot cooler than a vest sometimes plus you could ring the changes & make few different colours or with lace. Very pretty.