The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. From chemicals treatments and greenhouse gases emissions, to the amount of water consumption that it requires.
Now more than ever, we need to be very aware of the environmental issues. But even more important than being aware and acknowledge those issues, we need to make something to make the world a better place for future generations.
Some people can do more than other, of course, but every little thing we can do is better than to do nothing.
I had a phase where I was sewing mostly accessories, like bags, lunchbags and coin purses, but I was buying fabric specifically to do those things. You know, there are so many cute-looking prints that make those accessories look so good. But what I really love to sew is garments. So I ended up having a really big bag full of fabric scraps, remnants from cutting the pattern pieces that, let’s be honest here, will hardly be the right size and shape to ever be used in another garment.
I was saving those scraps to take them to an H&M and get a discount voucher, but that thought was not making me comfortable. What does H&M do with those fabric scraps? Do they really recicle them? I don’t know… I was feeling that, for me, it was one of those situations that “far from the eye, far from the heart”, but not really, because it was going to weight on me, that doubt.
Plus, there was the voucher problem. I know the amount of work that making clothes requires. I know that the fabrics can be expensive. At what and whose costs do they have their clothes so inexpensive? And they are giving me a voucher so the clothes can be even more cheap?
So I decided to make the little accessories from my scraps. I’m even thinking about sewing a few squares together, make bags with them, who knows. There’s so much that can be done so that those scraps are used instead of wasted somewhere.
And buying quality and sustainable fabrics is really expensive. So this way, I can maybe sell those accessories and help me continue my sustainable journey.
And this is how I feel and it’s the approach I think that works for me, it’s not in any way a criticism of people who shop at H&M! It’s simply my way of looking at things and how I can incorporate and act upon my concerns in a way that works for me.
That being said, I just wanted to add a few tips for making our sewing practice more sustainable:
- buy fabric for a specific project: WOOOOTTT? I know, we all love and can’t resist some fabrics! I knoooowww! But if we buy for specific projects there is less fabric waste for sure.
- wait until we have an amount of fabric that can be washed together and fill the machine: or wait until we’re doing a machine (dark or light color) and add the fabric accordingly.
- hang the fabric to dry: and the clothes. If we have space, that’s the best way for the clothes and for the environment. This is maybe a cultural thing, and climate of course, because in Portugal is not comum for people to have dryers at home. I do have one, and of course I use it when it’s really raining or I need something dry for yesterday (like my daughter’s school uniform), but I usually hang the clothes out.
- sometimes the fabric requirements in a pattern are bigger than what we actually end up needing. So if we place the paper pattern pieces on the floor and measure really the amount needed, we avoid having those 20cm of wasted fabric. Maybe we already have some fabric in mind, so you know the exact width of the fabric and can layout our pieces in an even more efficient way.
- I almost never leave space between pattern pieces. Maybe that’s why I end up with 20cm of extra fabric in the end…
Yarn and sustainable hugs ❤️