Clothing has become so available and affordable in the past decade that most people no longer sew. Yet there are intangible rewards from making your own wearables, including a sense of achievement from reusing natural resources.
Sally Harris wears a wool poncho she made from a knee rug for The Slow Clothing Project.
Canberra-based Sally Harris credits The Slow Clothing Project with giving her an incentive to sew again. “With such emphasis on new clothes these days, it is lovely to take part in the Slow Clothing Project and enlighten people to the good old ways.” Continue reading
Maths teacher Xin Wang says the more she sews her own clothes, the more she realises how much effort goes into making one simple garment. She cherishes garments more, whether they are made by her or other people, because of the effort and time put into them.
Gorgeous Flora Hanisch wears a dress handmade by her mum Xin for The Slow Clothing Project
“I love making my own clothes because I enjoy making things with my hands. I like clothes that are different – the worst thing to me in terms of clothes is wearing the same clothes as somebody else and that applies to my two kids’ clothes as well. Finally, it’s cheaper to make my own to achieve the uniqueness rather than buying designer clothes,” Xin said.
Fast buying of fast fashion equates to a lack of thought, says Barbara Sherlock who believes many people buy for the moment, without really considering whether the style or the colour or the fit of a garment really suits them. That means these clothes are likely to be thrown away after a short wearing time not just because they aren’t the latest trend, but because the wearer knows deep within themselves that the clothing doesn’t really help them look their best.
Barbara Sherlock upcycled a wool skirt into a sleeveless vest for The Slow Clothing Project.
“If people shopped slowly and more carefully, they would buy garments they could use for a longer time. This doesn’t mean we can’t add some garments for ‘flash’ but it does mean less waste in both eco terms and the consumer’s budget,” Barbara says. Continue reading
Cath Jarvis is a busy sonographer and mother of three who with partner Kevin runs a sheep property at Tottenham in central New South Wales. When growing up in the country a few decades ago, Cath’s Mum encouraged her and two sisters to step away from learning ‘domestic’ tasks and get more into professional and untraditional work. This meant Cath only learned to sew later in life when she realised these skills were useful for sustainable living.
Cath Jarvis wears the pinny she created for The Slow Clothing Project from discarded jeans and work shorts
“We all rode motorbikes and horses, and generally mucked around on the farm, we might have been a bit wild. Then when we went off to high school we were sent to an agricultural high school and these subjects weren’t offered. I didn’t ever think it was a great loss until my late 30s when I realised being able to sew could be very handy.
Genevieve Manhal made a resolution to buy nothing new this year (except a few items of underwear when necessary) and she’s noticing even more the media stream of fast fashion that is in her face all the time, on television, in magazines and on social media. “No wonder there are so many people struggling with body image issues and the notion of not ‘fitting in’ when this consumerist image is constantly being shown and targeted at every age group,” said Genevieve who lives in the Bass Coast area of south Gippsland in Victoria.
Genevieve Manhal from south Gippsland in Victoria made this versatile pinafore/skirt for The Slow Clothing Project.
Growing up in a household that valued being sustainable and repurposing items, building your own from scratch and thinking environmentally, the idea of fast fashion has always been an issue of concern for Genevieve. “Also studying design at TAFE it was always in your face, what was in ‘trend’, what you needed to look ‘cool’ and I have always felt, even after being out of secondary school for 10 years, that a big factor with peer pressure and fitting in is by wearing ‘correct’ fashion.
Handmade skills give Frances Leske enormous self-confidence, self-satisfaction and pleasure. These skills greatly enhance her wellbeing, even though they may originate from a background of survival and living within your means.
Frances Leske used fabric gifted from her mother to create wide-leg pants and a top for The Slow Clothing Project.
“Making my own clothing brings me joy – the wonderful feeling of achievement and the positive comments made by people in the street. I love to sew and create garments for myself which are unique, handmade with care and attention. It brings me such joy,” she said.
Melbourne-based Tamara Russell knows firsthand that handmade is so much more satisfying than a quick purchase. For many years, she has been remaking, revamping and reworking her own clothing from other people’s hand-me-downs or op shop finds.
Tamara Russell made a signature wool cardigan from rescued materials for The Slow Clothing Project.
She believes the slow, meditative process of sewing, knitting, crochet and stitching is great for body and soul, slowing one down to enjoy life around them and to be proud of their own creations rather than a quick purchase to follow ‘fashion’ and then disposing of items as they go ‘out of fashion’.
Dr Jenny Ostini enjoys being in serious work environments wearing op shop clothing or jewellery that she made. It’s her little statement about consumption and success being what you make of it.
Jenny Ostini wears handmade jackets created for The Slow Clothing Project, worn with op shop-found black dress
“I live a really busy life and sewing gives me the chance to slow down and create. I like practical creation – cooking, sewing and crochet – making things that we use.”
Leeyong Soo knows the palpable satisfaction of making and remaking her own clothes because she’s been doing it for years. Although confessing to consumerist tendencies, Leeyong loves opshops and trawling through markets because she is attracted to things that are not mass-produced plastic, or cheap polyester garments that will look hideous after a few wears.
Leeyong Soo wears one of the five garments she created from one caftan for The Slow Clothing Project.
“Having shopped second-hand for so many years now, I can’t believe how easily people hand over huge amounts of money for clothing that was likely made in sweatshops and that they will possibly only wear a few times before it’s out of fashion,” Leeyong said.
Emma Williamson’s story embodies the values, spirit and actions of The Slow Clothing Project. When she moved to the remote Pilbara region in Western Australia last year, Emma discovered fresh purpose through handmade. She found a local need of women wanting to learn to sew and set up Sturt Pea Conscious Clothing business to bring inspired clothing into the world and return benefits to people and the planet.
Emma Williamson wears the dress she made from a sheet for The Slow Clothing Project. Photos by Helen Osler.
“I teach a sewing class, and contribute my skills in dressmaking at a weekly mother’s group. I love helping people to gain an appreciation and aptitude for garment making. I’ve seen it can be very empowering, particularly for those coming from a low socio-economic group,” Emma said.