The pros and cons of sewing your own wardrobe

Sewing Supplies

While sewing clothes by hand may seem like a thing of the past, it has seen a recently re-emergence among youth. With textiles courses a requirement in most high schools, students are getting early exposure to making their own garments. Learning how to make patterns, attach buttons and operate a sewing machine from as early as Grade 8, creates a solid base for future learning, and in many cases, leads to an ongoing interest in fashion.

Angela Wong, a fashion design graduate, first became interested in the field through a mandatory high school sewing class.

“By sewing my own clothing, I get to choose exactly which styles I want, and I can choose the colours and fabrics that work best,” Wong said. “Plus, I come up with my own looks instead of relying on what the major chain stores tell me is ‘cool.’ I also love that I have the option of being able to buy organic fabrics, and other materials that are more environmentally friendly and less harsh on the Earth.”

Andrea Jones, a recreational seamstress, has a different view on making clothes from scratch. Although she admits that it’s satisfying when the final outcome is a one-of-a-kind item, “the downside is that it’s super time-consuming, and if you aren’t great at sewing, then it will probably just end up being a waste of fabric. Fabric is pretty expensive too, so sewing your own clothes really isn’t that much cheaper than just buying them at Forever 21.”

With Forever 21 shirts starting at $3, and fabric on average costing between $5 and $8 a metre, buying an already-made shirt seems like the obvious option. However, Wong offers a solution to this problem: thrift stores.

“Instead of buying fabric from the store, you can usually find tons at any Value Village. I sometimes even buy old bed sheets, since they tend to be cheaper and have enough fabric to make at least a dress. By buying used, it helps not only me, but also the environment, which is really important to me,” she said.

Wong also said that sewing her own clothes has cut down on impulse buying, since she has to think about each thing she’s making. For her, fewer impulse buys means less clothing that will end up in the landfill when she grows tired of it. By using organic fabrics, second-hand materials and assembling the garments herself, she has peace of mind knowing that she’s doing her part to reduce her impact on the Earth.

However, Wong says that saving the planet is just part of the reason she spends hours working on her wardrobe.

“When I make my own clothes, I know exactly where they’re coming from, too,” she said. “A lot of the things you buy in stores are made in Bangladesh and China, usually in sweatshops. By making my own clothes, I rest assured that I’m not contributing to that.”


Journalism student at KPU.

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