Sewing for sustainability

I’m a big fan of the three R’s. Not that old-fashioned saying about basic education (Reading, writing and arithmetic), because that was always a slightly confused alliteration. Rather, the environmental ethos of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Consume less and create less waste! Putting this into practice, I try not to throw out old clothes before at least considering repairs/alterations.

These are the jeans I’m wearing right now:

In fact, I wore them constantly last year, which helps explain how threadbare they are getting. I’d wear them on my walks up the local (small) mountain, in the garden and just about anywhere else. They currently sport three patches and need a few more for modesty reasons. The knees also have huge, gaping holes in them, but it’s summer here so that’s quite comfortable. And that’s why I continue to wear them, more than any other reason because they are super comfortable! Also, I love the sustainability aspect, and the hand sewing of the patches is quite relaxing for me. It’s not very time-efficient though, so I’ve borrowed a sewing machine from a friend.

It’s been years and years since I used a sewing machine, so I chose an easy alteration first. The pink-red shirt I play soccer in was something I purchased because I needed a red shirt and it was on sale. It was always a little small though, and with my broad shoulders it got stinky under the arms pretty quickly.

To fix this all it took was cutting the sleeves off, pinning a little seam allowance and keeping a straight line with the machine. Voila! a tank top, that actually looks like it was always a tank top. I was tempted to stop at the intermediate stage, after cutting, because I don’t think this new fabric really frays. But I hadn’t been neat with the cutting job, and it was great practice. Hopefully this spurs me on to try something more advanced, so that I can produce some clothes that are acceptable for the workplace etc.



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