Sewing and mending your own clothes, until recently a lost art, is making a comeback in a big way in 2020. The new norm of social distancing seems to have everyone in the DIY spirit (or just bored to tears), with some even making and selling stylish face masks to meet local demand. We recommend taking things a step further, but to do so we first need to take a step back.

“Before the boom of ready-to-wear fashion, every piece of clothing someone owned was made for the individual, either themselves or by someone they knew,” says Refinery29 style writer Georgia Murray.

With the rise of fast fashion over the last three decades, the way we shop and even the way we view our clothing has changed. As you might expect, there are definite trade-offs in the clothing production process when speed and cost are emphasized over all else: overall quality suffers as a result of the use of cheap materials, shortening the lifespan of each garment and increasing its likelihood of ending up in a landfill. The human cost— cheap labor in dangerous and humiliating working conditions— is even greater.

“When you have a better understanding of how the things you own are made, you have so much more respect for them,” says Lydia Higginson, designer and blogger at Made My Wardrobe. “Even if you only make one pair of jeans, the next time you go to buy a pair you’ll think so much harder about the work and care that went into that product.”

DIY repairs

The argument for upcycling really makes itself: There simply isn’t a more sustainable way to get the most out of your wardrobe than by maintaining it yourself— if, of course, you’ve got a reasonable starting point. Bloggers at 1millionwomen.com recommend asking yourself a few questions before jumping into a repair project:

Do I love it or will someone else love it?

How much time, money, and resources will it take to mend it?

Is the fabric of high quality?

Is the rest of the garment in good condition?

Could it be repurposed into something else of similar or higher value?

Learning some basic repair techniques, like working with hems, holes, and torn fabric, can be a great introduction to the art of sewing as a whole. When you’re ready for the big leagues, you can begin to seek out basic patterns and unique materials to make something one-of-a-kind.

DIY wardrobe

“For those who have never made anything before but want to get started, I’d begin with borrowing a sewing machine, buying a pattern and some cheap fabric and getting stuck in,” Higginson says.

Sewing your own clothing will not only guarantee that your looks are unique, it can also help improve your mood and confidence level. Sewing and other creative endeavors actually work to promote increases in dopamine in the brain, which can make you feel happier.

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Best places to find sewing patterns online

Simplicity - simplicity.com Burda - burdastyle.com Kwiksew - kwiksew.mccall.com Butterick - butterick.mccall.com Vogue - voguepatterns.mccall.com