I had mixed feelings prepping and writing this post. I had the pleasure and pride of pulling out a stack of home sewn outfits, many more than last year. And then I had the reason lots of people are posting their handmade wardrobes online for Fashion Revolution day: the death of over a thousand people when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. Garment workers; mostly women, were the main casualties. Only one day before, cracks had been reported in the building walls but workers had gone back into the building to fulfil contract orders that were due. Its an unbearable loss of life, even worse in the name of cheap high street clothing.
|photo from Laura, Behind the Hedgerows|
For Fashion Revolution Day: Handmade, the question is "Who made my clothes?". I make most of mine and continuously aim to make more. Why? Primarily its not for ethical reasons- I just love dressmaking. I've made clothing since I was in my teens and the older and fussier I get about styles, itchiness, fibres, sustainability, (it's a long list) the more I want to make for myself. I am also aware that by making my own clothes it takes me out of the cycle of wandering round the shops, trying on outfits with that mix of disappointment and self-loathing that only a changing room mirror on a Saturday afternoon can bring; away from the buying of stuff, stuff that I do not need or even want- if you have to make it, you consider much more deeply what you really need.
I don't kid myself that it's a cheap option. Making your own clothes forces you to consider the true cost. The effort, the time, the thread and notions as well as the fabric. The mistakes too, the oddities that get sent to charity shops/given to friends/refashioned. I go through lots of thinking before I make clothes. If I've spent £40 on the fabric, I want to make something that works, that I will wear and will become part of my wardrobe.
And at the end of the process, I truly love my clothes in a sentimental, hard-to-let-go kind of a way. They have their ups and downs, like the time when I cut out a whole circle skirt dress back with the grain going the wrong way (shh, it's in this photo, it was Liberty and I think I got away with it)- but I love them all the same. My wardrobe is my dressmaking journey- there are zips that took over three attempts to insert as well as necklines that worked first time. There are many items I made for particular occasions- meet ups, weddings, sew-alongs- they tell my dressmaking narrative.
I am a firm believer in the idea that one person can make a difference, even on massive global issues like this. Not everyone can sew their own clothes and few of us can afford to pass up the cheapness of high street clothing but we can all think about our consumption and aim to reduce it a little. Clothing is perfect to reuse, refashion, recycle. We all need to take a little responsibility and take action, however small. Check out Fashion Revolution Day across social media with the hashtag #insideout