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5 reasons to start sewing

  • Written byCarys Thomas
  • Published date06 April 2022

According to a survey by the British Heart Foundation, nearly 6 in 10 people (59% of UK residents) are not able to sew confidently or don’t know how to sew at all.

With the need to take action against climate change now increasingly apparent, now is the perfect time to think about how you can make a difference. Why not start by learning how to sew? Upcycling or restoring your old clothes can be a great way to refresh your wardrobe and give your favourite pieces a new lease of life.

You may be surprised to see just how useful sewing skills can be in everyday life. As well as helping to reduce textile waste, repairing or restoring your old clothing could help you unwind and de-stress after a long day. Learning to sew will also allow you to create your own unique designs that reflect your style and personality.

We’ve compiled this guide to explore 5 reasons why you should start sewing today. We’ll discuss why sewing can be a mindful activity and look at the importance of adopting a more sustainable approach to our clothing choices.

Learn to sew so you can make, do and mend. Buy a dress from a charity shop, keep that pair of jeans until they wear out - avoid fast fashion - and if you do buy fast fashion keep it for more than one season - share it!

— Schelay McCarter, Associate Lecturer and UAL Short Course Tutor

1# It's good for the environment

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has calculated that the fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year, using an estimated 1.5 trillion litres of water annually. The environmental impact of fast fashion shouldn’t be underestimated. Clothing, footwear and household textiles contribute to water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and landfill. The synthetic materials used in the production of “fast fashion” clothing items also cause plastic microfibers to enter our oceans. This type of plastic is incredibly slow to degrade in the ocean, and when it finally does break down, it produces a toxic substance that can harm the marine ecosystem.

Learning to sew is a great way to do your bit for the environment by repurposing your old clothing with a few simple tricks and techniques. Developing sustainable habits and making responsible fashion choices will also help you save money and reduce the amount of unworn clothing you have in the back of your wardrobe.

2# Recycling matters

Research has shown that clothing sales have doubled from 100 to 200 billion units a year, while the average number of times an item was worn decreased by around 36%. Many of us also have a large quantity of clothing that has never been worn. The results from this survey suggest that the British population has around £10bn’s worth of unworn clothes in their wardrobes.

To reduce the impact on the environment and minimise textile waste, it’s important to work towards a circular economy that involves sharing, reusing, repairing and recycling existing materials and products as much as possible. Sewing is a useful skill that can help to counteract the disposable fast fashion culture. Once you know how, it’s easy to give your old clothing a new lease of life with a few adjustments.

3# Sewing can boost mental health and wellbeing

Sewing can be very therapeutic. It can help to calm the mind and offers the perfect respite from an increasingly digital world where there is always something demanding our attention. Sewing is a mindful activity that requires a level of concentration and focus, making it a good task to immerse yourself in after a stressful day. By following methodical step-by-step instructions, you should find your stress levels reduce as you’re forced to focus your attention on the task at hand rather than ruminating on your worries. You can work towards your goals at your own pace and return to your projects at any point.

Seeing your designs come to life can also be a great confidence boost. There’s something very satisfying about finishing something you’ve made yourself and that sense of accomplishment is essential for self-esteem. Taking on different projects and sharing your progress with others will enable you to develop your skills and learn from your mistakes. You may also get to meet other like-mind crafters in the sewing community along the way to share your passion with.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the relationship between the arts and wellbeing, take a look at our guide on how art and creativity can improve health and wellbeing.

4# You'll have full control over the design process

One of the best things about learning to sew is that it allows you to take control of your style. You can create clothing that fits your size, shape and style perfectly by handpicking all the key components of the design, from the type and feel of the fabric to the number of pockets or buttons.

Sourcing your own fabrics is an enjoyable process that can inform your style by allowing you to explore the many different options that are available. It's easy to experiment with different fabrics to see what works best for your needs, and you can often source inexpensive material to practice on from charity shops and local markets.

5# Your designs will be unique

Sewing your own garments or upcycling your old pieces is a great way to refresh your look and highlight your unique style and personality. Your designs can be whatever you want them to be, and you won’t see anyone else wearing them. Forget about the rules and make something that works for you.

If you’re looking to start making your own garments, our fashion making and pattern cutting short courses offer a practical introduction to the techniques you’ll need to learn to create and produce your own designs.

Inspired to try sewing for yourself? Take a look at our upcoming short courses to find out how they can help you advance your confidence and skills.

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