Like many mothers of the millennial generation, my mom sewed. Every Wednesday evening was spent between fabrics and threads in her weekly sewing classes, her trust in my abilities only lending to me laying out the sewing patterns so that she could carefully cut the fabric.
Saturday morning, you could always find her in a fixated state behind her sewing machine, finishing a blazer for work or making cushions out of the fabric pictures we painted the previous weekend.
As an 8-year-old my mother’s ability to sow seemed to me like something she had always had and therefore also something I would naturally acquire at some point in life.
You can imagine my surprise when this day never came and as a 20 something-year-old, I couldn’t even fix the missing button on my favourite blouse, let alone the ability to sew a seam in my work chinos. Naturally, I turned to a few friends for help and to my surprise I came to the shocking realization that I live in a buttonless shirt generation, a whole set of skills lost on my generation!
So, I did what every millennial would, I turned to the internet of things. What I found was that while sewing was a necessity for baby boomers to save on clothing expenditures. My generation, on the other hand, lives and dresses in what I have learned is “fast fashion”. Described by Talor Babington as “Inexpensive clothing produced by mass-market retailers”.
How is sewing making a comeback today?
1. Sewing for an income
- Tinyiko Sewing project: is a skills development project that teaches local residents of Grootvlei sewing skills in order for them to generate an income for themselves and their families. This project saw the high levels of poverty in the area due to HIV in the community and decided to intervene.
- Small Businesses: 800 million people in 70 different countries around the world sell products from Facebook Marketplace every month. Here you can find an array of small business owners who make sewn products for an income. Everything from easy products like hats, baby slippers and ties to custom dresses and curtains.
- Fashion designers: if you have ever watched Project Runway or Next In Fashion you will know exactly how these amazing designers are using their creative and sewing abilities to create stunning collections. A few top upcoming designers for 2020;
- Minju Kim: winner of Next In Fashion, who before going on the show, won the H&M fashion award and created H& M’s autumn collection.
- Henry Bae and Shaobo Han: addressing gender roles in fashion with their high heel collection for men.
- Otsile Sefolo: a South African based designer using cultural heritage as the inspiration for his lines.
2. Sewing bloggers
Either for monetary gain or just because of their pure love for all things sewing. Here are 4 sewing bloggers who turned their hobby into an online business;
- Jeanette Hightower started making clothes for her children after struggling to find any quality affordable clothing for her kids. Today she still makes all of their clothes primarily due to a personal conviction she described to Bhamnow, “the clothing industry is essentially modern-day slavery all at the cost of fast fashion”.
- Lydia Higginson’s makes absolutely everything that she wears. In 2016 Lydie decided to move away from mainstream fast fashion. In her own words, “home-sewing is so responsive, and obviously it’s more [environmentally-friendly]”.
- Vanessa the Crafty Gemini started her online shop and sewing classes in order to home school her children and have more freedom with her time.
- Raylene Harvey a Capetonian from right here in SA is a lifestyle blogger who loves sharing her creative journey which includes sewing that she learned due to her love for fashion.
3. Sewing as a hobby:
From making scarfs to embroidering, many people turn to different types of sewing as a creative outlet, relieve stress and make small items for friends and family. Here are 5 types of sewing hobbies that are keeping sewing relevant;
- Embroidery and cross-stitching.
4. Sewing for personal reasons:
- The right size of clothing: Some people simply sew because they struggle to find clothing that fits them ‘well’. Whether you are too short, round at places manikins are not or have a barbie sized waist, the ability to be able to tailor your own clothing is both beneficial and flattering.
- A chemical reaction to store-bought clothes: while doing research around this topic I found quite a unique answer from Jen Geller who wrote, “ I can’t go to clothing stores, because the chemicals they use on new clothes make me have nasty allergic reactions. Just 15 minutes in a department store will see my entire self swell up by 2 sizes. So trying on clothes? Not an option.” Today
Whether you want to become the next big thing in fashion, looking for a great relaxing hobby or want to contribute to an eco-friendly environment (more on this in another blog), one thing is for sure, sewing is definitely not bowing out any time soon.
Where can I sign up for sewing courses?
SoSo IntoIt Academy of Clothing Design is a training provider of non-formal, practical, short, hobbyist, skills and own business courses.