Confessions of a Reformed Sewaholic

Hi, I'm Molly. It’s been six weeks and 1 day since my last sewing project. I’m a sewaholic.

I made at least 130 apparel items for myself in 2018. I’ve gone on benders of one new clothing item a day for 10-12 days at a time. I’ve said “yes” to testing patterns that I didn’t need . I’ve said “yes” to testing fabric that I knew I’d never wear after I was done taking promotional pictures. I sewed things quickly and poorly just for the sake of finishing it. I’ve promoted fabrics and patterns I didn’t especially care for.

And what did it get me?

Burnt out. Drained. A closet full of clothes I’d never wear. And a feeling that I’d been wasteful: wasteful of my time, of my money, and of our earth’s resources (the environmental impact of textile production and waste is a HUGE problem).

And to add fuel to the fire, I read this book:

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Amazon affiliate link!)

Whether you buy clothes or make clothes I highly recommend this book. You don’t even have to be interested in clothes or fashion. But, if you wear any clothes at all, I think it’s important to think more about your consumption- where do your clothes come from and where do they go when you’re done with them? This book delves into how the fabrics are made, who’s sewing them (despite all of our technological advances, yes, there is still a person who is sewing your clothes), who’s designing them, how they’re manufactured and distributed, and what happens to your Goodwill donations.

LA fast fashion

I started reading the book back in October, right at the same time I traveled to Los Angeles. Downtown is flooded with stores like this, displaying fast trends at insanely low prices.

It was the perfect backdrop to everything Overdressed was talking about: how our cultural consumption of clothes has changed. Clothing has become a disposal good, quantity over quality. We’re willing to pay less and less, and have sacrificed quality clothing made in way that’s sustainable for our world.

If I’m going to be honest, I’ll tell you that it left me a little depressed about my closet. And the fabric in my sewing room. I realized that even though sewing my own clothes does a lot of good, there were still some major problems with my clothing habits.

in short, I was my own producer of fast fashion. I was substituting quantity for quality in my own work. I was spending my time and money to make things that I didn’t even plan on wearing more than one or two times. Just like the consumer who buys something they don’t need because it was “too good of a deal to pass up”, I was accepting strike-off fabric (free fabric from fabric stores in exchange for me sewing it up and supplying them with advertising), because it was “too good of a deal to pass up” (even if I didn’t like it, and it just meant more clothes in my closet that I wasn’t wearing).

Cue the guilt (I’m very prone to guilt, haha).

I gradually started to step away from the pattern and fabric groups I sewed for (even the ones I truly loved). My heart wasn’t in it any more, and it felt ridiculously wasteful to keep doing it (again, in terms of time, money, and planet Earth). But by stepping away from those groups, I also realized something else.

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By saying “yes” to so many pattern and fabric groups, I was essentially saying “no” to all of my own projects and ideas and creative goals. The time I wanted to learn new techniques or sew up patterns just for fun and not because I had to. I was rushing to do everything for them, and it was taking away from me being able to do anything for me.

Obviously, this wasn’t their fault. I’m the one that couldn’t stop saying “yes” to every sweater, brushed poly print, or dress pattern that offered itself to me. I’ve sewn for SO MANY talented, sweet, motivated women. And I loved supporting them and their dreams. But now it’s time to work on me and my own goals.

World domination.

Just kidding.

But I wouldn’t mind learning to hand pick stitch my zippers or use horsehair braid (no horses are harmed in the making of modern-day horsehair braid).

So, I took a break from sewing. It’s been six weeks and one day. The longest time I’ve gone without sewing anything since I started sewing obsessively three years ago. During the past six weeks (and one day), I’ve thought a lot about what I DO want to sew and I’ve made some changes to my closet and my mindset.

  • There are some vintage patterns calling my name upstairs.

  • I got Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing for Christmas, and I’m SO excited to learn some new vintage and couture sewing techniques, not to mention give some of her patterns a try (the tie blouse is top of my list!).

  • I stopped buy fabric from my regular shops and started searching our local thrift shops for fabric, so I can sew more sustainably.

  • I did another closet destash, and sold off some of my me-made goods that I don’t wear.

  • When I did “need” to buy a few items last month, I chose to do so from Pact Organic, for 100% certified organic cotton staples made in fair trade factories.

I’ve had a few sewing friends reach out and say that they missed seeing my sews, or that they hoped I got my “sewjo” back. But I’m super happy to be where I’m at, and I’m so excited about these changes. I know that stepping back from pattern testing and fabric samples was right for me. I’m looking forward to thinking more critically about the items I sew and enjoying more time sewing them.

I do 100% recommend Overdressed (and I hope I didn’t get too preachy about it!)— let me know if you’ve read it or if you end up picking it up! I’d love to hear what you think.

xoxo,

Molly

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