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  • Gina Ferrari

To Sew... or not to Sew


I'm sitting here on a Wednesday evening waiting for the Sewing Bee to come on the telly. I don't watch much TV and my tastes are fairly simple... a good film or crime drama mostly but I do look forward to the Sewing Bee each week, with the very suave Patrick Grant, the acerbic and stylish Esme Young and the very silly Joe Lycett. For the those reading who are not in the UK, it's a reality TV sewing competition. Twelve contestants are tasked with three items to sew each week, one from a pattern unseen before, one a transformation from one old garment into something totally new (that no-one would ever wear), and finally, a made to measure garment that they have had time to practice... all of course within a set time limit. And each week one person gets eliminated until there are only three people left in the final. I know it doesn't exactly sound like edge of your seats stuff but I'm addicted.


And it always gets me wanting to do some dressmaking. I first learned dress making at school although it was certainly not for more than a couple of terms. I have vague memories of an apron and a blouse, from patterns and fabric that we were given, but no recollection of ever wearing said items. However I did learn how to make neat darts and set in sleeves and that knowledge has stayed with me... along with the art of unpicking. Everything else I have gleaned along the way. My dress making attempts have been sporadic over the years and usually prompted either by not being able to find the right things to wear or by a particularly beautiful fabric.


One of my new summer tops


More recently though I have started to think of it as a way of supporting sustainable fashion. With over 350,000 tonnes of clothing being thrown away each year, the fashion industry creates a real problem. And that's without even thinking about fabric production, the chemicals and water that are used, and the cheap labour that is employed. Of course constantly buying new fabric to make clothes does not help, but I already have lengths of fabric sitting in my stash, much of which has been there for years and so I have resolved to start using it to make my clothes rather than buying new. I started this week by making myself a couple of summer tops, plus I have darned several pairs of hand knitted socks as well as mending a shirt (bought from a charity shop) for one of my sons. It's not much but it's a start and every little helps so they say.


That ten year old T shirt!


Today, I discovered a T shirt that I had made over ten years ago when I was doing my degree. It was a sample for one of my modules and I don't think I ever really intended wearing it. But I put it on and thought why ever not. It is made from fabric that I printed and dyed myself and decorated with cut back applique and hand embroidery. I have decided to wear it with pride. My next project is to make a new shirt for myself from two of my husband's old work shirts that have been consigned to the charity shop bag. Watch this space, because I'm not entirely sure how it will work but I can see it clearly in my head!.


Of course this month has also seen the appearance of 'Me Made May" started by Zoe Edwards back in 2010. Me-Made-May is a challenge designed to encourage people who make their own clothes to pledge to wear one self-stitched or refashioned garment each day for the duration of May. They can then choose to post about it on their social media sites if they wish. I have never participated before but thought I would take part this year just to see how many hand made items I had in my wardrobe... more than I first thought it would seem. I don't intend to post something every day but I will probably do a summary on my Instagram stories once a week.


And who knows if I can dress myself in repurposed, mended and hand made clothing for the month of May, then there is no real reason to ever buy anything new.

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