Tips for sewing a sustainable wardrobe

With concerns regarding climate change affecting the fashion industry it has become more important to focus on sustainability to ensure the most effective purchasing practices. COVID-19 increased discussion of slow fashion with the lockdowns around the world igniting crafters and newcomers alike to dust off their sewing machines and delve into the world of slow fashion. Sewing helps the slow clothing movement. Any sewer can tell you when they have spent hours sewing a garment, it is much more likely to be worn and loved for years to come, as opposed to fast fashion clothing items which are generally worn for a season and then discarded for various reasons. Sustainable sewing means choosing the right fabrics and acquiring only what you need and creating something durable.

sustainable sewing


Millennial Me-Made

The slow-motion does not stop now. Millennials are putting in the effort of developing a sustainable “memade” wardrobe—the real expression of the slow fashion movement starting at a household level. Actually, it is wrong of me to say Millennials, as the home sewing industry is filled with crafters of all ages. However, with COVID-19 hitting the world out of the blue, it saw many people of a younger generation thrown into a 'simpler life' and the need for a hobby to pass time which had not been experienced previously. With more time at home, there is only so much Netflix and chill one person can do! Perhaps a fantastic opportunity for the older sewing community to pass on sewing skills that had been laid to rest.

sewing for slow fashion

The rise of slow fashion

Accordingly, sustainability-minded Millennials and Gen-Zs have begun using slower fashions in response to these trends. How do Slow Fashion differ from Normal Clothing? This approach rejects fast fashions for the first time. This involves assessing the processes required to produce garments and searching for an alternative. There is no better alternative to fast fashion than sewing your own clothes. With sewing patterns readily available at the click of a button from around the world, it has never been easier to be inspired to sew. Sewing your own clothing is really a work of art!

sewing for slow fashion

Kintsugi and slow fashion movement

A little off topic, but a few years ago I read an article about Kintsugi. If you do not know what this is, it literally translates to "golden joinery" and is a Japanese art form of mending broken pottery with powdered gold. When an item is damaged or broken, the cracks are filled with gold and the pottery piece is repaired. The Japanese believe that the artform of Kintsugi makes it more beautiful. When I read this I just thought "wow!". Wouldn't it be fantastic if we all adopted this mentality. As makers, we also have the skills to be menders. What a fantastic way to view that patched knee on a pair of pants.

kintsugi and low fashion movement

What can we do?

As makers there are many ways we can sew with slow fashion in mind.

  • Consider using natural fibers for your next sewing project, such as hemp, linen, cotton and bamboo as they are biodegradable.
  • When possible use fabric scraps and secondhand sources for fabric. Local op shops are a great option to find materials that can be upcycled.
    sewing and the slow fashion movement
  • Use plain (solid) colour fabrics. Although "pattern" fabrics are lovely, they have a tendency to cater to the latest clothing trends.
  • Mend clothing instead of discarding it.
    mending clothing slow fashion
  • When sewing for children, consider choosing patterns that are "grow with me" so the garment will last longer and not be outgrown so quickly.
    Sewing for kids

Interested in creating a capsule wardrobe for all seasons? Check out our blog post 7 Steps to Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

Melanie Coultas


I couldn’t agree more. I have girlfriends now asking where did you buy that? Often. I’ve recently learnt about the Japanese ethos of repairing fine china with gold, how lovely. I also love slow stitch as a way of mending and refurbishing clothing and pieces of fabric.
I’m grateful for my Mothers example sewing our clothes as we grew up, and teaching me how to love sewing, 90% of my wardrobe is Me Made, my own daughters have developed their own ways to be creative too.

— Lorraine Groombridge

Great post Mel thanks for that. Totally believe in reducing waste associated with fashion and the throw-away attitude that often goes with cheaper mass produced items. Locally milled and made – a huge step forward. Just need to learn how to sew now.

— Molly

Great ideas

— Gail Rands

Have just come back from op shop with a mens cotton check shirt, going to fashion it into an art smock.

— Rosalie Message

Great post. Precisely why I want to start teaching sewing classes 😊

— Alana

Thank you for this post. I often think about these issues and try to reduce fabric waste where I can. Can you recommend any grow with me patterns for kids? What is the pattern in the picture?

— Rimi