What if sewing were more portable? What if you could bring your projects with you wherever you go?
When Alexis Bailey asked herself this question, she had an idea. She was on a trip to Europe and was a little homesick for her sewing project—wouldn’t it have been nice to sew during the downtime on her vacation? “I remember being in a room, and I'm just like, I just really want to be creative right now and have no access to it. I had not brought anything with me.”
About six months later, she launched a project to bring hand sewing into the lives of more makers worldwide. And in September of this year, Alexis will celebrate Fibr & Cloth’s second year in business. Her shop not only stocks all the supplies and kits you’ll need to hand sew but a growing collection of zero-waste patterns.
Alexis has an evident appreciation for textiles, slow crafts, and sustainability, “To me, sustainability is just how we take care of the planet, number one, but also how we take care of ourselves as individuals, healthwise, and the impacts that we're having on other people.”
In an interview for the Seamwork Radio podcast, Alexis shares some tips for practicing sustainable sewing on a budget.
Shop your closet first. “I definitely think there's a lot of hidden gems in our closet,” says Alexis. “I even started my hand sewing journey by reading books by Katrina Rodabaugh. She makes it so simple just to patch something up and also make it look pretty and add that hands-on personalized aesthetic to it. You never know if you just think outside the box...I think that's so important to view our clothing differently—the clothing that we already have—in a different perspective.”
Buy less. Alexis knows this might be a lot to ask amidst consumer culture, but your approach can be simple. “Remember that the idea behind sustainability is to benefit the earth and the humans on it physically and mentally. Buying less for more reduces waste of resources tremendously, and the very act alone can reduce stress and anxiety as it is less to worry about.”
Shop second-hand. If you go to second-hand shops, Alexis has three practices that will help you only buy things you really need. First, have specific items you're looking for in mind. Next, bring a measuring tape. And finally, look for name brands.
Practice building capsule wardrobes. Many of Alexis’s patterns can be sewn as either a blouse or a dress. So far, the styles mix and match as a considered capsule.
Think of quality versus quantity. Alexis takes a really do-able approach to minimalism. “Some people just make just to make. But I know, for me, I'm making to build a quality wardrobe that's going to last me a long time. It's not about how much stuff that's in it. It's about treasuring the stuff that I do have in my closet so that I can hand it down...It's not going to the landfill. It's not going to Goodwill, where we don't know where it's going to end up.”
Read more about these sustainable tips on Alexis’s blog here. If these tips inspire you to explore a new way to sew your wardrobe—completely by hand—then visit the Fibr & Cloth shop. You’ll find hand-sewing notions like needles and scissors, e-books to help you learn the basics of hand-sewing, and then dive into making elastic pants. You can also shop several zero waste designs to sew by hand, including dresses, blouses, and a turban.
Listen to episode 86 of Seamwork Radio for Sarai and Haley’s full interview with Alexis.