Why do you sew your own clothes? What made you decide to skip the dressing room and learn all of the skills you need to cut out a piece of fabric and turn it into a garment you love to wear?
We often ask the Seamwork Community this question, and the answers are as varied as you can imagine. But there are common threads among all of your responses.
Episode 110 of the Seamwork Radio podcast is a special mailbag episode, and Sarai and Haley read some of your answers. After hearing from you, they found 5 common reasons people turn to sewing. Do you recognize yourself in any of these reasons?
1. Shopping for clothes is disappointing
If going shopping for clothes makes you feel anxious, unrepresented, frustrated, insecure, bored, or anything in between, you are not alone.
One of the biggest reasons Seamworkers have started sewing their own clothes is because ready-to-wear clothing is disappointing.
“I can’t find clothes that fit my body.”
“Shopping for clothes makes me insecure.”
“There are too many misses with RTW. I want clothes that are easy to wear, look good and match my life and preferences. I get exactly what I want when I sew my own clothes.” - Betty
“I feel like I can dress how I want to instead of how someone else (ie, RTW/fashion industry, or even just mainstream culture) thinks I should. I can remove myself as much or as little as I want to be because I have to power to craft my own story.” - Holly
“The reason I started to sew was because I had one of many bad experiences in a fitting room. I promised myself that I would learn to make clothes myself and that I would never return to a fitting room again (I haven’t in the eight years since then).” - Wilma
“I sew because I realized that I do not fit the standard body type for which RTW clothing is constructed and that therefore my clothes never fit properly. So every time I looked in the mirror, what looked back at me seemed wonky, unflattering, off. I now know that was mostly just down to bad fit. I sew because I can change that, and my clothes suddenly fit” - Stephanie
2. You can have a sustainable impact
For some people, sustainability pushed them into sewing. For others, their concerns about ethical clothing production and its environmental impacts grew as a result of sewing.
“My style has evolved somewhat since I started sewing, and now I sew more as a reaction against fast fashion, because I want to be able to use fabric that’s been ethically produced, and because by sewing my clothes myself, I know I’m not taking part in the exploitation of underpaid and badly treated workers.” - Juliette
“I am doing my small bit for the planet by not buying cheap RTW items that end up quickly in landfill.” - Shena
“When I make my own clothing, I’m more mindful about the RTW items that I DO buy. I find that I’m less likely to buy something that I end up never wearing. Unlike with fast fashion, I know exactly how the clothing was made and by whom. I’m the one putting the labor into it; not someone subject to human rights abuses to serve my vanity and insecurities.” - Jennifer
“I wanted a healthy connection to 'things.' So much of what I was buying wasn’t lasting, would lose shape after the first wash or was a result of clever marketing.” - Annie
3. Creative joy feels good
Behind almost every answer to the question, “why do you sew?” lies creative joy. It’s the joy in the act of creativity and an appreciation for all the hard skills that accompany it.
“There is such magic in making the exact garment you want. I find I’m way more likely to get lots of wear out of something that I made on purpose to be just right, than something RTW that is almost but not quite what i wanted.” - Nadia
“My closet didn’t bring me joy or inspire me—it was a little too reflective of the general rut I’d found myself in. I also wanted a hobby where I could make things by hand and have a physical object to enjoy.” - Kristin
“I find joy in the whole creative process, starting with being able to choose for myself the fabric and the style, right through to the technical aspects, most of which are satisfying and enjoyable. Mastering a technical challenge, such as improving the fit, brings a thrill of pride. Best of all is having garments like nobody else’s!” - Natalie
“Sewing is an incredible creative outlet and type of self-expression that’s for nobody but me.” - Laura
4. Clothing connects us all
Many of you experience a connection to other people when you sew, either because of who taught you or because of friendships you've formed through sewing.
“It’s a gift my mother taught me. A worthy pursuit of my time, effort, and creativity. A valued skill that brings me satisfaction to work with my hands and express myself. I stand in the space I sew and feel happiness.” - Lisa
“For me, sewing is a connection with the generations of women that came before me...My history is made up of women who “made do” and sewed with what they had. Recently, I started making my own clothes again. With every garment I make, with everything that I wear that feels authentically ME, that bond gets stronger.” - Marissa
“I sew because it’s a skill handed down to me and I love that. My family’s way was always “why buy something when you can make it yourself”. It’s so satisfying and takes your mind to a different place. I sew, cook and bake - tastes better.” - Sheila
5. You love beautiful things (and fabric)
While you might have deeper reasons for sewing your own clothing, sometimes it’s all about the fabric.
“I’m totally enchanted with beautiful textiles.” - Marta