Some Thoughts About Textile Waste & Sewing Your Own

Well it’s been a while since I penned anything for the blog, these past few months have been a whirlwind of activity here at Plush Towers. I can assure you I’ve been as busy as a busy thing and I’ve just not had time to sit down to write anything, but I’ve not been resting on my laurels. There are lots of things going on that I’m not quite ready to share with you yet but I hope today’s post will show you I’ve been beavering away in the background and not slacking off, oh no sirree.

I’ve been devouring lots of dressmaking blogs of late, there are so many talented people whipping up their own clothes and I have been truly inspired. I learned to sew as a teenager and my first projects were clothes (thankfully photos of these early creations do not exist, the orange plaid trousers are a clear example of why we should be wary about recycling 80s trends, even Gok Wan would have been hard pushed to find encouraging and kind words). I inevitably ran in to fitting issues that I had no clue how to resolve (this was way before the Internet existed – yes I am *that* old) and making my own clothes soon got pushed to one side. Well praise be for the Internet and all the wonderful information now available at the click of a button! I’m super excited to share that I have been geeking out on pattern making and have whipped up two skirts and I made using my very own patterns, am I proud or what?! Alas I don’t have photos yet as the battery died on my camera on the day we were going to take them but I’ll post them soon in all their A-line glory.. It would appear pattern cutting is actually quite common sense and pretty straight forward as long as you keep the design simple (she says with a meagre two skirts under her belt *cough*)

I’ve always been very interested in fashion, actually that’s not quite true – I’ve always been very interested in shopping and clothes were an obvious outlet for that habit. I must admit to buying more than my fair share of garments from cheap shops like Primark, Matalan or supermarket chains which fulfilled my desire for lots new clothes without breaking the bank with the mid set of “oh it doesn’t really matter if I wear it once, it’s only a tenner”. How times change… With stories that charity shops are turning away clothes from the lower end stores alarm bells started ringing for me, how can we be producing so much textile waste than clothes are being shunned by charities as they were drowning in unwanted, and mostly unsaleable clothing? It seems inconceivable, and that’s before thinking too hard about how on earth garments can be produced and sold at such a low cost. Almost a million tonnes of textile waste is sent to landfill in the UK a year, that’s a lot of fabric! And China produce almost 20 times that figure – gulp. Fashion has become throwaway.

So what makes our clothes valuable to us? Or so lacking in value that we just throw them away without a second thought? The obvious one is cost – how much we’ve paid for an item. I’d imagine a cracking dress from Jigsaw probably wouldn’t find its way to landfill in a hurry. Another reason clothes might be more valuable to us is that if we (or others) have expended time and effort to create items ourselves. I love to make Baby Plush clothes, there’s nothing that compares to the feeling I get when I see her running around in something I’ve made for her, it’s like she’s wrapped up in an envelope of my love or something.  The clothes that I make, or that are handmade by others are the items that I’m keeping in a special memory box, or they will get re-fashioned in to something else – I certainly don’t throw them out the same way I have a lot of her cheap shop bought stuff (this may lead to some scary levels hoarding but I’ll deal with that when I have to, right now the loft has lots of space!) And don’t get me started on the cloth nappies I’ve made, I can’t bear to part with them right now, I’m still mourning the loss of pretties since Baby Plush has potty trained. My point is I will think carefully about how I dispose of these textile items that I no longer need and I’m pretty sure I won’t just chuck them out, they mean a lot to me and hold memories of both making them and wearing them. They are valuable to me. These creations will be carefully recycled, up-cycled or gifted in a thoughtful manner and they definitely won’t end up in the bin.

Birthday dress
Baby Plush’s first birthday dress won’t be ending up in landfill any time soon, that’s for sure!
Made by me cape, I don't think I'll ever throw this away!
Made by me cape, I don’t think I’ll ever throw this away!

Of course textile waste isn’t the only reason I want to make more of mine and my family’s clothes but it is a big factor for me. I can’t wait to get better at altering and fitting patterns for the sense of achievement, the individuality and the feeling of pride I get when I see my daughter frolicking around in something mum-made which I’ve yet to beat.

So what are the reasons you sew your own? I’d love to hear.



7 thoughts on “Some Thoughts About Textile Waste & Sewing Your Own”

  1. This is great: I too felt terrible about my fast fashion consumption, and have made a pact with myself to not buy any more clothes for a year, and to make everything. I love it, and much prefer all the clothes I make myself. I also plan to take up quilting to use up the scraps. I don’t really feel I will want to buy clothes ever again!

  2. I’m really keen to make some clothes for myself but am struggling to find plus size patterns that I like. I’m not confident yet to alter patterns so I’m struggling. I’m about to attempt a no-pattern skirt I’ve found on Tilly and the Buttons website so we’ll see how that goes! However I do agree that we waste far too much clothing as we get it for a pittance at the likes of Primark & Matalan. I’m hoping that by making my own I will value it more and perhaps feel more satisfied with what I’ve got rather than constantly wanting to replace things.

    1. I’m plus size too Johanne. Check out for some inspiration and a morale boost. Starting with something simple will give you a huge lift and it’s very achievable 🙂

  3. I want to make some clothes of my own but am struggling to find plus size patterns that I like. I think I’m going to try a no-pattern skirt that I’ve found on Tilly and the Buttons website so we’ll see how that goes! I do agree that we have a far too casual attitude to clothing, due I believe to being able to buy them so cheaply at the likes of Primark and Matalan. I hope by making my own I will value them more and feel content with what I have rather than always wanting to replace them with more cheap, badly made clothes.

  4. I am building myself up to making my own clothes. The 2 main reasons are that I HATE shopping and that I’m 5 foot 10, so most shops don’t sell clothes long enough for me. If they do they only come in black, white and grey.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: