The Mindful Materialist
I Made A Top
New year, new project. After starting a quilt during lockdown last year, I had some leftover gingham linen fabric at my disposal from The Fabric Store. So naturally, I decided to try my hand at making clothes. I’ll just say from the outset here that I don’t have a pattern for you to use, sorry—this project was completely improvised and experimental and I made it up as I went along.
I think I worried Mum a bit with my ad-hoc attitude and lack of instructions, but once I’d cut into the fabric there was no turning back. I used a top from my wardrobe as a size guide and looked at some images on Instagram for inspiration. I ended up modelling my top on these image from @thesewloist and adjusted it as I went.
Image credits: @thesewloist
I recently inherited my Nan’s sewing machine, so with some advice from Mum on how to use it, I started (slowly) stitching my pieces together. I used the grid pattern on the fabric as a guide, and hand-stitched the smaller, more fiddly sections.
It was definitely a learning experience, but I’d recommend making your own clothes to anyone. It gave me a far greater appreciation for designers, pattern makers and garment workers. This project wasn’t easy, so I take my hat off to people who make and design clothes every day.
This project has also reinforced my passion for supporting ethical businesses who support their supply chain workers and pay a living wage. The top took me about eight hours to make, with quite a bit of trial and error. Admittedly, the top would have taken a professional sewer a fraction of the time it took me, but nonetheless, it has reaffirmed the respect I have for garment workers and their skills. It also reinforces the importance of paying a living wage. This top took me the equivalent of one working day to make, but I’d be willing to bet that a fast fashion brand would sell something similar for less than my hourly rate. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the garment worker would be receiving a pittance for their work in this scenario.
If you want to support garment workers and shop ethically, I’d recommend undertaking your own sewing project to gain some perspective and understanding. It has certainly reminded me of the value of clothes as well as the process of making them.
Some inspiring accounts to check out for your next project: