Many of us come to sewing and making to escape the wasteful, unsustainable cycle of fast fashion. Not only does fast fashion make us feel bad about ourselves and our bodies in order to sell us more clothes, but it also has a deeply destructive carbon footprint. Breaking free from that by slowing things down and making them with our own hands is a small step we can take.
Me Made May is a great opportunity to reflect and recenter our sewing practice, to become more intentional about what we wear and what we plan to make in the future. To continue to make our personal sewing practices align with our values, both environmentally, as well as personally.
What does it mean, on a personal level, to go beyond a sustainable sewing practive and move towards a regenerative one?
This might look different for each of us. Personally sustainable could mean having a functional sewing space (Meredith has a cutting table for the first time, and it has made sewing a hobby she can sustain more easily, now that her back doesn’t hurt every time she need to cut something out), only using fabric already in your stash, spreading projects over several days to conserve physical energy and increase intentionality, etc.
Regenerative, on the other hand, could be doing something that truly lights you up, calms you, or makes you feel better. This Me Made May we are asking how you can take your sewing from a personally sustainable practice, to a regenerative one. What would it feel like to have a sewing practice that truly renews you? What kind of making would fill you up? (And would a personally regenerative practice actually end up being better for the Earth? My guess is that the two are often connected.)
I’ve had a tenuous relationship with the word “sustainable” for a long time. To sustain technically means to keep doing the status quo, so things don’t get worse … or better. This concept makes me feel, well … tired and uninspired. Yep, I can keep on keeping on, making like I always have, or I could change something for the better.
Honestly, I think I’ve grown weary of the trendiness of the word.
I wonder if, in the name of sustainability, many of us (myself included) can get swept away by the prospect of revamping our wardrobes with quick thrifted or sewn projects. It’s a fast pace, a desire for a quick “style win,” even if it can be labeled “sustainable,” depending on the fabrics we choose, whether secondhand or ethically sourced natural fibers.
But I’ve found that projects made in haste, without the proper thought, intention, preparation, fitting, etc., are the ones that I end up wearing the least. It’s the ones that I’ve really took my time with that best reflect my style and values, and that I end up wearing the most often. (Like my handsewn black linen Hinterland Dress hack, shown above.)
Also, as my children grow and I sense my time with them under my roof ticking away – any sort of rush in my making practice is no longer sustainable, because it just makes me a darn grumpy mom. I want to feel rejuvenated by my sewing practice. I don’t want to just settle for an OK creative practice – I want to thrive. I want to feel refreshed after handling needle and thread, ready to parent, ready to connect, ready to take on any challenge with my self-care cup filled to the brim.
So I am slowing it waaaay down, in order to tap into the meditative side of making. I’m doing the previously unimaginable (to myself!): hand-sewing an entire dress.
Our personal goals
This Me Made May, I want to continue to wear those old pieces that I’ve loved for years and years, but I have a personal challenge: to only hand-sew this month. I have a Hinterland camp collar dress hack in mind, but I don’t want to say I’ll complete it by the end of the month, because I likely won’t. I just want to relax and feel the fiber running through my fingers. Meditation with thread and cloth is what I’m going for.
I am very curious how this rejuvenating – not just sustainable – personal practice can also translate into a more rejuvenating production for the Earth, as well. I will be using linen fabric and thread, so at the end of its (hopefully long life) as first garment, then quilt, then rags … this dress will be compostable, returning to the soil to nourish new life.
I’m excited to see what #RegenerativeSewing means to you, and how you experiment with bringing your creative practice closer to your values this Me Made May!
I am already worried this goal is too ambitious, but this Me Made May, I want to focus on a hand quilting project, which has become something of a chore I feel like I’ll never finish. I want to take the pressure off of this project, by embracing its slow nature, and working on it just a little bit each day. I am hopeful I can get halfway through the quilt by the end of the month, but more than reaching a certain point on it, I just want to appreciate what my hands can do with a needle and thread. As far as my wardrobe, I am going to pick 15 items to style throughout the month, focusing on things that I wear less, so I can figure out how to integrate them into my wardrobe in a joyful way.
15 minutes a day of making, just for myself. I’ll have a mix of sewing and knitting, but that 15 minutes applies to making my personal projects. And to further one of my personal goals for this year, I’ll be taking photos with my “big camera” at least once a week, of whatever I’m working on and/or my outfits. Since I’m almost always wearing handmade and thrifted, my intent with this year’s pledge is to focus in on the joy of small but consistent creative practice, and creative growth.
If you’d like to join us, use the hashtag #regenerativesewing
Show us what you are working on! Works in progress are more than welcome! Each week we will randomly choose one person from the hashtag to receive a voucher for the Learn to Sew course of their choosing!
We love Me Made May, and however you choose to participate in it. Let’s celebrate the power and beauty of making for ourselves, our loved ones, and the planet. If you are still deciding on your goal for this Me Made May, check out our closet super power quiz. This might help you hone in on your making style and figure out what you need this month.
New to Me Made May? Check out this podcast from the founder, Zoe Edwards, to learn all about it!