My idea of a perfect afternoon is sitting in bed with a kitty in my lap and knitting needles in my hands, creating something that’ll bring warmth to myself or someone I love. I call this the joy of creation: that simple happiness I get from making something with my own two hands.
Of course, my favorite things to make are clothes (and yes, I made the sweater I’m wearing!). Whether I’m knitting, crocheting, or sewing, I completely geek out over learning new techniques and love dreaming up my own designs. Recently, I’ve realized how making my own clothes—something I’ve been doing for over a decade—ties neatly into my slow fashion journey.
I’ve defined slow fashion briefly before in my post on sustainable and ethical fashion. Like the term suggests, it’s a movement in opposition to the dizzying cycle of trends, environmental damage and waste, and human exploitation of fast fashion. Slow fashion is about finding timeless style thoughtfully and with intention, in a way that holds true to your values.
This year, I learned about #SlowFashionOctober from the ethical fashion blogging community. #SlowFashionOctober is “a celebration of the small-batch, handmade, second-hand, well-loved, long-worn, known-origins wardrobe” started by Karen Templer of Fringe Association. Funnily enough, I had already been reading Fringe Association, because Karen blogs about knitting and I’m an avid knitter.
I hadn’t considered knitting or any of the other textile arts that I love (crocheting, sewing, embroidery) part of “slow fashion,” but of course, creating your own clothing is the most intentional, thoughtful, and yes, slow way to appreciate fashion.
Albeit unknowingly, I had been practicing slow fashion long before I had ever heard the term. As a young girl, I would watch in awe as my mother created clothing and bugged her until she taught me bits and pieces of knitting, crocheting, and sewing. Since then, I’ve taken to the library and the depths of the Internet, continually learning new techniques, experimenting, failing, and trying again.
The entire process of creation—from tracing patterns onto the fabric to the whirr of the industrial sewing machine we kept in our garage, from the simple act of pulling one loop of yarn through another to the magic that happens when it all comes together in the form of lace or cables or bobbles—enchanted me and still does.
Making my own clothes is the most empowering way I can enjoy and appreciate fashion.
As someone who constructs and designs my own clothing, I am no longer just a consumer of fashion; I am a creator.
And as a creator, I have the power to transcend the mindless consumption of trends corporations think I should buy into and quite literally create my own style.
Obviously, this isn’t an argument to swear off shopping altogether and only create your own clothes (as cool as that would be, it’s highly impractical and some things are honestly better left to the professionals), but rather to supplement your love of fashion with the joy of creation.
I knitted the sweater I’m wearing in this post and it’s hands down my favorite sweater. It’s not just the fact that I made the damn thing with my own two hands, although that’s something to take pride in itself.
It’s that this garment started off as a vision in my mind, and I brought it to life as a labor of love. It’s the months I spent passing loops of wool through each other, taking joy in the beautifully simple act of creation. I honestly don’t think I could ever purchase a sweater that I’ll love more.
Not yet convinced? Here are some other reasons to create your own clothing:
- There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you tell someone, “I made this!,” and their jaw drops in amazement.
- Once you create a garment yourself, you realize how much skill and labor it takes to make something wearable. You gain a deeper appreciation for the people who make the clothes you purchase.
- Anything you make is one-of-a-kind, making your style truly unique.
- It’s FUN and an expression of your creativity, like any other form of art!
- You can continually and endlessly grow your skills and knowledge, so if you’re a lover of learning, you’re in luck.
- If you mess up, you can just start again. Experimentation and failure (and eventual, sweet triumph!) are all part of the journey.
- The “start-up” costs of knitting, crocheting, and embroidery, for example, are minimal. You can get started for $20 or less! (Sewing machines, on the other hand, are an investment, but sewing classes at your local fabric shops may be an option.)
Do you make your own clothing? If you don’t, would you want to learn how? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!
Side note: These photos were taken at Fox Hollow Farm, near Seattle, when I went to my very first pumpkin patch…the latest installment of SoCal girl experiences Real Seasons.
*Not a sustainable or ethical brand