At 5 foot 1 inch, the basic value of sewing was a principle that I came to understand relatively early. Outside of the occasional find in the petite section of the department store I am sure that I do not own a single pair of pants and a single long skirt or dress that has not needed to be hemmed. My clothes have also seen a lot of alterations over the years do to the rapid changes in my weight caused by my ulcerative colitis I have clothes in my closet spanning at least 4 sizes that have probably all been worn within the past two years.
It seems though, that as a culture acquiring basic sewing skills has become less and less common. My guess is that in a culture that values convenience and doing things quickly it is simply easier to throw out damaged clothes and buy new ones or have someone else alter your clothes while you go about your normal routine. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a seamstress and I would much rather pay an expert to do major alterations on my clothes so that they last and are done well, but for small jobs I much prefer to do It myself. Here’s why:
- Sewing Saves You Money: Getting a basic hem done at a tailor can cost anywhere from $5 to $15 dollars depending on the garment. This is not bad at all, but if you are prepared to do something basic like this yourself you can basically do it for free. I have already hemmed 3 skirts this summer alone so that means I have saved myself anywhere from $15 to $45 dollars just in the last few months. Now let’s say that I didn’t want to pay or deal with sewing at all and I only bought clothes that didn’t need to be hemmed. One of the skirts I bought this summer I got at Kohl’s, on sale, with a gift card, the cost of the skirt was about $10. What would have happened if I had limited myself to only looking for petite sized skirts? The most accessible place I have found for petite clothing is Old Navy and they only carry a small amount of petite clothing in-store so I probably would have had to shop online. In order to try things on in a store I would have had to go to a more specialty store like Anne Taylor LOFT that carries a larger selection of petite clothes (because let’s face it, in most department store petite is synonymous with old-lady)… a similar maxi skirt at LOFT is over $60! Basic sewing skills offers the flexibility to shop where the sales are and worry about the length later.
- Sewing Helps Decrease Consumption and Utilize Reused Materials: If I had to buy new clothes every time something got a small tear in it or needed a slight alteration I would be buying clothes much more often. I shop for clothes maybe twice a year and it is usually a gift from my mom when she is here to visit. The rest of the time I find new ways to make my old clothes look more stylish or I scope out thrift stores for good deals. Being able to repurpose old clothes, whether they are your own or clothes from a thrift shop cuts down on the environmental impact that the textile industry has. Did you know that polyester, one of the most common synthetic fibers around is made from petroleum? The production of polyester requires “large amounts of crude oil, and releases emissions including volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and acid gases such as hydrogen chloride, all of which can cause or aggravate respiratory disease.” (1) Even cotton, a natural fiber, has a significant environmental footprint when manufactured in huge quantities to meet the needs of the clothing industry. “This crop accounts for a quarter of all pesticides used in the United States, the largest exporter of cotton in the world, according to the USDA.” (1)
- Sewing Gives you Flexibility: I started to touch on this in my first point, but knowing basic sewing skills gives you the flexibility to shop where you want, but also to customize your clothes to fit your needs. How many of us have found the perfect dress only to have the straps be just a little bit too long, or the waste just a little bit too low? Being able to master some basic sewing skills gives you the flexibility to customize your clothes to fit your body so that you always look like your clothes were made just for you!
- Sewing Saves you Time: I think that it is a common misconception that it is faster to have someone sew for you. Sure, if it is a big project and you aren’t an expert in the end it may be faster, but for a basic alteration nothing beats doing it yourself. The closes seamstress to me is about 5 minutes away, I would then have to try on the clothes, have her pin them, take them off, get dresses, and check out with her, wait a few days, pick the clothes us, try them on again, pay and drive home. That is a lot of time! I can usually hem a skirt from start to finish in less than 30 minutes at home. That is a lot of time saved!
So, now that we have touched on why basic sewing skills are important how do you get started? Below I have listed links to the basic sewing tools I own and recommend as well as a few resources to help you learn the basic skills you’ll need to reap these four benefits listed below! Good luck and happy sewing!
Sewing Machine: Singer Sew Mate (I love this sewing machine)