The tragedy in Bangladesh recently was truly shocking – I don't think anyone could pretend not to know about the terrible working conditions as it has been in the media for years – but the lack of care by the factory owners, and the amount of time it took companies like Primark and Matalan to issue a response has been quite disgusting. The stories and photographs of the conditions that people were working in brought me to tears and the tragedy that had to happen for it to make front page news reminded me of the tragedy of the New York garment district fire in 1911 (which I wrote about previously) which did lead to labour reform. Here’s hoping there are similar outcomes for Bangladesh.
My reason for mentioning all this – asides from the obvious connection between what we wear and where it comes from – is how easy it is to be a part of the system, to block out the knowledge of the exploitation of people far across the globe in order that we can get jeans for £10 from Primark, or indeed £40 from Zara. That’s where sewing comes in. Sewing has made me really appreciate how much work goes in to the making of clothes. The time it takes me to sew a garment, and the pleasure I get from doing this has completely dulled the appeal of impulse-buying from the high street. That’s not to say I haven’t bought anything since starting sewing but compared to what I used to buy it’s a miniscule amount. I am not naïve enough to think there’s no human cost involved in much of the fabric I buy but I don’t stockpile fabric in anywhere near the same quantities I used to with clothes. What I love about sewing is that it has made me slow down, it’s made me think about the human and environmental costs of what we wear, and it continues to remind me how our actions are intrinsically linked to other people and places throughout the world. What is also so great is how aware all sewing bloggers are of these issues, and how it informs the decisons they make - from the decision to begin to learn to sew through to what fabrics to buy, what to sew etc.
So for me slow sewing means two things – it means thoughtful living, and it also means exactly what is says, sewing more slowly. I’m going to continue to take my time over what I make, and take more time to consider what I make, how often will I wear it, where did the fabric come from etc, and take the time to construct things properly so they last. In that vein I have been working on a Colette Meringue. I took the time to make a toile last weekend. On Tuesday night I drafted a pocket pattern and last night I cut out my fabric. I finished cutting at 9.30 last night and considered jumping right in and starting sewing but then thought about it – I was tired, my back hurt and I doubt I’d have made a good job of it. So I left it. It meant no new skirt to wear today as I’d originally planned but I know in the long run the extra care and attention will be worth it.
So apologies for the rather long and over-worthy post but I've read quite a few really thoughtful posts recently about Bangladesh and the costs of fashion that I thought I would just add in my ramblings. Kathryn over at Yes I like that wrote a really good post about the Bangladesh fire and what can we do, and there are some really insightful comments too.
I hope everyone taking part in me Made May 2013 is enjoying it so far - I know I'm really enjoying seeing everyone's creations although I'm already struggling with remembering to take photos - will need to try and get one at lunchtime today!