Taylor runs Blueprints for Sewing and was into sustainable sewing way before it became one of the cool kids – she was writing about wardrobe detoxing and fast fashion back in 2011! She has seen so much in her fashion and sewing life through working in retail, vintage, fabric shops, dressmaking that if anyone should comment on the topic of sustainable fashion and sewing it should be her. It is always interesting to see different perspectives on sustainable sewing and Pilar and I are very happy that Taylor is supporting our #makeyourstash initiative. If you are on a quest to make your sewing more sustainable, do read on…
What’s your name and where do you live?
My name is Taylor and I live outside of Boston, MA
What’s on your sewing table right now?
Too many things to list! I’ve got a black tencel slip ready to cut, a new Moderne Coat to share some hacks on the blog, and I’m playing around with a pattern for work pants.
What did you do before you became a pattern designer?
I worked for many years in clothing retail, then vintage clothing and fabric shops, created custom clothing and did alterations, and taught people to sew (which is something I still do today).
What triggered your interest in sustainable sewing?
I’ve always been a big thrifter and I’m very invested in the issues and politics behind manufacturing, specifically in the fashion industry. I’m a long time champion of sustainability and fair labor practices and keeping my sewing practice in line with these values feels right.
What’s your favourite thing about it?
I love giving material that would otherwise be discarded a new lease on life. Sometimes having material based limitations is the best way to stimulate creativity. When I design patterns, I like to create pieces that can use repurposed fabric or scraps.
What’s your biggest challenge when trying to keep your sewing sustainable?
When I source fabric for a project, I always try to source it in the most responsible way possible: Manufactured in a ethical way, organic if possible, secondhand etc. Sometimes I have a hard time finding what I want that still fits the bill and in that case I try to prioritize supporting small businesses. As a designer, I also have to use tons of muslin to test designs! I try to be very mindful about not wasting fabric. I save my scraps for stuffing, quilts, rugs, etc and often repurpose fabric from older projects for muslins. I use my scrap muslin in tons of projects. It also makes great interfacing/underlining and it doesn’t matter if there’s marks all over it.
Do you have any tips to keep your sewing mindful and relevant?
Simply being in the moment while you sew, making thoughtful, intentional decisions while you create is a good exercise. I also like to keep in mind ways to economize fabric and re-use project leftovers. I try to produce as little waste as possible. If you’re a garment sewist, take up quilting or rag rug making, it’s a great way to use scraps.
Do you usually shop your stash?
I always try to shop my stash first for a project, especially for things like buttons and notions. I’ve collected a lot of 2nd hand notions over the years. I probably never have to buy buttons again. Sometimes I’ll alter fabric from my stash by dyeing or printing it and that helps me get excited about it again. I also LOVE doing fabric swaps with friends. If you’ve never tried it, give it a go!
If you had to recommend a book, it would be…
One of my all time favorite books has nothing to do with sewing, but it’s 100% in line with a sustainable living/DIY mindset. It’s called Nomadic Furniture by James Hennessey and Victor Papanek. Full of excellent low/no cost interior design ideas, published in 1973.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to having some more time to sew a few pieces for my wardrobe, using fabrics I’ve had for ages and have finally figured out the perfect project for.
Thanks Taylor for your time and supporting #makeyourstash!
PS – if you love the coat that Taylor is wearing, its the Moderne coat which is available as pdf on her website.