By Eliza Henry-Jones
With an estimated 501 million kilograms of discarded clothing going to landfill in Australia each year, it’s no wonder that the idea of slow fashion is gaining traction.
From wardrobes full of secondhand clothing, mended outfits and items made ethically and sustainably, the slow fashion movement comes in many forms.
One of the most enticing ways to engage in the slow fashion movement? Making gorgeous, ethical clothing for your children.
Lisa Locke is a seamstress in Geelong and knows all about fashion and clothes making.
She was taught by her mother who – at 86 – is still an avid sewer.
“She loves taking things home and fixing them,” Lisa says.
A fashion and theatre graduate, Lisa has worked for places like Collette Dinnigan, theatre companies, The Australian Ballet and has taught at a fashion school in Sydney.
Lisa has sewn for as long as she can remember. “My mum was always sewing and she always had magazines in the house that she’d be copying dresses from. There was always a sewing machine in my house. I made my first dress at eight years old!”
Lisa began offering mending and sewing services in Geelong when her son, Perry, was younger. Now that Perry’s six, Lisa is about to expand her business and launch into bespoke formal and bridal wear.
“I thought I couldn’t start the business until I had a cutting table. And then just realising that I didn’t have to have any overheads and it’s just been so much easier. I just sat on my bum thinking about starting a business,” Lisa says. “People are starting to realise they don’t want fast fashion.”
Lisa reflects on her time teaching fashion and clothes making.
“People are scared of the sewing machine. They’re scared of sewing their fingers – of making mistakes. They get so anxious that they’re going to hurt themselves that they find it hard to sew.”
“Don’t overthink it,” says Lisa. “Just start!”
WHERE TO START
Lisa recommends starting with something like a cushion cover for your child’s bedroom.
“With a cushion cover, you can involve the kids in choosing the fabric.
“It’s easier to make girls clothes. Skirts or dresses are both rectangles. You just sew down the
sides, fold down the top and thread elastic,” Lisa explains.
Lisa recommends starting with denser fabrics.
“Linen is really good to sew with and wears well,” Lisa suggests. “Spotlight has good prices and nice linen. Stick to cotton and linen and other natural fibres. Things that are polyester and viscose will slide and be harder to sew.”
Once people are confident with basic patterns, Lisa suggests trying things like pyjama pants and adding frills and zips.
Lisa loves making clothes for the children of her friends and family.
“They know it’s been made for them and it’s not from a shop. It lasts for about three or four years, you just make elastic bigger as they get bigger!”
Lisa has more words of wisdom for parents keen to get into sewing.
“Use pins!” Lisa advises. “It’s so easy to rush into it. Set aside time and make it relaxing. Cut the fabric, pin it together and have a few hours set aside. I’ve had lots of bad experiences when I’ve rushed things and haven’t pinned them. Try to see it as a hobby, something to enjoy. You’ll make mistakes and get frustrated – relax into it. Premise it as something like taking care of yourself, something relaxing. A hobby.”
Lisa is passionate about encourage people to buy secondhand. “Find your own style and don’t follow fast fashion!”