Mending and altering your own clothes!

If you have kids then you will know that being able to do basic mending at a moment’s notice is a valuable skill. Being able to sew the button on a school shirt, mend a hem or fix a tear can save the cost of buying a new school uniform item. And they are not cheap. As your skills develop you will be able to take a much loved dress and replicate the pattern yourself, or alter an op shop dress to fit better.

Growing your income!

There are many ways that learning to sew can help you grow your income – but here are just a few ideas.

  • Trawling the op shops for good quality, labeled, timeless items to develop a capsule wardrobe that is wearable through any trend that comes and goes – this saves you money as the previous owner paid the premium price and you get to own a high quality item for a fraction of it’s ‘new’ price
  • Buying good quality labelled clothing from op shops, making minor repairs or alterations and on-selling through TradeMe – many people, particularly those who live in rural areas do not have access to shopping centres or even op shops so they often turn to TradeMe as a place to shop for their clothing.
  • Making and selling your own clothing at local handcraft markets – many New Zealand clothing lines started out small – in their garage or spare room, and if your line of clothing meets the needs of the consumer then you will eventually gain a following. Another way to become known is to specialize on a specific customer group e.g. plus size clothing, environmentally friendly clothing or children’s clothing.
  • Upcycling clothing. Upcycling is a growing trend with people turning upcycled clothing into patchwork quilts and cushion covers, jeans into bags and woolen jumpers into crocheted blankets and floor rugs. The ideas are endless and a visit to Pinterest will inspire your creativity
  • Learning to sew is a transferable skill when writing a CV. Sewing uses countless skills such as problem solving – identifying a problem and coming up with solutions and creativity – starting out with a piece of material or garment and transforming it into something else.
  • Meeting new people at sewing classes is a great way to network with other people, share ideas and gain new ones. Who knows what journey your new found skills might take you on!

Ditching fast fashion!

Once upon a time sewing was a skill held by many but in recent times fast fashion in the form of cheap (and often poorly made) imported clothing has meant it is cheaper to buy clothing than make it. But is it really? Many imported items do not last the test of time (or washes). And each season brings new colour palettes, styles and themes, so the orange wide leg pant you bought last Spring is now out of style, replaced by new season trends of pastel colours and romance themed garments.

Because our environment can’t afford it!

And what happens to last seasons must haves? Many of us donate our used clothing to charity bins and op shops who resell the items with profits going to support their work in the community. While these donations are highly valued by many organsations it is estimated that up to 80% of donations are unsellable, meaning many clothing items are sent to landfill.

And we can’t afford it

What if we viewed our $2500 per year clothing spend as a potential investment rather than an expense? Fast fashion is just that – fashion that quickly hits the shops, is bought, worn for a season (if it lasts that long) and then needs to be replaced with the next trend in order for the wearer to be fashionable. In 2016 the average household’s weekly spend on clothing and footwear was $48.30, that’s a whopping $2511.00 a year that could be saved or used to pay down debt. Thinking differently about the clothing items we buy and focusing on buying items that are timeless (generic enough to be worn regardless of trends), well made (last for longer than one season) and able to be altered if required will save money in the long run. Those savings could be used to pay down debt or build a nest egg for the future.

At WEST we are always on the look out for courses that develop skills, increase resilience and improve financial wellbeing. Please let us know if you have any ideas for new courses and workshops that will support economic wellbeing in West Auckland.