Only a few years ago, home crafting and sewing in the UK was deemed to be a niche passion for committed crafters and dressmakers. Driven by the availability of cheap and easily disposable clothes and homeware imports, traditional skills had fallen in popularity in favour of fast and immediate fashions.
But today, home crafting and sewing are a booming pastime – and an opportunity for a side-gig income – with vast numbers of passionate fans across the UK. Even more interestingly, these crafts have become viewed as highly on-trend by millennials who are keen to embrace the wellness and recycling trends. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at what’s changing the home sewing landscape and making homemade dresses and hand-embroidered cushions desirable once again!
Why did we all stop sewing in the first place?
Most older people today remember growing up in a house where the sewing machine was always in use. Whether running up new season clothes, repairing tablecloths, re-hemming trousers or repurposing tired fabrics into something new, abilities with a needle and thread were taken for granted. These skills were often learned from a young age too, with schools teaching needlework on their curriculum well into the 1980s, and with children growing up seeing the skills that their mothers had first hand.
The decline in home crafts and sewing were then exacerbated by the internet shopping boom and the flood of cheap imports from countries such as China. With new stores like Primark and H&M making fashion fast and affordable on the high street, customers didn’t see the need to make their own clothes and homewares any more.
So what changed?
In the past five years or so, however, we have seen a sudden resurgence in the arts of dressmaking and home crafts. Interestingly, it is often younger people – so-called millennials and hipsters that are pushing the change. Keen to shrug off their consumerist predecessors, younger generations are interested in uniqueness, environmentalism, craft, community and mental wellbeing. All of these things greatly support the craft revival and the figures are encouraging for the future!
In fact, research carried out by the Craft & Hobby Trade Association found that well over a million people have begun sewing as a hobby in the past three years. Nearly 8 million people say that they count dressmaking as being a favourite hobby. So what else is inspiring this new wave of craft lovers?
1. The BBC Great British Sewing Bee
This show was a huge hit and inspired in part by the phenomenal success enjoyed by the Great British Bake Off. The Sewing Bee showcased a beautiful world of modern and independent makers and demonstrated that crafts were no longer anything to be viewed as ‘stuffy’ or old-fashioned. On the contrary, the work shown on the show was fresh, modern, quirky and desirable – and viewers were excited to learn the skills needed to create their own!
Remember a time when we didn’t have YouTube tutorials to turn to? Today would-be crafters of all ages are switching on to their favourite YouTube channel to see first-hand tutorials on mastering sewing skills, fabric selection, dressmaking projects and more. Every topic imaginable is covered by a new wave of blogging and vlogging internet crafters, who are keen and ready to share their passions and abilities with an enthusiastic public!
Fast-fashion is also being shunned by eco-conscious consumers who are concerned about its ethics and sustainability. The era of conscious buying and beautiful clothing that is made to last is gaining traction once again; ironically, much as it did for our grandparents! Sales of dressmaking patterns have been boosted by big fashion brands such as Vogue, and pattern leaders such as Butterick, re-releasing some of their most popular vintage designs. The Vogue Mondrian dress pattern was a great example. For just £10, dressmakers could create their own versions of a classic Yves Saint Laurent dress from the 60s.
The notion of ‘fashion’ also percolates down to younger people. Only a few years ago it was deemed to be very uncool to wear handmade clothes and teenagers all wanted to sport the latest designer brands and mass-produced sportswear. But today, teenagers are embracing their individuality and ready to enjoy the hands-on satisfaction that comes with making a personal craft or dressmaking project. We have certainly noticed a wave of younger buyers at Fabric Direct, as well as the lovely sight of grandparents, parents and their children shopping together to buy craft essentials.
4. The side-gig economy
Platforms such as Etsy mean that skilled crafters can make an attractive side income by selling their work to a ready market of customers. With many people now keen to enjoy an additional income and to develop new skills, the opportunities are excellent for crafters who can master their skills.
The home baking revival saw cake tins and icing sales rocket – and we are seeing the same here with fabric, thread and embellishments at Fabric Direct! From dressmaking patterns through to the latest haberdashery trends, customers of all ages are keen to learn new skills and to have fun creating their own custom designs and unique one-off pieces.
Sewing can be hard to begin with and dressmakers learn their skills for years. However, it is easily possible to begin with simple projects and to learn as you go. Pyjama trousers or a loose vest are good examples for budding dressmakers and only take a few steps.
Start by investing in some good-quality basics sewing essentials that will set the foundation of your new passion. Buy needles, threads, fabric scissors and perhaps an entry-model sewing machine that is easy to use. Buy small amounts of different fabrics to learn about their compositions, texture, drape, and ease of sewing. Try a simple pattern – you could even begin by making tea-towels or a simple fabric shopping bag.
At Fabric Direct you will always find the biggest supply of beautiful, quality fabrics and haberdashery items, along with craft, embroidery, cross-stitch and other project kits to get you started. With over 20 years in the business, we are one of the few fabric retailers to still sell fabric by the metre. We also have a highly experienced service team who are passionate about sewing and dressmaking and ready to share their experiences! If you are in Kidderminster, pop into our huge Aladdin’s Cave warehouse for supplies, inspiration and even sewing classes! Follow us too on social media for ideas, tutorials, and projects to get you started on what will hopefully become a lifelong passion!