Human rights in fashion: the importance of slow fashion DIY


On October 16th I joined with more than 100 bloggers worldwide to start a conversation about human rights in fashion. To catch up on the thoughtful analysis of my fellow bloggers, check out the Blog Action Day Round Up, with coverage of some of the major posts of the day. You can check out my original post here. In  my opinion, one of the major reasons that fashion has become such a human rights issue is the lack of transparency in the supply chain, and our disconnection from the people who make our clothes. For this reason I believe that a slow fashion approach, which prioritises handmade methods and reconnects the consumer to the maker, is an essential component of the human friendly fashion industry. To take this one step further, as consumers we can become the maker by trying out our own slow fashion DIY.

As part of the Blog Action day, participating bloggers entered their own human friendly outfits in a competition. You can check out the winning outfits here. I am super excited to say that my outfit, which featured a skirt that I made myself, won second place in this competition, proving that you don’t need to be a designer to create ethical style. A stylish wardrobe can be created at home with no training and minimal skills. You just have to be willing to give it a go. So, to encourage you to give slow fashion DIY a go, I’d like to share with you the story of my prize winning skirt.

Human friendly fashion

One day, whilst browsing Pinterest I came across a Etsy store selling secondhand silk saris and was excited by the discovery a cheap and ethical source of silk. So I quickly purchased a couple without any idea what I planned to use them for. I had only ever sewed 2 or 3 items of clothing for myself, so I needed something simple to start off with. As silk is so delicate, and I was so inexperienced, I decided not to use the sewing machine, and just hand sew something. I knew a basic maxi skirt would be the easiest, and I thought I knew what to do, but to be safe I googled a few tutorials to make sure I was on the right track.

The sari I was using had beautiful detailing on both edges, and I was reluctant to cut it off on one side. The width of the sari was just a little too long for my height, but I thought I could get away with wearing the finished skirt a bit higher than my natural waist to compensate for the extra length. Unfortunately when my skirt was finished, I discovered that it wasn’t very flattering to wear it above my waist. So I was left with a skirt that was too long for me. In my experience, I am at my creative best when I have messed up a project and I need to come up with a solution to salvage all my efforts. In the case of this skirt, I came up with a series of gathering around the bottom of the skirt to raise the length up by about 5cm. This led to the detailing you see below.

Handstitched detailing on skirt

The project didn’t work out as I thought it would in the beginning, but I ended up with a skirt that was far more striking than the one I had planned. I firmly believe that anyone can create beautiful clothes, as long as they are willing to give it a go, experiment, and not get disheartened when things don’t go as planned. I hope that the story of how my skirt was created gives you the courage to try our your own slow fashion DIY project. If you need a little guidance, I am planning a few DIY tutorials to share with you in coming months. Stay tuned!

And, just in case you wanted a closer look at the Gatsby-inspired headpiece I made to pair with the skirt, here it is….

Gatsby inspired headband