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In the age of COVID, home sewing sees a resurgence

By Laura Malt Schneiderman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Fashion Daily News

"We've put our first online video classes together," he said.

While home decor sewing - quilts, pillows, Christmas decorations and the like - remains the most popular type of sewing project, some "sewists" are venturing into apparel. Mr. Brindle said college students are starting their own clothing brands, mostly personalized athletic and leisure wear.

This trend predates the pandemic.

"Repurposing, reusing and upcycling old stuff into new, personalize treasures is a powerful drive among millennials," retail consultant Pamela N. Danziger wrote in a 2018 Forbes magazine article.

But with the pandemic has come more time and more interest in crafting in general.

Horn said "the young people" - 40 and under - are getting into knit-fabric tops and dresses.

"They want quality, and they want something made well," she said. "And they want (something) a little different. Yesterday, with us, we wanted to be the same. Today, they want to be different."

All this attention isn't exactly unwelcome.


"I'm hoping, as a fabric retailer, that this (pandemic) motivates people to think about their apparel and what they're purchasing," said Sampson, whose shop is along Mt. Lebanon's main commercial artery on Washington Boulevard.

She stocks textiles from high-end apparel shops and also material from abroad, such as Italian prints. One section of her store is devoted to the bridal market with fabrics, linings and high-end lace.

In recent years, fast fashion made clothing disposable. Brands like Zara, H&M, Primark and Topshop emphasized getting clothing to market quickly and cheaply. The resulting clothes follow fads, such as the "boho chic" look of the 2000s, but the pieces degrade quickly and are quickly outmoded. Consumers then discard them.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 5% of all landfill waste is textiles, and that the average American throws out 70 pounds of clothing and other cloth each year.

Home-sewn clothing, by contrast, is not cheap. A lightweight 100% wool dress to be sewn at home will cost about $150 in supplies alone. A retail dress, usually all or partly of synthetic fabric, would run the same price, but with a key difference.

"When we sew things, they last forever," Sampson said.

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