Twig + Tale Storytellers: Slow Sewing

We're so pleased to welcome Storyteller Kiran Grewal to the Twig + Tale blog to share her thoughts on slow sewing. With a focus on sustainability and mindfulness, Kiran enjoys creating one-of-a-kind garments that will be cherished and bring joy for years to come.

We all have our noble reasons for sewing. I have always enjoyed tinkering with needle and thread. But what really propelled my delve into sewing was the birth of my elder daughter. She now is 15, so that means 15 years of slow fashion for us. I set about to reflect on the concept of slow sewing as I was writing the blog this month.

As I opened my wardrobe, I noticed that 90% of it was me made. Not only that, but the items that had remained were mostly more than 10 years old. Sewing tends to bring about a mindset of garment preservation and long-term maintenance as we realise the labour and love that goes into making each garment. Let me invite you into my thought process into what it means to be sewing slow.

Kiran wearing her Fable Dress

Change in mindset

In the fast paced world of quickly changing trends and the alarming culture of disposable attire, there is no better time than now for a change in mindset towards one of sustainable fashion. Here are some ideas on how to get started.

1.  Source fabrics and notions at op shops or estate sales

These help give a second lease on life to an old garment and personally, just the feeling of owning a small piece of history is pride enough to cherish an item. I've always been that girl who holds on to precious bits and bobs.

2. Upcycle

We see this word thrown around so much in the sewing community and I will tell you, nothing gives me more satisfaction than making use of an old garment to renew its purpose. Due to the fact that my partner is a large sized gentleman, I get to repurpose his shirts either as tops for myself or for my young son. Recently, I sewed a Pathfinder Vest for him using his father's retired white work shirt as the inner lining. Bonus points is I kept the pocket intact so he has a secret pocket on the inside for any knick knacks!

3. Mindfulness

There is a lot that we can do by way of how we choose to buy our garments (if), fabrics and how we choose to handle them after they have served their purpose in our life. A quick youtube search on fast fashion and its global impact is enough to be quite an eye opener on the dire state of the planet and the stress that the industry is putting on global resources, ethical treatment of garment industry workers and the disposal of tons upon tons of perfectly good clothing. Learning about these issues is absolutely heartbreaking. It can be overwhelming to start contemplating change in your life, but do. Start small. Slow fashion and handmade is one way you can make an impact in your life. The next step could be to start considering where you source your fabric from, or perhaps even to set up awareness programs on the benefits of clothing donation/swapping drives in your neighbourhood. Take the step to start thinking about these issues because we need more global citizens taking conscious efforts to help in this matter. 

An embroidered Riverstone Bonnet and a Breeze Shirt

Fable Dress in a gorgeous border print

Taking pride in my sewing

These days, I tend to take my time with each sew. Making sure the garment fits well and is of a fabric that I enjoy is paramount to my sewing. To do this, I make sure that I sew a toile and make any necessary adjustments. In my case, it is usually a swayback adjustment and occasionally, a rise adjustment for pants. Once that is done, notes are jotted on the pattern for future sews because every pattern is constructed differently and an adjustment that is needed for one pattern might not be required for another one. Ensuring longevity of my garment is of utmost importance, so I take care with my finishings (usually French seams) and that notions are of a good quality. 

Another little trick that I keep up my sleeve is that I try to add my own personal touches to whatever I sew.  Often times, it is by adding something that is not in the pattern as it was intended. These can be little special touches like embroidered details, pintucks, flounces, trim or even special buttons. Personalising a garment always helps to bring that additional sentiment to the process of making it, thus ensuring that I cherish it all the more. 

A beautiful Scenic Top with creative pintuck details

Little else gives me greater pride in my craft than being part of the slow sewing movement. Seeing the development of a garment from start to finish, getting joy from seeing my family use and reuse the items so gently crafted especially for them and then keeping a choice few as mementoes for my children to look back on. These are endearing aspects of slow sewing for me. 


See more of Kiran's work here


Read more articles from the Twig + Tale Storytellers here.