The Conscious Dresser: Sarah Lancaster

The owner of Sew Love Tea Do shares her tips for making do and mending

Sarah Lancaster. Picture / Babiche Martens.

Each day this week, in the lead up to Fashion Revolution Day 2015 this Friday, April 24, we will be profiling women who dress with intent. Today, we chat to Sarah Lancaster, who runs Sew Love and is passionate about reusing, upcycling and making her own clothes.

What is your philosophy on dressing?
I dress to express who I am and my values around conscious consumerism and environmental awareness. Other than mainly op shopping and treating myself with ethical choices (thanks Kowtow and We’ar), I make the time to sew my own clothes. Seeking out second-hand fabrics, vintage dresses and shirts to remodel is such an adventure into history.

I think of my mum and grandma and all those before us who spent hours sewing their entire wardrobes — back before the days of fast fashion. Slow fashion is the more meditative alternative. It’s a process to enjoy — taking time piecing something together, knowing every seam, and making something you can feel proud of.

To have a garment fit you and your style like a glove is pretty special and unique, and that buzz is exactly why I teach sewing. Clothes are an everyday thing, they are made by someone, somewhere, so let’s respect them and be mindful with what we choose.

Will you be dressing inside out for Fashion Revolution Day again this year?
Yes, of course I will be! Shoulder pads up, anything to turn heads for a good cause.

Why do you feel it is important to support Fashion Revolution’s stance?
Despite vintage and organic trends being on the up, many still can’t get past the quick fix of a $10 tee without thinking “how is this actually possible to be right here for only $10?” The Rana Plaza disaster got a lot of attention, but I hope our consciences don't fade as the news bulletins do.

This campaign is an excellent reminder to be more mindful about what we drape on our shoulders — to value each item of clothing more, seek from ethical manufacturers, care for them better, mend repairs and not just throw aside to continuously mindlessly consume. 

A selection of Sarah’s handmade clothing made from textiles found in op shops. Picture / Sarah Lancaster.


1. Missing a button? When replacing your button, instead of starting with your knotted thread on the inside of your garment, start on the outside, then your button will cover up the knot neatly.

2. Rip or Tear? When handstitching a tear closed, keep your stitches going past the tear on all sides. This keeps the tension off the weaker tear and the fabric surrounding will add strength, meaning your garment will last longer.

3. Stain that you just can’t wash out? Try patching over it with a similar weight fabric, in contrasting or similar colour. For smaller marks you could try stitching a row of stitches over top with some thicker embroidery thread, or a cluster of buttons.

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New Zealand Herald

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