The tagline of creative collective Sewing Rebellion is “Stop Shopping, Start Sewing!” Founded by Carol Lung-Bazile, AKA FrauFiber, in 2006, this eclectic group of men and women sew to save money and impact the way Americans think about clothing and garment production. The nearly lost arts of mending and reusing clothing are explored twice monthly in Brooklyn. New chapters of this organization are popping up all over the United States, encouraging thousands of men and women to become sewing-empowered. Many international chapters have opened, bridging differences in culture and economics to bring people together around the sewing machine.
The main aim of Sewing Rebellion is to provide individuals with the skills necessary to fix clothing and create exciting new garments out of articles that would otherwise go to waste. In fact, cutting down on consumer waste is one of the stated goals of the NYC Chapter of Sewing Rebellion. Every year, millions of used clothing items are thrown away or sit in closets and thrift shops, gathering dust. It doesn’t take a masters degree in sustainability to see that these items contribute to landfill overcrowding and encourage garment manufacturers to continue producing cheap, expendable clothing. The garment industry is notorious for exploitation and the widespread use of sweatshop labor.
Sewing Rebellion members hope that encouraging consumers to fix worn or broken items will help cut down on demand for poorly-constructed articles. In turn, they hope a decrease in demand for cheap, new clothing would force manufacturers to pay their employees living wages in return for constructing high-quality, durable garments.
Recent press about the Sewing Rebellion movement has highlighted how the group helps consumers save money and teaches fun, essential sewing skills. Ranging from instruction on darning socks and replacing buttons to repairing zippers and refitting dresses, group meetings offer something for sewers and aspirants of all levels. A recent article in the Washington Post highlights the economic and environmental advantages associated with learning how to repair clothing. Repairing pockets, replacing buttons, and sewing busted seams helps consumers extend the life of their clothing. Replacing fewer items means spending less money. This is a fun form of frugality that is well-suited to tough economic times.
Sewing Rebellion chapters also encourage members to seize upon and express their own unique sense of style. Millions of Americans buy the exact same shirts, jeans, skirts and outerwear from the same stores every year. It is difficult to look unique in a clothing market saturated with cheap items that are similar in quality and appearance. Reusing and repurposing old garments is a wonderful way for individuals to recycle waste and to express their own taste. Garment swaps sponsored by the group encourage individuals to take advantage of the old maxim that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Frau Fiber’s movement has caught fire as a fun and stylish way to save money and reduce waste. Economic struggles have encouraged many individuals to find creative ways to protect their pocketbooks and to get the best value out of the things that they own. Sewing Rebellion is a collective of women and men who embrace the ethos of frugality while promoting creativity and style awareness. The less you shop and the more you sew, the more you save. The logic underlying Sewing Rebellion is beautifully simple.