On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about sustainability and sewing with my guest Wendy Ward.
Wendy is a writer, designer, maker, and educator. She has worked as a designer in fast fashion and for a small sustainable brand. For her master’s degree in 2004, she explored novel ways to recycle textiles and in 2007 she moved into education and has taught numerous garment-making, textile recycling, and garment alterations classes with adults. Wendy has her own line of sewing patterns called MIY Collection and has written five best-selling sewing books including her most recent, How to Sew Sustainably which was published in June.
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We begin this interview with Wendy talking about her childhood with a father who was a joiner. He bought her a sewing machine and was a role model as someone who was a maker. Few people in Wendy’s hometown went to college and she got a job right after high school, but then decided to pursue higher education. (In fact, Wendy got a master’s degree, a teaching certificate, and is now enrolling in a Ph.D. program.)
Wendy worked for a fast-fashion brand for several years but ended up feeling disconnected from the processes of actually making the clothing she was designing (or copying, in many cases). She went on to take a job at a sustainable clothing label that brought her to India to understand where the clothing she was designing was made. This was a transformative experience and one that has stuck with her.
Wendy has now written five sewing books. Her latest title, How to Sew Sustainably, was just published by CICO in June 2021. The book focused on reusing fabrics from garments you already own and refashioning clothing from your wardrobe. When it comes to designing sewing patterns, Wendy is self-taught, learning from books and lots of trial and error.
Of course, I ask Wendy to recommend some things she’s enjoying right now. Wendy recommends:
- The Great British Photography Challenge
- Online art courses from The Royal Drawing School
- The Day the World Stops Shopping by JB MacKinnon