Fast fashion is here to stay, certainly for the short term, but with the latest UK news about textile factories in Leicester, it is time to pause and consider what we could all do to stop the abuse of factory workers – not just in the UK, but across the World.

As an individual, maybe not much. However, the factory in question produced goods for a large online retailer whose target market is late teen/twenties, men and women. One step we could make in our own home is to show young people how to sew. Simple sewing to start with and garments later on.

Over the past months my teen classes have moved online and every Saturday I have six teen sewists who have produced a variety of garments and products.

One girl had started making jeans before lockdown. This was only her third full project. Jeans are not a quick or easy make. There are more pieces then you may think, two different types of thread are used, and every seam is sewn three times – once underneath and twice on top. Added to this, her home sewing machine was finding the denim fabric hard to sew through. This mid-teen girl is now wearing her jeans and they look amazing. She made these jeans step by step and understands fully the effort that producing jeans involves.

Another mid-teen participant made a tea dress in a 1950s style. This young lady has been sewing longer and decided to mix two patterns, one for the bodice and a different one for the skirt. She also wanted to fully line the dress. Months of Saturday sewing went into it. It is now finished and perfect – wonderful in fact. The dress suits and fits this young lady beautifully and she now knows exactly what’s involved in blending pattern – which sounds so much easier than it is.  More than that, she understands the work involved in making a fitted and fully lined garment.

These huge achievements made by both girls are small building blocks in their lives. They learned the process to successfully make their garments and this can only be a step in the right direction for sustainable fashion.

My examples involve girls, but boys should sew as well. Why not?

The cost to get started sewing is an old shirt, a needle and thread. If you don’t have access to a local sewing group then I have a 5 free beginners sewing video tutorials, suitable for age 10 -16 years of age, available from 20th July – so why not sign up now to be alerted as soon as they are released and don’t forget to let me know how you get on using the hashtag #gillymacteens.