Inside Sacha Holub's Handmade Wardrobe
Have you ever met someone that you were so inspired by that you just wanted to download all of their knowledge onto a USB stick and plug it into your head? No? Just me then.
But in all seriousness, Sacha Holub is one of those people. She is not only a friend of mine; she is a prolific maker too - nearly half of her wardrobe has been made by her own fair hands! Every single piece is loved and worn on a regular basis. Isn't that the dream for all of us makers?
Since it's Fashion Revolution week, in which we are encouraged to ask the question, "Who made my clothes?", it feels appropriate to interview Sacha about her journey towards a handmade wardrobe. I hope that it will inspire you on your own journey, whether you're investing the time in one single handmade piece or working towards a primarily handmade wardrobe!
In Conversation with Sacha Holub: Sewist, knitter and participator in #makersforfashrev
Hi, Sacha! Thank you very much for joining me on the Sister Mountain blog today. For those in the community who don't know you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Hello! I’m a half-Brit, half-American in my mid-twenties living in East-London. By day, I’m the Graphic Designer for the ethical footwear company, Po-Zu, having graduated in 2015 with a BA (Hons) in Sustainable Product Design. By night, I’m a self-taught maker, with knitting and sewing being my mediums of choice - and I try to document this on Instagram (when I remember to take photos in natural light!)
First of all, as a knitter and a sewist: do you have a favourite and why?
Both obviously have their perks: knitting clearly has the benefit of being transport-friendly, but sewing has an instant gratification.
At this moment in time, I choose sewing. There’s a broader range of things you can make and with that comes a greater number of challenges to overcome - for example, swimwear is on my #2018makenine list and strangely enough, I don’t see myself knitting a one-piece!
You have an incredible wardrobe of clothes that you made yourself. How did all of this start?
There’s a history of making on both sides of my family and so inevitably, I ended up having a go myself.
We’d always had a sewing machine floating around the family home, which my Mum would use to make matching outfits for my sister and me. Our semi-regular trips to visit my Dad’s family in Wisconsin allowed us to heavily stock up on essential craft supplies at Joann’s - before any sort of craft market really existed back home in the UK. Flicking through the McCalls pattern book was always an exciting part of our trips!
I’ve gone through the usual sewing milestones of floral tote bags, quilting cotton pyjamas and shiny prom dresses - and I’ve just kept going.
I was technically interested in knitting before sewing - I have vague memories of learning how to knit as a small child from my Grandma and Mum. I properly picked up knitting during my A-Levels, with the help of Debbie Stoller’s Stitch N’ Bitch - and of course, YouTube.
Making clothes was my way of exercising creative thinking, but with the added bonus of being able to wear or use whatever the outcome was.
Your handmade wardrobe seems remarkably cohesive and wearable! Do you have any systems or rules that you follow when deciding what to make?
I don’t follow any hard and fast rules. I have a reasonably good idea of what I’ll like wearing and how it’ll work with other things in my wardrobe. Planning is part of my creative process, so I enjoy mulling over an idea - and so if I end up changing my mind, I’m perfectly OK with that!
Having avoided high street shopping for a couple of years, I’ve stopped tuning into current trends, so now I’d like to reverse that a little and make a few pieces that feel more modern and fresh.
What are three of your favourite garments you have made for yourself and why?
My Butterick 5030 wrap dress has been so easy to wear, whatever the occasion, and having floaty sleeves helps in humid London weather. It was also quite nice to lean into current trends - although it wasn’t the easiest sew because of my man-made choice of fabric.
I’d also choose my Ginger Jeans and Harriet Bra for the sheer fact that I’ve successfully made a pair of jeans AND a bra. Weirdly, both garments fit perfectly straight out of the packet, which made for quite a pleasant sewing experience.
Why is having a handmade wardrobe important to you?
Making clothes began as creative fulfilment, but in more recent years, a handmade wardrobe has become part of how I’m tackling my level of over-consumption. If I’m making my clothes, then I find myself automatically consuming at a slower pace.
I also set limitations on myself by purchasing sustainable and/or ethical fabrics e.g. organic (Stof & Stil) or fairtrade (Offset Warehouse) so that I’m being more responsible about my choices. I have picky aesthetic tastes too, such as a preferred shade of blue or the width of a stripe. All of these factors prevent me from churning out new things each week.
On top of that, making my own clothes offers the practicality of catering to my personal measurements: being 5”10 has previously resulted in me sporting the cropped look - unintentionally!
With all of that in mind, handmaking my wardrobe is a luxury. Last year, I joined in with an offshoot of the Fashion Revolution campaign: the #makersforfashrev conversation run by Emily Hundt of In The Folds.
On the 24th April 2013, 1138 garment workers died and many more were injured when the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed. The week of its anniversary is spent campaigning for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry.
The “Makers” part of the conversation is only a minor one - garment workers don’t sew for pleasure or creativity, but for low wages that don’t even cover life's basic necessities.
As a maker, I appreciate the time, energy and skill that goes into making things. Whilst I may not be the “typical” consumer, these workers are in the back of my mind when I make.
What are your making plans for the rest of 2018?
I’m also working on the Kelly Anorak (She finished it! And it looks incredible - she wrote a blog post all about it here.) as part of the LTA Green Seamstress project with Amandine Cha. I really like more meaty projects so I can wear a fully handmade outfit - that’s something I really enjoyed the satisfaction of in 2017 and I intend to continue!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey towards building a handmade wardrobe, Sacha. I'm certain that this interview will inspire many of my readers to start sewing more of their own clothes - I know that it has for me! What advice would you give to a knitter who is just starting to sew?
I started off making bags, aged 12, so I could carry music sheets to my weekly flute lessons. I graduated to clothing once I could handle fitting without frustrating myself. With that in mind, I’d recommend starting with accessories to get the hang of sewing straight lines - Purl Soho has a whole catalogue of beautifully simple how-tos.
Then, move on to simple but striking sewing patterns such as Grainline Studio’s Willow Tank, Tilly & The Button’s Coco or Paper Theory’s L.B. Pullover, which I’ve not personally tried but would look amazing in a woven fabric like linen. They’re straightforward enough to avoid putting anyone off sewing, and yet they have maximum design impact.
If in doubt, consult the internet! There’s always a tutorial that can fix your problem.
Gosh! Now, wasn't that inspiring? It just made me want to drop the rest of my work for the day and just start making.
I loved Sacha's thoughts on how making clothing can help you to live a more sustainable life. She recently inspired me to start sewing again in my free time (I'm trying to heal some reoccurring tendonitis in my elbows) and I love that I can enjoy the creative practice of sewing whilst handmaking a sustainable, ethically made wardrobe.
If you would like to keep up with Sacha Holub's creative endeavours, I highly recommend you follow her on Instagram and keep an eye on her website. As you can tell, she is an incredibly inspiring person to spend time with!