The 4 Best Online Sewing Classes of 2021

Thread the needle

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Hands sewing with pattern and threads

ljbs / Twenty20

Sewing your own clothes can be a fun and potentially more sustainable activity. Buying clothes gets expensive and we often don't think about the impact they have on the environment. The fashion industry uses many toxic dyes that can end up in waterways, there is a high usage of fossil fuels during transportation, and extra waste can be created by “disposable” garments. 

In some cases, sewing has allowed people to go way beyond just making, re-styling, or altering their own clothes. Some courses even make it a point to source and use only sustainable or reused fabrics and sewing tools, further decreasing your carbon footprint. 

Here, we’ve rounded up the best sewing classes for those environmentally-concerned crafters with some solid options to help neighbors in need.

The 4 Best Online Sewing Classes

Best Overall: Sewcialists

Sewcialists

 Sewcialists

Why We Chose It: Sewcialists is a group that focuses on many of the values held by Treehugger readers: inclusivity, sustainability, and community. It’s also a growing, international group of like-minded crafters who, together, are able to achieve some impressive outcomes.

What We Like:

- A warm, inviting community

- Wide range of projects, insights, and ideas

- Strong focus on sustainability and social action

What We Don’t Like:

- No online classes or groups offered

- Limited number of patterns so far (the group is relatively new)

- No resources for sourcing sustainable sewing materials

If you’re seeking an online, socially-engaged group of sewists who are also dedicated to both sustainability and social action, then look no further than the Sewcialists. The Sewcialists is radically inclusive, and the group shares its ideas, patterns, and sewing expertise with a wide range of sewists from around the world.  

On its website, Sewcialists make it clear that it's dedicated to the inclusion of absolutely everyone: all “ages, abilities, ethnicities, genders, orientations and sizes.” The leaders of the group are eager to give a platform to diverse voices in the sewing and crafting community. In fact, several segments of the site are written by members of the community with a wide range of backgrounds, orientations, and aesthetic perspectives.

In addition to blogs, groups, videos, and patterns, Sewcialists also offers sewing challenges to its online members. Not surprisingly, many of the challenges relate to sustainability and community action.

There is no cost associated with this site.

Best Group for Vintage and Reused Clothing: Vintage Sewing School

Vintage Sewing School

Vintage Sewing School

Why We Chose It: Treehugger readers value naturally-produced items that are made to last and can be mended or reused. Vintage clothing creation, repair, and reuse fits Treehugger values perfectly. In addition, members of this community tend to share a strong interest in subjects such as the manufacturing and dying of fabrics around the world.

What We Like:

- Large library of videos on a wide range of sewing topics

- Like-minded online community of sewists

- Knowledgeable instructors available to help as needed

What We Don’t Like:

- There is a significant cost associated with membership

- While vintage sewing is intrinsically environmental, there is no specific focus on sustainability

Vintage Sewing School is a school and sewing community that focuses on reusing, repurposing, and mending clothing.

According to its website, Vintage Sewing School doesn’t so much teach you how to sew by following a pattern as it teaches you the actual skills of dressmaking. Once you’ve built these skills, you’ll know exactly how to alter, fit, refashion, mend, and repurpose your own clothes—or recreate vintage styles. 

Membership with this school costs roughly $19 per month (with a free 7-day trial) and provides a wealth of resources: well over 150 instructional videos, patterns, lessons on vintage fashions and fabrics, one-on-one interaction with a knowledgeable instructor, and a community of like-minded, creative sewers. 

Not only will you learn how to sew, design, and create, but you’ll also learn how to mend, refit, and reuse vintage materials and products.

Best Group for High Fashion Environmentally Conscious Sewing: Selkie Patterns

Selkie Patterns

 Selkie Patterns

Why We Chose It: Many Treehugger readers are dedicated to both fashion and sustainability—and it’s not an easy path to follow. Selkie is one of the very few sites that allow environmentally aware sewists to find a way to fulfill both of their passions.

What We Like:

- Unique and exciting ideas for sewists interested in high fashion

- Sustainability resources not available on most sites

- Opportunity to connect with like-minded members of the sewing community

What We Don’t Like:

- Need to join the online community to take advantage of offerings

- Strong focus on items for sale in the online shop

High fashion and environmental awareness rarely go hand in hand. But at Selkie Patterns, based in the UK, two friends with degrees in fashion and costume design are doing just that.

Its patterns on online offerings are specifically intended to make it easy to choose fashion and sustainability at the same time. Another reason we love this service? Selkie Patterns is the recipient of sustainability awards and has been featured on The Great British Sewing Bee.

Not only will you find patterns and ideas on the Selkie Patterns site, but you’ll also discover a tribe of sewists who are dedicated to making both fashion and sustainability a way of life. You’ll learn where to find sustainable cloth and thread, how to cut and reuse fabric, and where to send fabric scraps so that they can be repurposed by others. Selkie aims “to offer you collections that are environmentally-friendly without compromising on style.”

To join, Selkie’s monthly fee is roughly $20.

Most Environmentally-Focused: Sewrendipity

Sewrendipity

 Sewrendipity

Why We Chose It: A website dedicated to sustainability is always a good fit for Treehugger. In this case, Alex is a role model and provides the tools needed to follow in her footsteps as she takes on the fashion industry one stitch at a time.

What We Like:

- Alex has a real dedication to sustainability, and it shows

- Unique information and patterns make it easy to sew sustainably

- A warm, personal site

What We Don’t Like:

- No videos or online community

- Limited quantity of information relative to larger sites

While Sewrendipity does not provide classes or an online community, it deserves a spot in this round-up because of its very sincere focus on “inspiration, education, and support for sewers and fashion lovers who want to live more sustainably.” 

Like several top British sewing personalities, Alex, the creator of Sewrendipity, is a graduate of the Great British Sewing Bee. She offers an impressive collection of resources under the category of “sustainability,” with information, competitions, and links to posts on subjects like waste-free sewing patterns, selecting sustainable fabrics, and documentaries on the environmental damage done by the fashion industry. 

Join Alex in exploring the concept of a meaningful wardrobe that focuses on your personal ethics and philosophy rather than on the artificial expectations of the media. Learn how to create handmade collections of clothes using only the most sustainable materials and environmentally friendly techniques. If you follow this site’s recommendations, patterns, and resource suggestions, you’ll find yourself clad head-to-toe in fully-sustainable fashion.

There is no cost associated with this site.

Bottom Line

Sewing can be a fantastic way to be creative and potentially cause less harm to the environment. Classic sewing groups and sites such as Sewing.com offer blog posts and resources for people who want to turn their sewing hobby into something more significant for the greater community. Only a few sewing groups and sites, however, are truly dedicated to the idea that sewing can make a difference in the world. Of our top picks, Sewcialists is probably the most full-service option available.

What Is Sustainable Sewing?

There's no denying that there are big problems created by the fashion industry—ranging from the maltreatment of women and children to major contributions to waste, pollution, and use of carbon fuels. Beyond that, it is possible to improve sustainability by sourcing sustainable and fair-trade fabrics and threads when sewing on your own; minimizing the need for fossil-fueled product transportation; choosing waste-free patterns; and donating fabric scraps to recycling groups.

How Can Sewing Be Socially Responsible?

There are dozens of socially responsible sewing projects for which you can volunteer. Groups create everything from feminine hygiene supplies for girls in Africa to quilts for cancer patients and blankets for the homeless. It’s important to know that you don’t need to be part of a group to participate in socially responsible sewing; most volunteer organizations merely ask you to sign up and then send the products you create to a centralized location for delivery. You also have the option of joining a local project and making deliveries by-hand.

What Is a Sewist?

People who sew may be referred to as sewers or sewists. The newer term “sewist” combines “sewer” and “artist” to describe someone whose sewing goes beyond the mundane to the creative. It is possible to be an environmentally-minded sewer or sewist.

How We Chose the Best Online Sewing Classes

While there are sewing groups, schools, and sites galore, our focus was on those that go beyond providing patterns and videos, finding those that take sustainability and environmental action seriously. The options listed here have a mission or focus on selecting sustainable fabrics and threads, lowering the carbon footprint for transportation, and supporting projects that waste little or no fabric.