A project nearly 10 years in the making, PATTERN’s StitchWorks is bringing the art of apparel production back to the city of Indianapolis.
In partnership with Indiana Fashion Week, and operating as a sewing facility, StitchWorks houses industrial sewing machines which will be available for use by designers, local partners and the public. Sewing classes will be offered and work will be done toward launching an industrial sewing certificate program.
The long-term goal of StitchWorks is to operate as a full-time cut-and-sew facility, allowing local designers and vendors to create small batches of products while being able to stop in and oversee the production of their designs. “We now have this space for creators to come create and where we can teach other people how to use the tools of the industry to create beautiful things” stated Jodie Bailey, Development Consultant of StitchWorks.
StitchWorks was created in response to the ever-changing retail environment, which favors small designers and retailers less and less, thanks to offshoring and its by-product, fast-fashion. Today, offshoring has become typical in the fashion industry. Large retailers are sending orders overseas to countries like China where labor is cheaper and production is faster. Offshoring has led to the rise of fast-fashion, the term that describes the rapid production of cheap clothing mimicking trends from the runway. Fast-fashion has led to an increase in quantity of clothing bought by consumers, as well as a decrease in the amount of time garments are kept by consumers.
Not only has the fast-fashion movement been detrimental to the environment, but it has also meant a decrease in people with the skills to sew. The movement of apparel production overseas has meant national job losses and the impending death of the craft. In the past when clothes were damaged, actions were taken to mend them. Today, if clothing has imperfections, fast-fashion has made it so that it is cheaper and faster to toss the damaged clothing and replace it with something new.
Small, local designers are affected most by the fast-fashion movement. Once their businesses grow to a certain size, it is no longer plausible to personally make every item, however most overseas facilities implement a high minimum for product production which are not realistic for a small retailer where lower quantities of goods are needed.
StitchWorks’ goal is to serve local designers, as well as give interested people the opportunity to learn sewing skills. The overall goal of the facility is to become a self-sustaining cut-and-sew workshop, however it will rely on support from and usage by the public to reach this point. StitchWorks is actively fundraising to reach these goals and currently searching for corporate partners in need of trained sewing professionals.