What does it mean to slow down and Make in a thoughtful manner....?

Let's talk about it!

Clothing details

Tova details.jpg

This photo is not meant to highlight the aging skin on my neck, but more to show a detail of some of the clothes I have made, so I can make a point.

Many who sew for themselves do so to make pretty frocks to wear to special occasions. I have been known to sew for a wedding, or a party in my day, but most of what I sew is for my daily wear. I am wearing what you are looking at on the left right now. It is a Wiksten Tova top and the Annabel Cardigan in Quince & Co.'s Osprey. These two pieces are workhorses in my wardrobe. They are pulled over my head day after day. So while they may have cost more to make, both in dollars for the fabric and the pattern (let's say $25 in materials for the Tova and $35 for the Annabel) and my time (about 3 hours for the Tova and about 30 for Annabel [that last # needs to be looked at more closely]), if I was to amortize the amount by how much wear they get, it would come down to maybe 25¢ a wearing.

Compare that cost to the shirt you buy at TJMaxx for $25 and wear about a dozen times before the seams start unraveling, or the fabric pills in an ugly manner, or it literally tears (all things that have happened to me) and you start to see what I make my own clothes. That's about $2 a wearing, not very cost efficient. Not to mention the fact that the TJMaxx shirt never quite fit me right… 

Those are the dollars and cents reasons for making your own clothes. I would be lying if I did not also factor in the less tangible reasons. For example, sewing makes me happy. It is incredibly satisfying in a way shopping never is (for me) to hunt for and find the perfect piece of fabric, wash and iron it, select the right pattern and cut it out. Assemble the pieces by carefully matching up appropriate seams, finish said seams in a clean manner, check the fit, adjust here or there and then shake the little threads off a new piece of clothing to wear.  All the while listening to my favorite music, perhaps chatting with friends, having a bite to eat or a cup of tea. The cardigan I knit while sitting on the couch with my husband, catching up on the day, watching some television.  All of that is so much more gratifying to my soul than going to a store in a mall, pawing through racks of items made for some alien body that in no way resembles mine, wincing at an ill-fitted (at least) reflection in a cold mirror and walking away only half (if that) satisfied I have something to wear. I was really motivated to make my own wardrobe seriously about two years ago when I got fed-up with that process and realized that I really could make my own clothes. I don't think there was ever any moment when I made a concrete decision to make the whole wardrobe. I just kept making things and they kept winding up on my body, and now besides a couple of pairs of jeans, some turtlenecks, footwear and underwear, everything I wear is made by my own hands. And every make gives me great pleasure. Went to the Dr. in November and she said my blood pressure has gone down...

This is the rest of that outfit. The skirt is a Ginger from Colette Patterns (all the names are links), made in some Essex Linen I bought from Mary at Z Fabrics. The top is a Wiksten Tova in yarn dyed cotton by Kaffe Fassett I think I bought at Mardens. The Annabel Cardigan, designed by Portland's own Carrie Bostick Hoge, was knit in Quince & Co.'s Osprey in Frank's plum that I bought at KnitWit.  So how's that for local? None of these patterns are complicated or difficult. In fact I have made the skirt and top numerous times, which means that each time I make them it happens a little faster because I know exactly what I'm doing with the pattern. 


My point here is only to say that making your own clothes is not a pipe dream, it is not beyond your schedule restrictions or skill capabilities. If this idea is appealing, check out our workshops. The Alphabet Starts with A-Line (skirt) will teach you to make a classic skirt you can make over and over. Working with a Commercial Pattern will give you the understanding and skills to work with any pattern. Many Threads will teach you how to use a serger, you'll never need to buy a T shirt again… Then you can come in and use our space to make clothes with others, in community.  We could have a fashion show of all the things we've made for ourselves. What do you think of that idea? Let me know if you like it, I think I just thought of something cool to do here….



Do you make your own clothes?