Monday, November 17, 2008
On Sewing Clothing
There are a few days over the next six weeks where I consciously plan to devote entire days to sewing of some sort, whether it be for home or clothing. It gives me a great feeling of relief and satisfaction when I finish making a new dress or useful item for around the home. Now, I will say that I think that in order to be the type of person who makes most of what you wear, that you need to be a high-control type of person who values personal choice on some level. After all, how your garment will look, fit, and feel is all up to you. You choose everything from the type of fabric to the hem length, so it helps if you have decisive ideas on what is comfortable and modest for your body. And at the end of the day, comfort and fit are two things that I really value, as well as a love for fabric. Even if you belong to a church with highly specific standards on what to wear, the feel and ease of your dress (and fabric) is still up to you.
Working in an environment with a diverse group of women, the complaint of how ready-made clothing (often manufactured overseas) fit is a prominent one that I hear. Sleeves are always too long, pants always need to be hemmed, and I do feel badly for any woman who has to shop for blue jeans as the range of fit options that are available seem to stifle many women into multi-day dressing room odysseys. Ha! Even if I wasn't a skirts-only Mennonite lady, I'd still say you can have it! A woman who worked in the garment industry once told me that many clothing manufacturers use fit models from the country where the actual items are made. Then, they are sized-up accordingly. That means a tiny woman in a foreign country may be the "base" body that your clothing is meant to dress. No wonder so many women have a hard time finding something flattering to wear. Many women have approached me and asked me to sew for them. "I can never find long skirts in stores," is one complaint I hear often. Alas, there is barely time for me to get my own sewing done let alone start a side business! But I sympathize.
In order to sew your own clothes, I think you also need a sense of individual perseverance. You like to build things from the ground up, and are committed to finishing what you start. No one is perfect, and we all have projects we would like to work on if only there were more time to work on them, but you do need to have the discipline to get things done. For example, you can't start planning the next sewing project when the first one is still cut out and waiting.
Also, it can and does get frustrating. I sometimes have to stop and remind myself that I like sewing!
But, at the end of the day, I sew my own clothes mostly because I am a control freak and am fairly convinced that no one else can do it better. At least, not for what I am willing to pay which brings me to another point. Making your own clothes, even if it is just a few items a year, is economical. I spend so little money on my own personal clothing it's ridiculous. But it allows me to have money to spend on things to wear that really matter to me, like good quality long-lasting shoes and warm winter coats. And it's not only a penny saver but it can be a time saver, as well. There is very little time spent driving from store to store, looking a racks, rearranging my schedule to get to a sale, or sifting through trendy items.
Now, I'll tell you what surprises me. Why more women don't sew more of their own clothing.