Sunday, 15 March 2015

Self-made wardrobe

This post doesn't have any relevant photos, so I'm just putting in photos of my cats. Babe has the mostly white nose, and Ebony has the mostly black one.

Sisters from the same litter.

Happy to nap on the kid's stuff.

When I talk to non-sewing people about sewing, they’re often most amazed at my self-made wardrobe.  I admit that I didn’t really think it would be possible until I started on it last year.

My inspiration came from the book Overdressed:  The shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline.  I read the book in January 2014, and it made a lot of sense to me.  I know the title makes it sound like it will be an expose on Sweat Shops or third world labour, but it’s really not.  It does mention that and touch upon it a bit, but the book is actually about our relationship with the clothes we buy in stores.  It focuses mostly on the American market, but I found it mostly relevant for the Canadian market as well.  Obviously, our commodities are more expensive than the US, but we share many brands and manufacturers.

Sorry Mandy, your dad's not getting his package. Cat's claim.

Anyway, it was the part about how our thinking has shifted with regard to what we expect of our clothing now that really got to me.  I had just gone back to work after having my second baby and had bought all new clothes because nothing from before still fit me. Since I needed five days worth of clothing, I sacrificed quality for quantity.  I wasn’t really happy with a lot of the clothes I chose, thinking of them as temporary pieces mostly, but I had hope I would fit into the old clothes again before those wore out. (Overly Optimistic as always).

Laser vision!

No fair!  I want the top shelf!

I also found it eye-opening to learn about the inner workings of thrift shops.  I had heard that they really didn’t need so many donations, and that there was a lot of surplus, but I didn’t realise the extent.  So, in January 2014, I vowed to myself that there were only three ways clothes would enter my house that year. 1. Buy it from a Thrift store 2. Have it given to me by someone and 3. Make it myself. Something of a lofty goal for someone who had two small children, a full time job, and had not touched a sewing machine in over three years.

I started by sewing some little dresses. Two as gifts and one for my own daughter out of the same sweet little cotton fabric.  Those turned out really nicely, so I was encouraged to sew up a sundress next.  Then the Butterick Walk-away dress, and next thing I knew I was back in love with sewing.
I did end up buying a few items last year.  A linen skirt that was deeply discounted and then a few items at a clearance sale when the last Zellers closed in White Rock.  It had been used as an outlet store for The Bay so had some mid-level fashion pieces in there that were beautiful. A neon yellow skirt by Lord and Taylor, a silk skirt by Ralph Lauren, a green dress made in Italy… each item under $20. I regret nothing.

Fearless wildlife photographer Aki with his ham-cat.

Baby does not want to held, cat does. Spart wonders if other fathers have these problems.

I am sitting in Babe's spot.  She is not amused.

For 2015 I feel in a good groove about sewing my own garments and am slowly replacing all my existing items with sewn ones.  The Ready-To-Wear clothes all had some fit or construction issue that I had just learned to live with, so I’ve slowly been finding patterns for garments that have all the things I like about an existing item so I can then make them up exactly the way I want. I don’t really have a goal in mind regarding my wardrobe at this point, but I guess I want to replace everything RTW eventually. In the next month I hope to sew a couple new bras and get rid of the RTW ones I have now. Then the jeans, dresses, and pyjamas. That should get me through the end of the year.

Oh, are these your work clothes?  Freshly ironed?  Must be, they're still warm.

Last Friday I wore a RTW dress I have.  I bought it last September, wore it once, found the sleeves too tight and then it languished in the mending hamper for three months.  In December I finally got to taking the chiffon sleeves off and making a sleeveless dress.  Friday was the first time I'd worn it since, and all day I was tugging at it and pulling and asking myself why was I wearing a dress that doesn't fit me?  I realized that this is the first affirmation I've had from myself that I'm now sewing clothes that fit me and my skills have improved.  It was a nice thought, but doesn't change the fit of that dress.  It's not worth altering as there is not much to work with, but I think I might just oust it. It's pretty though.

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