Sunday, April 20, 2014

5 Reasons You Don't Want to Make Clothing - (and why I will try to change your mind!)

As I was working on making a skirt for myself yesterday I began thinking of all the reasons many of us don't want to make our own clothes anymore.  And just to be clear, this is the first garment I have made for myself in many years!  So I know all of the excuses, and have used them myself many times.  But as I thought and sewed I realized that many of my excuses were simply that - excuses.  So I thought I would share them with you and see what you think, and if you might re-consider sewing something new to wear.

Reason Number One: Pattern Sizing is totally weird.  This is my number one stumbling block.  I wear a size 12 pants.  I can walk into about any store, pick up a size 12 pair of pants and they will fit fairly well.  If I made myself a pair of size 12 pants from a commercial pattern, I would not be able to even get them up over my thighs!  I have never found a reliable reason for this size difference, but to choose a pattern size you actually need to know your correct measurements.  I always go with the measurement for my waist since that seems the most out of synch with the rest of the measurements.  You can easily take the garment in if it is too large, but you can't add more if it's too tight!  For my skirt I decided to make the largest size because that was closest to my waist measurement.  Size 22!  What?  Pattern sizes are definitely way different, so just don't think about it too much.  They do not resemble ready to wear in any form, so you just have to get over it and not think about the large numbers.  (In the end I took in the waist and could have made the size 20 easily.  I marked the pattern so I would remember next time I make this skirt)

Reason Number Two:  I don't understand the instructions.  Yes, pattern instructions can be hard to understand.  Most patterns are written assuming that you have a basic, if not higher, level of understanding.  Luckily, most patterns do have a glossary of terms, and if you still don't get it - try google!  Call a friend, or a mom, aunt, or other person who sews.  Don't let it stump you, be persistent and you can figure it out.  I've been sewing since I was little and I get confused, too, sometimes.  So don't let it be a block for you, there are ways to figure it out and you can do this!

Reason Number Three:  I can buy the same thing at ____ for less!  Oh boy, I can relate to this one as well.  I made a simple A-line skirt.  I spent $15.00 for the fabric, $6.00 for the lining, $2.00 for thread, plus a zipper and interfacing.  That's probably about $25.00 just for the materials.  Once you factor in the time spent, my skirt is probably worth about $60.00.  Yes, I might be able to find a skirt for less than that if I go shopping - but it would not fit me just right.  It would probably be made out of cheaper material, not lined and would not last through several years of use.  And, knowing me, I would spend an entire afternoon shopping for said skirt anyway, and I'd rather spend my time sewing than shopping :)  I have never found the perfect skirt in the first store I shopped in - and mostly when I shop for clothing I come home without anything at all!

Reason Number Four:  I'm going to spend money on fabric, and all my time, and it is still not going to fit right.  I have had this happen.  But, face it - when you are buying ready made, is it going to fit perfectly?  Generally, you either don't purchase an item that doesn't fit right, or you pay to have it altered (or alter it yourself).  At least if you are making it, you have opportunities to tweak the fit before you finish.  If you are really concerned about the fit, you can always make a trial version in muslin to double check how it is going to work.  Just remember, if you are making yourself clothing, you can make it to perfectly fit if you put in the effort!  If you just make it from the pattern without ever measuring or trying your project on, you are quite likely to end up with an item that does not fit perfectly - so make sure you measure and fit as you go!

Reason Number Five:  I don't want it to look home-made.  So what is wrong with that?  Just kidding...I have experienced what you are thinking.  Sloppy home-made.  Imperfectly made home-made.  But, what about hand made?  Custom tailored hand made?  One of a kind, just for you, unique hand made?  How to achieve that special look?  Press as you go.  Trim seams properly, trim threads.  Match your thread (and zipper) to your project.  The details.  Seriously, it truly is the small details that elevate your project from just home-made to hand crafted special.  Don't just whip your way through your project, but put a little special effort in to elevate the look from just ok, to absolutely awesome!

I hope my musings will help you think about why you might avoid making yourself something uniquely yours to wear.  You might have fun, and you will definitely create something that is special!


teachpany said...

Great post! I've made clothes for myself and others, and you can truly get the best fit and unique look if you do. My biggest hurdle is not having a dress form. It's a little challenging to fit something on yourself, when there's no one here to help pin. Your skirt is really pretty!

Kay C. said...

About sizing. Back when I started sewing, many decades ago, pattern sizes and ready made items were the same sizes. I wore a size 12, weighed 125 and am 5'6'. Could have worn a 10 except for large boned shoulders and hips.
Then the retail gurus decided that women would buy more clothes if they didn't have to buy bigger sizes - make us feel good. Then after a few years the pattern makers did the same thing, but by then the retail market had re-sized a couple of times and gotten to the point where everyone had their own sizing.
And with patterns you can't jump a lot at a time or everyone notices the differences in measurements and says - What's going on? Thus the huge gap in sizes in ready wear and patterns. One of these days I'll dig out one of my 1960's patterns and today's pattern and compare the measurements.