Sewing your own clothes?

It's the treadle's fault. I feel it looking at me scornfully. When I got it, it came with drawers full of bias tape, trims, bobbins already wound with all types of colours, threads, and magazine articles about clothes. It clearly made stuff in the past. It makes me want to. Plus, I have to prove to Jesse that I CAN and WILL actually use it, in case I need to argue in the future for another piece I find and want to drag home.

On one hand, aka, The Bad:

Cost. The pattern at $15-20*, fabric at $9/yd, plus thread and things like bias tape, interfacing, ribbons, or zippers, or, if you’ve vowed never to use zippers, cause they’re scary – then hooks, (3.67 for package of four!!!! – I know I won’t be sewing any alluring-hooks-down-the-entire-length of the back pieces. Whatever I make had better get closed up with 3-4 hooks, and the rest of world will be subjected to the rest. There’s also slithering into outfits that have no open/close features, and knit fabrics, which, I hear stretch) – stuff is expensive. A dress on clearance at Gap is, like, 16.99 (It won’t be the pretty dress, but definitely structurally sound).

Time. Drive to Gap from my house – 3 minutes. Sewing a dress – 2-3 weeks, and 80 cups of tea. And, it’s very likely (absolutely certain) that it takes someone in China same amount of time to whip up a shirt, that it takes for me to cut out the pattern pieces and decide if I’m size 6 or 14, or something in between. By the time I have a 4th cup of tea, figure out the right side of fabric, and spread my patterns to cut out, FedEx is flying the dress over to Gap. Or Ann Taylor Loft**. Wherever.

On the other hand, aka, The Good:

If I was good at it, I can probably make some nice outfits. Which I’m not. But I could be.

With today’s fashion (of which I have no concept) you can leave your house in just about anything, as long as you manage to wear it with a straight face and look at ease.

It helps to live in Southern California to maintain this kind of mentality. Where furry Uggly boots are OK with tiny shorts and bikini tops, how badly can I screw up, really. If you spend a day tugging on your hemline and adjusting shoulders, people might assume your dress doesn’t fit. If you wear a dress proudly, never mind that it’s turned ¾ backwards, has selvage edge for hems, and rides up on your left leg like an excited puppy, people might assume that’s a dress so exquisite only you and a few privileged models somewhere get to indulge. At least this is what I tell myself.

Why I like the idea of it:

I am oh so cheap. The only patterns I ever bought were $3 max during sales at JoAnn’s, (Or less. Very likely, that less). Helllo JoAnn's midnight madness sale and 99c McCall patterns (Fresh from today. Cause I don't have enough never opened patterns I have yet to fail at):

There's also a few I got for 10c at Debbie's Attic. I'm pretty sure a 50's dress is exactly the kind of thing my closet is missing.

I am oh so cheap part deux: I don’t even go look at regular priced fabric. If it's shiny, and beautiful, and I can picture myself in it (And I CAN), I will want it. I know this, so I don't look. I am just not that good, and watching a $9 yard fabric get mutilated would make me cry. 2-3 weeks is a lot of crying. Hello JoAnn’s clearance aisle and 50% off coupons, aka, Pretty Flowery Purple Fabric for $1.50 a yard. I always look for fabric stashes at garage/estate sales, but all I got so far are yards of beautiful silk that I’m way too afraid to cut into, even though they were a $1 for 2-4 yards a piece.

I guess those chicks were all good. They didn’t wander the clearance aisle looking for a print that isn’t cats. They went straight for the good stuff. They probably knew how to use zippers. Whatever.

I also found an enormous amount of purple fabric, soon to become a Haloween costume. I think. Although I'm sort of intrigued by the idea of a Haloween/Real Life Hybrid dress. May be a detachable train I can leave at home when heading to a mall. All I know is I can rock some gold ribbon like it's my job.

I like it. It’s more mentally engaging than watching TV, more physically active than reading ( I can practically HEAR the calories shed themselves. sNOrT). And it’s eventually rewarding. Well, if you do it right, it’s supposed to be.

I like the idea of picking your own fabric. Hello, shiny, tye dye, and all things formally currently banned by the fashion industry.

And I like idea of eventually being good enough to know how to modify a pattern to fit me well. Right now, I'm kind of hoping to be able to follow a pattern loosely. I am still in the stages of figuring out sizes. My chest, waist and hips put me anywhere between 12 and 16. But, an experiment from few weeks ago, a simple tunic cut in 16, was an epic fail. So was a 12. It got better with a size 8 chest, size 10 butt, and 6 darts total. The darts were never intended to be part of the design, but it was thee only way I managed to not look 8 months pregnant (stiff cotton). I'm guessing I should have cut a 6/8 hybrid, but too small clothes make me unhappy. You can't undart a size into a 10.

Some day I'll learn how to post links to other posts, and I'll link this to the Purple Experiment Dress mentioned above.

Lastly, I have long harbored ambitions to make a quilt. Any failure so total that in absolutely can not be worn, will simply be cubed into the Quilt Pile. Win.

I decided for now, it's a worthwhile little hobby, complete with an incentive and reward program, a chance to look and pet shiny fabrics, and possibly make a couple things to wear so awesome no store would dare carry. Plus, it keeps me off the streets, and most importantly, out of malls.

*I have done no research that indicates either Gap or Ann Taylor Loft stuff is made in China, or shipped by FedEx. I am too lazy to pull out a label and check. The FedEx thing would be dodgy to figure out anyway.

**Any phrase that depicts quantity of matter (time, number of items, price) are likely shamelessly made up/guessed/exaggerated and ballbarked to what sounds good in my head. Actual statistical bits may, (most certainly) vary (a lot).

Coming Soon: How I want a dress form, how expensive dress forms are, how ugly dress forms are, and how I want to try wrap myself in duct tape to make a dress form.


  1. Maybe there should be practice runs done on some cheap, ugly fabric so you don't feel bad wasting nice, pretty costly fabric. You can use #1 as a dress form. She's tall, and prettier than a dress form.

  2. Cheap pretty fabric!! I mean, you SAW the AWESOME purple dress. Send #1 over. :mellow:

  3. The purple dress is a work of art. Love it.