Monday, August 23, 2010

Going forward sewing strategy

I will admit that I'm ready to go on a shopping bender. I'm ready for some new stuff, because (here's my conclusion): it's tough to sew all your own clothes!

I found that it is difficult to sew all of my own clothes primarily because of time. I just don't have enough of it! It takes me a week or 2 to sew a garment like a dress: I can sew about an hour every other day, and perhaps 3-4 hours on the weekends. (Especially in the summer, when I don't want to sit indoors at my machine.)  I have other hobbies that I like to indulge: road cycling, reading, cooking, and Mr. ASW and I love to take little weekend road trips around New England in the fall.

The second is skill/inclination: I want a military-style jacket for fall, but I'd prefer to spend $50 on one than spend a month piecing together my own, if I could even find the right materials - the pattern, knit neckline, little zippers, grommets, materials - and then execute it. I could make a few skirts and tops in that amount of time.



A cost analysis does come into play: sometimes it's cheaper to buy than make. For example, the military jacket above: after all the materials are added up, it might cost more to sew the jacket. Or little summer tops: Forever 21 has super cute blousy pieces to wear with shorts for well under $20. One could be sewn up for under $10, perhaps, but I'd prefer to use that time to sew distinctive skirts or dresses.




My going-forward sewing goals will be much less ambitious than this past year's: I'm going to sew to fill holes in my closet... just not all the holes!  And I'm not going to shy away from a pattern because it may be time-consuming or a challenge.  I'm going to take on more adventurous pieces this year now that I have a basic understanding.

I have definitely been bitten by the sewing bug.  I don't think I could ever stop sewing now. I almost threw the towel in when I could not get the McCall's 5753 dress to work. I was so frustrated.  But there are just too many cool patterns and great fabrics, and I have too many ideas.  Too many pieces that I want that I couldn't buy - they exist only in my imagination right now!  But with sewing, they don't have to stay there.  Don't you just love that?

23 comments:

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Yeah! Let me give you a list of things that I don't sew for myself...tank tops, sweaters, underwear, coats (all coats!)...which leaves me time to sew the things I want...like dresses! *LOL* Seriously, we all decide how we want to spend our sewing time...what will bring us the most joy creatively and what we can deal with in RTW.

You've now defined yours...and I can't wait to see what you sew this year!!!

Peter said...

I think you forgot to mention US readers. We don't want to read about your shopping sprees at Old Navy. Surely that counts for something!

PS - when will it stop raining on Cape Cod?

Gorgeous Things said...

Yeah! Go girl! You have done a fantastic job. Now you can take the experience and put some perspective on your sewing. Sew what you love and will love sewing!

AllisonC said...

Sounds like a completely smart strategy, have fun with it in the next year!

Linda said...

Your strategy for your wardrobe needs sounds entirely practical and sensible. Some things are just not worth the time, energy, or aggravation to try to make them yourself. I am really enjoying reading your blog as well as some of the others that you follow and am getting more interested in getting back into sewing for myself. When in high school (40 years ago) I sewed most of my own clothes. Then sewed for my kids when they were growing up but not a lot in recent years. I am now retired and just cleaned out the closet and donated all the suits and work clothes I no longer wear and discovered that other than everyday very casual wear I have nothing left to wear, literally. I am going to go on a shopping spree for some new patterns and look through my fabric stash and try to get going on some new pieces.

Congrats on your successful year and good luck going forward.

MushyWear said...

Have fun on your shopping spree! I know I would. I think your "Going Forward" sewing plan sounds just right. It will be fun to continue to see what you make and I'm sure you will learn even more and become even more addicted to it in the coming year. Happy Sewing!

Karin said...

I entirely agree with your sewing strategy - it's the one I follow! I am glad to hear that you will still be sewing and blogging. Can't wait to see what you make next.

Marie-Christine said...

You're right, sewing shouldn't be masochism, you should sew at your own rhythm what you can do -and- feel like doing. Take heart too, you plunged into this suddenly and you can't expect instant results, good progress is already an accomplishment. A wardrobe is the result of much accumulation, and it takes several years to change its character significantly (like toward more homemade).

I've been doing this most of my life, and sometimes I do have burst of efficiency (usually dictated by something like a move to a different climate or a change in job conditions). But on the whole I find that I feel good making about one thing a month. It's a rhythm I can stick too without having sewing taking over my life, and it works to renew the wardrobe enough that I can maintain close to all I need and want.

That said in the long term you go through phases where you just want to get useable stuff out, and phases where you're happy to putter at length mastering new skills. Flogging yourself doesn't produce more enthusiasm, or more productivity in my experience. You might want to embark on tailoring skills or outdoor fabrics or whatever later, but meanwhile if you need a swimsuit this week it's fine to go out and buy it. And if you don't find exactly what you want it's motivation to get back to it later at a more leisured pace :-).

The difference between us and women before the later 20th century is that we do for fun what they did out of necessity. It's important to keep the fun element, least we also become eager to stop..

Debbie Cook said...

Good new strategy. Sew what makes you happy, what you have in your imagination, when you want.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Being realistic about one's life is always important. I really don't want to try to sew a pair of jeans, so I think I will be treating myself to a new pair soon.

Darci said...

Your strategy is a great one! I look at time vs. cost per wear to figure out if it's even worth it to sew something. But there's something to be said for clothes that fit you perfectly and that you love.

I'm also a BIG fan of fast sewing, so it's rare for me to take on a project that will take longer than a week to complete. I tend to drag my feet on those ones.

Have fun with it!

Linda said...

You have the right attitude toward this. I don't sew pants. I have attempted them maybe three times. I can buy them to fit me just fine; sometimes I have to have hemmed. I don't sew coats though I am thinking about it. I like what you wrote about filling the holes sewing.

Lisette said...

I think I've learned this lesson recently as well while on my knitting run. I take forever to knit something and I may not ever be skilled enough to make things like argyle sweaters or cables or anything with intarsia. I'm also still afraid of jeans and t-shirts, but I think that will be my next big fear to tackle. On the other hand, I've found that I love knitting my own socks and will happily invest the time.
PS, that's a great coat!

Rosy said...

Sewing for fun is important, because we have the rest of the day full of obligations, your strategy made me think a lot about my goals ....

amber said...

Yes, yes, yes. :) There are just some things that I'm perfectly happy with from RTW, which frees up my (also limited) time to sew the stuff that I either can't get in a store or that doesn't typically fit as well as the version I can create on my own. I think your sewing plan moving forward is perfect, not only because it seems to mirror my own, but because it feels like a great way for you to continue growing in your sewing skills and being happy with the final products. :)

Birgitte said...

Sounds like a plan, have fun!

But... you got to make something very special soon cause you won the silk!

Go to my blog for info :) Congratulations!

Valerie'sownsewingblog said...

You've got a good strategy. I won't sew jeans - not because I can't but because it is time consuming to get them to fit just right and I can get ones I like at Target for what I would spend on the denim. Same goes for bras..but I will invest the time and money for jackets and coats because I figure that they pay for themselves. Oh and I enjoy the process.

Sam said...

I totally support your strategy! There are a lot of good quality basics that you could make, but that definitely eats into the time you have for the more complicated stuff. I do the same thing- I just bought some basic tees on sale from jcrew, because while I could make them, at $7 each, it's not super efficient. Or fun! I prefer to spend my time making perfectly tailored pencil skirts (which I can't wear off the rack) or making my own version of those cute, $300 blouses that I will never pay for! Like you, my sewing projects last a week or two, and it can be kind of anti-climactic to spend that time on something you can spend $20 on! That said, I still do make "fancy" tees an other basics because I can't justify a $40 knit shirt! I hope you keep blogging on your projects though, because I've really enjoyed reading about your journey this past year - and it's been inspirational to my own sewing mojo!

Clio said...

I also have time and skill constraints. Figuring out what I ought to sew vs purchase is a whole other challenge. But it sound like you've got it pretty sorted! I can't wait to see what you sew in year two.

Carolyn said...

Yes, great strategy! I agree, and once my Wardrobe refashion pledge is over I may go back to buying Tshirts as I REALLY don't like sewing stretch jersey, and never have... AND I like store-bought cardigans, and like you I prefer to spend my time on challenging and interesting clothes. But now you've experienced the rewards of a successfully sewing for yourself, so I hope you still continue to enjoy sewing! Have fun on your shopping spree!!

ophelia's granddaughter said...

I actually just finished a sheer top I made from black chiffon for under $20. There are pics on my blog about it! I love your blog and how you are making your own clothes I have chosen to do the same thing! Its not easy but a lot of fun! Keep going!!

Clio said...

Hey Rachel- I've nominated you for a blog award which you can pick up at my blog. No pressure - I know it's not everyone's thing.

Here's the link:
http://fivemuses.blogspot.com

Marie-Christine said...

Often I sew because it takes less time than to try and find my size in the color and fabric I want, because I like the result better, and because I know I can easily make much better quality than what I can afford to buy.

But I do feel liberated in the past couple years after finding a good affordable source for jackets. A change in locale/climate has meant that I need more jackets, but they're painful for me, too big projects for my limited attention span, not enough short-term gratification. So there you go.. Sewing should not be masochism, or even puritanism, if you intend to keep it up on the long term :-).