A friend was over for coffee yesterday. We discussed getting things done. She works full time. I don't. Her job requires flexibility. Mine doesn't. She'll be working on one project and suddenly she's to leave it and move to a different one. That would drive me absolutely crazy. I am flexible within a routine. My daily schedule is in virtually the same order every day and I prefer to start and finish one project at a time. It's what works best for me.
Right now - as in it could change before Monday - the plan for next week is to sew several basic - most likely black - t-shirts. My wardrobe is desperate. It's reaching a critical stage. Only sewing basic t-shirt after basic t-shirt is boring so I've been thinking about sewing a t-shirt and working on a piece of jewelry at the same time in some sort of alternating way like an hour here and an hour there. The concern for me is not can I sew five t-shirts or can I create a piece of jewelry, it's can I do them at the same time in the same space? For some people that's not even a question. For me, it's not at all how I work and it might not even be important to learn how to work that way but it's an interesting question.
With the new year, there's been a lot of discussion about sewing basics... or cake... or frosting. Since my return to fashion sewing, I've tried a few SWAPs, sew-a-longs, and similar plans and they always seem to suck the joy out of sewing. As soon as I have to sew in some way, I don't want to. Part of how I decide what to sew is by following up interesting questions. Can I sew a bra? Can I sew jeans? Can I adapt this pattern to look like that RTW garment? Can I learn this new technique? Can I make this garment fit my figure? I'm curiosity driven.
Where I'm the most flexible within the studio is with what I sew and typically the project of the moment is whatever was top of the tickle list - anything from practical to party. Sorting through my photographs pointed out that most of what I wear, I sew and most of what I sew I don't wear. It's only a small portion of what was sewn that actually makes it into wardrobe rotation. That's a curious observation. It leads to the questions why and how can I up that ratio so that almost everything I sew gets worn? Why do I sew what I sew?
It's not about money. A lot of women tell me they stopped sewing when it became less expensive to buy the garment than it was to sew it. Every time I hear that line of reasoning there's a part of me that wants to ask where they shop because it's rare that the garment I sewed is more expensive than a purchased one of similar quality. For me, sewing is about quality, about entertaining myself, about stretching my brain and my creativity, and about fit, fun, and flatter.
When I started fashion sewing again several years ago, I wanted to learn how to sew bras and jeans and when I started knitting again, I wanted to learn how to knit socks. I've studied every possible sock knitting method and I've knit several pairs and I don't like knitting socks or how they feel on my feet. I can buy two dozen socks in two seconds flat and they'll last for a year. Good enough. On the other hand, the bras that I sew fit about the same as my favourite RTW bra so I buy basic black and white bras and sew ones with more expensive and colorful fabrics and prettier lace. The panties I sew are way, Way, WAY more comfortable than anything I can buy so I sew them in basic colors and in matching sets with the bras, sets being something I'd never bought due to sizing and expense.
My husband brought this fabric back from Guatemala and I used Burda 7500 to sew a pair of pants with a cuffed and pleated hem and an elastic waistline. The fabric has a gold metallic thread in it that was itchy so the pants are fully lined. Both my sons think they look like pj pants and my daughter thinks they're quite ugly. I absolutely LOVE them. The are so comfortable that I made another pair in a striped grey and both get worn regularly.
Being a gift, the Guatemala pair was free. The grey pair was sewn for $5.00 with fabric bought in the bargain center. When I wore them in June at the DOL workshop, Marcy complimented me on the pants and said she really liked the fabric. I mention that only to illustrate that I'm not deluding myself about finding good deals on fabric. Until I returned to sewing, I didn't have any clothes of this nature because they are typically quite expensive. Before sewing, the clothes I would buy I couldn't afford and the clothes I could afford I wouldn't buy. It was a dilemma. Now, I can afford to sew them.
I sewed the jeans I'm wearing in the picture above. They fit me far better than any I can buy. I wear jeans regularly and once my weight is settled, would like to sew more mainly for the fit and the style lines. I hate being held hostage by whatever is in style. I prefer to wear what flatters me. The wool jacket is sewn from Vogue 8459. I was curious to see if I could sew a jacket that fit well and, if I could, would I wear it. Yes... I could... and no... I wouldn't. Since making the jacket almost three years ago, I've worn it twice. That's good learning. I am far more likely...
... to wear a skirt like this one from Mary Adams' book The Party Dress Book. It's sewn in a method she calls crazy applique that's layered and involves threadwork. It's exactly the kind of project I really enjoy working on and there would most likely be less hours invested in sewing this skirt than in sewing the jacket plus I'd have more fun sewing it and wear it more often. That's good learning too - to both invest my time where it's fun and where it's wearable.
I've done a lot of learning with t-shirts. First I learned to sew a basic t-shirt and developed a reliable T & T pattern. From there, I started adding interior seams and details like the RTW copy above. I evolved the basic t-shirt into a cardigan pattern and have used it to develop my own designs as well as to refashion existing sweaters. I've taken the T & T in numerous directions and have numerous more to explore because I wear knits more than any other fabric and t-shirts more than any other garment.
When I think about sewing more of the clothing I actually wear and about making those pieces more creative, I am thinking about adding details to t-shirts, skirts, pants, and cardigans. My inspiration file is full of images like the one above from Anthropologie.com. A similar piece could be easily developed from Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8691 - a fabulous pattern.
Why do you sew what you sew? What percentage of what you sew do you wear? What percentage of what you wear do you sew?
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - an understanding of the best direction for me to explore in