DIY & Crafts

Adventures in sewing: clothes

Canadian Living
DIY & Crafts

Adventures in sewing: clothes

Good morning, friends. I know it's Thursday, but I'm still thinking about what I did last weekend. No, there was no wedding to go to, no long drive to the cottage – just a regular weekend at home – but my Sunday at the sewing machine was momentous in its own way. tracing-pattern1 For the first time in more than five years, I made a garment. This is a big deal; there's a reason that the last time I attempted anything other than a quilt or a tote bag was five years ago. (Let's just say the pyjamas made out of repurposed flannel sheets and the three-sizes-too-small twirly skirt were not my finest sewing moments.) But: I made a shirt. It took me the better part of 6 hours, but I ended up with an actual shirt. And not a "homemade" shirt with one arm longer than the other and lots of loose threads hanging everywhere, but a shirt that fit. I liked it so much that I wore it to work on Monday. new-shirt (Trust me: I looked better without a giant camera in front of my face. Also, know that I went home that night and dusted that mirror!!) The shirt is the "Summer Blouse" from the Heather Ross book Weekend Sewing. It's a beautiful book, and for the most part the directions are clear and the diagrams easy to follow. I'd never made a neck placket before, or sewn a set-in sleeve, and I managed both without much trouble just by following the directions. That said, there were a few tricks I had up my sleeve that probably made things a little easier. First off, I remembered reading a review of this pattern by Erin of House on Hill Road, and I kept that webpage open while I sewed. (Having her comments there was a bit like the reassurance you get from using your mom's old cookbook, the one with the helpful hints scribbled in the margins.) A hint in the comments on Erin's post made me go looking for an errata page for the book, where I learned that some of the pattern markings were missing from the pattern sheets (which was a relief, because I was starting to think I needed glasses!). I also tripped over to the Weekend Sewing Flickr group, which has, in addition to more than 700 project photos, a very informative discussion group. (All of which left me wondering: How on earth did people make things before the Internet?) But there's a bigger question here. Now that I've seen how much work went into making this one piece of clothing, how can I justify walking into a big-box store and walking out, $10 later, with a brand-new shirt? It's tempting, sure – who has the time or ability to make all their own clothes these days? – but is it fair? If you look at that $10 shirt, then take into account retail markup, wholesale markup, shipping costs and material costs...how much is the person (or people) who actually made the shirt getting paid? It's certainly nowhere near minimum wage. Fair-trade, a word that entered my awareness when I started drinking coffee, seems to be gaining mainstream acceptance these days; it's something we think about when we're at the coffee shop, or buying bananas, or thinking about which hand lotion to buy. But aside from a few well-publicized campaigns, it seems like people aren't as concerned about fair-trade clothing. Is it time that we stopped thinking about the next great bargain? It's a big issue and one I'm still working through in my head. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Are handmade clothes worth the effort? Do we pay a fair price for the clothes we buy?
Comments
Share X
DIY & Crafts

Adventures in sewing: clothes

Login