Buying = Thing
Making = Thing + Learning + Story
When I was growing up it was normal for girls to take a sewing class for one semester. Half the class had electric sewing machines and the other half had old-fashioned treadle machines (yes, I am that old, and yes, the school didn't have enough money to update all the machines at once)--I was assigned a treadle machine and I remember my first project being an brown checked gingham apron.
By the time I was in high school it was fashionable for us to make our own clothes--we would pore over the new sewing pattern collections at the fabric store, carefully crafting our first-day-of-school outfits (I loved this shirt dress!).
College was a series of dresses made from printed cotton sheets from India (I did a lot of folk dancing back then).
A new generation is making clothing ourselves more accessible than ever, and I could not be happier. Great patterns are coming from independent designers--A Verb for Keeping Warm, 100 Acts of Sewing, Liesel + Co, Merchant & Mills, Colette, and Grainline Studio. And blogs like Fringe Association and Hodge Podge Farm inspire.
In the final chapter of The Joy of Color I wrote:
Wear your sweater whenever you can--don't save it for special occasions. Let it become your signature in the world, a quiet symbol of intelligence, skill, persistence, and the power of individual beauty in an over-commodified world.
I've decided to expand this countercultural manifesto to the rest of my wardrobe. Working on the old Singer that my grandmother won for selling the most magazine subscriptions in a Depression-era contest, I've happily taken control over my clothing again. I've just finished another Dress No. 2, a versatile pattern by Sonya Philip (read about her 100 Acts of Sewing project). Two of my versions are blouse length; the third is a dress (with pockets!!! who doesn't love pockets?). I also sewed up the Esme top from Lotta Jonsdotter's Everyday Style--another good source of patterns--but the sleeves were too tight. I'll need to get into the habit of making muslins and testing for fit before using my good fabric!
I'm not abandoning knitting--but I've got to say that I'm loving the speed at which I can get a finished object at the sewing table! And fabric stores!!! An Aladdin's cave of treasures....
What is your sewing story? Did you grow up with a mother who made your clothes? Did you learn to sew early? Or are you just now exploring the world of woven fabric? Or--perhaps--totally uninterested!