Monday, 3 September 2012

Radical re-imagining: the beginning

What I should be doing: FINISHING MY PHD THESIS!

What I am actually doing: Wistfully reading this thread on Pattern Review by people who are going to make all or most of their own clothes for a year. And also reading Goodbye Valentino, a blog by a woman who gave up shopping for sewing for a year and made some beautiful garments.

I really wish I could commit to something like that, but I can't for a variety of technical reasons like, oh, (a) the fact I've only ever finished one garment and yet need a whole new work wardrobe for autumn since I've been a student for 5 years and need a basic wardrobe; (b) I'm going to have a three month minimum period when I move where I won't have my machine or any fabric with me; and (c) I am not actually sure that the perfect wardrobe for me is one that is 100% home-made.

The good thing is that thinking about making my own clothes for a year made me think about what I COULD do, and also, what I want my wardrobe to look like. At the moment, if I open the doors to my wardrobe, it contains:

(a) garments I wear every day -- an actually very small percentage of the things I own. This is sort of odd at the moment because my everyday wear is barely a step above PJs -- I work at home and comfort is the most important thing. However, there's also the remnants of a "wear every day" work wardrobe in there that I remember very well;
(b) garments I really like but that are orphaned in my wardrobe, ie. they don't go with anything else;
(c) garments I do not like but bought anyway, usually because they fit and I was in a hurry;
(d) garments that do not fit (recent sudden weight gain due to my present health problems being the biggest problem, but also things, mainly that I bought online, that never fit because boobs)
(e) special occasion garments.

When I think of what I would like my wardrobe to look like in the future, this is what I imagine:

i) a mix of handmade and high quality, long-lasting RTW for work, casual and special occasions
ii) co-ordinated, so that I have a huge range of mix and match options
iii) well-fitting, so that I'm never in that awkward "can't take my sweater off because this blouse gapes over my bust, even if I'm dying of the heat" situation
iv) everything is something I would willingly wear -- so no more clothes bought because I'm bored, or because it's all there is in my size, or it's the only thing that would go over my bust.

I don't want to throw everything away and start again, because I genuinely do like a lot of my clothes and I also spent money on them all. I do want to get rid of some things I should never have bought in the first place. I don't want an image make-over, but I do need a major wardrobe upgrade simply because I've been a PhD student for 5 years and now I'm going to be a university lecturer. I also want to kind of radically re-imagine how I dress myself, and this is my statement:

I want to stop spending money and time on things I can't or won't wear, and start spending it on making or buying clothes that fit my life, fit my body and fit my style.

In a few weeks, I'll have finished my PhD, and I'll have a stretch of weeks when I can do whatever I like with my time, in addition to planning for my move and my viva. I am definitely going to spend some of that time really critically evaluating my wardrobe and restocking it. As a part of that re-stock, I want to try to make a few things, to start the hand-made part of my wardrobe off right. Some of the things I am going to need just aren't achievable for a beginner sewist, like tailoring, a coat, and woven blouses. But some, if I spend the time on getting it right, are very achievable.

Here are my ideas so far for how I can make sewing a part of my wardrobe make-over before I move:

1. Skirts. I am definitely capable of making any number of skirts. The patterns and sewing skills needed are pretty basic. I don't really own any skirts I love for winter for work, so this is an area where I could definitely add to my wardrobe with handmade garments successfully.

2. Simple tops. This is more challenging, but I think that some simple smart knit tops for layering/more casual work looks are within my capabilities as a sewist right now. And I feel like the Sorbetto top should be well within my capabilities as well.

3. A dress. I would like to take one smart dress with me. This would be a major project to produce a single fitted garment suitable for work, and it would be the most challenging of all the things I would try to do.

The next thing to do is the wardrobe sort out so I can work out what colours and styles I want; then identifying patterns; then finding fabrics in my stash to fit to them; and then buying notions etc.

I feel like I have a plan! Maybe not as all-encompassing as the "sew everything for a year" plan, but a plan nevertheless! \o/

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