Saturday, 25 May 2013

Make or Buy?

When I think about what I want to sew for myself rather than buy, I usually end up with a long list that basically boil down to "everything!" It's actually probably faster to list the things I DON'T want to make, based on what is in my closet right now:

  1. Denim blue jeans. I'm ambivalent about this, actually. On the one hand, I really like the little details you get on jeans from shops: the leather label, the rivets and metal buttons, the embroidered pockets, the dye/bleach treatments etc. It seems like it would be a lot of effort for the home sewer to replicate most of that. On the other hand, the fit I get from store bought jeans is... not great. Probably not something I'll make in a hurry though, even if I do decide to try. However, other trousers/fabrics made in the general style of jeans: a distinct possibility, see below about trousers.
  2. Underwear. I know there are people who love making knickers, but I can't be bothered. I made one pair and was pretty much done with the whole idea.
  3. Knitted socks. I hate socks anyway, but if I must wear them I don't want chunky knit socks at all. This is a shame because everyone I know who makes socks finds it endlessly amusing, but I just wouldn't wear them.
  4. Swimsuits. I buy the kind with the built in bra anyway, see below, and I don't have a clue where you get the fabric.
  5. Bras. Yes, store-bought bras are expensive and often don't last very long, but the sheer volume of stuff you need to make bras is also expensive. Also, all the patterns I've see online are for underwired (I refuse to wear underwired except for rare moments when I need some kind of special occasion bra) and for regular sizes rather than my ridiculous size. I think bra making makes more sense if you're super into pretty pretty underwear and you're a standard size. I'm such a crazy size to begin with and I only like really basic colours and styles, so it's not worth it.
  6. Sportswear. Again, this is a fabric problem as much as anything.
  7. Polo shirts. Fabric problem, again.
  8. Sweaters. My need for sweaters is probably always going to exceed my knitting speed, so I am never going to switch to 100% hand-knitted.
That leaves, well, pretty much everything else that comprises my normal wardrobe -- shirts, tops, skirts, t-shirts, jackets, coats etc etc. The big exception is trousers, which are on my dither list.

The thing is I have always felt like I get a decent fit from shops for trousers -- occasionally I'll find brands that have a hip/waist ratio that doesn't work for me (as in, it assumes I have a waist, which I don't, much). However, normally I have felt like I get moderately good fit from a couple of high street shops and I've been happy with that. But then recently, it seems like EVERY SINGLE pair of trousers has gone for pockets that open vertically down the side of the trouser, which I hate. It looks fine standing at first, then I sit down and the pockets sag sideways and open out, and then stay there when I get up again. Plus, the pocket opening is so huge and angled in such a way that nothing stays IN my pocket. I prefer pockets that open on the horizontal plane, or else, and I know this is heresy to the pocket-loving, in formal trousers, no pockets at all (jeans or casual trousers with no pockets are stupid; tailored trousers with no pockets I don't mind).

Also, the more I sew, the more I realize that the fit I thought was okay is actually just "better than the fit I get for tops" which is not saying very much at all. Finally, probably my most worn items in my work wardrobe are trousers, every time. I have made a lot of skirts and I plan to wear them more than I have in previous jobs. However, if I am reaching for my favourite, easiest to wear, most comfortable work clothes, it's probably always going to be a well-fitting pair of trousers no matter how many skirts and dresses I make.

Lurking in the background though is my recollection of how many stories of nightmare-ish trouser fitting have I read. More than enough to make me scared of trying! So trousers are on my dither list. Apart from sewing flies, which I wouldn't necessarily have to do as I could always do an invisible side zip sort of trouser, and which I am hoping to try out this summer anyway with a fly front skirt, there isn't really any massive *technical* sewing involved with trousers, as far as I can tell. When you look at Burda, almost all the trouser patterns are rated 2 dots, with a few 2.5s and a handful of 3s. I'm tempted to use an Ottobre pattern to try trousers, for the possibly ridiculous reason that my Ottobre PJ shorts seem to fit really well (unlike the New Look PJ shorts, which look ridiculous. I don't care, I wear them to bed, but it doesn't make me excited about New Look trouser patterns). If I make them at all, though, it's not going to be right at the end of the year -- this summer I've already got planned out, September is the mini-wardrobe competition on PR that I am determined to at least try to go in for (and, no surprises, I've more than halfway planned it already), so it would be October at the earliest.

What about you? Do you have a list of "no, never" or a list of "convince me I'm wrong about this" or a list of "I would, but I am scared!" for your sewing?


  1. Me, I'm all for sewing my own jeans, swimsuits, and bras. I don't care for the finishes on jeans that wind up pointing to places on my body that I'd rather they didn't & all accessible jeans are too short for me. I'm also (cough cough) really cheap and it hurts me how much money I am divested of for swimsuits and bras that still don't fit right or wear out way too soon. But I'm with you with the sweaters - I crochet much to slowly to indulge in that self-made wardrobe fantasy.

    Good luck with your moving process!

    1. I guess I don't swim so much or wear fancy enough bras that the price of them is really irksome to me. I'm not totally opposed to making bras, actually, I just can't work out the logistics of it, particular if, like me, you mainly wear non-wired. I've not even found a pattern in my size for a non-wired bra.

      Jeans though, I don't know. I was wearing a pair today and noticed just how bad the fit was. I kind of want to have a go with tailored trousers first though.

  2. I have sewn bathing suits, exercise wear, and bras and may again, but I am able to find decent ones in the stores. Jeans I wear only once in a while. I find trousers and slacks much more comfortable. T shirts are also easy for me to find and are not a fitting problem. So for me that leaves dresses, dress pants, lined jackets and tops appropriate for work. Like you I make skirts, but never wear them. I am sure this mix will change in a few years when I no longer work outside the home, but for now that what I enjoy sewing.

    1. My problem with t-shirts is that increasingly it's difficult to find the right length. T-shirts either seem to be cut very short or else they're tunic length. As I'm taller than average for the UK, the short t-shirts end up too short and the tunic length are just a little bit too long -- too short to be a tunic, but too long to be a t-shirt. I suppose I should re-hem the tunic length but if I'm going to mess around sewing tees, I'd rather make them myself.