Friday, June 4, 2010

What's in it for you?

Carolyn posted recently about the number of dresses she's made, and her mother's question whether or not she would have bought that many if RTW was her only source of clothing. I got to thinking about the size of my own closet, and whether or not I would buy as many clothes as I make, and the answer would have to be no.

Because it's not really all about the clothes, is it? Obviously it is to some extent - I make things because I want to wear them, and I want something specific, that I either can't find in my colors or size, won't pay a ridiculous price for or just can't justify high price versus shoddy workmanship. Because some things I WILL pay for, but not if I know I can do it better.

And that's what it's really about for me, the doing. I sew because I love to make things. Before I got good enough that I was actually willing to wear what I sewed, I sewed anyway. A good part of the time I never even finished the projects, because it was way more about the process than the result.

I love the plotting and planning - which pattern? which fabric? Is it for this season or next? Is it formal, casual, or for some occasion I will probably never have but feel an overwhelming need to make something for (trying to get out of gratuitous formalwear, since it's basically a wearable version of "too good to use"). I love gathering supplies, going through the lining drawer, rummaging through the tubs of trim, trying to make my vision come together.

I won't lie; I can live without tracing. Of course, I can also live without cutting patterns. Dealing with paper is my least favorite part of sewing, which is why, when I'm feeling motivated but have no specific project going on, I'll force myself to trace off 5 or 6 patterns I've flagged in recent issues of BWOF, just to have them on standby. That'll teach me to not have a project at the ready!

And then the fun starts. I didn't used to like cutting, but now I appreciate the importance of it, making sure things are on grain, matching plaids and stripes so that I can look smugly down at my garment and think, "This is nicer than RTW ." I use a lot of prints, so making sure things are lined up (or large flowers aren't placed in just the WRONG place) is a big part of the process for me.

One of my favorite things to make is jackets, and it's because of the amount of work involved. Now, sometimes there's nothing like an instant gratification project - can you say KwikSew tshirt, anybody? - but if I want a project that I can linger over for a week or two (or in the case of the black Chanel jacket, several months), a jacket is the way to go. I can debate interfacing with myself - block fuse? just the facings/collar/hems? What about linings - discreet or loud?

Reading a few books on tailoring and jacket construction has made me much more conscious of what I can and can't get away with if I want a jacket that's going to be wearable long-term. It's worth the work, that's all I can say.

So that's my question for the day: why do you sew? What's in it for you? Is it all about the clothes, or is it the process?

15 comments:

sewabeginner said...

Great post! I have always thought that I hate process, and yet, I keep picking things that inherently have a lot process in them, like singing, mosaics, sewing... I am learning to embrace process. But you asked what I love about sewing. I definitely love the finished garment at the end, but I guess I secretly like the process too! Shhh, don't tell my best friend Cayce!

neighbourhood.gal said...

Right now, it's about the clothes. i have clothing needs and I would dearly love to have more time to be able to make more clothes.

I do like the process, and I really like the open-ended feeling I now have toward patterns. I can change something to be more of what I want! Raise a waistline, add a lining, add piping, add a waistband, etc.

OK, so the process is a bigger part than I imagined. Obviously, if it were really just about the clothes, my mending pile wouldn't exist.

arnysews said...

For me it's about the process as well.
Elaray (anothercreation.blogspot.com) mentioned in one of her posts "sewing is the only activity in my life in which I have complete autonomy" and I couldn't have put it better.
A couple of hours locked away in my sewing room (when I can get them) is good for my soul.

Barbara said...

Great post!
The proces is a big part of it all for me. Trying new things and learning, as well as seeing a garment forming from a piece of fabric. But it's also about the clothes. Don't you just love wearing what you made right away? Ah, the satisfaction! :-)

Vicki said...

Mmmm, I think I like the clothes rather than the process. If I loved the process I would be processing away rather than having fun shopping :) But I look at expensive things and think how I could make it much cheaper....

Sigrid said...

Loved to read your post, I feel exactly the same about sewing jackets, I just love to make them for the work that's involved: planning, cutting, interfacing, lining. Nothing wrong with t-shirt sewing, but it's a bit boring. Blouses and jackets, that's what I love sewing most.
And thank you for the wonderful pictures of the Chanel (?) jackets. So beautiful.

Myrna said...

Entertainment. Learning. Enjoying the creative process. Energy. De-stressing. Self expression. Space. A bonus (hopefully) wardrobe.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

It's both - the clothes and the process. I like being able to take an idea, finding the fabric and choosing a color and making it work for my body type...especially since the plus size offerings can't compare to the regular sized RTW. I love it from beginning to end...even the cutting out (cause you know I don't trace!)...there aren't too many other things that I would rather do than sew so I guess that about sums it up...doesn't it! *LOL*

KayY said...

I'm never really sure which parts of it appeal to me. Sometimes I think - I dislike tracing, cutting, fusing, sewing certain steps (like collars) - can't really find any part of it I really DO like. But I do like sewing! Very paradoxical!

mpressivethreadzstudio said...

For me, it’s the process since most of what I make isn’t for me. My wardrobe is very small.

Birgitte said...

Another jacket/coat lover here :)) When I first started out, in my teens, it was ALL about instant gratification. I didn't want to even hear about neat finishes or fit. It gradually evolved, and now, the process is my favorite thing. And some recent shopping at Barney's NY opened my eyes to what my TRUE style is, versus what I like in general... There's a lot of designing going on in my head right now :)) one of the processes I enjoy the most.

Sheila said...

For me is the wearing phase and often the reason for sewing simple garments. However has time moves on I am realizing that I must fine tune my garments which in turn require I endure the process.

Michelle said...

For me it is definitely the process. Most of the clothes that I make I do wear happily, but even when I have a failure, or give something away, I still enjoy the process...the planning is my favorite part.

Rachel said...

I really enjoyed this post. This is something I have thought alot about lately. I sew ALOT of clothing for myself. I like both the clothing and the proces, but something has got to give. My closet is about to pop. I have either got to stop for awhile (I don't want to) or I am going to have to give some clothing away (I don't want to do that either). I am really in a dilemma. I also don't want to sew for other people because I don't enjoy that.

Tany said...

For me it's about both. I enjoy the process and I am a sucker for clothes,... Not just new clothes, but clothes in general and sometimes I think of myself as a collector actually. Sewing gives me the satisfaction of creating something unique and I value the clothes that I make the most.