One of the most common questions I encounter when expressing my passion for creating handmade garments—and, frankly, the most infurating—is, “Isn’t it easier to just buy it premade?”
Yes, it’s often faster and (sometimes) easier to walk into a store and seek out a specific article of clothing as opposed to constructing it from scratch. It’s also easier to cruise through a drive-thru on my way in from work each evening instead of preparing a home-cooked meal, but is it going to benefit me in the long run? Probably not.
Heck, sometimes the quick-and-dirty option (in both of these scenarios) is even the most cost-effective! But there are bigger questions to contend with in each case:
Does the easy route meet my quality expectations? No, and no.
Can I identify the source of the ingredients or components of the “easier” choice? Not easily, anyway.
Will I be happy with the choice in the future, or will I experience buyer’s remorse? Maybe, but who knows.
These questions may be of no concern to you, and that’s okay! However, if the question of quality in your wardrobe has ever plagued you, learning to create your own clothing is the perfect way to quell your concerns. Below are some additional considerations.
Learn how to sew to enhance consumer consciousness.
Having worked at several different retail stores over the years, I’m well acquainted with the various tactics employed to get customers to walk out with a shopping bag stuffed to the brim and, in many cases, a shiny new line of store credit that’s just waiting to drive the consumer into debt. If you feel overwhelmed by the pressure of venturing into the mall, or even browsing online, carefully planning each step of a garment’s creation is the ideal way to make informed, strategic decisions about each and every addition to your wardrobe. No more pressure, and no more impulse buys! Oh, and no more dreaded fitting rooms.
Learn how to sew to improve mindfulness and use sewing as a means of self-care.
The repetitive motions of cutting, stitching and pressing can be incredibly therapeutic during the “slow fashion” process. I can’t think of anything more rewarding that sitting down with a warm cup of tea and finishing up some hand stitching with a favorite show on in the background. The best part? You get to work with the knowledge that your meditation will result in a new garment to wear with pride.
Learn how to sew as a means of artistic expression.
What better way to express yourself than by treating your body as a living canvas? Handmade clothing, assembled with care and worn with pride, is the perfect way to showcase your creative side.
Learn how to sew to ensure each piece in your wardrobe uses quality fabrics and employs sustainable, and ethical, production methods.
One of the most appealing aspects of creating a handmade wardrobe, in my opinion, is the reassurance that comes with knowing a garment was not created by someone working in poor conditions for meager pay. Furthermore, many fast fashion practices are notorious for the negative impact of their production methods make on the earth, from water pollution to the creation of synthetic materials that are unable to be recycled through traditional means and will likely end up in a landfill. Making smart decisions when fabric sourcing is an excellent way to do your part in preventing these harmful practices.
Learn how to sew to harness the potential to save money.
Okay, this one’s a little debatable. Some makers, myself included, are more than willing to shell out some extra moolah for quality (see above) and comfort, be it through purchasing more pricey fabrics or through the upfront costs of acquiring sewing tools. It’s worth it! However, there are many ways to save money by employing the techniques you’ll learn in the basic construction processes. Find a fabulous dress on a killer markdown, but it’s a size too big? Grab it and take it in yourself! Check your local thrift stores for garments to refashion secondhand fabrics—perfectly good cuts of fabric can be found for under $5. The possibilities are endless!
Learn how to sew in order to custom tailor the fit of each garment to your body.
Let’s face it: Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, and it’s no secret that fast fashion companies don’t always do a great job of celebrating those differences. Step outside the confines of small, medium and large, and create a custom garment that molds perfectly to the contours of your own body.
Don’t want to build your own wardrobe? Learn how to sew for the ability to mend those classic garments you can’t bear to part with.
Have a favorite garment that’s seen its share of action over the years? Don’t toss those items (unless they’re entirely threadbare at this point)! Learning to mend existing garments will save you a great deal of heartache—and, possibly, cash.
What is your drive for creating a self-made wardrobe? Let me know in the comments!