I grew up with a mother that sewed our clothes and taught me to sew. She recently admitted to me that she only did it because she had to. Not because she wanted to. And, that surprised me a little. Where did I get this desire to sew and urge to create my own garments?
I don’t know.
Back when I was a child, making your own clothes meant you could likely get something that cost less than clothes from the store. But now, with mass production and outsourced labor, that just isn’t the case. You can get a LOT of ready-to-wear off the rack at a local store for less money than it would cost to sew your own.
And, for a while there, it was really harder to find resources for garment construction (sewing clothes) than quilting or embroidery. Fabric stores were reduced to quilting cotton and craft stores. And that’s a damn shame.
Fortunately, in the last decade or two, garment construction seems to be making a comeback. And this delights me. It puts fun fabrics at our fingertips, and other notions have become more readily available for the home sewist.
So, here are my 10 reasons to sew your own clothes.
1. Make Clothes that Fit YOU
This is not terribly straightforward, because even patterns are based on a standard set of proportions. But there are a lot of resources out there to make pattern adjustments to fit you. People are so unique, and making your own clothes gives you the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to not only fit but also flatter you.
Granted, most patterns will ultimately need to be adjusted to really fit you, but with a ruler and some paper, the majority of these adjustments are pretty easy to follow along. For example, most women’s tops are made to fit a B cup. Most of us don’t have a B cup. and even if we do, the chance of our bust point being where it is on the pattern is slim. But it’s a relatively simple adjustment to fix.
I’ve always hated shopping for pants because so many of them don’t fit me. And it’s really frustrating to spend a day shopping for pants, and have 90% of them look bad on you. Yes, it’s the pants, not you, but if you make your own clothes, you can add fullness to the belly, front thigh, butt, or calves of pants. You can remove fullness where needed as well. Some of these just can’t be fixed by a tailor after the fact.
2. Build Your Own Style
This will take time, but if you have your own style and struggle to find ready-to-wear clothes that are up your alley, then you can make them. Well made, fitted and embellished garments don’t come cheap, and if you want something truly unique, you either have to pay a pretty penny or make it yourself. I like to make it myself.
My style runs to the gothic, Victorian, industrial side. I don’t even know where to shop for that “style”. Online, I suppose, but then we run into the fit issue. But, I can make my own clothes and embellish them how I want.
3. Spend Less for High-Quality
You know how the garment is constructed. Never again settle for crap quality, or have to pay out the nose for high quality. You can make your own couture (or couture-like) clothes. I admit I don’t generally go that far (couture). But I do relish that I can make some high-quality clothes for me to wear.
As with the Building the style, you can totally embellish your own garments uniquely, and this will cost less in the long-run than buying custom made clothes.
4. Increased Utility
If you can make clothes, you can mend clothes (usually). I mean, sure, there are some times when it’s just beyond repair. But, if you can make clothes, you can recognize that. And then you can choose to toss or repurpose the garment. And, you can also do adjustments to those ready-to-wear garments you pick up, should you choose to do so. At the least, you can hem stuff.
5. Make Your Own Costumes
Garment construction isn’t relegated to clothes you wear every day. The same principles for making clothes apply to making your cosplay costumes. Or, your dance costumes. So, with sewing knowledge, you can construct your next Marvel villain, Netflix hero, or Belly Dance costume. Whatever floats your boat. I actually think that time is the only limiting factor. Maybe patience. 😉
The easiest is to listen to music and sew. But you can also catch up on audiobooks, podcasts, online classes, and TV shows. If you are the kind of person that can listen to TV stuff without watching it.
I do audiobooks or podcasts, with music, while sewing. Occasionally I have to stop the audiobook to really READ the instructions. But that’s a minor disruption. So, I can barrel through my virtual book pile and get my sewing done.
7. Sense of Accomplishment (or even Pride)
Admittedly, this is huge for me. I love the feeling I get when I make things. Fortunately for me, they don’t have to even be good… the things I make. I prefer them to be good, but just making them is accomplishing something. I’ve created and I relish that feeling.
But imagine getting a compliment on a piece of clothing you made and getting to say “Thanks! I made it”.
8. Ethical Sourcing
You get to choose where you buy your fabric from. You also know exactly who is sewing your garments. You know that the only child labor you employ will be your own. And if you don’t have kids, you’re safe, even from yourself. 😜 Unless you borrow a friend’s kid.
I digress. But, you can choose sustainable resources, and fabric fibers you want to use and feel good about your choices.
9. Fashion Without Shopping at Stores
I’m writing this during the time of the COVID-19 lockdown, but it holds true even if you aren’t on lockdown.
I’m naturally an introvert, and not a fan of spending hours at malls, department stores, or boutique stores trying to find the perfect … whatever. I hate trying on clothes over and over and over and having only 1 of 10 garments come close to fitting. Or not having the color I want.
Additionally, I grew up in Montana. There aren’t a lot of options for shopping there. The style variety is, shall I say, lacking.
In this day and age, you can find pretty much everything you need to make your own clothes on the internet. Many stores even offer fabric swatches.
There’s a vast community of sewists out there. From weekenders, to professionals to folks ONLY doing cosplay or LARP type stuff. You don’t even have to join the ASG (American Sewing Guild) to find a community, I mean, you can… But, you don’t have to.
Bonus Reason 1: Immerse Yourself in a Hobby
I get that many people can find sewing frustrating. But if you truly enjoy it, you can find both relaxation and peace as you immerse yourself in it. And who doesn’t need a little peace?
Ok, it’s less peaceful if you’re sewing chiffon. Or stabbing yourself with pins. Or cutting yourself with your rotary cutter. Most of those things can usually be avoided… Except for the pins. I almost always stab myself with pins. Good thing I prefer sewing black clothes. 😈
Bonus Reason 2: Branch Out and Make Other Stuff
Sewing clothes might actually be more difficult than making home decor stuff like pillows or tablecloths. However, you can branch out and start to construct accessories for your wardrobe like gloves, purses, etc. OR, you can go way out and start making clothes for other people too. They make great gifts.
Ok, so yeah, I have 12 reasons to sew clothes… not just 10. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some fabric to manipulate.
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