November 28, 2017 § Leave a comment
I am finally back from what was my biggest North American tour ever (10 shows + several video and radio sessions across 10 cities in the US and Canada!) and am slowly catching up with everything. I will write a longer post with links and photos from the tour, but before I do that, I wanted to post the last part of my Make your own clothes series which I ended up writing in Portland, as I ran out of time before I left, precisely because I was sewing a made-to-measure padded protection bag for my Soundcraft Signature 12 MTK mixing desk! ;-))) (PS: and it worked! the desk has survived the many flights unharmed, and at least 5 TSA inspections!!! ;-))) So here goes ;-)))
MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTHES! SERIES: PART 3 – FUNCTION, COLOR, HOW TO GET STARTED AND THE POWER OF LEARNING.
I wanted to close this mini-series with two of the main reasons why I fell in love with sewing, and then leave you with a few guidelines of how you can get started, even with very little money.
When I moved from Paris to Spain by the Atlantic coast, many of the things that made sense in Paris clothing-wise became irrelevant or even started to look ridiculous in a place where mostly what you want is freedom of movement to enjoy the beach and the more natural environment in general. At the other end of this need for practical clothing, I also wanted to have more special clothes for my shows, and one of my favorite items of clothing for both everyday and special occasion is shorts, and I couldn’t believe how difficult it was for me to find the type of shorts I wanted. So I could say I literally started to sew because I was tired of looking for and not finding things that did not seem *that* difficult to make, and did not even require a huge amount of fabric.
I had also started to feel the need to dress in brighter and lighter colors for a few years before I started sewing, and that need became overwhelming in the winter of 2015 when I felt so down: all of a sudden I literally could not stand the idea of dressing in dark colours (and this comes from someone who dressed in black and dark blue for years without even really thinking about it). The fashion cycle has a way of imposing colors on customers which I think borders on insulting, and when you sew your own clothes you have that many more possibilities to choose exactly the fabric you want, both in terms of its content/origin and color.
Once you’ve experienced the freedom that sewing gives you in terms of choosing pattern and fabric, it’ll probably be really hard for you to go back to a world of ready-to-wear, because your first reaction will be: Could I make this and do it better? and so often the answer is Yes! And you don’t even want to get me started on all the other things that you can start to make yourself: things for your home, the exact accessories that you need (I’ve just made a padded case for my mixing desk, for instance), even items for your pets (I made bedsheets for our cat’s bed thingy and it makes so much sense to be able to wash these, just like you wash your own bedsheets!)!
So how do you get started? I guess this partly depends on where you live: I imagine that if you live in a city where there is an active sewing scene, it would probably be a good idea to just get a few basic sewing lessons and see how the act of sewing makes you feel. But I believe it’s also totally possible to start sewing on your own – like I did – with just the help of online tutorials (I recommend Grainline Studio, Colette Patterns/Seamwork and Megan Nielsen for their extensive library of tutorials) and reading sewing blogs that correspond to the type of clothes you’d like to make (not much point looking at a blog that focuses on vintage-style sewing if your thing is minimalist fashion, and vice versa). If you have a friend that can let you use their machine, great (that’s what happened to me), and as soon as you can, upgrading to your own quality machine will really make a difference.
At this point I feel I should mention that there are many approaches to sewing and that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when looking at Instagram accounts and sewing blogs, especially those where the sewist produces a ton of different clothes every month or even week – it’s easy to forget when looking at these that producing these many clothes requires a considerable amount of time, not to mention money in terms of fabric, and of course it begs the question: is this type of sewing not just the sewing version of being addicted to clothes? I’ll leave you to be the judge of that, but in any case, I believe it’s totally possible to build a slow hand-made wardrobe, little by little, and I know that for me this is what really makes sense.
In the spirit of not overconsuming, I also believe that you don’t need to own a ton of patterns, and in fact a super simple way of starting can be to just carefully deconstruct some of your favorite but worn out clothes and make patterns out of the pieces laid flat. You can use bedsheets or thrifted fabric or oversized clothes from charity shops as simple fabric resources at least at the beginning. Once you feel confident that you could now make a real piece of clothing that you could actually wear, I do recommend buying fabric that you really feel attracted to, because that’ll be the crucial difference between a piece which is just ok and one that you just want to wear over and over again.
Last but not least, I really think that learning a new skill is *always* empowering and is one of the best investments we can do with our time, helping us to be appreciative of the good work made by others while remaining critical in a society overflowing with consumer goods. When I learnt ceramics for 2 years during my music break, I just loved how all of a sudden my way of looking at everyday items became different, and how I could judge for myself whether or not something was truly well made, or was worth the money it was being sold for.
I really hope that this short series may have inspired you on your own sewing adventure!
Top pattern: True Bias Ogden cami, fabric: Japanese Pearls seersucker, Miss Matatabi. Shorts: self-drafted, fabric: organic chambray, Les Trouvailles d’Amandine (great resource for French-produced organic fabrics!)