"I just love your outfit! Where did you get it?"
"Oh thank you, I made it myself."
"What do you mean?"
"I sewed it, I love sewing my own clothes."
"But...why would you sew your own clothes?"
Sound familiar? The utter shock and confused look on someone's face wondering why in the world with all the clothing options and stores out there, that you would choose to sew your own clothing. It doesn't seem rational! But doesn't it take more time? Doesn't it cost more money? Oh I could never learn to do that. And I could go on and on with the reasons.
There is a large sewing community, that grows by the day with the help of social media. And an even bigger community is growing who have delved into making their own clothing. So the big question is, why? We've drifted from the days of sewing being a mandatory survival tactic to a growing society who are willfully choosing to make rather than buy.
I'm going to start off with the biggest motivator I have gathered from asking multiple women. Hands down this is one if not the biggest issue for women today. Have you ever bought something at one store, lets say it's a 10, then go to another store thinking you can just buy another size 10 without trying it on?? Are you kidding? There's a very high chance those 10's are not going to be the same 10. But why is this? Why isn't a size 10 the same everywhere?
Well this story goes all the way back to the 1940's. When the government measured a group of women (around 15,000 women) and made a 'standardized system of sizing'. Of course that kind of charting isn't going to be accurate, when you're not including multiple body types and ethnicities. Just an example, a size 8 had the measurements of bust 31 inches, waist 23.5, and weighed around 98 pounds. The sizing system was updated by the government again in the 1970's, and by the 1980's the standard sizing system was completely abandoned leaving clothing companies to decide sizing on their own (thus entering the era of vanity sizing). So ask me what size I wear, in honesty I don't know myself. It's really whatever number a company decides to stitch into their clothing. It has little to no meaning. Still don't realize how frustrating buying clothes in the store can be? In 2011 the New York Times shared a graphic showing how a size 8 waist measurement could drift between 5 inches depending on which store you were purchasing from. FIVE INCHES. And they only showed a select group of designers.
If you're still here after my rage against the sizing machine, join me for the debates of fit. So we've established that sizing is pretty much Furry Road for all in the ready to wear options. But it's about to get more complicated. What happens if I don't fit in a straight size? Most women are not a straight size for their Bust, Waist, and Hips. So buying a jumpsuit, swimsuit, or anything fitted becomes the battle of what size wins. Is it the size of my hips? Maybe my bust? Maybe it's my waist that takes the lead? Either way, I'm settling for something that isn't truly fitting me. With sewing we blend between sizes. Is your bust size 3 sizes different than your waist? With sewing that's not an issue, we create clothes that are specifically tailored for us. It's not your body that's wrong, it's society's idea of sizing.
Now I understand what some of you are saying. "Well they can't make items that are specifically tailored between thousands of variations of women's bodies." And I get that, you're not wrong. But that's also not the point. The point is that there is already a huge discrepancy in what is a "normal" size. It's expected if you're small chested then you must be small everywhere. When we sew our own clothing, there's no longer a trendy number defining who we are. Sure pattern designers label their sizes like clothing, but I go off my measurements. My actual size is really whatever I make it to be.
Love that shirt but really wish it came in a different color? Love the top of one dress, but the bottom of another? Good news in the sewing room, you can make that happen. Your wardrobe is only limited by what your mind can come up with. Being able to customize the fabric choices, colors, and fit of your own clothing opens a huge new world of possibilities to make yourself happy.
If you have a unique style you love to rock, but it's really hard to come by. Gone are the hours of searching and searching for those pieces to add to your closet. Ever finally found a link to something you have been searching for, only to click on into discover it's sold out? Sewing clothing helps us express our individual style. Not into the recent trends? Not a problem. Sew whatever trend, old or new, makes you happy and feel good.
Now here is where some people can get hung up on. Can I buy a shirt for $7? Sure, you'll always be able to find cheap fast fashion. But does it fit you? And the even bigger question you should be asking, why is it so cheap? Now I'm not going to lie to you, sewing is a hobby that can swing on the pendulum of of cost. Sewing can indeed save you money. In our blog post More Money, More Fabric I broke down how I used a $31 bundle to make 12 items. So you can most definitely get a bang for your buck. But, of course there is a flip side. What if I'm using custom fabric (which can cost between $11-$30 a yard)? What if I need to buy zippers/buttons/directional fabric? Yes, those things can add up which makes you feel like sewing isn't cost effective. But in reality, you will have leftover fabric for another project, you'll have extra buttons for later use. And in the end, I made a totally customized piece of clothing that fits me perfectly. Making the extra dough totally worth it.
So why is there a new surge in making our own clothing? Well the simple answer is it's complicated, but it's worth it. There's a world of possibilities that sewing creates for us, it's just waiting for us to start stitching.