I think folks look at me weirdly when they find out I made the clothes I have on. Usually my husband is proud to tell them. If they know much about sewing, I suspect they’re scrutinizing my clothes looking for mistakes. Possibly they recall Home Economics classes with dread and distain. Or else they wonder why I can’t afford store-bought clothes. Which is why I initially learned to sew. And why my mother sewed all my clothes until I took over. When I was in my early teens, she told me that I was “on my own” for sewing. She’d buy me the fabric, but after that it was up to me. I had four younger siblings that she had to sew for.
At about the age of 11 or 12, my youngest sister was totally shocked to discover that one could actually purchase already-made clothes at the store. Before that she’d assumed that everyone sewed. No, we didn’t live in the deep woods nor were my folks survivalists. Dad worked at IBM, we went to Mass every Sunday, and lived in the suburbs of major cities – Baltimore, Trenton, Youngstown, Pittsburg, finally ending up in Denver through my high school and college years.
So I’m not sure what people think about a person who enjoys sewing. Since my favorite types of fabric are seldom inexpensive, I’m sure I spend more on my wardrobe than if I bought them. This certainly holds true if I purchased similar quality in fabric, linings, style, buttons, and fit at a department or specialty store. If I even could.
How can I describe in one or two sentences the thrill of touching and playing with great silks, wools, cottons, and linens. About the sensitive creativity required to match the fabric to a garment pattern so they make a happy marriage. About the challenge of cutting out and sewing a garment so it fits well. How I carefully select buttons and trims. How much thought goes into pairing blouses with slacks, and jackets with blouses, and shoes, and handbag and jewelry. How delightful it is to create a garment that perfectly compliments what I already own.
For example, I made a plain short-sleeved black silk crepe blouse styled like a t-shirt that goes with all of my slacks and jackets. And jeans.
How can I explain the joy of finding or creating the perfect t-shirt or slacks pattern that fits like a dream and that I can wear season after season? I don’t think I can say all this in a quick sentence. So instead I say that I “LOVE” to sew. It makes me happy. Then I change the subject.
I still haven’t forgiven myself for giving away all of my Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior, and Claude Montana, and Christian Aujard Vogue sewing patterns about 20 years ago?.I yearn for them. They looked great. They had style. Sure, today I’d need to modify some of the big shoulder pad looks, but those clothes were amazing.
Recently I’ve been cruising Etsy, Amazon.com, and eBay looking for size 14 Vogue Paris Original patterns, and Vogue American Designers. I find them once in a while. I’m building a new collection. I sew them. They look fabulous today, in 2014. So if you have any old patterns, let me know. I’m on the market and still trying to assuage my guilt for giving them away in the first place.