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Stitching Away

February 21st, 2015

I’ve been meaning to make myself a few new shirt, skirts, and dresses this winter but haven’t gotten around the tackling them yet. There are all sorts of patterns pinned on my pattern pinboard and lots of fabric in my stash. Hopefully I can get a few things finished up in the next few weeks before my spare time is taken up by seed starting and other gardening chores.
sewing 1
When I was in jr high and high school I made a lot of my clothing. I didn’t use patterns or anything, I was pretty skilled at making things up as I went along. Nowadays I’m a little more structured and I have lost some of my seamstress skills since I haven’t made a piece of clothing in over 20 years.
I have sewed a lot curtains, gifts, and other home decor items in that 20 years, just no clothing. You can see a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Christmas tree skirt I made for a friend below along with the superhero cape I made for my nephew. Thankfully all of these projects have been fairly intricate and I have maintained my sewing skills fairly well.
sewing 2
I’m fairly picky about how my clothing fits, hence my decision to make a few of my own things. I know I can tweak things to get them to fit just as I like. One thing I am doing this time around is making prototype items. I have a stash of fabric that I purchased very inexpensive on sale just for this purpose. I’m making each piece out of this fabric first and then I can change the fit as needed when using my more expensive organic linen fabric. It’s also nice to be able to wash the garnet to see how that affects the final fit, though the fabric will be different in the finished piece, it helps to see how things will soften with washing. Thrifted sheets are another great source for inexpensive fabric for such projects. I will give these prototype shirts to my nieces or to a local charity. Since I got the fabric so cheap, it only costs me a few dollars to make each of these prototypes and I get the benefit of brushing up on my sewing skills while sewing extra pieces.
sewing 3
Hopefully this summer I’ll have a few new items hanging in my closet and I won’t be wearing the same five things over and over again. Not that there’s anything wrong with wearing the same thing all the time, I find it really simplifies my life!

Do you like to sew? Have you ever made clothing, or would you consider making your own clothing?

11 Comments to “Stitching Away”
  1. Jaye Whitney on February 21, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Hi Susy, yes, like you, I was an excellent seamstress years ago, learning from my mom, grandmother and in school and making things for myself.

    And like you, I’ve noticed that when I do sew now, I’ve forgotten many things…it’s frustrating! It does come back to me the more I work, but I’m spending a lot of time double checking to be certain.

    I have found though, that I still prefer certain pattern manufacturers over others, so I guess some things don’t change.

    Two things, patterns are challenging to find, and expensive! And fabric is high too! I personally prefer natural fabrics, but at a cost.

    Reply to Jaye Whitney's comment

  2. Cassandra on February 21, 2015 at 11:24 am

    I like your brown fabric with the flowers, very cute! And the tree skirt is inspired. I’ve been sewing since high school too, so 20ish years. I’ve made lots of things for other people, but not so much for myself. I’m working to remedy that though! I’ve got several skirts planned, and looking through your pinterest patterns, I’ve added a few shirts as well. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply to Cassandra's comment

  3. Deb on February 21, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    I’ve been sewing for almsot 45 yrs. now. I have never made a prototype as I ahve no desire to waste time or money and have had few items mess up. I sue thrift ed sheets for quits so consider those very valuable. They cna be used for dresses, shirts, etc. I repurpose many thrifted items, plus it’s so much cheaper to shop for the item already made at the thrift shops. if you buy fabric it’s terribly expensive so don’t go that route much. No time wasted making clothes either. Think jeans or something, for the price of fabric I can buy several pair of jeans at the Goodwill. No reason to make those. I have made baby quilts, changing pads etc. from mostly repurposed fabrics, some new. Hope to sell some later after I get a supply made up. Altered many second hand clothes for 3 kids years ago. Sometimes still do although both girls can sew. They shop[ thrift shops as there’s no comparison on time and money. I look forward to seeing the items you make. I always buy patterns when #1 each or 3 for $5. Never buy full price. Even if I never use all of them it’s worth it to get what I think I may need. Best way and so inexpensive, JoAnn’s ahs those kinds of sales fairly often. Happy sewing.

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  4. Maybelline on February 22, 2015 at 12:35 am

    You’re an inspiration. I do enjoy sewing but haven’t for some time. And you’re right. Clothes just don’t fit right. I’m taking my machine in for service then I’ll get busy.


    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  5. Nikala on February 22, 2015 at 1:44 am

    Yes, I’ve just started back at sewing. I have about 10 aprons to make for some friends+family who are interested in purchasing one. So fun to make!

    Reply to Nikala's comment

  6. Nebraska Dave on February 22, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Susy, the best I can muster up in the area of sewing is to patch a stretched seam or tear in shirts, jeans, or coats. It helps them to last a little longer. As far as pattern sewing …. probably won’t ever happen in my life time. My Mom was the seamstress and could sew just about any thing that a person could imagine in their minds. She was a master at crafting skills. Unfortunately those skills were not inherited by either my sister or me. My skills are more in the construction and household repair areas. I do admire those that can take a bolt of material and a spool of thread and come up with awesome looking clothes.

    Have a great clothes sewing day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  7. Colleen on February 22, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    I admire your skill! How I wish I knew how to sew. I guess they say…never too late…

    Reply to Colleen's comment

  8. Wendy on February 22, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    My mom and I are spending some time this weekend helping each other take correct measurements and learning how to adjust pattern pieces so that the fit comes out right. I’ve sewed for quite awhile, but have never taken the time to figure out how to make things for nicely–I guess now is the time! Not long ago I made my first ever muslin/practice garment and was so thankful I did–the dress didn’t turn out anything like I had hoped. Enjoyed looking through your pattern pinterest board–lots of good choices there!

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  9. Ilene on February 23, 2015 at 8:48 am

    I learned sewing in high school and made all my own clothes from that point forward for years, also clothes, coats and house slippers for my kids and husband.

    I haven’t sewn much for a long time because they have made fabric and patterns so expensive and I do not have the skill you have in being able to sew without a pattern, except for a few simple things. I wear mostly T-shirts, sweatshirts and jeans now that I no longer work and those are so cheap to buy at garage sales that it just would not pay me to make them myself.

    That said, however, I do have a little great-granddaughter now, and my grandson tells me she is always growing out of her clothes and it’s getting a little rough on their budget. So I’ve downloaded some simple patterns for leggings and loose pants and I can use the material in clothing I can no longer wear to repurpose into clothing for her. Sewing is a skill everyone should have. When I was a young mother, one year we didn’t have money for coats for the kids and I hadn’t been able to find any at garage sales. I did find a coat for myself for $2, and so I repurposed my old coat into a new coat for my daughter and Hubs’ old Navy “dress blues” became a nice warm wool coat for my son.

    Whether sewing is “frugal” depends on what you can get your hands on. I, too, repurpose sheets bought at estate sales for the backings for quilts. If I have an article of clothing that I enjoy wearing and it is comfortable, I might take it apart and use it for a pattern. Sometimes I can draw a pattern by just laying it on newspaper and drawing around it, adding seam allowances and such, without sacrificing the garment, if it’s not too complicated a pattern.

    Back in my great-grandmother’s day, she had one pattern and used it over and over again, in different fabrics and with slight changes here and there.

    Reply to Ilene's comment

  10. whit on February 25, 2015 at 7:33 am

    I dabble in sewing, knitting is more my speed. But this year, with the help of Cal Patch’s book, I learned to draft patterns for my daughter. She is very modest in her clothing choices, so recreating clothes to 1940’s specs has been really fun!

    My problem with making a prototype is that they seem to come out well, but my finished project is always wonky. I haven’t a clue how that happens, but I am enjoying the learning process it provides.

    Reply to whit's comment

  11. Megan on March 3, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    I’ve actually just started experimenting with sewing clothing myself this year! I’m doing a monthly challenge on my own blog – I’ve set out to make a project every month or two this year in order to build up my own wardrobe and get myself thinking more critically on where my clothing comes from. I’d love to see more of your sewing posts, please keep us updated on your progress!

    Reply to Megan's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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