pondering why i sew things

Pondering Why I Sew Things | Grainline Studio

So I've been reading all these amazing posts by Zoe over at So Zo... lately and emailing with my friend Birgitte of Indigo Orchid about patterns (we met in school a few years ago when I was her flat pattern 1 TA!) which has been causing me to think about why I sew my own clothes and what my goal is for this if I have one at all. I guess it’s the time of the year for reflection eh?

First off you might be wondering why there's a plush burger up top there. That little burger is my first attempt at using a sewing machine. I think I was maybe 10 when my friend Sarah and I each made a fabric burger with the help of my mom. Amazingly all of these fabrics were in her fabric box. I think the cheese may have been part of a Sprite she made me one year, otherwise I have no idea why she would own that fabric! Like most sewers as a child I watched my mom sew, she made most of our clothes and a lot of our toys as well. I would help her pick out my fabrics and patterns and one day I asked if I could sew. She bought me two books aimed at teaching children to use a sewing machine (they were awesome) and we went to town. I didn't really get that into it until college though. Instead of spending time in the darkroom like I should have been I was cutting patterns on my apartment floor. This is when I decided that I needed to study fashion design and 2 years after graduating with my photo degree I did just that, focusing most of my studies on the technical side of the process and patternmaking. I got my first job as a patternmaker here in town halfway through my final year in school through one of my teachers who was leaving the position, which was lucky as it made graduating with a fashion degree much easier.

Pondering Why I Sew Things | Grainline Studio

I really started sewing for myself around December 2009 shortly after I started this blog which was sort of a kick to get myself making things for myself. After graduating I had (and still have) mega student loans from 2 degrees and was hoping to save some cash and expand my wardrobe of 2 pairs of jeans, assorted v-neck American Apparel t-shirts and other grubby cheap clothing with some handmade clothes. This blog actually didn’t start out so sewing centric but that theme has definitely taken over. So after that super long into here is my list of the reasons that I sew for myself.

1. I am broke and have sort of expensive taste. I also hate spending what little money I have on cheaply made clothes that will fall apart after a few wears and washes. The only way to make this work is to make my own things because I am super anti-credit card debt. I saved about $700 on my Melton Wool Coat from the original (which is not really saving as I could never have spent that money in reality) and paid the same as if I had bought a knockoff from somewhere like Zara or H&M except that mine is 100% melton wool instead of a poly blend and will last much longer making it cheaper (and warmer) in the long run.

2. I love making patterns which is why I am a patternmaker by trade, duh Jen! At work I make the patterns that someone else designs, another person  sews and a third person wears. For hound I make the patterns that I design, I sew them up and someone else wears them. By making my own clothes I am the designer, patternmaker, seamstress and recipient.

3. It’s extremely rewarding. I’m not even sure why, just making this thing that you can wear is so amazing. At this point none of my friends even ask me if I’ve made any particular garment that I’m wearing anymore so it’s not that I like saying “Oh, yeah...I made it.” It just feels great to know that I made this thing that I’m using all the time. The same goes for making clothes for friends and family as gifts as well as making patterns that enable other people to make these things too.

So that’s it. As far as a goal for all this sewing, I don’t feel that I need to sew every article of clothing I have but I would definitely like to expand my sewing further over the next year. At this point I assume that most people who read this blog are sewers or knitters or some sort of makers. If so, I’m interested to know why do you make what you make?