Thursday, September 1, 2011

A bit of a ramble about sewing, wardrobes and minimalism

I like to sew, although I also get frustrated because what I make generally doesn’t entirely capture what I see in my mind when I start. A lot of that has to do with my lack of skill—much like any other endeavor, I’ll get better as I sew more. The downside for me, of course, is that fabric and patterns cost money in addition to the time spent making the items, so failures are doubly expensive.

I’m motivated for reasons other than creativity though. I am drawn toward the idea of a small, almost capsule-style wardrobe, where everything goes with everything else, fits beautifully and the colors are perfect for me. So it’s sort of a cross between minimalism, frugality, style and creativity. If that makes sense . . .

For some reason I assumed most sewers (sewists? seamstresses?) had similar mindsets and weren’t engaged in the endless pursuit of acquiring more stuff—that somehow, people who sew their own clothes aren’t caught up in getting/making more, more more. That assumption is dead wrong. The blogs I’ve been reading for a few weeks are full of people who have huge stashes of fabric and continue to sew and sew and sew and then bemoan that their closets are full of nothing to wear. Yet they continue to participate in various sewing challenges where they make a set number of pieces every season. Well if you make three or four pieces each season and you do that for years, you will have the same problem as those who buy clothes over and over again at the mall. You still end up with that overstuffed closet and have nothing to wear.

Believe me when I say I’m absolutely not judging—mostly I’m confused and also a little lost. I’d hoped that I would find others who have already done what I want to do (cut down on the number of pieces in my closet while simultaneously increasing the versatility of my wardrobe). And yes, there are a few like-minded people out there in blogland.

It’s just I’ve realized that the sewing industry isn’t any different from other businesses selling their products. Any successful business must create a need or a perceived need in order to be profitable. So new patterns come out every season, and new fabrics in different colors come out too. But how many different patterns do I need to make a knit skirt or a tailored blouse?

If I were to buy this wardrobe I have in mind, I know the types of styles I’d pick. They wouldn’t be tied to the trendiest trends, but would be more classically tailored. The current trends can be echoed for so much less money and space in my closet by things like scarves or necklaces or earrings. I need to keep that in mind as I collect patterns and improve my sewing.


Harriet said...

You should check out my colege friend IWOM's blogs. A few years ago, she decided she didn't want to buy anything else and has been blogging her work on refashioning -- turning old clothes into new. She's taking her annual blog break now, but you can look through her older posts until she gets back. Her main blog is . Her refashioning blog is She's also published a book, Fabric Leftovers, that shows you way to use scraps to make new things: . I think she's part of an online community of refashioners. I think you'll find info about the group in her refashioning blog.

kittiesx3 said...

THANK YOU for the links!

I have been frustrated by what I've found so far in the online sewing community--they are all very nice but we are not aiming for similar goals. Just a quick glance at the life w/o clothes blog has lifted my spirits.