Friday, May 15, 2015

How Sewing has Changed my Shopping Habits

Me Made top and RTW capris
I love shopping. Love it! I love shoes, clothes, home goods, food...I’ll shop for anything. In the past year though, the number of clothing items I've purchased has dropped dramatically.

I shop differently than I did before sewing was such a big part of my life. Now I look at the quality of construction (which is terrible in most stores, even the expensive ones). I look at things like how well plaids and stripes are matched at the seams (they’re usually not), I look at the quality of the fabric (I won’t buy a knit I can see through) and I look at how well it covers what I want to cover (oh baby, can’t wear that to work).

For example let’s say I’m looking at a plaid skirt. If the lines of the plaid doesn't match along the seam, it goes back. If the fabric is too thin, wrinkles too much, is not appealing in some way, it goes back. If the skirt is too short, has incorrect proportions, a highly visible zipper, unflattering lines, seam, tucks or folds, it goes back. I could make it with fewer errors with a simple pattern, nicer fabric and add some fun lace trim and a good lining in a just a few hours.

In short, I've become much pickier about what clothing I’ll buy. I know that if I want a truly stellar look, I have to make it myself. That’s how I get exactly the dress I want and often times, I get it for cheaper than I can buy it.

This is my favorite skirt ever! Me Made!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a serious bargain shopper, so if I can find a pair of pants that look nice and are on clearance, I will buy them. But even with stellar savings, the item has to fit exceptionally well for me to bring it home. I won’t pay $12 for something that needs $20 worth of alterations, because let’s be honest, I won’t get around to those alterations for a while, and by the time I do, I probably won’t like it as much as I did when I bought it. I have long legs and a long waist, so hemming pants/skirts is never something I need to do on a store bought piece of clothing. The only real alterations I’m willing to do on a ready to wear item is taking in the waist or bodice on a dress. Even that, I only do if it seems like something I could handle in less than 15 minutes. What can I say, I’m lazy that way, but at least I know my limits. To the point, I don’t think it’s worth my time to buy something that needs altering, even at a steal, but that may not be true for everyone. Some of you may be more ambitious than I am.

Now that I have a customized look, I rock a lot of prints and polka dots that I probably wouldn't have been able to find in the kind of dress or skirt I’d make it in. I also have clothes that always fit well. I still buy jeans and sweaters and some basics, but a lot of times, finding my size is a stab in the dark, because I have no concept of size now as it exists in the retail world. As far as my body measurements are concerned, I wear three different sizes. Sewing is how I make all three sizes come together in one perfect outfit.

A note on personal style: I follow a lot of sewing blogs. I see a lot of handmade items in my various social media feeds. I can tell you one thing for sure. The more you make your own clothes, the more you find your personal style. Go ahead, find some other sewers in the community. You’ll see how each of them has a very unique style, how each put their own spin on every pattern they make, how fabric choice, trim options and accessories really make something your own. Seeing friends’ creations is inspiring and helps me to move my own personal style forward. I seem to be moving toward skirts and dresses with a vintage fit and feel to them, but I don’t usually go full-on vintage vibe with my look. Perfect color/print coordination really rocks my socks too. Oh, and colorful. I love me some colors, especially pink!

I love to wear pink!
One of the most extreme ways sewing can change your shopping habits is by ending your retail clothing shopping completely. Yep, that’s right. There are some lovely sewing enthusiasts who sew everything they wear and have completely sworn off buying retail clothing. Even their underwear. I’m not there yet, and I don’t know that I’ll ever be, but there is certainly some inspiration to be found in it, isn't there?

Personally, my handmade wardrobe is a little limited at the moment, but participating in Me Made May has helped me to identify where those gaps are. I'm working toward a completely handmade work wardrobe, but I'm allowing my home/downtime wardrobe to still be mostly ready to wear. Is increasing your handmade wardrobe a priority to you? How much of your wardrobe is already handmade? How much of your wardrobe do you wish was handmade? I'd love to know!

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