Does Luxury Have To Be Bought?

Happy Sunday everyone, this weekend Adam and I have deep cleaned the house. We made five different lists, one for each space, and we’ve worked HARD. Honestly yesterday we were cleaning solidly for well over 10 hours! We have rearranged furniture, repotted plants, tidied, cleaned, polished, sorted, decluttered and it feels great. Throughout the cleaning process I’ve been considering about how I feel about my possessions and my wardrobe in particular. What things I value and why I value them.

Now I’m sat with a cup of tea and honestly, I’ve got a bone to pick with fast fashion. In my first month of giving up ready-to-wear clothes I have made a conscious effort to consider when I buy clothes and the reasoning behind these purchases. Often I like a shopping trip to cheer myself up or to celebrate a promotion, to purchase a few new items for the next season or just to catch up with friends. Shopping trips like these are normally social occasions or they result in the little emotional purchases that make you feel better. These aren’t too hard to cut out because I can just go do something else with my friends or I can partake in the ultimate endorphin high which is of course fabric shopping . Really the only time I go out or online with the very specific goal of “shopping” is for occasion wear.

In the past, whenever I have had a formal event and don’t know what to wear I hotfooted it on to Missguided or Asos to select something gorgeous, slinky and that could be with me in under three days. Purchasing evening wear like this is of course partly for convenience but also because it has never felt like something I could or should make for myself. When you go to a black tie event you don’t want to feel homemade, when you think of black tie events you think of chic women in Chanel, the idea of a homemade dress in those surroundings is jarring. Or at least this is what the fashion industry has taught us to think. This is how we have been conditioned to feel and it makes me angry because the reality is very different.

On the one hand you have an admittedly expensive designer gown bought in a shop made in one of the standard women’s sizes. Its not shaped to your body, its not designed with you in mind, its designed for their ideal consumer, to reflect their image. On the other hand you have a homemade gown tailored by you for you. You choose the fabric, you choose the pattern, you choose the fit, as garment a home-made evening gown is quintessentially you. If you were to go to a high end event and told people you were wearing a handmade tailored gown they would be impressed, as soon as you mention that the tailor in questions is in fact you that feeling turns to mirth or grudging respect or even worse, requests to make them something similar.

Why should we be made to feel as we aren’t good enough in our me made wardrobes? After all every single piece of clothing is made by somebody, clothes don’t just appear. Honestly, I’m done with it. Of course other people’s opinions don’t really matter if they haven’t got anything nice to say then quite frankly they should shut it but its the fact that this isn’t an isolated one or two people this is an example of social conditioning that is prevalent in books, films, magazines and television, from Cinderella’s homemade dress being torn to shreds to the shopping montage in Pretty Woman. Expensive clothes don’t make a woman and if they do I don’t want to be the kind of woman they make. I will admit there is a joyous sense of giddy luxury in buying yourself something gloriously expensive and decadent but honestly I got the same feeling buying my first proper sewing machine! I get that same feeling when I spend a lot on a dinner for my partner and me, I get that feeling when I book a luxury hotel for a holiday and on those occasions I don’t also receive body-image issues and self-doubt alongside the purchase.

So what am I going to do? You’ve heard the rant, now here is my personal solution. There are two prongs. Firstly, I have reviewed my current evening wear wardrobe and got rid of anything that I don’t absolutely love myself in so if I need a dress super urgently I’ve definitely got something to hand. Secondly, I am aware that occasion wear is a weak area for me because I honestly adore it. So! Last week I bought 2-3m of second hand pale blue satin from a lovely instagram destash account. That fabric has now been stored carefully in my fabric box and I am currently marking appropriate patterns that I own and PDF one’s online that would work with this gorgeous structured mid-weight satin so that if I need a really stunning dress and want something new, I can satisfy those cravings at home and make myself something beautiful tailored and 100% me.

All clothing is made by somebody so my next evening garment might as well be made by me. I will learn a lot by making one and I won’t be contributing to a global system of oppression. Sounds like a win to me!

2 Hour Sewing Project: Sew Simple Gwen Top

Happy Monday Everyone! I am half way through my week off from work and I’m feeling good. The stress is starting to dissipate and I’m beginning to really enjoy my time away. We are still in Colchester so no live sewing for moment but I want to talk about a top I whipped up in 2 hours last Sunday and it’s one I am really proud of. We all have those moments when inspiration runs dry, when we just can’t think what to sew and none of our projects are appealing to us. On those days it can be hard to find the enthusiasm for a single stitch, I had tried to pattern draft for another project but I was just too tired so I had a lie down. Adam and I then had a chat about what I could make and in particular what my current wardrobe lacks. The answer to this is actually pretty easy. I really lack tops. I have knitwear coming out of my ears and plenty of shirts and fancy going out tops but I have very few just tops. There aren’t many t-shirts that I feel comfortable wearing and most of my evening tops are more drinks than office appropriate neither are they especially comfortable. I don’t need any more dresses for the moment so tops seemed a good place to start.

Out of desperation to do something sewing related I had a little look through my sewing magazine, just browsing really, when I came upon one of the free patterns that week. A lightweight batwing top which would be perfect for my red viscose crepe remnant from Sew Me Sunshine! The pattern said it required 1.5m but I can confirm that, at least for a size 8, 1 metre is absolutely fine. I gave myself 2 hours and just went for it, I didn’t really want to plan or think about it, i didn’t want to make too much of a production of it, I just got a cup of tea and starting sewing. I had been lacking inspiration all weekend and I just wanted to make SOMETHING to break the deadlock. I was a bit nervous, especially as I’ve never printed an A0 pattern at home, but I am really pleased with the result. Its not the neatest garment in the world but it was a very quick and easy make and I would definitely recommend the pattern for beginners or anyone who wants to start in the morning and wear the garment out to lunch.

Project Details
  • Fabric: Red Spotty Viscose Crepe, Sew Me Sunshine (1m Remnant)
  • Pattern: Sew Simple Gwen Top
  • Sew Time: 2.5 Hours

Step 1: Cut Out The Never-Ending A0 Pattern

This honestly was the longest step of the entire project. I had to print out 20 pages, cut all the edges off the A4 pieces, tape them together then cut out the actual pattern pieces. It definitely reminded why I get my PDF patterns printed in A0 by somebody else and sent to me! Honestly though I didn’t mind too much because the pattern itself was free and it was a quick Sunday night make. I ended up with something like this. I didn’t want to waste sellotape and we have a hold load of parcel tape so its not very pretty but it did even up as well structured(if hard to fold) pattern pieces.

Step 2: Cut Out The Pattern Pieces

One of the things that makes this pattern so quick and easy is that there are only two pieces for this garment, front and back. I could have done with sharper scissors because no matter how simple the project is viscose is always slippery.

Step 3: Shoulder Seams & Side Seams

The first step is to carefully stay stitch the necklines 1cm in from the edge, as above, and then stitch the shoulder seams and press open. Move on to the side seams, stitch and press again. The side seams in this garment are less that 6 inches long because this top is about 90% sleeve!

Step 4: Finish Raw Edges

The pattern asked for bias binding however that would have been far too heavy on my fabric so I just did rolled hems everywhere and I think it worked very well with the viscose crepe. And you’re done! Thats genuinely it. A simple, easy sew that produces an flattering and attractive garment. I was so happy with it that I even went out in the thunder storm to get pictures

This top was quick, easy and didn’t require too much brain power. I love the drape, I adore the neckline and its a wonderful pattern to just make without having to think or plan or toile. It would also make an excellent remnant buster as you really can squeeze it out of a metre. It looks great with jeans or shorts and you could even tuck it into a pencil skirt for work. This pattern is a massive win in my book and I would recommend it to absolutely everybody who sews. If you just need an easy win then this pattern is for you.