The cost of making clothes

I wanted to start sewing for two reasons.

1 – I thought making my own clothes would save me money

2 – I wanted to be able to make clothes that fit my body shape better.

I’ve had my sewing machine for almost a year now and I haven’t quite managed either yet!

Fabric just isn’t very cheap. Sewing equipment and accessories aren’t particularly cheap. Everything adds up and it wasn’t long before I realised that high street clothes aren’t as expensive to buy as all the bits and time I need to sew a pattern. This realisation was a bit of an eye opener – about the cost of making clothes more than anything else.

I’m now more aware and a little suspicious when shops sell ridiculously cheap clothes. And with news stories such as this last year, when a factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing lots of workers, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be aware of the costs involved in making clothes.

Looking into this a little more it was a bit of a shock to find out that H&M, a shop I regularly buy clothes from, is on a list of companies who’s clothes are made in sweatshops. This info came from nosweat.org – an organisation that fights for the rights of sweatshop workers. And now shopping for clothes from my favourite store becomes something of a moral dilemma…

Tilly has written an interesting blog post here about the cost of clothes. Interestingly she found she saved money overall in a year by making clothes rather than buying them. So there is hope for the long term! And with more more social awareness – this can only be a positive step, right? I hope so.

The other reason I wanted to make my clothes was to achieve a better fit… Well I still have some way to go! I think I’ve come a long way in the last year. But I have chosen beginners patterns for the most part – which generally don’t need an awful lot of fitting. For example – the Miette skirt I made. The only time I made a proper attempt at fitting was the Elisalex dress. I did a full bust adjustment when I made this. It worked, as it did fit me better than if I had sewn up the pattern without any alterations, but it could still use a little work. Fitting was a little more challenging than I had expected, and without any experience it’s overwhelming.

Knowing what I know now I’ve had to re-think why I want to sew. And I still do want to sew things. Learning to sew made me realise how much I miss doing something creative. I loved art and photography and school, and I studied history of art at uni. At the same time, I loved studying foreign languages – I’m a very sad person and I find it satisfying to understand the grammar and rules of a language. I think sewing combines the two for me. There’s so much opportunity to be creative, but following patterns and learning about the construction or how different types of fabric work gives it some structure and framework.

But mostly, I enjoy sewing and I find it really satisfying! It’s pretty amazing to be able to make a piece of clothing, and I’m really excited to get better and learn more.

I just need to learn to be a little tidier…!

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