Why a self sewn wardrobe?

beaded necklaces
The oval shaped malachite (bottom) were a gift from Princess after her trip to Nepal some years ago.

I have just joined this free course “How to Build a Self Sewn Wardrobe” by Andrea Eastin of Fair Fit Studio. The course so far, seems a bit different and it’s really got me thinking – can you smell the oil burning?! Andrea is a fashion designer and lecturer – bona fide and all, as well as an art school graduate – good combo huh?

Lesson 1 which arrived into my inbox this morning, looks at why we want to sew our own wardrobe? I love that Andrea throws ‘economy’ out of the window, it’s always seemed a furphy to me. The ‘featured’ tee below is from K mart btw, necklaces by me because I was panicked at the thought of not being able to ‘create’ while we were moving, the perfect excuse to scatter beads about the floor!


marble, copper and Fimo necklace
Pink marble, copper and Fimo, this migrates either side of the chesticles but I really do like it. For stationary use only?!

Do we create because we have a need to express ourselves; fabric and thread our chosen medium? Perhaps that more accurately encapsulates my motivation. My darling Princess was always referred to as the ‘sticking and gluing kid’. She always, every time, without exception grabbed pens, pencils and paper every time we left the house – like a toddler’s life buoy. No matter how we tried to rationalise – “we’re just going to the dentist and back”, she’d have a massive tantrum if we prised those accoutrement from her tight little fists. Now she is loving the sketching and design classes in her architectural degree.

Lil’ sis and I preferred to play inside as kidlets, perhaps it was Brisbane’s stifling heat? We had a book called ‘The Do It Book’ and it was the thing we turned to when we needed play inspiration, it was all cutting and glueing! Is any of this familiar to you?

Sewing and making is irrational in some ways. A friend asked why don’t you just buy your clothes? What? And forgo hours of needle stabbing fingers and expletives cast into the air? Sure, I can buy trousers and jeans off the peg, though tops and shirts with less success. But there’s always that nagging voice – “if only it had a pocket” or “the colour was more/less saturated”. There is an undeniable quest to make items unique . Andrea is getting into my head with her questions and a lot of what she has to say resonates.

malachite, glass beads and unknown rock
This one was really slooooow to complete. Each bead has a straight pin bent, shaped and linked. No idea what the long stone stuff is, but it’s definitely a rock. Reminds me of a rosary!

I like that she has thrown natural talent to the side too. These skills are hewn and honed over many years. ‘Craftsy’ classes downloaded to my Ipad kept me sane on our recent travels, lying seasick on a bunk in the Galapagos! It’s certainly not talent, its considered hard work and frankly, my skills aren’t nearly as great as they should be for the effort. I blame my lack of fearlessness in tackling scary stuff and a lack of patience for repetitive tasks.

yellow beads on silicone thread
Little did I know that my hirsute neck would benefit from an application of bead on silicone. Must restring these because at inopportune moments they bring tears to my eyes! But they’re a dandy colour, don’t you think?

I’m a big believer in delving deep. If you think something’s easy, it’s possible you haven’t fully explored the subject. We all know there’s a difference between a well cut garment and something that just fits. Its that teeny tiny nugget of gold between the two that’s so difficult to define.

If our recent visit to Cuba revealed anything, it’s that without co-operation, collaboration and exposure to new ideas, change is slow. On the flip side, perhaps it’s harder to formulate a unique and original idea when bombarded with so much external stimulus, but there was little evidence of originality on our travels in Cuba. Given the same raw ingredients, the Cuban chef makes what he’s always made using the same techniques he’s always used, which is terrific if the result is good. But if it’s not good, it’s unlikely to improve. Collaboration awakens us to unimagined possibilities and as a result, learning happens faster. What’s the point in reinventing the wheel when someone has already done an excellent job of it and can teach it to you. Doesn’t that leave us more room to explore and invent, while still drawing on techniques that have stood the test of time? Don’t travel to Cuba for the cuisine!

Reductionism is passé, Trump’s tweets are a prime example! Come and belly button gaze with me, perhaps we can explore this self sewn wardrobe thing together, I’m sure you’ll be as fascinated by Andrea’s stimulating emails as I have been.


Add yours →

  1. For me, a huge part of it is creative expression. I enjoy the imagining as much as the making, and that to me is more than wanting to be individual, it’s wanting to create as an individual. (This makes perfect sense in my head but looks a little wooly in type)

  2. Thank you so much…I signed up immediately! Your so very kind to share…perhaps I mostly look forward to the organization of the course..think about this, now think about that… I believe I know why I sew, but what to sew has always been overwhelming, (which is why I turned to the book theme project.) I like that she asks you to write things down, fun fun fun.
    Your post is lovely, and funny as always, a true morning treat. We are kind of like classmates now 🙂 yippiee.
    Joyce ( fun fun fun)

    • G’day Joyce, I too find focus a little fleeting! Its great to have a process to make sense of all the information we’ve got swimming around in the noggin’. I really enjoy your book themed outfits, you must have quite a few by now? Hope the course is good for you, do let me know what you come up with. I’ll keep my eyes peeled on your blog 😉

  3. I would love a self sewn wardrobe but I’m not talented enough! I do embrace my creative side with knitting blankets and I also make felt from scratch building and creating vessels and bags out of felt. I find it incredibly vitalising to create something out of raw materials.

  4. This is very timely! I just signed up for the course, btw.

  5. For me, it’s all about creating something unique that’s an extension of me. Definitely going to check out this course!

    • So far, its been great. I was about to embark on another project in my usual rush without much forethought or intention and suddenly yesterday’s email made me stop and consider… best of luck Ellegee x

  6. I have sewn for everyone else for years and neglected my own wardrobe. I have signed up to see if it can help me focus and get an organised wardrobe rather than my usual ‘scattergun’ method of sewing in a rush for myself.
    Thanks for sharing 😃

    • Scattergun, yes that probably describes my method also! And me too, must have a garment by tomorrow – what’s with that approach, not sure why we do it to ourselves Material Lady! Hope you enjoy the course x

  7. I’m going to give this one more thought. But I do believe the creating, hacking, need for perfection is an artistic trait. I would never have been a painter but I loved sculpture, the working in a 3D form. Do we do this to satisfy a creative and expressive need? I think so, and then we get to wear the finished piece.
    I love wearing original pieces of clothing that fit me, how I want them to fit me. There many more reasons???

    • I agree Linda, there’s definitely something of the artistic expression in sewing for ourselves (and others, sometimes they get a look in)! I notice when my sewing is mundane, it really doesn’t hold my attention. You have an uncanny knack for looking at the discarded clothing of others and seeing great potential. The spark of inspiration seems pivotal to the experience and motivation.

  8. I’ll have to take a look. I love courses, information, plans of any sort. They always add more ideas to my head and I love thinking about what I’m going to do even if what I finish doesn’t quite follow my plan anymore!

  9. I’ve been making my own wardrobe for so long I’ve forgotten what it’s like to buy them! and I’ve loved every minute… challenging, yes, often, but it’s the most enormously satisfying thing in my life I can imagine. I wonder if you’ll be tempted to make your own shoes next? *wink wink*

    • Shoes – you’re hilarious! I can’t even be happy w clothes i make, imagine if i had to make shoes which accommodate orthotics too!! Actually as a wee kid d i used to ‘alter’ shoes i’d grown out of, cutting off the backs of lace ups because i really wanted mules – it was the 70s!! Love your makes Carolyn, you’ve nailed your style 😉

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