Fellow Sewcialist Little Miss Sewshine wrote a great post on “rules” for wearing our home-made garments. In my mind, as you can see in the comments, I got hung up on the “you can sew anything” part. Let me tell you why.
Roughly, one can say that three things are needed to create a garment. A general idea of how the garment would look (draped, self-drafted or commercial pattern doesn’t matter), fabric (or other material, I’m sticking to fabric) and notions and trims. All these things are needed, in the case of trims it can be considered optional, to be able to sew anything.
The order in which these things come isn’t static. Sometimes it’s the fabric that calls your name, others it’s a pattern. Sometimes you see a garment in a store, on a blog, on the street and copy it. There’s plenty of inspiration to go around and it’s hard channeling all of that into a garment that we like to wear. To be honest we’re more likely to channel it into twenty garments we’d like to wear.
Let’s say you’d want to make a shirtdress. A classic wardrobe staple, simple, right? Well, here’s where the endless decisions start. Should the shirt and skirt be separated at the waist or should the dress be in one piece? Do I want only darts in one direction? Gathered skirt or sleek silhouette? What type of sleeves, or even sleeveless?
Should the collar be stand-in, folded over or separate? Pointy or soft, perhaps even scallops? See, endless decisions. And this is just regarding the pattern of the dress. After you know what type of dress you want it’s the matter of fabric. First of all, it needs to work with the pattern in terms of stiffness and drape. Then another round of decisions ensue. Printed or solid? What colour? Floral, geometrical, abstract print? Combination of fabrics? Not to mention that while there are plenty of resources you might not find exactly what you’re after and then determining where your good enough lays. At some point you do come out in the other end with a pattern and a fabric, but the route of getting there might not have been the simplest.
Think you’re ready to start sewing? Wrong! You still need notions and trims. Even selecting thread, do I want a contrast thread or which colour blends in the most with my print? Zipper or buttons? As for zippers; invisible, visible, exposed? Hand-picked or machine sewn? In the back or side seam? Which colour buttons, should they blend in or stand out? (When selecting buttons for a floral blouse I spent fifteen minutes (at least) just staring at buttons. True story). Which shape; round, square, any other? Two holes, four holes or the ones with the stitches below? Do I want trim to personalise my garment? Rick-rack, ribbon, bias tape? Contrast or complementary?
People who don’t sew shouldn’t be impressed that we can make anything. They should be impressed that we can make anything at all with all the inspiration and endless choices. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to select a decorative stitch for my new Mortmain dress.