What Sewing Has Taught Me About Fashion

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If you’ve been following along the past couple of months, you’ve probably heard me mention that I recently learned to sew. I’ve always wanted to learn, and of course it helps that we already have a sewing machine + table in the house. Throughout the process, sewing made me think a lot about fashion, the clothes we wear, etc., so I figured, what better way to share these insights than in a blog post? I hope you enjoy!

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But first, some background. I made today’s outfit!!! My aunt helped me with cutting the pattern and during a few WhatsApp video calls, but other than that, I did the sewing all by myself. I knew I wanted to make a “matching set” for my first real project, as I had been seeing several cute loungewear sets throughout quarantine and into the summer (i.e. cute pajamas that have now been made socially acceptable to wear outside the house).

As much as I love this turquoise dotted fabric from JoAnn’s, the set does feel and look like pajamas in my opinion… So I felt a little sheepish as I went outside to take these blog photos, in white platform espadrilles, no less. But! As I was heading outside, a woman in the elevator commented, “I love your outfit! So fun.” To which I replied, “Thank you so much! I actually sewed it myself.” She was very impressed and even noticed the matching scrunchie on my wrist, which was greatly pleasing to me (yes, I made a scrunchie out of the fabric scraps. I wanted to make a matching mask, too, but it’s not the recommended kind of fabric). Needless to say, that interaction made me feel a little more comfortable about my look, but I’m still not sure if I would actually wear it out of the house. What do you think? Maybe it’d look less weird with white sneakers.

Anyway, it took me a very long time to make this tee and shorts set. The short legs are slightly different lengths, the collar of the shirt is a little funky, and I definitely cropped the tee shorter than I had wanted (I swear I measured twice!). But aside from those beginner mistakes, I’m really pleased with how the set turned out. As my mom said, “It’s impressive you actually made something wearable for your first try!” Ha!

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Now, onto a few things that learning to sew has taught me about fashion:

  • I should give a lot more slack to the people on Project Runway (I spent a lot of the summer binging old Project Runway episodes on Hulu). I used to get really annoyed when the hems weren’t straight as the models walked down the runway, and even more annoyed when the judges wouldn’t comment on the unevenness. But now I understand. Sewing is SO difficult! And the fact that the contestants do what they do in the time allotted is incredible… I wouldn’t even be able to line up and cut a pattern in the two days given for a challenge, let alone make the hems perfectly straight.
  • Now knowing the very basics of sewing, it makes me look at clothes differently every time I get dressed in the morning. Something doesn’t fit right… Am I capable of altering it myself? Oh, look at that kind of stitch… Do I know how to do that? For the record, the answer to these questions is almost always “no”. Which brings me to…

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  • I have so much more respect for things that are “well-made” now. I never really understood what that concept meant before starting my sewing adventure, but after making something myself (not well, I might add), I can see how much additional effort and attention to detail would be required for a garment to be considered well-made. All the seams of patterned fabric would have to line up exactly, all the stitching would have to be perfectly straight, all the seams would have to be perfectly pressed to eliminate unwanted bulk (notice that I did not do this in the collar), the list goes on and on.
  • Lastly, making my own outfit really made me consider the fast fashion industry and the labor that goes into making clothing. I never shop at stores where the garments are concerningly cheap because of what the prices imply about the labor used (for example, SheIn and Forever 21), but of course I still have so much work to do to learn about this industry and the stores I shop at. To say sewing is backbreaking work sounds dramatic, but after just a few hours of sewing, my back really would ache from being hunched over the machine. It baffled me that clothes in general can be sold so inexpensively, after I spent hours and hours making a subpar, very basic t-shirt and shorts. Not to mention, this fabric alone cost $36 for 3 yards, and that was the sale price—usually it would have been $50. And that price doesn’t even include the elastic for the waistband, the pattern, and the thread. In all, this top and pair of shorts cost about $24.50 each, whereas I could buy a similar matching set from a place like SheIn for only $10. Really gives ya’ some perspective!

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Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today! Aside from cutting the pattern, I really love sewing and find the process very relaxing (except when I mess up, obviously). My next project is going to be an apron!

Do you usually notice the seams, fabrics, etc. of your clothing? Have you ever sewn anything before? Unfortunately, I have to spend the rest of the day writing an essay… but I might just cozy up in my matching set to do my work. Have a great Monday!

 

Miles of smiles,
Grace

 

Turquoise Dotted Tee: Made by ME, $24.50 | Turquoise Dotted Shorts: Made by ME, $24.50 | White Espadrilles: DSW, $45, buy HERE

30 comments on “What Sewing Has Taught Me About Fashion”

  1. Great job on your outfit! I sew everything for my brand, Fashion Not Fear, and I love it! Although, it can be very challenging. I agree with you about Project Runway contestants. I respect they can get such great work done in such a small amount of time. Keep sewing! ☺️

  2. You did a great job! I know you see the flaws, but honestly, most people won’t notice. And imo, the outfit looks fine for wearing out and about.

    I have tried to sewing clothing, but really don’t enjoy it. I do like having the skills to make repairs and alterations. In fact I’ve been really intrigued with the blog, Style My Thrift. ( stylemythrift.com ) Eva buys from thrift stores and then refashions the garment to suit her taste. I think you would enjoy her blog too.

    Michelle
    https://mybijoulifeonline.com

    1. Thanks Michelle! I’ve actually checked out her blog before too and Eva makes some really cool things. I would love to be able to get to the point where I can upcycle pieces and make them my own. I think that’s so cool!

  3. It has the look of a timber so o think it works. Would look really cute with white sneakers. It break it up to wear as separates. Looks very cute and an inexperienced eye like mine wouldn’t notice the beginners mistakes. Great job, Grace!

    1. Thank you Mireille! I tried on the tee with black jeans and it looked super cute, so I’ll definitely be wearing that outfit sometime in the future.

  4. I think you did a great job! And what a beautiful color and pattern. And I think the espadrilles look good with it. I took a course years and years ago but didn’t have the patience for it. I did make a few items, with a lot of help from my teacher!

    1. Thanks so much Nancy! Yes, I definitely needed a lot of help from my aunt. Sewing is a lot harder than I expected!

  5. I think that is awesome that you made that set, and I think it’s so cute! I learned in high school but haven’t done it since, so I’m sure I don’t remember much!

    1. Thanks so much, Shea! I went only a few weeks without sewing and already forgot a ton… So I gotta make sure to keep it up. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Maureen, and for the suggestion! It’s funny, and I forgot to mention this in the post, but sewing patterns are so hard to read… at least for a beginner. They’re so vague and I really had a hard time understanding the directions half the time! Haha.

  6. Fabric really is so expensive and so is making your own garments! You did such a wonderful job with this matching set! And it turned out really well! I can’t wait to see what else you end up making!

  7. I really love how your outfit turned out! I’m always very impressed with people who are able to make their own clothes. I’ve thought about fast fashion a lot and it is really horrible how little the makers earn for their work, especially seeing as it’s hard to understand how the cost covers the supplies much less the labor.

  8. What a cute set! that colour is beautiful on you and that lady was right to compliment your outfit – it looks great and it’s impressive you made it yourself! I don’t sew myself and I don’t buy a lot of high quality brands of clothing – I prefer to save my money and splurge on accessories, haha! But I do notice the quality differences with the sewing in some things – it’s something I look for when opshopping if there’s no label on something I don’t know what the quality level would be and I don’t want it falling apart so I’ll check the stitching. 🙂

    Hope that your week is going well 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Mica! And yes, that’s super smart to check the stitching. I agree, splurging on accessories is the best!

  9. Welcome to sewing world 😉 cute set indeed, especially with the matching tie. I also notice you did great job with the collar as 1st try 👍

    1. Thank you Tracy! And haha yes, it definitely requires a lot of patient… I was about ready to throw a tantrum several times throughout the process.

  10. Great job! I think the set is super cute! I’ve been wanting to get into sewing again, I did sewing projects when I was young but haven’t done anything in years. Very curious on your methods of learning to sew!

    1. Thanks so much, Emily! My aunt taught me, so I spent several hours a day with her over the course of a week to learn the basics. She showed me how to cut a pattern, thread the bobbin, etc., and then I practiced all the stuff with her nearby to help whenever I got stuck (which was very often). It was so fun!

  11. You did an amazing job! I love the matching set, it looks great on you! I went to a sewing workshop once with no previous experience and I was truly terrible at it. I enjoyed the cutting out part, but the sewing machine was not my friend! I have a sewing machine that my mother-in-law gave to me and I’m going to give it another try. It really does make you wonder how clothes can be sold so cheaply when it’s so time-consuming to make them. I guess we know the answer…very cheap labour. Thanks for sharing at the link up!

    Emma xxx
    http://www.style-splash.com

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Emma! Sewing is so much harder than I expected and really does take a lot of time. I’m so slow at it! Hope you’re having a Monday.

  12. Grace, this set is so adorable! And I don’t think it looks like pajamas at all, although you could pull it off for loungewear if you wanted. You did such a great job on this and you really can’t see any flaws in your photos. When I was very young, my mother made all of our clothes. It was much cheaper that way 40 years ago. But now, you are so right, fabrics and sewing supplies cost so much that it certainly deters people from making their own clothing these days. Wonderful job on this! Thanks for linking.

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

    1. Thanks so much, Shelbee! My aunt who taught me to sew was the same way – she said back then it was so economical to make your own clothes. She guffawed when we were looking at patterns and some of them cost $5+, haha.

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