Friday, 21 August 2015

How much of your handmade wardrobe do you actually wear?

Somebody recently described the size of my handmade wardrobe as vast. This came as a bit of a shock to me, as I consider my wardrobe to be pretty minuscule, especially compared to some of my non-sewing friends. But if you scroll through the My Handmade Wardrobe page on my blog, there are, in fact over 100 garments listed. 110 in fact! 110!!!!!  I then went through the entire page, checking which garments were still in circulation and which had been slung out. The results were quite interesting….


First off, I need to explain my position on hanging on to things - I'm absolutely ruthless, ruthless. I dislike hoarding, and this applies to everything apart from books (which I'm constantly tripping over). I have regular pattern and fabric culls and the same is true of my clothes - apart from a few items that have real sentimental value, there are very few clothes from years gone by that I've actually kept. My rule is simple: if it hasn't been worn that year, it goes. Sometimes I extend this to two years if I really think I'm going to wear it, but not very often. Local charity shops do very well out of me come the changing of the seasons!

It seems that two thirds of my handmade garments are still being worn, but that still leaves a good chunk of them that have gone. I've given a few garments away in giveaways, several have died peacefully after being thoroughly worn to death, but the majority have been given to charity. What's really interesting is that the number of garments I've got rid of have become fewer and fewer as I've progressed through my sewing life. For instance, all five garments from my first year of blogging (2010) have now gone, but last year I only got rid of one item: my first Afternoon Blouse (which I loved, but it was just too tight to be comfortable).


It's clear that I've developed a much better idea of what styles and shapes suit me the longer I've been sewing. I no longer jump straight in and make something just because everybody else is sewing it. Your tastes also change from year to year - something I couldn't get enough of two or three years ago is probably further down the list nowadays. I don't really like getting rid of things I've made, especially if I laboured over it, which has made me a lot more considered in my pattern and fabric choices. I also realise that I had no idea about fit when I first started sewing. I'd blog about something fitting perfectly, when in reality it was terrible!  I'm not that much better now, but I have picked up a few tips over the years, and can at least tell what fits me and what doesn't! Sort of…

How about you? Are your handmade lovelies imprisoned in your wardrobe, destined never to see the light of day again? Or do you wear the whole lot on a regular basis? I'd love to know!

Have a great weekend/ x


55 comments:

  1. I have gone through a similar transition in my handmade wardrobe. I recently culled about 80 percent of my wardrobe -- most of it had been worn to death and just needed to gotten rid of. I have one pair of jeans, one pair of dress pants that are RTW. My workout clothes and about 50 percent of my T-shirts/casual shirts are RTW. All of my skirts/dresses that I wear with any regularity to work are all hand made.

    My skills with sewing have improved, as have my fitting skills. My FBAs are more refined and I've learned to finesse things a little more than I did in the early years. Regardless, most everything I wear, I've made. Today for example, I have a Renfrew T-shirt and a Mabel pencil skirt on.

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  2. Yep, sounds familiar! I've been a late convert to FBAs, I wish I'd started earlier as a lot of my fitting problems could probably have been easily solved! x

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    1. what is an FBA?

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    2. It's a Full Bust Adjustment. If the bust area comes up tight you can add room to the bust on the pattern piece. You only adjust the front bodice so that the fit on the back isn't affected. Hope that helps! x

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  3. Very similar to you - I'm quite ruthless too so lots of early makes are gone, but the newer stuff sticks around as I've got better at fitting and diagnosing my own style. Amusingly my most worn garments mostly don't appear on my blog as they're 'boring' stuff like t-shirts and knit tee dresses! But 80% of the time I'm wearing handmade and my RTW wardrobe chunk is increasingly smaller. Which is nice :)

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    1. I'd say I wear handmade about 80% of the time too! I think diagnosing your own style makes a massive difference to how wearable something is, happily I've got better at that as time goes on! x

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  4. Like you, sewing my own stuff has definitely made me better at selecting things that both suit me better, and work for my lifestyle, as I've progressed. I really admire your ruthlessness, and although it really doesn't come naturally to me, I've got rid of so much 'stuff' (it's amazing how much a family of four can get through) this Summer. I've still got a long way to go, but it's made me feel a whole lot better and calmer :-)

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    1. I think as my family has grown (we're a family of four too) I've become more ruthless. Although having two children of the same gender means I tend to hang onto things waiting for the younger one to grow into it! That's the only bit of hoarding I do! x

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  5. I wear handmade most days but my wardrobe really is tiny - maybe 30/40 items in total, about half of which is handmade. I am trying to remedy this by making more. I am more ruthless than you - I clear out every three months or so :-/ which might be why my wardrobe is now so small

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    1. Haha! I always admire a fellow ruthless wardrobe culler! x

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  6. Hi Jane, I need to be a bit more ruthless especially with patterns! What do you do with yours? I feel it's a waste to send them to a charity shop, do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks

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    1. I haven't actually got a massive pattern stash. The ones I don't like I take to sewing meet-ups to swap or just give to other sewing buddies. Or hold giveaways on my blog - actually I haven't done that for a while, maybe it's time for another one! If your patterns are vintage you could also sell them on eBay or Etsy? x

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  7. It's great to hear this part of your story. I've just started making myself clothes other than skirts and just started doing alterations to improve the fit of the things I make. If you are five years in have made 110 garments and gotten style and comfort largely sorted, it's very encouraging. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Ah my pleasure, so happy to hear that I've inspired you! x

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  8. Hmm... Good question. I end up wearing something handmade almost every day since I've started making wearable trousers.
    It's hard for me to cull some things. Usually the nicer stuff. I keep thinking I'll wear it to events. Plus my life keeps changing so I'm not sure what I'll be wearing practically...

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    1. I find it very difficult to get rid of things that have taken a lot of time and effort to make. Sometimes I wear things I'm not sure of a few times to give them a last chance, then it's obvious if they're winners (which does happen occasionally) or losers! x

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  9. i am pretty ruthless (but probably do a bigger cull less regularly). most of my wardrobe is now handmade and i wear it all the time - i probably notice the days i don't wear a handmade item as they are pretty rare.the things i don't wear very much are either very seasonal or pretty special (so i can live with wearing both of those categories less often!)

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    1. Yes, I have some handmade special dresses in my wardrobe too (e.g. My BHL Georgia dress) that hardly ever get worn but which I'm still hanging on to. They're usually for posh do's or parties which I don't get invited to very often! x

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  10. I've only been sewing about 2.5 years and have sewn A TON in that time (over 200 reviews on PR and some of those are dupes!). But sewing a lot has allowed me to really hone my construction and fit skills. So while I've had to cull a lot of garments, I am now at the point where I am really able to make things better so I anticipate things lasting longer.

    Also, I live in the upper midwest and we quite literally get 6 months of winter. By the time "spring" rolls around I cannot stand to look at the darker/heavier types of fabrics and MUST fully transition my closet!

    So I have a fall/winter closet and a spring/summer closet. And neither the twain shall meet :)

    I wear handmade probably 90% of the time. But I do have some serious RTW faves that I won't be parting with any time soon!

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    1. I'm astounded that you've only been sewing for 2.5 years! I thought you'd been sewing far, far longer. Your handmade garments look so professional, spending time honing your construction and fitting skills has definitely paid off! Btw, I also have a few RTW faves I can't bear to part with! x

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    2. Aw thanks!

      I know, I'm always thinking, "Bravo!" to those who completely avoid RTW but I can't. Sometimes I manage to find really amazing items! :)

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  11. I have loads of handmade clothes, but I never actually where them, I hang them on Doris, my dressform, as decoration and to show off but what I enjoy making and what I enjoy wearing are two very different things. I mean I wear jeans and t-shirts at home and stuff I don't care about at work as long as I can move quickly in it it will do, I am a one to one teaching assistant for a child with autism so I have to be prepared for literally anything.
    I enjoy making vintage clothes, they are beautiful I enjoy the process but never wear them.
    Vicki

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    1. That's so interesting to hear. I agree that there is something enjoyable and therapeutic about the process of making clothes. For me personally, part of the enjoyment is wearing them too! I like the image of Doris the dressform wearing an array of beautiful handmade clothes! x

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  12. I have recently been much more ruthless than before. My handmade wardrobe was vast; so much so that it became overwhelming. I culled about half of it and donated just over half of the culled pieces. The rest are perculating in storage while I decide if i will donate or keep them.


    I have recently fallen in love with knits (they are comfortable on my sore joints) and am sewing lovely stretchy items. I find if I have a list and plan very carefully the items I make are more often kept than not.

    I love your handmade wardrobe, Jane! It's so lovely and so perfectly you!

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    1. Yes, I find sewing to a plan is much more successful than jumping on every sewalong bandwagon (which is what I used to do!) I've also become a knit convert in recent months, stretchy garments are so comfortable and I tend to wear them on a pretty regular basis for that reason.

      And thank you for your lovely comment about my handmade wardrobe Sarah! x

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  13. I'm still a beginner when it comes to sewing so I don't have a closet full of completed projects yet. However, I do wear everything I've made up to this point minus 2 ill fitting and hideous dress failures. My first ever sewing project, a "Learn to Sew" skirt pattern from Simplicity, I wear all the time! But my boyfriend picked out the fabric, which is all cotton and it's been slowly shrinking down to unwearable :(

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    1. Good for you! A skirt that's worn and worn sounds like a big success. If your cotton one wears out, you'll just have to make another! x

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  14. I do wear most of my me makes regularly. Otherwise they go to the donate or refashion pile.

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    1. Similar to me, although I'm not that good on refashioning! x

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  15. I don't wear the garments I've made, other than a couple. I'm just beginning to feel that it might be possible. I've made things which don't fit properly, which don't suit me, where I'm not happy enough with the finishing... Just in the last couple of weeks I've finally managed to cull those items I made which don't work.

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    1. It took me a while to start doing it, but I felt better once I got rid of garments that didn't work (for one or all of the reasons you give!) x

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  16. You're right, it's much more difficult to discard an item you've made yourself. I wish I had every single thing I've ever made, all the ball gowns from the 1960s, the summer dresses, the velvet jacket, the … Oh well, I still have the 1967 wedding dress.

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    1. Ah, so glad to hear you still have the 1967 wedding dress! x

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  17. Would you donate clothes to the charity shop if they are a bit crappy? The first couple of things I made don't fit me very well and are not sewn that well either so I'm not sure what to do with them!

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    1. Yes, I still donate them, they might be a decent fit on somebody else, or can be used for refashioning. I'm very lucky to have a charity shop near me that supports adults with learning disabilities. All clothing donations that can't be sold on, get cut up and used to help the young adults improve their sewing skills. The quilts, bags and cushions they make from them are then sold in the shop and they're always beautifully made. x

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  18. Most days I wear at least a handmade piece. I make a lot of fairly basic pieces (like plain tops/skirts) so it's easy to wear and not too complicated to sew.

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    1. Yes, I wear handmade most days too, even if it's just simple T shirt! x

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  19. I love this post. After resurrecting my sewing 18 months ago after a 15 year gap I jumped in and used patterns and fabric that weren't really me. So a lot of those things have now gone. Being more selective and thoughtful now, planning ahead and taking my time had resulted in more clothes that are ME and will be worn regularly.

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    1. It takes a bit of time, but I think a more considered approach is definitely worth it in the long run! x

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  20. I'm pretty unsentimental if something isn't working for me- let the charity shop love it- I'll move on!

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    1. Good! I like your style lady! x

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  21. Just recently I have been a little more ruthless with chucking my makes. I'm still far from a handmade wardrobe but I am getting to the point where I'm less willing to wear things that have (now) obvious mistakes just because they are handmade. What I'll do next Me-Made-May, I don't know! I guess I'd better get sewing!

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    1. When I participated in Me-Made-May it really highlighted the garments that didn't work for me and had to be slung out! x

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  22. I only wear my handmade clothes, they fit me 100% better than any RTW and I know I won't see myself walking down the street.

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    1. Yes, you definitely won't see a duplicate! x

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  23. Ooh, interesting! Like a lot of other commenters, about 95% of my wardrobe is me-made - in fact, I only have knickers, stockings and a few pairs of socks that are RTW. Having said that, I don't wear everything I make. There are a couple of reasons for that, the major one is that although I have been sewing since I was a child, it is only over the last 4-5 years that my skills have really improved significantly and many clothes have been consigned to the bin/Charity shop as I get better in that area. I also find that my tastes change. One winter I made lots of pair of lined wool pants, jersey button up cardigans and vest tops, right now I am going through a Lagenlook phase - lots of loose fitting, flowing clothes. Very Out of Africa! So my short summer skirts from last year are toast!

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    1. I agree about tastes changing, that's happened with me too! x

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  24. I'd say I wear 95% self made, I make all my own clothes for work now and have only bought jeans, bras and hosiery in the last 2 years. Like you I'm pretty ruthless. If I'm not wearing it there's a reason and I've no room for things I don't wear. I recently gritted my teeth and made myself do alterations to change some niggly things on a bunch of older makes - hemlines altered, necklines etc. If it can't be fixed it's off to the op shop! I remember having an ethical dilemma about sending a skirt off to the op shop with some lovely vintage buttons I'd bought especially to match the skirt. My husband stepped in and made me leave them on!

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    1. I've managed to rescue a couple of garments by shortening the hems, changing the necklines etc, but not many! Like you, if they don't work after fiddling with, they're out! x

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  25. I threw away some of my first 'makes' this week. Took me ages to pluck up courage to part with them! It'll be easier next time. I admire your ruthlessness.

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    1. It WILL be easier next time, although hopefully there won't be many 'next times'! x

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  26. Excellent topic! I often wonder this of my fellow bloggers and have even asked a few, but received no response, so it's interesting to see what you have kept. I think the point you make about keeping things more as you become more experienced is a good one. I have gotten rid of all but one of my cotton dresses, many of which were from fad patterns everyone was making, but I have kept a couple pieces that I really put time into and used the right fabric, since they turned out much better. I used to hold on to things I made because it felt sad to toss something I made myself, even if it didn't turn out, but I'm over it now, as well as over buying cheap fabrics for practice dresses that I'll never wear. Now I plan out my sewing to address my wardrobe needs and buy nicer fabrics, but the urge is still there to make a few frivolous things or trendy patterns because it's fun.

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    1. There will always be a few frivolous garments and trendy patterns that slip through my net, but probably fewer and fewer the longer I sew! x

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  27. Oh this sounds so familiar.... I don't wear much of my handmade garments. Sometimes I think I have a split personality. I often jump on a pattern I've seen others make, love it on the other person, then, not on myself. i adore vintage patterns, and sometimes I think my inner other persona just takes over and sew this crazy vintage "costume". When the haze clears, I'm like "Come on!!! I cannot seriously wear that!!!!?". It is rather sad. Oh, and don't get me started on fabric choices. I think I would be happier if I just could get hold of some good quality fabric, and then not be afraid to use it (which is often the case with the "good stuff")

    I guess I still have a way to go in the process, learning about what I really like and how to acquire it in my sewing. I need to get better at planning and focusing on needs instead of wants. And I need to fuse my personalities and come up with some "normal" middle ground:)

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