Two things in the sewing blogosphere have recently had me thinking about gaps in my wardrobe, and specifically gaps in my home-made wardrobe. One is the Colette Wardrobe Architect project, ongoing and in its last stages; the other is Me-Made May ’14, which will (naturally) start in May.
MMM is an annual event that encourages people who make their own clothes to make a specific point of wearing them – or figuring out why they don’t want to. Especially if you’re relatively new to sewing your own clothes it’s easy to end up with things that, in hindsight, don’t fit well enough, are made in the wrong fabric, aren’t quite your thing, are your thing but don’t go with anything else you own … any number of reasons. But it’s easy to miss that this is happening – after all, how much attention does one typically pay to the clothes you aren’t wearing?
I haven’t been participating in the Wardrobe Architect project; I have a reasonably good sense of what I like to wear and what shapes look good on me, and overall the questions seem to assume a larger starting wardrobe and substantially greater interest in curating one’s image than I personally have. But I have been reading the posts, and chewing over ones that did seem relevant.
Regardless of the specific exercises posed, the core question is one I have been trying to pay more attention to: are the clothes I own (and, as a subset, the clothes I make) representative of the clothes I actually wear? If not, what do I have that I’m not using (and why?) and, more pertinently, what could I really do with that I don’t have?
Do I make clothes I’m actually going to wear?
The overall answer to this is ‘sometimes’. But that’s an average across several sub-categories with radically different answers. A truer picture would be:
- Costume: Yes. I’m proud to say that the only LARP costume items I’ve actually bought have been armour and some accessories (belts, etc.) If it’s in the costume box and it’s made of cloth, I probably made it.
- Workwear: Yes. I don’t wear exclusively me-made at work, but I suspect I’ll get there as my older, cheaper shop-bought shirts wear out and go grey at the underarms. My red Thurlow trousers, my collection of Lekala waistcoats, and my breeding colony of Vogue shirts all get regular rotation at the office.
- Formal/semi-formal: Somewhat. I have a plentiful supply of me-made shirts, some trousers, and am accumulating jackets. I’m not too fussed about this category as it doesn’t come up often.
- Normal clothes, warm outside: Somewhat. The short-sleeved Vogues and elasticated shorts come out to play, but a lot of the time in the real heat I’ll go down to a shop-bought T-shirt or singlet.
- Normal clothes, cold outside: Nope. In the cold season, I bundle up in layers of thermal knit, jeans, long-sleeved T-shirts and hooded sweaters, none of which are me-made.
Where are the gaps?
That last category is the killer. I get cold very easily. Also, I live in Yorkshire. What this adds up to is that for me, “cold outside” covers the period from approximately October to March, minimum.
As far as my handmade wardrobe goes, cold-weather gear is the glaring lacuna (… can a lacuna glare?) with T-shirts in general following behind. Also warm-weather trousers. So:
- Long-sleeved T-shirts. At some point I’m going to have to bite the bullet and properly learn to sew with knit fabric.
- More T-shirts, to be honest.
- Plain black. I have a decent collection of loud items that I love, but which really need a plain rest-of-outfit in order to properly shine/not make your eyes bleed. And yet I only own a handful of plain black tops, and one pair each of black jeans and work trousers … and the jeans are starting to go …
- Jumpers. This winter I have rotated between my old uni hoodie and two zip-up hoodies belonging to the Elf. I own two jumper patterns and should probably make one of them already. See above comments about sewing with knits.
- Warm-weather non-work trousers. With pockets.
Plans and priorities
- New jeans. I have few enough clothes as-is and if my black jeans do finally give way it’ll leave a serious hole in my casual wardrobe. So that’s priority one.
- Knit fabric tops that don’t ride up over my hips too badly.
- After that, non-jeans trousers, with pockets. Jeans are great for cool/mid days, but punishing in the heat.
- Jumpers at the bottom of the list. I’m already starting to emerge from the fleecy cocoon and will hopefully not need to address the jumper dearth now until autumn.
I have been doing actual sewing, honest, not just cogitating about sewing. There are two finished projects waiting patiently to be blogged. My photographer is finally back from Mexico, so hopefully those will go up soon!