Now, why we sew has obviously been the subject of many, many posts. I know why I sew—to have something unique out of my own head. And with long enough sleeves (I still haven’t made a successful garment with long sleeves. Partly because it’s been warm, partly because I think I’ve trained myself away from long sleeves over the years).
But I was chatting with my mother about sewing the other day (I know, wasn’t this blog supposed to exist so I don’t yak her ear off about it?)… and she made a comment that she gave up sewing when she began having to alter the patterns right out of the envelope.
This took me aback a little.
Don’t most people sew expecting to alter their patterns? Isn’t most of the point of sewing for yourself so you CAN alter the pattern before making the garment? I mean, my mother is not particularly oddly-shaped, but she has the same gangling limbs I do, an even shorter waist, and a D-cup… of course she’s going to have to alter the pattern. And that’s without even talking about swaybacks, forward (or backward) shoulders, or any of those other subtler fitting dilemmas. And it’s not as if the ready-to-wear garments from the store have these alterations made to them!
But then I realized that in the era when my mother learnt to sew (the 1960s)… you still sewed for the sake of economy. Or tradition, or because that’s what girls did. And even when I was a child, my home-sewed garments were generally only the things you couldn’t get off the rack—those pioneer dresses I mentioned, for example. (Some of which have fabulous pintucks in the pinafores, by the way. Pintucks terrify me!) Many of her sewing projects were dolls—again, things not available off the rack. When it came to creative wardrobing, my mom far preferred to hunt the thrift stores and garage sales (even in the 80s!) or overstock places like Winners for bargains.
Which is fine, as far as it goes… it’s just a far different “world of sewing” than I am used to.