16 June 2007

Dressmaking is a dying art

I'm really excited about this! I'm starting our sewing circle at the Neighbourhood Centre next Monday - it will be free and we have two ex-professional sewers who are coming along to help. We'll either work on the projects each person brings along or we'll make things like painting aprons and smocks for the local kindy, or items needed at the local hospital and nursing home. One of our helpers used to make costumes for the Queensland Ballet and Theatre Company so she will help our sewers make up their own patterns as well as show them how best to construct their garments.

Dressmaking is a dying art. There are so many cheap clothes from China now that it doesn't seem worth it to make our own clothes from scratch. But I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who would like to learn the once common skill of making and mending clothing. I guess we'll see on Monday. I'm looking forward to it and I hope we have a lot of eager sewers come along to learn and meet each other.

Yesterday I bought a sewing kit for the Centre. It was quite daunting going into the shopping mall after so long not shopping there, many things had changed, but so much of it is still the same. I was pleased to get out of there. I got quite a nice sewing caddy and have filled it with all sorts of sewing goodies. Here is the photo.



  1. I am not a sewing person. Never used a sewing machine in my life (44 this year) but I do knit aran jumpers and do cross stitch.

    Even now to get enough wool to knit an adult jumper, I have to get the shops to ring round to get enough balls of wool.

    I do so hope you enjoy your sewing group:)

  2. I can't think of one of my contemporaries who sews clothes for themselves or their familiy. I have friends who do patchwork or embroidery but not clothing. There are plenty on the net though.

  3. I don't know anyone who makes their own clothes, but I know a few women who want to learn how. I hope this sewing circle is a success as I think it will be good for our town.

  4. I have to agree with the other posters. I mean, why sew? I've been through Lincraft and Spotlight, and done the maths, and it is cheaper to buy clothes than to make your own.

    You could argue that by making your own, you get exactly what you want, but he choice these days in the shops is so huge that you can get pretty much what you want anyway...usually on discount!

    I sell my kids clothes once they've outgrown them. By buying name brands (Pumpkin Patch etc) on sale then selling them secondhand, the cost is very low. And because the clothes are name brand and well looked-after, I usually sell the items for as much as half the new price. You just can't make them for that.

    Then there's the issue of time. When I factor in the value of my time, sewing is definitely more expensive.

    Finally, the issue of gender. It's a thorny one, but sewing isn't, and shouldn't be, a women's domain. Sure, traditionally it was, but that's because it was low-paid, menial housework.

    For the last 200 years or so, women were paid a pittance for piecework. We had to save money in any way we could. Cheap premade clothes were not available. And women had to leave our jobs once we married. So it made sense. But times have changed in all those factors.

    I only have one friend who sews, and she does it because she loves it. Good on her!

    But for those of us who aren't interested, I think it makes sense to pay someone else to do it, and save money in the process. If I want anything made specially, I will ask my friend, pay her well, and it's a win-win situation. But I haven't needed to yet.

  5. I guess I'm the odd ball in all this. I love the idea of making clothes and a few of my friends do it on a regular basis. I've got a ton of patterns, a great machine and I'm itching to stop buying clothes. I mend and reuse everything I can. Next weekend I'm making a cape and crown for my son who loves to be a king and super hero at a moments notice. Yes, I could just buy them but it just wouldn't be the same.

  6. I really love to make my own clothes - not becaues of money, time or any other tangible reasons. But because of the value of anything made by your own hands. And it really is cheaper if you see not only the name of the garment, i.e. shirt, trousers etc. but also a material of what it has been made. Poliester vs cotton, acrylic vs wool. The quality of mass production very often is poor - the seams ar not made properly, the potential of the material has not been used to its full. If you really master this art of dressmaking, you can make a stunning outfit out of a simple cotton material - looking like designers clothing, but that costs nearly nothing. You can recycle so many things into something new and stylish - clothes, accessoires, home textiles. It is a wonderful and exciting world you enter once you start to think independently and use your hands!

  7. As one who has sewed garments for over 50 years, I saw early on the problem: Fitting a pattern to a human body. Pattern creation is a science that must come before dressmaking, else you will discard many of your finished garments. Be honest with your own body and create a few patterns that truly work. You can use them hundreds of times, and the garments will never look the same.

  8. I started sewing classes 3 years ago and although the cost a bit, I was taught by a wonderful teacher. I have stopped now as I know enough to make some amazing garments both for myself and my family. It is cheaper to buy clothes but for me it is a stress release where I lose myself in what i am doing.


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