For those familiar with my blog, it may be hard to believe that I have gaps in my wardrobe, but it is true, I do. With the exception of lingerie (and one sneaky pair of jeans) I never buy RTW clothes anymore, for myself or for my three girls. And trust me, keeping my girls clothed in line with seasonal changes and the odd growth spurt is a full time job on it’s own! I also make most of my husband’s business shirts.
I try to plan what I’m making to replace items that are getting old or starting to wear out. Obviously, I also try to update these items in line with my current fashion obsessions. The fabrics I use are generally great quality and I’m sure they last a lot longer than RTW, but I am still quite tough on my clothes. They get thrown in the washing machine on all kinds of cycles, put in the dryer, and often soaked to remove small hand prints (among other less savoury stains). They get pulled and tugged by little people, torn where small knees hit the ground, and abraded where one particular small person frequently sits on my hip. Life is too short to keep pretty clothes hidden in wardrobes or to worry about getting them dirty!
I’ve long since moved beyond the point of keeping my ‘special’ clothes for ‘special’ occasions. And let’s face it, when you make your own clothes, everything is at least a little bit special. I do have a few dresses that only come out for a night on the town, but generally, the frosting in my wardrobe cops the brunt of day to day wear.
I have one small wardrobe and I like it this way. I don’t like waste and I don’t like excess. I get good value out of my clothes. I wear them to death or recycle them into other styles or kids clothes when I get bored of them. I do make a lot of clothes, but no more than the average person would purchase from a retail shop. I sometimes think it seems like more because every piece is a bit of a production, whereas in my past life, the dribble of ‘staples’ I purchased (tights, tops, sweaters, t-shirts) were the invisible aspect of my wardrobe. They were bought, wore out, and were replaced by similar if not identical items.
I’m happy to say that I have finally reached a point in my sewing where I can confidently purchase beautiful European and designer fabrics, pretty silks, and the odd bit of Liberty, knowing that I’m not going to ruin it. I don’t have many sewing fails these days (I did a few years ago though!) and if I do, I know I can always turn it into something else. I think this confidence has made me a lot more adventurous with my sewing, and I love that I can clothe my family in fabulous fabrics.
I have to admit that in the whole scheme of things, I don’t save much money by sewing. If you consider the quality of the individual garments I make, comparable to their RTW counterparts, my savings are huge. But if you are talking about the cost of filling my wardrobe, I don’t. But then again, I still think I’m a little bit better off. I could save a lot more money, but I compensate by purchasing beautiful fabrics that I would otherwise not ever see used in the range of RTW clothing that formed the basis of my past wardrobe.
But all this aside, the wardrobe gap I was filling with this make was that of a simple white shirt. I made myself a man-shirt. I think I last owned such a shirt in the early 90’s (I also owned one in plaid flannel to pair with my 501’s for my ‘grunge’ look back then). I like this one much better!
I toyed with the idea of trying out an Archer, but it wasn’t quite the look I was after. I wanted a more oversize, loose fitting shirt. In the end, I hunted down the perfect vintage pattern, McCall’s 8082. And let me tell you, I’m feeling my age when I start calling 1996 a ‘vintage’ year!
It is a unisex pattern, which bore appeal for me because of the look I was after. This also meant it included sizing for longer man-arms and man-torso. I made the man-length version. It appears that my arms are man-length.
The pattern itself was very straight forward to sew. I’ve sewn several different shirt patterns now as I search for the perfect business shirt for hubby. It claimed to be a 3-hour shirt. Who can sew a business shirt in 3hrs? I can’t. It takes time to fuse interfacing, stitch corners carefully and sew on buttons, or perhaps it just takes me more time because I am busy watching Game of Thrones as I sew…
The only thing I didn’t like about this pattern was the collar and stand. It was a single piece. I enjoyed learning a different, albeit very simple, technique, but I wouldn’t do it this way again. I would make my own separate pieces. I don’t think this is something others would notice, but I do. I just feel that proper shirts should have a collar stand and a collar.
Check out the lovely length of those man-arms! I paired my new man-shirt with my favourite pair of Esther shorts.