Monday, August 13, 2012

There Was a Time


Not so very long ago, when  fashion (all sorts of fashions) were driven by quality.
Details mattered and so did individuality.

Things change. I haven't.

I still like the quality details in my clothing.
No, I don't bind each seam with seam binding...I quickly overcast each edge with a zig zag stitch.
No, I don't tie knots in my thread to bind them off, I do a quick machine back stitch.
No, I don't hand stitch my buttonholes with buttonhole (heavy weight) silk thread, or make bound buttonholes.
Well that is for the most part. 

 In my recent bit of sewing, I did bind some seams with bias tape-(OK it was sewn on with a zig zag stitch)And while I don't employ fine details for everyday clothes, I have done all the fine details (and many others) to some clothing—over the many years I have been sewing.

When I made my wrap around skirts, I didn't (as suggested by the pattern directions) hand sew the waist band seam in place, nor did I hand sew the back edge of the collar on the camp shirts.

For the skirt—I used the simpler, faster “stitch in the ditch” to sew down the inside waist band (one of those edges that I bound with bias tape)--and for the collar—I used self made bias tape to finish the back neck edges. Both of these methods are faster—and could be called “factory” methods—they are more commonly (or rather were more commonly) found on better mass produced clothing—though now days—even supposedly “better dresses” tend to have serged seams.

I like my clothes to look finished—Look closely at them (especially the inside finished edges) and even a non sewer will recognize things are different--(they might not know the technical names of the different details—but they would see differences). Seen from the outside—the dress look, well un-remarkable. Nothing about them says home made/hand made. They just like like a nice dress or skirt. I don't want a crude or unfinished look. I don't want clothes that look home made (in the sense of home made is inferior.)

Same goes for my knitting. I like my knitting with finished, tailored edges. I dislike—for the most part—simple slip stitches as a selvage. I don't like rolled edges (I hate rolled edge!)--I think the sweaters with rolled or unfinished edges look amateur and sloppy.

I do take some short cuts—I have made simple skirts with out a pattern, and didn't do much more that sew two squares of fabric together and add elastic and call it a skirt—but even these simple projects had details like set in pockets, and finished hems.

I like to use bias tape (very frequently self made bias tape) to finish edges.. and while this seems to be an easy finish—there are details even with this method make a difference. The tape need to be eased into a curved edge—Never gathered –but eased so that when you turn the tape under, there is enough stretch to sew the tape flat. It should be under stitched as well—under-stitching is one of those fine details that make or break the look of finished garment.

I recently been visiting some on-line sewing sites—and well I guess my view on fine, tailored finished details are considered passé—the samples I sew are crude lack these details. Edges turn out, or cupped or show wrinkles—all would fail inspections in a garment factory—even by todays crude standards.

But some people are happy with these details—they like that the final result looks a bit crude—they want everyone to notice and know “I made this.”

Don't get me wrong—I brag all about my home made stuff all the time... I point out “I made this”--and time and time again, people are startled—they think they are paying me the highest compliment to say, “Wow—it looks as nice as anything you could buy in a store.” They don't realize that looked at from the inside—my clothing is far better constructed than any thing you'd buy in the average (or even above average) store.

I will be starting to make my dress for my daughters wedding next month—I suspect it will cost about $100—just for the materials—But in looking—I haven't seen much in the way of dresses that cost twice that amount (many 3 time that amount) and when I look at the details of these dresses, I am always disappointed—they cost more than the average dress (OK formal wear does require more fabric) but they are constructed with the same fast and dirty techniques. Serged seams? On a “better dress? Not for me.

1 comment:

Jay Petersen said...

I enjoyed this post. I like hearing about things from a tailoring/sewing point of view. I don't sew, but it's something I've contemplated learning for a long time. I have always thought that knitting is deep enough for one lifetime...

I have noticed the general shoddiness of construction, though, even as a person who doesn't sew. Some of the jackets I looked at in H & M, while cheap in price, look like they would disintegrate in a stiff breeze.