Thursday, January 5, 2012

I'll just make it myself?

I started sewing a little over a year ago - and what I mean by started sewing is that I made one dress and then about five months later made myself another one.  This was followed up with a few more garments before the year was over.  Let's just say that if slow and steady wins the race, I'm the winner.  What I'm really trying to say that I have been sewing, but I make darn slow progress.

Well at the same time that I started sewing, my wardrobe was in terrible need of replacement.  Most of my professional wardrobe was made up of clothing from my college internships and my casual clothes still spoke of my college days (a time when I had no money).  Since I don't love shopping, I never make it a priority to buy new things.  Sure, out of desperation I have made emergency trips to the mall to fill out my closet a bit - but things were (and still are) looking pretty bleak.  With my wardrobe in this state, I still find myself thinking that there's no need to buy new clothes, I can just sew them!

If I started with a good base, this would be an okay attitude to have, but here I am still really needing new clothes and being too stubborn to go to the mall.  Take for example my winter coat.  I love my winter coat, but it was purchased in 2005 and has seven long winters of wear and tear.  Basically, it's falling apart.  To have it professionally repaired would cost more than I paid for the coat (believe me, I checked). This leaves me with the options to buy a new one, sew a new one, or attempt to repair it myself.

Here is the lining of the right arm, almost completely unattached.  
Ooh, and here's the left arm, filled with holes.

As mentioned earlier, I am stubborn, so I really want to make my next winter coat.  This one can get me through this winter, but I think that it must be replaced before next year.  Do you ever find yourselves in a similar situation?  What would you do in my shoes?

Yep, a Kate Spade purse.  But believe me, in it's desperate state, it no longer eludes
the luxe feeling of a name brand purse.  It more or less looks like I dug
out of a dumpster.
Then there's my purse.  I'm a one-purse kinda gal, so I've been toting this around daily since 2004.  I bought it on a annual shopping trip with a dear friend, and it was quite a splurge at the time (and still would be today).  Like my coat, this darling is starting run a bit ragged.

There are threads coming loose all over my purse.
That brown stripe across the top of the purse is actually the cardboard on the inside.
I was hoping to sew up a new purse for myself, but in a moment of weakness I purchased a brand new one.  Luckily my new purse was purchased at a really great deal, so it didn't set me back much.  Still, I want to carry around a purse that I made.  My new purse is just to get me through the interim until I can make one.

Well my dear readers, please share your two cents on this topic.  What are your thoughts on replacing old items with handmade goods?  When do you give in and just purchase something?  When do you say I can do this! and just start sewing?  This has been on my mind for quite some time, so I am really interested in hearing your thoughts.

Live in this moment and love life!


  1. It's a tough question this one! I've made a lifestyle choice that I won't be buying any new clothes for the foreseeable future, which leaves two options. Make it or thrift it!
    On the other hand, your coat, bag and purse have all worked long and hard and don't owe you anything, so if you saw a coat that you loved and was perfect and you could see yourself wearing for the next X number of years then I'd say it was worth the investment. Because in my mind that's what a bag, coat and purse are. They're investment pieces.
    Even if you were to make them, a coat certainly would be an investment piece due to the fabric and time involved, and as I'm also a slow and steady kinda person I'd have to start on it now to have it done for the autumn! I'd also want to take my time and make it as well as I possibly could...
    So, not a lot of help at the end of all that, but in a nutshell I'd try and replace it with handmade, or make sure anything I bought was going to last!

  2. I'm in the same situation regarding the coat, mine looks a bit shabby now, but I don't want to buy one that won't fit me very well just for the sake of replacing it. So this coat will have to go through the winter and I'm planning to make myself a new one for next year. It will definitely take some time and effort, but I hope to find good fabric and make sure it will last a few winters at least!
    Regarding purses, I'm not sure I'd be that good at making them and I'm lucky that my husband provides me with plenty of hansbags (too many probably)

  3. vickikatemakes, thanks for your thoughts. I admire that fact that you made the decision to not buy new and instead thrift or make. I'm too chicken to limit myself to that and announce it publicly on my blog. At least I have some time before next winter sets in to make my decision.

  4. monbouton, I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my struggles! I would love to see how your coat making progresses, maybe it will inspire me to start the process of making mine.

  5. Personally, as much as I like the idea of making a coat, I know it would take a lot (really a lot) of time to make and I'd rather use that time to make a wardrobe full of fun pieces. I'll likely continue to purchase coats until my sewing speed increases greatly! For handbags, I'm lucky to have older, well-made handbags so I hope not to have to replace them for quite some time. I've never thought of making one though. That could be interesting! Of course, if you think its really time for a new one, you could always buy one quality bag and then make extras to change with different outfits.
    Generally, I look at an item I want and ask my self honestly if I can make it. If so, it stays in the store. Otherwise, I try to buy nice items that will last. Be sure to share if you decide to make the items. Watching coats come together is so interesting!

  6. Thanks Jennifer, this is some good advice. A coat will take a lot of time and effort - time that could be put towards making a whole wardrobe. I hadn't thought of it that way, but that really helps to put some perspective on things.

  7. I'm a big fan of thrifting and re-furbishing if you're under time constraints. You don't want to have to be under pressure when you're making a new garment and there are some lovely, warm coats to be found at the thrift stores that could be updated with a simple length change or the addition of new buttons and a pretty scarf. Then you can take your time sewing your new coat ;)

  8. Good thoughts, Danielle! If I do decide to make my own coat, I want to take my time and not be rushed.

  9. I am TOTALLY in the same boat as you - my winter coat is old and has seen better days, is falling apart and is very sad indeed... I want to make next year's coat but I've resigned myself to wearing this one out for the remainder of our winter and just make emergency repairs myself as needed :)

    1. Symon - I'm glad to know I have some company! Have you decided on anything for the coat you will make? (Fabric, pattern, etc). I would love to hear more about your coat-making journey.

  10. hehhh, I am cheap as all get out. For the coat, I would probably try to repair it myself. the outside still looks good (or maybe it is the photo!) Some things I think are worth paying for just because the quality can be so much better than what you can make yourself, especially if they have used industrial machines an d skilled labor. For example my "purse" (I like you have only one) is a utilitarian cross body bag by Duluth Pack (in Minnesota) and it is so sturdy and lovely I'll probably use it forever - I could never make something that well constructed on my own with leather reinforcement and all that. A really good wool coat my machine might not handle. A spring jacket, I would like to make at some point. My time is limited too, so if I find something on my "list" for a really good deal, I'll probably buy it. That being said, I am super picky so I often muddle along with something long past its expirey date....

    1. Caroline, I really appreciate your thoughts here! This subject is of such great interest to me. I love that you are cheap too - when I first started sewing people told me I couldn't make clothes cheaper than I could buy them - so wrong, my wonderful fabric store has such amazing prices that I can almost make things cheaper than I thrift shop.

      It's so great that you found a purse that will essentially get you through forever! I thought mine had lasted forever (or as close as one can get with a purse), but it sounds like yours really has some longevity.