As dressmakers I think we tend to be perfectionists. While we are proud to make our own clothes we are also the first to point out (to any fellow sewist that will listen) all of the flaws in our handmade garments.
There is a scale of sewing perfectionism. From those who meticulously trace patterns, make multiple toiles and pin, then baste before sewing each seam, to those who just chop into their patterns, fitting them as they go and taking a few shortcuts.
But does it matter? Is there a Right Way? The current project on my sewing table is a pair of Ginger jeans. I first cut these out about 18 months ago and have basted them together and refitted them 3 times before sewing them together. I have taken each small job and done it slowly and carefully, taking a break between tasks and really slowing down the process. For me this really is slow sewing and I have enjoyed it. Usually I pick a project based on the likelihood of being able to finish it in the gap between putting my daughter to bed and passing out with exhaustion. Hence the large number of Lindens and scouts in my handmade wardrobe.
The result, a pair of jeans that actually fit me. In the whole history of wearing jeans this is not something that a woman with a waist 2 sizes smaller than her hips has ever said before! Surely that’s the Holy Grail of sewing your own clothes, to have something you can’t buy, something that fits you so well it’s like it was made for you, because it was!
But on the flip side, as long as you are enjoying the process does it matter if your clothes are not ‘perfect’? I mean when was the last time you inspected the construction of most Ready To Wear garments? Many of them are cut off grain, have wonky hems, badly fitted or sloppy finishing. So why do we strive for such perfection in our own garments?
I think there is a balance and it is going to be different for each of us. Beginners should be proud of making something, anything in fact. Learning to sew is a fantastic achievement and even if it’s not perfect you should celebrate wearing a garment you have made. If you have elected to make your own wedding dress or are being paid to make clothes for somebody else then of course your standards should be higher. Your work will really be on show for others and for your own satisfaction you will want it to be the best it can be.
But at the end of the day I don’t think we should be beating ourselves up about achieving perfection, I mean these little ‘flaws’ show that you have made your own clothes, they are the features that bring them to life.
Having said that, while you are here, can I just tell you….the back seam on my jeans doesn’t quite match up, the top of the waistband is probably slightly baggier that I would have liked, the top stitching on the outer right leg is longer than the left and the bar tack on the left is bigger than the right…
Happy sewing, Josie xxx