You want HOW MUCH? I could make it for less!

Almost anyone who’s a professional sewer will be familiar with those who look at their work and say “you want HOW MUCH for that?  Yes, the seamstress will get very tired of hearing this.   While they know that non-sewers have no idea of the skills involved, the number hours and the cost of fabrics it’s still a frustrating response.   And that’s before they’ve paid a small fortune for their machine, overlocker and various other tools.   A professional sewer can’t compete with the mass produced market.  They know that their ideal clients are those who understand that custom made or unique items can’t be made for the same prices as the ones being imported from a third world factory.

I get this.  I may not be a professional sewer, but I do know the cost in time and resources.

And armed with this knowledge, I was looking through the lifestyle section of the weekend paper this morning.   I saw a designer outfit which was really nice.   Not my style, but nonetheless, I really liked the styling of it.   Then Iooked at the price:    Skirt $1,245 and matching blouse $995.  That’s $2240 for a top and a skirt!   You want HOW MUCH for that?   Then add on the $2,720 of accessories the model is wearing and you’ve got an outfit which will set you back a cool $4,960.

designer outfit designer skirt

OK, we can remove the accessories and just look at the blouse and skirt.   As a sewer, for the life of me I cannot justify the cost of this.   Yes, it’s probably gorgeous Italian fabric which will cost a small fortune.  But $2,240?  Really?

The thing which makes this garment so lovely is it’s simplicity.   But it’s that same simplicity which makes me question it’s value.     It’s not much of an alteration on a block pattern.   Yes, for those who don’t have a block pattern, it may need some time consuming tweaking of a commercial pattern….but hey, the original dress would probably need some tweaking for a custom fit on the average figure.

Anyway, this is my rant:  For the life of me, I can’t justify the cost of designer clothing.

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Mid-Season Cardigan

I love a cardi – the perfect garment for mid season.    I was recently adding to my autumn wardrobe when I found the perfect cardi at a major department store chain in Sydney.   Then I looked at the price – it was just a bit over $100.    I was tempted, but then realised that the fabric was just basic Tshirt fabric and the pattern itself was quite simple.   I’m very much a newby to knits, so ‘simple’ is a pre-requisite.

Pattern Jalie 2919 was very close to the original garment so I ordered it from the US.  Sadly, Jalie patterns aren’t sold here. I found some lovely soft Tshirt fabric for $5 per metre at an Asian fabric store in Marrickville.  Win!

I’m an Australian size 12-14 with a 102cm (42″) bust.   So I chose size Y from the chart.   It fitted me perfectly, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any smaller.   Also, on the pattern picture, the cardi is shown worn open – this is accurate.   If I wanted to pull it closed in the front, I would have to add a couple of inches to the front panels.

I did a lot of messing about with the pleats on the front.  I did transfer markings to the fabric, but perhaps they came out a bit wonky?  At any rate, I did unpick and re-sew a number of them.   If I make it again, I will mark out the seam lines and also measure the gaps between the seams just to make sure.    Call me pedantic, but it makes me happy.

I would highly recommend this pattern.  I know I’ll be making another from it.

Jalie 2919

A new pair of trousers

I decided that a pair of black, wide leg trousers was just what my wardrobe needed.    I went pattern hunting in the post Christmas sales but all the best ones were gone and the closest I could find was Simplicity 1617.    It was close enough to what I wanted but would need some variation.  Particularly the gathered section above the belly.   I have no idea why someone would choose to put gathering there, but at least it was fairly easy to alter and add darts instead.

When I was fabric hunting for this I was quite keen to find rayon.   I just love the cool, breathable softness of rayon.  As it turned out, I couldn’t find rayon but stumbled across bamboo fabric instead.   It felt just as lovely as rayon and seems to have all the same properties – so I went with that instead.  I’ll definitely be using bamboo in the future.

The pattern was very easy.   I had a bit of trouble figuring out what size to make because according to the measurements, I would be an 18-20.   Knowing that patterns tend to run big, I decided to go with a 12.    I started with a mock-up, found the 12 was a little too tight and ended up making somewhere between a 14-16.

I was concerned that the legs of the trousers would be a bit short, so I added two inches to the length when cutting.  And was very glad I did because I needed all that extra fabric for the hem.   At 170cm (5’7″) tall, I’m no giant, but I am tall enough to be wary of short trouser legs.    That being said, I never know where to hem wide trousers.   Photos online show them skimming the ground – but I worry about how dirty and worn they’ll get.   But making the hems higher can just look silly so I’ve tried to find a length which is ‘just long enough’.    I’m not sure if this is their final length – will wear a few times and see how I feel.

The other change I made was to make the waist sit a little higher.    Easy to adapt.

All in all, very happy with the end result – I think they’ll be getting loads of wear

Update:  After a few wears, I found that this fabric stretches with wear – in a similar fashion to linen.   I’ve added a sneaky bit of elastic to the waist to hold them up after they’ve been worn for a bit.   And the hem was let down a bit too.    Jan 22, 2015

.simplicity 1617