Random thoughts/rants on fashion plus gifts to self

I've really only been trying proper garment sewing now for the last 6-8 months or so. Prior to that I loved to have a bit of a shop, and when I was in my 20's I was a complete 'stuffaholic/shopaholic'. As I've gotten older I've become a lot pickier about the quality and quantity of my choices - certainly acquiring a mortgage helped with that, but I think I just got sick of having too much 'stuff' that I just didn't need - I came to the realisation that more stuff does not equal happiness. This attitude has influenced all non-essential purchasing aspects of my life from housey things, through to clothing (except fabric purchases - eek!). I've written before about my love of Savers, a massive op shop chain, where absolute diamonds-in-the-rough can be found on a daily basis. Last year we did 'Buy nothing new' month, in October, which was a really interesting exercise - you try to buy nothing brand new - except essentials like food, medicines and underwear! I spent a fair bit of time at Savers that month!

Anyway, I realised the other day that apart from shoes and underwear, the only brand new item of clothing I had bought since about May last year was a pair of skinny pink cords (which I LOVE and have worn to death) but otherwise I have made all my own clothing or acquired it secondhand until last week. Of course I have bought craaazy amounts of fabric, but most of the time it has a future planned for it! I've found the last few times I've been shopping I've seen things I love the style and design of but now I have a much better understanding of how garments are constructed, and the hours and effort that go into them, I look at RTW clothing a lot more closely. I'm disgusted by the poor quality of some of the higher end chain stores (or high street stores if you reside in the British Isles!) - items where the grain of the fabric is not straight COMPLETELY does my head in (earlier last year I bought some fine pinwale cords from Witchery and realised too late that one leg was cut off grain - the seam ends up almost on the front of my leg. How the HELL can you not cut corduroy on the grain??!!). I've seen cheap wrinkly fabric made up into $80 shorts, and stitching coming unravelled on $90 t-shirts.  On the flip-side I'm also horrified by the knowledge that the person who made it probably will receive a couple of dollars at the most for making that garment, and the reason it is cut off grain is because they are probably punished for fabric wastage.

So lately, for me, clothing shopping hasn't been quite as fun as it used to be. Shoe shopping has though - no problems there! :). But last week I did treat myself to a super cute pair of grey jeans printed with black polka dots which I completely LOVE, from Country Road. (It was nice to find something special and not immediately start thinking 'pfff I could make that...').

Yesterday I met my mum in the city for a bit of a browse for some shoes for my friend's wedding, and a look at some high end fabric shops. I have this tiny idea that I may be able to make my own wedding dress - I'm not planning a white princess wedding, and there's so many great patterns for dresses out there that it may be an option. I'm under no illusions though that I'm anywhere good enough yet for that, and if I find something RTW that I am happy with I'll certainly buy something off the rack. So we had a little wander around the shops, and I ended up trying on a few things. It will be winter, mid July, and I get so cold, so I am thinking something with sleeves, but short (as in below the knee not to the floor). We looked at some of the designer garments in the big department stores, and I was fairly shocked to see the state of some of the garments of a very well known Australian designer known for particularly pretty dresses. These dresses started at a minimum of about $1300-1400 and at least 3 that I saw had belt loops coming loose and loose threads. They are made in Australia, and presumably not in sweat shops. I couldn't believe that the quality control could be so poor that something as basic as a belt loop would not stay attached. I know that they must get tried on quite often, but then any item of clothing is presumably going to get worn repeatedly, and should be designed and constructed with that in mind.

I was dying to check out Tessutis, but in the end I only made it to Clegs (disappointing). Next time......

I did find some divine little heels from Nine West which are just perfect for my friends wedding:

Maroon patent leather with a very civilised little kitten heel and gorgeous bow! So very cute! Such a nice present to self.

And then at the end of the day I came home to find another little present to self - a little stash of books of a pleasingly wide variety....

'Sew U Home Stretch' by Wendy Mullin
My mum has this, and I did my best to 'borrow' it for a very long time but felt guilty and couldn't bring myself to use any of her patterns. Its a great book, and has very clever ideas and tips on adapting a single basic knit patterns like a t-shirt or hoodie - I'm very keen to try the t-shirt to boat-neck conversion. Its a great book for those interested in learning to sew knits - my only slight criticism is that its a little overlocker/serger heavy, but to be fair it does have a reasonable amount of info for sewing with a regular sewing machine.

'Overdressed' by Elizabeth Cline
This title won't be new to anyone who regularly dips into the sewing blogosphere as it has been much talked about recently, but for those who don't it is an expose on the world of 'fast fashion'. No doubt it'll get me even higher up on my soap box!

And finally this very pretty little hipster knitting book - I've only had a little flick through, and already I can tell it will be a joy just to look at - I can't wait to try some of the handwarmers on the cover. Some of the projects are just gorgeous.