The Sewing Myth Series: Question 2. Is it worth taking the time to make your own?
March 11, 2016
"Where do you find the time?"
This is one of the most common responses to 'oh thank you, I made it actually'. Or, more accurately in my case :
Observer: "love your dress"
Helen: "oh thank you"
Friend nearby: "she made it you know!"
At this point I usually scuttle off down the corridor and try to hide. I do not make clothes to impress people, I make clothes for me and much as kind comments are lovely, I never quite know what to do in response.
Back to the point - this myth of time - and that sewing must eat it up like a big hungry monster who's favourite snack is hours and favourite drink is minutes - just how true is it?
I think a lot of people assume that making something from scratch must take inordinate amounts of time to do and therefore you should essentially book a week of holiday if you want to run up a new dress.
Not so oh time-hungry worriers - but to what extent? Let's take a look shall we...
Today's article is a response to the common statement....
I haven't got time/ it takes too long/ I'm too impatient/ Yaaaawwwn! - What?
Yes, time is a precious thing. If you already spend every waking hour doing things that you love then good for you, because the vast majority of people don't and you've therefore got your life sorted, hurrah! Have a cup of tea and congratulate yourself. Unless you don't like tea - in which case this would go against your 'only do stuff you love' mantra - have something else that you do like.
Let's get some things straight right at the start of this.
Nobody who makes their own clothes (voluntarily) does so and hates the process. You have to love the process or you really wouldn't bother - it is actually the point - making the thing is the point, I can't stress that enough, you don't do it just for the outcome, you do it for the process. I think the same is true of most craft - so the act of making the thing needs to be where at least half your joy comes from or you're not off to a good start.
BUT if you love the process and love to learn and get progressively better every time you do something, then there are worlds of benefit to making your own things and spending the time to do so.
Below I've talked a bit about some of the reasons it doesn't take much to love the process - it's the equivalent of your own personal male or female pin up - you'll love it pretty darn quick if given half the chance.
How long does it take?
The answer to this is obviously completely dependent on who is making the garment, but the following information might be helpful for the concerned amongst you.
I can make an item of clothing in a day - certainly. If it's a fully lined dress it might take me the best part of the weekend but a day or less - and that's to go from the very beginning, including cutting out and marking up etc.
Given when you shop online you buy the thing and then you wait for it to arrive (at the earliest the next day) that's not too bad. If you shop in an actual building it probably takes you the best part of half a day once you've browsed and tried on and travelled etc. so yes it's slower than that, but not be an awful lot. If you don't have a day spare then an hour of sewing in the evening for a week would very easily cover you for most things.
I've been sewing for most of my life (on and off) and I've been making clothes for a good few years but I'm not that fast compared to other people. Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It - who is a professional and makes things all the time, makes a dress in about 4-6 hours according to her vlog, I'd add half as much time again on for how long it takes me.
I know that for many people a whole day is a huge amount of time - I do understand that, but I also know a lot of people who will have a whole weekend go by and not quite know what they did - so for those people, this would be a marvellous thing to do :) (I used to be one of them - I now sew, and I get a huge amount of pleasure and sense of achievement from it)
Some interesting stats for you! According to the Ofcom 2014 survey on such matters, UK adults spend an average of 4 hours a day watching TV. Say you did your sewing whilst sitting in front of the telly - that's four hours you wouldn't have been doing anything else with and you'd have a skirt at the end!
Making things is good for you
Making things is good for you. I mean, really, really good for you. Mindfulness? Pish. MAKEFULNESS.
There is a lot of research into the way the mind behaves when focused on something creative and productive - this is why adult colouring in has suddenly become a thing - you reach a state of 'flow' - you could carry on for hours, you are relaxed and peaceful and at one with the Universe. This is what sewing could do for you, if only you would let it :)
This is one of the reasons I love hand sewing - it's a gorgeously therapeutic thing to do, there's a real rhythm to it, it’s productive, you make quick progress and you can do it on a train or in front of the TV very easily.
I am impatient
Really, I am. I wouldn't do a craft that would take me weeks to complete, I just don't have the patience. It’s why I never got along with knitting very well – takes too long to finish something for my urgent self.
Even when I make something that's only going to take me a few hours I start off in a sedate fashion but once I’m in the rhythm of things I just want the thing finished! I love sewing but I am impatient - I cut corners, I try to quicken things up, I regret it and I am finally learning that I should probably stay the course, but rest assured, I am NOT a perfectionist and I will get it done as quickly as I can most of the time.
So this is the other thing – sewing is a relatively quick hobby – you can start and finish an item in a number of hours and then wear it immediately. You get the joy of the make and the joy of the finished product all in quick succession. Good.
What's the alternative?
The average UK adult spends 8 and a half hours a DAY on media devices (I can only assume this includes their work computer - otherwise I have no idea what's going on).
At the weekend those 8 hours spent on media devices are spent online shopping aren't they - let's be honest. Here's the thing – online shopping requires POSTAGE – buying that dress may take mere seconds, but it will take at least 24 hours for it to arrive, and then you’ve got to iron it.
Shopping on the high street - how long does that take you? Half a day if you include travel? And you'll come back within some things that other people will own, that won't fit you perfectly unless you happen to be the identical measurements of a particular companies' sillhouette and that most likely you will get rid of in a year or two because you've replaced them with other things.
Making it is just better.
Yes it requires an investment of time, but it is relaxing, it allows you to switch off completely from every day stresses because you do need to concentrate, it allows you to use a different bit of your brain and you get an unique, personally tailored, loved and charished garment at the end.
All of that means that it is time very, very well spent.