Sew, What's New?

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Why recession may be turning women to sewing

By Chester Chronicle With the recession kicking in, reports suggest that more women are taking up sewing. We go undercover to find out why women are becoming keen to buy needles and thread. When it comes to arts and crafts, you can safely count me out. Artistic in a cerebral, imaginary sort of way, my recurrent attempts over the years to unite my daydreams with a sewing machine have ended in tearful failure. So it was with much hesitancy and curbed enthusiasm that I walked into my first sewing class at John Lewis. The haberdashery department is buzzing when my friend Louisa and I turn up for our Learn to Sew workshop. Manoeuvring in and out of people buying ribbons, fabric, zips and buttons, our sewing instructor Stephanie Vickers explains why this department is so much busier than the others. "Making your own clothes is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself," she says... [
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Comment by Laurie on October 27, 2009 at 12:38pm
I have to applaud your enthusiasm as well as your resourcefulness! I think I was brought up in a generation where we watched our pennies and were thrifty. I too, love to go to a thrift store to look for bargains. (Found another Singer machine for $20.00)! Just got my son a London Fog trench coat he's been wanting for 2 years now at a bargain price of 14.99!!!
Fabric has gotten so pricey that it almost doesn't pay to make your own clothes anymore but I never seem to find anything that fits me exactly. I'm always having to alter most of the pants I buy. For the price you pay, that's too much work. Besides, I like the idea of wearing something unique that no one else is going to have. The most embarrassing moment is when you see someone else in the same item as you. Then you start wondering, "Do I make the shirt look better than she does?"
Comment by E. M. Bivins on July 16, 2009 at 8:45pm
Recycling? Shoot, I've been doing it for many, many years. I started sewing in 1967 when I was 25 when someone gave me some fabric. I had an old, pre-1928 Singer electric, "portable" sewing machine with one long bobbin, which went into the old bullet shaped case and was top loaded. There was no manual, and the only presser foot was the regular sewing foot. But I jumped in and began to buy patterns (they averaged 50 cents to 75 cents in those days). I couldn't make buttonholes and I had trouble putting in a zipper without a zipper foot, but I managed. A couple of years later I won a Singer Fashion Mate. It would zig-zag, so I learned to make buttonholes with just zig-zag stitches and turning the fabric. And of course, there was a zipper foot so the appearance of the zippers improved greatly.

Today, I own 5 sewing machines and 2 sergers. Sound excessive? Yeah. But 3 machines are hoop embroidery machines, and I can have all three going at the same time. I can REALLY knock out the work with that kind of production capability.

As for fabric, it doesn't come from Hancock or JoAnn's unless it's a very inexpensive remnant. Otherwise, I buy from thrift stores and garage sales. And friends know that I will always give deserving fabric a safe and loving home.

I would never go to a fabric store for a project unless I had gone completely through my fabric stash including all the trim, buttons and thread on hand.

I also recently started buying finished clothes at garage sales and thrift stores, taking them completely apart and then remaking them into what I want. My criteria for this is good, easy to care for fabric, and enough of it to do what I want either by itself, or combined with something else in my stash.

Last winter I bought a grey wool hooded coat that I added underlining and silky lining and made buttonholes and added large pewter colored Celtic design button (from my stash, of course) and it's the warmest coat I believe I've ever worn, in addition to being very stylish. Oh, yes, before I forget, I bought the coat at the DAV thrift store for $5! Well worth the investment of time. I plan to wear that coat for a long time.

EB in MO
Comment by Lynda on July 15, 2009 at 10:49am
I don't want to be at the mercy of designers and/or factory clothing produced in other countries. I like natural fabrics and am willing to save up and watch for sales to buy my cottons, woolens and silks. And kid's clothes.....much better fitting and longer lasting than the stuff in stores.
Comment by Laine Latour on July 8, 2009 at 3:01pm
It is rewarding to sew for the grandchildren,I can make and embelish to my hearts content but it is now cheap to sew now,a pattern is $15.00 matreial 5to 15 a yard. If I stay on top of the price game, watch the sales and
plan in advance and get the pattern for $1.99 (Look out new outfits are comming)
Comment by Nancy Mattison on July 8, 2009 at 2:08pm
Sewing's great, but where do you all find fabrics worth the trouble? Used to be they were readily available; now the stuff I find is cheap. I like to sew some things for myself, but these days stick mostly to around-the-house really easy patterns.
Comment by Marilyn Macrae on July 8, 2009 at 1:35pm
Also I made a $5000 Christening gown for my granddaughter for under $200 dollars for the batiste and french lace.. :)
Comment by Marilyn Macrae on July 8, 2009 at 1:33pm
As the mother of 3 and grandmother of 3 with a son that was extremely overweight sewing was not only neccessity but gratifying. My oldest son ( now deceased) was autistic and extremely overweight. If I hadn't sewn he would never have had a 1st communion suit that fit him. Also When my girls were little I could make 2 pairs of shorts out of 1 yd of fabric ( they were tiny). Today you can go into walmart and buy a lot of fabric for a dollar a yard. Also, Joanns often has patterns for a dollar. I don't know where you can buy cute shorts for a dollar.. Also you can make things and sell them. I personnally raised my kids with money I made sewing. At the time there were a lot of cottage industries plus companies would hire out piece work. I sewed for a company that sold leather bags in NY City boutiques. At the time I was probably making between 300-500 a week depending on the season. Christmas time I made more. Granted I had to work my tail off but my boss had sold me my machine and I worked up until the day before I gave birth to my youngest who is now 27..
Comment by Erika M. Yuille on July 8, 2009 at 10:59am
We here in America, are finally getting back to the old ways of manufacturing our own clothing and hopefully one day Nike's! I always suggest to people that the skirt that they purchase from a retailer can be made for 5 to 10% of the cost using the same or better goods (150% mark-up). Once you start sewing regularly, a straight skirt with eight darts; invisible tabbed zipper and full lining should take four to six hours which includes layout, cut (rotary of, course), press and construction. The sizing will also be greatly improved given the fact that Asian/Latino manufacturers use smaller slopers and blocks. I am 6'2'', with a long torso, arms and inseam, so that I have been sewing out of necessity for years because the industry forgets that we are not all 5'8" with a "B" cup bra!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Comment by drMolly, the BeanQueen on July 8, 2009 at 10:44am
Well, I can't understand why people still think that doing your own sewing will save one money. I sew and have always sewed because of 2 reasons: 1) I LIKE it & 2) I can make clothes that ACTUALLY fit me. There has not been a way to save any money - actually - by sewing for quite a number of years.
But, that said, far-be-it from me to discourage ANYONE from taking up sewing. It is an art, a great past-time & and a wonderful skill too!!
Comment by Kathy Schwendeman on July 8, 2009 at 9:26am
I started to sew years ago (31 in fact) when my first child Katy was a baby. We were poor as dirt and I wanted pretty things for her. It was so frustrating at first but after taking some lessons my confidence grew and my speed. I recently bought a new machine. I walked in the sewing machine shop and was blown away by how far machines have come. I had plugged away on my basic but reliable Phaff for years. Well, I am now on a 2yr no interest payment plan for the two machines I decided I could not live without; the Huskvarna Viking Topaz 20 embroidery machine and the Viking Huskylock 910 Serger. Believe me, these were not the most dazzling or expensive machines in the shop but good enough I think to get me through the next half of my life. I have never owned an embroidery machine and so this part is a challenge, especially learning the computer software that came with it. However, I have just completed Katys nursery (for her firstborn son due any day) and it is beautiful. All done up in blue toille and chocalate brown it rivals any fancy boutique bedding I've seen and a whole lot cheaper in price. So, ladies if you are new to sewing and feeling frustrated you don't have the skill or talent just hang in there and keep trying. It is like riding a bike. Once you get the feel for it the rest is history.


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