Why do you sew/knit/make?

I had a catch up with some old uni friends last week and when it came to my turn to share news I revealed that I’ve been sewing and haven’t bought any clothes since the autumn (I’m pretty sure this is true, excluding underwear and tights etc – I think the last thing I bought was a cardigan in late September). They all looked at me in shock – no shopping?!!

What! No shopping?!

After a little show of what me-mades I was currently wearing, they asked “so is it cheaper?” and I had to say that the answer is definitely a “no.” I explained that I usually spend the same on fabric as I would on clothes, so when you factor in needles, thread and trimmings then it doesn’t work out much cheaper, if at all. However I do feel that what I am making now is better quality that what I would choose or afford to buy ready to wear. Basing the decision to make my own clothes purely on cost, I am not comparing like with like (take my peacock dress – custom-made, hand-beaded couture dress vs high street – and it is clearly not a fair comparison) but this can be hard for non-sewists to understand as they don’t always understand

Before the holidays I mentioned to some colleagues that I wanted to make a pair of jeans during my time off. Again, the first question was “How much is fabric? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy some jeans?”

Yes, it may be cheaper to buy mass-produced, ready-to-wear garments, but I make my own because:

  1. I can get the perfect fit, whether it is tops that cover my chest without making the rest of me look like a tent, or trousers that fit both my hips and waist at the same time. Last year I found it hard to go shopping with friends – when they told me how nice something looked, all I could see were the tell-tale wrinkles Palmer and Pletsch warn about – so I hate to think what would happen after another year of sewing experiences.
  2. I can choose exactly what fabric or style I want. There are no more changing room dilemmas such as “I like this top but the sleeves aren’t right, but that top is a better colour!” Sometimes the ideal fabrics I imagine don’t exist or are hard to find, but I suppose I could print or dye my own fabric if I really wanted to.
  3. If a colour or style isn’t on trend, I can still wear it! No more waiting years for raspberry to be in vogue and then stocking up – I know I look good in rich jewel colours so no amount of magazines will convince me to wear ice-cream pastels!
  4. I can wear well made clothes. The more I sew, the more I realise the poor quality of garments on sale in the high street – I discovered that even more high-end high street clothes are no better constructed than their price would suggest when I unpicked an old Monsoon dress with little more than my bare hands.
  5. I like to think that in a post-apocalyptic world, I would survive pretty well (if I could find enough food to satisfy my fussy eating habits) and then some people might change their opinions on my hobbies! Of course, if such a disaster did occur I know I would be much too caring and compassionate to say “I told you so”… I hope.

    [I’ve been singing this in my head, but I only know the chorus]

  6. Speaking of the end of the world, I like to think that my crafty habits are causing me to become a more responsible consumer in this ever increasing material world. I do have a long, long way to go before I lead an eco-friendly life, but I find I am increasingly shunning mass-produced stuff in the knowledge that “I could make that” while making the most of what I have (stay tuned for some upcycling/refashioning/recycling projects coming soon)
  7. and last but definitely not least…

    I like making stuff!
    I like being busy in the evenings or at the weekend. I can’t sit and watch tv for hours with nothing to keep my brain and hands focused on. I enjoy the process from thinking about what I want, choosing materials, getting stuck in and the final satisfaction when you can stop and see what you have made. One of the DIY stores is currently showing an advert with people finishing jobs, stepping back and saying “I did that” – there is nothing better than pride and satisfaction in a job well done.

Wow, that is a long list of reasons! What inspired you to start crafting? Why have you carried on? Is there one reason that sticks out above all the others?