So, something miraculous happened.
I took the photos for my Renfrew post this past Thursday morning. Then, I walked out the door and wore it to work.
Yes, it is both sad and hyperbolic to call that a "miracle."
But that experience of so effortlessly wearing something I’ve made has led me to do some thinking about why I sew, why I choose the patterns I do, and the clothes I wear versus the clothes I want to wear.
I’m very motivated by the idea that sewing would allow me to wear a lot of items that I have difficulty fitting RTW. But there’s a big assumption going on there: that I don’t wear these items because I rarely fit them and, therefore, if I had more versions that fit I would wear them.
I’m starting to debate the extent to which this is true.
Reflecting on my wardrobe, I’ve come to a few conclusions:
I LOVE wearing a good dress that fits well. However, I really don’t like dressing to be noticed. The number one reason I don't wear the dresses I own is because I feel like I stand out too much in the print. If my goal is to incorporate dresses into my regular wardrobe (rather than “special occasion”) then I need to be sewing them in solid colours. (At least until I become more accustomed to wearing them and those around me become more accustomed to seeing me in them.) I also need to develop a much better understanding of my own sense of style, so I can better know which prints I will actually feel comfortable and confident wearing (as opposed to just thinking they look great objectively on the bolt).
Woven blouses are tricky. It’s a rare blouse that fits me in a way that I feel comfortable and attractive wearing. That being said, I really do enjoy the loose and easy fit of the Sorbetto tank (my oh MY how I wish my cat hadn’t eaten the pretty and well-fitted one!) and it provides a really welcome break from the boring old jersey tanks that I wear under my cardigans (which is basically my uniform, it seems.) I think that with some careful attention to detail I could make a blouse with sleeves that works for me. But I also need to remember that there are certain details I will probably never like on myself, such as the traditional dress shirt collar or any kind of shoulder embellishment (particularly sleeves with even a hint of puff. Not my thing.)
If I want to wear a more handmade wardrobe, I need to start sewing pants. The truth is that I live in pants, and I can’t see that changing anytime soon. I also seem to have a terrible time finding any that fit me the way I like, so the sewing experience isn't likely to be that much more time-consuming or frustrating than the shopping experience.
The first point above for pants also applies to knits. Even when I have well-fitted woven tops in my wardrobe, I go for the knits more often than not. So I really should start focusing on this in my sewing.
I don't have enough warm layers and jackets, and that is mostly because I just can't find anything that fits me. I really need to tackle my fear of the jacket and just jump in, because a good wardrobe for a temperate climate probably includes at least a few jackets in various weights and I have precisely four. Lest that sound like a lot, be aware that this consists of: a Gore-Tex rain jacket, a snowboarding coat, an ill-fitting blazer and one linty old peacoat. (And really, as much as Vancouverites like to think that Gore-Tex can be dressy… let’s stop fooling ourselves, shall we?)
All that being said, the biggest takeaway from this reflection was the realization that the best-loved items I sew, for myself or for others, are almost always pajamas - and that I’m totally okay with that. Mostly, I just really want to sew things that I wear, love, and prefer to a store-bought version. I’ve suddenly realized that as much as I aspire to sew well-fitting dresses and winter coats, I’m also just a product-driven crafter who wants to make stuff that actually gets finished and worn. And while I don’t care to be noticed in it, or singled out for making it, I do derive a lot of satisfaction from putting on a handmade garment and knowing, I made this.