This year, 2013, my new years resolution was to not buy any new clothes for the year – I could buy from the op shop or I could make it, but I couldn’t shop ready to wear.
I’ve only purchased a few ready to wear (RTW) pieces throughout the year and they’ve all been part of my Griffith Uni nursing uniform – and permissible within the guidelines I set myself. To be honest, I probably could have made the navy pants. But I hear they’re tricky to fit, I didn’t have much time – and I don’t wear trousers for anything but work. So I didn’t really want to invest the time/money/mental energy.
But that’s all I’ve bought!
What I’ve loved most about this challenge is how my attitude towards clothing has changed.
I no longer want to buy clothes. The desire is completely gone. I don’t even want the more expensive brands I used to look up to and not be able to afford. Even when I do look at RTW, there’s always something not quite right about it. The hem is too short (almost always), the colour is a bit off, it doesn’t fit quite right or, god forbid, it’s polyester. I even find myself thinking differently when I’m in these stores – picking the patterns I’d use to recreate things.
One of my favourite moments of this whole journey was going into a shop in Coolangatta called “That Shop”. It’s full of ’50s style dresses and I’d happily wear any dress in the shop. But I’m walking through thinking to myself “That looks like a Sewaholic Cambie, that’s a Michael Miller print, I could get that for $7.99/m on fabric.com, plus $20 for the pattern… pffft! I’m not paying $250!”. I didn’t even consider buying one (or twenty…) after my No New year was up.
It’s gratifying to know I’m also developing the skills to dress myself well. I was worried when I set myself this challenged that I’d have big holes in my wardrobe where I lacked the skills to make what I needed. This isn’t the case!
I’m finding I’m rising to the challenges! I spent the first 8 months pining for a decent black cardigan (op shops are useless for that, by the way) – now I’m knitting one. It’s a wool-alpaca blend, not acrylic.
I never expected sewing to give me such a sense of freedom or empowerment, but it really does. I love the feeling of connection I have to the clothes I wear. It’s a great feeling – knowing I can clothe myself. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have a whole heap of essential skills – I can cook, but ask me to light a fire, grow some vegies or build something and I’m a goner. But I can make my own clothes! I can make blankets and cover cushions and sew bags. It makes me feel like a more useful person – like I’m achieving something rather than just buying everything I need from a giant discount manufacturing machine.
My desires for my home (eventually – I’m sharing at the moment, but give it time) are shifting towards handmade and second hand. I see more value in second hand furniture on the side of the road than the new stuff the magazines tell me I need to be happy. There’s history and potential there that something brand new and mass produced can never have.
The downside, of course, is that even though all these things are fine, it’s still materialism. I’ve become a lot more invested in my material possessions because of what I’ve put into them. I don’t feel the need to have the same clothes as the popular girls (gosh, I don’t miss high school!) or the women in the glossy magazines.
But I do feel a compulsive need to make. So even though I’m creating, not buying, I still sometimes wonder how healthy that is.
Overall though, I’ve gained so much from sewing – and even more from not buying.
So, on that note – here are the top things I’ve learned from No New 2013!
1. It doesn’t have to be perfect this time. It’ll be better next time. Pretty much sums up my journey with stretch fabrics so far!
2. Polyester has no place in my wardrobe. I may not be able to afford silk and wool all the time, but I can at least avoid synthetics.
3. I can make anything. No, really. I never thought I could knit my own cardigans – but I learned. Winter coat, you’re next!
4. This is a biggie: I don’t actually like commercial sewing patterns. Spotlight had a few big sales throughout the year ($5/pattern) and I bought… about 10. I sewed from one. I’ve come to realise they don’t get me excited nearly as much as indie patterns. I love being able to read the pattern companies blogs, like Colette, Sewaholic, By Hand London, Bluegingerdoll and Thread Theory. I like hearing more about their businesses, their vision and seeing the gorgeous interpretations that invariably pop up everywhere. I like that they have personality!
5. Seam finishes matter! Fortunately I’ve come away since my first skirt where I didn’t finish my seams until I’d finished sewing the whole thing. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work. I’ve learned that zigzag seam finishes aren’t ideal – my polkadot Miette skirt is a hot mess on the inside. I love the look of french seams or bias tape when I’m being fancy, but an overlocker really is a great invention!
6. Sewing, knitting, cross stitch, embroidery. I WANT ALL THE CRAFTING HOBBIES. Need. More. Time.