The Dark Side of Sewing Your Own Clothing

Most of the time making my own clothes is a point of pride. Not only for me when a stranger complements what I am wearing, but I also beam when a friend points out to someone else, "Hey, she made that shirt!". But there is a darker side when you are in complete control of what you are wearing. 

I do make most of my clothes at this point, but not 100% of them. When I do wear a ready to wear shirt out and about I hate disappointing people. I'll meet up with someone in my 9 dollar clearance hooded sweatshirt and I am greeted with a big smile and a an eager, "Did you make that?". Having to say no causes a chain reaction. The smile fades fast, then I feel like I'm just back peddling explaining I could have in fact made it, but the deal was just too good to pass up. Finding a good deal is not as impressive as making it though. I feel like I am being defensive, and with in seconds of greeting someone I feel like I have disappointed them. The conversation switches gears quickly. I can't shake the fact that the person wants to get off the sewing subject as fast as possible like they stepped on some sort of land mine, when all I wanted was a good reason to talk shop with anyone who would listen. It feels like I am a famous singer who refuses to sing at a party, but wants to talk their new album, the audience's vibe goes from receptive, to feeling slighted. Not the entrance I like making.

One of the greatest parts of making clothing is wearing one of a kind items. The thrill of custom handmade clothing is a privilege usually limited to the rich and famous, or those of us creative and meticulous enough to make them our damn selves. Wearing these unique items does come with the responsibility of looking different. Most of the time it makes you feel like a diamond, but at times it makes you feel like a zit.


Here is what I wore to my best friend's wedding. I felt great when I got ready. I paired my black skirt and my tuxedo top. I thought, and still think, it's a chic lady tuxedo. (I started the night with some kick ass heels, but after helping to set up, and carting around a shy two year old my feet gave up, and I forgot to take a full body shot it until much later in the night) I've always had a love for menswear with a feminine twist, and based on fashion magazines and Pinterest repins, I am not alone thinking this is awesome. But in the sea of wedding guests I was clearly dressed differently. I'm not sure if I became hyper aware of it because most of the guests were the groom's college football teammates and their Real Housewives of Iowa wives, but I stuck out; for better or worse. 

Most ladies were in different versions of a cobalt blue chiffon swing dress, or pastel paisley maxi dress (also in chiffon). I did see one guest in a skirt just like mine (only without pockets), but paired it with a sleeveless chiffon white top. I felt like everyone was on the same team, they clearly had a uniform, and I was the referee. I was watching the game unfold without really being a part of it. People were nice, but I seemed to end up with all the people I already knew. I can't help but wonder if what I was wearing was a clear sign to them that I am different than them. So different in fact I was not worth getting to know. I don't know if it was the circumstances, having your best friend be in this whole new world that I was an outsider of. It could have also been left over highschol feelings of jocks and cheerleaders rejecting me. But it makes me wonder if I was in some sort of chiffon number from Target I would have had a different reception. 

When you show the world you are different, not everyone is ready for it. Different is scary. When you take all the credit for fashion, you also take it much more personally when someone would put you on a worst dressed list. It's not just an outfit you picked out incorrectly, it was a huge project of time, energy and love lost on someone. You picked the pattern, you picked the fabric and thread, you were in charge of the fit and execution. You truly put yourself into every garment, and when someone doesn't feel the same way about it as you do, it feels like they just punched you in the face. 

It takes guts to make your own clothes, not only because you have a greater fear you might bust a seam, or that your stitching isn't as good as the sweatshop makes and somehow looks worse than par. No one wants to tell someone you made your own shirt and have them go "Yeah, I can tell". When you make your own clothing you are putting yourself out in the world in a bigger way than the average bear. It's a very vulnerable place at times. With all the glory that comes with it, it also has a dark side, when you take your self off the beaten path you put yourself in a spotlight. 

When more people are looking your way it can come with extra judgment, a very personal judgement. Sewing is not for the weak. No one else is showing their art, their inner expression on the outside. It's much harder to hide who you truly are when you made the sleeve you are wearing your heart on.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Well written. Very recognizable.

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