When it comes to my closet I like to distinguish it into two parts. On the one side there are the store-bought items and then on the other hand there are the handmade garments. While analyzing what I have I had to find out that I own many things – 232 to be exact ( excluding socks and tights, underwear,simple tanktops,sports wear, sleepwear and everything that is in the laundry right now). From these items 29 % are handmade, a number that I estimated to be a little bit higher considering my sewing output in the recent years. Interesting is the fact that more than 50% of my tops and blouses are handmade whereas I only have one pair of trousers that I made. This probably results from the fact that trousers in my size which I find in the sewing magazines are often not my size and I’m not that confident enough yet to draft my own. But that’s something I definitely want to change next year.
Analyzing my wardrobe and seeing in numbers how many items I own made me think about my life as a consumer, or more specifically as a producing consumer the so called prosumer. For me “make do and mend” is nothing that only recently came into my mind. I was raised by my parents in such a way that they always tried to let us be creative and make things with our own little hands. Nintendo, Disney or computer games were not of interest to my brother and me. As a child it was normal for me to draw and play self-invented games with toys that I made. My dolls got new clothes made out of paper and the 2 or 3 barbies that I owned got new haircuts and strands of felt-pen dyed hair. My mother would make knitted sweaters for me and after watching her knit I was taught by her to do the simple stitches myself. Knitting Jenny became my new pal and when I was about 13 I knitted my first and so far only finished garment- a simple sweater. Soon after that I also started sewing. I can’t remember anymore why I started, maybe it was because the things in the store didn’t appeal to me anymore or because I wanted to have things that nobody else had. My first garment was a 7 panel A-line skirt in a cotton lawn printed with small flowers and ladybugs. Seams were not totally straight and I finished the seams only with a pinking shear but it was a great skirt that no one else had. In the next years I got through several stages. I had a time period where I would make bag after bag and then skirt after skirt. Often I would be sitting behind the sewing machine for the whole weekend only stopping when there was lunch or dinner.
This year I started to lower my output and began to try out different techniques. I made my first French Seams this year and can’t believe that I never thought about using them before. I also try to make more sensible fabric purchases and concentrate on high quality but for a reasonable price. I still think that I don’t want to spend more on a handmade garment than what I would pay for it in a store ( H&M or Zara). But I like to be able to get inspired by high-end designers and then make my own version for a fraction of the price.
In recent years I also found out more about production in foreign countries and labor abuse. I read many articles on the internet, watched documentaries and read books like “To Die for” by Lucy Siegle. The deeper I got into the topic, the more I was put off by the fashion industry. But the more I found out about the DIY movement and the enourmous variety of online communities like Burdastyle and craftster, I figured that I don’t have to consume like the majority of people and support the fashion industry. The handmade and second-hand pledge for 2011 was one of the first steps on my way to becoming a more sensible consumer.
The second step will be to find out what my needs are. As I mentioned in the beginning of this text I own 41 blouses. Is there really a need for more ? How often do I wear any blouse per year ? When I combine this with the number of trousers and jeans that I own, putting together an outfit with two items how many combinations are possible ? I tried to calculate it but don’t know the formula anymore, but I’m sure that there are more possibilities to combine than there are days of the year.
So next I’m going to evaluate what my needs and wants are. More on that later.