October 5, 2013

cheep cheeeeep


i culled my stash and closet last weekend.

like a greek goddess, eyes aflame, i was ruthless.  i had to be.  inspired by a recent splendiforous sewists' meetup, which provided a bountiful haul of fabric, food, and friendship, i needed to rebalance my karma.  teeny precious scraps went, yards of years-old weirdness went, poorly made clothing--both off-the-rack and handmade--went.  ruggy, i said, holding up a purple lace bought years ago in LA, does this look cheap?

yes. 

no hesitation.  clear quick answer.  do you like that about me?  he asked.

yes.

i feel like i'm better at spotting cheap fabric now... but man, i sure do have a lot of it i ventured.  uh, YEAH, my quick witted husband quipped, the amount of cheap yardage you used to bring home was baffling

OH THAT'S NICE HAVE YOU FINISHED THE BATHROOM YET


no no, that's not what i said.  of course his statement is true, the evidence of my dollar yardage days is well documented here in kalkatroona.  but it makes sense.  in my past life as a shopaholic, i always made a beeline for the sales rack, and i don't mean neiman's outlet.  small budget = carefully selected well made pieces, or small budget = huge closet from chain stores?  MORE IS MORE, YO.

but lately, more has ended up in donation bags than on my rack.  

the way i shopped for clothing made an easy, seamless transition into the way i shopped for fabric.  accustomed to cheap material, buy cheap material.  and i don't necessarily mean cheap price tag, you can find bad and good for a dollar a yard, or a dollar an inch (eee, and gads), but my eye usually landed unerringly on cheap quality, even when i started to branch out beyond a dollar a yard.  for example, the tacky purple lace that started last weekend's epiphany was $20 a yard.


i can remember clearly the few pieces of really beautiful clothing in my younger closet.  in fact, i can remember one piece: a gabardine trench coat from macy's, bought on employee discount with many saved pennies from an afterschool job.  it was gorgeous, and a muted army green, which is so not my color.  but gabardine!  i had no idea what the hell that was!  IT WAS THE MOST MYSTERIOUS WORD IN MY CLOSET!  it sat next to four polyester prom dresses, which cost my parents a much prettier penny than they were worth. 

but i'm glad i spent years in RTW clothing that pilled up after the second wear, if only because my style changed every time i went to the mall.  i know, i know, fast fashion, bad oona.  but back then i didn't know.  it morphed into "fast sewing," which maybe isn't that different.  three bags of handmade garments went into the donation pile.  is that the same kind of waste as trendy outfits that last one season?

i don't think so.  like my years of RTW fast-fashion-training (um, ha, i went to FFT) helped me to better understand my style, my years of working on questionable threads helped me too.  because it takes a whole lotta hours to get your skills tight, and that can get Ex. Pensive.

would i say mine are tight yet?  nope, that's what's delicioso, there's always something more to learn. but i've hit a point, this very summer in fact, where i've become proud enough of what i make to want to wear something i make, every day.  not just on a special night out.  i want to feel good fabric against my skin, as well as look good in it.  and 90% of the time, i DON'T want to rush through accomplishing that, i want to make it right.  

working with yummy fabric is bending my fast brain into all sorts of surprising shapes.  


the next thing i need to do is either learn to love making some solid staples, or start saving some pennies for well made (in every sense) staples.  the silk peacock print and gold sequins up at the top were bought after telling fellow sewist devra i really needed some good neutral clothing to wear to auditions. the chiffons and jersey knit above are my "neutrals."  the knit has been put in the corner for a time out, the chiffons are untouched.

but i do feel a bit better about what's on my shelves.  and in a case of coming full circle, i'll be taking all those scraps and garments to one of the biggest enablers of my ex-cheapo RTW habit: H&M.  yep, that's right.  in what i can only think is an attempt to earn better karma, they're running a recycling program, which accepts clothing from any store, even competitors, even the store on your very own sewing desk-- and they also take fabric.  your payoff for this good deed is a 15% off coupon, which i am sure they're hoping will start the vicious cycle of fast fashion all over again...

not for me, i'm being careful.  been there 4 times already, with 6 bags, and haven't picked up a thing. i'm not saying you'll never find me in the checkout line again, or flying through a one hour sparkly poly batwing dress... but i think the scales are shifting.

how about you?  fast sewing?  slow sewing?  on trend?  under trend?  where are you at?

(pictured top to bottom: 1. sequins & silk from chic fabrics, 2. linen & silk organza from mood, 3. raffia & shantung from mood, 4. chiffon & sweater knit from it's a material world & chic fabrics.)

68 comments:

  1. I'm sort of inbetween right now. I still buy basic items like t-shirts and underwear, but my budget really doesn't allow for much, so I soothe my guilt over buying cheap stuff by saying that I'd buy a lot more of it if I didn't make all my other clothes myself.

    As for fabric, I just moved out of my parents' house (woohoo!) and clearing out my space made me realise just how big my stash had gotten, and just for how long I had been holding on to things I really couldn't use. Loads of stuff got thrown out, and looking at my newly organized fabric stash made me promise to use up that fabric first, before purchasing any more. I've always looked for quality, simply because I felt like something I spent so much time and effort on should be well-made all around. Thank god there is a cheap source of decent fabric near me, or I would have been ruined years ago.

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    1. it's hard to stay away from buying the basics when all you want to do is sew the intricate! and by intricate i mean pretty pretty dresses.

      congrats on the move! it must feel wonderful to really start from knowing exactly what you have. suddenly i feel the need to cull again...

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  2. I love this post! Thanks for sharing your journey. I was definitely a fast-fashion consumer as a teen/early-twenty-something. I was incredibly cheap and didn't really have a sense of my personal style which equaled hours and hours spent at malls and Ross hoping to find something that would fit my requirements. Nothing ever did, so I settled on a lot of awkward inexpensive clothes. Things changed for me when I realized I could find higher-quality stuff at thrift stores for the same prices as new crap. And as I got more interested in garment quality and sustainability, making my own clothing started to interest me. My focus with sewing has been finding the intersection between sustainability and fashion! It's resulted in a lot of basics made in sturdy natural-fiber fabrics (some thrifted, some bought new) which suits my now-apparent style. Like you, I recently realized that I'm wearing what I make almost daily! Cheers to that!

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    1. thank you!

      i think we would've shopped well together in younger years, we had the same journey from malls to thrift stores (and oh yes, ross... still can't quit ross) ...and you would have steered me to sustainability far quicker than i'm going. i'd like to sew/shop with more of a conscience! i really think you know and have a definitive style, it suits you perfectly. love your mini minoru, by the way!

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  3. So first I must say, you made clear wet stuff come to my eyes but I fight them from running down my face. I did have to stop reading this post for moment and leave the room. Bathrooms projects *shakes fist*

    I still like cheap fabric or fabric that are still in the single digits per yard. Billions of reasons why? I am the same way with RTW clothing. I am not convinced, I would not destroy the clothes the same way I would my H&Ms, ON's and goodness Ross.
    As for my style I kind of buy for work, and what the masses (evening in the sewing community). I do like RTW close but I get more excited for things that can't be found on the racks in the US.

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    1. no, latrice! there's no crying in sewing!!!

      i love me some dollar yardage too. i'm just trying to pick the yardage that won't disintegrate in my machine and/or make ruggy scream in horror. yeah....remember that $5/yd yellow & pink plaid soft cotton shirting? you were right. NOT his bag. which reminds me i totally forgot to snap that! okay, that's next.

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  4. I bet at feels wicked good! I find myself still in the "fast sewing" (read: cheap sewing) stage. I'm learning my style, work ion my skills, and IMPROVING each time. I have a a hard time resisting free fabric from friends' and families' stash culls, or $2/yard jersey that I can at least practice on, or fabulous clearance rack finds at Joann's. BUT I'm trying to be better about using what I have, only buying new for specific projects (and then only what I need), and choosing higher quality fabric for this projects. My skills are getting better! So I totally deserve that nicer fabric! :)

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    1. you've deserved nicer fabric for a looooooooong time, my friend, if we're talking skills!

      i've kept some of the cheap yardage (and by cheap i mean poor quality--some of it was over 10/yd!) to do muslins & stuff... but i find myself getting depressed when i open my stash door and see it!

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  5. VEEEEEEEERYYYYYYY slow sewing. My occasional needs for fast "fashion" were up till now covered by the three thrift stores in the vicinity of my school. Now that number's dropped to one, and that the most expensive one, so I will have to be more careful...
    As an admirer of historical clothing, I am very much... blessedly oblivious when trends are concerned. Not completely oblivious, but perfectly capable of ignoring most of it, and going "oh, neat, maybe next year or in three years time, after I finish that and that" over the tiny remnant.
    That's the idea, anyway.

    But I know what you're about. I may be a little bit like that with second-hand books and cheap DVDs.

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    1. hana, you would be a jedi master of slow sewing. though i do love that you have that vice in other areas :)

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    2. I like "Jedi master of slow sewing". It suggests mindfulness rather than plain old laziness and lack of productivity. :D

      I've been guilty of buying DVDs that I have not watched yet, and DVDs I CANNOT watch (BluRay, which I don't have) just because they were cheap and I was kind of blinded by the possibilities to overlook something. Like the fact it's a different kind of DVD, or the fact that I do not have time to watch all of it.
      Which I guess is a lot like what various articles and blog posts are trying to cure women (people?) of when it comes to clothes. The difference, of course, is that the DVDs supposedly last longer and are not made in sweatshops. I hope.

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  6. I've gone through exactly the same process! I feel it's only natural to go from fast fashion to fast sewing. It's all about recognizing good quality fabrics. I too still have lots to learn but I do have a better eye for quality and execution. I just threw out almost my entire stash, and I can't wait to build it up again with good fabrics. Feels great to get rid of that cheap stuff and start over!

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    1. cleansing, right? i've always heard that if you make room for better things, they will come. maybe if i donate my maniacal serger, a new air threading one will magically appear....

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  7. When I first started, I didn't know the difference between natural and synthetic fabric. As I bought more, I realized the first few fabrics I night were all poly. Now I buy cotton because that's all I can sew currently. I'm totally under trend/fashion. I like simple and classic clothes and it's hard to find that at a RTW store that didn't cost an arm and a leg. I still go to the mall and check fashion ideas. I look under the dress like a perv to see the material content and chuckle. I'm glad I'm not the only one that regrets what I bought in the beginning. I Hoyer to gain the super power of being able to recognize cheap fabric! I love this post! :)

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    1. thank you kathy! and me too-- up until about 6 months ago i was sure that anything with a sheen over $2/yd was silk.

      and i love going to stores to see what's out there. i've been taking dressing room shots for ideas, and checking those tags-- isn't it funny how everyone looks at you like you're crazy for looking at the guts?

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  8. Great posting babes, I've been thinking of this the more gorgeous patterns I see out there, the more I think how many quick dresses can I whip up... then I automatically turn to... but how many dresses do I actually need (or can actually wear in a week - I've got TWO days of dress wearing ahead of me, now that I'm back at work! !!! !!WTF!!!)...?

    Unfort, I'm completely on my own trend, my own pace... and with a clearer idea of what suits me, what I like to wear and what I can sew... I've never liked fast fashion in the actual Off The Rack stores, so my sewing is the same. GOOD thrifted materials are hard to come by, so I'm picky there too.

    Certainly at fabric stores though, I'm a bit baffled by what's quality or not... so I could do with a lesson here or there about new fabrics. I've got a knack for feeling shitty quality from thrifted stores, though!

    Love to you guys! And yay for the Great Destash of 2013!

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    1. ha! i should be clear.... i'd make a dress a day if i could, i just want to make it well & out of good stuff! maybe this is something i should rethink too... like you say, how many dresses do i actually need? that, or start an etsy shop :)

      you've always had such great personal style. i'd never imagine you blindly following trend! do you think, maybe us shorter gals have a lead on that, because trends cater to a more "normal" height??

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  9. I am getting much better about quality fabrics, it makes all the difference in the world. Sometimes I feel myself getting pulled in to that wonderful sale price of fabric but then I shake myself and remember how difficult it will be to sew. Great post and btw - have you finished the bathroom yet, is just the funniest!

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    1. well first things first... NO! but at this point it's all decorative stuff, so i'm assuming my summer birthday present will be done by christmas.

      you constantly pair beautiful fabrics with the perfect pattern, and sew them up impeccably. it's nice to know you have to wrestle yourself away from temptation!

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  10. I am definitely queen of poly-cotton at the moment but would love to be more lawn. It has taken awhile to realise the difference and I think this is mostly because there are so few fabric stores near me most of my purchases have been online so less opportunity to feel the quality. I love that when I make something I choose the fabric and so I choose the colours. So I am no longer dictated by which shade is the most fashionable and focus now on finding my own true style. I used to walk around shops trying to find the perfect piece of clothing that was exactly my style- no wonder i found this difficult how was i expecting a store that catered for millions worldwide to have something that would be perfectly me.

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    1. isn't it crazy to feel a fabric and realize it's not what you thought? in a reverse quality situation, i realized i was sewing with $2/yd cotton voile years ago. though it's not the best job, i've kept it because the fabric is sooooo wonderful.

      i shopped online this summer, and it was hard! i don't know how y'all do it. not mood hawking, but i like that they describe what a fabric could be made into--gives an idea of the feel. i think fabrics & fabrics does that too.

      it is a little insane that we expect a beast like F21 to have exactly what we need. especially since we're a little more OCD as sewists!

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  11. Marvelous, thought-provoking post! I'm well aware of my shopping compulsion proclivities, and they've changed somewhat over the years since learning to sew. Initially I was sucked in by a great "deal" and bought lots of fabric that I didn't love. Let me tell you, NOTHING has ever killed my sewing mojo like seeing a bunch of fabric in my stash that was uninspiring -- not only was the thought of making something with it just depressing as hell, but it was also coupled with guilt... Which of course didn't make the fabric ANY more attractive. Sigh. So today, I definitely still buy more fabric than I strictly need to based on my sewing plans, but I am pretty successful with sticking to the rule of do-I-LOVE-it. And yes, several things play into that love-it definition, but quality is up there for sure. Congrats on your purge!

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    1. thank you susan! for real, my mojo sank too when i saw my stash! there are still a few more rather large pieces in there that have got to go--it's just the size keeping them there. and the h&m donation program WAY eased my guilt (here's hoping they do their part).

      i guess that's why y'alls trunk wasn't filled to overflowing, eh? you practice what you preach, o sage one.

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  12. dunno where i'm at, actually.. do not shop in stores for years, that is true, but i'm kind of a flea market clothes hoarder, that's something i should probably do less.. i do manage to find great quality stuff there, but every now and then i end up with polyester 70's dress, that i can't say no to.. when it comes to the fabric i sew with, i do not go for expensive ones, cause i simply can not afford them (i do not write or talk about that, but my budget is just ridiculously tight), but if you dig deep enough, those remnants boxes are full of hidden treasures.. also, i'm all about fast sewing, but that does not necessarily mean that i'm all about 1 hour projects, i just sew fast (like, i can make a coat in a day, and i wont stop until it's done, even if that means i'll stay up all night working)..

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    1. i think you're at jedi level. your garments are so 100% YOU, pattern, fabric, print and all. and though the initial price tag might be low, the finished product looks expensive. i've always wanted to sew with you for a day. i think we might produce an h&m worth of clothing.

      i get you on the 70s thrifting. but whaddayagonnado, poly was the fabric of the time!

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    2. Polyester was the fiber that was going to revolutionize society and make everything wonderful for everyone, everywhere, all the time, for eternity. Quiana! Visa! Antron! We would have beautiful garments that would never wear out, so one could spend one's time making the planet better. They never did wear out ... they held sweat and stains and body odor irretrievably, but they never wore out. They will never wear out in a landfill. There will always be 1970s shirts and dresses on the rack at thrift stores, for as long as there are thrift stores.

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    3. so what you're saying is..... it is the fiber of cockroach strength.

      (been watching a lot of Heroes lately)

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  13. I've always been a-typical when it comes to clothing. I actually kind of hate shopping. The first half of my life I spent wearing thrift store clothes (and not in a quirky, stylish way... more of a "obviously your mom buys your clothes and you value comfort over beauty" kind of way.) When I was a teenager and early 20's I started buying clothes from H&M and other places like that, but never in the fast fashion kind of way that people talk about. I don't like spending more than an hour in a store, and I have to REEEEEALLY like something before I buy it, even if it is only $10.... because as a math student I knew that it doesn't take long for $10 purchases to add up to more than I wanted to spend. I'm also a firm believer that Expensive DOES NOT EQUAL Quality... aka-- URBAN OUTFITTERS.

    So I don't view sewing as a way to save money, or a way to slow the number of new items coming into my wardrobe... because honestly I have more new clothing now than before. I like sewing because I can make clothes exactly the way I want them, I can discover organically what MY personal style really is, and I feel like I'm killing 2 birds with one stone-- It's a hobby that I really love, that calms me and gives me joy, and in the meantime I'm gaining something practical out of it, a piece of clothing that I can wear.

    I'm not opposed to cheap fabric, because I'm still on a budget and trying to live within my means, ya know? But I will say that lately I've been trying to buy more practical, neutral colors that I know I'll love and wear over and over, as opposed to the flashy yardage that caught my eye at first.

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    1. "obviously your mom buys your clothes and you value comfort over beauty"

      HA.

      yeah, price does not always reflect quality. i walked into UO and spent an hour at the sales racks-- i couldn't justify $20 on a handful of poorly made shirts. and i never walk in to look at the regular priced stuff.

      your second paragraph, ditto ditto and ditto.

      but that flashy yardage still calls my name... only now it calls me in silk and linen and boucle :)))

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  14. Awesome post Oona. I made a pledge to not purchase any clothing for a year, over a year ago (save socks and underwear, thank goodness). I did well overall. The only two "non-socks and underwear" purchases I made were a T-shirt for my baseball team (I don't think I should count that, I was not going to be the only one on the team without the team shirt), and a swimsuit bottom (since mine were all at various peoples houses for some reason and we realized that I needed one for camping that day!), so I think I did pretty well. And now, after spending the year sewing up a storm (well, for me it was a lot anyway), I have absolutely no urge to purchase in store. Now, there are a few things that I will be purchasing because I can't keep up with the alterations on all my regular wardrobe, or I feel like I'm not experienced enough a sewer yet, but when I do, I'm going to put a ton of effort into finding something high quality.
    And that is completely in stark contrast to the no savings account, huge cheap wardrobe I used to have. I had a job when I was young (12), so all my money went into buying crappy clothes (I'm quite embarassed at some of the things I wore [stuff like this http://img1.etsystatic.com/013/0/5573042/il_570xN.435751305_iv8t.jpg ]), and I really didn't break the habit until maybe six years ago? I just didn't know that it was bad to not have more than $200 in the bank at any time.
    But I digress, I'm now taking a good hard look at what I wear and trying to slowly craft a wardrobe that will last a really long time.
    That's my story the end. :)

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    1. thanks carlee!

      WHOAH. that shirt is bananas! even more crazy.... i was looking at a very similar fabric for a cocktail dress!! am i already falling off the wagon?

      (erm. why were all your swimsuit bottoms at other people's houses?)

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  15. Ok I gotta say, the thought of a completely self-stitched Oona is glorious! And we all make fabric (and fashion ;) ) mistakes as we're learning. I actually love making basics---they're super-satisfying and you can wear them ALL THE TIME. Not just once in a blue moon like the really special stuff. PS what about making something basic with a crazy Oona lining just for you? ;)

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    1. you are SO FREAKING GOOD at including basics in your sewing! i need your help!!!

      i tried to make the guts of a black dress oona-fied by using red serger thread.... i ended up feeling like a flamenco dancer on the inside. in a BAD way.

      maybe we should sew bossy each other-- with the parameters of i have to do a basic and you have to do a fancy!

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  16. Congratulations on purging! It always feels better, no? Thank goodness for Ruggy - he's like my Mr. G. If you want the truth, you'll get it. :)

    I don't know anything about trends, unless it's for the newest sewing pattern! LOL! I find RTW stores so depressing as everything seems to be a sea of black and charcoal. Yuck!

    My style definitely evolved and has firmed up since I started sewing. I love reds, pinks, teals, and blues, with a splash of purple. Jewel tones, of course. I also like nice quality fabrics, too, and often wait until my LFS has them on sale. Dresses are the most worn items in my closet, so I sew a lot of those.

    I think sewing neutrals would be great. I took a few months last year to sew solid pieces for my wardrobe and I wear them constantly! Keep in mind neutrals in my world include red, dark denim, turquoise, and hot pink - hee hee!

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  17. You're not alone in the rethinking of buying fabric, I have a pile that I'm not sure I'll ever use because of the quality or it's no longer my style.

    I used to buy fabric for a pattern, but I never quite found the best fabric to match what I saw in my mind's eye, and was often feeling meh about the end product. These days I look to the fabric for inspiration to tell me what to make, the creative process takes longer because I usually have to make my own patterns, but I'm much happier with the end product.

    I also have a bin of small pieces of fabric - much of it appliques, lace, leather and embellishments to add to a garment that might take it to the next level or just to touch and dream...

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    1. i do the same-- let the fabric inspire me-- but, i can't imagine making my own pattern every time. and i've got the same scrap bin(though much less full after the cull).

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  18. Me? I'm a slow sewing, slow style kinda girl.

    I have a bad addiction to 'spensive fabric, always have, even when I was a baby sewist. As a result I've made some expensive mistakes but I was always attention detail focused on my garments - I always preferred french seams over overlocking, and fussed over all the details. My Mum is the opposite as a sewist and was baffled by my obsession with wanting it to be as beautiful as the examples I saw on the internet... I'm winning her over now and she's really enjoying it!

    To be honest as well, you did Oona does it! for a year (?) that kinda thing demands speedy sewing, and I'm sure that that kind of challenge encouraged you to lean towards the cheaper options. Sewing to others peoples whims must have been costly!

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    1. yes, ODI definitely did NOT help my fast sewing cheap (as in $) yardage kick, but, it did help my skills. it was a trade off!

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  19. it's taupe! we talked about this! taupe is totally a neutral! :-)

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    1. You are such a bad influence, puu! Please don't ever change. ;-)

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  20. When I started sewing for my own wardrobe I wanted to make things quickly, but I am also slowing down now and wanting to invest more in good quality fabric for key pieces. Now that I have a few patterns that fit well and are easy to vary, I am ready to build a good quality wardrobe.

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    1. i love that idea, and strive for it... but then there are so many patterns to make...

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  21. Great post! In my much younger years, I went for quantity over quality every time. But now in terms of buying RTW , I try to get classic well made basics nothing too trendy. I've only begun buying better fabric the last little while since I was new to seeing and completely unwilling to spend tonnes on fabric that I'm likely going to mess up.

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    1. i used to be shocked at the amount peeps would spend on yardage, now it makes total sense. if only i could convince my wallet of that :)

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  22. Ha ha! I TOTALLY get this! I still have lots of cheap synthetic stuff hanging around that I can't quite bring myself to throw away, but I think when we move again, it will have to go! A lot of my fabric is completely obsolete here in Singapore because it's just too hot to wear anything heavier than cotton poplin outside, but I do still have a real weakness for corduroy and wooly plaid... I love that sequin fabric at the top of your post! Beautiful....!

    I actually started sewing because I just couldn't find/afford clothes that would fit me in Tokyo, but now I'm back in a country with plenty of RTW (albeit extremely expensive!), I really don't want to give it up! I think I must be an odd shape so sewing means I can have clothes that fit me properly!

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    1. i think our shapes are why most of us get into it. it's sort of an FU to society's idea of sizing, too.

      i don't envy you your weather! i need the change of seasons so i don't get bored with my clothing.

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  23. Ooana - what a great post! I just posted about my inability to find anything I LOVE in my closet and I think you've helped me pinpoint one of my problems! Thank you! Not only has my stye changed, but as I've gotten older I have a better sense of QUALITY!! So timely for me as I'm trying to decide, what should stay and what should go!

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    1. thank you! i always devour posts on how to cull a closet... but i've never been this ruthless before.

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  24. You audition "neutrals" make me really happy (as does the fact that we both bought the same peacock print a year apart.....) I think we have more than that in common. My early approach to sewing was the same as you.... go for the cheap stuff because it was what I was used to wearing during my shopaohlic days. I clean out my closet a few times a year and I've mostly managed to get all that shit out of there. Now spending +$20 per yard doesn't seem crazy at all... I'm probably not gonna fuck it up and I only want to wear stuff that makes my skin happy. I still fight the urge to make new things all the time, just to make new things (Sal and I had a long talk about this tendency) but I also like to sink into an elaborate project that takes lots of muslins, and tiny meticulous handstitching.... it's about balance I think.

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    1. yeah peacock sisters!

      the urge to create new stuff is one i think i won't be able to fight for a long time, maybe ever. but i would like to pepper it with more meticulous, involved makes. but i think i might have to break those up and concentrate on a couple at once to keep my brain happy. which, of course, means i'll be making more stuff. VICIOUS CYCLE.

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  25. I pretty much love everything about this post. Especially your interpretation of "neutral". Life is too short for beige.

    I think my fabric tastes are evolving--I'm definitely a bargain hunter at heart, and it's still hard for me to venture past $10 a yard. Especially since teenage me got the majority of my clothes from thrift shops and Joann's fabric. (In my defense, Joann's is all we have around here, and sometimes they have surprisingly nice fabric.) But I am making an effort to purchase more thoughtfully, and think more often about what will make complete outfits instead of just I LOVE THAT PRINT AND IT MUST BE MINE!!!!! It's a journey, as I've learned from a recent post I wrote about fabric in my stash that I don't know what to do with. The list was so long that I can probably get two more posts from just what I was originally thinking to write about, and I had to cut it way short. (Also, I'm a slow sewer, but that's more of a lack of time thing than anything else, I think.)

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    1. that joann, she's a coy minx. my dad picked out some gorgeous yardage for me there!

      it's hard to think in complete outfits-- that's something i'm trying to do, too. especially complete projects, now that i want to actually underline/line stuff!

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  26. I want everything in my closet to make me happy to wear it. I want whomever has to clear out my closet to go "ooooh" and "ahhh" in amazement at the beauty and excellent construction of every item he or she pulls out. I want it to be difficult to tell whether I am donning a garment outside out or inside out. Am getting there, but there's a whole lot of "meh" stuff still on hangers. Well, and we need some "meh" stuff so that the "wow" stuff stands out, yes?

    My trouble with fabric is not that I buy the wrong stuff, but that I wholeheartedly say "Yes!" whenever anyone asks if I would like to have their dead relative's stash. I am pretty good at ruthlessly culling the yucky and unusable. I am loathe to cut into the fabulous yardage that keeps piling up on my shelves.

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    1. exactly! only happiness in the closet! i'm beginning to think i need a small section devoted to auditions, hidden by a brightly printed panel of some sort.

      it's hard to say no to free. it got easier for me when i realized i wasn't going to offend anyone, as the giver didn't want it either!

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  27. I'm with you Oona! I am slowly learning what works for me and what I will wear, and it is a painful, expensive way to learn. I would like to be better at making neutral staples like trench coats and jeans, but it seems my sewing comfort zone is floral dresses. I'm learning that I like rayon better than cotton. and yes, a lot of my cheap wardrobe is H&M. Looks like my closet is ready for a clean out!

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    1. oooh yes i looove rayon. it's hard to find decent prints!

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  28. You said it better than I. I'm hoping that by reading this blog and others I can just skim over the "fast sewing" thing and get into the "good sewing" thing a little sooner. I'm impatient enough with myself (bad Mugsy) that I know when I make mistakes I'll probably beat myself up emotionally about it (and not just the cost of stuff, but making silly mistakes - yep, I'm crazy like that *lol*). But one positive thing - I won;t beat myself up nearly as much now as I would have even a couple of years ago - learning to let go of the perfectionism thing.

    Besides, the mistakes will be what makes my project MINE, and not anyone else's.

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    1. ah yes, learn from our mistakes!!! but in the end, it's all fun, no matter how you go about the process. or, at least, it *should* be.

      love that last sentence!

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  29. A most excellent (as usual) and timely (personally speaking) post. I've always loved me a fast sew but I am a helluva lot more appreciative of the process and learning that comes with a slow sew. And depending on my occasion or mood, I'm happy to bounce between the two.
    I just really, REALLY need to get better at clearing out the stuff I've made. It always seems to hurts a bit more than discarding the store-bought items and the whole-refashioning thing just never seems to happen for me. Not when there are so many damn things I want to sew.
    PS That raffia!

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    1. well thank you!

      i found that putting my donated me-mades in a bag in the corner for a week helped. i was able to think about them and really decide if i would be heartbroken. only one piece came back out!

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  30. NEVER have I read every single comment related to a blog posting, but I couldn't be sandblasted out of my chair with this one. Sewing can be such a solitary pursuit. I had such a light bulb moment reading this...I am not alone. Recently, I have been de-stashing and giving all duplicate and unwanted patterns/fabric to my daughter and niece, whom I taught to sew last summer. They have the collective attention span of a gnat at age 15 and love experimentation. My sewing shelves are now like a lovingly curated museum collection...Now, if I could simply bring myself to cut into that cashmere tweed I bought in Paris!

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    1. Oh, Miz JoJo, honey, you are not alone! Welcome to the community. Go ahead and let yourself make that first terrifying "snick" into the cashmere tweed. It's only fabric, after all. You can commemorate a scrap of it with your other mementos of the Paris trip, later.

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    2. aren't these comments fabulous? they're like posts!! i love the idea of stash as a curated museum... but linB is right, it must be a feel & touch museum. that tweed wants to go out and live life with you!

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  31. I love this post and also read through all the responses. Great stuff! But lord, help me, do I have champagne tastes in fabric. When I was young and on a teensy budget fast fashion chains weren't really around (unless TJ Maxx counts?). Most of my clothes were thrifted vintage--thrifting and digging around for something really special was a weekly Saturday activity! So I don't really know what it's like to have trendy cheap at my disposal. By the time it was, my budget had changed and so was my understanding about good design/fit and quality fabrics. My biggest stash problem includes questionable colors and prints... I went a little happy in the early days of online-fabric-buying. I guess I have to chalk that up to education expenses, since it took me awhile to figure out what I like style-wise. And not buying fabric because that print would look cute as a pillowcase and not as a blouse. I mean, really!

    I love your neutrals... I'd think in Oona's world, neutral = peacock!

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  32. This post is awesome! I have found that since I started sewing I don't buy RTW as much, if at all. I'll buy bras, underwear, and an occasional pair of jeans, but when I want something I make it. I don't feel guilty buying expensive fabric since I don't buy clothes anymore :)

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  33. Late to the party here but this is a really great post. I've moved from RTW fast-fashion and am kind of stuck in a "sewing pretty things but nothing I can wear day-to-day" rut. I think I need to accept that I hate sewing basics so will buy good tees, tanks, black trousers etc and let myself go a bit wild sewing tops. Loved this post, good reading!

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i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied if not always written!