What won’t you sew?

posted in: Designing | 38

I remember a post years back, before I started blogging, where Jay wrote about what she didn’t think it was worth sewing.

Is there anything you wouldn’t bother making, because it is too much fuss, or you find it too hard, or had a go and said never again? Or are there some items you prefer to buy from shops and find RTW good enough?

Here’s my list

  • T shirts
  • Bras and knickers (I would make a petticoat)
  • a corset
  • technical sportswear
  • not keen on blouses
  • (until last month) jeans

Since I went and made jeans, having said I would never bother, I wondered what happened.

I wear jeans a lot – say two days out of seven. In my wardrobe I have five pairs – navy slim fit (smart ones ideal for evenings), baggy light blue ones with turn-ups (very comfy), dark brown bootleg (first choice for countryside) and some grey ankle length which are a good fit and comfortable and look nice with grey heels. Also I have a pair of light blue ones which are currently too tight. I am happy with my jeans  – some I have had for years – and never felt the need to make them.

Then I got a chance with minimal outlay and gave it a go. The thing I have done is create a pair that fits really, really well. I now have tailor made jeans – there are comfortable, they fit well, they are size and shape I want and it was not that hard to make them look professional. The ones I have bought fit OK but not perfectly.

So now I have made one pair I am beginning to think about other variations – colours, length, shape, embellishment. I find myself a bit addicted. I am looking at denim fabrics in shops. I am on the internet looking at different, weights, types and qualities. I even went on a course on Indigo dying in the hope of dyeing my own light indigo denim. Is this even possible? I am looking at high street shops and jeans retailers to find interesting treatments. There is a lot of variety in the world of jeans – and as I have already crossed the rubicon all of these options are now open to me.

I have wondered about bras before. I have read blogs about corsetry too. And sportswear. And I have always thought – not me matey!

So what would you never make? And what might make you change your mind?


38 Responses

  1. Sheree

    Up to a month or so ago my list would have been identical to yours, Kate. Being a fan of Grainline Studio patterns, I decided to buy the lark t shirt and now can cross off t shirts. I think once you tackle an item that previously you avoided sewing, you then become familiar with the process and the brain starts to plan how to improve and vary. It does become a bit of an obsession! I am not much of a knitter (sewing normally being my hobby of choice), but due to the influence of blogs, decided to venture into knitting socks. This is something that, in the past, I would have thought completely mad. But, guess what, I am now planning and plotting my next pair. Not sure if this is just a human condition or whether it is just personality types?
    Anyway, I really get where you are coming from with your jeans adventure.

  2. SewRuthie

    I like knit tops And sew and wear my home made ones a lot. It allows me to get turtlenecks which don’t strangle and use lots of fun Jersey prints.
    I generally don’t sew coats jackets jeans basically complicated things. I also don’t sew undies.

  3. felicia

    I can’t imagine sewing technical wear, the sorts of things that require waterproofing the seams. So far not bras, though I did start one, using a halter dress pattern. Probably not a good idea for a first attempt. I’ve worn jeans all my life, and never found them comfortable, so I’m not straining at the leash to make any. Denim is stiff material. Actually the only thing I can think of is footwear. I’m not planning to make any shoes. At least not in the near future.

  4. Jenny

    I won’t sew coats, too much tailoring and the need to be very accurate! I don’t make skirts – I don’t wear them. I have made bras because I can’t wear RTW ones (back problems) and they were fun and easy but didn’t really help me. I can recommend them though for an interesting project.

  5. Maggie

    The only things I don’t sew are things I don’t wear. I don’t wear super fitted anything, and I probably would never sew trousers without some stretch in them again. I have sewn bras and undies. My mom used to make slipcovers- I don’t think I would ever take that on. Slipcovers are pretty readily available at prices you could not beat. I am getting up the nerve to sew with some sweater knit for the first time for my winter 6pac.

  6. Jay

    I’ve made most things at some time or the other, but don’t make clothes which have fabrics or notions that are hard to come by or expensive enough for the project to be undercut by the rtw item. This gives a list a lot like yours Kate. Generally it’s either fabric or cut which inspires, so clothes which are very standardised, produced year after year very efficiently in factories don’t seem worth bothering with.

  7. Anne

    I can’t say I have a ‘won’t sew’ list. I can’t imagine ever sewing tights, knickers or technical wear, though. No need to sew bras at the moment as I can get RTW but if that changes I would certainly consider. Jay said she wouldn’t sew if item would be undercut by RTW item – (very nearly) everything I sew is more expensive than RTW! I’m seeking good fit – I’m still seeking! Trousers/jeans are top of my ‘want to make’ list.

  8. thedementedfairy

    I think my list has changed, and probably got shorter over time. For many, many years I shunned knits because I only had a very basic machine and was never happy with the results. Overlocker in hand, I cured myself of that phobia. I hate buttonholes, again because of my cheapo machine, so I’ve gone for zips, pull-ons or poppers for ages. I’m pretty nifty at hand sewn buttonholes in a tight corner, and I’m chuffed to bits with my recent piped ones! Bras: well I’ve had a go, I have the materials for more, and they really aren’t hard. I only get the urge to plough on when my well-fitting RTW bras are dying though, then of course I’m in a rush to get out and buy more. I’ve made knickers, and they’re great, but boring to make. I think I like to make clothes that fall between too easy and over-complicated. No I don’t, I love complicated don’t I? Cackle. Probably just not boring then!

  9. Nakisha

    Great post!! I don’t wear jeans much at all but really love making them 🙂

    My list is probably tights, underwear and bras. I just don’t see taking time out from my love of pants, jackets and knit tops! And sourcing fabric and notions seem tough for those things.

    Lots of people don’t sew tshirts but I found a TNT and it’s nice to have one that fits WELL! My upper body adjustments are: FBA, narrow shoulder, increase bicep, swayback, decrease length (and sometimes a couple others). So even something as simple as a tee can be really ill fitting in RTW.

    • fabrickated

      And great comment Nakisha. Interesting point about the T shirt. I buy stretchy ones which are a) very cheap and b) fit perfectly, so I haven’t felt the need yet. But I may with a really special piece of fabric.

  10. mrsmole

    Since I sew for others, the only thing I have not sewn yet is bras. I know there seems to be a real frenzy about making them on the web…where to buy the supplies and all the different variations and laces etc but not something I want to use my time for and get fiddly with underwires and straps. Costumes fall into that category too…have made loads of them for my 3 kids when they were needing to be extra scary, extra furry, extra princessey but the labor involved is just overwhelming and the lint left in the machine is just plain nasty.

  11. Lynn Mally

    I tried underpants once and was appalled. Rather than try to get them to fit I gave up. I have no interest in sewing bras, since store bought fit OK and I have a utilitarian approach to underwear in general–no filmy, lacy things for me. Here’s what I do sew–t-shirts, sweaters, pants, and jackets.

  12. Theresa in Tucson

    I don’t wear knits except for undies, swimwear and workout wear so I rarely sew knits. Will not wear stretch woven anything so getting a TNT pants/jean pattern is still on my list. Right now I modify the only women’s Wrangler 100% cotton jean as most RTW pants don’t fit me well. Love shirtmaking and love casual jackets so I make those a lot. Don’t do silky, bridal or formal wear; whole different skill set. Do dresses and skirts on occasion. Love natural fiber but don’t do much wool due to climate.
    Theresa in Tucson

  13. Sam

    I always said I’d never make jeans then I made the Named Patterns Jamie jeans and love them. I’m quite keen on trying the pattern you’ve just made now. Currently my ‘no sew’ list includes all types of underwear – M&S make far better underwear than I could be bothered with – technical sportswear like you, and probably things for my husband. He’s fussy enough when he goes to buy something, I dread to think what it would be like to make something for him!

  14. Susie

    Never say never…I, too thought t-shirts were silly, but am now addicted, because I can make them fit so much better than RTW. I have tried bras, and was not successful, but I may revisit that sometime. Have made many corselettes for daughter’s gowns, and they’re really easy to fit, since you don’t need to worry about ease. It’s a bit silly to say you’re not going to make something, unless you’ve got a very rigid personality. Over time, your preferences and abilities change, and something that seemed silly or out of your skill set may suddenly appeal to you.

  15. Mary

    No sew land for me includes:
    • Jeans (RTW fit great if in a tall size)
    • Bras (I pay big $$ for nice fitting ones)
    • Sweaters, socks (I don’t knit)
    • Button up blouses (I’m large busted and anything open in the front is a challenge)
    By looking at line drawings my sewing experience can tell me if a pattern will fit and look good on my body. I always fear venturing into the “I knit my own yoghurt” territory if I stray from my tried and true style. Plus, what is the point of making something you know you won’t wear. My gut guides me pretty well. I would love to make an elaborate dress for someone and just volunteered to sew costumes for my daughter’s high school drama department. They are staging a musical set in the 1950’s and I really want to make some of those dresses for the pleasure of it. I would never wear that style but I can’t wait to dive into netting, crinolines, and the whole nine yards!

  16. SJ Kurtz

    I don’t make socks. I was a competent but not brilliant knitter, and …no. Just no.

    Everything else is up for grabs, I’d be happy to learn how to make shoes if I could get a pair to feel as good as the jeans, tshirts, coats, shirts, bras…other stuff I make for myself.
    Although…the Rosehip tights pattern does have a stocking option.

    Never say never.

  17. helen

    I always thought I wouldn’t make jeans but I’ve made two pairs this year and I just want to make more. In fact I’m just about to pre-wash a length of denim to make my other half a pair of Thread Theory Jutland Pants. (Never made him an item of clothing before except knitted socks).

    This year I made knickers for the first time and they were just alright and I won’t be bothering again.
    I think I wouldn’t try very stretchy sportswear, technical outerwear with taped seams and probably bras.

    • fabrickated

      To be honest it was your jeans that made me think I might be able to make a nice pair, Helen. So thank you for the encouragement. And confirming my prejudice that knickers are a waste of time.

  18. Stephanie

    Love the responses!

    I’ve more or less made jeans many times, minus the final finishing bits (studs, etc). I enjoy making pants of all types.

    I think I mostly fall into the never say never camp, although (at least at the moment) there is a low probability that I will sew underwear, bras or knits. Like Lynn, I have a utilitarian approach when it comes to underpants. I buy mine from a girl from Montreal who makes them with organic bamboo fabric and who has great, simple, comfy designs. I like that I’m supporting her business. I don’t wear t-shirts or other sewn knits very much, either, so they don’t hold much sewing interest for me, and I prefer natural fibres in general (I see a kindred spirit in Theresa!). In bras and technical sportswear, too, I am a minimalist. Particularly with the technical sportswear I so rarely replace anything that even if I sewed the items it would be a rare occasion. Beyond a good sports bra, tights, jacket and top, what more is required? I still run in a pair of tights I trained in in the late 1990, on occasion. Really, it’s only the bra and footwear that matter, although I won’t test that theory by skipping the other items…

    I would, on the other hand LOOOOVVVEE to learn to make shoes. I often moon about the serious shoemakers’ shops in Florence wishing I were Daniel Day Lewis and could afford to take a year (I think that’s what I was told he did) to apprentice with one of them. I mean, what isn’t there to like about the real deal Italian leather shoes…

  19. Bunny

    I won’t sew things that I consider a waste of time. I don’t wear tee shirts other than some old rags for gardening so that would be at the top of my list. I tend not to sew really simple plain items, like tees, just not enough challenge. Another thing I won’t sew are turtlenecks. They are a staple garment around this climate, no matter the trend, and I can pick up really nice ones locally, made in far better fabrics than I have seen in stores or on line. I haven’t tried undies but I might. What’s top on my list to sew are garments that challenge and coats and jackets. I like making tops, just no tees or turtles. I have made jeans and really enjoy that process. I need to make more.

  20. Ms. McCall

    I’ve made everything on your list except corsets. I have never worn a corset, so making one has never interested me. I think that the main reason I make things that other commenters don’t think are worth the trouble is that I have access to very cheap fabric, and I like making stuff so it’s easy for me to make basic t-shirts and knit tops. For anyone who does make their own knit garments, I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t also make knickers – they are great for using up knit scraps! I have a fair few t-shirt and matching knicker sets. Unintentional, but it works out that way. I also have access to fantastic denim resources, and I think that’s really the crucial thing in making jeans that are worth the time put in to them.

    I’ve made a mountain of bras, but very few that I’m happy with. To be honest, if I still lived in the UK there’s no way I would have persisted past the first few. M&S is hard to beat on that front. Living in the US, the options are bad in shops, and I can’t bend my mind around online bra shopping.

    What wouldn’t I make?? I have started and abandoned a few baby clothes projects in the past. I read all the people warning not to use certain types of closures (choking hazards, and snaps that become really hot in the dryer) and different kind of fabrics (organic??), and washing the fabrics in certain ways, and then the sizing is weird (what if they’re a big baby? What if they grow out if it in a month?) and it makes me thrown my hands in the air and just buy something. But I’m making some stuff for a friend who’s expecting now, and I hope I actually finish this time!

  21. Ms. McCall

    I don’t know how to reply in-line, but to answer your question, I made the blog private as a shortcut to taking it down. I may put it back up again if I ever think I want to start blogging again, but for now I’ve stopped so I prefer to leave it down. I feel much happier to not feel the need to blog anymore, but there is a downside -I do think that it sometimes makes commenting on other people’s blogs feel a little one-sided. Still I instagram, since it’s easy. I don’t know how you do all the writing and photographing that you do!

  22. Shari

    I love sewing t shirts with my serger and coverstitch machines. Made a pair of jeans last year, they fit great and are non stretch denim which I prefer. I tried making a bra last year and got very frustrated. May try bras again but would rather sew other things. That said, nothing is really off limits for me as I do love a challenge. I made slip covers for our sofa awhile back, that was challenging!

    • fabrickated

      I agree about stuff for the sofa. We really need that kind of thing here with our white sofa and grubby grandchildren. But I really can’t bring myself to do that kind of sewing.

  23. Amanda

    There is nothing (garment-wise) i would “NEVER” make ^_^

    There are things I’ve made and decided it wasn’t worth the effort afterwards, (usually due to the output of time and hardship finding the correct fabric vs the ease of buying) but circumstances change, so there’s no assurance that ratio might not change eventually, so knowing you can make just about anything is a good feeling even if you don’t.

    I probably wouldn’t ever make home dec. It bores me to tears and the fabrics are uninspiring LOL.

  24. jaybee

    Like many others, I can’t make jeans or coats because my machine is not heavy-duty enough for thick fabrics. Recently I invested in a new one that I hoped would increase my abilities, but it really is little better than the old one. Since I only sew as a hobby (not a necessity), I am unwilling to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for a really good machine.

    No interest in millinery – too complicated. I have made satisfactory underpants and swimwear but not on a regular basis. Usually I buy the garment and wind up doing alterations to get a good fit.

    • fabrickated

      Making alterations can work really well too – I have to agree with you there. RTW often offers great fabrics and styles, and often low cost. It’s just the fit that is troubling!

    • fabrickated

      Thank you for responding BMGM (I am one of those too), and for pointing out your interesting and thoughtful blog post. I have bought jeans from NYDJ – once on a trip to the US and more recently from the internet (via the Netherlands). They are a nice product but I guess we need to think about air miles. Also since I have had a go at making jeans myself I don’t see myself buying RTW jeans again.

Leave a Reply