Does anyone make their own clothes anymore? I’m talking about the kind of sewing that involves choosing a pattern, buying fabric and constructing an entire piece of clothing at home. And the women wearing the very homemade-looking shirtwaist dresses in that weird polygamist Mormon cult don’t count. They obviously know how to make a sewing machine work.
My question about whether anyone still sews came to mind when I was in a JoAnn Fabric store last week shopping for buttons for a sweater that I had knit. On my way to the button aisle in the back of the store, I walked past the bolts of fabrics and a mannequin modeling a jacket and dress made from a Butterick pattern.
Did I stop for a moment to see if the outfit had any potential as something I might wear? Nope. The thought that ran through my mind was that I could probably find something more stylish for less than the cost of the fabric next door at Target. And I could wear it right away without investing hours of time to make it.
And over the years as I’ve chatted with other moms, I have never once met one who said they made any of their own clothes or their kids’ clothes. Is sewing an archaic skill that no body does anymore like changing your own oil?
I know how to sew so making something like I saw on the mannequin is fully within my skills. It was my sister who taught me how to sew although if she hadn’t, I would have learned the basics in my “home economics” class in junior high. Instead of a computer lab…because there was no such thing as a personal computer back then…my school had a classroom with 20 sewing machines and all girls were required to take basic sewing.
I actually loved the sewing class because it was a chance to show off my more advanced sewing skills. I clearly remember many of the fabrics I used and the outfits I made. I was very proud of wearing something I had made that fit well and showed no hint of being homemade. It didn’t get much better for me than perfectly straight rows of parallel topstitching on my pocket flaps.
But it’s been decades since I seriously considered making an item of clothing for myself. Who has the time and motivation when there are so many options for places to buy relatively well-made clothing that’s not expensive which I can try on so I know that it’s going to fit?
And young women these days don’t know how to sew. My own daughters are examples of that. Where I work, I’ve become the go-to person when a pair of pants needs to be hemmed. When I sewed on a button in about 30 seconds, everyone reacted as if I had performed magic.
Knowing that I was pondering sewing, Steve kept an eye out on Craig’s List for me. In the course of a week, he forwarded about 10 requests for people looking for sewing help of varying degrees.
So…since women like me who can follow a pattern to sew a skirt or dress choose not to, and girls of my daughters’ generation aren’t learning how to sew, I come back to my original question of who is buying the fabric and patterns?
In the next week, I’m going to do a little research to see if I can get an answer.