Try Something New Social Sew Round Up!

This month, I challenged everyone to Try Something New! I myself made my first ever pair of jeans (jeans, y'all!!) and love how they turned out.

We had a small crowd this month, but what we lacked in size we made up in challenging projects, including two more pairs of jeans... um, amazing!
See Carmen Sew is in the spotlight this month for her Mimi G skinny jeans!! Congratulations on a successful pair of jeans, and just look at that "success!" photo at the end of her post... if that isn't a "challenge conquered" pose I don't know what is.

I was SO excited to see Nathalie Sews with her very first time using a vintage pattern!! Y'all know I love vintage and Nathalie's red 1960s Butterick 9599 is so unique with that lovely zig-zag button front. How would you style this dress?

Melissa of Mahlica Designs is our other jeans-maker, with her Liana bootcut jeans that she's been fitting meticulously over on facebook. I love the back pocket detail and that topstitching looks great!!

Dress Bakery made a gorgeous dirndl, her first! I believe she is Bavarian, and says that women can opt to wear a dirndl in lieu of a formal dress, say, at a wedding. So interesting! (Plus, it's another stellar item-made-from-a-sheet!)

Lassemista Liliana made her first Seamwork pattern, the Astoria cropped sweater. This is on my list! She says she'll make some fit adjustments next time, but I think the color and boxy shape is perfect on her!

Thanks to all who participated! Next month's theme will be Cozy Layers... snuggle up in a wrap sweater, a new wool coat, or leggings and a drapey tee, and maybe give yourself a rest if you tackled jeans this month, huh? I hope you'll join in!

One last thought on jeans: In her Liana jeans post, Melissa asks is it worth it to spend $30 and 15 hours on a pair of jeans? What do you think? Personally, I enjoyed the experience of making jeans (and I'm pretty proud of myself for tackling an intimidating project) but I'm not sure how many pairs of handmade jeans are in my future. The materials and pattern for the jeans I made myself totalled $50, plus hours of sewing time. Meanwhile, these high-waisted skinnies from Grana, made from high-quality Japanese denim in regulated factories, are also $50, and take zero hours (plus, perfect topstitching). To me, the reasons I sew my own clothes are:
1. not available in my price range (i.e. camel hair coats)
2. not available in stores (i.e. vintage styles)
3. not available somewhat ethically (I'm not an expert in this field, but I'm learning)
4. something I want to try (i.e. jeans)
If I can find something that is in my price range, available, and somewhat ethical, I don't see any reason to make it unless you specifically want to for the experience... and I've experienced jeans. So, will I make jeans again? I guess my answer is we'll see... and y'all will be the first to know if I do.

How do you decide what to make and what to buy? If you had unlimited time and money, would you buy a Burberry trench or spend 25 hours making one?

Thanks so much for reading!!


ps: where can i, an american, wear a dirndl and not look silly? also, is that cultural appropriation if i'm not from the dirndl-wearing part of the world? let me know!

allie J.

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  1. Is it worth it to sew jeans? If you love the process and like to wear jeans then absolutely. If you don't then sew something else. I also choose my sewing projects based on things I would like to wear and can't afford to buy and things I would like to try (things that offer a technical challenge). I buy about half of the fabrics that I use from a retailer that only sells end of bold fabrics from Belgian designers.

    1. I think we have about the same selection criteria! I really need to find an interesting fabric shop like that near me, I usually buy my fabric from Mood which has lots of designer stuff but it's not usually cheap since they aren't quite end of bolts.

  2. Sewing is so much more than just about saving $! Even if I could afford an expensive designer wardrobe, I would still sew for the technical challenge that Nathalie mentions + the opportunity for creativity. As a sit-at-my-desk office job gal, there's something so gratifying about creating something from nothing, customizing it and having a tangible product at the end. It brings a whole new dimension to "work." That said, Im sure we can all agree that it is always great when you see a cost-benefit to me-made!

    1. I totally agree! I always laugh when people ask if I save money by sewing my own clothes, since it's such a complicated question. In some ways yes, in other ways no! I spend a lot of time doing this that I never take into account when tallying "cost" but then again I'm gaining so much by learning new techniques in every project...

  3. I love these makes! As for cultural appropriation, I think it depends on the situation and the culture in question :) If you were invited to a Chinese New Year party or an Indian wedding where everyone would be wearing cheongsams or saris, then I suspect that most people, if any, at that event would not consider it to be cultural appropriation because you would be wearing it in order to be respectful to other people at that event. Of course, it is a good idea to ask the host first in case their family and friends would be offended :)

    Most people in Bavaria don't wear dirndls on a daily basis, it's mostly just older people and a wider group of people wear them for special events. The people I know who live in Northern Germany who wear dirndls are doing it in a tongue-in-cheek way themselves typically, so I don't think that many Germans would be offended if you wore a dirndl for Oktoberfest or another German event. Probably the only feedback you would get would be being impressed that you own a dirndl, made it yourself, and advice on how to tie your dirndl knot to indicate your marital status ;) That has been my experience as a non-German outside of Germany. My mother is from a dirndl country which I guess means that culturally I am allowed to wear one? But I don't think that has ever come up in conversation with real live Germans when I wear my dirndl to Oktoberfest parties and other people are wearing them as well.

    1. I didn't know there were specific ways to tie your dirndl knot! I always heard in some places you would put a flower behind a specific ear to indicate married or single but I never heard of dirndls having a similar rule! Thanks for teaching me something new :)

  4. I've just started to think about the making vs. buying question, and I think I may have feelings similar to yours although I need to think about it a little more. I'm also with you on the dirndl. I guess we can make one and then search out an Octoberfest? My German friend is kind of hoping I will, I think. Sounds like a green light to me!!

    1. It's such a huge question to think through! I'd like to think about and reflect on it more, so maybe you'll see more here on the blog about it in the future. I'll look forward to seeing your dirndl!

  5. Totally agree... it's tricky. I actually love making jeans because I find it hard to get RTW styles that fit me. I hate skinny jeans and only fit my hips/waist combo into Levi curve ID Bold curve, which they rarely make in anything other than skinny. However, I totally agree with your principles, I would only sew something that was otherwise out of my price range, not available with ethical principles (environmentally sound, fairly treated workers etc) or not availabe in my size. Unfortunately the last criterion rules out so much RTW because I am a classic hourglass and end up doing FBAs etc on everything. For me it's easier to make my own, even if the price is the same or slightly higher for me-made, because I know what went into it, I make sure it's high quality in terms of fabric and finishes and I can add personal details. I also find that after the first time it gets faster and faster... now I can knock out a pair of jeans in just one weekend day, and think it'll be easier still when I have a second machine for topstitching.

    However, I did go through a period of stress when I felt I 'had' to make everything because I now could. This stressed me out and ended up with me not enjoying the sewing. I realised that I didn't have to make everything, if I could find it RTW or second hand then I would (and I love upcyling donated clothes, takes 2/3 of the work out!) and now I'm much more chilled. However this did culminate in a shopping trip where I realised that I still couldn't find T shirts I liked and that fitted, and that every pair of jeans out there was skinny, so I am sticking with my hacked ginger bootcuts and the SBCC tonic T ;-)

    1. Yes, I'm pretty lucky because I'm a fairly average size, but I know there are SO MANY PEOPLE for whom the "not available in my size" thing is the reason they sew, whether they're sized out, or curvy, or petite, or have had a mastectomy, or a million other reasons.

      I think aiming to make all your own clothes is a laudable goal--as long as it isn't a stressful experience. Once it feels like work... nope!



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