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Make & mend day(s)

May 19, 2010

The Fashion on the Ration wardrobe rationalization project continues! I’m taking some time out between new sewing projects to do a few days of making & mending. It’s all very well sewing conversation pieces from vintage patterns, but I’m seriously short on normal street-wearable clothes and summer is icumen in.

After my wardrobe inventory, I purged my closet of all the irredeemable duds I hated the sight of or absolutely never wore. I also created a Please Try Harder drawer in my dresser for clothing I don’t like but have to keep until I can buy or make something nicer, because who can get by without any t-shirts? Then I set about the largest category in my wardrobe inventory: Needs Work.

Needs Work is practically ready-to-wear’s middle name. Nearly all my shop-bought garments have some tragic flaw. This blouse is all right, but the sleeves are unflattering. This skirt would be great if the hem were 2″ shorter. I would love this sweater if it were a bit more nipped in at the waist. And so on. So I’ve been revamping, reshaping, altering and generally titivating.

Accomplished so far:

  • Redyeing all my black cotton. A lot of garments I’d vaguely assumed to be worn out were, on closer inspection, merely faded. I flung in a load of blacks with some Dylon Wash & Dye and hey presto! Half a dozen “new” tops in fresh-from-the-shop black.
  • Shortening the hems of several vintage and me-made skirts to a more flattering length — just below the knee instead of at the widest part of the calf. This was also a great opportunity to redo hems I’d done sloppily the first time around.
  • Hemming too-long jeans.
  • Re-pressing crisp pleats into skirts and trousers.
  • Pampering and prettifying my everyday handbag with a dose of nice leather conditioner.

Still to come:

  • Darning yet more holes in my beloved Falke wool tights.
  • Slicing off or reshaping bicep-squeezing puff sleeves on RTW blouses.
  • Reshaping and cropping the waists of a sweater or two (sweaters that end near the natural waist seem to look better with skirts).

Contrary to my expectations, I find that mending or altering a garment makes me more attached to it rather than less. Instead of seeing a faulty garment whose imperfections have been patched up, I see something I’ve customized to my exact measurements and specifications, which feels faintly luxurious. I also feel a new bond with the garment, like working on it has given me a relationship with it that I don’t have with clothes I buy, wear and throw away. This definitely makes for a friendlier wardrobe!

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Kitty permalink
    June 28, 2010 7:56 pm

    I wanted to put this on the pages with the videos on it but can’t find it easily so Here you go. I don’t think you’ve seen this one. LOL

  2. purpleshoes permalink
    May 24, 2010 11:49 pm

    Future generations are going to wonder what on earth we had against normal, square, ends-near-the-elbow sleeves. I predict in another year they will be on everything, and will be heralded as charming and retro.

    A word about sleeve length, though – goodness, if there’s anything worse (on my particular body) then a short puff sleeve it’s a midlength puff sleeve. All that bulk at the top of the shoulder and then a sleeve that ends right at the bustline (which is where my elbow is) creates an impression of vast shirtness about to engulf the city.

  3. May 24, 2010 1:40 am

    funny – I never thought of short sleeves as unflattering on me. But I like my arms – my legs are what I’m usually disguising. I read the link you posted and now I’ll be looking again at y sleeves in the mirror.
    The kind of refurbishing you’re talking about is so fun, in my opinion. I feel clever and thrifty and yes, luxurious.
    I hope you’re going to post photos and details as projects get done!

  4. May 21, 2010 10:29 am

    Wow, such great ideas, it is almost (very almost as I looove the summer sun ) that I wish for a rainy day to do all this kind of stuff on.

  5. May 20, 2010 11:57 am

    Redyeing your black clothing = best idea ever! I can’t believe I’d never though of that before! I have plenty of jeans and shirts that now have Dylon in their future..

  6. May 19, 2010 11:09 pm

    Oh, inspiring and impressive! I’m in the middle of something similar myself – since my school semester is over, I can finally do some sewing for me (as opposed to schoolwork sewing. Which granted, is still nice. Just more stressful, and with less end results for me to wear). I have quite a pile of things that needs altering and mending, but I seem to have such a block to even starting them! It feels like it’ll take much longer than it usually ends up taking, and that keeps me from diving in. Bad seamstress.

    Also, I need to do a wardrobe inventory, like you did!

  7. Geogrrl permalink
    May 19, 2010 7:59 pm

    What IS it with the sleeves on RTW garments? I find so many things that otherwise fit, but are far too tight in the biceps. And seams on most RTW are far too stingy to let out.

  8. Regina permalink
    May 19, 2010 7:51 pm

    I love how fixing up flawed clothing makes me feel empowered, like I’m not just having bad design inflicted on me but I’m actually doing something about it.

    Improving clothes actually makes me feel better than sewing up from scratch, because when I sew I often get frustrated that the end product won’t look exactly like I want it too.

  9. Rochelle permalink
    May 19, 2010 5:58 pm

    So inspiring! I need to do a review of my own wardrobe as well. I’m also fascinated by the Dylon Wash & Dye! I don’t think anything similar is sold in the US, unfortunately.

    • Tracy permalink
      May 19, 2010 7:46 pm

      Actually, in the US you can get RIT dyes, which you can do in the washing machine. The color sets best if you add white vinegar to the rinse water. I rejuvenate my black t-shirts and jeans from time to time this way, and it really does make them look new. The only thing is, you have to remember to wash them separately from other colors, because you might get a little bleeding for the first couple of washes after the dye bath.

      Susannah, I do relate to how you feel more attached to your clothing once you’ve made them fit you well. I always have to hem long sleeves and jeans, but I really do feel they’re more “mine” once I’ve given them the custom treatment!

      • Rochelle permalink
        May 21, 2010 1:00 am

        Thanks for the info! I guess I never would have dared put dye in the washer!

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