It didn’t really start out as a challenge. Nor was it inspired by anything on Social Media, particularly Instagram. When I was younger and there was no social media (hard to imagine for so many of our younger generations) I sewed because I was more than capable & I couldn’t afford to buy clothes, especially when I first started work and went flatting (started full time work when I was 15 & I was 16 when I went left home). I was sewing and knitting way before social media made it cool. I did sew out of necessity back then, but I loved it.
I also sewed because I couldn’t stand wearing the same clothing as someone else. I had an occasion where I was at a wedding, and there was someone else wearing the dress I had bought. Thankfully, I had a change of heart getting ready and wore something else (I think I was having an off day and threw a wobbly because I looked fat in said dress. Upon reflection I didn’t look fat, it just didn’t fit that well). I also remember seeing a denim jacket in a magazine. It was in the year 2000. It had a detachable faux fur collar ?. I was totally smitten, I put it on layby quick smart. I wore that denim jacket everywhere, it was true love. Then a business acquaintance rocked up to lunch one day, wearing MY jacket. I had mine on too. I was truly horrified. She was beaming. ‘I knew you’d have yours on, so I went and bought one’. Bi-arch! I immediately whipped the fur collar off mine so at least we didn’t look like bloody twins. Seriously peeps, who even does that!
I’ve always sewn my own clothes, but my wardrobe was never entirely me-made. When I played golf (lowest handicapp was 7.2!), I made my golf clothes because the golf fashion for women when I played was quite frankly crappy old fashioned stuff and so boring. My golfing friend Jenny and I even toyed around with the idea of our own golf clothng range. We got as far as samples made, but then life got in the way lol.
There are a few Nz designers that I love (still do), and I bought their clothes often. I remember buying a t-shirt dress from one of them, it was my favourite weekend wear dress, and Hubs commented ‘you could make that’. Yep, I could’ve.
I did love to shop. I still love to look.
I bought my Babylock Ovation back in March 2015, it was super expensive, and that was the catalyst for me. I had all the necessary equipment, I was capable and I throughly enjoyed the process. I declared to Hubs I was going to have a totally me-made wardrobe and he just smiled. He didn’t take me very seriously lol. I mean who can blame him – I was always coming up with hare brained ideas, but he always fully supported me. He’s good like that.
I don’t remember the exact date in 2015 I decided to head to an all me-made wardrobe. But I do very clearly remember the last day I bought ready to wear. It was the Saturday of Hubs 50th dinner, 24th September 2016. I had planned to make a top to wear with some pants I had already made. But I ran out of time. I hightailed it into Milford Mall (I had about an hour, owning two food franchises meant I was usually hightailing it, never enough time) and found a simple woven tee shirt. It was made out of a lovely burnt out viscose fabric, and it looked – well, OK. It cost $179. For a woven tee. I remember handing over the moolahs and thinking ‘never again’.
And I haven’t.
Now, this totally me-made lark was not something that happened overnight. I had to learn how to make bras, and make knickers better (when I said all me-made, it was going to be all me-made), had to figure out what yoga gear I was going to need. And how I was going to incorporate me-made into my franchise business uniform (think branded t-shirt, denim shorts/jeans & peaked cap – ugh ? ). I figured it was going to be a year or two to get to a total me-made wardrobe.
Knickers! Need I say more…
The uniform thing ended up being easy. I took a couple of the branded t-shirts, bought some merino t-shirt weight fabric in one of the franchise colours (how lucky was I that the colour I chose was always on sale because it was Kermit the Frog green), cut out the front of the T-shirt and fashioned a raglan tee. So many comments from customers and fellow franchisees, and I could’ve sold so many if only I had time to make more. I cut a pair of me-made jeans into shorts – and boom! A me-made uniform.
1st hacked uniform tee
Lucky for me Kermit Green merino was on sale ?
And the back.
The bra thing took a bit longer. I downloaded a pattern from the internet and tried to source the fabric and findings. What a bloody mission that was. My first bra was appalling, I didn’t know that lycra wasn’t suitable, and the elastic I bought was dreadful. So I did more research, bought a craftsy course and my second bra was much, much better, but needed to fit better. Just like clothing, bra patterns need fitting too. 4 bras later, and I had a pattern that fitted my lopsided boobs (possibly too much info ?) and I felt confident enough to start making bras with lace that looked like store bought bras. Now my Bras are better than RTW. So much better.
4th attempt – finally the fit was perfect.
The more I made, the better they turned out
The rest was just adding one piece at a time. At first I was probably wearing a me-made three or four times a week and mixing with RTW. The mixing with RTW got less and less, to the point that I can now dress every day, head to ankle in me-made. Obvs not head to toe, because I still buy shoes (and plenty of them).
Do I still have RTW in my wardrobe. Yes of course. I have coats that are a bit snug and I no longer wear, but I can’t bear to part with. Eventually I’ll make patterns from my favourites. I have ‘that’ denim jacket that is 19 years old. I still have a couple of base layer sports bra/top things that get worn to yoga, underneath all my me-made yoga gear – they have so many holes in them it’s a wonder they are still wearable. I have my bright pink Kathmandu raincoat from my franchise days when I used to pick up and deliver orders in the poring rain. I have socks, so many RTW socks. I bought about 20 pairs in the US when I was there 4 years ago. They were dirt cheap. And I have a couple of old, danky sweatshirts that get worn around the farm when it’s cold and I don’t want to get goat poo on my precious me-made sweatshirts.
I’ve gotten very good at planning my me-mades. If I have a function or event pcoming up and want something new to wear, I have to make it. So I have to add that to my schedule, and fit in the make around my business and life. At first I nearly always ran out of time, starting way to close to the event to comfortably finish. Now the planning, it’s just part of my life.
Hubs has also started to benefit. When we were much younger (we’ve been together since 1985), I used to make stuff for him, he wouldn’t wear it. He wouldn’t wear ‘homemade’. I grew up in a family where homemade was the norm, and he didn’t. He didn’t come from a family of Makers. I made have him a sweatshirt about 3 years ago, and he wore it – a lot. So he got another sweatshirt. Then I made him a tailored shirt, he (to my very pleasant surprise) wore it to work and got so many compliments that he asked when I was making his next one. I’ve made him a pair of knock around the house shorts, plenty of undies, another tailored shirt and most recently his jeans! Jeans that fit him perfectly. Just like me and so many of us, he finds shopping for pants/jeans super frustrating. And after an unsuccessful and very frustrating jeans shopping Saturday a few months back, I made him jeans. I even monogrammed his fly lol. The look on his face when they were finally finished was gold. Pure gold! Probably my most proudest make.
This sweatshirt, first make for Hubs in about 30 years.
This shirt gets a right royal thrashing.
And this one too.
Hahahahaha, I have plans for more ‘monograming’ on the next pair
Check out that fit!
Do I save money? Not on your Nelly! I spend far too much on fabric, even if it can be classed as a business expense now. I spend far too much on shoes. And then there are all the sewing machines I own. 17! And that doesn’t include the ones at the Studio ?.
I can’t imagine my life without sewing in it. I had a work colleague in the 90’s once tell me she used to sew all her clothes, and her kids clothes but she couldn’t be bothered anymore. Much easier to go shopping. I just couldn’t fathom that. Not sewing, not making.
The best thing about a totally me-made wardrobe is not being a size. I’m not a size anything. I’m just me. I obviously need my measurements to make the right fit. But, they are just numbers that get me to an end result.
And I’ve always been ‘the big girl’. At school, at work. ‘I’m trying to find Karina, what does she look like?’ ‘Oh, she’s the big girl, with the round face. She’ll probably be laughing, talking or smiling. Probably all three at once’. This is what I overheard a colleague say about me back in the 90’s.
Now I’m the girl who hasn’t bought RTW for well over 1000 days. And I can make bras, jeans and tailored jackets.
I’m THAT girl!.
My denim Jasika Blazer. When you can’t decide to make a denim jacket or a blazer, just make a denim blazer ?.