Saturday, 2 February 2013

Tailored shirt and trousers and the art of making slowly

TA-DAH!!! I managed it! Hallelujah, I sewed a pair of trousers and a shirt for Elf Husband. I started with the trousers as they were more needed and I felt more comfortable making them. I have made numerous trousers for myself and others too. First I thought I would draft the pattern myself. I soon gave up on this idea as he did not have well fitting trousers which I could have taken apart in order to use as a base for the pattern. I ended up using Kwik Sew pattern nr.2860.

I was careful measuring the Husband and altered the pattern accordingly, but I still had to rip off the waistband and redo the whole upper part to make it shorter and better fit. IF I had bothered making a muslin, this problem would have been noticed.

I know how to sew trousers, but as I have never made a pair of gents' tailored ones I decided to do as they say in the instructions. Either I totally misunderstood the instructions or there is a funny kink in the part of sewing the zip on. I had to take one side apart and do it again like I would have.I am very proud of the back pockets. I have made placket pockets before, but only in bags.

You get pictures here with the husband inside the clothes as he was so sweet as to model for me. Throwing silly poses, of course, but that goes with the territory.

I also embarked on making a shirt. I bought the pattern at the same time with the trousers. We needed just a basic shirt pattern and Kwik Sew 3883 fitted the bill perfectly. I have never ever made a formal shirt before. So I just went with the instructions and took it as education. To my great delight sewing a shirt was not difficult. It was long winded for sure, but not difficult. The only hitch with the pattern was that the cuffs didn't fit. Note to myself: fasten the sleeve folds first when ready to sew the cuffs on. Just adjusting the folds was enough to rectify the problem.

I was dreading most the collar and the yoke, but both went on surprisingly easily.

 Now to the art of making slowly. I have tendency to rush to the end of project despite eyes watering from tiredness, ears humming and back aching. I made a conscious decision NOT to this time. For example I cut the shirt one day and did not do any more. I also stopped after my "prime hours" and did something else. It was good. Far fewer stupid mistakes were done. OK, OK. I did sew one of the sleeves on the wrong side and then proceeded to finish it off with a felled seam. It was a bit of a job to pick the stitches. But this was merely a "normal", done in the joy of sewing type of mistake.

Does it pay off making trousers and shirts? Well, that depends how you look at it. You can certainly buy both for the price of the fabric I used, although might be pushed with these particular trousers. I bought the fabric here. They have a limited choice, but if you find what you need, it is really good quality stuff to very reasonable prices.

When I am thinking about sewing versus buying, I do not compare with the cheapest. I actively avoid the cheapest clothes shops. Knowing what material costs, even in whole sale, and the amount of work that goes into making a garment, I know someone somewhere along the supply chain has not been paid fairly. I vote with my pounds and don't shop those clothes.  It can be really difficult to find out where a piece of fabric was made, so it might have an uncertain pedigree. I know that the trouser fabric is British, the shirt fabric was bought here and I cannot tell the origins of it. So although I cannot say that all unethical practices are avoided, I feel I have limited the damage.

The workmanship going into clothes I make is far superior to the cheap clothing. Like Elf Husband said:"I could wear the shirt inside out and nobody would notice!" The shirt is made of woven flannel check, not printed, so looks exactly same both sides. The pattern did not call for felled seams, that was my own decision.

You can find clothes which are well made also in the shops, but they are often way out of our price range. It is cheaper to make quality clothing than buy it. It also gives us a different relationship to clothes and  how we take care of them when we know how long it took to make them.

All in all I think that as a first attempt I can be satisfied with my efforts!

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