Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Starting thoughts on the Seam Allowance project

One of my larger goals this summer is to learn more about sewing clothing.  I took a garment-sewing class at Verb during spring break (and meant to blog about it then, really I did!) and eventually finished the top.  I like the shirt quite a bit, and have worn it four or five times since completing it.  For those who are interested, this is the "Violet" top by Colette Patterns, and the fabric is a lightweight cotton floral print by Lecien. 
Colette Violet
Joining the fronts and back of the shirt.
It got me excited to sew more clothing, but I didn't have the mental energy to put together anything more complicated than a quilt with rectangles during the second half of the semester.  As final exams wound down, my thoughts returned to more clothing.  Knitting sweaters is all well and good in October, but in June my thoughts were on breezy tank tops and sundresses.  As she so often does, Kristine at Verb read my mind and has started an initiative that she's named "Seam Allowance".  In my head, I've been imagining this as a learning community and support network. It's well-timed both in terms of my interests and work schedule; summers are always less hectic for me. So this is what my kitchen table looks like these days (except messier, and with more fabric scraps scattered all over the place):
Colette Violet
The sewing station.
The Seam Allowance pledge is to make 25% of your wardrobe, and all forms of creating garments are allowed: sewing, knitting, weaving, crochet, etc.  I have to admit that I was a little hesitant at first; 25% sounds like a lot of clothes when I consider my closet and dresser.  Am I over-committing myself to a project that I will burn out on once my work picks up again in the fall? And what does 25% of my wardrobe even mean?  What do I want it to mean?  What do I want to get out of this?  What do I want to learn?  How do I want to change?  

Cutting out Violet #2
Another Violet shirt, this time out of midweight cotton from a discount store in Anaheim.

I decided to join after doing some thinking.  Yes, 25% of my wardrobe feels like a lot, but that's primarily because I have lots of clothing that I don't wear.  Some of these items just aren't for everyday (pantyhose and strapless party dress, I'm looking at you).  I have no guilt or anxiety about hanging onto these items or having purchased them instead of making them.  Some of them are for everyday, and I'm holding onto them for slightly sentimental reasons even though I don't wear them.  This category includes clothing items that were gifts but don't quite fit my style, band t-shirts purchased at concerts out of commemoration, and clothing that used to fit but is a little too small these days.  Some (maybe most) of these items should probably go to the donation bin.  So one of the things I'm hoping to get out of my participation in Seam Allowance is to make more conscious decisions about my wardrobe, and thus keep it to a manageable size.  Kristine suggested that 25% could mean that we have enough handmade clothing to wear one handmade item every day.  I still haven't quite decided what I want 25% to mean, but I think I'd like to define a core set of clothing items that are in "regular rotation" (i.e., they get worn at least once every two weeks, or something like that) and have 25% of my regular rotation items be handmade. 

I also have several goals involving body image that are tied up in Seam Allowance, but I'll write more about those later because they really deserve their own post.  

Oh, and I'm counting all my handknit socks, too.  

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