In the last couple weeks I've been really excited to read the posts and their comments about the conflicts people feel about the "hand-made-ness" of the clothes they make. Not because I'm happy that people are feeling conflicted, but because I have been having the same internal debate with myself for almost as long as I have been making clothes.
It's a state of mind I get into when I have to reconcile my accepted notions of quality, handmade vs. machine made, with what I (and my culture) thinks is a reasonable investment of time, money and energy for the product. I am used to making these calculations as a consumer buying a piece of clothing. But, when I become both the producer and the consumer--and know all the sordid details of my labor--I can get really conflicted ! Add in my feelings about disposable clothing, desire, money etc. etc, and it's rather overwhelming.
For example, I'm getting tired of wasting time searching for pants that fit, so I decided to sacrifice a pair of well-fitting and well-worn Ann Taylor pants, unpick the seams and make a master pants pattern. To test the pattern, I used some inexpensive (5/yd?) twill from JoAnn's to make some pedal pushers.
Everything was pretty straight-forward and efficient until it came time to put in the zipper/fly.
I had directions from a Burda pattern and a book on tailoring pants that I just couldn't decipher, so I spent a lot of time looking at the original, pinning, basting, ripping. The quality of the fabric is lower than most RTW fabric. When I had to rip, it became apparent that the fabric was not yarn-dyed so that parts of the undyed threads were noticeable. Eventually, after about 2 hours, I was happy to have made this.
At the leg opening, I had planned on making buttonholes, but I decided to just try and finish quickly so I tacked them shut with buttons and did some topstitching.
Not only was the double topstitching a bit imperfect, the width isn't the standard so it looked odd to me a first. And then I got to thinking why should a difference of a few millimeters between top stitching look "wrong" just because it is not what our eye is used to seeing on mass-produced clothing? And would I have ever noticed if I wasn't inspecting my own handwork for errors?
Logically, I know that I should quickly make another pair of pants using the same method to nail down that fly-opening/waistband technique so subsequent pairs will go faster.
But the self-critic in my mind says I shouldn't "waste" any more time idly puttering with pants.
The judge adds that I make too many errors.
The consumer is pissed that my fabric choices are so crappy.
But the seamstress-- fickle woman of desire--she desperately wants to try one of the vintage patterns I found at a garage sale last weekend!!!