“Ann, we spend so much money on a dress that we’ll wear just once, but we cheap out on the things we wear every day.” – Antonina
Boy, did those words hit a nerve. When my friend Antonina said those words to me, I was agonizing over whether to buy a cashmere sweater. I thought, “My god, that’s a lotta money for a sweater.” I was putting the sweater back on the hanger to return to the rack. Her reasoning was that I’ll have that sweater forever, and I’ll get more than my money’s worth out of it. She’s absolutely right. I’ve already gotten my money back on it several times over. It’s gray, reversing to tan, so it goes with just about everything in my wardrobe. I throw it on whenever I get chilled. It’s as comfortable as a bathrobe, and in fact I bring it with me when I travel to wear as a light robe, in addition to its outer-wear duty. It’s long enough that I can use it as a travel blanket, and it’s heavenly soft. I love it, and I’m so glad she said that to me before I put the hanger back on the rack.
The same goes with clothing that I make for myself. I have to admit that when I walk into a clothing store these days, I look at just about everything and think, “Meh. I can make better.” Sewing for ourselves inherently enhances our appreciation of well-made clothing. We understand the appeal of a beautifully constructed, beautifully tailored piece of clothing, because we know the work that went into it. We are easily able to identify the cut corners and cheaping-out that goes into fast fashion clothing. 5mm stitch length? Not strong. 3-thread serging on seams? That’ll last a month, then become fodder for Goodwill and, ultimately, the landfill. Cheap plastic buttons that shatter in the dryer? It doesn’t surprise me.
I’m reading The Coat Route, by Meg Lukins Noonan. It’s a book about the making of a $50,000 bespoke overcoat. It’s a wonderful book, and as a passionate sewing gal, I find it to be a very soothing read. It really affirms what we sewing enthusiasts understand intrinsically – the time it takes to make something well is worth every moment we spend. It also serves up the contrast between the custom made vicuña coat, painstakingly constructed with details that are subtle yet telling, and the cheap, factory-made clothing that the author (rather more sheepishly as the book goes on) wears.
A sad coda to the story of this particular coat is that the button maker, James Grove & Sons, apparently closed last December.
Next up on the sewing table…
… are two things. I’m going to make a top with a brand new rayon jersey print that I just got in (I’ll put it up on Gorgeous Fabrics this week). I’ll probably make another StyleArc Ann Tee Top. I am sure the pattern was not named for me, but boy, it’s definitely my style! I’ll get that cut out and hopefully sewn up today, then I’m going to do my own Coat Route, using Marfy 3201. It’s a very Burberry coat. I’ll start cutting the muslin tonight or tomorrow. I wonder if I can find James Grove horn buttons online. It would be a poignant touch.
I just got a bolt of simply stunning red flannel. It’s tightly woven, but still lightweight, which will be perfect for this coat. I thought about bouclé, but with the cape, it would be too bulky. I’ll put the fabric up on the site tomorrow, and I’ll let you know when it’s up. The lining will be Squared Up Silk Charmeuse in red tones.
This will be fun. I haven’t made a coat in quite some time.
Finally, a reminder
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ladies, if you are over 40, please make sure to get an annual mammogram. They save lives. I’m coming up on my 4th anniversary, and they found my breast cancer thanks to my annual mammogram. No matter your age, please make sure you do a monthly self-exam. This is the most serious I ever get folks, so forgive my PSA, but it’s important.
And to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Gorgeous Fabrics will donate 10% of all cut fabric sales to the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center. That’s where I was diagnosed. The BCC provides care and support to tens of thousands of women in the greater Boston area, so you will really be making a difference to women who need it.