I saw a great post by Zoe at “So, Zo…What Do You Know?” on mass-produced vs. home made clothing. She’s taking back the term “home-made”:
“Many suppliers are fully aware, but do not care, that the garments they produce will not retain anything like their original appearance five or ten washes later. Most home sewers, by contrast, go out of their way to pick good quality fabric to invest their sewing time and effort into for a final garment (as opposed to a toile/muslin).”
I made this skirt over a year ago. Aside from routine mending it’s still a wardrobe staple. I used black bottom weight linen, an invisible zipper and a closely woven cotton voile to line it.
At the time I spent more than usual on fabric. I knew I was making a basic piece that would work with most of my wardrobe and I knew I would use durable construction techniques so I splashed out. (Even then, it cost roughly what I would spend on a generic “black skirt” if I could find one.)
The linen lost its “crisp” but aged well. The fabric has a gentle luster, smooth and cool to the touch. Rather than creasing sharply, it tends to rumple. I learned how much I enjoy wearing linen from wearing this skirt.
When picking fabric, I test for a few things:
- thread count- as a general rule, a tighter woven fabric with a higher thread count works well for shirts and bottoms and some dresses. Often, it will wear harder than “looser” fabrics with larger threads or more space between the threads.
- texture- some fabrics have texture woven into them- waffle weave or boucle. Often, highly textured fabrics don’t wrinkle as much as others. I like to rub those textures between my fingers before buying. “Harder” textures that don’t separate tend to last longer than “smooshier,” though not always.
- weave- Twill wins in my book for durability. The weave actually hides and repels stains, which is why it’s popular for work clothes and upholstery. Many types and weights of fabric come in a twill weave.
Bottom Line: The longer I can wear a garment, the less time and money I spend replacing holes in my wardrobe. Instead, I can focus on a little “slow sewing.” As I continue to sew for myself, I seek out new ways to extend the life of the garments I create. That begins with fabric selection.
How do you make your clothes? Do you have any durability or quality control tips to share?
(I’m trying the salt and lemon on my rust stain after reading Heather’s scientific breakdown. Many, many thanks for all the tips and advice on what to do about the Jasmine Dress. I’ll try them all if I have to!)