Sewing, learning to Sew

What skills to learn, what tools to get
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BlueNote
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Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by BlueNote »

Is this DIY worthwhile? I have sewn the odd button back on a shirt or coat. The work I did was sort of just good enough but far from high quality. It seems to me like this skill requires some experience to do a nice job. Wondering if anyone sews their own clothing and think that the skill is worth it vs simply buying replacement clothes?

jacob
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by jacob »

Replacing buttons/darning tears: worthwhile. Clothes will last a long time that way. Not much skill required.
Sewing your own shirts and pants: not worthwhile.

If, however, you wear stuff that you'd otherwise spend $500-2000 on. Then worthwhile! Quite a bit of skill (1-2 years) required here.

Summary: If you're competing with consumer-grade off-shore imports, it's not worthwhile. It's pretty hard to beat thrift stores given how generous consumers tend to subsidize such by throwing away practically new clothes.

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Sclass
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by Sclass »

I have used my sewing machine in a few cases to save money.

Many specialized sporting goods accessories are over priced. Like surfboard covers or ski binding covers. Ski gaiters. Gun socks. Custom fitted drapes. Canvas umbrella covers for my picnic table in patterns I like. Covers for my kayaks that I store outdoors. They just don't have the volume to mass produce them with little kids in some third world country so they are expensive for what they are. Check out this silly bike cover.

http://www.bikemania.biz/skinz-rear-tra ... tc100.html

Or how about one of these. Easy to make but ripoff from an online vendor.

http://store.58cycle.com/MOOSE_RACING_3 ... aQod5MYEBQ

Aww man, I really wanted these for my motorcycle. Silly things to sew up.

http://www.happy-trail.com/Mojave-Soft- ... p-Bag.aspx

Ripoff price and easy to make if you have some basic sewing skills.

I also like buying high quality second hand clothing that isn't my size and altering it to fit. You can also pull some dimensions in and update an older style to look more current. (Bell bottoms to straight or tapered leg pants come to mind). That has saved me bundles in the past. For example I altered a dated tuxedo in school to attend a formal. It can work for you.

Otherwise I agree with Jacob. Look at my DIY beanbag chair. I guess I got to pick the fabric so that was nice but it was not a money saver. I would have been better off buying imported trash. Oddly I spent an hour building a pump to stuff the beans into the bag because they flew out faster than I could put them in when they became statically charged. A total time waster.

dalralmi
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by dalralmi »

If you like doing it then it is definitely worthwhile and a great way to make extra money. Being short knowing how to hem and dart has come in super handy. I also find it fun to make quilts doe extra pillow cases and such. Making my own clothes I don't think I'd try, but making corn hope bean bags or other oddities that people might buy has always been fun. Also why I knit and crochet and the like.

Sewing can be rewarding in general and can keep costs down to give your home a new look like upholstery and such. Sewing has many more applications than clothes and most are on basic levels. I also can charge my friends a little les to alter their clothes which makes things nice.

If you don't enjoy seeing though it can be a real hassle and isn't really much of a money saver if you only use it occasionally for the missing button or torn shirt.

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Sclass
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by Sclass »

Yeah clothes are tough. I had an uncle who made dresses. He taught my cousin and they sewed some awesome clothing but it required a ton of skill to design the patterns and actually make clothes. They had serging machines, dedicated double stitch machines and all kinds of nice fabric scraps. I was inspired by my cousin to learn sewing but I never made my own clothes. I basically make bags and covers. That skill goes a long way towards saving money.

In grad school I decided to make a pair of pants. It was the last pair of pants I made. My friend lent me a pair of nylon rain pants. I made patterns out of newspaper. It was a big educational experience. Duh, like the butt side of the pants needs to be more voluminous than the front? And how exactly do you create that effect when all linear edges need to match in length? Fun stuff for an engineer playing hookey. I got a few yards of premium Goretex and made the most awesome ski pants I'd ever owned over two days and a sleepless night. In those days good Goretex pants cost hundreds of dollars. China was just coming online. Good outdoor gear was still made in little shops in Berkeley.

Clothes are hard. And they are so cheap at Target and Marshalls...or Goodwill.

BlueNote
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by BlueNote »

So in summary current economics make sewing your own designs mostly uneconomical. However relatively simple things like buttons, darning, hemming, resizing, small alterations can be quite economical when used on already owned or cheap used clothing.

saving-10-years
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by saving-10-years »

In general I agree although its very worthwhile knowing how to make or adapt curtains or other soft furnishings (covers, bags, cushions). These are basic skills. You can also modify and improve items.

Example, my friend had a leather jacket that he loved with thin lining which had worn out (holes/tears). A new mutual friend was spotted wearing the same jacket but with a higher quality lining that also had inside pockets. Where did he get it? New friend explained that he bought a coat from a jumble sale (modern equivalent would be garage sale?) and he cut and sewed the lining from this to replace the one in his jacket. This was the guy that I later married. No wonder and no wonder that he 'gets' ERE.

inchicago
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by inchicago »

I think it's a very useful skills to know how to patch up a hole or sew on a button. I work with a guy that every time his button gets loose or falls off, he takes it to the dry cleaner for $7. It takes a whole 5 minutes to sew on a new button! Years ago at a previous job, I taught a large group on how to sew buttons on and basic knitting. We did this at lunch every week for about 6 months.

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Sclass
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by Sclass »

I have been doing alterations again. I notice there are a lot of large Under Armour shirts for sale on eBay that are too loose for the owner and hence getting dumped. I've bought several L shirts cheap and notice L means many different chest measurements. I guess it has to do with the sport you buy the UA top for. Most are too loose for me.

So I bring in the sides and shrink down the sleeves a bit. They look great after I'm done.

Much cheaper than buying new. Some had school and business logos. I'm not too picky about this stuff. I may sew another patch over some of the tacky ones. Or I'll just wear them.

Really easy with my sewing machine. I only kept one machine when I moved. This compact.
http://www.ashleyandthenoisemakers.com/ ... -sp-review

It's the size of a lunch box so I don't mind keeping it for alterations.

Myakka
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by Myakka »

Sewing and clothes making is extremely useful if you are someone like me who the stores just seem to have an adversion to making clothes that fit right -- and oh you hate fashion on top of that too.

I'd rather make it, than hunt through shops for it. And when I make it I learn alot about how to repair it, too.

ertyu
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by ertyu »

Coming back to this thread because after a couple of months working on sewing, repairs, etc., I have come to disagree with many of the arguments above.

The gist of what I disagree with goes like this: learning to sew (here standing in for general fiber craft proficiency above and beyond simple repairs and alterations) isn't worthwhile because at second hand stores or online, quality clothes are available for extremely cheap. It is much more efficient to buy quality second hand.

I have come to think that sewing, etc. is worthwhile precisely because second hand textiles are available for so cheap. People also leave lots of clothes curbside. Thus, at least in my location, textiles are one of the cheapest and most plentiful raw materials you can acquire.

Why does this matter?

1. Textiles can be used to solve a variety of problems above and beyond clothing oneself. Examples: I used curbside find materials + youtube tutorials to make myself a laptop sleeve w zipper, a water bottle sleeve, a pair of house slippers, a padded headphone pouch w zipper, a pencil case (also zipper) etc. Working on quilted phone pouch now. While being able to make these is not directly related to being able to construct my own clothes, it *is* related to understanding how to work with fabric. All I needed to purchase to make these were some thread and some sewing needles (no machine). The padding of various pouches + slippers was all curbside finds. The soles of my slippers are cut out from someone's discarded pleather jacket. The zippers from that jacket have been salvaged and used in various pouches.

This was absolutely the cheapest way to solve the problems of protecting my technology and my feet. There are other ways: youtube leatherworkers appear to work miracles, jacob has made a wooden phone case, etc. Redundancy in skill is good.

2. Textiles can be used to augment and reinforce other textiles, thus reducing heating bills. Examples: I found a quality cashmere sweater curbside. It was discarded because the moths had been at it. After throwing it into the wash and thus felting the hell out of it, I will now cut 2 pairs of thick woollen winter socks from it (google fleece sock tutorials). These will go on top of my regular socks in winter. I could have solved this problem by purchasing quality new, but second hand solutions to the thick feet warming socks in particular are not easily solved by shopping directly. I have solved the problem using almost no resources. Again, all tools I need for this project are a pair of scissors, a needle, and some thread. (While on the topic of scissors, thank you people who toss away pieces of aluminium foil. I will use them to sharpen my scissors.)

Example 2: scored a cheap autumn jacket. It's made of some fabric similar to army clothes - olive green, you know the deal. Looks sturdy, but isn't particularly warm. My next project will be to fashion a lining for it from curbside finds and second hand store finds of, for instance, sweatshirts or sweaters which are warm but may not necessarily fit.

3. Facility in working with textiles easily transfers to leather working, and leather working is undeniably, objectively awesome. (Long live all dudes - and the occasional lass - who have shot various making-of videos and have put them on youtube. It's awesome.) Thus ability to work with textiles and understanding how to use them as raw material is a good "gateway skill"
Last edited by ertyu on Mon Oct 19, 2020 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Sclass
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by Sclass »

:lol:

horsewoman
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by horsewoman »

I totally agree with that! Learning to sew clothes from scratch is not really a super valuable skill since there is such an overabundance of clothes in this world.
What you are doing is mending and repurposing clothes - that is a very worthwhile endeavour, which I would recommend for everybody.
I have a large drawer of reclaimed zippers, buttons, bag straps, ribbons.... And seldom need to buy anything for my little projects.

ertyu
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by ertyu »

Don't laugh at me Sclass, cutting up and repurposing sweatshirts that are too small is way, way easier than losing weight :lol:

And horsewoman, I appear to be starting a drawer like this myself :lol:. Do not yet have a cookie tin filled with sewing supplies, I feel like if I get one that would be a momentous event. A leveling up :lol:

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Sclass
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by Sclass »

:lol: with you not at you.

horsewoman
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Re: Sewing, learning to Sew

Post by horsewoman »

It's never too late to start a "dead grandma sewing box" :) or drawer!

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