Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I have Standards; Who Knew?

It's funny, I've always been extremely critical of RTW. I'll go into a store and paw through the racks and find a design I like, only to discover a mis-matched plaid or a crooked seam and put it back, muttering about shoddy workmanship and lack of care and how can anyone expect me to pay money for that.

So why have I put up with some of these same things from myself? Why haven't I held myself to the same standards that I hold the "pros" to?

Sewing is something I've done since I was a kid, but only in the past few years have I taken it really seriously and understood that a lot of the work I admire is actually within my range if I'm willing to do it (i.e., my long refusal to deal with linings and invisible zippers, without which a lot of garments can't be completed properly). It was always about the process for me, and it didn't matter so much that I didn't wear my clothes all that often – I enjoyed making them.

I'm past that now. Why am I doing all that work, whether I enjoy it or not, to have to still go out and buy unsatisfactory retail when the clothes in my closet that I have made should be good enough?

In the last year I've turned out a few things that I want to wear, and a large number of things that I will wear quite happily, though not with the same glow of pride. I discovered something that actually makes me step it up, and while it's kind of silly, it's been working for me. I ordered a batch of labels last year, thinking that I should start sewing them in all this stuff I make.

Don't ask me why, but seeing my name on a garment makes me take it more seriously, like it's more real for some reason. I've found myself hesitating about sewing labels in work I'm not totally satisfied with, and even taking things apart and correcting mistakes that are only visible to me before I'm willing to mark the piece as mine. Interesting.

All this time, I thought I was objecting to the imperfections, but what I was really objecting to were the imperfections that someone was willing to put their name on and release out into the world.

So that's an addition to my resolution list: only sew things that I'm going to be proud to put my name on.

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