McCall's 7313 and Thoughts About Sewing

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First a bit of personal news... I finished all of my academic requirements to apply for the CPA exam!!!! This came as a surprise to me because I thought I had 2 more semesters left. I was so surprised that I emailed the evaluation agency to ask, "Are you sure?!" They confirmed that it was true.


So, after sitting around like a bump-on-a-log, decompressing, for a week after my last classes, I unpacked my sewing supplies and got back into the swing of things. McCall's 7313 came just at the right time. I needed a quick, gratifying make to reignite my enthusiasm.

Following my recent trend, I made this dress out of a Girl Charlee cotton/spandex blend and - holy cow - it feels amazing! I have another yard of this yummy goodness and I might make pajamas out of it. It is that soft!

I wish I had a sewing disaster to share with you because they always make great stories, but I don't! This came off without a hitch.

I did alter the pattern a bit. It called for an elastic waistband. After consulting my community of makers, we all agreed it wasn't necessary. I decided to take in the top and skirt about an inch on both sides and eliminate the elastic. I think it gives the dress a cleaner look (and it's certainly more comfortable!).

A few people have asked about how I managed such a great finish on the neckline. I honestly think that dumb luck has a lot to do with it, but here's my process: I serge the raw edge, turn under 1/2" with Wonder Clips, and finish with a twin needle. Using this process, I've never had any issues with puckering.

I absolutely love this dress. Even my husband, who never has much to say about my sewing habit, says that this is the "most beautiful dress" that I've made. That is a high compliment coming from him. I think I need at least two more...

I'm assuming you sew - or have an interesting sewing - if you're here. I often think about WHY I sew as I'm working through these projects. Here are three hard truths:
  • Clothing is never perfect. Even ready-to-wear (RTW), designer garments have flaws - seams that are a little wonky... hems that might wave a bit... slight differences in fit. It's just the human influence of the process. If you've never sewn, I challenge you to pull out a few of your favorite items and closely examine them - you'll see what I mean.
  • Custom sewing is a slow process. If you want it to be right, it takes time. Many talented makers create a test garment, called a muslin, before even cutting into their "real" fabric. Yes - they make the pattern twice. There is nothing worse than working hard on a garment, only to find that it doesn't fit when it's complete. I once considered myself a lazy maker, but I've come to realize that sewing is only worth doing if the end result is something you can be proud of (and wear!).
  • Sewing is expensive! No one sews to "save" money. Even time carries a value. With the exception of a few recent projects, I'd say the average make takes me 4-5 hours from start to finish - longer if there is handwork required. I'm slow and careful. If I assign a minimal value on my time - say $10 an hour - and I have $20-$40 (or more!) invested in fabric, I have a finished garment that costs $60-$100. Depending on the project, it could be more or less.
So, why-the-heck do I do it?! It it truly for the love of the craft.

Here's what else I know to be true - custom garments fit in ways that RTW can't, giving them an expensive look and feel. People take notice of what you're wearing when it's well-made. Even strangers approach me on days that I'm wearing "me-made." They want to know where they can purchase or how they can steal it from me. There are a lot of reasons to feel good about wearing clothing you've made, including avoiding some of the fashion industry's ethical issues.

I'd love to hear from you - why do you sew? If you don't sew and are interested in starting, what do you find appealing about the process?