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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Monday, August 27, 2012

Semi-perfect shirt and less than perfect shopping


My first look at the Perfect T looked pretty good - shoulder was right - but I clearly chose the wrong size. This is a small with the dart version and the FBA addition in width working along to the bottom. It is too big on me.

I don't always say something is too big, and a small at that (my full bust measurement is in fact a medium in this pattern) so it is back to the drawing board and an extra-small (ha) and the plain front without the bust dart.

To be fair to this pattern the fabric is very fine and this makes it look even more drapey - you can see that by the print from my skirt showing through.

However I do love this knit and have more of it. It's a hemp knit and so soft you could dress a newborn in it. This particular T shirt has a happy future life as a top half of some pajamas for sure. 

I am going to have another go at this pattern for a potential TNT T shirt.

Stay tuned. 

And if I'm not giving up on this pattern you shouldn't either. At least not yet.

On another note I had a super busy day and in the middle of it decided that I needed a treat. 

So I took myself off to the mall - it has been a year since I have done that- and decided to see what was out there in basic work sweaters.

Being in the stores sort of weirded me out.

I make my own clothes and put a lot of time and far too much thought into having clothes that I like and feel good in. It takes time (see above work in process).

But the stores.

The expensive jackets made from fabric of a quality I wouldn't waste my sewing time on. Tops that were too short and too wide - not much that shaped like me. The same colours everywhere and not my colour.

No choices.

Sales ladies who thought I was too fussy, nothing that gave me the rush I get from shopping for good fabric, nothing that I wanted to touch.

In the end I got three simple pullovers, the most boring basics but something I can wear as backdrops to the nice clothes I can make myself and I stood at the counter paying and thought "This isn't my culture, I don't feel like I belong here."

In the end the only shopping shopping I like doing is online, a throwback to the old catalogues of my youth, when I can take my time.

Question for you.

How do you feel about clothes shopping?

Where do you go for basics when you want to buy them?


BetsyV said...

I feel so negatively about shopping for clothes that the only items I buy are hosiery and underwear. I can't even snoop shop for styles/trends/colors. I don't enjoy buying shoes, either, because I don't find shoes very comfortable. Sadly, I haven't figured out how to make my own shoes. Everything else I wear, I can make.

Jodie said...

When I'm looking for basics I usually hit Marks Work Wearhouse or sometimes Joe Fresh (that's superstore brand here in Alberta). They often have basic styles that work well with the items I've sewn. I'm a home ec teacher and work in a commercial kitchen, so bleach is a fact of life. I hate to put $$$ into something (that frequently isn't worth it) to then drip bleach down (always manages to MISS my apron). I will say, Joe Fresh fits small (and I am a small).
Good luck - I hate going to the mall too.

Dawn said...

Mark's work Wearhouse or Northern Reflections if I'm desperate for a simple T I haven't time to make. Maybe Sears. Maybe Cleo.

I, too am working on perfecting the perfect T.

I discovered that the famous McCalls Maxi this summer makes a GREAT tank. There are more of those in my future.

Maureen Cunningham said...

I have also been working of the perfect T, I ultimately decided to ease the dart instead of sewing it and that worked pretty good. Overall the fit was way too big for me, so I just copied from one of my t's that I like.

Belinda said...

I hate shopping in dept stores or the mall anymore. Now that I know how to fit myself, I feel the world has opened up to me and I'm not limited any longer by what someone else thinks I should be wearing this season.

I've found my basic tee. Kwik Sew 3801, the one in red. It runs really large (I made a small) and had to raise the neckline and shoulders. I don't like showing that much skin. LOL. I've made it 4 times now and I'm tracing the pattern to chop it up for color blocking. it's too fun.

Shopping at a mall? No way!!!!

badmomgoodmom said...

I don't shop much RTW either.

I do buy basic t-shirts and exercise pants/shorts from Target, twin sets from JCPenny or Loehmann's, casual pants from Macy's or Lands' End (Sears) and dressier clothes from Studio 121 at Nordstrom.

The sales ladies at Studio 121 are so nice and know what will work for my figure, saving me time and frustration. They also introduced me to the concept of "walking (an item) around the closet". That is, you buy several items and go home to try them on with potential mates. Keep what works and return the others. (They prefer you return in a week or so, but don't have a firm return by date.)

It's not cheap, but the cost per wear is reasonable for the quality, fit and fabric. E.g. a silk blouse I bought last year came with beautifully-executed French seams throughout. Flawless stitching.

I don't buy much RTW, so I can splurge when I do.

Jeanneke said...

I am starting sewing classes in two weeks, to learn how to sew my own clothes!! Wow, that makes me so happy. Alway sewed my childrens' clothes and sometimes jeans for myself and my husband, but now the time has come to dress myself up:>)
Looking forward to all those purse and body fitting shirts and skirts...

Love your blog, your style; you always make me smile.
Thanks Barbara.
Greetings from Holland.


Catherine Daze said...

I hardly shop for clothes now; just underwear and t-shirts. The last t-shirt came from Uniqlo but I normally go to Marks and Spencer. I don't miss clothes shopping at all.

I probably ought to make t-shirts as well as everything else, but sewing time is too limited.

Anonymous said...

That is the reason why some 4 years ago I decided to learn how to sew my own clothes. RTW just wasnt good enough, nothing to chose from, wrong colors, fit terribly, sloppily made, poor fabric.. and waaay too expensive. One day I brought home a sewing machine and never looked back. Now I make at least 80% of my clothes, and like someone before me said the world has opened up for me!

Bunny said...

I abhor shopping unless it is in a fabric store where I could literally spend the day and my 401K. Clothes shopping is a necessary evil I occasionally put up with so I don't lose track of styles and fit issues like the current lengths. I feel this is necessary and marathon clothes try ons, as tedious as they can be, are enlightening. They give me much info I can then use in making my own clothes. I think we all need to do that seasonally.

As far as malls, mega yuk. I just hate traipsing through and much prefer running into and out of a stand alone store when I have to.

Bunny said...

Just back to add that the major mall near DD's was knocked down last year and replaced with two stand alone stores across the lot from each other and a small strip of three other big anchor type stores, all accessible from the outside only and directly from t he parking lot. Love it, run in, run out. I think malls are our next dinosaur.

LinB said...

I shop for underpants, pantyhose, bras (until I can finally perfect a sew-it-myself pattern), costume jewelry every decade or so, and my least favorite of all to shop for: footwear. It is more enjoyable to sew clothing that fits properly, of fabric that I have chosen, in the colors I prefer. I'd rather go barefooted all year, but that is just not practical because of weather, broken glass on sidewalks, asphalt parking lots after four months of glaring heat, etc.

Nancy McKenzie said...

I feel the same way shopping, and find that I just don't. I can't do it, and I hate the fact that my nieces spend way too much money on clothes they know are disposable, but they don't know anything about fabric or quality workmanship. I will buy t-shirts at the Gap because I like the fabric and they wash well. I prefer to shop at Guy Frenchie's because I get interesting stuff and jeans, often new with tags for under $5. Then if they prove to be disposable, I don't mind.

Chris said...

Hate RTW shopping - nothing fits me, it's all overpriced, etc. Just frustrating.

I'm working on a TNT Tee pattern, also. I went to ePatterns.com (by Wild Ginger) and downloaded their Tee Shirt Pattern for $5.

I haven't sewn it up yet, but hopefully it should fit pretty well, since it's drafted to my specific measurements, which I entered.

Joyce in NC said...

I do not like shopping for RTW. I very seldom go to the mall. I usually park near the store I need to enter and come directly back out to my car. Shopping is such a disappointment for me. The clothes never fit me well so I sew my own garments. I will order online for my undies, shoes, hosiery and a few casual wear pieces.

Mary said...

I don't like shopping for clothes either. I am petite and many petite fashions only come in "sporty" styles. I live in a rural area and we do not have a mall, or even a clothing store, so I am never tempted to try again. I do hit stores when traveling but almost always look at boutique type fashion.

Lyrique said...

I hate shopping. If there's anything in plus size, it's dowdy and looks cheap. I, too, enjoy beautiful fabric and style. I have the sense now that stores are marketing enterprises that are designed to play on my visual senses and separate me from my money. They don't "speak" to me anymore.

ReadyThreadSew said...

I haven't bought a single RTW outer-wear item yet this year. Last year I bought a few sweaters because I can't sew them (I don't want to knit) which will last me a few years. The only items I've bought new this year have been knickers, two pairs of shoes, and a couple of belts. If I worked I might feel differently because I have no real desire to sew tailored items, but because I slob around at home I like to slob around in pretty dresses and comfortable separates that I sew for myself.

Pearl said...

Ugh...on the dislike scale, clothes and shoe shopping are tied! When I do need to buy clothes, I find Talbots my best bet. Their Signature line pants fit me pretty well, and their sweaters are okay as well. I'll also hit up Marks Work Wearhouse for sweaters, although the construction quality isn't as good as Talbots...

Oh to have enough time to sew my own wardrobe!!!

Lisa Laree said...

About the only thing I buy regularly from RTW is undies and blue jeans (and my last blue jeans shopping trip was unsuccessful; gotta get my Jalie jeans pattern traced/fitted...). I do check sales from time to time and have found a few things from the local Coldwater Creek shop because I can try them on first (I don't order from the website; the fit is just not consistent enough) but by-and-large I just can't seem to find RTW that makes me happy. I even sent back two sweaters from my last Lands' End order because the knit was so awful; not only was it nearly obscenely transparent, but it also felt like cardboard. 'Fabric I wouldn't waste my sewing time on' indeed!!

ChickenFreak said...

Am I too late to answer? I recently went shopping and learned that sewing has set my standards to the point where no dress cheaper than the fifteen hundred dollar designer things, at the shop that had nothing to offer anyone larger than a size eight, looked decently made to me. Those were fun to examine, but there is nothing in my size or price range that I'd want. My skill is far from my ambitions, but it's growing.