Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Clothing Construction

In my first semester of college, a class I was taking was cancelled at the last minute. Because it was a four credit class, it put me under the required credit hours to maintain my financial aid. A friend told me she was taking a class called Clothing Construction; it, too, was a four credit class and would fit into my schedule. Being a much more timid person, then, I just enrolled.

Oh, man, did I hate that class. They put a fancy name on it, but, it was really just sewing. My mom had taught me the basics. I had made a few dresses and skirts before I left home. I thought I would be okay, but I was wrong. The women who taught the class were kind, but strict about sewing detail. Every day, I was frustrated and discouraged. I learned, but begrudgedly. Somewhere along the way, things got easier. By the end of the semester, no longer screamed at the machines and enjoyed looking at my pile of completed projects.

Though I still do not love sewing, I can do it fairly well. I have learned to make outfits without a pattern, so, with a little ingenuity, I can make clothes for nearly nothing. My husband bought me a $200 machine for my birthday the first year we were married. He wondered if it would pay for itself and I assured him it would. It makes it possible for me to be incredibly thrifty. Here are a few examples:
  • I mended clothing for a consignment shop

  • I've never purchased curtains

  • Once, my sister-in-law gave me two old bridesmaid dresses and I made my girls' Easter Dresses out of them.

  • The next year I made three sailor dresses and a skirt for me with one navy blue twin size sheet. Including trimming, they cost a total of $11.

  • Lots and lots of Pajamas. In fact, I am wearing a homemade nightgown right now. My daughter's flannel sheets got a big tear in them, so I cut around it and made myself the warmest, softest flannel nightgown.

  • Costumes galore.

  • I made the cutest skirt from an embroidered pillowcase, once.

  • Endless mending and alterations make clothes last longer and fit better.

  • An on, and on, and on.

Long story short, never has any purchase or class paid better dividends. I have fun coming up with new uses for old materials--tablecloths, sheets, retiring or outdated clothes, and extra buttons.

I'm going to make ivory-colored gauzy dresses for Easter this year. I'll take pictures.


  1. You are really a seamstress if you've made all of those wonderful things! I have a serger & a sewing machine & I once sewed quite a lot - especially baby quilts & crafts. I can't imagine a college level sewing class!!! Scary.

    I sewed hats for snowmen fireplace screens & made a lot of money doing it. Now, I haven't used my machine in over a year. It needs to be serviced & it always seems to be such a hassle - maybe this can be my anti-procrastination activity this month.

  2. Oh, No! I am not a seamstress! I am not a perfectionist and I think you have to be, to be a seamstress.

    Way to go, making money with the snowman thing. You always have been talented at the cute/crafty. I've mostly saved money with the sewing. You've actually earned it!

  3. hmmm. Well, another option is to live near or keep favor's in the favor bank from people who not only own a sewing machine, but also know how to use it.