Saturday, January 11, 2014

the best excuse for a whole new wardrobe

I have twenty days. 

You see, on the night of January 31st, I will pack away all of my clothing. For an entire year, I will commit myself to wearing only clothing that I can make. 
Crazy? Yes. Fun? You bet. 

Only twenty days to sew a new wardrobe from scratch, or at least, enough clothing to survive until I can sew more. Between bills, housework, cooking, shopping, cleaning, and caring for our 15-month old, it will be a challenge. As I told my husband, I may end up brining back the toga. Or whatever you like to call fashionably draped sheets. 

Ironing 10 yards of muslin is mind-numbing. Best done while drinking.

The Concept:

Last year, I got into costuming. The Italian Renaissance, to be exact. Without patterns and with the interwebs as my guide (specifically, The Anea Files), I constructed clothing to wear to historical re-enactment events. I found myself wishing I could wear the dresses all the time, proud of my handiwork and the suprising functionality of the clothes. With the pressure of being "naked" at an event, I found the motivation to sew that had hitherto escaped me. I purchased yards and yards and yard of fabric. My fabric hoarderdom reached new heights.

Learning how to draft my own patterns by trial and error.
The striped blue dress. I love this thing!

The cream dress. One of my first.

And so, the thought struck me one evening last week, while crocheting..."What would it be like to wear only the clothing I could make?" I've always loved costuming. But what if I make things to wear every day? Is it even feasible?

As resolutions go, this is one I want to take on. More fun than starving myself, making lists of things I should be doing, or feeling guilty about abstract concepts.

Plus, it means more fabric shopping! Yay! I'm going to have to illustrate myself as a dragon hoarding my bolts and bolts of fabric. My dragon name would be Weft, I'd be rainbow grey, and... Okay, wait. Focus.

The Exceptions...

I have some caveats for myself. So I can still have fun with this project and not stress.
1. I can make clothing from existing items if I substantially change the design. Like turning an old sweater into Swants! Taking a too-large dress and turning it into a clever romper, or making a dress out of an old button-down shirt. The key here is substantial change.

3. I can wear the shoes and socks I already own. I'm already going to look enough like a Afghan Lady without wearing slippers everywhere, too.
4. Stockings and hose are also okay. Gotta keep those legs warm. 
5. Jewelry is also acceptable. I'm a girl. I like to be pretty. Much of my jewelry were gifts from my lovely husband or acquired during our travels. They're tiny memories I can wear and feel good about.
6. Athletic performance gear is also okay. Where I live, the temperatures can dip down to Yeti range (see: stupid cold). If I, by some great victory of willpower, want to go for a run, I'm going to wear the clothing that will do the job best. This may also motivate me to work out. "Only my athletic clothes are clean? Ugh. I guess that means I have to go for a run so I can wear clothes today."
2. I can wear undergarments that are manufactured. As all the fashion people say, a decent wardrobe is nothing without a good foundation. My skills are getting better, and I'd like to experiment with making my own skivvies, but for now I'm going to leave it to the pros. Or at least Hanes. 

Everything else...I must make! For one year, February to February. I'm going to do my best to document the process, so others can feel inspired as well, to create their own wardrobe. One of the greatest pleasures in life is to create. You don't have to be a famous artist or designer to be a maker.


Will this project save me money? In a world where JoAnn's didn't have fantastic sales, yes. You might save money if you simply reused what you already own, or could get for free from friends and Freecycle. 

Anyone can buy a tee shirt at an outlet store for $1.00. Driving to the store, buying the fabric, thread, needles; the time spent sewing a teeshirt, none of these could possibly beat $1.00. Yet, someone, somewhere got paid less than a living wage to make that shirt. Are their lives better for their jobs, even though they are paid terribly? You tell me.

What will I learn? To be more careful when I eat. Seriously. If I spent hours making something, chances are I'm going think twice before eating with the sloppy zeal I usually exhibit. I'll also learn how to construct the items that I take for granted. There may even be less laundry to do! Ooo!

Each month, I'll try to focus on a particular skill like buttonhole making, pleating, etc. so that I can broaden and improve my skills as a semptress (that's a seamstress who is also a temptress, fyi). 

What if I fail? What if I cheat one day and wear regular clothing? Well, the world will keep spinning. And, to quote Aaliyah, I'll just dust myself off and try again.

Musical interlude time! Here's to new goals and making cool stuff. 


  1. I love this idea and I'm relieved to read the exceptions! I'm looking forward to your documentation! Mama

  2. i was basically just going to say exactly what your mom said, haha! excited to see what you make!! (i wish i could be a semptress too. i have a sewing machine, but i'm kind of scared of it and don't really have the patience or something to do a really great job sewing stuff. for instance, jeff got me a quilt kit for christmas two years ago and it's still not's super janky but about as simple as it gets. sigh.) anyway, go you!! :)

    1. Elinacre, you should totally rock out that sewing machine. I basically learned how to use mine from the instruction manual that came with it. Trial and error is fun! I just like to modify existing clothes for quick and fun projects. Quilts can be kind of daunting; took me like 6 months to finish the one I made for my husband and it was as simple as quilts get. Thank you for your encouragement!