Earlier this week, I released my pattern for the Classic Palm Glove, and some of you may be wondering… why? It’s a tricky project which many people probably hadn’t considered sewing for themselves. Here’s a few reasons I think it’s worthwhile:
Mass-produced gloves usually don’t come in a range of sizes
I have teeny hands with short fingers, so those “one-size-fits-all” gloves from the costume shop leave me with floppy fingertips and wrinkly wrists… but as an (occasional) aerialist I’ve got kinda beefcake upper arms, so the hem is often snug despite the roomy hand. Even if you only need to shorten the fingers or make seemingly simple alterations, retrofitting an existing pair of RTW gloves is a bit more trouble than it’s worth and likely to result in lumpy results. If your paws are smaller or larger than average, a custom fit can make the difference between “elegant” and “kid’s Halloween costume”.
…or colours or styles
Black and white satin certainly have their place, but what if you have more colourful aspirations? I’ve been loving sheers lately, and I have my eye on some sweet polka-dots and prints. I’m also assembling a huge inspiration board for style hacks to tutorialize over the next few weeks – ruffles and bows and colour-blocking and keyholes and buttons and… you get the idea. When you start with a great basic pattern and get it fitting just right, you can then go style-wild.
You will challenge your cutting and sewing skills
It takes some patience, but working with really small tolerances is great practice for refining your accuracy in both cutting and stitching. I’m generally a bit of a speed demon at the sewing machine, but working with 3mm seam allowances and hairpin curves forced me to work more carefully and approach my projects with greater intention and mindfulness. As a result, I’ve noticed that 6mm lingerie seams now feel like a breeze and I have finally achieved a respectable stitch-in-the-ditch on my bias bindings.
It’s a great way to upcycle or stash-bust specialty knits
This pattern is not a fabric hog, so it’s perfect for making use of those sparkly sleeves you cut off a thrifted tunic, or the last scant half-metre of Swiss dot mesh that you really don’t need any more undies out of.
These days, if you can imagine an item, someone somewhere is probably selling it online… so why do we DIY-hard makers and crafters opt to create our own? The exact list of reasons varies from maker to maker, but here’s a few of my own personal motivations for making a mess in my creative studio:
I want to discover how things work
I’m generally a curious person, and I’ve rarely met a rabbit-hole I couldn’t trip and fall down when my interest in a topic is piqued. If I need or want The Thing, why not sneak in a little bonus hands-on learning while I’m at it?
I’m a bit of a control freak
The closer I can get to “from scratch”, the more I can control elements of a item’s journey that are otherwise often mysterious or sketchy when they come to me as a finished product. For example, when I cook meals from whole (or better yet, homegrown) ingredients, I can be confident that I know everything that goes into them and how it was prepared; when I make my own clothes, I’m less beholden to other people’s choices about labour conditions and supply chains.
I need something really specific
It can be tough to just grab something off the shelf when you’ve got a relatively niche need, like a body type or size that’s mostly ignored by your local mall, or inconvenient food intolerances, or tearing away your pants dramatically at exactly the right beat of the music.
A creative outlet improves my mental health
A glue gun certainly doesn’t cure chronic depression or anxiety, but oh damn do I ever notice it getting worse whenever I’m stuck going any length of time without making things. An engaging hands-on project provides my brain with something creative to obsess over, rather than a never-ending catalogue of ways that I suck.
I like the idea of being (relatively) self-sufficient
I like to joke that I want to be able to throw a post-apocalyptic wine and cheese party. I mean, sure, I’m not exactly equipped for total self-sufficiency in the event of the zombie uprising, but it’s nice to know that I have some basic taking-care-of-Maslow’s-hierarchy skills.
OK, this one… do recall, I said “motivation”, not “realistic outcome”. I grew up without a lot of financial resources, so doing it myself with whatever I had access to was often the clearest path to getting something I wanted (go-go boots) or needed (dinner). Sometimes this approach really does work out, especially when:
- I can use up or recycle materials that I already have on hand;
- I already have access to any tools and equipment I need; and/or,
- my time is more plentiful than my income.
On the other hand, sometimes I end up buying multiple power tools to build a “free” table out of salvaged wood. So… y’know.
There’s also the matter of what my point of reference is: if I just need a bra, any bra, to cover my nipples so that Instagram doesn’t ban me, I can almost certainly pick up something from a fast-fashion emporium for less than the cost of materials to make my own; on the other hand, if I’m comparing my hand-made, custom fit, one-of-a-kind upcycled silk lingerie to similarly “artisan” products, I’m probably coming out ahead. And that’s not even counting…