I recently bought a new hat. It’s handmade by my friend Jessica, and i snapped it up right away when she launched her Etsy store. I’ve long admired the hats she creates for herself, and was excited to finally have one for myself.
When it arrived my jaw dropped.
It’s definitely the best quality hat i’ve ever owned, everything about it is carefully created and artfully made with great attention to detail. Every time i wear it people (literally) yell at me “i love your hat!”
It got me thinking about handmade. Buying handmade, and creating handmade pieces myself. How people perceive handmade items versus what the reality of what they are.
There can be this odd perception with hand crafted items that they are lower quality, cheaper and easy to create. It’s amazing how far from the truth that is!
It comes down to quality
I love handmade items. The craftsmanship is at a completely different level than what you find in most retail stores. I love looking at my wardrobe and seeing that the items i have carefully stitched for myself have well outlasted the items i purchased from stores. When i make Bunny or Buddy a costume, it lasts years – when i buy one, i’m lucky if it doesn’t start falling apart before the afternoon arrives.
Take this skirt for example. It wasn’t cheap by any means. Think of the all the tools and machines that were used, the notions, the interfacing, the lining, the silk brocade fabric. I’m not even counting the hours i spent behind my sewing machine, the cutting, pinning, pressing and hand sewing. I shudder at what the total would be if i added up the costs. So was it worth it? OF COURSE. When i see this skirt hanging in my wardrobe i can’t help but smile. I love everything about it, even down to the facing on the waistband. I know it will be with me for years. It will last through washes, and school runs, and getting in and out of the car, and tiny people with sticky hands.
On being unique
The reason sewing has always been a constant love in my life, is because at the end of the day i like to be unique. I have a very specific idea in my mind of what i want to wear, and i can never find that in a store. When i sew i can make the style i want, in the fabrics i want, with the finishes i want.
Fussy people unite! If you want something done right, do it yourself. Or in this case, make it yourself :)
Surely we’ve all been in the situation where you walk into a room and you’re wearing the exact same outfit as someone else? What if that never ever happened again. I know. Amazing. I love that about sewing. Everyone can be their own special snowflake hehe
The lack of ethics in the garment industry has been at the forefront of the media for quite some time, and yet… not much has really changed. That breaks my heart.
I love to eat meat and eggs… but i desperately care about animal welfware. Thankfully, i can buy these directly from the farmers themselves – so i can stand in front of them and look them in the eye and ask – how do you treat your cows? where do your hens live? What do you mean when you say free range? And walk away knowing everything about the food i am about to eat.
We don’t get that luxury with retail clothing. Most brands won’t tell you – and you’re left hoping that what you’ve purchased wasn’t made by a child in a sweatshop. (It probably was).
When you buy handmade or make something yourself, you know where it comes from. You see the person behind it (even if its you).
Positive body image
The way we as women see our bodies, and how others talk about our bodies is always a hot topic – but here is where i believe makers have the advantage.
When you make something for yourself, to your own measurements, you’re making something that fits. That works for your body. You know what works on your body! You OWN your measurements. You’re not standing in a store trying on three different sizes to see which looks best, and wishing that miraculously your legs were longer. Instead: you start with your body, and you go from there. That’s control.
You can take any sewing pattern and adjust it to your body. There is nothing wrong or bad about your body, it’s all numbers, and if the numbers are different you can make adjustments! Your tape measure isn’t judging you, you are judging your tape measure. You don’t need to conform to a standard, you make the standard conform to you. I find that incredibly liberating.
Back to this skirt – when i put it on I feel great because it is made to my measurements and fits perfectly. There is no size label staring at me and reminding me that I’m 31, and I’ve had 3 children and I’m not the same size i was when i was 18. NO. When i put it on i see my favourite fabric, that i bought with my husband in Paris. A carefully inserted zip, and a waistband facing made from fabric with pattern pieces printed on it. I don’t feel intimidated by my own clothing, because i created it.
Be a maker and support the makers
So at the end of the day, what I’m saying is – I believe in buying handmade for the very same reasons as i believe in making handmade.
I believe in making, and supporting the makers.
So to all the makers out there, this is my ode to you. Keep on being awesome.
[Make this look]
Maker tee: Megan Nielsen // Get it here
Skirt: Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt // Get the sewing pattern + similar fabric
Hat: Jessica Quirk // Stars and Field
Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens
Necklace: Merl Kinzie // Clydes Rebirth