Saturday, March 24, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing

Today, I accomplished the things I set out to do last weekend:  I painted the windowsills;  I dead-wooded the herb garden; and I threw my clothes onto the bed for cross-examination.  My winter woolies were washed and if they ever dry they will be packed away clean and moth-free.
Then I opened the wardrobe storage drawer to perform the seasonal switchover.  Oh yay!  My white hooded t-shirt!  My  Pioneer sweater!  My ultraviolet Ginger!  But... hang on a minute... what's that other bag?  The really big one?  Oh my word - what a lot of clothes I've got!

I stood there for a minute, and took it in.  Maybe... just maybe my mother is not wrong.  She can't be right... but she is not actually wrong.  All that sewing I do has led to me having rather a lot of garments.  My usual retort to Grandma is that "Those are the only clothes I have!"  and that: "Some people go shopping every week and buy several items... I just make one thing a week, and not even every week!"

But after a few years of sewing... it adds up.  So I decided to be completely honest with myself and go through the heap item by item.

Do I like every single garment?  Answer:  NO.

Sandpiper Blouse

The Vicar's Wife Blouse
Which things don't I like?  And this was where it got really really interesting, because almost without exception, the unhappy items were the "doubles":

  • I love my Sandpiper Blouse but I don't love its sibling, the Vicar's Wife Blouse.  Too prissy.
  • My navy Eva Dress trousers are probably my favourite-est ever trousers... and yet the caramel pair made in the same size are too saggy-bottomed and drag me down.  FL thinks they are awful.  And he never audibly dislikes my sewing endeavours.
  • My purple dobby dot Simplicity 2501 blouse was worn to death until one wash too many left it bleached-out and limp... but Mark Two in black dobby dot with insane puffy sleeves is rarely worn... and has now been donated to The Girl's wannabe-steampunk collection!
  • My blue rose Liberty Sencha is my go-to Posh Meeting blouse, but the dark green Liberty Sencha is a poor relation, for no reason that I can identify.  It's...boring?
Sencha Number One
Sencha Number Two

And this, my friends, is why I have not joined in with this week's hot sewing sensation:  "One Week One Pattern".  I could easily have thrown my hat in the ring with the Ginger skirt pattern:  three times made and three times happy - woo hoo!  Or the Portfolio pattern:  a dress, a tunic and a blouse. Or even my Betsey Johnson 70's trouser pattern: made in sober pinstripes and insane pink cord?  Pattern Runway Shorts in chino fabric and purple velvet?  But the reason these multiple-makes have been successful is that they have been significantly different each time.

Ginger has been made with all three waistband options in cord, wool and a mad print.
My three Portfolio makes are barely recognisable as the same pattern:  a denim tunic, a print dress and a white dobby dot blouse.

But when I have sewn a "repeat" which is too similar to the first make, it seems to be doomed to languish in the back of the wardrobe.

And now that I think of it, on the three occasions in the past when I bought the same "perfect" shoes in two different colours, there was always one pair that I hardly wore.  Somehow, attempting to exploit the "ideal" took its shine away.

I couldn't decide which colour
So I didn't buy either pair
When I was younger and had a much smaller wardrobe, I tended towards a "uniform".  There was a point in my life when I was either wearing a man's navy lambswool sweater with a denim skirt, or the same navy sweater with purple cord jeans.  There would have been t shirts underneath and I must have washed that sweater from time to time, but I am certain I wore it for weeks on end.  And I was content.  It was warm and comfortable, it suited me, and it was what I wore.

I can't see myself ever embracing such minimalism again, but I do think that I need to stop making multiples.  If that blouse is perfect, I should wear it and enjoy it, and when it falls apart, consider making another one.  But I don't need them both right now!

So I bagged up the evil twins and put them back in the storage drawer.  I will wear the happy versions.  I won't fret about the unworn not-quite-duplicates, because they will be out of sight.  And I will remember this:  too much of a good thing is too much for me.


superheidi said...

Love your ramblings, don't I recognise something? :-) How to be brave?

Linda C said...

Ouch- you tagged me good there. I have done that so often, buy a blouse that fits well - why not get several in different colors. I need grey pants, maybe 2 or 3 pairs of grey pants? I love my black long-sleeved top with its scooped neck - I sometimes wear it every day. Silk skirts, jeans, good wool pants- it works with everything. I was thinking of buying several like it- all black.

Thanks for reminding me, one can be enough. I have also found that, on duplicates, there is always one that is more becoming, fits better, is a more becoming color, etc..

I need to try on all my warm weather clothes and remind my self that just because something looks good pretty on the hanger odes not mean it will be that good on me. There might be someone else who would enjoy this more. Thanks for reminding me.


Annie said...

I am feeling sadly bereft of clothing after reading this. Problem is I'd been on steroids for a while for my arthritis and gained a ton of weight and now I'm off them again I'm refusing to buy any new clothes until the extra lbs have gone. My daughters have suggested I diet faster or I'll end up looking like a bag lady!

Re. the pinny on knitsofacto ... I tracked down the pattern for it this morning!! Watch that space :D

Myrna said...

LOL - get the yellow ones. They're really fun.

Do you think it's also a factor of knowing which items to duplicate? And perhaps of making slight variations on the theme?

In my case, it's black t-shirts. They're my uniform and go with bright cardigans and statement jewelry. The only real difference in the "collection" is the neckline and arm length.

Jane said...

Oh you're so wise! I'm actually wearing an evil twin version of one of my favourite blouses as I type this. It's ok, but this is only the second time I've worn it in a year, whereas its happy twin gets worn almost weekly. I might have to throw all my clothes on the bed now and be ruthless! X

Scruffybadger said...

Always interesting reading your musings on making. It's funny isn't it? Why shouldn't the first be the best & the only? I suppose if the first doesn't quite work out, but you can see the potential (eg my Clovers) there is a drive to perfect. Then there is the thrifter in me thinks that I ought to use a pattern more than once to get value from it. If I don't I feel guilty, every now & then that is. If we made a few garments from each pattern we really would have quite a lot of clothes.....that's a scary thought!

jessica said...

I discovered this phenomenon in myself a number of years ago back before I started making my own clothes - and about 95% of the time the instinct is spot on. I do have a couple things I purposefully only bought 1 of that I now regret because the thing is worn to death and I wish I had a carbon copy. I wonder if, maybe, when we make up a pattern a second time around, because we're so certain it fits well, we don't think as closely about fabric?

Just want to say I do think the green Sencha is really lovely. It seems like it would layer quite beatifully as a "unexpected neutral" with other garments.

Sigrid said...

Oh, the evil twins. I have those too. I think Jessica is right. Initial success (because of an inspired match of fabric and pattern) leads to a less thoughtful fabric choice the second time around.

Linda C said...

Just to be clearer, Annie, I really usually am just thinking. I don't really have two or three of the same grey pants, although I wish I did when I am doing a lot of work where I have to be business mode and my grey pants, dry clean only, get something spilled on them early in the week or the first day back from the cleaners.

And I often can't find replacements of my favorite shoes because they have been discontinued. That's a killer!


feresaknit said...

The one item that I think I should buy two pairs of is shoes - but by the time I find out that they are really comfortable they're no longer available. Hence I now NEED a pair of sandals.

Alessa said...

I actually like most of my duplicates... but then, I don't have a huge amount of me-mades yet, and I also only own about 20 patterns, of which not even half have been made up. It might be because I don't make up duplicates just because I like the pattern, I make them when I come across another perfect fabric for just that pattern. :D I also have summer and winter versions of some dresses (Macaron and Rooibos), so they don't really get in the way of each other.