homemade fast fashion a.k.a. when your clothes still end up in a landfill

how I ended up with the equivalent of homemade Forever 21 / burdastyle 6990 pattern review

After spending around a total of 20 hours working on my new favorite Archer shirt from Grainline Studio (it doesn't take most people that long to make it - I had a feud with the button band), I wanted a quick, make-myself-feel-good-about-sewing project. So what is quick and easy and doesn't required any fitting? Knits. They are stretchy and comfy and easy to adjust.

I had a long knit t-shirt pattern from BurdaStyle in my stash and I decided to use some cheap fabric that I bought a few weeks ago. It was the end of a bolt of dark green jersey from a discount fabric store and dirt cheap, only $2/yard. The fabric was thin and I have no idea what the fiber content is, but I liked the color and figured it was worth a shot.

burdastyle 6990

It was not worth a shot unless the expression means it was worth shooting at.

 This pattern is in the kindling pile now.

This pattern is in the kindling pile now.

The fabric is super thin and even though it is dark green you can see through it in bright light. It will probably start pilling after the second or third wash. Not to mention, the BurdaStyle 6990 pattern is absolutely terrible. Let me count the ways

  • Who are these sleeves for? Stretch Armstrong?
  • The stitching from attaching the cowl pops up and shows through, which I could try to fix by sewing it down, but that's a weird thing to do in a knit, and I'm not going to bother with fabric so terrible I will never wear it.
  • I picked the size according to my measurements and it is obviously huge. Sizing knits is not difficult!

This is my second bad experience with a BurdaStyle knit pattern. I made a knit dress from one of their patterns and ran into a similar problem - the facing kept popping up and showing all of the time. I tried to stitch it down but it never looked quite right. That dress went to Goodwill in hopes that they get money for scrap fabric but it is probably in a landfill. So I'm going to avoid their knit patterns in the future.

The whole point of sewing (for me) is to get quality clothing that fits well and this is neither quality nor does it fit. I've made my very own Forever 21 landfill worthy crap.

lessons I've learned to avoid this in the future

1) If I want a quick project I should make napkins or something useful and avoid clothing that I'm not that excited about

Fast might be fun to make, but unless it's a remake of something simple that I like (i.e. a tried and true t-shirt pattern) I'm setting myself up to own something I don't care that much about. I spent about $40 on materials for my Archer shirt and 20 hours sewing it. It is now my favorite shirt and I wear it every week. I plan on making several more. Sure, there are easier projects, but I should think about each piece as an investment of time and resources. And not just my time - but the time of the people who made the fabric I'm using.

2) Buying cheap fabric or using fabric that I don't love is already setting the project up for failure

I'm sure this will not be the last time I have a project that will end up as a 'wadder' as they say. But many of my problems began when I bought sketchy discount fabric of unknown origin. If I'm going to the trouble of making my own clothes I should buy quality fabric that I am excited about. Not to mention, sketchy discount fabric is almost undoubtedly made by slaves in a way that is bad for the environment. How else could it be $2/yard?

While it can be really hard to find interesting fabric that is fair trade, I've recently come across Offset Warehouse and I plan on buying a bunch of yardage from them in the future. I wish we had an equivalent stateside. I've found a few ethical retailers in my own country but none with patterns/prints that I love.

I've now gotten rid of all of the fabric that I'm not excited about. One of my friends sews costumes for our local YMCA children's productions and they have the world's tiniest budget so she was really happy to get the donation.

3) Using a pattern I'm not super excited about is setting up the project for failure

I started sewing about five years ago. At the time I lived in Boston, went to lots of fancy parties, loved vintage and was super broke. My pattern and fabric stash has reflected that - lots of cheap, vintage inspired cotton and vintage inspired big-four patterns from sales at Joann's and Colette patterns.

My style and my life have changed. I've been to one fancy party in the last year. I'm much more likely to spend my weekends hiking and gardening and my wardrobe needs to reflect that. I did use up some of that vintage style fabric and a McCall's pattern to make my Easter dress. It is well sewn, but I don't love it and I'll probably give it away. However, I don't feel so bad about it since it is made to last a long time and I'm sure I can find it a home where it will be loved.

Right now I'm drawn to Grainline Studio and Closet Case Patterns for their modern aesthetics and wearability. And I'm not broke so there is no reason to use that $2 sale pattern I've been ignoring for 5 years because it doesn't excite me anymore. That's false economy.

I'll be blogging up my new makes - stay tuned!