When you’re a maker for any amount of time, you will inevitably get the question “can you make this for me?” Most often, that request comes with the assumption that you will use your own money to get the supplies. Because given the fact that you like to do something, that should automatically mean that you want to make primarily for others. It also comes with the assumption that it’s cheaper to make things by hand.
Honestly, lately my response to the “when can you make me one” question has been outright laughter. Because it has to be a joke, right? I’m a pretty fast sewist these days, although I still have a ways to go to be really efficient and good. But even so, it takes me time that could be used for other things. It takes up resources that I could use for other things.
To be clear, sometimes doing so is worth it for me. I haven’t been knitting in a while, mostly because the pandemic brought out my RSI issues and I didn’t want to aggravate it. But with knitting, I had gotten to the point where the work was its own reward. I have sweaters that I love, shawls that I love even more, scarves, hats galore. At this point, I’m only knitting things that I actually want to make for the thing itself. And that means that I wind up giving stuff away a lot because it’s not my favorite thing ever and there are only so many shawls a girl can keep. But the thing is, I only give away stuff to people that I expect will know the value and more importantly will use the thing.
Last week, Seamwork Magazine put out an article comparing the cost of making their patterns to buying one from three different places. In it, they broke down the cost of the materials and the labor. Interestingly, it looks like the cheapest stuff is being sold at below the cost of even the materials that are available for home sewists. Certainly, there are some advantages to buying fabric in bulk. But there are other benefits to making your own clothes.
I actually found this article really motivating as a sewist. It reminded me that beyond the monetary considerations, my own work has value. It also reminded me that the factory worker’s work does not get that value. For sure, they are faster than I am. And for at least some factories, they’re also better than I am. But every time I make a garment, I appreciate the work that goes into it.
But it’s not cheap. Because it used to be a lot cheaper to make your own clothes, people feel like it should still be so. But between then, and now, fast fashion happened. Inferior materials, shoddy work, and copied designs. But it’s cheap. And so, by the thinking of far too many, should handmade things be. And I have decided to believe that it’s not a malicious belief. It’s just that humans are slow to change their learned wisdoms. Which is why I really appreciate articles like Seamwork’s. So spread it far and wide, my friends. For every maker that you have in your life.