Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Patience is a Virtue (which I lack)

Cate and I go for a lot of walks.  Actually, I walk and she strolls (on account of being in a stroller).  Sometimes I listen to an audio book while we wander the neighborhood, but mostly I just kind of let my mind wander.  Today, as we were out and about, I happened to be thinking about my recent commitment to buying and wearing ethically made clothing.  When I started down this road (so to speak), I knew, and accepted, right away that such a commitment would mean that I would be buying clothes less frequently.  First, because I wanted to buy new clothes that were more responsibly made and these would naturally be more expensive and I didn't have the budget to impulse shop at that price point.  Second, because I also wanted to look more into secondhand clothing and I was going to be really choosy about what I decided to buy--I wanted it to be well-made and flattering--which meant I might spend a lot of time scouring secondhand stores until I found something I wanted.  Today, though, I realized that the same ideas should apply to my handmade garments as well.  

I would say I am a product sewist, NOT a process sewist.  I sew almost entirely because I want the finish object.  For this reason, it is difficult for me to sew in a very careful manner with lots of attention to detail, especially any detail that would not routinely be seen--seam finishes, for example.  I just want to wear the skirt, already, not be sitting at the sewing machine unpicking the waistband because it looks wonky,

Knitting is different.  I knit both for process and product.  I knit because I find it relaxing and because it gives me patience.  I can sit in a waiting room for a pretty long time as long as I have my knitting with me (sadly, I can't use this to my advantage in sewing since it takes someone with more skill than me to sew and knit simultaneously).  I have to want the finished product too, of course, I'm not one of those people who knits exquisite lace shawls that they never wear because while they enjoy knitting lace shawls, they don't enjoy wearing lace shawls (not that there's anything wrong with being that type of knitter, it's just not the sort of person I am).

Today, though, I realized that one of the overall goals is to have a wardrobe full of high-quality, well-fitting clothes, both because it will improve my appearance and because high-quality = longer-lasting = fewer clothes in the landfill.  This is just as true of my handmade clothes as my store-bought clothes.  Therefore, if I can accept that accumulating high-quality store-bought clothes is going to take longer than accumulating cheap, poorly-made clothes, then I should also accept that accumulating high-quality handmade clothes is going to take longer than accumulating poorly-made handmade clothes.

Ultimately, what I need to remind myself as I sit at the sewing machine is that the goal is quality, not quantity, and that if I make poorly constructed clothes as a result of impatience (rather than inexperience), then I'm missing the point.  It's not going to be easy to remember, but I will try.  Perhaps I should have Quality Not Quantity engraved on my seam ripper?

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