Monday, September 21, 2009

Blinging it

People often ask me two things when they find out I can sew. From sewers I get the inevitable "how much of what you sew do you actually wear?" from non-sewers I get, "yes, but can't you buy it cheaper?"

Ok - honest answers. I wear everything I sew. Everything. Some things will only get a dozen or so outings, many get many more. I wear them year in year out.

If I really don't feel comfortable in something it gets pink bagged for Child cancer research. Muslins get dumped. I said I was going to be honest - no-one wants a muslin, and why force a charity to have to dump it at their expense? I make very very few muslins, partly because I'm too lazy and partly because I feel so guilty.

You really can't buy it cheaper. Seriously, you can't. Even half price Shanton (low end clothing shop, of the poor quality made by slave labour in China type) I could make cheaper.

Ok, take tunic top below (my son insisted upon being in this shot). I made this for $10 (that's about US $6), the most expensive part being the invisible zipper at the back.

Of course to make things this cheap, you have to keep you nose tuned for a bargain, and I wouldn't make too many things this inexpensively. I would make the majority of things for less than $50 (US 30) so all in all, it really is a pretty thrifty hobby.

The very fabulous Gok recokons the average British woman spends 2000 pounds on clothes. That's about $5000 NZ dollars. I reckon in a year I'd sew around 25 garments for a third of that.

I'm still reading this book. Recently I've also started reading fashion blogs, and one thing that really stands out is how complete the outfits look: shoes, bags, belts, necklaces, earrings etc.

Now in this book, another exercise I found very helpful was the "blinging" exercise. In this exercise, you give your outfit points for visual interest. Items of visual interest include: feature buttons, decoration (top stitching, piping etc) textured or patterned fabric, jewellery, non- flesh covered panty hose, accent colours, heels, bags, glasses etc - basically anything that adds visual interest.

So let's score my outfit above:

3 items of visible clothing (3 points) one of which has both texture and pattern as well as interesting buttons ( 3 extra points for the cotton velveteen tunic with wooden buttons) glasses (1), necklace(1) with accent colours (1) that gives me a visual interest score of 9. (toddler on hip, that's got to have a visual interest score too)

8 is the recommended minimum visual interest score required to have an "exciting" outfit. If I needed more points, I could add a pair of heels and a bag. The maximum number of points is 14 - so if I added a couple of bracelets, and a watch I would have overblinged it.

Here's the necklace in more detail - $10 from the Sally Army.


  1. Hmmm- lets see. Self analysis: three pieces of visible clothing, three points. Add two for the gingham and piping on my shirt, that makes five. Earrings, add one more, that makes six.
    And that's it.
    I'm sadly underblinged today. Must go put a necklace on.

    WV: beadi (the universe is reminding me to add 1 for my beady eyes?)

  2. I totally agree...and this is why I have such a stash ;-) Hardly anything in my stash has been bought full-price; the majority of it is from stuff like the designer fabric sales at $2 a metre. This is one of the many ways I justify it to myself, anyway ;-)

    Love the blinging idea - usually my clothes are only adorned by paint and playdough, but on the odd occasion when I make an effort, having the extras really does help, I reckon. That said, I'd worry about anyone who counted their Palmer-Pletsch-bling-points on a daily basis, however ;-) tehehe...


  3. I feel that you can buy it for less, but you won't match the quality by buying what you can make yourself. (Sorry, that sentence is a bit tortuous)
    I'm always looking out for a bargain, but I don't think I'm in your league! There is no question that even the garments I've spent money on making have cost me only a fraction of their retail equivalent.

    Visual interest points is a really interesting concept. I suspect I'd get most of my points most days for having a twin on each hip!

  4. I have been reading books on style and wardrobe lately too. I love that outfit you have on- your baby boy is gorgeous too - so many points for him!

  5. I like that blinging score thing. Where did you read about that. THat tunic is lovely by the way.

  6. Your son is soooooo cute! I've been thinking about this muslin/ wearable muslin thing a lot lately. You've written about it before. I'm starting to get to the point where I like the idea behind muslins but feel awful about the waste!

  7. I like this outfit on you - the shape is good and you look happy and relaxed in it.