My next university project is about diversity in fashion (it’s for a competition called DiversityNOW!). Now, I could go for the obvious and design for plus size, but as I’m thinner than some models and the current media message seems to be that anyone under a size 14 is a bad influence, I’ve no sympathy for plus size people.

So I thought I’d do a subculture I know something about: people who don’t buy clothes. The thing is that while I’m in this group, I don’t know what it’s called or about the lifestyles and ways of thinking of other people who are in it. There is Dame Vivienne Westwood of course, but that’s just one.

So I need your help. Do you simply not buy clothes? Do you make all your own? Do you just buy certain things like underwear? Do you up-cycle? Perhaps more helpfully, do you have a blog about this? And why do you have your rules and choose to make your own?

I’ll have to run this idea past my tutor, but I think if I have a name for this “sub-culture” I’ll be able to do it. : )

— 7th March
We started the module today. It seems subcultures don’t count; the competition is to do with body image. Thank you all for your help anyway. : )

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  • Iphone_pictures_037_large

    Feb 28, 2014, 09.59 AMby Deanna31

    Hi, I don’t buy many clothes. The reasons behind not doing so is because A. I don’t need a lot of clothes; I have just about everything I need already. And B. I can’t easily find the type of clothes I like; which is clothes that aren’t too low, or too short, clothes that have sleeves and aren’t see-through. So I usually make them. I think it’s bad for society to think that a woman is only feminine when she shows some skin, and I like and feel more comfortable when people look into my eyes and don’t leer at my exposed body.

    I hope that’s not too confronting or strange – but it’s me :)

    1 Reply
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      Mar 4, 2014, 07.48 PMby Sabrina Wharton-Brown

      Thank you for your comment.
      I agree with you. I’m twenty-three but I won’t wear what some girls my age will wear (I also don’t like the clubbing lifestyle but that’s a little besides the point). That’s not to say I don’t wear skirts above the knee, but I do prefer that they cover me when I sit down. : )

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    Feb 28, 2014, 01.51 PMby sewingfan1

    Hi. I also rarely buy any clothes now – mainly because, as my sewing skills improve I can make most things quite quickly and I’ve made so many I don’t have enough wardrobe space.

    I do buy bathing costumes and underwear as I haven’t got the time/inclination to make these – although even these I’ve started thinking ‘hmmm, why not?’

    Time factor/skill factor are the only reasons I do buy clothes now – eg if I need a pair of jeans and I just want a strightforward bog standard pair I don’t think it’s worth my time and effort hunting out the fabric and making them – I would only do that if I wanted something I couldn’t find to buy within my price range eg if I wanted a pair in an unusual colour. And skill factor – I would buy something I really loved if I knew I didn’t have the skill to recreate it.

    Reasons why vary : wanting something that’s unique, being able to take an idea/design in my head and make it a reality, seeing a design that I really love that I would never be able to afford and making my own affordable version, being able to make basics from more luxurious fabrics than I’d be willing to pay for (eg I can make a blouse from 100% silk rather than buying one for the same price in polyester).

    If you click on the profiles of people who answer your post or any Burda members from this site, you can see if the’ve uploaded any pictures of their work and maybe read something more about their reasons for making things which could give you some more useful information. Also, quite a few put the links to their blogs.

    Have fun.

    1 Reply
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      Mar 4, 2014, 07.56 PMby Sabrina Wharton-Brown

      Thank you for your comment.

      The last time I bought jeans was when I needed them that day. The most annoying thing about making clothes (especially stretch clothes) is the shrinkage. My jeans that I made shrank so much they hurt so I had to get rid of them. : (

      I would still rather make than buy. If I have to buy anything I have to really make myself. : )

      If I needed something to wear for a special occasion (like a formal dress) I would definitely prefer to make it, especially now I’ve fitting my strapless block (which would likely have at least removable straps). And I’d rather make a faux leather jacket and do it well than buy the ones I can afford. : )

      Thank you for the suggestion about people’s BurdaStyle “studios”. I’ll have a look around. : )

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    Feb 28, 2014, 03.02 PMby katexxxxxx

    I buy the boring stuff. As a professional working from home, I tend to wear soft knit troursers and T shirts or sweaters. These are incredibly cheap to buy and boring to make, so for working kit and undies, I hit places like Marks & Spencer, Asda, Isme… It’s kit for climbing ladders, crawling on floors, hauling boxes, rolls of fabric, machines etc in. It needs to look clean and tidy and acceptable when clients come for fittings. Once I factor my time in, it really isn’t worth making this stuff.

    If I need to ‘suit & tie’ it, yes, I make all that kit. I now have four suits I made: a 1940’s wool suit, made from a Vintage Vogue pattern, two made with a Butterick jacket pattern and two different skirt patterns, and one softly unstructured silk mix tweed one designed wholly by me.

    Most of my skirts were designed and made by me, though I have a couple from particularly nice patterns.

    Posh frocks? All made by me, though two are from an older Simplicity pattern and one from a Burda pattern. The last one I made is a 1940’s one I drafted myself.

    I tend to draft from scratch for all my historical and Live Action Role Play kit, as that’s the best way to get exactly the fit and look I want. For this, I also make whatever stays or corsets and other stiff underpinnings are required.

    1 Reply
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      Mar 4, 2014, 09.06 PMby Sabrina Wharton-Brown

      It goes to show how experience and interest are connected. I’ve never made a t-shirt before, so (if the fabric wouldn’t shrink so much) I’d like to have a go with the stretch fabric, but you’ve made countless things so it’s boring to you. I think that’s half the reason anyone sews: it’s interesting, fun, and rewarding.

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    Mar 2, 2014, 04.33 AMby clothingengineer

    Yes. 99% of the time things I buy are down coats, sweaters, socks/tights, and some lingerie. It is almost entirely due to being tall and pear shaped. I just have a low tolerance for ill fitting clothing.

    1 Reply
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      Mar 4, 2014, 09.13 PMby Sabrina Wharton-Brown

      Yes, down coats would be awkward to sew — they’re so bulky! I always get shop-bought knitwear because I’m not a great knitter, and it takes ages to knit and costs too much anyway. One of the reasons I sew is that I know I can get a good fit. It might take several toiles, but I’ll get there and I can make clothes with the same fit again. I’d like to make my lingerie, but I can buy nice enough things that fit (not counting panties — whom are they fitting them on?!) from the teen section. One of the advantages of being lightly built is that you can save on VAT on clothes. : )

      Why do you call yourself the clothing engineer? Do you draft your own patterns?

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    Mar 4, 2014, 09.38 PMby clothingengineer

    Sabrina Wharton-Brown – I’ve heard it isn’t the bulk (and I have a machine that could easily handle that), it is the mess they make that makes down coats a nightmare to sew in a home setting!

    One of my older brothers has a mechanical engineering background, the other a chemical and metallurgy engineering background, and despite not being an engineer myself (I work as a webmaster) I still have that analytical mentality and good spatial skills. I came up with it one day, thought it was catchy, and decided to register the domain name. I don’t draft my own patterns, but I am very good at fitting and alterations.

    1 Reply
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      Mar 4, 2014, 09.41 PMby Sabrina Wharton-Brown

      It sounds like you come from a clever family!

      I really meant that the bulk would be cumbersome to handle. : ) Sewing machines tend to surprise us in what they can sew well, don’t they?

  • Missing

    Mar 5, 2014, 12.58 AMby sartarehare

    I’m petite and have a lot of trouble finding clothing that isn’t in the skin-tight kiddie section or looks like old lady clothes (I’m 40). As petite options become more available, I’m finding that my sewing skills and fabric knowledge have improved to where I now can’t bring myself to pay the money for polyester/nylon or badly-made super thin wool/cotton, etc. And I’m not even talking about low-end! I used to only sew what I couldn’t buy easily. Now I’m attempting everything because I don’t have to deal with ill-fit. I’m also sensing that since the world is growing fatter, I’m becoming a minority. Even trying a new pattern can be a pain in the A@# since often the smallest sizes fall off my shoulders and I’m constantly needing to down grade on the Big 4 from even the smallest size. Not so with vintage patterns! Those need re-working in the opposite direction! God, the weight the world has gained in so little time! What do I buy in RTW? Bras (One or two brands fit me well so I haven’t gotten into making these quite yet), scrub-type clothing for work, basic cotton tees (also for work), hoodies, polar fleece jackets (I’m in Seattle), socks, hats, shoes, tights, accessories like bags. Actually I’ll buy anything for work that can stand getting bodily fluids on it (can you guess my profession?). I refuse to wear anything I make because it becomes far too precious after the time spent. Though since I often use cast off fashion fabric for muslins, I’m thinking I should start wearing my “wearable muslins” to work……..

    1 Reply
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      Mar 6, 2014, 10.08 PMby Sabrina Wharton-Brown

      That’s a good use for your wearable muslins. : )

      As I said in my question, I’m thin too. When I bought a Marks and Spencers skirt a few years ago for work, I had to take the smallest size in or it fell down! Fit is definitely one of the major advantages to sewing — the hard part is getting it right (thank goodness I can draft patterns!). I don’t use commercial patterns (grudge: I used to sell them and they really rip retailers off) partly because they run so big, but especially because they’re all b-cup or bigger and I don’t want to do an SBA to every pattern I use!

  • Missing

    Mar 11, 2014, 10.07 PMby arisaid

    I make my own dresses, tops, skirts, jackets etc. Not underwear. I like making my own clothes for the creative outlet, plus I can get them to fit me. Nothing I have ever bought has fitted satisfactorily. I love searching out the fabrics. I also knit and crochet. I always wash my fabric before making it up in case there is shrinkage. I also add salt to the water in that wash to prevent dye run. I got some gorgeous fabric recently for an amazing bargain ($4 a metre from $40 metre) as it was supposed to not be colour fast. At $4 metre it was worth trying out. Washed in warm water wth salt and no dye run at all. I have made a skirt and top out of it and am delighted with the results.

    1 Reply
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    Mar 14, 2014, 05.51 PMby MrsCharisma

    What a fun project!

    I don’t buy clothes much anymore because work demands such a practical wardrobe and I am having fun sewing. I do buy jeans, underwear, socks, sweaters. I knit and crochet and can’t bring myself to pay retail for hats and scarves; but I buy gloves/mittens.

    I have yet to sew any outerwear but that’s on my list for this year. I live in MN so a coat or jacket is worn probably 9-10 months out of the year!

    I blog at sewcraftychemist on blogger.

    While I cringe at many of the plus sized pattern offerings, I also cringe at the notion that every thin woman “doesn’t eat” or isn’t “real” because she’s thin. It makes me really angry as it bothers my almost 16 year old who is very tall and thin due to genetics; not because she starves herself. Ugh.

    1 Reply
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      Mar 14, 2014, 10.21 PMby Sabrina Wharton-Brown

      Hello MrsCharisma,

      It’s comforting to know there is somewhere with weather less Summery than England! It’s March and we’d still freezing if we didn’t wear our winter coats! : )

      Because of the constraints of the competition I’ve had to change my work (one has to keep reading these competition briefs or one can go off track). Now I’m going to design and make a dress that looks nice on a short, “modestly-endowed” girl (me) and I only have three weeks. Luckily I can make it in calico (muslin) so I don’t have to spend time shopping for fabric. I think I have to do a photo-shoot, but I haven’t done one before unless you count for my blog, and it might be fun.

      I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my annoyance at the modern idea of a “healthy” or “real” woman’s figure! I like my looks anyway; I’d rather look like a ballerina than a Barbie! : )

      Sabrina

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