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Cutting Corners

May 9, 2013

By REBEKAH R. BLOMENBERG
    Let's be honest. Who's not sick of paying too much for clothes they don't really like or don't really look or feel good wearing. But what can you do? It's not like you can make your own custom clothing to look and fit how you want it to....
    Oh, wait. Yes, you can.
    Making clothes used to be the norm, remember? But it's a dying art because no one has the time (read: patience and desire) to do it anymore. So now we overpay for styles we don't like because we've forgotten or never learned how to do it ourselves. Sewing, knitting, and crocheting used to be an essential segment of a woman's (and sometimes a man's, if he was a bachelor) knowledge.
    I hereby encourage department store rebellion by stressing how fulfilling and often even relaxing learning to make your own clothes can be. Not to mention money-saving. Crocheting is one of my favorite de-stressing activities because it's a simple, repetitive motion I don't have to think about. Fabric, even when you include notions and thread, and yarn are usually much less expensive than finished clothing. And you know that feeling of pride you get when someone compliments something you're wearing? That feeling is exponentially increased by the knowledge that you made it yourself. And when you tell people that and they like the item enough, they might offer to pay you to make something for them.
    Learning to make your own clothes can be a frustrating experience. You probably won't sit down at a sewing machine and whip out an elaborate gown on your first try. Start slow, laugh at your mistakes, and be patient with yourself. Don't try to learn multiple crafts at the same time. You'll just confuse your brain. Master crocheting (I only pick this one because it was the easiest for me to learn) and do it for a few months or even a few years until you don't have to think about it anymore. Then take on sewing or knitting.
    There are tips and tricks for each craft all over the place. The Internet (specifically craft blogs and Pinterest) is full of people who are teaching and learning to do things themselves for those who prefer to blunder along in private—like me. On the other hand, there are craft and art groups where you can learn from someone who has been doing it for a while. Most craft stores, like Michael's and Jo-Ann's actually hold classes where you can pay a relatively low fee to learn from a professional.
    You can work from patterns (there are free and/or inexpensive patterns online, or you can buy them at Walmart) until you're really comfortable with what you're doing. You can adjust patterns so a piece fits you better. You can expand your horizons by upcycling clothes from a thrift store. Eventually, you might be able to invent your own patterns. You can definitely make money by selling the clothing you make if you don't just want it all for yourself.
    There's a whole clothes-making world out there! Go explore it!

    WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN "CUTTING CORNERS?" Email rose@decaturdailydemocrat.com!

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