Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sewing & the Minimalist Wardrobe

My Bias Tape Stash

I've been reading a lot of blogposts about minimalist wardrobes. I love the concept : you select only the items you love from your closet and add whatever pieces you need to compose outfits with a minimum number of garments. Some say 10. Others 20, 25, or 33... The idea is that with a well curated set of items that can easily mix and match, it will always be easy to get dressed in the morning and this surely makes sense.

Sewing is an indulgence.

I think those who sew are necessarily going to go about constructing their wardrobe differently than those who simply shop for their clothes. After all, sewing is our hobby. There is pleasure for us in the process of making. It's not just about the finished product.
When I first started sewing five years ago, I really did not give much thought to building a sensible wardrobe. It was all about learning the craft, manipulating fabric, the pleasure of creating pretty clothes. If I saw a pattern I liked, I went ahead and made it. Some of these clothes I still wear today, others haven't seen the light of day.
I now want to be sure the clothes I sew get maximum wear, so I have been putting a lot more thought into wardrobe planning. But it must remain a pleasure.

There is the matter of Creativity.

The minimalist wardrobe is all about restraint.
How does restraint affect creativity? The format of a canvas or of a sheet of paper is something you have to account for when composing a picture, but has never kept artists from being creative.
Would spending more time and thought on each garment, so it's worthy of its place in your pared down wardrobe lead you to make it even better, more special, more creative? Or would you feel that sewing only "useful" pieces is too limiting and boring?

There is the matter of the Fabric Stash.

Some of you might live near an amazing fabric shop which always has exactly what you need, when you need it. I wish I could shop that way, but I don't have that kind of store around. Where I live, we have a few options, but I can never be sure I'll find what I need when I need it, especially when I sew off season. So, I grab it when I see it, and therefore have a sizable stash (seriously, it's taking over our apartment!).
I really don't think a fabric stash fits in with the concept of a minimalist wardrobe, yet, to me, it's a necessary component of the craft, and I'm not going to feel guilty about it.

The minimalist wardrobe aims for perfection.

I feel I need to hit the right balance between creativity and reason. I don't want to reign myself in too much. Though I do plan future sewing to a certain extent, I stay open to inspiration. It's ok to change my mind. And it's ok to make mistakes. Some things work out, some don't. It's almost an organic process.
I do put a lot of thought into each piece I sew. What place do I hope it will hold in my closet? What will I wear it with, and where? But there will always be a level of uncertainty as I can never be sure of the outcome. A garment I make might be a success and earn its place as a key element in my wardrobe, but sometimes it just does not work out as I had hoped. And if it's not perfect, I'll probably still keep it. I don't think my wardrobe will ever be perfect. It is constantly evolving and that's part of what keeps the whole thing fun.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on wardrobe planning. Do you think sewists can apply minimalist wardrobe principles?

More on wardrobe planning: Do you find wardrobe planning overwhelming?Sewing a wardrobe you love


13 comments:

  1. Hi! This is a very interesting question and I think the answer has to do with the reasons behind sewing (pleasure of doing things, denial of consumerism, ecc) My opinion is that as a general idea planing is ok but in practice things might be different.. according to my recent lifestyle I would have to sew only active wear ... Where's the fun in that?! Why would I want to learn to sew just to make crops and t-shirts for instance.... For me is like with my knitting ... I sometimes knit socks-complicated ones, lots of work not much wear (at least not for me). Why do I keep making them? Because I enjoy it and it relaxes me....

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    1. You're right Sasha, what we sew is also an expression of our dream life, not just the day to day...

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  2. This is a great piece! The fun for me is in the careful planning of what will fit into my day to day wardrobe and really analysing my lifestyle, so that future garments are ultimately wearable and well constructed. I am increasingly aware, however, of how much fabric I have and feel I still need. My conclusion is that it is impossible to sew and live minimally and I am not going to stop making clothes just because my wardrobe is full! It is a hobby after all!

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    1. I think the clothes you make would suit my lifestyle as well ;) It's very rewarding to actually wear the clothes you make.

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  3. I too have been sucked into the minimalist wardrobe posts - the idea is really appealing! I do plan ahead, since I want to wear what I make, in general. As you say, it doesn't always work out that way! But it is important to leave room for spur of the moment inspiration. And if a fabric really speaks to me, I will buy it without a concrete plan for using it. I have noticed something as I get older/more comfortable with my style - those impulse purchases or makes will fit in with my wardrobe even without pre-planning!

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    1. I sort of feel like if you had only objects you really truly love, they would necessarily be in harmony because they are all expressions of different facets of your personality. It doesn't always work out for putting together outfits though...

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  4. VERY interesting and thought provoking post as I've been thinking much along the same lines lately. I don't like having a large wardrobe. I like having a small wardrobe that works with pieces that I love (and hopefully make!). I actually find this brings me more peace as I feel I don't need to acquire more and more. I'm *constantly* editing too...getting rid of what I don't like and keeping what I do. As time goes on, my wardrobe and my tastes get more refined and it feels great!

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    1. I agree Kat, it does feel great!

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  6. Interesting question, I've been cleaning out my closet due to having to move twice last year and I only kept what I really loved and felt comfortable in. And because of that I am now a big time planner when it comes to what I'd like to sew. I follow the trends (not all) so, for each season I am plan on a few items that are on trend & suits my body type. For these items I check my stash and use what I have & if I don't have it then I purchase it. I get joy out of recreating the high fashion items that I otherwise could not afford. This helps me control the size of my wardrobe and still allows me to be creative.

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    1. You seem to have achieved an excellent balance between restraint and creativity. Fabulous!

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  7. Saw your comment on Coletterie...
    I have been thinking over many of the same topics you mention above as I work through the Wardrobe Architect and Into Mind's processes. I want my closet to be not necessarily minimalist, but highly functional - have only wearable clothes, i.e. those that fit me and my (very casual and modest) lifestyle. So where do all the wild prints, couture techniques, and fancy dresses that come out of my sewing room fit into that? Finding that balance between the joy of creativity and the need for practicality is exactly what I need to work on now.

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    1. I think I want to work toward a wardrobe that balances basics and statement pieces, so it will be at once creative, practical, and versatile. Maybe that approach would also work for you!

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