Home > just me > a different kind of success

a different kind of success

November 16, 2008

Last month, I bought a cute, short-sleeved cardigan on sale. It didn’t fit all that well—like a lot of ready-to-wear clothes, it was too baggy in the waist for my body, adding 10 pounds to my frame. But it was $10, so I bought it anyway, thinking it might be OK as a layering piece. But I could not figure out how to make it work, so it sat in the bag, in the closet, tags still attached.

Last weekend, my in-laws were visiting, and my mother-in-law brought me her old sewing machine. I decided to take up sewing recently, but I haven’t done much except make a pillow in a class. And I did that without the benefit of my own machine.

So there I was, staring at this new-to-me sewing machine—with all of its stitches and fancy features—wondering what to do as a first project. Everyone said, make something simple, like an apron! Or a tote bag! But I don’t wear the aprons I have, so making an apron seemed pointless, and I have several tote bags that are perfectly serviceable. I know, I know—the point of making stuff isn’t necessarily because you need it. But I really want the sewing machine to be useful, enabling me to make things that I would otherwise buy.

Now, the obvious point of this post is that I used the sewing machine to take in the cardigan. I’m just going to get that out of the way right now—the setup here is just too apparent. This post, therefore, is not about, I don’t know, what I did with it, or even how I took the cardigan in. This post is about the bigger implications of that.

Folks, I altered my own clothing. I have, for years, spent large amounts of money having my clothes taken in, up, out, or otherwise made different from how they were originally made. But today, I managed to accomplish that task on my own. And it actually looks good! Sure, given that the garment is a cardigan—in other words, a sweater—it may ravel, though I did overlock the edges, hoping to stave that off for as long as possible. But hey, it was $10 off the rack, the alterations took me all of about 45 minutes, and now I have a new top. If it lasts all of 10 wearings, it was probably worth it.

Flush with this success, tomorrow, after choir, I plan to go to the local fabric shop (which, handily, has a location five blocks south of my apartment) and do some browsing. I think I’d like to make a skirt! And then maybe some stuffed animals for my nephews.

Categories: just me
  1. November 16, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    I’m so envious. I tried to learn sewing and I sucked. I can barely reattach a button. I can’t even imagine how much money I’ve spent on alterations over the years.

  2. November 18, 2008 at 11:36 am

    You did it! You found time to take the class! (Perhaps you’d be interested in my newest obsession- cosmetics cases. They take like 45 minutes, which is way less than a totebag/apron/other ambitious project I’d initially envisioned. Plus they are pretty much foolproof excellent gifts. Aim low, I say.)

  3. November 19, 2008 at 1:00 pm


    In high school the thing to do was buy clothes at a thrift store and take them in (so we didn’t have to pay $45 for a similar faux-vintage shirt at Urban Outfitters.)

    Yay sewing machines!

  4. CM
    November 26, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    I am so impressed! I fear sewing machines. I always think I’ll irrevocably mess up my clothes.

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