Buying Clothes When You Are a Proud Sewist

The “I can make it” outlook that comes from learning to sew ultimately made me feel guilty for even thinking about buying something new. There was the social guilt (the women working and dying in factories), there was environmental guilt (how much water goes into jeans?!), and there was sewist guilt (why can’t I find the time to be as prolific as the other sewists I follow?)

The first two kinds of guilt shouldn’t be ignored, I started sewing for environmental and social reasons. Like many of you I took the Seamless Pledge at one point, and though I haven’t renewed it recently, I have dramatically reduced my impulse clothing shopping over the past 5 years.

But the third guilt is unnecessary. I got it into my head that my Wardrobe Architect project had to be sewn or thrifted. This added to the suffocating feeling I mentioned last week.

After I wrote that post I received messages of encouragement from many of you, reminding me to forget the perfect pins and just dive in! Take action. So I gave myself permission to join my husband on his annual clothing stock-up. I hadn’t gone shopping for clothes so intentionally in years and I tried to use what I had learned as a sewist and a Wardrobe Architect participant:

  • Make sure each piece has multiple outfit potential (or try to make outfits out of the pieces as you shop)
  • Stick to a color scheme (more on that later)
  • Look for prints and colored tops to balance the neutral pants and skirts.
  • Look for colored pants and tights.
  • Think about silhouette and fabric texture when imagining the outfits.
  • Be certain you will wear it – someone somewhere made this, probably under less than ideal conditions.

Between Goodwill, the Outlet Collection, and a coupon for socks & tights at Fred Meyers, I brought home over a dozen new garments and accessories. (You may be able to spot some of these items in recent Instagram posts.)


  • Pumpkin sweater
  • Maroon cardigan
  • Black cardigan
  • Maroon long-sleeve tshirt
  • Sage green long-sleeve tshirt
  • Gray knit blazer
  • Opaque tights – green, gray, black, and gray/black design


  • Dark gray ponte knit dress
  • Dusty rose infinity scarf
  • Gray and black rayon infinity scarf
  • Sage green safari shirt dress
  • White & gray knit shirt
  • Blue & gray print jersey dress
  • Purple sequined T-shirt
  • I also acquired a couple pieces of jewelry from a coworker.

Do new clothes (sewn or bought) bring a sense of renewal to anyone else? I attribute this to “back to school” shopping and how all my hopes and excitement for the new school year were focused into the clothes I was choosing to represent myself that year. My closet feels fresher and I am a bit more excited to wake up and get dressed. Clothes aren’t the answer to emotional ruts, but being able to start the day with a success (getting dressed) sets the tone for the rest of my day.

I have also reduced my immediate To-Make list, allowing me to focus on those Gray Ginger Jeans, the blue-black wool crepe Dahlia dress, and a new knitted vest for the remainder of 2015.

For the past year I have been trying to build a “better” fall wardrobe, and I’m done with the endless pinning. I’ve taken action. I’ll share more about how these new acquisitions fit into the larger scheme in the next week or so. For now, let me leave you with this teaser of my autumn color palette.


I’m so excited! (and cozy, did I mention cozy?)

3 thoughts on “Buying Clothes When You Are a Proud Sewist

  1. Now you’re speaking my language! I did the whole, “but I can make that…” for years! Mostly for scarves, hats and gloves which I always crocheted but I can understand the frustration. I’m working with a friend to build a capsule wardrobe and update my look. Good luck on your adventures!

  2. I like the palette for your wardrobe and for your guidelines. The purple sequinned t-shirt sounds like such a highlight. Even if we all stop consuming as much then I think that it is a big step in the right direction. It’s a good thing that buying vintage or charity shop/thrifting is sort of cool these days. It was looked down on so much when I was a teen in the 1980’s. It is difficult to find the time to sew “everything”, isn’t it? There are so many hyper-productive blogs that I follow that make me feel really inadequate. With my workload I am doing well to make one thing a month. I still do the old “no I am not buying anything, I’ll make it” statement when I am in the shops though. Nice to not feel alone in this. 🙂 Xx

    1. And I assume that when you see more often you adopt tricks and techniques and confidence that help you forge ahead on steps that I might fret over for a week. Feel free to commiserate and celebrate life and sewing with me any time. 🙂

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