Sewing v Shopping

Last week I wrote a post about how my love of clothes shopping has all but disappeared over the last year or so. 

I got some great comments from my lovely readers, so I though it would be good to do a follow up post. 

I did a little poll, asking the following question:

"As someone who makes their own clothes, how do you feel about clothes shopping?"
  • I've always loved it and still do.
  • I used to love it and now don't.
  • I've never liked clothes shopping.

First, a chart to show the results - you know I like my charts!

I was surprised that not one person who answered the poll said that they have always loved clothes shopping and still do. 

74% of those who answered (14 out of 19 people) said that they used to love shopping for clothes but no longer do, and the remaining 5 had never enjoyed it.

I sometimes wondered if it was just me who felt this way, but it appears not.

Now, on to the reasons for not liking clothes shopping. 

Well the biggie for most people was fit.  At least 7 people that left a comment (out of 12) mentioned that they were fed up with being unable to buy clothes that fitted them well. 

One commenter mentioned that she'd bought a couple of tops recently where the fit was "quite" good, but she'd bought them anyway because she liked the fabric.  She did also comment however that she wouldn't have accepted the way they fit if they'd been items she had made herself. 

I actually did something similar myself recently.  I saw a top in gorgeous fabric in a little independent shop near me, but knew the boxy shape wouldn't suit me.  I left it there, but couldn't stop thinking about the pretty fabric, so a couple of days later I went back, tried it on, realised I could add some darts and bought it.  I added darts to the front and back and am pretty happy with it now, but I realise that's not something you can do with every ready to wear garment that doesn't fit well!

Another big dislike when it comes to ready to wear clothing was the finishing.  Several people mentioned poor finishing, or broken belt loops, and general quality of construction and materials used.   I am often shocked at the prices charged for a dress (or whatever) made of what is obviously very cheap fabric, the type that you know you could pick up for only a few pounds a metre... if you could find it!

That was something else a couple of people mentioned - that they wished it was possible to buy some of the fabrics used in ready to wear.  I agree, the prints and patterns of some are so gorgeous, and are things that you just don't see in fabric shops generally. 

The only thing that some people said they do like shopping for is shoes.  Even those that have never liked clothes shopping seem to love shopping for shoes.  I wonder why?

I tend to think it's because we don't have the fit issues with shoes that are associated with clothes.  Of course, sometimes you'll try on a shoe you love and it will be uncomfortable, but shoes never make us feel fat, or short or lumpy.  In fact a gorgeous pair of shoes will make you feel tall, slim and gorgeous!

I hope you've enjoyed this post, and the previous one.  It's been really interesting for me to find out that so many others feel the same way as I do about clothes shopping.

Now the only thing left to ask, is do we feel this was because we can make our own clothes, or did we start to make our own clothes because we feel this way?

Something else for you to ponder...


  1. I've got size 9 feet and I definitely have fit issues with shoes!

  2. Great post - I personally began sewing after realizing that RTW dresses did not fit me after gaining some weight. If the top portion fits, the hips won't. If the hips fit, the top portion of my body will be swimming in fabric. I supppose most of my weight gain goes to my lower half - but, hips, thighs. I couldn't buy skirts either because they would ride up around the hips but a size bigger would mean that it was too big around my waist! It was really a dilemma, especially since I can't lose weight as quickly or easily as I did when I was in my 20's. That's when I decided to learn to sew and I'm so happy I did!

    1. I always have problems with RTW skirts and trousers because there's about 10 inches difference between my waist and hip measurements - if something fits the waist, its too tight on the hips, and if it fits on the hips the waist is enormous!

  3. I can remember the specific garment that was the tipping point for me! I used to buy a lot of my clothes from Anthropologie. When I first started shopping there (well over ten years ago) everything I bought was well made from quality materials. But gradually polyesters started creeping in, and then shoddy construction. About 5 months after I started sewing again, I ordered a dress from there that I really loved - and was SO disappointed when it came. The fabric was flimsy, the narrow hem was uneven, and the belt tie actually had a rip in the seam about two inches long! The seam had been sewn so close to the edge (to save fabric no doubt) and the fabric was so flimsy and fray-prone that the seam just disintegrated! I think that may be the last item I bought from Anthropologie!

    As for shoes: I agree with you that shoes generally don't prompt the same kind of body issues as clothing. I've always been a shoe-aholic, and I blame Agatha Christie. I remember being very young and reading in one of her books that you can always tell a real lady by the quality of her shoes: her clothing may be worn and mended, even cheap, but her shoes will be good quality and stylish. A depression-era attitude that somehow stuck with me!

    1. What you say about the Anthropologie dress totally sums up my feelings on quality with a lot of RTW garments.

      I agree with your comments about shoes. Nice quality shoes can transform an otherwise ordinary outfit.

  4. I used to be a shopaholic. Especially when I worked in human resources and could wear dresses and suits and skirts and HEELS!!!! Now, my job doesn't allow for fun dressing. I have to dress sensibly so my "uniform" is trousers and a top and flat comfortable (meh) shoes. I work in a male dominated environment and finding the balance between feminine but not cute or trendy is tough.

    I started sewing this January and have probably bought 2 things from the store - both cute weekend tops from Target.

    I prefer to spend allll of my free money on fabric, notions and patterns! :-)

    1. You have my sympathies! I work as a building surveyor, so really should dress in a similar fashion to that you describe. I rarely do though, unless I know I'm going to be required to climb a ladder or scaffolding.

  5. Fascinating - my geeky side loves your charts! I don't like trying things on in shops - I can't just pick it up and know a size will fit so I can either spend a day shopping getting dressed and undressed over and over again or be prepared to go back and forth to the shops to take stuff back. Neither is enjoyable, changing rooms tend to be pretty unfriendly places. So I'm motivated to sew in order to avoid all that! Shoe shopping isn't nearly so traumatic - I still vary in size a little bit depending on manufacturer but trying them on isn't such a performance :)

    1. Yes, totally agree that changing rooms can be horrible places. At least we've got away from the communal changing rooms of the past!

  6. I never found the quality good in shops, even years ago. I always liked the expensive clothes, but on a student's wage they were out of reach. Now I can afford them, I can't find the quality clothes, quality fabrics and quality finishes!! The quality fabrics have also disappeared. Sigh. So, I sew what I can from what I can get. I'm also working hard at learning how to sew better.

    I find shoes shopping tedious as well. I have wide feet, and where I live, wide means obese. I am not obese, I have thin wide feet. So when I find shoes that fit, the magic plastic comes out straight away :)

    1. Sorry to hear you find shoe shopping tedious as well Sarah Liz! I can imagine the situation you describe is very frustrating.


Thank you so much for your comment, every one is read and appreciated. It means a lot to me that you take the time to read and comment on my posts.