Ethical Elegance: Sewing Skills

Jun 18

fabricOne of my few regrets is not having been a better student in Home Economics. I was in middle school and not much interested in such things. Goodness, I set a potholder on fire (not on purpose!) in the Home Ec kitchen. And even though I’m sure part of me craved sewing skills, I was in no mental or emotional place to develop them during those tumultuous years.

Things are different now. I learned a little about sewing clothes in my early 20s, but my garments never had polish nor did they fit right. After taking Cal’s pattern drafting class at Brooklyn General, my excitement about sewing has increased every week. My plan is to build my sewing skills this summer as a way to build my ethical, elegant wardrobe.

I confess to a bit of a pattern-buying frenzy. Here are some of the pieces I plan to make:

Anna Maria Horner’s Painted Portrait Dress. I’m following the Alabama Chanin adaptations.

Colette Sorbetto top. This pattern is free, and I’ll be using the gray and blue fabrics pictured above.

Factory Dress by Merchant and Mills. I ordered my pattern from Clementine, and if you call, lovely Leah will also help you pick out just the right fabric. I’m using the red pictured above.

Wiksten Tank. I haven’t selected a fabric for this yet. I think it will be a good top to wear with my skinny jeans.

Everyday skirt from Liesl & Co. I wear skirts all the time. In fact, I rarely wear pants to work, and almost never wear shorts in the summer. It’s all dresses and skirts all the time around here. I am hoping this may be one I can master and make in casual and work-appropriate fabrics.

A-frame skirt from Blueprint Patterns. The shape of this is so smart. Can’t you see it with boots and a big sweater in the winter?

I made one of Sonya’s 100 Acts of Sewing Skirt No. 1, and I love the fit of the pattern, and Sonya’s instructions are easy to follow. In fact, I was so smitten with the skirt, I dug through my back issues of Taproot and made her tunic in issue 8.

As so much of the wardrobe I’ve nursed through years of minimalish dressing starts to look shabby, I’m excited to replace it with garments I construct myself.  I’m eager to build my sewing skills, and I’ll be relying a lot on the Clementine Pinterest boards. I fully intend to make up for those middle school years!

What are you stitching this summer? Any sewing patterns you think I should see?


  1. Ellen /

    I had fun clicking those links! The A-frame skirt is tempting me too, I’d love to try it in lightweight denim.

  2. While my sewing of bags and home decor has improved over the years, I’ve not made much clothing beyond the odd pair of PJ pants and very simple skirts. That A-Frame skirt is really tempting and would be beneficial to my warm-weather wardrobe!

  3. I look forward to following along… as one who doesn’t even own a sewing machine, I have nothing but enthusiastic support to offer!

  4. I almost bought the Factory Dress at Clemintine last summer, then thought, I will not sew this so just put it back. Now I want it. I have a nice length of grey linen that has been waiting for a project for a year or three.

  5. you go girl! none of us were really in a mindset to really learn to sew in Home Ec. i’m excited to watch the progress of your handmade wardrobe, and i’m here for you if you need any advice!

  6. It’s been fun to watch you take on the sewing projects! I love to sew — but don’t do it much these days. I sewed most of my own clothes as a teen (comes from being a young fashionista with no money…) and really honed my skills in 4-H. Now days, I’m having fun with my (slow) Alabama Chanin projects, but may dust off my sewing machine once again, too. 🙂

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