The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Student Feature – Belinda

Belinda runs a blog over on The Scattered Sewist (as she says, mostly about embroidery, and she does beautiful embroidery – go over there and peruse through her posts, cause they’re filled with creative ideas).

She’s retired (lucky devil) from Lockheed.  When someone says something like that to me, I just drop my jaw and think OHEMMMGEE and that’s about as intelligent as I can get cause folks like this are some sort of super Einsteins.  I love listening to them talk, but ask me to repeat what I just heard and I’m stuck, but I still love all that physics and math stuff!

But onto Belinda – she had an important event coming up.  Her retired lifestyle requires a different fashion look than when she was working.  She always looks great.

This is typical of her “retired” wardrobe which works well for her.  But her special event required something she hasn’t had in her wardrobe for a long time.

Belinda has a normal shaped figure, so to find something like this in RTW, was going to require a  lot of luck or a whole lot of time (like maybe years) and probably a whole lot of money.  Not that she wouldn’t have been happy to find something that fit and look good on her and would most likely pay for it, but the fact is that she would have had to have settled for something that wasn’t what she was looking for.

We met at the local fabric store (we are very lucky locally to have a versatile fabric store, and then regionally a very fine fabric store), and looked at some options. Belinda already had a good idea about how she wanted to make this up:

We wandered through the store (the gals at the store can see the look in our eyes and just leave us along and give us a table to spread everything out on, and sometimes they’ll come over and put a bolt next to it.  Suddenly we found this gorgeous burn-out chiffon, and we put a dusty deep mauve silk next to it and it sang!

Belinda has a peaches and cream complexion and dark hair, so she needs to stay on the cool side of the color wheel.  The silk burnout had some wonderful purples in it which is perfect for her, but also has some bright oranges (which liven it up and we all know how orange is in!!!!)  But orange isn’t in Belinda’s palette.  But we looked at this print a long time, and worked out a way to use the purple close to her face, and keep the orange away from the top of the tunic.

So she had her outfit.

Onto sewing….here are some shots of her finished outfit.

You can see the oranges here and what she did is kept those warmer colors away from her face and on her back.  Below you can see how she kept the brighter cooler colors in front and around her face.  This is a great method to us if you’re using something multicolored and you like the fabric but not all colors are flattering.  Belinda planned this out when we were looking at the fabric at the store, so she knew ahead of time how she would be using the fabric.

Here she is showing it off in class.

Belinda hasn’t worn this yet, but has given me permission to “preview” it before it’s inaugural wearing – so don’t tell anyone about this so it will make it’s premier at her event this summer!!!  It’s a secret….K?!!!!!

But – here’s the punch line to this whole post, and sorry took me so long to get here.

What was the alternative for Belinda in this – a store?..OK, let’s go shopping…..where?….department store?…local mall?  Probably not.  So let’s go to a major metropolitan area and check out the more exclusive stores….like Neiman’s or high-end boutiques.

Let’s say she could find the colors and look and style she wanted (and frankly, that’s asking a lot and probably impossible – but let’s just say…..)

This cool little piece from Stella McCartney runs $445.

This number is from Alexander McQueen and isn’t even close to what Belinda wanted, but is listed as a tunic and sort of the medium price for a tunic.  It runs $1,400.

This is an Oscar straight-legged pant (in the wrong color, but at least the right style) for $1,000.

So let’s total this up – and remember we didn’t even find anything close to what Belinda has, we’re just using what we could find, and we have  $3,000.  This is the minimum value of what Belinda has made for herself.

Now, here’s the bottom line.  If she were to go to Oscar or Carolina or Vera or even in-house designer at Bergdorf’s or Neiman’s – easy that figure would go way, way up.

So what’s the value of what Belinda has designed?  Belinda is the first to tell you she did NOT spent $3,000 on the fabric, and even if she included her time, this outfit didn’t run anything close to $3,000.  Belinda is not comparing this to an outfit that would be at Target or Walmart because first, she couldn’t come close to the value of what she had made, and secondly, there wouldn’t be anything close to this offered at the store.

Even when Belinda sews for her everyday life, she’s not comparing that to Walmart or Target, because again she can’t find anything like what she’s wearing at these stores.  Even if she goes to the higher end boutiques and department stores she can’t find what she wants, in her size, shape or style.  So when she sews, she’s not only building her wardrobe into an entire collection of “Wear Me!!!” clothes, she’s also upping the value of her clothes as she no longer buys.

Part of the problem here is that we, the public, are so  warped about the cost of what we purchase, that we no longer have a reasonable perspective about what clothes really cost.  Fine clothes, made well, are not found at WalMart or the discount boxes;  they aren’t even found in the mall stores or department stores.  This whole idea of discount clothing has become so pervasive in our attitude toward shopping, that we compare something like this:

to something like this:

And I couldn’t find one in purple which is Belinda’s favorite color.  In addition this doesn’t really have any shape or style to it.  It’s just a scarf with a neckline cut out, and this doesn’t include the silk pants and shell that Belinda has for her ensemble.

Well, you get the point here.  Yeah sewing is affordable, and for we sewists, we can be a lot more frivolous with our wardrobes than others.

But here’s the other thing that we forget.  Belinda got exactly what she wanted in her favorite color – purple.  She can take her pants and wear them with another vest or jacket for another event.

One last thing here:  Belinda can also bask in the glow of her own creativeness.  There’s nothing like walking into an important gathering and knowing you look good and can’t wait for someone to say: “Where did you get that gorgeous outfit?”….with the accompanying, “Oh I designed it!”

And then prepare for the inevitable grumblings, “I might have known,”  or “It’s too pretty to have been bought,” or “I’d never find anything that pretty in the store.”

Yep, they’re right!

So now……



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