SWAP — Sewing With A Purpose

Domestically-made clothing. I’m starting to realize that buying clothes made in the United States or making them yourself (all domestic-like — get it? Sorry, I’m easily amused) requires an awful lot of time. Shopping at garage sales and thrift stores, sifting through bins of quarter items, washing, drying, altering — it’s a lot more complicated than simply driving to the mall and heading towards your favorite store that has every item in every color and in every size. Crafting items takes even longer. I know you all know what that’s like; buying fabric, finding or making a pattern, cutting, sewing, tweaking, ironing, and dealing with the results, good or bad. But despite all of the work — and maybe even because of it — discovering hidden treasure in a thrift store or creating something unique is unbelievably fulfilling.

Because all of this takes so much time and effort, though, I’m now sewing — and buying, really — with a purpose; I’ve made a solid plan for my sewing and shopping this Summer in preparation for next season. Ideally, this will maximize return on my work and ensure that I’m never stuck running to Walmart for a pair of socks or underwear. To start, I made a list of everything my oldest son will need for the fall. Eventually I’ll do this for all of my children, but I started with him. I wrote it all down; pants, shirts, jackets, shoes, belts, underwear, everything, including how many he will need of each. Then, I filled in everything that he already has that will meet some of those needs. After that, I figured out what I will have to sew and what I will shop for, whether at thrift stores or online. It’s really the same concept as a grocery list, with the same goals; I get what I need, and only what I need, in a way that saves time, energy, and money and minimizes wasteful spending and wasteful wearing.

The first item to be sewn on the list? A pair of pants.

This Spring I fell in love with the Boy’s Pants Tutorial at IkatBag. These pants are a loose interpretation of that adorable tutorial; check it out if you need to churn out some pants yourself.

For my version, I used a very, very old, stained, torn-up pair of my husband’s pants. Can you see the rips in the side? I had to carefully place my pattern — which was made from a pair of my son’s jeans — because of all of the wear on those things. I used nearly every scrap of usable material from the pants — including the zipper.

For the lining and accent fabric, I used some Ralph Lauren sheets I found at a local secondhand shop for $2. They were clean, high-quality, and king-size; in short, they were the holy grail of thrift-store-sheet-shopping.

Instead of an elastic waist, I added a zipper placket (using the zipper from the original pants) and belt loops.

The bottoms roll up to fit my son right now . . .

. . . and will roll down to fit in the future.

I’m very pleased with how they came out, and in making them I really learned some of the basic, down-and-dirty, not-very-fun aspects of making pants. And when I say “pants” I don’t mean the cute little boutique-y ruffle-y pants, but real, honest wardrobe staples that do real, honest work. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll take a chance and make some pants for myself or my husband. Okay, maybe not. But who knows. I AM sewing with a purpose, now, after all.

Oh, and one more thing . . .

The Aftermath. I’m so glad my husband has a sense of humor. 🙂

Now go make something. Go feel fulfilled. And then go tell the world about it.

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5 Responses to “SWAP — Sewing With A Purpose”


  1. 1 Jennifer S. June 10, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Wow – yeah, I’m not motivated to go the whole nine yards and make a nice set of pants, I’m more – you need pants? Here – I’ll sew these 2 rectangles together, add elastic, tada! I guess my family sewn with purpose would be quite a tattered bunch… maybe that’s just my style, Maybe that’s why my mother in law buys my kids tons of clothes when she visits… and my husband… and she;s started buying me stuff too… heeeeyyyyyy…

  2. 2 Andrea June 11, 2010 at 7:25 am

    I’ve been wanting to make a pair of those pants since she published the pattern. Yours are so cute. Love the zipper and belt loops.

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