For me, sewing my own clothing brings me so close to the garment industry that it is inescapable that real people, not machines, make our clothes. And while I’m sewing, I get frustrated, I struggle to make my sewing machine cooperate, and sometimes, I can’t get the clothes to fit the way I envision.
It’s challenging to sew clothes. And it’s even more challenging to sew clothes that fit well.
With 7 years of sewing experience, this button-up top took me 7 hours to make, all in the name of reconnecting with the process of making clothing through slow-fashion.
Here’s the breakdown:
- 7 hours at Texas minimum wage of $7.25/hr
- A quick note about minimum wage: one could argue that the minimum wage is not high enough to be considered a living wage in America. For example, in Texas the minimum wage is $7.25/hr, where a 40/hr week adds up to $15,080 per year. The 2014 Federal Poverty Level Threshold for two people (say a single mom and her child) is $15,730.
- $40 in materials (pattern, fabric, interfacing, thread, buttons).
Without any mark-up for profit, just paying for minimum wage labor and materials, the total for this shirt would be $90.75.
Does this make it crystal clear why paying $4.99 for a button-up shirt is really scary? The real person that is constructing your shirt is not being paid fairly. The end.
Yes, there are economies of scale in factories that I am not afforded. But $85 in economies of scale? Just something to chew on as we continue this conversation about ethical fashion.
On to some sewing details for you seamstresses (or would-be seamstresses).
This sweet little button-up shirt is the Aster Pattern from Colette Patterns. If you are getting into sewing your own clothing, I highly recommend their patterns as they are the clearest and easiest to understand patterns I have come across. And their styles are beautiful, adaptable and timeless!
The fabric is Anna Maria Horner’s Loominous Line, Traffic Cotton Chambray in Forest (similar). Both the fabric and the pattern came from our awesome local Austin fabric store – The Cloth Pocket. They carry THE BEST fabrics. Check them out in person if you are local, or just browse their website!
What do you think – is it worth it to make our own clothing? Is the learning experience and time that it takes a worthwhile trade-off?
Let’s talk about this some more over on Instagram at @DressWellDoGood. We would love to hear what you think about this topic! And of course, don’t forget to sign up to receive our posts by e-mail (upper right side of blog).