When is Enough?

After giving my wardrobe lotsof thought, I bought the fabric for the final two pieces that should complete my wardrobe, a black jumper (pinafore dress) and a red skirt.  After these are done, every top that I wear on a regular basis will go with every bottom and I could, theoretically get rid of every item in my closet that I only wear once in a while or not at all.  The question is: how many pieces does one need in a wardrobe, how many is enough?  Recently, on the Fedora Lounge, an old thread about how many dresses one owns resurfaced.  One respondent claimed to own over 45,000.  Yes, I’ve double checked that number.  Now, I have a confession to make.  Unlike most vintage ladies appear to be, I am not a fashionista.  Being so short that even RTW petite clothes don’t fit well, I’ve never been into buying clothes.  I’ve always just had a closet full of basic clothes that fit my public image, whether it was ripped tights and Doc Martens or circle skirts and crinolines, but I never really cared about them.

I originally learned to sew because I was involved in historical reenactment.  I loved to create historical clothing because there was so much more involved than just garment construction.  Also, my best work went into my husband’s clothing.   I would spend months researching a particular item, learning how to things the way it was done “back then”, finding just the right fabric or notion before even starting on the actual garment.  All that prep work is what I loved and still love today.  I never really enjoyed the reenactments, they just gave me a reason to make the outfit.

I started sewing modern clothes when we left reenactment, mainly as a way to save money.  Once I learned about fit, my priorities were to have a wardrobe that fit.  In my mind, there has always been a time when I might finish that wardrobe.  In a way, having kids and going up and down in weight has been a good thing.  It’s kept me sewing and learning all these years.  Now, I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The clothes that I wear on a regular basis are all clothes that I love.  That’s a first for me.  I can see a time when I don’t really need anything new.  Do I stop sewing?  How do I fill my time?  How do I keep the creative part of my brain satisfied so it doesn’t drive me crazy?  These are questions that have plagued me for a while but I guess I have some time to think about them.


About andreahg

I'm a stay-at-home wife and mom to two boys, a cat and two rough collies. I love to sew and knit with vintage patterns, primarly from the WWII era.
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17 Responses to When is Enough?

  1. Cathy Miller says:

    Hey Andrea –

    You could always sew for other people. It seems as though it would be a waste not to use the knowledge you have gained about fit and construction. I am sure there are folks out there who would love some well-fitting clothes. You could probably get a spot on a local morning newscast/magazine kind of show since your focus is a vintage wardrobe. They eat that stuff up (around here anyway), and it would be a good way to advertise to potential clients.

    Just a thought….


  2. Tasha says:

    Learn to knit to fill the time! 😉

  3. angie.a says:

    Oh wow, I have no idea! I can’t imagine ever not sewing, so I guess you just cull and make new garments every year. I do get tired of things, even things I loved one time. And things do wear out (although not the things I make, not like RTW!) I don’t want you to stop, of course, for selfish reasons. 😉

  4. Sølvi says:

    This is such an interesting question! Although I love the fashion part of clothing, I feel that there needs to be a line drawn somewhere, too. So I have started making stuff for others. Unfortunately, if these “others” aren´t available at any time I need a fitting session, then it´s no use.

    It really is a question to ponder about. Another thing I try to do, is focus on embellishments. I am making a simple A-line skirt, really if I wanted to, it would be done in a couple of hours, but I have decided to crochet a trim for it, instead of being lazy and go buy some. Takes more time, and I make less clothes… 🙂

    Good luck!

  5. gMarie says:

    Very interesting question. Like Angie I get tired of clothes that I once loved. Maybe they no longer fit right – because I’ve changed size or the print doesn’t thrill me.

    Creative juices however – can be fulfilled (at least in my world) with knitting, pillowcases and other ‘crafty, gifty’ type items. I hope you don’t quit sewing – but I also understand you sew from a different ‘starting point’ than some others. Love seeing what you are making. g

  6. Lauren says:

    A very interesting question, indeed. I’ve often thought of how vintage culture buys into modern tendencies but mix with the collector need for more. It can be quite a dangerous combination.
    But I don’t think you really need to worry. It’s not like you’re buying things off the peg- you get the joy in the creation, I’m sure- which is probably why you’re probably the most productive sewer I can think of! It’s different if you’re just shopping to shop- you’re creating something!
    Well, maybe that’s my justification anyways 😉
    But don’t ask me to give up patterns. Hehe. That’s my horder nature right there.

    • andreahg says:

      Lauren, I analyzed the pattern hording behavior a while back, before I even knew about eBay. A pattern represents a potential garment, something that can be made with dream fabric, the perfect notions, worn to the exact right occasion. You’re not hording patterns, you’re hording ideas. At least, that’s what I tell myself to justify buying so many patterns that I don’t have enough money leftover to buy fabric with which to make them.

  7. sdBev says:

    You sound more like the French and some other European countries. They care about how they look and will spend money on a great item. But in no way appreciate or want to accumulate the amount of clothing the average American woman boasts. I’d say it is an individual choice. Even though your wardrobe may be “finished”, if you’d like tocontinue sewing you might consider replacing loved garments with better constructed items or fabric. If you wardrobe is truly complete, you will find yourself needing to replace some pieces from time to time. Or you could sew for someone else.

  8. adelaide b says:

    This may be the time to start focussing on more advanced techniques: things that take longer, but will make you a better seamstress.

    • andreahg says:

      You’re right. I have had fabric and pattern sitting in my stash to make a winter coat for years, but kept putting it off because I knew it would take so long.

  9. Cathi says:

    The coat sounds like a perfect idea Andrea.
    Looks like maybe you’ve already found your next step. Instead of sewing a “basic” wardrobe maybe it’s time to up the ante – look at couture methods of sewing, tailoring or maybe accessories? How about hats or gloves? Gloves can be very labour intensive and tricky. Or what about those items beyond a basic wardrobe? An LBD or maybe even an evening gown? I know most people don’t wear them very often but it would be an awesome piece to work on and take your time on. Want to make it a little more in-depth and interesting you could replicate something vintage (there’s your chance for the research you love!).
    Oh! And don’t forget there’s always lingerie too! Hardly anyone thinks of that these days.

  10. Nancy Sparks says:


    Do you still have the directions for Anne Adams 4792 pattern that you made back in 2007? I have a copy of what I believe is that same pattern but I have no directions. I know my pattern is 4792. It has a bolero and other components that lead me to believe it might look similar when completed. I haven’t found this pattern for sale anywhere.


  11. Dani in NC says:

    Do you sew for your children? If your kids are young, sewing for them as they outgrow items should keep you busy for quite a while.

    BTW, I am in the same boat with the needlework. I know how to knit, crochet, and cross-stitch, but I am not very productive because my hands start to hurt. If I get carried away and knit for several hours at a time, I’m out of commission for a week.

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