Some of you might remember the decision I made back at the start of 2010 to stop buying clothes and focus on making all our wearables. I did some thinking about costs and a lot of posts about what I wore and why. It's hard to find posts that sum up all that was happening on this topic back then, which I think reflects how organically that decision came to be made.
While many of those thoughts are as live and active in my mind now as they were then, I haven't given them shape and meaning here as they have evolved. Perhaps because it's almost a new year, or perhaps because 2012 turned out to be such a monumental disaster, I find myself looking critically at what's going on with me. I'm looking for clues to a better life.
So the other day I got dressed and I realised I was wearing a mostly shop bought outfit. My heart deflated a little. How did that happen? I make all my clothes with just a few exceptions, right? I looked at my kids and they each had at least one shop bought garment on too and my spirits dipped even lower. When did I let this sweatshop created junk creep in my door?
It doesn't take much thinking to see how all this has happened, afterall, with broken arms and arthritic shoulders and bursitis and work stress and general sad-sack-itis, a lot of the joy of making has leaked away and really, I'm practically a cripple. I haven't knit since April, I haven't felt inspired and energetic about sewing for months. The tank is empty.
I've still made some stuff for sure, but I've also resorted to bought items, especially for the kids. The lure of a $6 T-shirt has been too great more often this year than it has been in the last few. Wil's first year at school has seen a dramatic escalation in the destruction and loss of clothes - particularly hoodies - and it's hard to be motivated to spend hours of my time making something he might only hold onto for a handful of days. And I've bought myself a few things too - not a lot, just a few cheap T-shirts, a couple of pairs of pants, some less cheap tops for layering.
So here's the thing. On the whole I am not happy about that. I'm not convinced I couldn't have done without those clothes, and I know I would feel a lot better if I hadn't bought them. I'd have fewer things to wash, fold and store, fewer things that I don't really love clogging up my wardrobe
I'd feel better about not supporting corporations who think it's OK to exploit Asian labour so that rich folks like ourselves (and yep, I count you in that category because if you are reading this and not working in a textile factory in Bangladesh or China you are on the rich side of this balance scale) can buy our kids' hoodies for $10. I'd feel better about the quality and suitability of my clothes, I'd feel better about choosing to wear my making instead of a brand. I'd feel better wearing clothes that really fit me and that look like something I could care about.
And it's not because I'm totally against buying anything at all - last year I bought a lovely lightweight coat that was massively discounted and I've worn it a lot. It was a great purchase. But I don't seem to be very good at making considered, wise purchases and whether it's the instant gratification of retail therapy, the promise of a bargain or some easy fashion experimentation, I don't like feeling like I've bought something I don't need for reasons I'm not fully conscious of. I feel duped. And lazy.
So I'm renewing my commitment. I'm going to try and be more mindful of how unsatisfying those purchases are, of how moving beyond need brings a whole other set of problems to my door. I'm reminding myself that the imperfections of my own garments are no greater than those I buy, that the time and energy to make is often not greater than what it takes to shop (and certainly more relaxing), that the pleasure of purchase never comes even close to how I feel about the stuff I make.