Why home sewing gets a bad rap


Dear God, please save us from the homemade prom dress!

I received the new sales circular from Hancock Fabrics. Guess what? It’s Prom Time! Well, it is in the sewing world, anyway, which runs a couple of months ahead of the calendar.

This photo from the sales circular is a perfect example of why home sewing has earned such a bad reputation. Garish fabrics made into ill-fitting garments that just have that “home made” look. People who sew custom garments call this LHAH, or “Loving Hands at Home,” and it’s the reason that most people have come to prefer store-bought clothing over hand-made.

The main difference is education. When people sewed a larger portion of their own garments, they learned the proper way to do so from an early age. They had many hours to practice, and an instructor (usually a mother) to start them out with things like patchwork and mending (remember mending?) and work their way up to hems and finally garments. Not nearly as many people have this sort of knowledge or practice available to them.

Does this mean that without a great deal of training and practice nobody is fit to create clothes by hand? Not necessarily. While some clothing items (prom dresses) are best left to the advanced sewist (new term, since seamstress is not gender neutral, and we all know what a sewer is…), other projects are well within grasp for most with a rudimentary knowledge of sewing.

Think: pajama pants, skirts, and aprons (yes, aprons are back!).

And for heaven’s sake, remember to press your seams! That’s what my mother taught me.

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2 Responses to Why home sewing gets a bad rap

  1. Laura H says:

    As the mother of a 17 yr old girl, I sadly have to say that this IS what is in the stores – bad fit, garish fabric, lousy seems and all. Don’t go into the fancy dress department of any department store – you may have a seizure, with the ocular input beyond overwhelming.

    I recently had to teach a friend who has been sewing for decades that seam allowances do matter – and pressing your seems as you go IS really helpful toward getting a professional/quality look. (as a mechanical draftsperson you would think she would have understood the tolerance stackup involved in doing 1/4 inch seems instead of 5/8… after I mocked her she looked bashfull and figured out why nothing every came out the size/dimensions it was supposed to.)

    • Lisa Yarost says:

      Ugh, It just so happens that I wandered through a few department stores last week. Why do prom dresses have to be so awful? They were frilly messes when my sister was that age, garish ruffly shiny cupcakes when I was that age, and sleazy hooker dresses when my stepdaughter was that age. I guess they are marketing to a 17-year-old’s idea of glamour, but holy cannoli! Can they get any worse?

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