I’ve been meaning to continue this series for some time and well, good gravy, life has happened! Thank you for your patience as we’ve been working behind the scenes here for new and upcoming things. I have been wanting to get back to my blogging habits for awhile now. I love connecting with others that sew on this level and I miss it terribly! So with that, we can now resume this regularly scheduled program on working with wool!

I think we’re all wanting to know more about fabrics so that we can arm ourselves with this knowledge when we go to the fabric store. It also helps (tremendously) when you’re purchasing goods online too. So today, I thought I would take a minute and give some thoughts on fabric care for woolens.

Caring-For-Wool

When I talk with people in real life about fabrics in general, there is a lot of misconception about fabric care. And I get asked about how one should care for a certain fabric all the time, so I’m going to give you some of my thoughts and some facts that will hopefully help you out with caring for your wool fabrics/garments. First some facts about wool.

  • Wool is a protein. It’s the hair of any animal that has been spun into yarn and from there woven or knitted into cloth.
  • Moths love protein for their babies. Moth adults will lay their moth larvae in wool cloth (or fiber/yarn) and their younglings will hatch and eat the wool. It’s a good source of protein after all!
  • Wool shrinks a little in cold water and a lot more in hot water. Wool felts when agitated in hot water. Depending on the weave and type, some wools felt more than others.

One of the biggest misconceptions about wool is that you can’t wash it. If you’re careful, you can care for your woolens at home. For the most part. Consider wool fabric yardage for a moment. If you’re thinking about pre-laundering wool fabric, consider what the fabric is going to be and from there, pre-launder/shrink according to how you will launder the final garment. My thoughts are:

  • garments with a lot of internal structure, ie. jackets & coats, should be dry-cleaned sparingly. To pre-launder these, I spray down the fabric yardage with a water bottle and stick in the dryer for 20 minutes (or stick it in the dryer with a wet cloth). Works especially wonderfully right before you’re ready to cut.
  • skirts, blouses, dresses and pants can be hand washed in cold water, hung to dry and from there, ironed (I also do this sparingly). I do the same with fabric yardage before cutting.

woolen-care

If you’re unsure what a certain wool will do, the absolute safest route is to take a swatch of your fabric and wash it the way you plan before pre-laundering the whole yardage. If you’re satisfied with the swatch outcome, go ahead and launder your full yardage. Whatever way you choose to pre-launder, consider using shampoo on your wools instead of laundry detergent as detergent will erode the wool away over time. Wool is technically hair so it benefits from a little shampoo anyway! (This one is worth a try too as it’s specially made for wool and from personal experience, it’s lovely to use!)

There’s not just fabric and garment care to think of with wool, but also how to keep those pesky little moths at bay! I store my wool fabrics and wool garments in plastic tubs with cedar balls. You can also use cedar hangers in your closets when wool garments are in use. Cedar wood is something that repels moths naturally without leaving the horrid chemical stench of moth balls. Another thing to keep in mind is that carpet beetles love to eat wool fabrics/garments too (I’ve had this happen more times than I care to admit)! Keep your woolens picked up and off of the floor. Before I add a new piece of wool to my stash, I always either let the wool take a tumble in the dryer or a give it an overnight in the freezer as this will kill existing moths/creatures in the fabric. From there, I’ll add to my stash. This way a new wool fabric won’t infect my existing wool fabrics with moths.

Keep in mind that wool fabric that is folded and put in a tub may start to fade and loose its color over time. I’ve found this to be true with light colored woolens in particular. When they’ve been sitting in the same position for too long a time, they fade in the creases of the folds! It really makes the fabric unusable unless you’re only thinking about using it for tiny items, like doll clothes. Use your stash! And you might consider going through your stash each year and refolding the pieces differently.

What are your thoughts on caring for your wools? I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings and things that you do differently, or in addition to!

For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!

  • g - Great postReplyCancel

  • Katie - Just a heads up. An overnight in the freezer may kill off some but it won’t kill off pests, you need a longer freeze – at least 48 hours – for that (I find an oxygen deprived environment is better but how many people have a CO2 chamber at home?)

    MuseumPest has a nice section on how to freeze for pest management http://museumpests.net/solutions-fact-sheets/solutions-low-temperature-treatment/ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Oh thank you for this! Usually my wools end up in the freezer for a long period of time anyway because I always – always – forget that I’ve put them in there.ReplyCancel

      • Amanda - (Possibly a dumb) question for you ladies who freeze wool but do you place your wool in a plastic bag or something before putting in the freezer? I only have one of those little ones on top of my fridge and I’d have to cram it in there with frozen food and containers, so I’d think it would be nice to have it separated somehow LOL.ReplyCancel

  • Ramona Putnam - Thanks so much for this post!! Great info.ReplyCancel

  • Kristi - I was just thinking that I needed to learn more about caring for wool after I found a cashmere sweater with holes in it after storing for the summer. Great post! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • JenL - I’m still recovering from a horrible moth event that was discovered the winter before last. Lost so many of my favorite things! The moths seem to particularly enjoy my Uniqlo cashmere sweaters : ( One thing I learned –via experience and research– is that cedar alone is not effective. The chemical in cedar can kill moths, but only at a very high concentration that is not possible with a few cedar blocks/balls. Cedar hangers should probably be considered as primarily decorative. Yes, some of my eaten sweaters were stored with cedar blocks.

    After the moth tragedy, I have changed how I store wool. I now put it in sealed plastic bags. (The damaged garments had been stored primarily in zippered canvas boxes). Before putting wool clothing away after the season I rotate it into the freezer for about 5-7 days each. Not positive that works, but I think it can’t hurt too much. Also, it is a very good idea to launder or dry clean before storage – moths are apparently attracted to the residual sweat, etc., that may be in wool clothing. Shampoo is a great idea. I like Euclan too.

    Also, I invested in clothing moth traps. They are basically glue traps with a hormone bate and you have to get the ones that are specific for clothing moths. This won’t get rid of them, but it can alert you to the problem. Clothing moths are very small, not like the usual pantry moths or the ones that fly into the house during the summer. The traps are really the best way to find out if they are living in your closet. After living in the same place for a decade, I’m not sure where my moths came from. I suspect they travelled on a piece of clothing or fabric that I bought. I hadn’t bought any vintage or thrift store items at that time, but I would now not put them in my closet without both freezing and, of course, cleaning.

    Thanks for raising the topic!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Oh JenL, this is awful to hear about! Thanks so much for your info. I actually had no idea that there were these little moth traps you could get. Very interesting! Going to have to do some more research and find some for my fabrics. I had a most beloved cashmere sweater eaten. So sad! I also do not put any wools in with other wools unless I have taken the time to freeze, pop in the dryer or clean first. Too dangerous! Thanks so much for your input!ReplyCancel

      • JenL - I had to do a lot of research after that huge loss. I just how someone else is saved from the same trauma!ReplyCancel

  • Didge Russell - Hi Sunni

    Thanks so much for the very valuable information on caring for wool. I will be using your recommendations from now on as I have found in some fabric shops, even though they will tell you to pre-wash the fabric, according to instructions on the label, this doesn’t always turn out. I bought a very expensive woollen material a while back and followed the pre-wash care instructions and found that the woollen crepe looked as though it had been the oldest material with no crepe texture left. I did take the fabric back and got a refund, but you have really highlighted to me that you can’t always follow what the store or even the label says to do!!! Thank you so much, you have saved me many $$$$$$ and also frustration at having to throw out garments etc.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I would definitely recommend the swatch test first. It’s just such a great idea and helps eliminate ruining fabric or garments, especially ones made from wool. Thanks so much for your input!ReplyCancel

  • Tammy R. - Thank you for posting this. It is all useful information, including the comments.ReplyCancel

  • Tilly - So many great tips – thanks Sunni!ReplyCancel

  • Tracy - Regarding your comment that folded wool fabric stored in tubs will fade in the folds – does that only apply to clear tubs or even opaque tubs? I currently keep them rolled up in opaque tubs.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I’m not exactly sure about this one. I think you might be OK with the opaque tubs as I’ve found that the “fade in the folds” happens when it is exposed to light. That’s been my experience anyway.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - This is great, thanks Sunni! I’ve bought some wool fabrics recently, and I wasn’t sure how/if to prewash them. Although I don’t have many wool clothes in my wardrobe at all, I’m now slightly worried about the cashmere jumpers I bought from the market and put in the wardrobe…may have to try giving them all a freeze to be on the safe side!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Oh yes, please do! It’s much better to be safe than sorry in this case!ReplyCancel

  • Francesca - The freezing tip is brilliant! I read that the slightest amount of dirt on anything wool will attract moths – especially people dirt:) – so I never store anything without washing or cleaning. I keep sweaters and scarves and accessories I’ve used separate from the unused ones so I won’t risk putting anything away unwashed. Or wash things for nothing, because overwashing is not good either…..ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Some really great tips, especially for storage – I find wool yardage sometimes hard to find so I admit I do stash it – I store it in a big plastic bin but I will have to take some more care to re-fold it from time to time to avoid the fading; did not know that was a possibility! Thanks!ReplyCancel

This is the tiniest peek into my sewing room today. One of these days, I should show you the whole joint. Not because it’s really spectacular, but because I’m asked about it quite a bit. I’m grateful – beyond measure – to have my own dedicated sewing space. I know many don’t have that and I totally feel for ya sister – I’ve been there!

the-way-sewing-used-to-be

Maddie, from Madalynne, sent me this uber lovely photo art print that she created from a series of photos that she’s been taking called the way sewing used to be. There are several more that I would love to have from her shop, so I did the only thing a girl can do and bought a couple more that are on their way to me as I type. I was so impressed with this one, had to have more, what can I say? The nice thing about these prints is that you can get different sizes and when you’ve got a small space and not a lot of wall space, a small print to jazz up the digs is lovely. Maddie has an incredibly artful eye for all things sewing and it comes through in these photos. Very beautiful. It’s a lovely reminder than even though a lot of things in life can and are practical, they can also be translated into beautiful.

the-way-sewing-used-to-be-2

They would make great gifts, don’t ya think? Hint, hint. I can honestly say, I think every sewing enthusiast would find a little pleasure in putting one of these prints in her/his sewing space. Just had to share. It’s been quite a space of time since I actually thought about making my sewing space more beautiful (instead of just able to fit more fabric!!!). Now hop on over and think about a print for yourself, eh? Tis the season to be nice to yourself! Selfish sewing and selfish sewing space beautifying, coming right up!

xx, Sunni

  • maddie - Sunni, you are a gem. Thank you so much for the shout out. #thewaysewingusedtobe has become quite a passion and I love investigating the clever, beautiful and artful package design of sewing’s yonder years, not to mention the now obsolete sewing notions. Hope to see your space when it’s fully decorated!ReplyCancel

Approximately one year ago today (December 1 to be precise), I took ownership of a brick and mortar shop. Oh goodness, it’s been a roller coaster ride full of highs and lows. But for what it’s worth, we’ve made it! We’ve got a lot of ground to cover in the next few months (we’re changing a host of things around here) but for now, it’s definitely time to celebrate.

Cyber Monday Ad

So to celebrate, we’re having an online shop sale! Yay! For today, tomorrow and Monday, you can save 25% on all purchases from our store by using the code THANKS2014 in the discount code section at checkout. Additionally, if you spend over $100, you’ll receive free shipping (U.S. and Canada) or a flat $20 shipping charge for international folks. Please note this sale only applies online. Thanks so much everyone! The mister and I wish you a very merry as you go about your holiday bustlings.

  • Kate McIvor - One year! I’m proud of you, Sunni! I hope I can follow in your excellent footsteps!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - Just placed my first order with you, wahoo! I’ve been following your blog for almost 2 years….
    My in-laws are from Layton- would love to visit your store one day when I’m in UT!ReplyCancel

  • Kath Dee - Congratulations on your 1 year anniversary Sunni. I hope next year has more highs than lows.ReplyCancel

shop-update

It’s been sometime since I renovated the online store and it was needing it. For the past several weeks I’ve been working on putting together a new site and hopefully enabling a better shopping experience for you. Today it’s time to unveil the updated online store front to you! Yay! Since we’ve now added a lot of fabric to the online store, it was time improve several things. First of all we have improved shipping rates. These still might need some fiddling, but they are better. This is a very good thing and hopefully you’ll notice that you aren’t paying out the yin-yang for shipping. Additionally, to be able to get fabric samples out to you more efficiently, we are charging a small fee (only 15 cents a sample – no shipping charge!) and now you can just go into each fabric you want samples for and add them to your cart. Didn’t know that we offer a sample service? We do! We’re working on more ways of improving the online shopping experience of buying fabric and this is just the beginning. Though its not a new idea, it’s one we plan to improve and get you excited about in the ensuing months. We’ve got lots and lots of ideas for our fabric coming up. Oh goodness! It’s very exciting!

Fabric-&-Notion-Guide

There was a surprising response to my wool crepe post and it got me thinking a lot about having a fabric and notion guide that is connected with the shop. So now, if you’re thinking, “I have no idea what this notion does or what that fabric is like” the fabric and notion guide can help you out. This is brand new, so bear with us as we keep working on that, but it should be awesome.

There were a lot of updates on the shop owner end here, so please bear with us as we work out any kinks and if you’re having any troubles, don’t hesitate to drop me a line (or leave a comment here). I hope you find the new online shop nice to navigate and easy to use.

We have several more exciting things coming to the online shop in the next while. I’ll definitely keep you posted. For now, enjoy the new site and know that we are back open for business! Hip Hip Hooray!

  • Nakisha - Hey, I made the Burda Style Illusion jacket from that same winter white/colorful plaid! It *IS* perfect for a coat!ReplyCancel

  • maddie - Sunni, the updates and site look great! Keep up the progress!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Really happy to hear this!! I’ve always been impressed with the quality of both product and service from your online store, and will definitely continue to rely on it as a resource especially now with improved shipping :) Cheers, and will look forward to seeing what new things you have coming! :)ReplyCancel

  • Nilla - How exciting! I’ve never bought fabric online, but I’ll definitely check out the fabric guide at least :)ReplyCancel

dark-horse-1

These are another pair of jeans I made for Mr. AFS. The funny thing was, I was thinking that I would skip doing a blog post about them. It’s just another pair of jeans. I mean, you saw the distressed ones I made for him and then I talked him into having a pair that was non-distressed. But then Mr. AFS kept asking me, “When are we going to do photos for my jeans?” I rather flippantly said something like “whenever” and then later on I thought, well I guess we’d better. The day of the photoshoot (a very high fa-lutin word for what we do around here…..) Mr. AFS was ready to break out his best shirt for the occasion. He even put some “stuff” in his hair and he left his beard on “for the girls” he said. Additionally, he said something to the effect of, he needed to look good for “his following.” Ahem.

dark-horse-3

This brings me to another point. I have been doing a fair amount of very non-selfish sewing around here. This is very unlike me. But I have to say that lately, it’s kind of nice to change it up. I find that it’s easier to fit others than it is to fit myself. Especially my mister. He just doesn’t have the same curves and such as I do and that’s nice. It also still keeps me fresh in the thick of sewing and keeping up with technique and such. I’m about to embark on making my mom a few pairs of pants. Crazy coincidence is that she fits into my perfected and beloved Burda pattern just like me. So I can just whip out two pairs for her in nothing flat.

dark-horse-4

Since I’m rambling a bit in this post, let me ramble some more. Mr. AFS wore his distressed jeans to a friend’s house awhile ago and they got to talking about how I make him his jeans. And then the wife of said friend said that she wanted me to make a pair for her man (Mr. AFS’ friend) and Mr. AFS was like, “well you’ll have to talk to Sunni.” He’s been schooled very well, because then he went into the discourse of how they are made and how they are made to fit him just they way he likes and how he wanted certain things like two different thread colors and he wanted a back pocket with a flap, but attached to the back pocket. All this to say that having the experience of someone custom make jeans for you – or any piece of clothing really – is something you’ll pay the big bucks for. Unless of course you’re married to the custom clothier or are related by blood!

dark-horse-5

I think we could probably go on for a good jot about how sad the state of the United States clothing industry is (and I only say the U.S. because that’s what I know and that’s where I live). People have no clue as to how much a piece of clothing should really cost or to be more precise, how much it would really cost if they were paying the people who made it a living wage! To say nothing of what the clothes we purchase these days are made of. Now, this is not to say that I don’t wear my fair share of ready-to-wear fashion. I do, because quite frankly, I don’t have time to make all the things and I do subscribe to that saying of “moderation in all things.” I make a very good fair share of my own clothing and some for those I love.

dark-horse-2

So my big question is, how do we get more and more people interested in making their clothes? How to inspire the younger generation to make stuff with their own two hands? From scratch? What are your thoughts?

  • CM - once again, very nice jeans, nice hubby tooReplyCancel

  • Robyn - I am enjoying seeing a renewed interest in sewing across the generations. I teach children in a city enrichment program and I have begun teaching a couple of adults privately at my home. Children love it mainly, I think, due to the adventure of it. Adults I think are more interested in creating. I think that more people are trending toward sewing their own clothes again. It’s just moving slowly. I love your work on the jeans BTW. I have a pair or two on my to do list. I have everything ready to begin. Just. need. to. do. it.ReplyCancel

  • caro - i was trying to remember the other day WHY I started sewing – it was back in the pre-internet dark ages (early 90s) so there was no community and limited information resources. I think it was because I wanted a creative outlet that I could shine at – and it was the only thing I could teach myself and show some promise in. I guess my answer is that you have to tailor and target the message to individual people. My feeling is that the economics in the US are only going to get harder – if I didn’t sew I wouldn’t be able to wear quality, individualistic clothes. I could never afford to buy a really great coat–but I’ve MADE two of them. Without sewing I’d be head to toe HM, which would be very dispiriting given how poorly fast fashion treats the planet and their employees.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - Great jeans, Sunni! I think to get the younger generation back to sewing, we need to put Sewing/Home Ec back in the schools (at least as an optional class). When my son was married last year, I wore a me-made dress for the rehearsal, and their flower-girl was astounded that I could take a piece of material and “just make that”? I made her her own dress shortly after, and now I have a 7 year old who is fascinated by sewing and begging her Mom & Dad for her own machine. Hopefully, the love will last.ReplyCancel

  • Doris Steele - Sunni, you and Mr. AFS, are just cuter than a bee’s knees! Such a cute and very lucky couple. He looks like he sure is enjoying those cute jeans! As for young people wanting to learn to sew, I know of a few that are interested. I taught myself by watching all kinds of videos, books, you name it and I am fairly good at techniques but fitting my old out of shape self……….well, that’s another story. Hugs, DorisReplyCancel

  • Maggie - First off, you can tell Mr. AFS that he looks great in the beard and the jeans! And you did an another amazing job at creating them :) As for getting people excited about sewing, I wish I knew the answer. I think our society (at least maybe the younger generation?) is too used to getting things done fast and easy. Sewing *can* be like that, but if you really want something done well you need to take your time and build your skills. Hopefully, with more people getting interested in sewing (even though slowly) it will eventually come back. Maybe you and your husband should start a road-show with his jeans! 😉 Or just keep inspiring people any way you can!ReplyCancel

  • Teri - Those jeans are amazing– I can’t believe you weren’t going to post about another masterpiece! I learned to love to see because my mom was always sewing when I was young. I only have sons but they are already intrigued by my sewing machines. They might not grow up to want to see their own clothes but at least they’ll know it’s possible. But I will definitely encourage them to try out sewing when they are a little older!ReplyCancel

  • Tina - Great pair of jeans! Oh, and they look good on your hubby, too. Since he wants a fan club LOL! I agree with you regarding the clothing industry needing help with realizing the true cost of making quality garments. I am happy to say I have been teaching sewing to the next generation of women as I have each year more little girls wanting to take sewing lessons than I have time to teach. Very encouraging for me!ReplyCancel

  • Karen - Those jeans are fabulous, that is a lot of time and work there, lady! I made a pair of tailored dress pants once for my ex and he never wore them, no he would buy ready to wear and have me “fix them”. So I am so happy to see that your man loves to wear the jeans you loving made for him. I am right up there with you regarding the “living wage” issue. We need to respect and value the work that everyone does and pay them for what they do. Do I need 10 ready to wear t-shirts? No I can get through my life with 5 that may cost a little more but the material and craftsmanship are better. I am of the age that girls were taught to sew, at first by their mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. Then we had sewing in Home-Ec. When my daughters were growing up came the glut of cheap ready to wear and it seemed just easier to buy clothes from the big box stores. And it was also the time that Home-Ec was removed from the classroom. So now that they are grown women with their own children, I am teaching them to sew. I am so happy to see the “sew slow” and “hand sewn, hand made” revival. Keep us honest and thinking with your posts!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - I’m not “younger generation” but I am just starting … Funny thing, I think the industry is pushing people into garment construction by a) ridiculous sizing, b) some horrible labor practices, and c) cookie cutter designs. Throw Project Runway and the growing Homesteader movement into the mix …
    it will grow! Me … Well … I’m a not outrageously tall 5’11 and I can’t buy pants long enough unless I go for big money labels. Keep it up … you and your online colleagues are inspiration.ReplyCancel

    • Kate McIvor - I am also tall, and I love to make things that are long enough! When I was talking to my VERY tall banker about my plans to open a fabric shop and sewing school, he whispered, “Don’t tell anyone, but I have a Janome. I do a lot of my own mending.” He was so cute, and I think those of us who are not of average size are part of the hope for home sewing.ReplyCancel

  • Aunty Maimu - What patterndid you use? I am gearing up to make first pair of jeans for my other half and am wondering whether to buy a pattern or make one from scratch.

    Plus if I may be so bold and say what an handsom husband you have!

    Hiw to get younger people to sew…if I knew the answer to that I wouldn’t be sewing my cousin garduation and party dresses.
    but I have noticed more younger people at fabric shops, asking assistance on which fabric would be best for thus and that so there is hope!ReplyCancel

  • Debbie - Hi Sunni,

    You are such an inspiration to me. I totally agree with you on the state of clothing! It’s overpriced! Stripes and plaids don’t match, and everyone thinks that’s o.k. My 7th grade Home-Ec teacher would be appalled if she were still living!!!! I would love to be able to sew my own clothes. I used to do all my clothes, but with my life the way it is, I don’t have time. Someday… I agree with all the comments on Mr. AFS.

    DebbieReplyCancel

  • Emilee - I make some of my clothes, but definitely not all. And friends know that I sew and some have asked me to make them things. When I feel up to it and that the request is a project I can tackle, I’ll go ahead and sew what they want sewn. However, I’ve made it clear from the beginning that I sew basics, nothing too complicated or fitted. And I never asked for a specific dollar amount. What you said about how people would pay big bucks for custom fit clothing resonated with me. Whenever I make something for a friend, I have to determine in my head and heart from the very beginning that it will be a gift and whatever they pay (as long as is covers fabric and notions) is fine. People aren’t good at understanding the time and energy put into custom made clothes, which is unfortunate. But, then again, I never did either, until I atarted sewing. But I don’t need to make people clothing for money. Fortunately, I have another very well paying part-time job that pays for my sewing habits :-)
    Some friends will complain about how expensive it is to alter a garment and dance around asking me to alter for them for free instead, but I try to explain to them that altering is that person’s job, their sole income, and you are not paying for thread, you and paying for their time and expertise, which as a fellow seamstress, is very valuable. But it can be hard to get other people to see the value in that.ReplyCancel

  • Angela - LOL, I could simply copy Doris’ letter word for word! Mr. AFS is quite handsome, please tell him that his “following” are very happy that he made such a dapper appearance. The jeans look great by themselves, but he certainly adds to them!

    I know some homeschool groups are teaching the kids sewing basics, but it is really sad that it isn’t offered in schools anymore.

    Mary, I WISH my daughter were begging to learn to sew! But sigh, not at the moment.ReplyCancel

  • Nakisha - NICE pants!!!!!

    My daughter has no interest in sewing but when she explained why -I got it. She paints, she draws, she plays instruments and writes music. Not that those things can’t overlap with sewing, but I get that THOSE are her preferred hobbies.

    When I was out of town her work pants ripped at the knee and she sewed them together by hand. That made me happy.

    She needs to know how to do those things – sew on a button, mend a small hole, I will teach her to hem her pants before she goes out on her own too!

    I have been inspired a couple of peers to learn to sew since I’ve started. It makes me happy!ReplyCancel

    • sj kurtz - My teen son had no interest in sewing until his tastes changed and he started pursuing labels. Thrift shopping always leads to alterations, which is the gateway drug to sewing. That’s how we hook the youngsters today…..

      I always charge for alterations. I probably underprice, but I always charge. I have yet to find someone who expected it for free (excepting those I gave birth to).ReplyCancel

  • Tia Dia - Great pair of jeans. The details are amazing. I totally get the wanting to sew for other people because it’s easier to fit others than myself, hence the sewing I’ve been doing for my 3 daughters lately. I think it’s good to educate anyone we can about how much time and work goes into the making of garments, so I often chat about what I’m working on with friends. I’m sure they’re sick of hearing about it!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy - Those are great jeans, and I can see why he appears to love them. Totally custom! I love that he knows the value of your time, too, and was explaining that to his friends. I know from personal experience that people seem to want to volunteer my time to make them things. Uh…no. I have a long list of things to sew, and since I have a full time job, kids and their activities, laundry, cooking, etc. I really don’t have TIME to sew for them for free. It was the same way when I started to get into photography, though. People are cheap! They wouldn’t work for what they want to pay you, but somehow it is just fine for them to expect you to basically give away your labor to them. It is frustrating.

    As for getting the younger generation to sew, I have and will again teach a class through my church to the high schooler on learning to sew. It is a faith connection class, so we will be sewing dresses for girls in Africa, Conkerr Cancer pillowcases, etc. It gives them a chance to at least see if they are interested enough to get a machine. My daughter will learn, too. She wants one of those cheap POS machines for Christmas, but I am trying to convince her to just sew on my machine instead of wasting my money on a $35 machine that can’t sew through a thick piece of paper.ReplyCancel

  • Roberta Fahrni - I love these jeans! You did a GREAT job! You may have said somewhere but I can’t find it, what pattern is it?ReplyCancel

  • Jenna - You did a great job on the jeans & the Mr. looks great, too. :) I think one of the first steps to inspiring another generation of sewers is to INSPIRE them. Stop having them make those pillowcases and tote bags. I think a good measure of inspiration is the key to seeing a project through to the end, even if it is a touch above the current skill set.ReplyCancel

  • Justine - I teach sewing at my kids school. I volunteer to do it because I think it’s a dying art. Why sew when jeans are forty bucks? People just don’t get it. Those jeans are impeccable.ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne - I learned about five years ago in my 20’s. This may seem naive but I didn’t even know people could sew their own clothes. I know costume designers did it, but I considered it something people did in the old days, like driving a buggy and laundering with a washboard. The idea that there were fabric shops and sewing blogs, and things for the non-professional didn’t even enter my mind. It wasn’t til one of my co-workers had a party and it came out that she made all her own suits. She always looked impeccably dressed at work, and I was just stunned that she made all those clothes. My reaction “but…they look like real clothes!”. And that’s when I had the idea of sewing. And after that I bought myself classes, made my first tote bag, and was off!ReplyCancel

    • Stephani - THIS! yes! So many people DON’T know that sewing clothes is something that any person can do, if they want to. But the whole world opens up when you realize it. It’s creative expression and vital life skill all rolled into one.ReplyCancel

  • Ani - Myself, I am teetering on the edge of being Gen Y, having graduated from high school in 2006. I was one of two or three people I knew in high school who could sew, knit, etc…

    What would’ve helped me actually sew my own clothes (I still can only make pj pants…and I literally could not have said that 8 months ago!), and *appreciate* sewing my own clothes would’ve been an understanding that everyone learns a different way.

    I’ve always had the impetus to make my own clothes, being rather punk/grunge minded fashionwise, and also environmentally aware of the impact of the fast fashion industry. What I’ve lacked are the understanding of how I personally learn things. From blogs, my mother, my one other sewing friend, I was taught that “you just sorta whip things up”. Since I could not reliably “just make something” I thought I couldn’t sew. I thought it was something you were either born with or not.

    Now I am learning that my learning process is ridiculously slow, but that once I learn something … it Done Be Learned and I cannot ever forget it. I decided to make this year the year I learned to make pajama pants that actually fit my pearlicious hips and slowly, excruciatingly, I have learned to do so. I have a few more months to make a few more pairs, and then I’ll move on to learning one other pattern. Think how much better I’d be if I had known this when I was 16! I’d be swimming in a fantastic wardrobe!

    I am chronically ill and don’t work — I don’t think it would be that much of a stretch for me to make all my own clothes, since the majority of them would be basically lounge wear. But at this rate it will take me years to learn how to do that.

    Um. /rambleReplyCancel

  • Stephani - Awesome jeans! How wonderful that your Mr. understands the value of what you do and is talking about it. Really, that’s where it starts. Most people now have never had anything made specifically for them, even their wedding dress, so they have no clue what clothing actually costs–in materials and time. But many people are able to understand when it’s explained to them. And they’ll then be capable of passing along that information, and little by little that awareness will grow. So many people just don’t even think about what it costs to produce clothing, they only care about what it costs them to purchase it, and they want it for as low a price as possible.
    To some extent–and I may get some flak for this, but hear me out–I think the decline in sewing and the big generational gap between those who sewed and those who don’t has to do with women working out of the home. I’m not saying at all that that’s a bad thing; I sure as heck do it and I wouldn’t have it any other way for myself. But sewing as a skill set and pastime just took a big hit when a whole generation of women rejected the prevailing gender roles and everything that went with it. It makes sense. But NOW I think we have people–not just women–taking up sewing because they WANT to, and because they have the leisure time and the creative drive to do so; not because it’s “women’s work” and they’re expected to clothe their whole families. It’s not a task, it’s a luxury. Even if what’s being sewn isn’t particularly luxurious. Because it costs far more to sew your own clothes than it does to purchase them, unless you’re purchasing high-end designer togs. So to get new generations of people interested in sewing, we just have to talk it up, put it in front of them as an option for their creativity, because so many of them don’t even know HOW clothing is made. They think a machine in a factory does everything, not that a person is involved at all. They don’t think of making clothes as something that they can do–unless we tell them that it is and that it really isn’t hard to get started. I think everyone should know at least how to sew on a button or mend a fallen hem with a needle and thread.ReplyCancel

  • Alice - I’m 21, so definitely part of the younger generation. I know loads of people my age that sew, and lots more that want to sew. I think I’m the only one I know who wears what they sew, though. I weary handmade garments a lot and people always compliment me on them even though they’re far from perfect to a sewist’s eye. I’ve offered to teach a couple of people the basics and let them use my machines, because I believe so strongly in fashion as a creative outlet for anyone who wants it, and learning real practical skills in addition to the “critical thinking” we are taught in the academic world.ReplyCancel

  • Tasia - Those jeans are awesome! I especially like the back pocket with the flap. Lucky guy!
    I think people have this block that they can’t learn new things, because they’re busy, or older, or had a bad experience in high school home ec. It seems like a monumental task to learn, and so they don’t start! I always tell people if you start now, then in a year you’ll have a year’s worth of sewing experience. We all start somewhere. If you put it off, then in a year you’ll be exactly where you are now.
    (I also often tell people I just learned to knit a few years ago, and I was terrible and awkward when I first started, but with each project I got a little bit better and way more confident. It helps when I can talk about something I learned as an adult, rather than sewing since I’ve been sewing since I was little.)
    It’s a great question: how do we get more people to sew? I think by not making it seem incredibly scary and hard, and encouraging people to give it a try. By making fabric stores welcoming, with staff that are kind and encouraging. (We have some great stores here, and some where you could be turned off sewing before you even buy the materials!) I feel like sewing is making a comeback, but that could also be because I’m always thinking about sewing and the sewing industry.
    Another reason people might not sew – sewing in small spaces. We’re living in smaller spaces now, especially in Vancouver where the cost of living is high. People might want to sew, but not have the space for a machine, or have to set it up and take it down all the time. Places like sewing lounges, where you can rent machines by the hour, give people the opportunity to try it out without taking up space at home. (But first we need to get people interested in the first place!)
    I have a lot of feelings about this, obviously. I think people get into sewing for different reasons – fit, uniqueness, quality, creative outlet. I think I wanted all four of those things, but most of all fit, and second of all the creative outlet. Maybe the trick is to fit it in slowly – ‘oh you have trouble getting pants long enough? you could learn to sew your own!’ Or ‘your day job is at a computer all day and you’re itching to make something – try sewing!’ I don’t know, but I’m willing to help spread the love of sewing as much as I can!ReplyCancel

    • Ani - I really agree with making it accessible in stores! The people who worked at the fabric store near my house growing up were always so rude to me when I came in on my own. When I was 20, I made a full-size quilt for my bed, and I went into a fabric store for the first time without my mom. I ended up buying a good wad of white flannel to back it with because the woman COULD NOT believe that I was making a quilt, and wouldn’t sell me muslin (I’m meek too, so that didn’t help). She was positive I just meant that I was making a blanket, and I talked her out of fleece down to flannel. Of course, now I have an awesome flannelly quilt that rocks, but it did rather irk me that I couldn’t be believed as a quilter at 20. I never went back into that store, but I have also, technically never asked anyone for help in a fabric store since. I probably should, but the fear is in me now…ReplyCancel

      • Tasia - That’s exactly what I mean! Either they are rude and patronizing and think you can’t possibly know what you want.. or they don’t sew and don’t care about helping. Neither is encouraging! I’m glad you didn’t let that bad experience stop you from trying. But I could imagine a lot of people might get discouraged, thinking ‘oh wow, even the store staff thinks I won’t be any good at this!’ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - I love that your mister is so involved in what you do and proud of his jeans. I made the mistake of telling my mister I would make him a blazer a few months ago. Every time I sit to sew, he asks if I’m working on his jacket. (I need to get that done!)

    Watching online, it seems the younger generation may be picking up the habit more and more. I would love to see more excitement locally. It would be great to see fabric stores supported and able to carry good cloth. Even more, it would be exciting to have others to sew WITH. I have quilting friends, but haven’t been able to find a sewing buddy. I’ll just have to keep looking.ReplyCancel

  • Renae - Hey Sunni,
    I don’t comment much, but I felt I had to come out of hiding to tell you that this post gave me a good giggle today! Your Mister is hilarious and I’m glad to see him staying true to his “fans”, us girls:) Great job on the jeans!
    ~RenaeReplyCancel

  • dev - sunni, please tell your mr. that he has a new “follower” – he looks excellent in his wife-made jeans. lovely work, and glad you had fun making them!ReplyCancel

  • Becky - Since we live in a disposable society and rarely do a lot for ourselves, I have no idea how you get people interested in sewing! It’s a conundrum. These jeans are fabulous, and they fit just perfectly. Thank the Mr. for the photo shoot!ReplyCancel

  • Leigh - Oh honey – YOU are the ‘younger generation’ to me. I learned sewing in the 70’s as a pre-teen. However you are the better sewista. :)

    You did a lovely job on your Mr.’s jeans. They really look great. (And he’s a cutie!) And he loves your sewing!!

    Getting new people interested – it is an ongoing challenge. I am president of an American Sewing Guild chapter, and would love to get you and your sewing compatriots to join our group, but have trouble reaching you all to get you interested (“you” in the global age group sense). Our group has many ladies that are new to sewing as well as those that have been sewing for 50 years. Any suggestions welcome. We have great programs and our meetings are always fun.

    I love being with a whole group that wants to talk fabric and doesn’t look at me like I have three heads for sewing because I ‘could just buy it at the mall’.ReplyCancel

  • Kate McIvor - This is the 30-million-dollar question, Sunni! It is a hard question for me to answer because sewing ones own clothes is so obviously better than buying (to me). Proving that is like proving 1 + 1 = 2. It just does! It’s a fact. How do you prove a fact?

    I hope that if we create space and community around making our own clothes, women and men of all ages will participate. PS I love the jeans!ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa - Hi Sunni,
    Great jeans and great model :)
    I’m glad Mr AFS understands the value of a bespoke garment. I have friends who ask me to ‘whip’ a garment up for them and I decline.
    In my blog posts I’ve been including my time when I cost a garment. Yes, I’m not a professional dressmaker and yes I am a dawdler when making a garment, but I think it’s important for people who don’t sew to understand that making something does take time and if you want someone to make something for you that time costs money. Especially if you’re someone like me who would start resenting sewing for others and not being properly compensated for my sewing time when I could be sewing for myself :)
    Great post Sunni.ReplyCancel

  • Judi Short - There is life after quilting! I’ve been sewing for over a lot of years, and can make just about anything, having the time is my problem. But I’ve a new interest in sewing clothing for myself, and just happen to have a pair of pants “just” cut out of black denim several hours ago (more like slacks than jeans) and I think I have to add a pocket on the back. And play a bit with the top stitching. What kind of thread did you use for the top-stitching, Sunni? And the Mr, he sure is cute! So glad he likes the means, they look fabulous, and I love the idea of flaps on the pockets but stitched down so they won’t curl! Nice job!ReplyCancel

  • Judi Short - I forgot to mention I bought my 11 year old granddaughter a basic machine about a month ago, and she is sewing up a storm, making doll clothes like mad with her cousins. Little does she now that she will soon graduate to clothng, once they finally schedule a beginning sewing class and I sign her up!!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Wood - Hi Sunni – tell Mr AFS that his fan club are very satisfied with his autumnal appearance…and the jeans are fantastic too!
    I started making my own clothes about 4 years ago and haven’t looked back – I love the challenge, the creativity and and ownership. I can no longer shop in those shops who ethical work policies leave a lot to be desired and I’m trying really hard to make my teenage daughter think about this aspect of her shopping too. The day she asks me to make her something will be a champagne opening event…ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Althaus - Sunni, you and Mr. AFS are an adorable couple. He is so lucky you sew for him and you are so lucky he is so proud of you and your work. Yes, you both have a fan club! As far as getting young people interested in sewing, I found that the best way is to show them that they can have exactly the clothes they want and they will fit well. Both my granddaughters have fit issues and were so thrilled that we could work together to make dresses that fit and matched the pictures they drew of what they wanted. Have a teen or young adult draw a picture of what they want, or cut out pics from magazines, and then help them make those outfits. You’ll get them hooked.ReplyCancel

  • Birgit - I think it’s funny how enthusiastic the mister was to get these photo’s taken! That being said, he was totally right, those jeans are awesome and needed to be shared with the world! I especially love the stitching on the back pockets!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa G - So glad you shared these jeans! They look fantastic! Love that your mister was so intent on the photoshoot. :) I think the current culture of being more socially aware will trend more young people to sewing. Actually, having moms and/or dads around that sew can go a long ways to inspire their kids. My mom sewed and, even though I didn’t sew all that much as a kid, and she didn’t really teach me all that much directly, sewing was just a fact of life. I came around to sewing once I had my own kids and wanted to make things like special dresses and Halloween costumes, so it was only natural to get a sewing machine. Of course, the rest is history and nowadays I’ll sew everything I can!ReplyCancel

  • Juju Gago - there are already so many thoughts here I believe I couldn’t add much, but after reading this I read this:
    http://crabandbee.com/2014/11/07/dressing-like-a-feminist/
    which I believe is near to my point of view of what moves me into sewing and the reasons people could be attracted to it:
    they can last more, they can be much more comfortable, they can reflect better who I am, they can become a statement.
    trying to say it in a few words.

    great jeans, your man is awesome. :)ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - Awww, Mr. AFS looks so happy in his jeans! It makes me smile that he’s so into modeling! That’s the best thing about sewing for loved ones- when they really like what you make!

    Honestly, I think that the handmade clothing movement will continue to grow organically. It makes sense- as people got sick of eating factory farmed food with tons of additives and processing, they began to garden, can, and eat locally in increasing numbers. I think it will be the same thing with clothing. The RTW clothing industry has a horrible track record and people are looking for alternatives, and I think that sewing seems like a really viable alternative to many people.ReplyCancel

  • Sara A. - I find that my friends and family are always asking me what I’m working on and admiring my finished work. My friends seem envious of the time I devote to my projects and want similar things for themselves asking “How do you learn to do this?” The best way to make people interested in sewing clothes for themselves and their family is to keep making awesome things and not being shy about it. Hopefully someone will decide that they want to make awesome things too.ReplyCancel

  • Charlene - Oh my goodness. You did such a great job on these. I hope to one day be able to make something like this for my man. Right now I am mastering skirts with zippers. The fact that he did his hair for the shoot is adorable. You two seem like you have a lot of fun together. So nice to see love and support in action. I am happy for you.ReplyCancel

  • Monica - It would be really awesome if more younger people started making some of their own clothes. I’m on the younger side (19) and have been sewing for several years now, and whenever I say that I made what I’m wearing to my friends, they’re always dumbstruck, and say that would be way too hard for them to do. I think one thing that would help encourage them to make stuff themselves would be to show how some of the things you can make are actually really simple! If they start with the idea of making jeans or a coat, they’re going to feel like it’s way too much for them, but starting out with a basic top or skirt is surprisingly easy! I think that it’s all about starting small :)ReplyCancel

  • Molly - Those jeans look great! I’m psyching myself up to make pants for my Mr for the first time. I do think, like you said, that the lack of curves will be a welcome change!
    Sewing for people who aren’t your nearest and dearest is so tricky! I copied a pair of shorts for a co-worker a few months ago and didn’t charge enough and then this morning he asked me to copy a western shirt that he loves. I quoted him what I think is a fair price given the amount of work I’d have to do and he tried to convince me to do it for less!! He tends to be stingy so I wasn’t surprised when he decided it was too much but it was empowering to ask for what I know my skills are worth! Rant over.ReplyCancel

  • LinB - It certainly helps that your generation is so well-versed in writing and photographing about sewing — and so passionate in your embrace of the fiber arts. My own dear daughter could scarcely have cared less about sewing for the first 23 years of her life. After all, her mother would make anything she wanted … then she asked for a sewing machine, patterns, notions, and some instruction for Christmas last year. I included a list of my own favorite sewing blogs, yours among them.ReplyCancel

  • jen - Sunni – the jeans really are lovely. I consider myself fairly well versed in making my own clothing, simple patterns, and recently copied a bias cut jersey RTW dress with great success, but I haven’t been brave enough to tailor my own jeans. Do you make jeans for yourself, too? Is it much harder to tailor your own pants?

    On your question on getting kids excited about sewing their own clothes, having an opportunity to show off their creations definitely helps – plan a fashion show and design and learn to sew your own clothes! Bad Dog Arts has been working with a community learning center that has a half dozen sewing machines and I would love to create a sewing class+fashion show for the 5-8 grade students. Would you be interested in working with us? (I think you can see my email address attached to this post?)ReplyCancel