About that quality thing

Commenter Micheal wrote regarding A Shirt for Dad:

why do sewists(ers?) and other crafters not talk about quality fabrics that truly deserve all the hours of attention and handwork of a craftsperson? So Irish linens, Donegal tweeds, Italian cottons, English worsteds and wool flannels, American and Japanese denim?”

It’s a question too good to ignore, as I’ve wrestled with it for years.  How does one persuade sewers to use better quality fabrics?  The United States is, after all, the nation that invented light beer, and the national psyche is not “a little bit, but good”, but rather is “more, more, and more.”  We learn it in our schools, in our workplaces, and even (shudder) our churches.

The answer, as best I can tell, is to demonstrate how sometimes less is more, and demonstrate how the extra cost per garment is more than compensated for in how it sews, how it holds a dye, how it wears, and in the comfort for the wearer.  $7/yard from the big box stores that bleeds all over the embroidery each time it’s washed, or $20/yard that is worn by four daughters and still looks great.  Which is the better value?

It’s not an easy sell, but it’s fun.

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One thought on “About that quality thing

  1. I was hoping that others would add in thoughts here (one friend landed in the hospital unexpectedly this week and is thankfully home resting now). (http://www.janicefergusonsews.com/blog/) First, I greatly enjoyed the websites Michael noted, as well as a few others in the area of the bespoke tailor. I thought I would continue the conversation by adding that in the area of “sewing for children” (heirloom, smocking, everyday or special occasion), the fabrics desired tend to be natural fiber, lightweight (varying depending on the project), youthful in color range and pattern. For English Smocking, they need to pass through the smocking (Amanda Jane) pleater well (natural fibers sail!); then they take the needle and DMC thread in a similar way. Highly favored fabrics are Swiss batiste, lawn, dimity (see http://www.bearthreadsltd.com), Ulster linen, Liberty of London lawn, wool challis and silk charmeuse or duppioni. Things I look for are: is the grain straight, is it colorfast, does it shrink, how does it handle through the pleater, how many washings will it withstand, how does it drape?

    There are many good writers. I appreciate Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide for characteristics, quality, etc. Other favorites of mine are Susan Kjahle, Lyn Weeks, Martha Pullen, Sarah Douglas (the Pleater Manual).

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