The Troubling Ethics of Clothes That I Never Wear

Maybe you caught this little post from Sewing on The Edge which linked to an article about a minimalist / capsule wardrobe? While my wardrobe is hardly minimalist, I do try to make clothes that I want to wear. Still, there are clothes that I’ve sewn that, for one reason or another, I NEVER wear.


There’s something vaguely unsettling about this. I don’t regret the time and effort involved in making these clothes; but to never wear them seems a waste of resources. To remedy this situation I’m going to undertake “rescuing” two items that never see the light of day.


First up….



My safari jacket.


I should be wearing the hell out of this jacket right now, but I cringe every time I see the horrible set of the sleeves. This mess is the collision of two problems….one, too much sleeve ease…and two, a stretch fabric that doesn’t allow the extra ease to be steamed out. Note: this project made me swear off stretch fabrics forever. I’ve replaced this jacket with my wool Halston shacket, but I truly miss wearing it, especially this time of year.




This jacket was both a ton of work, and a joy to make. To have it languishing in the closet because I’m too embarrassed to wear it is a shame. My plan is to open the side linings and pull the sleeve through, shorten the sleeve cap and put things back together. I may even put in a little wool sleeve head to give the shoulders more structure. Here’s hoping!


Next problem child…




The first shirt I ever made!


I made this shirt when Peter had his Shirt Sewalong (I think he was making the Negroni?). I think I’ve worn it once, which is a shame because it’s a fine Italian cotton in a great color for me. Sadly, it has some issues. Some I can fix, others I’ll just have to live with.


The biggest problem is lack of decent interfacing. It’s just interfaced with white cotton fabric with little to no body. Since making this shirt I’ve learned just how important good interfacing is to a shirt. Hence, my addiction to Fashion Sewing Supply’s “shirt crisp” interfacing. For me it’s the difference between a shirt that gets worn, and one that’s relegated to the back of the closet.


Next problem, the full French cuffs. Fun and novel as they are, they’re just not me. They’ve gotta go.




Ummm…this was the best I could do at the time. Reality check, I still can’t sew a curve worth a damn, so I’ll replace the whole collar and stand (God willing). This time around it will be a button down, which is much more my style (and NO curves involved!). With a little love, I’m hoping to get this sad shirt back into the game.



Thankfully, I saved a good sized hunk of this fabric. Vindication for all us sewists who save all our scraps, and sometimes scratch our heads wondering why we do it!

Time to break out the seam ripper.


18 thoughts on “The Troubling Ethics of Clothes That I Never Wear

  1. It's great when you can identify the reason a garment is lingering in the wardrobe, and are able to solve that. Also, definite vindication for saving scraps.


  2. I'm certain we have all have those items in our wardrobe (I can think of a dress) but with the seam ripper, some determination and now quite a bit of knowledge under your belt there will be no stopping you.


  3. Goodness if it's only two things you're doing well. I dropped two massive bags of clothes off to the charity shop this morning. Most of the things that are mine were made or hacked, but not things I wear any more – change of lifestyle.


  4. It is great to see you rework clothing that you have made and not wear. I have had a few projects like that the past, typically when i have had a long layoff from sewing. Sometimes you can fix the mistakes that you see, other times you have to just say goodbye to them and bless them off to goodwill/salvation army. I find I am very careful with sewing projects and spend a good percentage of the project time measuring, grading and ensuring a “new” pattern works. I find for things that have come out and fit well, I can make them up quickly since I know that they will fit correctly and look good. I really enjoy your posts and your sewing skills are terrific.


  5. Wow, the Safari jacket is cool! Should be no problem to open it up and remove that extra sleeve cap ease. For the shirt, I know you can replace those cuffs and add a better collar, but the interfacing? Might as well redo the front placket. Both items when done will boost your stylistic coolness!!!


  6. The errors are minor and must really be corrected because those two garments have so much going for them. I see it as 99% successful but you're letting the 1% error prevent you from wearing them. With your skills, I'm sure you can do this, even if it's only a little bit at a time. Good luck! Would love to see the revised garments.


  7. I think you have enough spare Italian shirting to fix just about any problem with the shirt, certainly anything that is interfaced. I do agree with John Y. that the shirt would benefit from a new front placket. The shirt certainly deserves to be worn, so definitely fix it up!

    I don't know if your objection to the French cuff is that is requires cufflinks, or that it is a double fold cuff. But in “Shirtmaking”, David Coffin has a single-fold French cuff (pg. 125) that looks interesting and I want to try in some future shirt project.


  8. I think this time I'll cut the placket on the crosswise grain just for some extra interest. I'd also like a chest pocket this time around, maybe even with a flap. I have used DPC's single French cuff in the past. It's a great alternative, but still a little too dressy for what I need right now.


  9. That jacket is so cool. Once you fix those sleeves it will be fabulous! And how great that you have enough extra fabric to fix the shirt as well. I look forward to seeing both updated.


  10. Aw Duane, you spoke real truth about Pam's “shirt crisp” interfacing. Every time it goes on sale, I buy five yards so that I never face the reality of not having any. Hoarder much? Yes, yes indeed. =)

    I totally feel you on the safari jacket sleeve seam. I made a trench coat last year that I absolutely LOVE. I set one sleeve in multiple times and still could not remove the puckers and this was a non-stretch fabric! I used sleeve heads and everything; the sleeve cap did not cooperate. Buuuuut, I wear it anyway because I am so proud of making an real trench coat. I hope you are able to fix your safari coat because it really is quite nice.


  11. There is something magical about reworking your own work…using patience as a guide, yoiu discover things about yourself while opening seams and changing structures. In the end when you are proudly wearing your re-done garment, you can tell people…”This started its life as a flop but I have turned it into a flip!” Wishing much good luck with both jacket and shirt and blessings for future projects!


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