The Care and Feeding of a Me‑Made Garment

By Traci LarsonFebruary 4, 2022 Reflections

One thing I love about sewing my own clothes is the way it changes my relationship with garment care. Usually with clothes I have bought, I find laundry a loathsome chore and ironing — Ha! Forget about it.

With the clothes I have made, however, I have more motivation to care for them. I find myself feeling a little spark of joy when I get to pamper them with a little steam bath under the iron. Going over the seams again, I reflect on the care I took in making the garment in the first place and reignite that fleeting sense of pride and satisfaction. Am I the only one giving preferential treatment to my me-made garments? Is this what being a parent feels like? I want my creation to live a long life free from pain and hardship.

Given my love of linen, extra care is often necessary to resettle the seams after a wash. I don’t care so much about keeping the body of the garment crisp — I like the soft, lived-in look. But the edges get crinkled in a way that changes the way the fabric drapes and how it feels against the skin. Thankfully, linen also responds well to a hot iron, with almost instant before-and-after results that are very satisfying.

A red linen shirt is on a felt pressing pad next to an iron with a white seam roll inserted in the sleeve
I love using pressing aids like a seam roll or tailors ham
A red linen shirt with a red plaid seam roll inserted at the back neckline where the facing is wrinkled
Facing cuffs and hems usually need a press

Torrens Box Top

This came to mind today because I am wearing my red-orange linen Torrens Box Top (pattern by Muna and Broad). I made the “regular width long sleeve” variation. Because of the size I chose, the sleeves are still shorter than long though – I’d say they are not quite bracelet length, but definitely longer than three‑quarter length. It’s a loose fitting, boxy top with a lot of ease. It’s easy to wear like a t‑shirt, but feels slightly more dressed up. It was also an easy sew and would make a great project for someone who is new to garment sewing.

White text reads "making a big shirt" on top of a spread open red fabric that covers an entire table top. There are constrasting white serged edges around all of the sewn seams.
In progress shot showing the construction

I made this shirt back in late August, when it was still super hot here in Los Angeles. I think it’s a great transitional piece that works across our mildly differentiated seasons. The loose fit linen was cool and comforting on warm summer nights, yet feels neutral and cozy here on a February day. (Okay, it’s 69ºF in Los Angeles today, so it’s not that hard to be the right temperature).

Traci, a fat white woman stands in front of a full length mirror wearing a slightly oversized boxy red linen shirt with tumeric yellow wide leg pants and creamy tan sneakers
After a good pressing the hem is smooth and floaty
Red linen shirt with collar tag that reads "You can't buy this" in sparkly lavender font.
Contrasting serger thread colors and a message tag are little details that add to my enjoyment of wearing me made garments

You Can’t Buy This

I also love admiring the sparkling “You can’t buy this” tag by Kylie and the Machine. That personal touch is like a little love note to myself, reminding me that I am worthy of being cared for. The feeling reciprocates and I love taking care of my shirt! I also just love the message of “you can’t buy this” – both for the celebration of uniqueness and for the affirmative quality of the statement. Wearing this garment reminds me to be true to myself, unwavering and genuine.

What about you? Have you found that you care for me‑mades differently than store bought garments?


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