Husband usually puts away all the clean laundry, but this weekend there was so much I helped him. I am always chagrined when I compare the quality of his clothes with the quality of mine. It isn’t that he purchases nicer clothes than I do. Men’s clothes are just better manufactured than women’s clothes. I used to sew almost all my own clothes, and by the time I was in high school I was a pretty accomplished seamstress. I know what goes into making clothes well.
When I was in Grade 11, our school put on The Music Man. We had a very strong Grade 11 baritone for Harold Hill ( he is now a high school band director in Rochester). We had an even stronger Grade 12 soprano for Marion (she just retired as a high school vocal teacher and composer in the Cities.) I didn’t audition for a part, as I would be needed in the pit orchestra, and I knew, as a second alto, that there were very few exciting parts for me. In addition, though, I was the student director, which meant that I had to find costumes and props and generally keep things organized.
We decided that the male leads, Harold and his buddy, Marcellus, needed to wear gaudy, plaid suits. I volunteered to sew them. You can see the finished suits in the photo below. Harold is in the yellow and green plaid suit with the yellow vest. Marcellus is in the cream and brown suit with the brown vest. The photo quality is typical 1975, but you can get the general idea.
They were three piece suits that I formally tailored with the special stitching on the linings of the lapels so that they lay flat, full linings in coats and vests, pockets, perfect fly zippers, and belt loops. There had to be pockets in the vests for pocket watches. It isn’t easy to match plaids, but I did. The boys were sort of embarrassed when I had to measure them (especially the inside leg), but by golly this was serious and I wanted those suits to fit. The boy who played Harold was somewhat hard to fit in the pants as he had a childhood orthopedic issue making the length of his legs out of proportion to his waist, and I had to adjust the pattern for the pants before I cut them out, and elongate the coat.
I admire tailors and people who sew and create. I wouldn’t want to make all my own clothes again. I just wish women’s clothes were better made.
Why do women put up with shoddily manufactured clothing? What is the most elaborate thing you have created?