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This Is What Handmade Means To Me


Lately, I’ve been more into the concept of handmade garments. Making a partially handmade wardrobe is becoming something I want and with each project, the idea seems even more attainable. I never thought that I would be able to have a me-made closet, between a full time job and drafting all my patterns, projects took months to complete. Plus, my projects were a little grandiose! A girl likes to dream, right? But I’ve been using commercial patterns, comparing them to my block for fit and altering accordingly, and I can complete several projects in one month! After my post on failure and success, it feels so great to be sewing all the time, and I mean all the time, and accomplishing projects faster. I squeeze in 10 minute intervals of sewing here and there and somehow, in the blink of an eye, the garment is complete! So my sketchbook/scrapbook is reflecting my new mentality. For this page, the background is from a paper pack I bought from Three Potatoes Four. The figure is a magazine cutout and the actual garment is from an ornament exchange I participated in over the holidays (thanks Kelli!). This is what handmade is to me – made to measure, doing it naturally, timeless, luxe look for less, more of what I really want… The list goes on. What about you? What does handmade mean to you?


  1. Reply

    Ally D

    Wow! Great list! it really hits on what hand-made is to me too! I think part of “more of what I really want” involves a fit that feels good (as I’ve realized my notion of “perfect” fit is misguided from its inception to the attempt at follow through), and the element of clothes that I really love, expression. I just can’t think of a more authentic and open way to try and show the world who I feel I am. When I sew something, so much time and thought goes into that the final product cannot help but reflect who I am (haha unless it is the occasional rush and bust, cringe worthy, I cannot stand loooking at it project); I see the way I make choices in seams, I see my love of a specific element of the fabric in the way I laid out my pattern, etc. There are fabrics I own because of what they reminded me of a memory, or a feeling, and those fabrics turn into garments, and then all of the sudden I am wearing my heart as sleeves!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Wow! What a great comment and I couldn’t agree more. Our clothes, especially clothes that we make, reflect our personalities. So much can be said about us from the way we finish our seams, bind our armholes, or sew topstitching.

      I don’t know if I can speak to fabrics reminding me of a memory or a feeling – for me, fabrics represent who I am. Lace is totally me – through and through. It’s everything I am and it’s everything I want to be.

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    I really like the idea of working my way up to a handmade wardrobe and what you listed is exactly what it means to me. Sewing and designing frosting is my weakness but recently I feel myself gravitating more and more towards creating basics to fill up those gaps in my closet.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Me too, but my basics are also frosting – making a tee out of stretch lace. We can have cake and frosting together!

      • Reply


        Oooh, that’s a great way around it!

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    French Toast Tasha

    I love the idea of making a collage to illustrate your ideas! I have also been working towards a handmade wardrobe, and deliberately making time for sewing, and loving both. To me, handmade ultimately means empowerment, self-reliance and being truely satisfied with what I have!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Empowerment… I didn’t think of that!

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    Darci Woods

    Home made to me means it was made with love – Every important dress growing up (christmas,recitals,weddings) were all handmade by my mother or grandmother, even the quilt I sleep with was handmade by them. Not to mention both of their enormous handmade wardrobes. Now all I want is to follow in their footsteps and have as many clothing options as they do!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I read something last night in an interview that related to this. Handmade items also have spirit and a soul. Isn’t that a great way to view the things we make?!?

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    Handmade to me is knowing my wallet that I made is not exactly perfect, but its functional, and it is something I made so I love it that much more.

  6. Reply


    What a great post! I’m so with you on wanting a handmade closet and struggling to balance that with a full-time job. I echo a lot of the sentiments here about handmade, especially Ally D. Handmade is such a wonderful expression of love! Loving myself enough to set aside time for something that makes me happy. Loving my body enough to accept it as it is and make a garment that fits well and makes me feel good about myself. And loving others enough to share that with them!


  7. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    Honestly I don’t even know what handmade means to me. I guess something I’ve always done so I have no turning point story. I guess over the years more and more things in my life have converted into handmade. Clothes *check* Sweaters *check* Yarn *check* Cloth *check* Bra’s *check* Bookbinding *check* Embroidery *check* Shoes *check*

    • Reply

      Natasha Estrada

      I was wondering more on this subject because it seems like a question I should know the answer to. The reality is I am so DIY it’s not funny. I do things myself that I could afford to pay for but would rather diy. Hair color, facial peels, I make my own shoes, upholster my office chair, made my own HDTV Antenna etc etc

      • Reply

        Maddie Flanigan

        I’m a DIY kind of girl but HDTV antenna? I wouldn’t go that far! Bravo to you. I am also drawn to handmade because I quickly realized the value of a dollar when I moved out of my childhood home and had to pay my own way. My dad spoiled me rotten when I was a child. I got everything and anything I wanted. My Christmas gifts were diamond watches! When I moved to Philadelphia and got a “real” job, the credit card was taken away and everything, and I mean everything (health insurance, car insurance, groceries), was my responsibility. The shock I had when I first deducted my expenses from my income was a reality check. It was a humbling experience and I’m glad it happened because now, I value things, especially things that are handmade, so much more. Three dollars nowadays means a load of laundry at the laundromat!

        • Reply

          Natasha Estrada

          Thats also why I do my own hair. Its hard to fork out $120 or more for a color when you’ve been spending $12 and using the same stuff. That would be my tip order the pro tubes. Maybe its not as good but its 90% as good and then I still have $108 in my pocket. I get more compliments on my me made red hair than I ever did with my $300 highlights.

          The antenna is awesome its made from plywood and metal coat hangers and its superior to the 3 I had bought prior. Word to the wise a Apple TV box and antenna can replace your cable bill.

          I love saving money. I got into couponing a few years ago and I still have a cupboard of free razors and shampoo and I haven’t done it in a loooong time.

          Wages have pretty much stayed the same in 10 years which is very very sad and it’s heartbreaking to see new grads who have worked so hard to be offered nothing for their efforts.

  8. Reply

    Sarah Hurwitz

    This is really great! My whole life, handmade just meant fun (and maybe a little showing off).Recently, handmade means accountability and sustainability. I’m proud of being in control of my wardrobe in a time when cheap/fast fashion frightens me. I can’t afford to buy a lot of what I like being able to supplement my wardrobe with pieces that are full of meaning!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Good point. Being in control of my wardrobe is another reason why handmade is so appealing to me. Rather than being given designs to buy from stores, companies, or manufacturers, I create the designs I am going to wear.

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    Great question. For me, handmade represents “more of ME and less of THEM”. It’s kind of like the difference between ordering take out and cooking a meal from scratch for my family. I can still get what I want from both, but the second way (cooking from scratch) has so much more meaning for me. When I sew for myself (or my family), who I am becomes part of the final product, not just my ideas, but my love, my sacrifice of time, my attention to details, even my emotions. My handmade garments don’t always turn out the way I’d like (neither does my cooking šŸ™‚ ), but my reasons behind doing what I do, makes the effort worth it.

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    Handmade makes me feel like I am a participant in really creating my wardrobe, since I am picking the pattern and fabric myself, it is a truly unique garment, plus it gives me a sense of accomplishment to complete a garment! As for sewing my own wedding dress, it allowed me to get exactly what I wanted, at a fraction of the retail cost.

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    To me handmade is truly being able to create your own sense of style. With making your own garments, you are not limited by what retailers or the fashion industry are telling us we should wear. Handmade is unique, special and very truly you. šŸ™‚

  12. Reply

    Carrie Elias

    Love this!

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