I often read on sewing blogs that people do not sew what they can buy. Very sensible reasons accompany this statement, such as economy, proper use of scarce time and lack of manufacturing equipment such as binding machines. However, I cannot fall in line with this philosophy. I very much dislike buying something that I could make.
A sensible woman, when her children go to school, would admit that a complusory uniform, able to be purchased only at the school uniform shop, does not leave any wriggle room for sewing, and give up any ideas in this direction. For some years I have behaved in this sensible manner, despite some subversion in the direction of a second hand uniform trade with other familes. I also admit to avidly searching for the particular school uniform fabric worn at my children's school, despite the school smugly informing me that the fabric was copyright, that I would not be able to purchase it, and that they would not name the manufacturer.
Last year, I responded to a panicked "I can't find my tie" at 7.30 am on Monday morning, by sewing an approximation of this item from an old, paint stained uniform that I felt was too worn to pass on to another wearer. Despite having only a 5cm school photograph and a rather shaky visual memory of this tie from which to develop a prototype, the tie garnered no adverse comments, and even better, no demerits for being out-of-uniform. My subversion started to brew.
This year, my son started grade 1, requiring a formal school uniform, and my second daughter entered high school, no longer requiring her primary dress. My daughters are tall, and the size 14 dresses they wore in grade 6 will be far too large for the wearers of their previously outgrown dresses. My son has recieved one shirt from my very kind friend with 4 older sons, but she is a much more organized person than me, I need two shirts in order to keep up with the washing (and 4 boys can almost wear out this near-indestructible polyester fabric!)
Ha! I think I have avoided spending $60 at the school uniform shop. I drew out a pattern directly from the school shirt, and think I have been fairly successful with my knock off. I was not able to perfectly pattern match at the sleeve cuff, due to fabric shortage, and I have pressed the inseam trim the wrong way on the sleeve cuff, but I think we can get away with this shirt. I do not have exactly the correct buttons, but will probably be able to fix this.
There were a few funny shaped pieces left, so I sewed two middle school ties for my daughters. These button under the collar of the horrible white polyester blouse, and tend to stay attached to the blouse that is in the wash, necessitating sudden searches through the machine in the morning, and frequent ironing dry. I thought it would be good to have a few spares. The school uniform shop tie is on the left. I would not have bought extra ties, as they are rather pricey, but I am sure these will be useful.
My daughters kindly drew out the pattern for the tie during what they assure me was a very tedious and repetitive school assembly. I am glad to see they are keeping themselves suitably occupied at school.