Monday, January 14, 2013

The Spring Suit: What Cost Beauty?

You may recall, when I offered up a bit of "sewing advice" a couple of weeks ago, I suggested that using good fabric is worth its weight, literally. That's a lesson I learned long ago, when it comes to buying RTW clothing, but one I struggled with in my first year or two of sewing.

I don't struggle so much anymore. In truth, it's always a bit of a moment right before you cut into your fabric, whether it costs $3.99 a yard or $39.99. It's that point when potential becomes reality. Sometimes cutting is an easy affair. Sometimes it's a bit of a challenge. But I can't let that dictate the quality of my fabric because, really, I'm gonna have to wear that thing. More to the point, I'm gonna have to sew it for 2 months and then I'm gonna have to wear it.

Furthermore, as I've discussed in the past, making a suit is not a cheap project (particularly), though it's much more cost-effective (if not time-effective) than buying one. To buy a RTW suit of good quality, you're likely to spend at least 800 bucks (full price). Here's what I've spent to make this suit (you can find some photos of the fabrics here):
  • 3 yards of merino faille suiting at $25.00/yd
  • 3 yards of silk charmeuse for lining @ $18.00/yd
  • 1 yard of hair canvas and 1 yard of weft interfacing - already purchased for last suit but would be $8.00 each
  • 2 yards of muslin for toiles (in addition to the yard I already have) @ $4.99/yd
  • 5 Self-fabric-covered buttons (sending these out to be made, approx 20 bucks)
  • 2 yards silk organza for underlining @ 15.00/yd
  • Notions (shoulder pads, thread, stabilizing tape etc.) $10.00
Presuming I'm not leaving something out, which is entirely possible!, my total cost to make this suit will be $215.00. That's actually slightly less costly than the last suit so I guess I'm making progress :-)

No, I didn't need to spend 18 bucks a yard on lining. That price is vaguely high on drugs (till I wear the jacket, that is). (Brief sidenote: I ended up using the most beautiful silk to line the Tailored Jacket, gifted to me by Mardel. That's when I knew I could never use anything else again...) The organza was not on the cheap side either, even in this market. However, the suiting was very reasonably priced at $25.00/yd. It's just beautiful and I suspect/hope it's going to drape beautifully (but maintain its shape). Sending out to have the buttons made, which I did last time, is a totally smart idea, and really, quite worth the expense.

I suspect you could (in America, where shopping is less expensive) make this suit out of these materials for @ $125.00, but that's not the reality here. I also know you could make a suit for closer to 100 bucks in Canada, but (unless you seriously luck out with some crazy sales the likes of which I've never seen in TO) you won't get to work with quality materials.

So... today's questions are these: If you've made a suit, what was your budget for materials? Did you stick to it or spend more to find more desirable fabrics? On that topic, do you generally budget for projects or do you let your fabric passions guide you? Have you ever regretted spending lots on fabric? Have you ever regretted not spending enough? Let's talk!

16 comments:

  1. Fabric passions definitely guide us, and we have no regrets. I agree with your decision to always use silk for the lining. Martin does too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You see. We're all super smart! :-)

      Delete
  2. The last suit jacket I made took me 6 weeks, I felt like I was living and breathing it. I bought a cheap lining and when I got up to that point I decided to go and buy silk lining cause it had taken so long and I deserved it so no regrets there. I know I would have regretted the cheap lining a whole heap more. Can't wait to see your fabrics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is all-consuming! I'm glad to know I'm not alone in this.

      Delete
  3. Working with beautiful fabric is what makes sewing a delight instead of a chore. Cheap fabric just isn't worth the time and effort it takes to construct a good suit, in my opinion. And the lining is just as important as the outer fabric; it's like beautiful lingerie--an exquisite pleasure for you to enjoy, even if others don't see it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm making a tailored retro suit right now. I've had the shell fabric for 4 years, and I can never thank beginner-sewer-me enough for a) Buying 4 m. of beautiful black 100% wool garabine at a bargain price of €2,50 p/m, and b) for having the good sense of not cutting into it.

    I'm using Rayon as a lining, and together with shoulderpads, hair canvas, broadcloth and tape this will add +/- €40,- to material costs. Total suit material costs will be very low because of my lucky streak.

    However; If it was solely a matter of costs, I'd be better off buying the 800,- suit, as I will probably spend more than 60 hours on this project. (It's not, it's a challenge to myself and an adventure)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was seriously smart for a newbie! You obviously have innate skill. If you're anything like me, you'll probably spend much more than 60 hrs. But you will go on an adventure and there's always opportunity cost for that...

      Delete
  5. Never. Look at it this way, you'd never be able to buy a suit at retail with that level of quality for $215.00

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true. Although (and more on this is coming up) between buttonhole silk twist and top of the line gimp, I managed to add another 40 bucks to the bill today?!?!?

      Delete
  6. I'm going through this right now. I want to make another coat, but I can't quite *yet* afford the cost of the coating fabric. Instead of compromising on something cheaper, I'm biding my time and waiting until I save up enough money. I honestly think one should spend as much as they can comfortably afford on this kind of stuff - even if it means waiting. You are going to spend so much time assembling everything - and touching the fabric for hours and hours - why would you want to make it out of something sub-par?!

    Also, silk lining is delicious. $54 is such a small price to pay for such a giant luxury.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely agree with your philosophy. I'm sure your coat is going to be fabulous.

      Delete
  7. For a quick top or a costume, sure, go cheap. But a suit is an investment piece in a wardrobe. I don't see a problem with investing in the fabric assuming it is not interfering with your ability to feed your family or pay the mortgage/rent. That's going to be a jacket you could still pull out in 4 years and it's worth the good fabric as much as the effort that went into it.

    Although I do agree about the strange fear of cutting into fabric. I feel it with cheap fabric and good fabric because once I've started cutting, the potential to be anything else goes out the window.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is scary, regardless of what fabric you're using, right? All the more reason to use the good stuff.

      Delete
  8. When I made my tailored jacket along with you and Gertie, I didn't spend a lot. I did not line with silk, but the next time I think I will. I picked up the wool (which was pretty good quality) at a garage sale. It was not my first choice in color. I made that jacket as bit of a learning experience and it shows it. I'm not sure if I would have used higher quality materials it would be any better. I'm not so good at being able to translate the look in the muslin to the "real thing". In retrospect, I'm not that fond of the pattern on me and I don't wear the jacket that much. I feel I totally got my money's worth. That said, the next jacket I make will be out of high quality materials and it will be worth wearing. For something like a jacket it is not worth spending all that time on something that won't get worn or is of questionable quality, except for maybe the first time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure your next jacket will go much more as you would like because you have that much more experience. There's a time and place for everything, right?

      Delete