when do you buy?

                                                                           Source: shopanaise.com via Sallie on Pinterest

i think this is a question for both sewists and non-sewists alike, but it becomes particularly more complicated and convoluted for those of us who have an interest in creating a handmade wardrobe.

lately i've been bit by the shopping bug. perhaps its a reaction to us buying a new car and adding a monthly payment into our budget that has me (ashamedly) whining "but but but... thats less money to spend on me".  or maybe its just that my sewing machines have been a bit quiet the last week or so, but i've been finding myself wandering onto ready-to-wear clothing sites and eyeing up the wares a bit greedily while a sneaky little voice in my head is whispering "buy it". some of these things are affordable and i could easily slip them into this months paycheck without hurting, others are so outrageously outside of my "fun" budget that i can't believe i'm even entertaining the thought! (p.s. all of these images fall into the latter category)

                                                                 Source: shop.emersonfry.com via Sallie on Pinterest

generally i enter into a ridiculous song and dance where i weigh my desire vs. need vs. can i make it? vs. do i want to make it? vs. will it make me happy? vs. will i secretly feel guilty? vs. will my husband disapprove? vs. do i need it? do i need it? huh? huh huh huh????!!!

you get the picture. it gets exhausting. usually this mental two-step is enough to tucker me out and dissuade me from buying anything and the crisis is averted and my credit card stays safely tucked in my wallet. but sometimes... its just not that easy.


                                                                        Source: theclothes.blogspot.com via Sallie on Pinterest

i do try to stick to some sort of priority scale when i buy things - it goes a little something like this (sewing related stuff excluded, of course, because that takes priority over everything!!):

1. beauty products - my number one weakness. whether its some diy ingredients to make an oatmeal and aloe mask or a miracle cream that i'm certain will turn me into a glowing botticelli venus, or a new lippy from the drugstore, this is the first thing that i'll break down on and buy.
                                                                  Source: funkis.com via Sallie on Pinterest

2.  shoes - because i haven't yet (yet!) figured out how to make shoes, i usually find purchasing them pretty justified. plus i just love shoes. but i do already own a crapload of them, so that gives me some pause.

3.  jewelry and accessories - see above. at this point i'd be hard pressed to get into jewelry making. same thing goes for things like belts and scarves. i know i could make them, but i'd just rather buy them. also, i don't wear a ton of accessories on a day to day basis so i'm usually pretty cool recycling what i have over and over (and over) again.

                                                                            Source: neimanmarcus.com via Sallie on Pinterest

4.  sweaters - i've knocked around the idea of learning how to knit just to avoid this one, but i get dissuaded every time i imagine all the scarves and boring rectangles i'll have to knit first before i'm competent enough to tackle something like a cardigan. plus, its so slow!! and thats coming from someone who likes to work slow!

                                                                  Source: images.anthropologie.com via Sallie on Pinterest

5.  swimwear and underwear - i have a hard time with this one. because i really know that i can make them. but my desire to make them is pretty low. my desire to buy them is pretty low too, which is why i'm still romping around in an old bikini that no longer fits and every time i get hit by a wave i lose my drawers. and i won't even tell you about the state of my underwear. just know that its amazing my husband is still attracted to me - despite the fact that he's threatened to go through my underwear and burn things...

and there you have it! way low on that list are things like dresses and blouses and t-shirts and jeans, because i feel pretty competent at making all those things - but every now and then i see something, like a beautiful dress with knife pleats all over, or a ridiculous design that i can't find a pattern to replicate, and is beyond my drafting skills, and, oh! the song and dance starts again...

so i'm wondering - when do you take the plunge and buy something? am i the only one that does a mental mambo every time i come across a cute pair of shorts? do you have any weaknesses when it comes to rtw clothes? 

please share...

all images are just some things that have made my breath catch in my throat recently. if i could own them all i would...



  1. I don't really buy new or not-on-sale)RTW anymore, excluding shoes (I'll drop some cash on a nice pair of shoes! I mean, you're standing/walking around in them, after all). So the mental mambo doesn't really affect me. I did have to hunker down & drill into my head that just because something comes from the thrift store & is super cheap in relation to the mall, doesn't mean it's a good deal & it doesn't mean I need it. I prefer to make my own clothes anyway, since the fabric/quality/fit that I prefer is not in my budget when it comes to RTW! Plus, I consider sewing my primary form of entertainment, so it hurts less when I actually pay for the fabric :)

    And knitting - yes, knitting is very slow, but it's a nice slow. I love watching movies on my Kindle on my lunch break at work, and knitting for the whole hour. You can take it anywhere, as long as you're down with the side-eyes that some people will give you (me, i dun curr haha). And don't be put off by endless rectangles... if you feel confident enough to proceed, then stop making scarves and make something fun! I really only knitted 3 scarves before I jumped into my cardigan, and 2 of those scarves were only because people were paying me for them... so in the end, they paid for the cardigan yarn hehe.

  2. Ha ha re: undies. I have the most worn, comfortable knickers and the rest of my pretty, lacy stuff never gets worn. I know I SHOULD sew up new ones but I have way too much stuff I'd rather make.

    I'm basically point for point on board with you on this shopping issue though.... I am a product JUNKIE (mainly because my skin freaks out over everything and I'm constantly hunting for stuff that won't make me look like a PMSing teenager). I've tryed the natural route here but haven't noticed much of a difference. Easily hundreds$$ a year on skin stuff and makeup. Shoes I feel zero guilt about buying because I can't make them. (And I love them.) Same with jewelry (though I will DIY stuff from time to time, and most of my jewelry is vintage).

    However, I am rarely if ever tempted to buy clothes these days. I just don't shop, period, and when I am in the mall I am mostly creeped out by how cheap and shitty everything is. Granted, I'll be NYC this weekend. That's when I get retail fever - high end shit. But even then, it's so out of my price range I don't get too heartbroken. If anything, sewing has quelled a lot of that "BUT I WANT IT" anxiety since I can attempt to make facsimiles of stuff I really fall in love with.

    Anyway, most sewists buy so little off the rack that I think we should be exempt from other kinds of consumer guilt. At least that's what I tell myself when I buy the 6th moisterizer this year or a 27th pair of cork platform wedges.

  3. But Sals, I would just bite it and buy a bikini at Target if you don't get around to making one. I wouldn't want you to flash Texas if you don't absolutely have to.

  4. My list would be much the same as yours. My daily variety of cosmetics, jewelry, and accessories is minimal so, I don't hesitate long regarding those purchases (jewelry and accessories are generally vintage and low-cost). I try to limit my shoe purchases but, since I have no plans to learn to make them anytime soon, I just try to stick to brands that will last. Swimwear and undergarments I would find too boring to make so, I buy those as well (though I haven't bought a swimsuit this year). I agree with your thoughts on knitting as well so, I bought a few vintage and second-hand instead. As for other, woven type clothes, I recently realized that I've not bought a single new item yet this year. Of course, where I currently live, temptation is minimal. Most available rtw is so low quality, I'd rather make all of my clothes. Now, on my vacation in Texas...that may be a different story!

  5. Yes, the mental mambo! I'm familiar with this! Sewing has certainly cut down on my clothing purchases but I still buy the occasional piece. I've always been a big supporter of small designers and don't think twice about purchasing these pieces if they are in my budget. If I'm attracted to something from a bigger retailer, I usually ask myself if I want/could make the piece myself. If the fabric is unique or the design is rare than I might just grab it.
    I'm getting better at buying shoes that fill a purpose in my closet rather than just buying random ones I love. I usually splurge with shoes... They need to feel amazing on and wear like steel... These features don't come cheap.
    Jewelry has never been an issue for me. I buy the occasional piece but I'm not really drawn to it.
    Shopping usually involves several trips to look at the same piece before I buy which drives my husband nuts. Impulse buys are pretty rare which is why I usually come back from vacations empty handed. I've regretted this a few times but i could have worse traits!

  6. SHOES. Ok, so I don't really buy many shoes but I do like to swoon over them. I don't buy ready to wear clothes anymore but shoes and bags and accessories get me. Since I make so much clothes I rarely find myself in stores anyway. And ever since I discovered sweater knits I haven't bought RTW sweaters either (not that you need many in Texas). I don't knit or crochet but sweater knits serve as a good alternative.

  7. hahaha! Oh god its so true!! But I was just in Target and all the bathing suits are SO EFFING UGLY!! Like what the hell is going on there? I know I shouldn't be picky when the alternative is something with decayed elastic and pills all over the butt...

  8. Truthfully - you're the one person who has given me hope with the whole knitting thing. Your cardigan was so freaking beautiful and I know you said you only learned to knit recently. So I keep thinking I just need to bite the bullet and learn and I'll probably love it!

  9. Oh I'm so glad I'm not the only one who spends an exorbitant amount on products! I could easily talk to you for days about products - I also have totally hormonal skin (thanks late 20's!!) so my quest for the miracle potion continues...

    I might have to remind myself of your exemption from consumer guilt next time I decide to buy. Because its so true - I don't really remember the last garment I bought either online or in a store...its been a long long time...

  10. Oo! Vacation to Texas!! Where to?

    I think I might need to get better at the whole thrifting thing. Its something I'm always envious of in other people's wardrobes, but weirdly enough, I guess I just never got the knack of it or something... I think its a bit of a gift, to be able to see the diamond in the rough...

  11. I generally have this rule - If I want something I wait a week. If I still want it then I go back for it - and sometimes decide to wait longer, or buy it then. And if its sold out I esoterically tell myself it "wasn't meant to be!" But sometimes I've kicked myself for this too!

    I think, like you, my inclination when I buy something is to buy something special from an indie designer, which often isn't cheap. This is usually why I dance around so much - its a BIG DEAL when I buy something! I think thats also why I'm so confused by my urge to buy something from, like, Jcrew, recently - I think its just for some sort of emotional satisfaction.

  12. I'll have to remember this about sweater knits! You're absolutely right, I don't really NEED the wooly sweaters like I did back East, and I could be just as happy making myself up something to fill in the gaps for warm clothing in a sweater knit. Genius!

  13. I definitely can relate - online shopping has been the bane of my credit card's existence many a time. Now that I'm learning to make clothes, I'm much less tempted by clothing (especially since most of the stuff I'm drawn to I could probably make, and would not fit me well RTW anyway).

    My big weakness is shoes. I don't have many pairs but my taste is kind of expensive. I allow myself to buy one or two pairs a year, and I justify it by saying that I save money in other areas of my life; shoes will always fit, no matter what; and you get what you pay for ;)

  14.  Honestly, my skin is the single most aggravating thing in my life right now. More than taxes, more than heartbreak, more than ANYTHING. I had clear skin for most of my late 20s and then as soon as I hit 29-30 it all went to shit. It's only around my jawline/lower cheeks, and NOTHING works. I have tried the oil cleansing method (I think this just makes it worse - maybe if i was working from a better palette it would like it better because it really does feel nice and seems like it should do good things), benzyl peroxide, salicylic acid, African black soap, and just about every drug store cleanser there is. Don't even get me STARTED on moisturizers. I realized recently that I have really reactive skin - almost everything makes me breakout and nothing is worse than moisturizer with SPF, no matter how "oil free, non-comedogenic" it's supposed to be. Lately I'm on African black soap and jojoba oil at night, and a lighter cleanser and oil-balancing Aubrey moisterizer in the day (on top of some zit stuff that doesn't seem to work). Problem is I have to wear a full face of mineral make-up if I want any sun protection, which I think my skin does not love in the humidity. ARRGGH. Needless to say, I am pretty psyched to go to a Whole Foods this weekend and stalk the beauty aisle (we don't have them in Montreal and I hear they have great stuff). So despite my best efforts I am going to the New York this week with a suitcase full of fun dresses and a face fulla acne. Crikey. END RANT.

  15. Ya, I was in the same place last week and bought myself a swimsuit at jcrew and shoes from Tory Burch. I'm thinking it might have been unconscious retail therapy.

  16. Oh girl, I feel you - boy do I ever feel you. The jawline/lower cheek thing. I'm not totally convinced how well any topical stuff works. You may want to try - and I might sound crazy - taking Cod Liver Oil. Not regular fish oil or omegas or whatever - but specifically a high quality Cod Liver Oil. I started taking these capsules (http://www.greenpasture.org/public/Products/ButterCodLiverBlend/index.cfm)
    about a month and a half ago and I slowly my skin is clearing up. Its not overnight, but it is getting better. Just a thought. Also, Whole Foods is FUN!

  17. so true!!! what is up with target's bathing suits?!

    right now that's top of my Buy Not Make list.  i think i'd tackle a swimsuit if i had my serger with me (and a LOT of cheap good quality spandex).  my buys go withe the season, sweaters in winter, swim in summer, jeans and jackets in fall.  though i'm hoping to remedy that last one.

  18. I buy bras, undies and tights (NOT made in China so I know for sure they're not made from the ground up bone of dissidents/ sewn by a blind three year old for two sesame seeds an hour). Everything else I make myself.  I didn't buy any RTW for a while (3 years and 2 months) then I had to dress for job interviews so I got a tailored dress + suit (it's too stressful to even think of tailoring stuff for job interviews XP) from Satch (they make everything right here in Australia and their quality is awesome) and a pair of John Fluevogs to complete the outfit. I really want to make a pair of jeans soon (my three year old Guess jeans are falling apart =S) but I'm still searching for the perfect pattern..

  19. I don't feel guilty about buying RTW clothes because, let's be real, it's the world we live in today. But I am careful at what I buy. What usually pushes me to buying something is if my eyes stay on it long enough. I'm easily entranced by all the pretty outfits in stores and on display when I go shopping. Even though I want to buy everything right there and then, I wait a week to mule over what I saw - what will I wear it with? will I have to alter it? etc. If I'm still thinking about it a week later, then it's a good purchase and I don't feel guilty about buying it. This also prevents me from any impulse buys. 

  20. I JUST did this the other day.  And the voice that said "buy this" won.  I bought an electric blue maxi skirt.  The whole time I was thinking about how I could make it.  But when it all boiled down to it, was I actually going to make it?  An eight gore electric blue rayon maxi?  And where would I find electric blue rayon?  And did I really want to sew a skirt with all those gores?.......

    You get the picture.   And then I went home and hid it from my husband ;)  Just kidding, but I didn't run in the door screaming "look what I bought" like I used to.

    I think it's just good to have the mental conversation with yourself when you shop.  It means your conscious of what it means to be a consumer and want a handmade wardrobe.

  21. Actually, while the thought of making underwear does seem boring, but they're actually quite fun to make. And they're perfect for those days when you want to sew something easy, but don't have a lot of time to dedicate to it (or for getting the sewjo going again). I'd give 'em a try, you might be surprised at how fun they are! :-)

    Things I've decided that I prefer to buy? Jeans are high on that list. Yes, I can slave away for hours to make a pair that fits the way I want, but I'm not much for the tedious type of sewing that jeans are. Sometimes I don't mind, but for the most part? I'd rather buy 'em (though to be honest, I'm not sure if I don't spend just as much time shopping for a decent pair that fits). I'm not as much of a shoe person as some, I tend to gravitate towards the practical (read: black), even though in my dreams I would own a few funky colors/styles that would probably never get worn. And jewelry is a purchase item for me too, there just isn't a lot of homemade jewelry that calls to me....probably because I gravitate towards elaborate crosses and pearls--neither of which are included in things that I could easily make myself. Another thing would be a suit....complicated fitted jackets aren't my style, so I can't see torturing myself into making something with that much work that I'd seldom (if ever) have an excuse to wear.

  22. I was recently in H&M, which is my favorite store, and I could not procure the desire to purchase anything, despite having been wanting to shop there for months while away at school.  Everything I picked up was, oh, I could make that..  I find that I love going in to stores and trying things on, finding out how different silhouettes look on me, and investigating the make up of a piece of clothing, and then ferreting that knowledge home.  I buy things only if I know I could never find suitable fabric for a replica, or if the technical skills are beyond me, like you said for shoes, or if it happens to be both cheap and beautiful, like new underwear.  Those I have a harder time passing up.  

  23. I can totally relate, I do the same thing! And I'm still romping around in an ill-fitting old swimsuit because of the same reasons. It's even worse now since I did manage to make a bra...and I hate hate hate swimsuit shopping. But....will I ever make a swimsuit? Meh.

  24. I pretty much go through the same thing. I generally buy things I love but can't make. I recently bought a beautiful dress that I could have probably made for much less than it costed, but I was sure I was never going to find the fabric and to make that dress in a different fabric - this one was green blue ombre tulle  - was to make another dress. 

    The second reason I buy things is to learn how to make them :)

  25. I'm the exact same way though my priority list differs slightly. I like looking around for "inspiration," but that browsing can quickly turn into ohmygodbutiWANTit!!! Shoes, jewelry and pretty underthings are my fave purchases. Clothes I hold off on because I think I can make all of them - I really can't.

    Loove the images. That bikini is so so cute.

  26. Well, I'd buy that gold necklace in a heartbeat! Why don't I have a spare $2K?! And shoes... I'm not much of a shoe person (I'm happy wearing the same two pairs every other day) but they do wear out. I don't think I can *make* shoes that would stand up to my daily abuse. But I think it's okay to buy things even if you CAN make them if they're not things you WANT to make. (Like regular ol' undies... yes, gorgeous silk&lace knickers are fun to make & wear, but sometimes you gotta have boring practical underthings, and that's just not as fun to sew.)