OPINION | Stitch in time costs a fortune

Is there anyone left in Australia who sews their own clothes? (Apart from my mum, that is, who is still trying to work through a lifetime's accumulation of fabric stashed in her back room.)

Once upon a time, and I'm talking at least 20 years ago, sewing your own clothes was considered the cheaper option.

It may have been embarrassing to step out in the jeans your mum made (only me?) but the hip pocket of said jeans was fuller for the effort.

It wasn't just jeans, of course. I had the benefit of my mother's professional dressmaking skills for all my formal dresses (as did several of my friends), culminating in her making my wedding dress, part of my bridesmaids' clothing, her own outfit, her mother's outfit, and bows for the church pews...among other things. Saved us a fortune - thanks Mum.

But over time, things have swung around. Wander around a fabric store these days (if you can find one), and you'll realise that enough material to make a dress, plus thread and zippers, would cost you more than buying the finished product at the shops (which has the benefit of also costing no effort, with no guesswork about whether you'll like the finished product).

And then there are the $5 chain store t-shirts, which always make me uneasy. It just doesn't seem possible without slavery or child labour, or both.

So there's zero incentive to make anything yourself these days, unless you enjoy the process for its own sake, which I can't say I ever really did.

And as any child of handy parents knows, it's always easier to let your crafty mum or dad do that tricky job, meaning offspring like me tend to become less accomplished than you'd expect.

So I wonder whether sewing is a skill that will soon die out? Instead of it being in every woman's arsenal, it now belongs only to enthusiasts. Maybe one day we'll look at sewing machines the way we now look at a blacksmith forge - something useful whose day has passed.

Not Mum though - she's got too much fabric to use up.

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