What’s your oldest self-made garment?

One of the things I love about MMM is seeing older sewing projects in action. It gives me a chance to snoop around and see what’s found its way into a regular wardrobe rotation. I’m always trying to replicate the magic that makes a garment go from a finished project to a fully-functioning member of a wardrobe. Often, it’s great fabric, construction techniques or a near-miraculous fit. Every once in a blue moon, it’s a piece with beginner mistakes, bad fabric or an unlikely pattern that ends up being the glue that holds a wardrobe together.

So, in the spirit of appreciating those magical garments, here are the three oldest sewing projects still in my wardrobe.

Garment 1: a ruffly top made from super beefy grey cotton jersey (dyed to make it a more subtle color). Early 2011.
What it’s up to these days: Yoga and running.
Why it’s lasted: It’s not as much my style anymore, but it’s good for exercise because the fabric is sturdy and it stays put because it’s pretty fitted. Also, it was one of the first project I made with overlocked seams. (At the time, I didn’t realize that I was using a woven pattern and went ahead with trying to use a narrow hem on the ruffles. It curls quite a bit, but it’s fine for working out.)

March 2011

Garment 2: Disco prairie dress, made in quilting cotton. March 2011.
What it’s up to these days: It’s doing occasional sundress duty. I don’t wear it a ton, but it’s fun to pull out on a warm day.
Why it’s lasted: I sewed this up pretty hastily in a fit of MMM-induced panic sewing (before we were all more aware of that sort of behavior!) It’s survived because I de-winged it and fixed up the shoddy invisible zip installation. I do wish I’d graded the waist seam allowances when I was fixing the zip!

March 2011
May 2013

Garment 3: Linen tank – also March 2011!
What it’s doing now: Getting worn frequently in warmer months! I would say that this is my oldest piece that I wear regularly.
Why it’s lasted: I love the fabric weight, color and design. It’s good for layering and on its own, and just seems appropriate for most occasions in my life. Recently, I re-hemmed the bottom because I’d sewn the front and back together with the hem of the skirt still attached and it bugged me every time I wore it.

March 2011
April 2014

What’s your oldest self-made? What’s the secret behind its survival? Please do share a link to yours in the comments section, or even write up a post and report back – enquiring and nosy minds want to know!


38 thoughts on “What’s your oldest self-made garment?

  1. What a cool reflection! Not necessarily me worn, but I did a lot of sewing and knitting when I was living at home 25 years ago, and in a conversation with my Mum the other day – she says she still wears a jumper I knitted, and some shirts I made around the house!!! This has to do with sentiment, and practicality (she hates to throw something that still fits out!, and the jumper is very warm) and the fact at I now live on the other side of the world…..

  2. I regularly wear the first pair of socks I ever knit (about 12 years ago). I remember the learning process so clearly-feet up on my desk, listening to an audiobook, using an old Vogue Knitting for step by step instructions. I used the self-patterning sock yarn that was new at the time so they’re really bright. I gave them to my son who quickly grew out of them. We found them last year while packing up to move and they were in nearly pristine condition and fit me perfectly. When I wear them, I feel close to my son, my old self and the urgent compulsion I felt at the time to knit and create.

    1. What a great find! There’s something about the prospect of handmade socks that makes me want to take up knitting… I too find that sewing projects bring up strong memories of podcasts or books I was listening to when I was making them. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Great post Morgan! I’ve still not had time to write a reflections post on MMM so it’s nice to think about it here. This may I still wore my first successful top, a Colette sorbetto, from 2011. Despite it being too short, having a rip I had to repair & having some shoddily attached bias binding I still wear it for a number of reasons – it’s pink, the fabric belonged to my mum so has sentimental value, & it’s good quality fabric.
    I love your early makes here, especially how you changed that dress!

  4. Love this post! I really like the way you redid the Disco prairie dress. My oldest makes are historical costumes, I made a lovely Renaissance Gown and a Regency dress back in 2009 and 2010 when my kids were little- they got me hooked on sewing 🙂 I think I have some pics on my flickr page.

    1. That’s one heck of a way to start your sewing career. I was very curious and took a look at flickr and found the Renaissance gown – wow!

  5. My oldest home-sewn item is a bridesmaid dress made in 1969. The marriage didn’t last for my friend (alas), but the dress lives on!

  6. Interesting! I’m glad that you redid the dress to make it more wearable- isn’t it nice when there’s an easy way to make something more your style? The oldest garment I sewed and still wear is my first Sorbetto top: http://gingermakes.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/ginger-made-strawberry-sorbetto-top/

    The seam allowances are so frayed that they’re barely holding together, but I love the fabric and it’s such an easy to wear style that I’ll probably keep it until it falls apart! I also still have my hand-knitted sweater, but I try to ration how often I wear it since it’s getting pretty old and fragile.

    1. You and Kathryn have the same oldest garment – a pink Sorbetto! There’s something really satisfying about wearing something until it falls apart (after a long life, of course).

  7. Great idea for a post. My oldest garment I still wear was made about 12 years ago. It’s a dressing gown! I made it after seeing it made up in my local Spotlight store at the time (which is a bit like Joanns I gather). It’s made from a lightweight upholstery cotton, which may well be it’s secret of longevity! It’s a beautiful printed cotton in a botanical print, in a long kimono style. I lost the pattern, which is a shame as it’s very nice. It’s a bit big because I was carrying a little extra weight back then, but I still adore it and I think it holds up. You know i did consider posing in it for MMM! Next time I have a nice sunny winter morning I’ll take a pic for you with a coffee (I’m afraid I’m not cool enough for Instagram yet).

    1. Yes, please! A botanical-print dressing gown sounds delightful. It also sounds like a great beginner project – I was really focused on things I could wear out of the house and didn’t stop to consider that house clothes would be a good place to start building some skills. And please, you’re more than cool enough for Instagram. The question is whether or not Instagram is cool enough for you…

  8. I’m loving the dress that you “de-winged” ! I have this pattern and I think that’s exactly how I will make it now! Thanks for saving me the trouble of the de-winging surgery! I’m not sure what is my oldest garment is…. I have been sewing for a long time but blogging for a very short time. Blogging is nice way to journal our projects.

    1. I think the halter shape on that dress pattern is really nice on its own. I do like the wings in theory, but they definitely weren’t suitable on me in quilting cotton! One thing I didn’t mention is that I also took in the side seams a bit when I de-winged the dress, but I may have just chosen the wrong bust size. I wasn’t looking at finished measurements much in 2011!

  9. Ooh, that’s a great idea for reflection! I was thinking similar (but less structured) thoughts about my own MMM experience and I what I wore; I’m going to have to go look at my clothes more closely now. I really like that linen top!

  10. this is a fun post! i think my oldest make still in rotation was from 4 years ago. it’s a simple darted bodice/gathered skirt sundress. the fit was a little off (didn’t know anything about SBA’s or included ease, etc) so i had to take a wedge out of CF all the way to the waist. then i sewed a faux button placket and some lace peeking out to hide it! it was still a little loose but i grew to appreciate the relaxed fit (with a belt). i would wear it more often, but i used a poly lining so it can get a little sticky if it’s humid out. i should really photograph it sometime!

    1. You should photograph it! It’s for posterity. 🙂 Your modifications sound pretty inventive – when I first started sewing, the only tool in my fitting arsenal was taking the sides in!

  11. Yup totally great post. I too found one of the most exciting bits about MMMAY was pulling out all the pieces stashed in the ‘not worn much’ pile. And there were a lot! Like you say, It’s a special alchemy that makes a garment into a regularly worn, couldn’t live without it, garment. For me its comfort, fit, pretty insides and pretty outsides of course.

    1. Yes, yes, yes. Discomfort is a total deal-breaker for me! Doesn’t matter how beautiful the garment looks.

      PS I saw your new url and got way too excited thinking that it maybe it was secretly live already!

  12. Such a neat idea! I can think of two things hanging in my closet that are oldies but goodies – my fave white swiss dot top, made, oh, in 2006? 2007? It’s still a favourite that I reach for again and again, and it’s not too fitted, so it always fits! And I have a black cotton dress that I haven’t worn this year, but it does seem to have staying power!

  13. I love that linen top, very groovy. My oldest sewn items I still have are probably knit tops. By the time I”m bored with something or it gets too pilled to show in public it becomes sleepwear, and I never seem to detox my sleep drawer. I wish I would’ve kept some of my earliest sewing projects from many many years ago, if only to admire the hacked-up crotch seams and my love of pinking shears as seam finishings. That and my penchant for sewing long rayon challis skirts (so 90s but I’d die for a bunch of those again!).

    1. Oh, gosh, yes; my sleep and exercise drawer have absorbed many a shabby knit top.

      Maybe it’s time to make another round of those long skirts to go along with your new Nettie!

  14. Oh man, all three of these are pretty darn cool! Especially love the linen tank and the red dress – that neckline gives such good sexy shoulder! My oldest me-made item that still occasionally gets pulled into rotation is actually the second thing I ever sewed in my life. It’s made from some midweight cotton I bought off etsy with this cool flourescent foral pattern – very late 60’s vibe. I tried to draft my own pattern – the bodice has a high neck, princess seams, and a low ‘v’ back. The skirt is just a gathered drindl skirt. But the whole thing is a mess in both fit and construction! The zipper is bright green and I had no idea how to insert an invisible zipper, so it’s decidedly VISIBLE, and the bodice is too long and wrinkles, none of the seams are finished so it’s fraying like crazy, and what’s worse is for some reason I used an absurdly short stitch length to sew the entire thing so taking it apart to fix it just sounds horrible! But I still wear it because I love the fabric, and the overall silhouette, while ill-fitting, is kind of cute. I keep thinking I’ll take it apart one day, to either reuse the fabric, or just to make it nicer, but I never do, and I just keep wearing it as is!

    1. How cool that you drafted your own pattern for your second-ever project. Major chutzpah! I’d love to see it. I had some projects where I decided a tiny stitch length would be just the thing too, and I have no idea why.

  15. I have loved reading through the comments on this post. I wore my oldest me-made garment for the last day of Me-Made-May, and it’s a dress I made about a week before I found out I was pregnant with my son. Needless to say, it took quite a while for the dress to fit again, but I adore the print of the fabric, so it lives on.

  16. My oldest me-made that still gets worn is my prom dress from 1997! I was in this whole hippie phase in high school, wearing bell bottoms and wide-lapel shirts that I found in thrift stores and I couldn’t find a dress for prom. But I found some loud floral polyester at the thrift store and sewed one up! It started out floor length then got chopped into a micro-mini 5 or 6 years ago. The chop is what helped it come out of retirement, though it still only gets worn a couple times a year.

    I wrote it up in a personal sewing retrospective post I did in honor of my 100th blog post, if you wanna check it out (along with some of my old school me-mades that haven’t aged so well). http://craftylittlesecret.com/2014/06/19/100th-blog-post-extravaganza-sewing-retrospective-vintage-sewing-pattern-giveaway/


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