Sewing Historical Vs. Sewing Modern

It should be no surprise by now Lashing dislikes sewing modern clothes. By why? Check out this months blog for a short rant on her why's but the surprising outcome from continued persistence.


4/19/20222 min read

If you have ever watched us on our livestream or caught snips of me on videos, you probably know how much I dislike sewing modern clothing. Actually I think it’s an understatement of how much I dislike sewing modern clothing. The only success I have ever had with modern clothing has been dresses. The last 4 shirts I have attempted have all failed, you would think a shirt should be easy. The 18th century ones are!

Now why do you think that is? It’s hard to explain to Ballast how the sizing on the back envelope of the big 3 does not follow the sizing of clothing when you go into the department store. Like 8 to 10 sizes off. That’s the first strike when working with modern patterns. I also never understood why they have to have such a large seam allowance (Maybe someone can shed some light on that for me, personally I feel like it’s a waste of material that just ends up in the trash). Secondly, the directions are rough in some aspects to determine what is going on, it’s 2022 why aren’t you on YouTube!

I expect the challenges from patterns in the past considering it was an oral hand me down dictation. Instructions were not documented like the big 3 patterns. It has been the job of historians who are also into fashion and sewing to understand how the garment is constructed and then deconstruct them. Clothing back then also made more sense, Although the overall silhouette may have changed over the years, the general construction did not. In reality you almost have a 100 year period of basic understanding. Today’s patterns you’re lucky if a design sticks around for a year. Fast Fashion I believe is what it is called.

It has taken my multiple levels of failure on modern clothing to understand how construction works and what went wrong. Guess what? I still get it wrong. I am still learning how to adjust modern patterns with all their fancy details and construction. But I am learning a hell of a lot.

Perhaps that is why I enjoy sewing historical clothing so much. By learning the truly basic garments like a shirt or shift, I can successfully complete a piece and know it will fit. I also know how it’s going to look for the most part versus the pictures on a big 3 envelope. The analogy I think of with those envelopes is as if you are watching your favorite chef on the food network channel and they are showing you their gorgeous plating. But your attempt comes out nowhere near what they showed. I think they call that a Pinterest fail?

I also personally think clothing pre-20th century is a lot more comfortable and practical then some of today’s designs and fashion. Regardless, I am moving on to the next learning evolution of drafting patterns. Perhaps if I can draft a basic pattern block, it will help putting together more historical clothing (or even modern) and making the adjustments to properly fit the wearer. If anything I think the big 3 has given me a drive to learn the basics of patterning and construction versus following directions that look like they are missing pages for assembly.

Till next time, Fair Winds and Following Seas