I love documentary film. I’ve beenĀ planning to write a post about some of my favorites. One I watched recently was particularly inspiring. The True Cost is about the dangerous trend of “fast fashion”. You probably remember hearing about the garment factory that collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013…1,130 people died. Over one thousand people. They were aware of structural issues but forced them to keep working. It’s disgusting and horrifying. And it’s because of the demand for cheaper and cheaper clothing. Faster and faster production.

The film encouraged me to think about where my clothes come from and try to make better choices about where I shop. Since I’m not working right now, I can’t buy clothes, so I’m just wearing what I have. But I do have cheap products bought from stores that are supplied from factories like the one in Bangladesh. It’s too easy to ignore what’s going on behind the scenes and get drawn in to those $4 t-shirts. I don’t buy them because I want to update my wardrobe every month (which is sort of the premise behind fast fashion) but because it seems economical. Cheap. Efficient. Except nothing about one thousand people dying is economical…anyways, watch the film!

Because I have much time and little money, I decided to try to make a shirt from scratch.

I have a sewing machine I rarely use so I dragged it out, read the manual (it’s really quite amazing how much easier this makes things) and found a cute pattern from pattydoo online for around $12. Turned out I had the thread and needles required so all I had to buy was some fabric. I have no experience in that sort of thing but I managed to find some jersey knit fabric at Fabricland. It cost about $20 for the material required. I found this really interesting. I can buy $4 t-shirts made from very similar fabric. I don’t think $20 is unreasonable. I think $4 is unreasonable. But it stirs up the “budget-careful” part of me. I don’t like that. I wish I wasn’t tempted by that.

Having all the materials, I got started. First was printing and assembling the pattern (because I bought it online) which took a few hours.


Then I pinned it to the fabric and cut it out. It’s on an angle to create a gather on one side. Straight lines would have been easier – but I think this hides flaws better. In the shirt I mean. šŸ˜‰

tshirt2Ā tshirt3

Next was the sewing. I had to watch parts of the instructional video over and over and over. If there wasn’t a video to go with the pattern, I don’t think I could have done this. It seems I also stopped taking pictures at this point. I must have really been concentrating! The sewing isn’t great, but luckily you can’t really tell unless you get up close.

Here’s the finished product!


The whole project took me a couple days and like I mentioned, was around $32. I’m sure I would get faster if I did more. I’d like to try to make things from clothes we already have, and get better at altering stuff. Use what we have; not just buy new things because they are cheap. Or buy large used shirts and alter them. At least make sure I’m thinking about the true cost of things.

Thanks for reading!

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