Monday, 10 April 2017

Glitch in the Stitch

© Melissa Gaggiano Photography
    It's out there, you know. Any number of documentaries, educating us on the perils of globalisation, consumerism, disposable income, disposable wardrobe. We are surrounded by things that glitter and shine, and they are cheap. Made with cheap materials, using people labour who are most infinitely undervalued.

    I am a consumer who looks for good deals. I will buy from op-shops, accept hand-me-downs, and what is still needed I will seek from budget stores. The lower price, the more can be saved, has been my way of thinking. But here's the glitch in the stitch. I recently bought the kids new winter pyjamas. The clothes, were not a low-low price point but were within budget. The clothes were also cuddly and the kids looked so cute in them. How could I be disappointed?

    When given contracts to sign we tend to read the fine print, because no one wants to be that silly king who signed his own death sentence [I read some lovely fairytales when I was a kid]. Accepting and buying store bought clothes based on outward appearance alone is a bit like signing a contract without reading the contents. Sometimes, when I can be arsed about it I will perform a quick QA on the clothes I am about to buy, but honestly it's not something I want to do each and every time I need to buy a new piece of clothing. But considering what happened next, I'll have to rethink my stance on my lackadaisical product quality checking.

    Returning from the store I immediately put the new pyjamas through the wash. The girls were excited about wearing their new clothes to bed that very night. Hanging the clothes out to dry I then noticed that the clothes were overlocked [that's good], but were not plain stitched [not so good]. There were gaps in the seams [sewing too close to the fabric edge] and in parts the fabric was already splitting because, hello, the fabric pieces were never plain stitched. This was not the first time I've noticed this sewing practice on store bought clothes, but I had cause to stop and think. Why would the manufacturer leave out this one basic step? The pyjamas were neither expensive nor inexpensive, so surely the business that made these could afford to pay for a basic plain stitch.

    I pulled out my sewing machine and overlocker, and proceeded to contribute to the 'value adding chain' of the new pyjamas. I plain stitched the weak seams of the clothes and overlocked the already overlocked edges. These pyjamas were not going to fall apart on my watch. Because you see, when I buy clothes, and particularly for kids I want, nay, expect the garments to survive at least two kids. When I buy for myself I expect the clothes to last a minimum of three, maybe four years.

    So now, I got to ask myself, if I am buying clothes then having to improve/correct/finish the so called 'finished' product is this really a saving? Especially if the clothes are falling apart. I am at a point where I'm wondering, would it be better if I made kids clothes myself. Is that realistic? Do I have time for it? Can I do it economically and with style? I am one person but can I beat the cycle of contributing to businesses that mass produce poorly made products?

    ... Only one way to find out.