People have been asking me to sell them the clothes I make for my girls but I find it sad that nobody understands the fashion business and the dollars and sense behind making clothes. While I save a ton of money sewing for my family, I cannot actually make a ton of money selling clothes. Sewing is a very laborious endeavour, and if I were to put the real price-tag onto my creative and labor process in churning out the same clothes I make for my four daughters, nobody (well, unless you are like really wealthy) will be able to actually afford my clothes. I do plan to open an Etsy shop but I am fully aware it will not be profitable. Its really a hobby. It might pay some bills but definitely not sufficient to support a whole family.
How is it then that so many stores are able to sell clothes so cheaply? If you haven’t heard of fast fashion (much like fast food) then you need to read this. I have nothing against people who buy from H&M, Zara, Uniqlo and the like. I buy from them too, especially tees, since I have yet to learn to make comfortable tees. But I am very mindful of the exploitative and unethical practices of the fashion industry. I also get a little tired trying to find the right fit and the right clothes that brings me joy. Every time I shop, I always wished oh I wished it came in this colour, or that the skirt is longer, or if it had sleeves. And as for the kids, I am frustrated by the pinkness, girlishness and over-the-top embellishments that dominates girls’ clothing. In fact how often do you hear people say, why is it so hard to find something simple and classic. The truth is making simple and classic is not easy. The fashion industry is more interested in churning trends to drive business. They won’t make money if you find a comfortable and quality piece of garment that can be worn for years.
But onto something less serious…
After several bouts of failed attempts at making a qipao for a toddler, I was close to giving up. I thought sigh, let them wear whatever is in the closet already for Chinese New Year, which is totally fine. But I thought in keeping with the spirit of the festive period, they should get new clothes like everyone else since its considered lucky. So I took about a two-week break and thought and read a lot on how I could improve my mastery over the qipao. My first toddler qipao, in a purple nani Iro fabric, turned out semi-decent. The mandarin collar was too tight, the armholes were too large, and frustratingly I ran out of fabric so the skirt was not as full as I liked. I ended up transforming it into a mandarin collar tunic instead to be worn with shorts. But by this time, I knew my mistakes and corrected my patterns, and my second qipao was a total success. Everything fitted the way it should be. My only complaint was maybe the skirt was a little too full. Since I already made two apparel that were qipao-inspired, I decided to go the opposite route for the triplets’ CNY outfits. I wanted to do something fun, festive-looking, and comfortable so I decided on a ruffled halter and wrap dresses. The ruffled halter and wrap dresses were much easier to make so I completed those 6 outfits in no time. All 8 outfits cost me a little under $100 in terms of fabric cost, but of course the total value if you were to add my creative and labor output, is somewhere around $600 (that comes up to $75 per outfit if I were to sell – see too expensive for average folks). I am very excited for the girls to wear this when we do our annual house visiting. I can say very confidently that the Loo sisters would be house-visiting in style this CNY. Nobody else in the whole Singapore will have the exact same outfit. NOBODY.
I think the girls have enough clothes for now so I am going to move on to other sewing projects. I will probably still make clothes from them from time to time but I am not going to churn out a massive amount until probably the next Chinese New Year. I am actually right now researching on making swimsuits, fabric toys and pretend play clothes so we’ll see how that goes.