Every so often, someone asks me about my sweaters and replies with “You made that yourself? I thought you bought it! It doesn’t even look homemade.” I know the person means that as a compliment, so I politely say thank you and move on, but inside, I wince. Mass produced, store bought clothing are held up to be the best while handmade clothing is typically looked at as being inferior. Many people believe that the end goal of knitters, crocheters and sewists is to make something that’s as good as the store bought equivalent. When I think about it, that’s understandable. The average person is most familiar with store bought clothing and doesn’t know the virtues of handmade.
What really makes me cringe is when I hear that comment coming out of the mouths of crafters. Have some pride in what you’re capable of! Handmade can be so much better than anything you find in stores. Makers have time and the capability to add so many small details that just aren’t profitable or possible with factory equipment. You can custom fit your garments. You can add time consuming details or hand stitch the perfect hem. You can choose the best combination of materials and create something unique. All of these things add up to why I love being able to make my own clothing. Sure, right now I don’t have the skills to insert a zipper perfectly, but I aspire to do it like a talented sewist, not a factory machine.
This post is really just a jumbled mess of thoughts, and I didn’t have a real direction with it, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on handmade. Do you aspire to have your work be unrecognizable as handmade? What does handmade mean to you?