Why don’t my shoes last?

If my shoes aren’t well-worn, there’s (usually) something wrong with them.

20130110-230124.jpgWell, except for these bad boys. They can take ANYTHING

Perhaps it’s all the stomping I do, but it doesn’t take too long before my shoes are well and truly scuffed, as I’m wobbling on uneven heels and just hoping the holes will stay away for another day. Being a pair of my shoes can’t be easy.

Rather than buy multiple pairs of shoes, I tend to wear one pair to death before grudgingly moving on to the next. Usually, this process can take about a year at the most. But lately, I’ve noticed my shoes wearing down quicker and quicker.

Is it just me, or are shoes just not made to last? It makes sense really – if they’re cheaply made, the prices will be down in the shops and people won’t really mind spending £2 on something they’ll chuck away in a matter of months.

Sound familiar? This is more or less exactly how I saw my shopping habits pre-Seamless pledge.

This is the reason shoes are exempt from my pledge – but I don’t really buy them often anymore. Even when I make a conscious decision to splash out a little more on a new pair of shoes, they just don’t seem to be able to handle my endless tramping around.

Then I’m back to square one, buying tacky shoes which won’t last two minutes because it’s not worth parting with more cash for a pair which won’t last much longer.

That said, there must be some reputable brands out there which aren’t going to fall apart at the drop of a hat? I got lucky with a pair of second-hand floral Doctor Martens on eBay a few months ago and they’re the best pair of shoes I think I’ve ever bought, but not quite work appropriate.

I’ve also got a battered pair of Converse which really should have given up by now – they’re a real pair of troopers, already scuffed when I bought from for five Euro at a flea market in Dortmund. But they’re still going strong!

What are your favourite shoes? When it comes to your shoe rack, is it a case of less is more, or do you need to stock up just so you can do some damage limitation by rotating which ones you wear?

Coveting a dressmaker’s dummy

There’s something human-shaped missing from my sewing life. I’ve been coveting my very own adjustable dressmaker’s dummy for some time now.

Once upon a time, I found a ratty mannequin at a flea market in Germany. I snapped it up for 25 euro and got some funny looks on the way home, clutching this tea-stained dress form as the metro whizzed underneath Dortmund.

I ended up naming it Sally, as you do. Sally was a bit broader in the back than I was, so I couldn’t really drape accurately using the form, but it was so handy to have a general idea of what a garment would look like without having to put it on and inspect it in front of the only full-length mirror in the house.

At the moment, fitting a garment is an odious case of trial and error as I guesstimate how much needs to be taken from a waist of a dress for it not to look like a potato sack. I often feel like a human pincushion as I wiggle my way in and out of half-finished items in an effort to get the fit just right.

So I guess it’s safe to say I’m in the market for a new Sally. There are a few options I could go for:

Buy new

Probably the most expensive and un-Seamless option, there are plenty of places I could get a brand-new dress form. John Lewis have a whole host of dress forms on sale starting at £139 for the Easyfit model. Not my first port of call as you’d imagine, but John Lewis do sell some good quality sewing wares so might be worth checking out.

Second-hand or vintage

Much more Seamless-like, don’t you think? Ebay always has a few vintage or second-hand dress forms on sale, but the price will fluctuate depending on how much competition there is for your chosen dummy. You never know, you might just get lucky. Also, I spotted a few ads for second-hand dummies on auction site alternative Preloved.

Do it yourself!

Yup, it’s possible to make your very own dress form. There are several tutorials available on the internet, the most popular being the duct-tape method. A more time-consuming but potentially rewarding method involves making a plaster mould of your upper half. You’ll need a good friend to help you out with either one – needless to say, it’s far cheaper than either of the first two options.

Personally, I’ll probably go on the hunt for a second-hand dress form if I can get a good price. Sad to say, I once passed up an amazing vintage wooden dress form I found in a charity shop in Swansea. It was the worst timing really, I’d just packed everything to move out of my flat and there was definitely no room for it, but I still wonder if it would have been worth the hassle anyway.

Do you own a dressmaker’s dummy? I’m dying to know if anyone’s had any success with the duct tape method!

Featured Pledger: Sonja Beck Gingerich (Ginger Makes)

The Seamless pledge is nothing without its pledgers! Every week I’ll feature a new pledger on the site. Today, allow me to introduce you to Sonja of Ginger Makes:

Sonja in her Mello Yello vintage McCall’s 5995 dress

Name: Sonja Beck Gingerich

 Website: http://gingermakes.wordpress.com

Pledged for six months, now coming to the end of it.

Why did you take the Seamless Pledge? 

I’ve long felt guilty about relying on mass-made clothing, but I felt helpless when faced with the task of sourcing clothes responsibly.  So I was really excited to find a group of people who believe that it’s possible to walk away from unethically-made clothes.  I’m so grateful for the support and encouragement this group provides!

What impact has the pledge had on your day-to-day life?

I’m not much of a shopper and I don’t have that many clothes, but I tend to make all my clothing purchases impulsively and unwisely.  I often won’t buy something I actually need, but I’ll pick up a novelty item on a whim without thinking twice!  I find myself more thoughtful about what I wear when I have to make something myself or source it secondhand– it takes a lot of work to add something to my wardrobe, so I want to make sure I’ll really wear it!  I’ve also found it’s really cool to slow down and appreciate the meditative process of making a garment.  I find so much joy and community in sewing, things I’ve never experienced while shopping!

Any tips for someone wanting to give up mass-made clothing? 

Learn how to sew!  It can be tough to find exactly what you need for in thrift shops or on eBay, so it’s great to be able to make wardrobe basics that fit you and your personal style perfectly!

Make sure you check out Sonja’s blog for more on her creations. Want to be a featured pledger? Get in touch.