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The pants that launched a thousand ships

2011 August 24
by elizabeth_admin

Or not.

Ooops, sorry British readers, that should have read, “The trousers that launched a thousand ships”.  Haha.


So, the other day (incidentally the phrase, “the other day”, in my family can mean a day that happened recently or a decade ago.  In this case, this day to which I am referring happened last weekend — a clarification just for specificity’s sake.)  But back to the other day story…  I was walking around downtown with Jack wearing my über comfy linen pants (Vogue 8584) when I was stopped in the street by a woman who told me that she loved my pants and she asked where had I bought them.  I quite happily told her that I made them myself and when she looked at me blankly in an uncomprehending way, I went on to say that I had sewed them (I almost said it really slowly with really good enunciation, but that seemed a tad mean when she had actually just given me an unsolicitation.)  She was so surprised, but recovered quickly and then proceeded to ask me if I would make her some. 

People, I don’t know this woman from Adam.  We are complete strangers.  In other words, I. Do. Not. Know. Her.  What?!?!  Will I make her some pants?  Sure, let me just pull some fabric out of my own stash, use the pattern I altered to fit me, spend hours cutting it out and sewing it,  and then hope it fits her body.  Sure…  Why not?

What the ?  Come on people.  Seriously? 

I know I’m over-reacting a little here.  But come on.  Are people really that clueless about sewing and what’s involved?  Granted these pants are really simple to make, but I would definitely need to fit another person.  I can’t just go about feeling them up to find out what kind of crotch curve they have to see if it matches my pattern’ curve.  Ok, ok.  [End Rant]

I am super duper pleased she liked my pants though.  I love them to death.  Weekend wear is always a hard one for me to figure out.  I want to be comfortable, but I don’t want to be frumpy.  I don’t think shorts are very flattering on me and you can’t always wear dresses (they’re not very practical for hanging with a 4 yr old boy).  The long line of these pants make me look taller and slimmer whereas shorts make me look shorter and schlumpier.  I feel more “put together” when I dress better.  And then people stop me on the street to tell me they like my me-made pants, I mean trousers.  What could be better?

So have you received any unsolicitations lately?  I have to admit that I just love getting them.  🙂

19 Responses leave one →
  1. August 24, 2011

    You missed the point! If you told her that you made them yourself than you must be a tailor or a dressmaker because who MAKES their own clothes in NYC with all of this AMAZING shopping and your ability to get anything you want…whenever.

    She thought you were advertising…she was expecting you to whip out a business card and quote a price…

  2. Nancy a.k.a. Pretty Kitty permalink
    August 24, 2011

    I agree with Carolyn. She probably thought you tailored clothes for a living. I probably would have told her the pattern number and suggestion she contact a tailor! What a great compliment though!

  3. August 24, 2011

    I get this sort of thing sometimes also and from people who know I have a day job that does not include sewing for other people. they just assume that if you can sew for yourself or your family, you’d be just drooling all over yourself to sew for them too. And do it for free. they’d even buy the pattern and the fabric. But they’d expect you to do it for free. Someone once asked me to hem pants for her and I told her that i’d be happy to do it for a certain price (which I know is the standard local price at alterationists for this) – She got very huffy with me about that and walked away.

    • August 24, 2011

      oh I hear you! People get annoyed because you value your time and experience, just because clothes are cheap these days people assume you must work for free

  4. Rebecca Howard permalink
    August 24, 2011

    A similar thing happened to me. A friend of a friend who I was meeting for the first time was told by my (proud) friend that I had made my (casual) outfit. She immediately asked me if I would whip up a formal dress(!) for her 17 yo daughters formal!! Okay -several problems here, some only apparent to sewers. 1. How the heck did she know if I would be any good with that slinky silky formal fabric(I’m not)? 2.How would I make something that fitted into some unknown vision inside a 17yo’s head – we all know the mirror never matches our expectations. 3. When the heck did she think I was going to do this? I work full time and only just manage to get some stuff sewn for me and the kids.
    When there was an awkward silence with me trying to work out how to say piss off lady politely, she rushed ahead and said she would pay for everything!! Oh boy. Does she think we do this for money? How misguided can someone be? In the end she was rather miffed at what I considered to be a polite but firm refusal (needing to be repeated several times-she was one determined lady).

  5. August 24, 2011

    Elizabeth I love unsolicitations too, am I vain??? There’s nothing like them, especially when you wearing something that you really feel good about having made. I LOVE your trouser/pants. They look comfy, casual, but oh so well put together. No, non-sewers do not understand the blood, sweat and sometimes tears that it takes to pull off a good looking garment. And me, I sometimes fall right over into the request of “will you make me one/some”. When will I ever learn?

  6. August 24, 2011

    Great trousers! I have lots of linen and I love easy-wear clothes, but I was a bit unsure because linen crinkles so much. You made me change my mind!

  7. August 24, 2011

    I would take this as the highest compliment you could receive. Your pants do look both stylish and comfortable.

  8. Jen M permalink
    August 24, 2011

    Yes, people who do not sew *are* that clueless about what is involved in sewing. They have no idea how much time, energy, brainpower, sweat, martinis may be involved in a “simple” pair of pants. I know I sure didn’t before I started sewing. My approach to requests is a laughing “aren’t you sweet?” and then ignoring them. 🙂

  9. August 25, 2011

    Reminds me of a time, years ago, when a friend (now passed) thought we could “trade services”. She was a hairdresser. She said she would cut my hair and she thought I could make her a blazer. Let’s see, that would be 10-15 minutes of her time and just how many hours would it take for me to make her a blazer, too many for me to count!!! Needless to say, I didn’t take her up on her offer…..

  10. August 25, 2011

    This happens to me a lot only because when clients come to pick up their clothes that have been altered or sewn from scratch they have a look through other things hanging up for other clients in my sewing room.
    If something catches their eye they ask if I will make them the same thing in their colors. Then after that they parade around town and people ask them where they got that garment and they want to give them my name. So my clients are my best advertisement.

  11. Visitor permalink
    August 25, 2011

    Yes, you were overreacting a bit, but I understand. I was in Opening Ceremony (a somewhat edgy NYC boutique with $600 simple cotton dresses made from things like vintage Kenyan coffee sacks).

    My window-shopping companion said that an experienced dressmaker could “whip that up.” I tried to explain to her that the shape of the dress would be easy to copy, but creating a truly flattering fit might be more of a challenge. And let’s not forget the difficulty of finding a fabric that was as interesting as that used in the original design.

    People who don’t sew don’t get it.

  12. August 25, 2011

    Hahahahaha! I love it. First, they are indeed great pants. I don’t blame her for wanting them. I’m wanting them myself right now. And yes, people who don’t sew don’t understand how much work it is. At the same time though, I think it takes a very “special” sort of person who will just ask a complete stranger for a favor like that. I get the feeling that this is a person who asks earnestly if she can have a burger when she sees a family grilling in their yard, or asks if you can “do mine next” when she sees you shoveling your driveway after a snowstorm. Anyway, annoying, but could be worse- at least all she wanted was pants. Once a guy stopped me on the street to tell me that I had nice feet and then he asked if he could touch them. Another time, some random guy told me I had nice hair and asked if he could shampoo it for me. Unsolicitations indeed! Ewwy!

  13. August 25, 2011

    Just accept it as the compliment that it was intended to be. You can politely decline or name your price.

  14. patsijean permalink
    August 26, 2011

    Kudos on the compliment. Prepared as you know are with hindsight, and after you thank her, you could do this: Give her the name of the pattern company and the type of fabric you used and tell her that since these pants are in the true sense of the work “custom” which requires fabric investment, fitting time, construction time and an investment in machines and tools, she is best served if she contacts a professional seamstress or atelier. The phone book may be a good resource, and fabric stores may actually have a list or business cards. She could also check with design schools for the names of advanced students who may be interested.

  15. patsijean permalink
    August 26, 2011

    I make many of these Singlet Shopping Bags for myself, family and friends. The link that follows includes a link to the original instructions. All the cashiers at Publix know us and comment on the bags quite often. One suggested that I could sell them for $7. I think not. If you want to make them some time, note that there are a few ways to sew the handles. I use a technique similar to lining a dress or attaching a yolk to a shirt. I also double stitch the french seam at the bottom for extra strength, but they are plenty strong. Here is my review on

  16. September 1, 2011

    This always makes me smile.

    My friend recently wore the dress I made her for my wedding to a formal event. She had 3 different people asking her to ask me to sew dresses for them. (I hope that makes sense!)

    So far so lovely. Except that they live nearly 300 miles away!

    I was in tears of laughter….so happily quoted a price for the dress AND price for the mileage for fittings, PLUS a shipping price for the completed garment. Haven’t heard a word since!

    Take it as a big fat compliment! Those trousers are amazing. I always do!

  17. September 10, 2011

    I’m an optimist like Carolyn. I hope she meant, “Can I pay you to make a pair for me?”

    Although I am a very busy working mom, I just quote a price that represents a generous estimate of the time to make said item and learn to fit another body, then double my hourly rate at my day job. My personal time is doubly precious because there is so little of it. Anyway, no one has ever
    taken me up on it. If I get that fee, I will gladly make the item and open up an IRA for the year with it. 😉

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