Wednesday, June 11, 2014

DIY vs. "DIFM"


There's no shame in it.  

You have fallen in love with an idea for a project.  You've imagined it, you know what you want the fabric to look like, feel like... You  know how you want the finished product to hang, to flutter in the breeze, to hug, to mold...

You just don't have the time/energy/skill to make it all happen.

"I wanna take a class!" you say.  You peruse the offerings of sewing schools, colleges, fashion schools and universities.  You ask friends who do amazing work if they will teach you.  Sure, on one of those leisurely Saturdays you so often spend lazing around in your spotlessly organized home, with kids, spouses and others so engaged in their own lives, who'll miss you for a couple of hours?  Yes, your copious amounts of free time should be spent learning to bead/embroider/knit/design/drape/smock/dye/applique.  And, if you're diligent, it should only be a decade or two or three before you're really good at it.

My own hand beaded fagotting, cut away from a blouse I made about 15 years ago... I loved it so, but Man, was that time consuming!


You can go to an professional, who will do the things that would take too long to do, that you haven't learned to do, or don't have the equipment to do properly.

A velvet covered button I had made at B&T Buttons.  I could never achieve this smooth, professional quality on my own - and I didn't have to try!

A grommet I had applied for me at Star Snaps for my cradle bag.

I love the DIY movement.  I also love the spirit of the Quilting Bee, DIO (Do It Ourselves).... but I'm also becoming a HUGE fan of DIFM (Do It For Me) projects, as well.  My creative brain is endlessly swirling with ideas that may never come to fruition without some very specific help.

I have long suffered the curse of trying to figure out how to make something look great while I "figure out" how to do it on my own. Mining the resources of the garment district has really helped me finish many "unfinishables" or long-languishing projects.  

Believe me, though... my stash is still pretty large, and I've got a long way to go before all of the dreams piled in those boxes, bags and hangers are realized!

Here's a quick resource list  of things you can have done for you, saving you time, and elevating the quality of your projects:

Custom Fabric Flowers (a place you've truly gotta see to believe)
Zippers cut to size
Covered buttons
Snaps, studs, etc.
Feather steaming, shaping, sculpting, applying
Embroidery, beading
Fabric printing
Smocking, tucking, general fabric manipulation

In a nutshell, stop kidding yourself... either go learn, do, and dedicate yourself to getting things finished, or pay someone who can.  I am following my own advice, and I have work to do at this very moment.

Ok - now that you understand your mission...

Check out the upcoming Speakeasies, and get inspired!


  1. It is so worth having someone do the things that are hard to get to look professional because we don't have the equipment to do it as well. I had buttons made for me at Steinloff and Stoller and they are so much smoother than I could get myself.

    1. Yes - it is sooo worth it to finish off your handmade things with a perfect professional-looking touch! After all, I don't make covered buttons to impress people - in my opinion, I'm just realizing the fantasy I have in my head for the finished product!

  2. Oh, yes. Yes to all of this. I want to be able to impeccably hand-embroider my simple summer dresses, so that I can get that Isabel Marant look that I want, but that's not going to happen.

    I think that it sometimes really depends on why you sew, though. Some people love spending the time learning how to do things, even if they get a less-than-perfect result. I get frustrated when I don't get perfect results after only having practiced a skill for, say, five hours, rather than a lifetime. My focus is laser-sharp, on the finished garment, rather than solely on the process. (Can you tell I totally bookmarked your last post for professional embroidery?)

    1. Yes! I totally see your point - I love to show off both well-developed and new skills, but I just don't have the time for it all!

  3. Well said! Thanks for the reminder!

  4. One of the truly great things about living in NYC is that we can outsource these tasks that are time-consuming and tricky...

  5. I love that button! It would be amazing to live in a city with these kind of resources. WHen I lived in LA there was a pleater on 3rd St. I never used their services though - it was too early in my sewing career and I didn't have the skills or ambition to make a garment that incorporated pleats.


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