What’s the true cost of clothing?

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 8.02.08 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-23 at 8.04.00 PMI remember asking my mother’s friend who makes gorgeous quilts – Why don’t you sell them? – and she asked “How much would you pay for a handmade quilt?”.  Hmmm … I had no idea – maybe 100 – 150 dollars.. that seemed reasonable.  She quickly set me straight that the time, energy, and materials that go into her quilts make them worth more like 300 – 400 dollars.  And it’s just recently that I get it!  Handmade clothing – clothing made by hand here in Canada – costs a lot more than most people want to pay especially now that we’ve been brainwashed by the Walmarts, H&Ms, Gaps, Carters, and Joe Fresh’s.  But who is making that clothing?  What are the daily conditions at the factories?  Do you believe that energy can be stored in clothing – what are the workers frame of mind making your clothing?  Do you, on some level, absorb that energy when wearing the garment?  Things to think about, yes?!

Tom (my husband) and I were talking today about this Cowichan vest knitalong – it’s gorgeous and I’d love to participate but again 15 skeins of bulky yarn is sadly not in the budget these days.  I actually had the pleasure of attending a knitting night hosted by Sylvia Olsen where she demonstrated the proper Cowichan style of knitting and to this day that’s how I knit all my colour work.  It’s super intuitive, straightforward, and you need not worry about tension which trust me is a HUGE deal with stranded knitting.  (where was I going with this…) Oh ya, so lets calculate how much this lovely Cowichan vest might cost JUST to knit.  You need 5 skeins of bulky yarn (medium of the road quality) $24/skein = $120 for *just* the yarn (not including shipping or taxes) not to mention the time or other materials.  And now for the soul crushing reality that you could drive up to Gap, Old Navy, Joe Fresh and purchase a knock off for what…$30-$60.  But like mentioned above, what price are you really paying for those clothing?

Fringe Association Knitalong - click link below for more info!
Fringe Association Knitalong – click link above for more info!
Gorgeous design by Sylvie Olsen
Gorgeous design by Sylvia Olsen

I see knitwear in my custom wardrobe but it will take some planning, budgeting, and possibly some sneaky shopping to pull it off … you know the kind?! where you buy beautiful gorgeous Madelinetosh yarn and just ‘blend’ it into your yarn stash as if it were always there.

The vision of a closet full of handmade clothing, made with love, consciously and fair, keeps me going….

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2 thoughts on “What’s the true cost of clothing?

  1. Hi, Melissa. I’m certainly not disputing any of your larger points, but as far as yardage and cost for the knitalong vest, I’m not sure how you’re arriving at 15 skeins of bulky. Obviously it depends on the yardage per skein of whatever yarn you’re looking at, but if you want to go the bulky (held double) route, it’s 824 yards. For Quarry, for instance, that would be 5 skeins. So about $94, before any tax and/or shipping.

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    1. you’re totally right! I meant to correct that before I published this post. Yarn is a bit more expensive in Canada and with the exchange rate & shipping would be ~140$ to make with Quarry. 5 skeins at $18usd is expensive, though. Thank you again for your comment (I’m having a major nerd moment – I’ve followed your blog for a while now and love it so much)

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