Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Friday, 7 August 2009

Cheap clothes can embarrass you

Query: Does this post touch on one of those hard-wired but rarely admitted differences between men and women?

This morning I discarded a pair of underpants - a gift from my mother-in-law, dead these last seven years, so they were possibly ten or twelve years old. Unlike the rest, these pants were made of silk. Presumably more expensive than cotton but, it seems, more durable.

I only buy cheap clothing - other than for ski-ing. I conclude that good clothes wear out while cheap clothes disintegrate. The prelude to this disintegration is when long lengths of thread wrap themselves round my buttocks, calves or elbows. Cheap clothes are cheaply stitched. The so-called track-suit I wear when cycling in the shed (qv) came from Primark and cost £12. Much thread has already detached itself and no doubt, one of these days, I shall walk, embarrassed, from the shed back to the house.

I briefly abrogated the cheap-clothing policy when I bought a Savile Row suit prior to crossing the Atlantic and presenting myself as an archetypal Englishman at job interviews. This suit neither wore out nor disintegrated; I simply got too fat to wear it. The fact that the drainpipe trousers were eventually fifteen years out of fashion didn’t worry me.

I assume that all clothes, cheap or expensive, are machine stitched. So why do some machines do the job while others don’t? Then there’s the matter of buttons. If I were more interested in clothes (Chinos are the only trousers!) I’d have given all this more thought. Luckily the people who read this blog do just that and I await their soothing answers.


The Crow said...

Okay...give me a moment...I'm still trying to get my head around why your m-i-l would be giving you silk undies. British m-i-ls must be a great deal different from their American counterparts. (Or maybe it's just me.)

Piecework is the answer to your questions about the differences between stitching and secure buttons on some items versus others. A longer stitch length allows the sewer to zip through more pieces. Longer stitch, looser construction, which is an accident waiting to happen at the stress points on a garment.

Same holds true with buttons. The more stitches, the more secure the button to the fabric. Also helps if the thread's tails are are on the backside of the button, for some reason - probably because the consumer is less likely to think it a loose snippet and pull it.

A tiny spot of super glue on the back of shirt/blouse buttons will keep them in place.

Yes, I used to make my own clothes.


marja-leena said...

The Crow said it. Also the quality of the thread makes a difference.

Expensive clothes can embarrass too. Did you hear about the swimmer (male) with the latest most expensive high tech suit which split at the buttocks?

marja-leena said...

P.S. My pet peeve is the lack of quality in the elastic on waistbands that fail before the rest of the garment. If it's encased in cloth, I can replace it but not if it's stitched down like husband's pj bottoms and women's underwear. How about zippers that come apart? That's a touch repair.

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: Edna always used to give me utilitarian presents - once a stapler, on another occasion a brace (as in a brace and bit). She spent much of her leisure time looking for bargains in the shops. I have no doubt that the silk was incidental; what I am certain of is that the pants came at a much reduced price. To further feed your astonishment she later gave me a pair of Tommy Hilfiger underpants, still going strong. I would have been as appalled as she would have been had such an aggressive example of "branding" been bought at full retail price.

Appreciate your techno-stuff about long stitch lengths. Rather reminiscent of Jane Austen novels where young gels were required to get in goodness knows how many stitches per inch. As to buttons, I find I have willy-nilly taught myself the professional method you outline.

M-L: Swimmers who depend on these hi-tech cozzies deserve all the aggro they get. Did you know it takes about twenty minutes to put one on? Failing elastic: I'd forgotten that one (My mother always used to say the elastic "has lost its nature".) Zips? Aren't we crossing a gender boundary here?

The Crow said...

Another faux pas! I'm getting 'good' at this, dadgummit.

My apologies to Edna, Mrs. BB and to you. I had forgotten about gifts from practical thinking mothers-in-law. I meant no disrespect to any one of you.


Barrett Bonden said...

TC: Hey, let's not overdo the over-sensitivity kick. I've spent a lifetime handing it out so I'm moderately resilient. Besides which, there's nothing to be resilient about in this case. Perhaps Lucy was right: I worry too much and now you've been bitten by the same bug. I know what I'll do - I'll amend my mission statement, adding "Teasing permitted".

Professional Bleeder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Professional Bleeder said...

A random aside - perhaps watching swimmers struggle into these suits would make more enthralling viewing than the actual swimming - longer too - had he not been sadly taken from us earlier in the year, David Vine could have provided commentary

Plutarch said...

They look in perfectly good nick to me. When painting, if such garments have to be discarded, they come in useful when cleaning and drying brushes. Alternatively could they not be hoisted on a flagpole. The word verification just now is "pootsing", a term employed, I am told, by old salts, for the display of knickers at the mast.

Rouchswalwe said...

Well then, if teasing is permitted, I'm jumping into the comment box.

herhimnbryn said...

Thread type.
Quantity of time to complete sewing.

Barrett Bonden said...

PB: Can you imagine DV doing the commentary on his own funeral? By the way his will was recently probated and he left £1.2m.

Plutarch: Not mine. I thought showing my undies was a step too far. But I favour this style not the slingshot variety.

R/W: I've added you to my links. But I've changed the blogonym to something more appropriate.

HHB: It's probably a haiku of the non-edible variety. Time for you to do something of Patrick White length in the verse department. Big country, big poems.

Rouchswalwe said...

Zu Schwer vorks better! Danke!

Barrett Bonden said...

Vell, it vorks better for me. I look forward to showing off the tiny fragments of German I know. Here's the first installment: Faust's Seele müsst in die Hölle gekommen. Umlauts always a problem.

Rouchswalwe said...

Vom Himmel durch die Welt zur Hölle. Splendid! I'll have to hippedy-hop into the library then to locate my Goethe books ... it's been so long since I've read Faust.

Avus said...

RE the Crow's tip: I do some leather work (Roman Caligae)in the course of one of my hobbies. A wizened old craftsman taught me the way to finish of a line of stitching with a beautiful and complicated knot. Now superseded with a dab of super glue. Thus passeth the glory of the world.