Ask: 6/20/11

What's the average lifespan of a garment in your closet? Do you ever refashion clothing?


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. I have clothes from 4 or 5 years ago and then I have items that don’t make it through a year! I love the idea of re-fashioning but I rarely do it…it terrifies me! I’m always afraid I’ll ruin something that was at least OK to begin with. My sister re-fashions a lot, as she is in high school and can’t afford to buy fabric and sew from scratch.

  2. I have clothes that are more than 10 years old and during the last years, I really got concious about what I was buying and sewing (also due to the fact, that I was moving overseas and back…). Do I really need it? Will I wear it? I love refashioning, especially self-made clothes that I wouldn’t wear anymore otherwise. I also love the restriction that a refashioning project gives me, I guess a lot of projects would turn out differently if I would make them from scratch or had unlimited fabric.

  3. I have never refashioned a garment. And I’m starting to sew clothes again after probably 20 years away, so my current wardrobe is all “store-bought.” But it lasts a loooong time. I buy things that are classic designs, not the latest fashion, but stuff that I KNOW I want to wear, and then wear them until they wear out or I outgrow them. Sigh. As I look at patterns and fabric again, I realize that if I buy inexpensive fabric, I can afford not to wear stuff forever. But on the other hand, I find great pleasure in working with good fabric so very little of it is inexpensive. It’s a balance, and like Marlise, I try to be conscious of what I buy and sew (and wear.) I don’t want a huge stash of unsewn fabric like I had years ago.

  4. I think the oldest clothes I have are about 8 years old (which, I guess, is pretty old, since that means I’ve owned them for 1/3 of my life…), two tops I really love. I refashioned one top that must have been almost that old into a jersey dress, because I loved the embroidery along the neckline, but it was way too short for me. Now I think I can wear it regularly again. :)

  5. I have one or two items of clothing that I bought when I was 14! But very little stuff pre-college or even pre-China (I was in China when I was 22). I really like refashioning though – in some ways its more fun than sewing from scratch because there’s so much offroading and improvisation that goes into it. I think I’ve always been conscious of buying clothing that creates a versatile, comprehensive wardrobe, but for the last 4 years (when I started sewing/refashioning garments) I’ve been much more tuned into quality.

  6. My clothes are made to last for years. That being said, I do wear them until they get holes in them LOL
    I have never refashioned anything… YET. I have been eyeing up a blouse in my closet though…

  7. Well, my oldest clothes that I still wear are about 12 years old, but things stay for an average of about 3 years I would say. Since I have about two weeks of outfits in rotation I don’t really wonder about that. I guess I’ll extend that a bit if we ever ever settle somewhere!

  8. Oh, and I do occasionally refashion something, most often to make something work beyond it’s original lifespan. One of the few things that I drag with me is my sewing machine – AND I WON’T CHANGE THAT!