Sunday, March 25, 2007

I can do that but I can't do it all

March blog carnival topic

If you belly dance, then you know you have said or heard this phrase at some point: "I can do that!". Sometimes it shows up as, "I can make that!". I think all but the most non-DIY person among us has made this comment, stating that yes indeed, this item here? I could make that my self, nooooo problem. Sometimes this statement is made with a note of superority in the speaker's voice. That simple hip wrap? Why buy it, I could make it myself? Those decorated dance slippers are how much? Give me some glue, jewels and ballet flats and I'll do it in my spare time! The long belted robe cover-up out of interesting fabric? I could make one just like it for myself!

I've had my own DIY moments. I am a crafty person. I sew a bit, I can knit and embroider, I can figure out how to make a lot of things, and if I can't do them already I can use Google and the library to help me out (I get my SO to chip in on the more heavy duty projects, such as my fire toys). I've had many make-it-myself moments, some more successful than others. The cover-up: batik cotton material and a bathrobe pattern, this was pretty simple and worked out well. The velvet stretch choli: the free pattern was fine, though I had trouble with enlarging it on a copier and damn I hate darts. The three tiered 10-yard skirt: gathering is the bane of my existence, I think my SO would take up a collection to buy me a new skirt before he'd let me sew one again. The coin bra: several weeks and countless sewing needles later it was finally done, and my poor finger tips peeled for weeks, but it fits me perfectly. The mirrored tassel belt: the first one went through two remakes to get it right, the second one has just been started.

Making things myself has taught me a lesson, though. Yes, I can and will do my own projects, because I love the process of making items, but seriously it is often worth it to just pay to purchase an item. This is doubly true when I can buy an item that is being made by a small business that specializes in dance wear. Instead of making my next tiered skirt, I'm buying one from Flying Skirts (as well as any choli's I want, unless I need one out of a particular fabric, then I'm locking myself in my office with FCBD/Folkwear's pattern and you can shove food under the door until I emerge). I'm seriously thinking of buying some pantaloons from Belly Roll, because even though I can whip them out in no time I end up spending not only the money for supplies but also a chunk of my time to finish the project.

See, that's what it boils down to. Time. I bet a lot of people will talk about time when they talk about their dance budget. I may not have a lot of money, but what I'm really low on is time. If I really need to save some cash I'll make sure to hit the fabric sale racks or dig in my stash and come up with what I need. I'll repurpose jewelry and clothing into what I want, and I'll spend my time-budget getting the items finished. My coin bra probably cost me way more than a similar handmade item would have if I'd bought it custom made, simply because I spent many evenings sitting at my desk pulling needles through the bra with a pair of pliers (and cussing). Those evenings could be calculated not just in time, but also in money, an hourly wage paid to myself for every minute spent working on a costume (this is one way the retail cost of an item is figured).

Luckily I have a job and the luxury of extra spending money. I can keep adding my spare cash to the tribal piggy bank, and one day I can pour out the money, add it all up, and buy something I want. Try doing that with hours spent stressed out over uneven skirt gathers or yet another damn dart! My time is precious to me, more than money, and I'd rather pay it to myself in hours spent practicing, evenings spent knitting, afternoons spent hooping or mornings spent relaxing with my loved ones.

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