So, you want to make your own beautiful clothes from scratch? In this article and video, we will be covering some overall ideas for the "why’s" and "how’s" of sewing your own wardrobe, especially for total beginners. This is the approach I myself used over the past several years to sew my own wardrobe, as a beginner, with no garment sewing experience. So let’s jump into it.
First we will cover some of the “why” of sewing your own clothes from scratch, then we will cover the “hows”, and stay tuned until the end for some bonus tips on sewing your own clothes, and making it as simple and doable as possible.
Why Sew Your Own Clothes?
Creating a beautiful and personalized aesthetic for the way we dress on a daily basis is an act of power and ultimate individualism. when life is going crazy, when the world is going crazy, we can still take a few hours to stitch up a unique custom fit garment that suits our style. And voila! We have just impacted a small but significant aspect of our life, brought it under control so to speak.
Here's a personal example: After having my most recent baby, my fifth, my body is larger and different than it has been before. I put on a fair amount of weight in my last pregnancy, which I am actually happy about but that’s a different story. But it means that I can’t just expect my body to click back into its normal pre pregnancy state - this will take time. And so instead of moping about my different body and how none of my pre pregnancy clothes fit, I have taken a little bit of time to sew myself three new dresses that fit my current shape and are more flattering, as well as being easy to breastfeed in.
It’s way nicer to make your own clothes that just fit you, without needing to see impossibly thin mannequins in store displays, or look at size numbers and feel dismayed about the size you need to buy to fit you. You just make something that fits your body - maybe it is larger in the hips than in the upper body, or vice versa, and voila.
Here are my tips for how to sew a handmade wardrobe as a beginner. These tips will help you to have a slow and steady approach that will help you create beautiful custom clothes in time. For more details, watch the video.
Only buy bare minimum tools, and begin with a basic but wearable item/ pattern
Draft or Drape Your Own Patterns:
Or buy a simple pattern and learn to pattern hack it - adding different sleeves, different skirt, etc.
Buy Fabric Online:
It is often less expensive to buy high quality fabric from online sources than big box fabric stores.
Don’t Make Clothes in a Rush
Making a hand made wardrobe is a lifelong endeavour. It pays off to take your time to create higher quality garments that will last you longer.
Focus on One Item at a Time
Don't burn yourself out by trying to sew three different items at the same time. You will learn more and have more successful outcomes if you focus on one item at a time.
Making a mock-up takes time, but it helps you create garments that will actually fit you.
Make Clothes That Work for Your Wardrobe
But perhaps feel a little “more” - more pretty, elegant, feminine - something to give you that extra motivation to keep making more
Don’t Take Things Too Seriously!
Garments will flop. Ideas you thought would be amazing will turn out to be just not. This happens to even experienced makers and the key is to simply keep going!
Buy basic fabric types in solid colours rather than prints. This is easier to create multipurpose items and to focus on the overall shape of the garment rather than figuring out pattern matching and what types of patterns look good.
Work with natural fibres
Use a good sewing machine. Go for a solid vintage machine over a cheap new one.
Don’t use cheap fabric - except for mock-ups. Even as a beginner, invest in some good quality fabric because 1) good fabric is easier to get good results with, and 2) it will produce a nicer, long lasting garment, which will motivate you to keep going.
Learn high quality seams like french, flat felled, etc rather than always relying on a zig zag stitch or serging
Create items that you will wear, not items you wish you would wear.
Work with only a couple types of fabric (fibre+weave) until you become more comfortable with sewing. Steer clear of difficult fabric types like very thin, very thick, or very slippery. For me, I still primarily sew with linen because it comes in tons of colours and a few different thicknesses, and can be used to make most types of clothing.
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