Sunday, 25 November 2018

DIY - How to start making your own clothes



I recently shared this snap over on my instagram feed and it received an amazing response. The reason being is that I made this pink gingham dress of dreams myself. Hand stitched with love and care and it came out exactly as I had hoped. I am still incredibly smug about it. 
This is the By Hand London Eloise Dress pattern with fabric from The Fabric Godmother.

I've dabbled in dress making since I was a teen and wanted to share my top tips and insights into starting to make your own clothes and how you might go about it if you're new to the world of sewing and textiles and really want to have a go but just don't know where to start. Hopefully this guide will give you the confidence and some of the know how you need to get started. I'm sure i'll be back with a few more posts on this but will cover the basics for now.

As much as I love to shop (and if you follow me on instagram then you'll know I do) there is nothing more rewarding than sewing your own clothes and making something unique by hand that will be treasured AND that no one else will be wearing!

1. The Sewing Machine
First things first you will need a sewing machine. It is possible to make clothing by hand stitching but who has the time for that. John Lewis have some brilliant models and this very pretty pastel pink machine is under £100 and a very good basic starter machine. If you've ever been into their haberdashery department you'll also know they are always on hand with lovely friendly trained staff for advice. That's where I bought my machine about 20 years ago (OH GAWD) and it's still going strong.

Now if you have never used a sewing machine do not fear, it is much easier than you think often all you need is someone to show you how or a bobbin tutorial. 
If you're in London there are some great introductory courses run by brilliant independent sewing brands to name a few here;
And if you'd rather an online course this one is fab;
There are of course thousands on Youtube you just need a cup of tea and google and some patience.

You'll also need a good pair of fabric scissors, some pins and a tape measure. (I've linked some of my recommendations at the bottom of this post). 

2. Sewing Patterns
I suggest you start with a super simple sewing pattern. I would recommend some of the newer more modern pattern brands (I've linked some below) out there rather than using a vintage pattern or something found purely because of the amazing blog sew-a-longs and step by step tutorials you'll be able to access to accompany them. It really helps when you haven't read a pattern before and have no idea what serging is for example. (It's a zig zag stitch way of finishing seams) and all of these pattern brands come with a glossary so don't worry.
Most patterns come as PDF downloads, all you need to do is print them out at home and assemble them. This can be quite time consuming but I just zone out and do mine in front of netflix. It does mean you can't ruin it as you can can always print it out again.

The online #sewist community is also amazing and you'll always be able to find a friendly person to answer any questions you might have.

Seven Indie Sewing Brands I am loving right now;
1. By Hand London fashion forward and come with an online sew along to follow.
There's also a Zeena Dress which is a great sew for a beginner and super flattering dress.
2. Named Clothing Stunning patterns set up by sister duo based in Finland.
3. Closet Case Patterns Canadian brand that has great denim patterns. These are on my sewing list.
4. Stoff and Still Danish husband and wife team who have the dreamiest fabrics as well as great patterns.
5. Tilly & The Buttons super stylish and really wearable patterns, you'll want to make each one about twenty times in all of the rainbow.
6. Alice & Co Boilersuit goals.
7. Nina Lee Patterns some great ruffles.

There are also some incredible free patterns available online too;
Peppermint Magazine has a library of free patterns that are great for beginners.

The Fold Line is an amazing resource of sewing patterns and a great place to join the sewing community.

3. Fabric 
Fabric shopping has become a bit of a guilty pleasure for me lately and you'll soon get addicted. 
I've listed my current favourites here but there really are lots of brilliant sources out there Ebay and your local charity shop can be a low cost start to your first sewing project. I've even made dresses out of old duvet covers and have an old Cath Kidston one waiting for it's turn.

If you're based in London these are my favourite stores to shop for fabric in (they have online stores too);
Goldhawk Road (Classic Textiles, A-One fabrics & more) is another haven for low budget fabric shopping and you're guaranteed to never find the same fabric twice but if it's for a one off and you're on a budget head there. When I was studying textiles at Chelsea School of Art our studios were a short walk away and we'd go in daily trying to grab the latest bargain or ex-designer fabric. 


I would say you're even more spoilt for choice online and here's a list of some of my current favourites here;
4. Reading List
Geek up with these magazines and books. I love to flip between magazine and books. I'd highly recommend Stretch by Tilly Walness and the new Named Clothing book.

I really hope this post has inspired you to have a go at sewing your own clothes and do comment below if you have any questions or would like me to add anything in a new post.
Above all remember sewing is not something you can rush, enjoy it and you're doing this for the first time and you're only human. The first dress I ever made was a total D I S A S T E R but I learnt from it, fixed it and gave it to my cousin.

Happy Sewing!

Zeena X










PS. This post contains affiliate links, this means I may earn a very small % of any sales that are made through the link, this doesn't add any cost to you it just helps me run my blog :) Thank you for reading!

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