Tips For Sewing Clothing

I don't consider myself an expert at sewing. But, I do think of myself as quite experienced. I was taught to sew by my Grandmother (the best way to learn anything, right?). I went on and studied Fashion Design for a couple years and made a lot of my own clothing and accessories for fun. As of Fall 2011, I make and sell clothing and accessories in my shop, Birch & Bees. I've learned a lot through my years of sewing, making, and creating. I thought I would share a few tips for people who are just starting out with making their own clothing.

Start With Altered Clothing. Alternating the mass-produced clothing is far easier than making something brand new. Turn shirts into tank tops, dresses, and skirts. Make sweaters into socks and hats. Alter your plain blue jeans. Get hand-me-down, thrifted, and damaged clothing to remix into new things. This is a great time to play with sewing lace, denim fabrics, dyes, bleaches, buttons, screen-prints, fabric paints, and other fun things. When I started sewing I was altering thrifted clothing and making bags from scratch. From there, I moved onto making new clothing. 

Use Your Favorite Clothing As Templates. Choose a few simple pieces of clothing that you love, and attempt to replicate them. By doing this, you should learn some things about making that type of clothing. Good choices to start with are simple skirts and dresses, basic tank tops, or scarves. Just examine the piece of clothing closely to see how it was constructed. Lay the garment down, spread flat on top of new fabric and cut around the garment. Use the cut-out pieces to construct a replica of the original garment. (I love this trick, it helped me learn so much about making clothes.)

Learn About Different Fabrics, Stitches, & Other Techniques. Once you have the basics down, then it's time to start challenging yourself. Learn about all those other stitches and functions on your sewing machines. Read about all the different kinds of fabric, and what techniques can be used while sewing them. Take notes of this information and keep it for future reference. Play with some of these new techniques and see where you end up.

Attempt More Complicated Projects. Is there once piece of clothing that you've always wanted to create, but were to afraid that you would botch it? Well, now it a great time to start that project! Jump into it, and learn along the way. If it doesn't work out, try again!

Try Figure Drawing (Or Perfect It.) If you have never attempted to draw figures, then the best advice I can give you is to practice, practice, practice. Also, look at yourself in a mirror, or watch other people walking and talking, to learn how bodies are shaped. It may not seem relevant, but understanding how bodies are shaped will help you understand how clothing sits on a human figure. In addition, it's quite helpful to be able to draw clothing designs on human figures for future reference and to see how the garment should be constructed to give the final result.

Go Free-Style. Ditch the mannequins, the patterns, and all the "standards". Pick up a piece of fabric, hold it up to yourself and see where your imagination can go. You may be surprised! I've create amazing pieces of clothing doing this. (In fact, my most popular dress design was created by free-styling it!) Don't worry so much about the end product, just let your inspiration take you away.

In the end, practice makes perfect. There's no getting around it! Creating my own clothing and wearing it is such a great satisfaction, for all the effort and practice it requires. It's fantastic to get compliments on your handmade clothing and you can reply, "Oh this? I made it." Ah, I love that!

These are just a few of the things that I've learned which may be able to help another clothing-maker out there. If you have any helpful tips on making clothing, feel free to leave them below. I'd love to hear them!

peace & love,

1 comment:

  1. Heyyy, thank you for the awesome advice and tips, that's really useful! :)
    Thank you for sharing, I fel totally inspired to alter some clothes! :)