How do I learn to make my own clothes?

The whole reason for the selfsufficientish website was to offer a place where anyone can ask, HOW DO I...? So who knows why it has taken us so long to have a HOW DO I? section, but here it is. So if you want to know how to do anything selfsufficientish then here is the place to ask.
flyonthewall
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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 152764Post flyonthewall
Wed May 06, 2009 10:53 am

I have been thinking about doing a course in my local area to learn clothes making, it's a long time since the days of Home Ec at school.....12 week courses at local FE colleges in my area that I have looked into are surprisingly inexpensive and usually if you're unwaged you can get concession rates.

Personally, I learn better in that environment and I am awful at learning from books and diagrams!

Sewing is one of those skills we should all learn at school, there is just not enough teaching of 'life skills' any more!
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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 152772Post hamster
Wed May 06, 2009 11:44 am

I took a course, and I found it really helpful. Being a total novice, all the books etc I looked at to teach myself seemed to be written in a foreign language (baste? selvedge? mitred corners?) and it was really useful to be shown how to do things. I'd recommend it if you can afford it.

I also agree with the suggestions to get an old sewing machine. I got a beautiful treadle Singer machine (I went for a treadle over a hand-crank one because it leaves you with two hands free to work the fabric, but your mileage may vary) which is more straightforward and and less intimidating than the fancy whizzy electronic ones that seem to do hundreds of different things. They can be really cheap (mine was £5, though needed quite a bit of work to restore it), and are more straighforward and less intimidating than the snazzy new-fangled ones - which you can always invest in later if you get on with sewing and will use it a lot. Not to mention that the old ones are beautiful pieces of machinery.... There are some good web resources for fixing up old machines that I can recommend if you need.

I wrote a blog post a while ago about my dressmaking course and starting sewing in general, where I collected a lot of my thoughts on the topic: http://sproutingbroccoli.wordpress.com/ ... wont-bite/.
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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 152940Post the.fee.fairy
Thu May 07, 2009 9:44 pm

I've got 3 sewing machines...

A 1910 Vesta that i'm going to pass on somewhere - its been serviced twice and each time it worked for a week after and then gave up...
a 1954 Singer that's a treadle machine converted to run either treadle or electric - needs a service and a new treadle belt though.
and a 1953 Singer that was a hand crank but was converted to electric. i am totally in love with this one, its in a pinky-beige colour and came with all the feet possible. Its gorgeous!

I learnt to sew on a 1963 (i think) Singer Starlet. that'sa fab machine too. Then i got a modern electric sewing machine for my birthday one year and i just couldn't get on with it. it was ok and did everything, it just didn't 'feel' like my gorgeous singers...so i charity shopped it.

I learn to make clothes by making trousers first - my first pair are PJ trousers now. And then i made some jamas - i figured that it didn't matter if i cocked it up, i was only going to sleep in them. Then i made some trousers to wear out (i've got 36" inside leg and when i started making my own clothing i couldn't afford to buy long trousers - this was pre-E-bay!).

Then i learnt to make a blouse using a pattern. Then i found Craftster...

My best advice would be to acquire a sewing machine, get some cheap material and play with it. take apart some old clothing (or visit a charity shop and get some cheap clothing that fits) to use as patterns and work on re-creating the clothing in new fabric.

Then, you'll be well away!

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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 153788Post MelNAustin
Thu May 14, 2009 7:58 pm

Great advice from everyone! I don't think I can afford a class...I'm still in college and working...so yah. I do have a sewing machine and its called a "brother vx 1120". I have never heard of it before, but I figure it's been than nothing to start. Maybe I'll be able to get one for cheap later.

Oh and that website finally started working for me...

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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 154142Post fizzysister
Mon May 18, 2009 3:15 pm

Hi MelNAustin, the book I learnt to sew, and knit, and crochet with is "The Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Encyclopaedia of Needlecraft" by Judy Brittain. It's out of print, but if you can find it in a library or a charity shop it's well worth getting hold of. It's very clear and describes the basics, as well as having a few patterns (although they are rather dated now...). I loved it as a kid, and still swear by it (or I would if I had stolen my mum's copy when I moved away!).
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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 154151Post Annpan
Mon May 18, 2009 4:33 pm

Mel, I have a Brother too and I was just about to butt in to say it is the best machine ever, I love her :flower:

Can't remember which model she is though but she has made dozens of curtains, my wedding dress, my flower girl's dress, covers for 2 settees and an armchair, dozens of cushion covers, toys and play blankets for my wee girl, a new hammock for a crib for my wee girl, mended dozens of trousers, made a few tops and skirts, wee wipes, dolls clothes and beds, mai-tai baby carriers and gift bags at christmas... and she has never needed a service... not once in 7 years (though I probably should get her a health check)

Come to think of it, she cost me £160 new and she has worked for every penny of it.
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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 154183Post CyberPaddy66
Mon May 18, 2009 11:53 pm

I learnt by making my own medieval costumes, the patterns are very basic and not too intricate, once you get the hang of cutting and sewing of the material you can work up to bigger and better things.

I actually find that I prefer to wear my mediaeval costumes at the weekends and it feels somewhat awkward in modern clothes during the week :lol:
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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 154280Post snapdragon
Tue May 19, 2009 8:31 pm

Brother's a fine machine :mrgreen: , I'd look in the thrift shops for a McAlls easy-sew type pattern in your size. I'm sure I've seen some 'how to sew' patterns too.
becks77 wrote:.......My friend just picked up a couple of singer sewing machines ...... on Freecycle they were beautiful when cleaned up. but these were hand driven..........
oo envy envy --- soo useful - no plug so you can use it anywhere!!
I put a 'want' on the local freecycle for one - and it was removed by the admin - infuriated me !! :(
Mine's an old black electric singer and I love it but I'd really like a hand driven one for saving electricity
:lol: I just recently made my 'mother of the groom' outfit for a tenner's worth of ebay bargain silk fabric - cheapskate or thrifty eh? :wink:
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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 154317Post Margot London
Wed May 20, 2009 8:09 am

Hello

There's lots of teach yourself books out there so get one with lots of (clear!) pictures and just take it steady. I'm not much good myself, I tried to make a dress and when I went wrong showed it to my mum (who can make anything) she genuinely found it funny. She was laughing so much she could hardly see to unpick all my mistakes! I tend to stick to repair work and embroidery now! Still, one piece of advice I was once given: get yourself a pattern - something that you can make in a day and that doesn't need to be lined and just have a go. The trick is finding somewhere that sells cheap material so that you can experiment without costing yourself a fortune.

Well, good luck!

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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 154393Post Eigon
Wed May 20, 2009 8:08 pm

Like CyberPaddy, I learned to sew by making medieval costumes, too. I'm a 13thC Welsh mercenary at weekends, and I also go into schools as a Viking, to demonstrate spinning and weaving. The groups are Drudion and Ravenswing Vikings (which are actually the same people - just different periods).
Any other re-enactors here?
And CyberPaddy - what period do you re-enact?
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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 154509Post CyberPaddy66
Thu May 21, 2009 1:32 pm

Eigon wrote:And CyberPaddy - what period do you re-enact?
For the 14C we do tournaments for the court of Edward III (Mediaeval Combat Society) and occasionally 15C at the battle of Tewkesbury :D

I have done some dark age stuff years ago but I like the clank of metal on metal :lol:
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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 154836Post the.fee.fairy
Sat May 23, 2009 10:42 pm

Margot London wrote:Hello

T I tried to make a dress and when I went wrong showed it to my mum (who can make anything) she genuinely found it funny. She was laughing so much she could hardly see to unpick all my mistakes

Well, good luck!

I had exactly the same! I made a lovely dress (which i still have - i made it to go to an ex's graduation and he dumped me a week before...). Its a panelled floor length black dress, but i could not get it to go right, everything i tried made it worse, so i took this bundle of black fabric and lots of threads to a friend who took one look at it and diagnosed the mistake...i'd sewn both of the side panels on the wrong sides...it was an open backed dress that turned out to be going together in quite a revealing manner...

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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 253996Post Lillia
Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:44 am

MelNAustin wrote:So, it seems to me that if I learned to make my own clothes that it would not only save me money but would also put me on my way to being more of an "Ish"er...Unfortunately, girls are not taught sewing much any more when they grow up, and I do not know the least bit about making my own clothes.

Anyone have any ideas?

Regards!
Mel
Simplicity, I think, (or is it Butterick?) has the 'EASY' patterns.

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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 254043Post PlainQB
Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:24 am

Hello,

Start simple; try things like an apron, shopping bag, straight baggy trousers or utailored summer top for sewing. For knitting and crochet try scarfs, hats and socks. It can also be useful to start with baby or childrens' clothes as it doesn't matter if they come out a tad wonky and you use less fabric so there's less waste if it's a complete disaster.

For sewing machines try and avoid a very complex electric one with a microchip in. You want something simple that a man with a screwdriver can fix. I have a lovely 1970's Elna and would recomend it.

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Re: How do I learn to make my own clothes?

Post: # 254056Post Spinpup
Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:43 am

MuddyWitch wrote:The following is a UK site so you might need to 'translate' some of the words, (for example we say 'tack' but in the USA I believe you use 'baste') but several friends like it.

http://www.startsewing.co.uk/

MW
Great site - thank you for posting it. I had been looking for sites on how to repair clothes, this is ideal. Lots of good ideas for using up odd bits of material too.

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