View Full Version : I want to make clothes but....

06-01-2011, 06:32 AM
I have never done it before.
I have a sewing machine and was wondering if there are any good basic books or anything online with the basics?
Also what sort of things would be good to start with????

Thanks :)

06-01-2011, 06:35 AM
Most people start off with a skirt, go to your local fabric shop and browse the easy pattern sections or try Jaycotts (http://www.jaycotts.co.uk/acatalog/Sewing_Patterns.html)
pattern section, if you browse down you will find the quick and easy or easy patterns as they are marked quite clearly.

06-01-2011, 09:16 AM
Try the Sew U: Built by Wendy guides - you can pick them up quite cheaply on Amazon. They're really easy to use and come with two or three patterns for basic skirt/top along with ideas for varying the design yourself. I also went to a class at my local college which I found really helpful.

Good luck!

Leisure Time Collection
06-01-2011, 09:30 AM
Take a look at sewing support (http://www.sewingsupport.com/learn-to-sew.html) they have some lovely tutorials on the various sewing techniques

06-01-2011, 10:12 AM
There are a load of free patterns on the web and you tube tutorials.

I started with dolls clothes (didn't matter too much if they were a mess - they weren't :D) then baby clothes and easy things like cushion covers.

Traditional clothes are nice to start with. T shirts that are Ts, Kaftans, gathered shirts. There are no complicated fastenings on them.

I love the 1930s how to sew books found in dusty corners of secondhand book shops but Amazon is always trying to sell me modern how to sew coffee table books which are probably just as good (but don't cost £3 ;)).

06-01-2011, 10:41 AM
Thanks for the advice.

I want to learn all the basics before I even start with a pattern. Sewing is so new to me othe rthan running stitch which I normally do by hand.

Thanks again

06-01-2011, 03:09 PM
I hadn't a clue about using a sewing machine until I had someone show me how to thread it a few months ago and now I'm confident with using it for a lot of things. Anything I've not done before I think I can pick up pretty quickly and that's all from just using it a lot on a regular basis.

Buy some cheap fabric and just start trying out some simple things like tote bags or whatever. Buy some simple patterns and try them out. Once your confident toy can start to customise the patterns or even come up with your own designs from scratch :)

06-01-2011, 03:44 PM
Hi AmyDave, there are plenty of books out there for beginers as everyone has already said.

If you dont want to make something straignt away, get to know your machine and start with learning how to do different types of seam finishes. Really basic stuff, learn to keep the maching straight, and the fabric starting and finishing at the same lenght, ( tension).

You could then try to fit a test zip ! half a jeans pocket and half a facing, adding bias binding. Make a cuff and half a waist band ( so similar that you have the techniqie with either one).

These techniques are used for new students on fashion course and not very exciting but gets you used to handling fabric and the machine.

06-01-2011, 05:15 PM
Thanks for the advice...
I have been using an old hand krank machine but for really basic sewing and hand sewing too.

I was given an electric machine and want to get used to it but I am scared it's gonna break or something!

Once my husband finishes tidying up the room where my mavchine is (I share it with numerous reptiles ) I will try something!!

06-01-2011, 07:57 PM
I was given an electric machine and want to get used to it but I am scared it's gonna break or something!

You'd have to do something pretty drastic to break any sort of sewing machine. You might easily break a needle if you have the wrong size, wrong tension or try to go through too many layers of fabric (I'm sure we've all been there and done that), but you will learn by your mistakes and needles are easily replaced.

Good luck with your endeavours.

07-01-2011, 08:56 AM
Hi Amy, have you anyone nearby you can lure in with the promise of tea and cakes or sherry and chocolate, whatever it takes.... to just spend an hour or two with you on the machine running you through the basics?

If not, have you got a handbook to go with the sewing machine? I'm usually terrible about ignoring the manual, then dipping in as and when, but they are very good if you start on page one and work your way through. At least you'll know what you ought to be doing. And machines can have their own quirky ways of being threaded. And where the knobs are. And which way to turn them.

Then, what I would do is pencil into your diary half an hour each day for a week to 'play'. Sacrifice some cotton fabric (cotton being the easiest thing to sew) and if I was your teacher I'd make you spend day one just sewing lines. So you get to learn to control going straight, using the guide lines, speed control, stopping , going forwards and backwards, playing with the tension (Ooooo you've discovered how to gather!)
Day two, curves and corners. Day 3 zigzaging. Etc.

That way there's no pressure to get an end result and you'll learn by making mistakes. Best way of making you remember something in my books!

07-01-2011, 11:29 AM
Great advice from everybody here, good luck with it once you make friends with your machine you'll never look back :0 xx

07-01-2011, 05:58 PM
I do have the book to the machine.

What I am going to do is become acquainted with the machine and have a few gos at just getting used to it, then make something simple and then look at clothes...

Thankyou for the advice it is very much appreciated :)

26-01-2011, 06:13 PM
I'm just compiling useful sewing tutorial and projects on this page:
which I've nearly finished and I'm working on a page about clothes sewing which should be ready in a couple of days if you'd like me to post it?
Hope it helps, the first steps are the hardest :-)

30-01-2011, 08:31 PM
Hi i too want to make clothes, i do know how to use a sewing machine but im scared of patterns, i saw a really simple pattern for a shirred boob tube dress that i am going to try first, i am having prblems sourcing fabrics though x

31-01-2011, 08:41 AM
Hi Silverwitch.
You can find most any fabric on the Web. Just search for 'fabric', but that's no fun.
Every big town usually has a fabric shop. Smaller towns usually have a wool shop and they sometimes have fabrics at the back and big (indoor) markets sometimes have fabric stalls (they'll be end of rolls, bankrupt stock etc).
If you can get to London the Goldhawk Road is mega fabric heaven. A whole long road of nothing but fabric shops.
When I want to find my nearest fabric shop without messing about (like walking round each town centre a lot) I Google fabric and the name of the town and the shops pop up.

08-02-2011, 11:53 AM
Hi Amy,

I taught myself how to make clothes last year, and while I've still got a huge amount to learn at least I've made a start. I went into my local haberdashery shop and told them that although I could work a sewing machine, my understanding of patterns was non-existent. The lady helped me to choose a very basic and very easy pattern and she suggested that before cutting anything or doing anything that I just read the instructions through several times so that I could understand what the process is. Also, take your time... it took me a month to finish that first dress. I would never ever have been able to get through the pattern without the sewing bible, which is a big red hardback book... drop me a line if you need any further info about that.

By the way, this was my first ever dress: http://princessprudencediaries.blogspot.com/2010/07/inaugural-dress.html

Bear in mind I had no dress making experience before this... if I can do it you can too.

08-02-2011, 01:56 PM
That's really good advice.
Look at the instructions as if they were painting by numbers.
Just tell yourself "I'm only going to do number one today." Put your energies into that, then sit back, admire, have a cup of tea. Then tell yourself "That wasn't so bad. I think I'll do step 2 now." Step back, congratulate yourself etc

If you go at it like a steam train you do get tired and start to make mistakes, then you get cross because you have to unpick things, then you end up throwing it across the room.

The painting by numbers way makes it a gentle stroll and if you do go wrong (as you will) you just say "I did 4 steps today. What a lot." and you put it down and make the unpicking first job in the morning. You'll be refreshed and unstressed and it won't seem so bad.

09-02-2011, 10:05 AM
That's really good advice.
Look at the instructions as if they were painting by numbers.
Just tell yourself "I'm only going to do number one today." Put your energies into that, then sit back, admire, have a cup of tea. Then tell yourself "That wasn't so bad. I think I'll do step 2 now." Step back, congratulate yourself etc

If you go at it like a steam train you do get tired and start to make mistakes, then you get cross because you have to unpick things, then you end up throwing it across the room.

The painting by numbers way makes it a gentle stroll and if you do go wrong (as you will) you just say "I did 4 steps today. What a lot." and you put it down and make the unpicking first job in the morning. You'll be refreshed and unstressed and it won't seem so bad.

That's 100% right. I think I limited myself to 1 or 2 steps each day... for me that was really good as I have a habit of rushing in at things like a bull in a china shop. The slow approach is the only way it works with dressmaking. Trust me, it's worth the patience.

09-02-2011, 11:57 AM
All the advice here is brilliant! AnnieAnna, you are so right about getting cheap cotton and using it to get used to the machine. This is a real confidence-builder, once you can "draw" straight lines, curves, angles etc using the machine, sewing round curves, corners and so on when making up a garment will hold no fears for you!

Use cheap fabric at first but when it comes to making your first "real" garment that you want to wear (and if you can afford it), try to get a "good" fabric - some will have you in tears thinking that you are at fault, when it is actually the fabric. For example, my sister-in-law bought some cheap black "linen-look" stuff from a market stall to make her first-ever skirt - it reeked from the dye that came off on her hands as she worked and the fabric was permanently twisted off-grain so that the skirt never hung correctly. Fortunately, it didn't put her off sewing and she is now an accomplished dressmaker.

The books that I found most useful when I was getting back into sewing again were either picked up at charity shops or borrowed from the library. If you trawl Amazon, you should find some beginners guides which, with any luck, you can order from your local library service (that way, if the book isn't useful/helpful, you won't have spent more than the reserve fee on it - which means you have more money for fabric ;)).

I make my clothes because I get a far better fit that way (why clothing manufacturers assume that a large bust means you also have Really Long Arms is beyond me) but more than that, I love the fact that I have design control over the fabric, cut, style etc.

Have fun, enjoy your sewing and be warned - it is possible to become addicted to fabric(I have a shamefully large fabric stash ;))

10-02-2011, 01:26 PM
I am going to get round to making clothes I promise. I am going to have a go at a few cushion covers etc first to get the basics, maybe get a big sewing bible too.

The biggest thing for me is I want to make clothes from recycled material...I have cupboards full of material that is no good for rag rugging but ideal fro clothes. I like to recycle:)

Thankyou for all your advice and have taken it all on board. So once I have some freetime I am going to make some cushions and see what they look like!

11-02-2011, 02:21 PM
Can anyone point me in the direction of a simple a line skirt pattern please?

11-02-2011, 10:29 PM
Butterick 4461 is an A line skirt with a centre back zipper and is in their Fast & Easy range; Simplicity 2314 is in their Learn to Sew range. I have read reviews on both patterns - the Butterick reviews said that it was a great one for beginners, especially wrt the zipper and the Simplicity reviewer was a beginner and she was impressed with the way the pattern took her through each step, although she did say that you may have to consult YouTube for help on the zipper etc.

Hope this helps, :D

Hugs, Pam

12-02-2011, 06:47 AM
Thankyou x

26-02-2011, 10:06 PM
Yep i wanted to make clothes too, so i bought a pattern for a pr of silk trousers,then a overlocker,and a pinnock zigzag machine,then set about learning how to use them.
Now i sell a fair few bits.

Who said can,t

10-03-2011, 09:39 AM
Glenville - you STARTED with a pair of SILK trousers!?! :o
I am so impressed.
I always say never start with silk. Try cotton. I've gone bald tearing my hair out making silk stuff (that's a lie, my hair's still there...but...) it just never does what I want it to.

22-04-2011, 09:28 AM
Hi Amy, I think you can go to youtube and watch videos for it.. I think there are a lot of video tutorials there on how to make dresses.. :)

23-04-2011, 09:56 PM
Hi there,
I did teach myself how to make a dress because I knew how to use a sewing machine, having done quite a few things as a child with my mum who's an excellent (non professional) seamstress. It was very satisfying, although I thought it didn't look neat enough, so I booked myself on a few courses. And I would say at the end of the day, you cannot beat having a professional showing you the tricks. Particularly I went to a course showing you the professional finitions to seams, zippers, pockets etc, and it really does make a difference. I'm not sure where you are located, but these courses were in a adult learning centre in London and were great.

I think as many people said, you can have a go with a very easy skirt pattern, but if you really take a liking to it, try and find a course nearby, that will show you shortcuts and tricks and make it all more easy and enjoyable.
Again I don't know where you are, but if you have easy access to London or Northampton I could recommend a couple of places.

09-05-2011, 10:03 AM
Hi there :)
I recently started making my own clothes (last year) but I have the added advantage of having a grandmother who was a seamstress, and a mum who worked in a sewing factory. I have to say though, that even with the basic knowledge I had, and their help, I did find patterns difficult to follow on my own!

I would advise trying a local college for an evening class (usually about 10 wks long and very helpful).
Alternatively get yourself down to your local library and get a few beginners sewing books.
Also, you'll find the internet a totally invaluable tool - youtube tutorials, free patterns etc.

Try carboot sales for cheap used patterns (they're no worse, and actually save you the trouble of cutting them out!) then you can have a look before you fork out for new patterns because they can get quite expensive.

OH, and my final (and most important!) tip - if it's your first go, for heavens sake don't use your best quality £15/metre fabric right away. Use some cheap cotton or an old bedsheet. I speak from experience here...!!!

Good luck! :)

15-05-2011, 10:27 AM
hi all!

Does anyone know of anyone/where in Leeds that would do some one-to-one pattern cutting with me? I have the basic skilss, but I have been desperately trying to adapt a pattern for ages now and doesn't seem to matter how much I read or tutorials I watch I can't get it to fit quite right... I need a person to show/help me the first time... Any ideas?? Or even a dressmaking class?

I am in Leeds.

Amy xxx

16-05-2011, 01:20 PM
I'm going to try making clothes. Prima send patterns and you get the mag! patterns are modern. Off to kings lynn to buy fabric next month and I'll be using Mum;'s old sixties machine as hopeless at the mordern ones!

Gd luck with yours.

19-05-2011, 08:27 AM
Start with something you wanna wear!! If it turns good .. than you'll enjoy.. if bad.. ,, hmm doesn't matters ... coz you made it for yourself.. no1 to blame! :)

10-08-2011, 03:48 PM
I have recently bought a new sewing book called "Make Do And Mend" and I think it's brilliant, definitely worth buying.

It has many sewing tips and methods for sewing and it's great fun! :)

Here is the link to the book: home-sewing.com/The-Make-Do-and-Mend-Book-Hardcover

16-08-2011, 05:01 AM
Doing what you love and following your passion is the best thing you can do for yourself. Continue that passion buddy!

06-12-2011, 10:15 AM
Have you thought about joining a local sewing class, you can learn a lot of great stuff and make friends at the same time =].

13-12-2011, 04:29 AM
I think you must start with a simple men's shirt.I have heard that the easiest wearable item that can be sewed.

21-12-2011, 12:02 PM
Hi have you had tries at making your own clothes, I think any craft can seem daunting prior to starting, however the basic steps will always proove a winner. First think get to know your machine, learn the decorative stitches, how the different feet work, then get some cheap fabric and make pockets, insert zippers, buttonholes, hemming, appliqué is also great to add some detailing. Once you have the basics get some patterns read and practice, nothing is impossible,.

mummy mutters
21-12-2011, 01:59 PM
Hi the easiest stuff to start with are things like trousers but with a drawstring waist great for lounging about in or holidays if you make them in a nice cotton or linen my pattern is Simplicity 2414. Or you could just start with making new cushion covers. Let me know if you need any more help Good Luck

30-12-2011, 08:28 PM
I would suggest you to start with premaiture baby clothes.They are the option for the begnniners.And also you can search some sites which provide online tutorials for beginners..

01-01-2012, 03:20 PM
I don't sew a huge amount but I started off by getting a fabric sample book from a local curtain shop and making some cushion covers. They're good for practising zips and patchwork and cost next to nothing.