They say clothes make the person, but what if we told you it can be the other way around?
Shopping is fun. Some use it as a way to treat themselves after a stressful week, while others want to splurge. No harm done, right?
Current fast fashion trends highlight a make and waste cycle that’s problematic. Most brands and retailers are transitioning to sustainability-centric manufacturing, but too little is being done to combat such a significant problem.
The textile industry contributes 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. T-shirts, pants and other pieces of clothing are also water-intensive to manufacture, proved by their massive share of the global water waste numbers.
Is fast fashion’s convenience worth the environmental sacrifice?
Rhetorical questions need answers, too, and in this case, it’s making clothes yourself.
Sewing skills are necessary not only for knitting grandmas or crochet stans. Sewing is a survival skill, if we believe most movies about dystopian futures. Even Mad Max road warriors are dripping with style. Respect.
Kidding aside, tailoring your own clothes has benefits beyond getting to brag that you’re now a part of *haute couture*.
Let’s start with mental health. For some, finding consistent ways to unwind can be stressful in itself. You might feel like you’re becoming unstitched.
Luckily even basic sewing is proven to give your mind some peace and fulfilment. (We’re not sure about the safety of your thumbs, though.)
Aside from being therapeutic, sewing your clothes yourself is also a form of self-expression, whether your garments are en vogue or not.
Now that you won’t need to shop (at least not as frequently), you’ll be saving both money and contributing less to the global waste problem.
Before sewing and knitting for the first time, here are some starter tips specifically tailored to get you sewing!
Beginner’s guide to dressmaking must-haves
A sewist’s toolkit requires more than needles and tape measures.
In the cutting department, you have your shears and fabric scissors, both having their own function.
Ditto for seam rippers and needle threaders: a great help for beginners wanting to familiarise themselves with either hand sewing or a sewing machine.
Opinions vary about what should be in your sewing kit, but most agree that there are some items you can’t do without.
One of those is tailor’s chalk. Your first DIY attempt is difficult, but make it easier with this marking tool that’s also washable.
A sewing gauge offers more versatility than a simple ruler, including seam allowance, making it easier for you to insert markings and place buttonholes.
Have stitches you need to unpick? You’ll want a stitch unpicker. Need to cut fabric? Better make sure you have a rotary cutting mat.
You also have things that don’t fit into that deceptive biscuit tin that always seem to be full of threads. We’re talking ironing boards, pressing tools and of course, a sewing machine.
Don’t fret; most tutorials online start with the basic tools necessary for your first project. If you don’t want to splurge that much, there are secondhand options available to practice with.
Sewing Tutorials: your new best friend
Speaking of tutorials, the internet is full of content to put you on the right track.
If you’re a visual learner, YouTube user Naztazia has an easy to follow hand-sewing guide that’ll help you minimise hand-related injuries.
YouTuber Made to Sew films tutorials for sewing machine beginners.
They’re reliable and newbie-friendly so that you can get started in no time!
Prefer reading instructions to listening or watching someone else do it? Google’s got you covered. You have your pick of blogs that offer step-by-step guides ranging from cutting techniques to basic stitches.
Pinterest is one site where you can spend hours getting your sew on. Etsy also offers lots of templates and knitting kits that you can practice with, and they’re cheap too!
Learning the basics of anything takes time. The Vivienne Westwoods and Alexander Wangs of the world are rare, so if you’re struggling with a particular stitch, that’s normal. When stumped, remember your training, as Master Yoda would say.
What comes first, design or beautiful fabric?
Got your tools in order? Good. Now you’ve got to choose between prioritising look or feel for your project.
According to most experts, design should come first, with getting the right fabric a close second.
No one’s expecting you to crash Paris Fashion Week with a groundbreaking collection, as there’s beauty in simplicity. Master basic stitches like the running or cross-stitch first. The same goes for your design and fabric choices.
If you’re starved for inspiration, check your local op shop, where clothes from almost any era are displayed.
Start with tees since they’re easy to design, andyou won’t be strapped for ideas.
After settling with a design, it’s time to pick your fabric.
Most tailors agree about checking fabric weight, strength and flow. That’s hard to do when shopping online, so make sure to read reviews before ordering.
In the end, you need to ace both your design and fabrics choices so that they can better complement one another.
Fashion Design 101: Sewing Patterns
Cutting your chosen fabric into something resembling clothes can be well … cutting to the self-esteem. We tried, trust us.
Luckily for us novices, free patterns are available for download online. They’re good enough for practice cuts so that you can hone your tailoring skills.
If you’re confident in your sewing skills, you can graduate to more complex patterns to give your work more layers and flair.
Once you get the hang of sewing, you’ll naturally want to move to more challenging projects. Take your time, and don’t forget to refer to your patterns!
Awaken your inner seamstress
Knitting takes practice. It requires blood, sweat and unpicking. But like most crafts, the end product is worth the process.
Sewing is a marketable skill that can be a reliable income source. Make it your side hustle, open an Etsy store and watch it pay for itself!
The holidays are right around the corner, so what better time to learn to sew personalised gifts. Your friends and loved ones will surely appreciate the effort.
While your finished product might resemble the dishevelled clothing of an indie-band frontman, it’s fine as long as you let the mistakes guide your next creation.
They say you should dress to impress, but sometimes the only validation you need is from yourself. Thread carefully!