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The making your own clothes thread

(499 Posts)
MulberryPeony Wed 29-Apr-20 07:59:57

Just because a few of us seem likely to get back in the habit with some spare time/wanting to look expensive/capsule wardrobe/consume less.

I made quite a lot of my own clothes as a teen and early twenties but I’m not sure I’ve completed a project for me since. Hand sewing wadding into padded curtains did me in!

I’d like to make a copy of some floaty shorts and duster coat I already own. Got a fair few basic patterns for tops and throw on dresses so might make something light for summer too. I’d like some comfy trousers but worry I’d end up with something resembling pjs! Thinking of repurposing a slub woven cotton smock from a few years ago as there is oodles of fabric to go at.

I’d class myself as a beginner level but happy to adapt patterns. Button holes scare me.

Would anyone like to join me? What is on your to-make list? Any more beautiful sites for me to browse expensive looking fabrics like the merchant and mills one mentioned the other day? Does anyone know of any sites where I can look through a pattern book like the catalogues they have inside fabric shops?

OP’s posts: |
womanthatfelltoearth Wed 29-Apr-20 08:15:24

I don't have anything to add but am interested to see others suggestions. Like you OP I used to sew when younger and would like to try again. I made the most beautiful dress in my 20s with Liberty lawn cotton (saved for ages for the fabric) and still think of it now, it was truly one of the most beautiful dresses I've ever owned. I have some lovely clothes now but nothing fills me with the same joy. So maybe time to dust off my 20 yr old sewing machine?

Floisme Wed 29-Apr-20 08:24:41

I'd love to tag along although I probably won't be able to contribute much. My skills are very basic and very old. I refused to learn to sew at school because it was a girls' subject (possibly one of my worst life choices). I then taught myself a bit in my 20s-30s but gave up when the cost of clothes began to plummet cos what was the point? I do remember what a tailor's tack is and um.... that's about it.

I'm delusional though so I'm convinced I'll pick it up in no time.

I've been looking at patterns and struggling to find many that I like. Merchant and Mills, yes (We were probably on the same thread!) but a lot of the others I've seen are very cheerful and (as Johnny Boden might say) sassy, which just isn't my thing. I need to learn to see past colour and pattern and focus on the shape but I'm not there yet.

There was also a long thread on this a couple of years ago with loads of suggestions. It didn't quite inspire me to make a start but it certainly had me thinking. I'll try and find it but may take a while as meant to be working today.

Aethelthryth Wed 29-Apr-20 08:32:47

I made a lot of clothes in my teens and early twenties and took it up again couple of years ago. I have narrow shoulders and a large bust so I can now make blouses which actually fit.

Oddly, having time in lockdown , I have just felt a bit "off" fashion but some inspiration may get me going again.

I find good online supplies from Minerva Crafts, Truro Fabrics, Stone Fabrics and Croft Mills

Trebolla Wed 29-Apr-20 09:03:31

I make the majority of my clothes and have just ordered myself some gorgeous gingham for a summer dress to be worn indoors only, obvs

Does anyone know of any sites where I can look through a pattern book like the catalogues they have inside fabric shops? The Fold Line are excellent for this and you can read reviews and order through them

I also really love the following fabric shops: Fabric Godmother, Sew Me Sunshine, Fabworks and Sewisfaction.

In terms of seeing past the samples of patterns shown up (because some are bloody awful) I find that looking at the line drawings instead are usually more helpful (especially as the big 4 pattern company's use lovely slim models and I am not that!).

dudsville Wed 29-Apr-20 10:17:47

I'm not very talented but this is something I want to spend time on this year to try to improve my skills. I have plenty of clothes but a bit of a shopping addiction so i also that sewing might become a replacement activity!

Bananasandchocolatecustard Wed 29-Apr-20 12:25:44

Filly and the buttons patterns are great. They are simple to use and she has videos on YouTube to watch. I have been making my own clothes for about 4 years and have used Merchant & Mills patterns. The patterns they classify as beginners are not beginners level in my opinion.

Bananasandchocolatecustard Wed 29-Apr-20 12:26:12

Meant Tilly, not filly!

MulberryPeony Wed 29-Apr-20 13:15:13

Lots of links for me to look at there everyone, thanks.

I prefer the drawings too so I can see the darts and lines on the garment that you can’t see on a floral number @trebolla

Although I like the aesthetic of the merchant and mills site I really don’t like the crumpled, thrown on the floor vibe from the patterns blush

Am I massively behind the times or are some patterns extortionately priced nowadays? I have at least one vogue pattern and can’t believe I’ll have paid much more than £5.

I need to dig out my patterns from the loft before getting click happy buying new ones. I do quite like the idea of the workbooks that come with patterns though.

@bananasandchocolatecustard I don’t want to watch the YouTube Videos or I’ll just sit and watch rather than actually be productive wink

OP’s posts: |
BigGee Wed 29-Apr-20 13:21:51

I have to disagree with the Tilly recommendation. Anyone who produces a pattern for adult women without bust darts (Bettine dress) knows bugger all about pattern cutting. I studied it at college for four years, and she knows sod all about anything technical and her patterns are vastly overpriced.

I make my own but also use Jaycotts for the "big four" pattern companies.

BigGee Wed 29-Apr-20 13:24:08

For woven fabrics I mean, re Bettine. Jersey knits, it'd be fine, but women have boobs and bettines front and back bodices are the same pattern piece....where are your tits suppose to go ffs????

Bananasandchocolatecustard Wed 29-Apr-20 13:54:10

Big gee - fair point re darts. I’m small up top, didn’t think of bigger boobs.
Lotta Jansdotter - I have made her patterns. She has a book with lovely illustrations of real women wearing the clothes, plus the patterns. The patterns are adaptable, eg a dress = a top.

Sooverthemill Wed 29-Apr-20 14:05:27

@Floisme I've been looking at patterns here

Traviis Wed 29-Apr-20 14:12:46

I've started making my own clothes as a result of my mid-life crisis. So far I'm sticking to simple sewing patterns for beginners and getting back in to it.

I keep thinking of that woman who survived a terrible rape and ordeal and found that making a complete wardrobe was an important part of processing what happened to her and reclaiming her body.

Floisme Wed 29-Apr-20 14:15:45

Thanks Soover - that looks promising!

I think there are some very different aesthetics at play, aren't there? I kind of like that crumply Merchant and Mills vibe but can see why it's not everyone's cup of tea. Likewise Tilly and the Buttons doesn't really do it for me but it clearly works for a lot of people.

Sooverthemill Wed 29-Apr-20 14:31:41

@floisme I'm thinking of making merchant and mills factory dress but wondering if I should make it up first in a cheaper fabric than linen to make sure I can remember how to sew!

Tollergirl Wed 29-Apr-20 14:36:42

I'll join. Been sewing on and off for 35 years and making many more of my own clothes for last 3 yrs. I'd be a bit wary of some of the independent pattern companies as I think many are a triumph of style (by which I mean marketing courtesy of Instagram) over substance (by which I mean skilled pattern drafting). Agree with comments on Tilly - poor drafting IMHO. Also agree with exorbitant cost of some new patterns. Having learned my lesson I've returned to using more from the Big 4 as I feel that they have been better drafted. It's easy to get sucked in to the huge home sewing Instagram thing but if you look closely (and I'm not at all knocking people's efforts), many of the indie patterns that are getting huge amounts of attention don't appear to fit very well. I don't necessarily think this is down to poor technique but poor drafting which I think takes considerably more skill than many "designers" have. I think there are exceptions but I would start with cheaper patterns and fabric until you get to know your shape - I have to do an FBA for every top or dress but so many of the indie patterns are dartless ( wonder why that is?).

I have found an old book called "Fit for Real People" very useful in altering patterns to deal with my larger bust, uneven forward rolling shoulders, rounder tummy, flat derriere, chunky thighs ... two heads etc etc. Was quite an entertaining day getting my daughters to help critique my body - I highly recommend it if you're bored and in need of an ego boost!!!.

Sorry that turned into a bit of an essay - I have made a Merchant and mills Fielder top but unfortunately didn't make a muslin and my chunky upper arms (left them off the list of my best physical features) make it rather tight across the shoulders even though it is quite loose on the body, not sure if that's the patterns fault or mine?. The linen I made it in (from them also) was beautiful though and a real pleasure to sew with.

Anyway must get back to my sewing now - am making another pair of Dawn jeans (Megan Nielsen) as have worn my first pair to death and it's so nice to have a pair of jeans that fits in all the right places (she had great tutorials and also found Lauren Guthrie from Guthrie & Ghani good for help with fitting issues/alterations.)

Will be lovely to have a sewing thread running. Thanks OP

Sirthanksalot Wed 29-Apr-20 14:50:14

Would love to- struggling to finish a very basic dress for my four year old due to lack of experience but once I do, I'll make another one and a matching mini skirt for me. In my dreams I'd make 70's style maxi dresses. It'll never happen.

BigGee Wed 29-Apr-20 14:57:05

Re making test garments, I use polycotton curtain lining that I buy in vast quantities from Merrick and Day. No need to buy a full roll though, 10m would do most home dressmakers! Its a couple of quid a metre. It won't reproduce the drape of a silk but it will let you see how it fits and mark adjustments. I use old Toiles from my custom dressmaking to line bags or in other test runs, especially if its big pattern pieces.

BigGee Wed 29-Apr-20 14:58:15

For fabric and haberdashery porn, check out McCulloch and Wallis. Eye watering prices but!

Tollergirl Wed 29-Apr-20 15:06:16

Thanks for the Merrick and Day suggestion @BigGee- I usually use old duvet covers or tablecloths but my cupboard is now bare so that looks good.

MaryLennoxsScowl Wed 29-Apr-20 15:19:46

Named Clothing are a Scandi brand, but the patterns are drafted for someone 5’7” so don’t fit me, but I like their aesthetic. I tend to find sewing patterns are either very girly (50s-style dresses etc) or very shapeless (the Merchant and Mills stuff looks worryingly square to me). I think Tilly patterns are twee and the sizing is nuts - she drafts for someone completely flat-chested and pear-shaped, so I’d have to grade across three sizes for any of her things and I don’t have the confidence/experience to do it.
Instagram is great for seeing versions of almost any pattern from an indie company (and lots of Vogue etc ones too) on real people - there’ll be a hashtag for the pattern and you can look for someone with your proportions or whose style you like. Also, google reviews of any pattern before you start - bloggers explain what they found tricky and if there’s anything odd about sizing or drafting, which is incredibly helpful. Though they often say ‘this took me 2 hours’ over something that took me 3 weeks!

MikeUniformMike Wed 29-Apr-20 15:20:00

I mentioned this in another thread, but I haven't tried them.
They look nice and although the patterns seem expensive, it probably isn't.

MaryLennoxsScowl Wed 29-Apr-20 15:23:24

I would say that I find indie pattern companies, while undoubtedly more expensive than the big four, are easier to understand as they generally do understand that you really haven’t sewn anything in your life before. Do not start with a vintage Vogue pattern, even if it says ‘easy’! They assumed learning to sew at school, I think, whereas the indie ones tend to explain every term and often has a specific video for it if you need more help.

MikeUniformMike Wed 29-Apr-20 15:30:39

If you are using vintage patterns, even ones from the 1990s, check the sizing. The sizes are tiny compared to retail sizes.

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