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Topic: How to get started?  (Read 890 times)
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thirt2flavrs
« on: June 16, 2008 01:20:06 PM »

I really want to start making my own clothes, but I'm not sure how. I have a sewing machine, but everything I've ever tried to make on my own failed. So I'm really afraid to put money towards a project if I don't even know I'll be good at it. But I figure if I follow a pattern I can't go too wrong, right? The only thing with patterns is that I worry about measurements.

So how do I get started? I have a sewing machine. Do I need a dress form so I know that everything will fit me correctly?

I'm afraid. Smiley Huh
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chemgirl
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2008 02:46:30 PM »

When I first started sewing, I got a book out of the library so that I wouldn't feel quite so lost. That book turned out to go into a lot of detail about things that I didn't really need to know about as a beginner, but eventually I put some of that information to use. So that's my first suggestion - just see what the library has.

I think it's easier to sew from a pattern than not. I started out sewing from patterns, but have made my own pattern once or twice. What do you mean that you worry about measurements with patterns? I am two different sizes on top and on bottom, so for something like a dress, I have to make sure to go really wide on the hip area. But as long as I work slowly and carefully, things usually seem to turn out.

However, sometimes, the pattern is speaking its own language. I do remember having a frustrating time trying to understand patterns early on. Hopefully the library book can help you decipher the instructions, and if not, you can post here. patternreview.com might be a nice place to check to see if beginners rate a pattern highly.

If you want to start out with something simple, I suggest an A-line skirt. Here is a pretty straightforward tutorial I found for how to do this without a pattern:
http://www.tonyanddanalewis.com/patternlessskirt.html
Although she doesn't tell you how wide to make it at the bottom! I'd make it at least 8" wider than your hips, maybe even 10" or 12".

I like an A-line skirt with a fabric that will hold its shape and not just droop down. It turns out quite flattering even on a wide-hipped girl like myself. I suggest a linen blend, but you can just look for anything that doesn't fold over too easily with gravity.

What sewing projects have you attempted that hasn't worked out? Do you think you were going for something too complicated, or are you not sure what went wrong?

Lastly, the idea that you don't know if you'll be good at sewing -- nobody is a sewing master on their first try, or their second, or their tenth. Don't expect to be perfect. It takes practice and patience, so don't give up!
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SpottedFrog
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2008 03:45:37 PM »

Everything she said Smiley I'll add that I always start with non-clothing practice items when I teach to get the learner comfortable with the machine first. Aprons are nice because they cover a number of techniques, but it's an apron, it'll fit anyone.

There are a number of stickies & links in the *new* Sewing in General board Smiley
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Fishydrew3
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2008 07:48:26 PM »

I find the more I do the better I get.  I started on hemming my jeans.  If something is destined for Goodwill I might practice different stitches on it.  If your unsure of measurements use something that already fit you well, measure & add an inch for the seams.  Keep at it & if you make a mistake, that's why they invented seamrippers.
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To each their own
sunshine_fix
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2008 09:45:18 PM »

Just try stuff. I started making dolls from a simple pattern. Then I bought Simplicity's Simply the Best Sewing Book or however it's called. I have a massively old one that was printed when it still included patternless sewing projects. I made a skirt from that out of some cheapo broadcloth and it was so exciting I became addicted to sewing.

Buy a book about sewing. Pick one with the most information possible. I still refer to that Simplicity book.

Find some simple patterns and attempt them. If you don't want to use up pretty fabric, use muslin. Prepare to fail. It's not all that bad. I still fail and costume design is my major in college.

After you've gotten really comfortable with sewing, go to the library and either find or have your library order (interlibrary loan, I don't know if yours does it, but mine does-- find out about this!) a pattern drafting book. Then you don't ever have to worry about buying another pattern again.
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bananabanana
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2008 05:32:06 PM »

Try making skirts. Skirt patterns are easier to fit than shirts, dresses or pants. Leave these for later!

Cut up old sheets or really cheap fabric to make a practice one first. I buy sheets from the op-shop for this purpose. This way you don't ruin good fabric. I have also bought lots of used patterns from the op-shop, and zippers too.

If you have any problems, just ask these friendly craftster people. No problem is too hard for them to solve!

When I was at school, the first thing we sewed was gingham tableclothes. I thought they were daggy, but I can see sense in it now.
a. the fabric only costs $3 a metre at most
b. we could cut straight by following the squares
c. we could also sew straight by sewing along the sqaures.
So you could give this a try, just to build your confidence.
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2008 11:41:56 AM »

I'd recommend making something really simple like shopping bags to get used to using your machine. Or just do samples of stitches with different stitch lengths and tension to see what you get.

I really liked this book: http://www.amazon.com/Vogue-Sewing-Revised-Knitting-Magazine/dp/1933027002/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_k2a_1_img?pf_rd_p=304485601&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-2&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1573890162&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1EGCBEZ923XDEEHA2VDV

It basically takes you through every term and instruction you could possibly encounter in the sewing world.
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