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Topic: I Really Want to be Able to Sew Clothes- Where do I Start?  (Read 3060 times)
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« on: January 13, 2013 08:28:36 AM »

I really want to be able to sew clothes like some of the fabulous garments I see on here. I've made aprons and skirts so far but feel I need to challenge myself if I ever want to get to my goal. The thing is I'm not sure where to go next!

What did you do when you started learning? Are there any good (preferably free or at least cheap, i'm rather broke) tutorials and patterns that could help a beginner like me? Any tips and things you've learnt to do/not to do along the way? Is it worth the price for attending a sewing course?

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Smiley
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013 07:10:42 PM by meleriffic » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2013 11:14:33 AM »

I started out with knits to avoid a kazillion fitting issues. Most of my earliest projects were modified Lydia from BurdaStyle. Um, actually most of my recent projects, too Tongue My first two tops rarely get any wear, because I can see the copious imperfections, but I'm still mighty proud of them Cheesy I just did all the research about sewing with knits, like using a ballpoint needle, loosening my presser foot, how to apply a neckband, basic ways to jazz up a pattern (like drafting a bib, colour-blocking, or applying trims), etc, etc.

My NUMERO UNO best tip is get a walking foot. They are good for almost every single thing you will ever sew. EVER. Except zippers. I'm extremely fortunate in that my quilt-y MIL bought me one for Christmas like, 4 years ago. I use if for literally everything, from vinyl snowmobile seat covers to flannel pajama tops. I only ever swap it out to install zippers, or to use my automatic buttonhole foot.

My "secundo" tip (please forgive me, Spanish speakers, if that's not the correct word/usage) would be to practice techniques. Look at each pattern/project as a collection of techniques and choose new projects with an eye towards trying a new technique and/or practicing one you're not very good with yet. Never top-stitched before? Give it a go in your next project! Double-needle hem a little weird on that last shirt? Hmm, maybe you didn't turn up the hem far enough, so go a bit higher on the next one. You'll slowly learn to evaluate your skills as you go so that you can improve them on the next similar project.

Uh, I guess I have a couple more quick tips:

-Quality fabric; cheap, thin fabric WILL give you headaches (one of my fave me-made shirts is tissue thin and was a SUPER PAIN to assemble). Cheap thread, cheap lace, and cheap drinks are also to be avoided.
-Thrift stores; if you spend 5 minutes in a thrift store, hit the bedding/home linens department, the craft department if they have one, and keep your eyes peeled for any garment whose fabric screams at you to take it home and "do something" with it (check out the Dress a Day blog and Refashion Co-Op for inspo!).
-Dedicate a rubber storage tub to unfinished objects; you WILL run into roadblocks that stump/frustrate you for days or weeks, so keep a bin on hand specifically for this problem. Bundle the entire project into a giant ziplock bag or grocery bag to protect it and keep all the necessary components together. It helps to set a date for revisiting it, even if it's just a day to research your problem. "I have next Saturday all to myself, I'm going to put in that darn invisible zipper." Do not buy a bigger storage tub because you've run out of room. Seriously, that's a bad idea, just ask... most of Craftster Tongue

« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2013 11:52:55 AM »

Ah thank you very much! Seems like there are some very useful tips there (especially about cheap drinks Wink hehe). I will definitely make sure I invest in better fabrics as I have noticed in the past some of my items with cheaper fabric didn't end too well. Nice pattern as well Smiley Seems just perfect for a beginner like me! Cheesy

Thank you again! Smiley

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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2013 09:19:26 AM »

I believe a good reference book is indispensable, either electronic or print.

I like It's Sew Easy, here is the youtube link http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL33E7FB25A124A4CC
Angela Wolf is my favorite instructor http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Angela+Wolf&oq=Angela+Wolf&gs_l=youtube.3..0l10.48123.50126.0.50527.

I agree with Alexis1235, avoid cheap at all costs. There's a difference between poor quality cheap and good quality inexpensive. The Halloween Costume Fabric at JoAnn Fabrics is poor quality cheap. Fabric Mart (http://www.fabricmartfabrics.com) carries good quality inexpensive stuff, especially the clearance section. Many of my pattern reviews, and my new "designer" dress, are Fabric Mart.
The Pattern School focuses on dancewear and stretch knits, but the info is great and the pattern altering/drafting techniques work for any pattern http://www.patternschool.com

Start with patterns labeled Very Easy or Easy. Stick with patterns labeled Easy until you feel comfortable with them and feel ready for more challenges. Focus on the line drawings of the designs, that's the true "bones" of the garment. I agree with Alexis1235 again, pick a new technique to try on each project - either a sewing technique like blindstitching, or a design technique like eliminating or adding seams, or changing sleeves.

I learned to sew when I was about 11 and living with my Grandmother. Between her advice, a tattered old "how to sew" book that came with her machine, and an assortment of library books (great way to decide which book you want to buy to keep), when I was 18 I made a friends wedding dress and a tailored suit for myself for job interviews. I never took a class, not even in school.

If you are the kind of person who likes to figure things out on their own, classes may not be worth it. If you are the kind of person who is good at learning from Youtube or books, a class might not be worth it. But, if you are the kind of person who likes help when you get stuck, or wants more individual attention, and the instructor is good and the projects are worthwhile, then classes would be the right choice for you.

« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2013 02:31:27 PM »

I will agree with Alexus1325 too: a walking foot will save your sanity. My sewing machine is learning less bad words from me since I got one  Tongue  Also, I'm fairly new to sewing as well and I'm finding out new things as I go along. A new habit I've developed is to look at the rtw clothes I love (or am drawn to in the local mall) and study their construction and fit. Sometimes, I'll snap a picture of an intriguing stitching detail or design detail to look up and study later. If it's a reproducible detail, I'll start cogitating on how to make it lol Reading up on different fabrics (and how they behave), construction techniques to use with different fabric weights, seam finishes, threads, embellishments, styles, etc. will help immensely. Visual? There's a YouTube video for practically everything!

I will also say that you will find your comfort zone in terms of the fabric you like to work with, as well. I was astonished when I started looking things up online and found out how many people are scared of/dislike sewing knits!! I absolutely love how forgiving and versatile they are.

Thrift stores can also be a great source of clothes to make fit you and your style, which is where I started. There's a lot to be learned about making clothes from refashioning clothing.
Thrift stores are also a wonderful resource for large pieces of fabric in the linens section. You don't have to worry about shrinkage because they've been washed numerous times already. I'd also add that the "As-Is" section of IKEA has yielded some high-quality/low-cost linens to me several times.

Good luck and have fun sewing!
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2013 05:55:38 PM »

I hope I'm not contradicting anyone when I say there is an advantage to cheap fabric for those of us who have trouble cutting into any fabric at all.  I have fabric cutting phobia, and if it is expensive fabric, I probably won't cut it at all.  If you're just learning, and not confident, it might be ok to use cheap fabric, even sheets from the Goodwill, to make some garments.  This way you can build confidence to move on to expensive fabric.  I've been sewing for decades and I'm still not confident enough to use expensive fabric except for my professional work.  For my own clothes, I still use cheap fabric!  :p

"We can have anything we want, because we can make it." - RovingAnarchist

« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2013 06:47:08 PM »

Sorry I've only just seen these replies! (i'm rubbish)

I will take it all on board and figure out which is the best way to work for myself Smiley Thanks guys! *fingers crossed* I can make some fabulous garments in the future!

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