Newest Review: ... Since then I've made skirts and other dresses and I even made my clothes for my most recent job - I managed to make two black work skirts... more
When the high street isn't living up to your standards (or your budget) DIY!
Sewing in general
Member Name: Sapphylcw
Sewing in general
Advantages: More flexibility in clothing, keeps you busy, can make clothes cheaply
Disadvantages: Puts you off buying anything in the shops (though that's a bonus if you want to save money!)
Before December 2010 sewing was something that I had struggled through during Textiles at school. I even made my own 50's style occasion dress (still have it) and I enjoyed making my own clothes but found it a real struggle so by the end of that GCSE I was done with sewing, until last year that is! I had recently become a student, the local Primark wasn't living up to my expectations and everywhere else was too expensive so I decided I was going to try and do it myself. I started off using my mum's sewing machine (and her expertise) to see whether I'd stick with it. I didn't start small, I dove straight in and went for a dress pattern, Burda 7739 to be precise! It definitely wasn't the easiest first project I could have chosen, it had a zip, puff sleeves and a collar but with my mum there to help me wade through the sewing jargon I managed and I still love that dress! Since then I've made skirts and other dresses and I even made my clothes for my most recent job - I managed to make two black work skirts out of £15 of fabric which had the same fabric composition as the workwear they sell on Oasis and Warehouse at £40 a go.
Most people seem to think that dressmaking is ridiculously difficult but once you've worked your way through a pattern or two it becomes clear that they're all much of a muchness and pretty soon you find yourself knowing what you need to do without even looking at the pattern. As for skills like darts, zips and linings, you just pick it up as you go through trial and error! Most patterns give you very clear instructions and pictures to guide you through the process so it's not as scary as it sounds.
I think making your own clothes isn't very popular today because you can buy clothes so cheaply from places like Primark and the supermarkets, however even if you just learn how to adjust a hem and sew on a button you can make amendments to your clothing or buy damaged clothing at a reduced price and repair it yourself. One of my early projects was a maxi dress which was £3 in the sale which swamped me but I turned it into a mini dress. Another project was another £3 maxi dress bought 8 sizes too big for me so I could use the fabric to make something else out of it! Having the skill of sewing gives you so many more options, for example I tried on a skirt in a shop because I loved the colour but it was way shorter than I like my skirts so I found a pattern and made a similar one which suits my requirements better. I love the flexibility in being able to create a garment that fits the way I want it and is in a colour of my choice rather than having to accept second best.
Once you start sewing your own clothes you also then realise how awful the quality of the clothes in some stores are, there are a few places where I don't buy clothes anymore because once I looked properly at the sewing I realised that the item was badly sewn (a lot of the time the stitching is loopy where the machine has not been threaded properly or the tension is not right for the fabric) and seams were starting to come apart before it had even left the shop and I realised that even I as a novice could do a better job and for a better price too! Places like Fabric Land sell a variety of fabrics for cheap prices (and some more expensive fabrics for occasion wear) and so you can make clothing quite cheaply and it's also original, not everyone else is going to be wandering around in it. Even though I'm a novice sewer I get so many compliments from strangers about clothes I've made and I always feel really proud when I can tell them that I made it myself and they look shocked!
I would thoroughly recommend getting a second hand machine and having a go at sewing your own clothes, you may not be a pro at first but it's really worth it in the long run!
Summary: A fun way to expand your wardrobe and save money