General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

How hard is to make your own clothes?

Asked by tinyfaery (43926points) November 11th, 2019

Really just dresses. I mean, it seems easy, but so many things seem easy when they are not. I’d have to learn to sew, but that also doesn’t seem that hard.

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27 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

That is exactly the attitude with which I approached dress making
My first project was a black wool jersey dress.
It was a knee length fitted sheath with a straight skirt,portrait collar and elbow length sleeves and a walking slit in the back.
My friend who is a good seamstress asked if I sewed it with a hot needle. Lol
One day, I will get the patience to try it again.
I’d start with an easy to sew fabric with minimal stretch and a simple pattern so your friend doesn’t hurl an insult. Good luck & have fun :)

raum's avatar

This is a good time to give it a go. Most of the popular silhouettes right now are relatively simple.

I would recommend starting off with non-stretchy material. (Those require a serger. Sergers are more expensive and I’d hold off on getting one until you decide that sewing is your thing.)

There are lots of great indie pattern makers. I like Wiksten

Patty_Melt's avatar

If you have someone with you to help with terms and symbols the first time helps. Mostly there is a number of things to remember, but after once you should do fine. Patterns do a fine job of explaining the different symbols used for that one particular pattern. The main reason for needing help is with fabric type, and direction of bias.
The things on your pattern mainly deal with matching tabs, as with assembling things purchased which say match tab a with slot a. The pattern is marked so you are making the tabs yourself.
Gathers are easier than pleats. Cotton is much easier than silk, knits, or wool.
Sleeves involve more than one hurdle at a time, so starting with a skirt would be much easier than a full dress.
Truly, if you have a friend who sews and could help you shop a style, fabric,and be with you to start the project, you will do fine, but trying to do it alone is likely to leave you frustrated.
If you don’t have someone to help you, shop where the clerk knows what she’s doing.
Hand stitching should not be done without lots of practice on scraps of various types of fabric first.
Troubles a newbie can encounter is type of thread wrong for type of fabric
Laying out fabric for cutting on a carpeted floor instead of a solid surface.
Choosing a pattern out of love instead of something sensibly simple.
Patterned fabric. When it doesn’t match up in the right places, looks obvious as a botched project. Start with a solid color.
Setting machine for stitching too tight, resulting in puckers and breaks.
Thinking hand stitching is easy. Hand stitching is like penmanship. It looks nice only with practice.

Vignette's avatar

The one thing about my own journey is life was popping that bubble that many things in the world were in how they were made and the magic that went into making it along with the mystical people that made them. I went from Oh no I could never do THAT to dang that wasn’t so difficult. So from my POV you can and should at least once make something yourself. Of course there can be up front costs of equipment but once you do it, it can be both fun and rewarding. Just remind yourself almost everyone made their own clothes at one time in our history and why not now for you?

I never thought I would throw my own pottery or brew my own beer of can my own fruits and veggies. I have sewn, knitted and embroidered as well. So essentially where there is a will there is a way. Just do it!

gorillapaws's avatar

My mom grew up sewing her own clothes as 1 of 8 kids. She used to make us the best Halloween Costumes. With the prices of fabrics these days being so high, and the cost of clothing made in Asian sweatshops by children earning pennies a day, it’s hard to justify the craft unless you enjoy it, and/or want to make specific things in your head that don’t exist on the rack somewhere.

If I were to get into sewing (and I’m not planning on it), the first resource I’d use is my mother, the second would be YouTube and the third would be using professional pattern kits. It’s harder to go wrong when you’ve got something to work off of.

canidmajor's avatar

If there is a place in your community that has adult Ed classes, take a sewing course. Getting the basics down, and understanding the terminology/directions on the pattern is key. Stick with simpler patterns.
All that said, it is not at all difficult to learn. I speak from experience, I am not talented in this area, but with a little patience and some help, I can sew pretty well.

I also find it soothing, it’s another way to focus on the not-disturbing or angry-making stuff.

snowberry's avatar

Agree about taking a course. Many years ago I bought an old really fancy but never used sewing machine. I had no idea what I was doing and I was so frustrated. For a first timer just trying to figure out how to keep the thread from snarling or how to wind the bobbin properly was too difficult.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@canidmajor Good idea! I wish I had done that

jca2's avatar

My mom used to sew my clothes when I was little. My grandmother was a great seamstress and could sew clothes and upholster furniture, self taught.

A good friend is an excellent seamstress, makes clothes, quilts, dolls, you name it. She started from being a teen, with a family that couldn’t afford to buy clothes for all the kids.

I would love to learn to sew and have a Janome machine that’s only a few years old but I haven’t used it much. I wish I had time to sew. I can tell you that I am almost a professional shopper haha and buying clothes on clearance is way cheaper than buying fabrics at the craft store, a store like Joann’s Fabrics where cottons can be 12 dollars a yard, unless you catch a sale.

One idea if you have a machine is buying thrift shop clothing and modifying it. I see people on Instagram that do incredible things with buying large size clothing and then cutting it down into dresses, shirts and jackets for thinner recipients.

I joined the American Sewing Guild which has local chapters, which all have groups. If you join the guild, you can attend some groups and learn how to sew there. The ladies that are members do incredible work and are happy to help newbies. We were at the local chapter annual luncheon yesterday and seeing the work that the ladies do is really inspiring. There are also tons of YouTube videos and FB groups where people share their work and knowledge.

My friend asked me to check the member price at Costco online today. They have some computerized machine which is about 1500. I saw a computerized Janome for 249 which you don’t have to be a member to purchase. I was advised not to buy a Brother or a Singer as the quality is cheap. You can also buy a machine at a thrift shop if you luck out but you don’t know until you start trying to use it whether something is wrong with it, and repairs can be expensive. If you’re going to pay for a repair, you may as well just buy a new machine.

KNOWITALL's avatar

For me, it’s really easy. I may not get every seam right due to lack of experience, but the patterns and cuts are easy peasy.

Didn’t you learn that in Home Ec in school? We made stuffed animals, blouses, all kinds of things.

ucme's avatar

Reminds me of needlework lessons at school.
The teacher charged our class with making an uncomplicated item of clothing of our choosing & so, me being into cowboys at that time, I picked a waistcoat that I fully intended to place a marshall badge on upon completion.

This was not to be though, I was hopeless & many sewing machine fights & knots later my waistcoat looked more like a raggedy ass frayed scarf…it got binned.
So my answer to this question is, It’s hard…bloody hard!!

tinyfaery's avatar

I was definitely thinking of taking a class first. I never took home ec, but when I was a child I used to know how to sew because I used to want to do everything my grandmother did. Alas, I remember nothing.

raum's avatar

As a little kid, I used to sit with my mom and watch her thread the sewing machine. When I picked up sewing again in college, it felt like second nature.

It’s kind of like riding a bike.
It’ll come back to you. :)

marinelife's avatar

I find sewing very hard. There is all of the equipment to buy: patterns, fabric, good scissors, sewing machine, bias take, supplies for the machine, measuring tape. Then before you make something like a dress, you’ll need hours of practice just sewing straight seams. Something like a throw pillow might be an easier first project.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@chyna Great idea. With so much on youtube now, probably learn for free.

Tbh, I tend to get obsessed until I master something, then I’m over it, but I kind of wish I’d kept up on this. Cant wait to see what you do!

canidmajor's avatar

I hit my local used book stores for sewing books. Some of them are very outdated on fashion, but the basic techniques are still the same.

Sagacious's avatar

Not hard for people who can read and follow instructions. Surprisingly, that is not the majority of us.

Brian1946's avatar

I’m sure it’s harder than dressing up a hot dog. ;-)

Sagacious's avatar

You don’t have to know how to read to dress a hotdog. ;)

Inspired_2write's avatar

it is easy to sew but now the fabrics are too expensive to make it cost efficient as in the old times.

jca2's avatar

Good point by @Inspired_2write. The cost of an item of clothing, ready to wear on the rack at the store is cheaper than if you bought fabric and made it yourself, adding in the cost of good thread, buttons, zippers, etc.

jca2's avatar

Here’s this lady who does upcycled clothes and accessories, among other things.

Her name is Sarah Tau and she is on Instagram too. It’s amazing. I’m sure there are others who do the same thing.

canidmajor's avatar

Places like JoAnn’s often have large (40%, for example) percentage coupons, and ongoing discounts. I very rarely pay the full, marked price.

canidmajor's avatar

So, @tinyfaery, did you take up sewing? 2020 would have been a good time for it!

tinyfaery's avatar


Tropical_Willie's avatar

Not hard if it looks like a black garbage bag with a head hole and arm holes in the corners.

It takes practice and someone to teach you the art of seam allowance and darts.

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