Have you ever stood in awe of a friend who showed up to brunch in a handmade dress? Seen the most incredible pair of pants in a store window, only to find out they don’t make them in your size? Scrolled through the design Marketplace on Spoonflower, dreaming of someday creating a one-of-a-kind shirt with your favorite surface patterns?
Making your own clothing may seem like a distant dream, but if you take it slow and have a desire to learn, it can be quite easy! With a little bit of 7th grade home ec class experience, a budget sewing machine, text exchanges with more sewing savvy friends and so many internet searches, I dove into the exciting world of sewing a custom dress two years ago in celebration of Me Made May.
I started this initial sewing experience super intimidated, but quickly learned that every mistake could be undone or mended (sometimes quite literally!). My skills have leveled up with every project since and although there have been frustrating moments, I’ve found great joy in the process.
If you have an interest in making some of your own wardrobe pieces but are finding it difficult to even know where to start, I’m here today to share some basics I’ve learned along the way. I hope to demystify this practice and encourage you to take the exciting first steps towards sewing your own clothes!
Both Singer and Brother make entry-level machines that work well for sewing a variety of projects. The Brother cs6000i model is very popular amongst Spoonflower employees. It’s beginner-friendly and will still be a good fit as you improve and grow.
Want to be sure you know the difference between your tension adjuster and stitch width adjustment dials? Or want to know more about what they do? Check out our Anatomy of a Sewing Machine Diagram within our Ultimate Sewing Guide post to get to know the lingo!
Now that your machine is ready to go, what should you sew first? You could get a feel for your machine by hemming a pair of pants or refreshing a treasured t-shirt with our raglan tee tutorial or you can jump right in and learn to make your own clothes from scratch.
Two of my favorite places to look for beginner-friendly sewing patterns are Peppermint Magazine and Seamwork. Our friends at Peppermint Magazine’s Sewing School offer free patterns and release a new one every three months! Seamwork’s Pattern Library boasts over 200 to choose from. You can start with a beginner-friendly and free pattern like the Sorbetto and then become a monthly member to tackle more complex wardrobe additions as you grow and want. Seamwork also has a handy help section and clear instructions so it’s easy to learn as you go.
Here are four patterns from Peppermint Magazine and Seamwork perfect for a first project:
If you have access to a printer, you can easily print downloadable PDF patterns at home and assemble them together using scissors and tape. You can also research options like PDF Plotting to order a print of the entire pattern on one sheet.
Spoonflower has 23 fabric types and counting so our sample pack is a great place to start to get a feel for all the offerings. The sewing pattern’s instructions will tell you to exactly how much fabric you need for the version you plan to create in the fabric requirements section. Your sewing pattern will often recommend different substrates (types of fabric) that work best. Here are some of our recent posts that will help you choose the perfect fabric for a wide variety of projects:
Needle and thread – This will vary depending on your fabric choice, but our help center will help you make your decision!
Seam ripper – We all make mistakes, especially when first starting out, but careful seam ripping will help you undo any wonky stitches
Fabric scissors or rotary blade – A pair that is specifically designed for (and exclusively used for) fabric is an important addition to your tool kit.
Iron – Other than your sewing machine, an iron will be your best sewing friend! Pressing your seams will make sewing easier while ensuring accuracy and a polished final look.
Pins and Sewing Clips – To get the right fit and precision, pins are used to attach pieces of fabric together and keep them together for sewing. Sewing clips are a nice alternative.
Bonus: As your projects become more complex your sewing pattern may call for additional elements like bias tape, buttons, and elastic. YouTube is a great resource to see a play-by-play of how to best level up your sewing game with new-to-you additions and skills.
When you’ve selected the sewing pattern you’d like to start with, it’s a good idea to take the time to read through all the instructions. Google and YouTube are your friends as you research any terminology or techniques that are new to you. To start, here are the ten terms I found helpful to know when I began my sewing journey. My top ten list is only a start, but as you keep creating, your personal sewing dictionary will expand naturally as you learn.
I hope you feel empowered to start creating your own wardrobe after reading my tips! Having garments in your closet that were made especially for you and by you is such a great feeling. Whatever your reason for wanting to make your own clothes, it is something that with a little time and helpful tutorials anyone can do.
Don’t forget to share what you make on Instagram using the hashtag #spoonflowerapparel. We’d love to see what you create!
Consider participating in a sewing challenge like Me Made May. It’s also helpful to learn with others, so try sewing with a friend to share your triumphs and frustrations with.Meet the Creator of Me Made May
Amy is on the Brand Marketing team at Spoonflower. Some of her favorite things include documentary films, minor league baseball, blooper reels, Chicago-style hot dogs and cut paper collage. Her DIY heroes include both Martha Stewart and Amy Sedaris. She enjoys gardening, adding to her Spoonflower shop, attempting simple home improvement projects with her husband Graham, and playing with her spotted dog Stella.