The basics (applicable to shopping for clothes too)
- Style – choose the right style to flatter or disguise your body shape
- Colour – choose a colour that complements your colouring
In addition, if you are making your own clothes, you need to consider
- Fit – make sure the pattern and garment fits your body measurements
- Fabric – if in doubt, use the fabric proposed by the pattern designer
I firmly believe if you make a well fitting garment in a style and colour that flatters you, in a suitable fabric, then you will stand out from the crowd. If you also construct it beautifully you will be ahead of even the richest or most beautiful celebrities. In this post I am just going to address construction.
In my opinion, if you want your clothes to look great you need to pay attention to the following ten areas
- Use sharp scissors
- Cut accurately, on the grain
- Transfer all the pattern markings
- Press at every single step
- Use the correct interfacing
- Measure everything carefully
- Follow the instructions – you may learn something new
- Make your garments symmetrical (check collars, hems, lapels, etc religiously)
- Trim to reduce bulk
- Take your time – if it is going wrong sort it out. If you can’t work it out, try sleeping on it. (Not in it).
Every “mistake” is a learning experience
Some bloggers pass off their mistakes as “design features”. Mistakes can occasionally be positive. But I think the best thing is to learn from your mistakes. You will not be good at button holes, or zips, or pockets the first few times. It is like learning a language or an instrument – it takes a lot of practice. Mistakes and failures are an inevitable and necessary part of learning.
I would recommend going to a good local authority clothes-making course, with a qualified teacher, where you can make a few garments under supervision until you gain confidence. You will learn such a lot from your teacher and fellow students. There are also some good technique classes where you sew sample pockets, button holes, zips, sleeves, seams etc. It seems a bit dull making samples rather than garments, but it is all about gaining confidence and learning what is possible.
I have made dozens of garments that ended up in landfill, unfinished. I have spent hours making something which I have never worn. I have worn truly horrible garments that I made myself. Like this one for example, taken on holiday in Spain (that’s why I am brown), newly engaged, wearing an all in one jump suit, in a horrible textile. It was the 80s, but there really is no excuse for those shoulder fastenings. And the matching hair band.
I have learnt the hard way – believe me.
It did not surprise me that a woman in her 80s was the winner of the Great British Sewing Bee 1. Getting good at this is truly a lifetime’s work.