Tips for Making Your Own Clothes for Beginners

Tips for Making Your Own Clothes for Beginners

If you haven’t tried making your own clothes, you are not alone. Making clothes can be a fun way to express your creativity, end up with exactly the clothes you want, and even save money at the same time! Let’s look at some tips for making your own clothes for beginners.

Brand New or Made New?

When making your own clothes, you can create a completely new garment, start with a great vintage garment and make it your own, or upcycle something that is already in your closet into a new creation. The sky's the limit.

If you enjoy shopping in vintage clothing stores or consignment shops, no doubt you have spotted some great finds that don’t quite fit. Perhaps a women’s blouse is gorgeous but a bit too baggy, or you find a to-die-for skirt, but the length or width is too much. Vintage shops also have cool things like fabrics that are hard to find, like Ultrasuede from the '70s or special beadwork. Taking a vintage garment and refashioning it is like a treasure hunt and a creative project all in one.

Fabric Prep 101

If you are making or up-styling a garment, start by washing and drying the fabric or the garment, bearing in mind the fabric content and the manufacturer’s recommended instructions. This will do two things—you will have clean fabric to work with, and if you are working with a brand-new garment or fabric, you will pre-shrink the fabric, which will make the garment easier to fit your current curves. You don’t want your great new dress that you make to end up too tight after you wear it once and launder it.

When cutting fabric, use sharp fabric scissors. If you sew, keep your fabric scissors out of the hands of any well-meaning family members who might try to cut paper with them. Paper dulls scissors, and you will want a clean cut every time you work with fabric. This will prevent fraying and make your project easier.

No-Sew Options

One of the easiest no sew options out there is to take an oversized men’s T-shirt and create a mini dress out of it. First, take the T-shirt, turn it inside out, and late it flat on a table. Next, take one of your favorite tank tops (one that is about equally stretchy to the T-shirt) and place it on top of the T-shirt, aligning the shoulders and smoothing it out. Finally, cut the sides of the T-shirt about an inch wider than the tank top and hot glue the seams together. Once it’s dry, turn it inside out, and you have a new mini dress!

A fun no-sew option is to wear scarves for women as tops. This can range from a cute halter top to something more modest, depending on the size of the scarf you use and how you tie it. There are dozens of ways to do this, so it’s worth an internet search to find some fun videos. Even if you don’t end up with a new “scarf top,” you’ll probably get some great ideas of how to tie scarves in different ways to style your outfits.

Make Sewing So Easy

If you are new to sewing, you’re venturing into some fun new fashions! Choose a simple garment like a sleeveless sheath dress that isn’t fitted or a fun and flowy maxi dress for your first project. Skip anything like fitted sleeves, fitted bodices or waists, zippers, and buttonholes. These are more intermediate tasks. Make a project of pattern and fabric shopping and read the pattern for any needed notions in addition to matching thread like elastic or hooks and eyes. Ask anyone you know who sews for pointers, including how to thread and use a sewing machine. Watch some fun sewing videos online. Give yourself the gift of a fun and easy project that will give you a win on your first try.

Alterations can also be a great first sewing project. You could shorten a top or skirt or hem a new pair of pants to go with a different pair of shoes. Trickier alterations include making a garment narrower or more fitted.

Add Some Sparkle

With a bit of fabric paint or some fabric glue and glitter, you can add sparkle to a favorite top. This can be a fun family project as it works for kids as well as adults. Start with a pre-shrunk men’s, kids’, or women’s T-shirt (you can get inexpensive ones at craft stores or grab one from your closet). Use chalk to draw your design first to help ensure you get the final look you want. Why not make an afternoon out of this with your family during a weekend or staycation?

With a bit of planning and preparation, you can make fun clothes that you will love to wear. Let the creativity begin!


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