I have always wanted to sew my own clothing. I’m 6′ tall, so off-the-rack has been challenging since sometime around age 14 (if someone can explain to me why companies like J.Crew make tall pants and tall coats, but DON’T make tall sweaters, I’d love to hear it…), but I’ve always been afraid to try making my own garments. Which is weird. Weird because I taught myself how to embroider while I was still in elementary school, and knit and quilt before I was 20. Weird because my Mum sewed most of her own clothes, and most of ours, while we were kids. Weird because I have always assumed that I can do anything when it comes to hand-work, provided I just go slowly at first.
But here’s the thing: screwing up a quilt block doesn’t waste much fabric, and only a little time. The same is true for embroidery, and simple knitting, like a scarf. But sewing a dress that doesn’t fit, or that you hate, or knitting a sweater that still isn’t long enough in the sleeve…well, that’s a big waste of time AND materials (and therefore $$$), and so I have always balked at this next obvious step in my hand-made education.
Sometime last winter I took a big step and actually bought two patterns: the Tova shirt and the Wiksten tank (alas, just before Jenny released the PDF versions, so I spent a bit more than you need to now). I had seen some lovely versions of both on Karyn’s blog, and by all accounts these patterns were easy for beginners and easily altered. And then they sat on my shelf.
Over Mother’s Day weekend Mum was down for a visit, and I had her help me get started. I didn’t really need help, per se, just moral support, but having her beside me gave me the push I needed to finally make a shirt. And you know what, it was easy! It turns out that you actually need to be far less precise when sewing a shirt compared with sewing a fussy quilt block, so it was no big deal.
That said, I do have some advice for those of you who have yet to make the leap. I bought a VERY cheap cotton/poly blend to start with, because I didn’t want to waste expensive fabric, but it was thick. Not the best choice for a first go at a new pattern. Also, it’s already starting to pill. Oh well, it will be a great cottage shirt for years to come. :) But I need to find a source of cheap muslin going forward, since I think it will be awhile before I feel confident in my alterations the first time through a pattern.
But if you’ve been hesitant, like me, to take the leap and sew some clothing for yourself, then hear this: you can do it! Really! I’m ready to cut out a Wiksten tank next, and I just bought Megan Nielsen’s Darling Ranges dress. I can’t wait to have a closet full of clothing that I made myself.
Now Stella needs to learn how to work a camera so that I can model it for you. ;)