Like many women who take up the art of sewing, my interest in making my own clothes came from a lifelong love-hate relationship with designers. I was tired of paying through the nose for poor fabrics, poorly constructed garments and poor fit, it felt like nothing fit me anymore! Not every woman’s body is the same, this we know. So why do we all pay for crap? As Stacy and Clinton always say, women can never just wear clothes off the rack, everything needs to be altered. Well, if that’s the case, then why not just learn to make clothes that fit my body like a glove? So I decided, in protest to the retailers and designers selling me false promises, I would invest some money in a good sewing machine and embark on my sewing journey. But before you master any craft, you need the right tools!
1) A little Homework! Don’t worry, this is fun reading! There are a number of fantastic books out there to help you get started. The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook is excellent. So to is the Collette Sewing Handbook. Both are clearly written, with beautiful illustrations and photos, and come with simple patterns to begin with.
2) The Machine. Just a word of advice, don’t blow your entire budget on a fancy, computerized sewing machine. Bells and whistles are only good if you know how to use them! Shop for a reasonably priced, but reliable sewing machine. Personally, I like the Janome brand. They’re a Japanese designed machine and they last forever. Pfaff is another great machine, a little on the pricey site, so maybe when you start to get really serious, you can save up! Your machine should be able to sew four main stitches, the blind stitch, an overlocking stitch (so you won’t need a serger right off the bat) the zig-zag stitch and the straight stitch. Other than that, a few decorative stitches are nice for finishing, but not completely necessary when you’re just starting.
3) The Toolkit. Just like when you’re learning how to become a tattoo artist, you need a solid set of tools. The same goes for when you’re learning to sew, good tools are everything! Pinking shears (fabric scissors), good thread (I use gutermann thread), a good iron and ironing board, straight pins, a seam ripper, tracing paper, measuring tape, french curve, a tracing wheel, water-soluble fabric marker, and needles.
4) Patterns. When you can understand a sewing pattern, you unlock the door to a world of possibilities. Patterns are like the blue prints to a garment, the many components to it and how to put it all together. Don’t be worried if you get overwhelmed, anyone’s who tried to read a pattern, has wanted to rip their hair out once or twice! There are a number of great online sources to help you understand.