Making stuff seems to be the only thing keeping me sane during this never-ending lockdown . Last week I managed to sew two skirts, one dress, and knit two hats, a snood and a scarf. I know, my sewing and knitting passions are becoming borderline compulsions…
In any case, I thought I would continue my series about developing hobbies – after knitting last week, let’s talk about sewing. I absolutely adore sewing, mainly because I am a clothes-addict with very precise ideas of what I want to wear. I don’t sew all my clothes but I’d say a good two thirds of my wardrobe is now handmade.
So here are my tips if you would like to give sewing a go.
- Where to learn? I think the best way to learn is by making – choose whatever you feel like sewing and go for it. Sewing has evolved a lot recently: patterns are much more detailed than even 10 years ago, with thorough explanations and illustrations, and sometimes even online sew-along. There are loads of free videos of precise techniques available. And independent pattern creators are very responsive if you have queries.
- Where to buy patterns? The offer of patterns has become completely overwhelming over the past few years. While in the past, patterns were mainly produced by big companies such as Burda or McCall, there is now a myriad of independent designer (“indie”) who publish patterns. You can still buy paper patterns but most often indies will offer PDFs, which you can either print at home and self-assemble (my nightmare) or send to a printing company (such as Netprinter) to get printed in A0 format. I hate patterns from Burda, adore those from Vogue/McCall’s, and regularly get tempted by indie creators – Deer&Doe is one of my favourites. If you see a pattern and would like to know what other people think about it, Sewing Pattern Review is a good place to go.
- Which equipment will you need? A sewing machine obviously: I own a Janome and a Brother and I am very pleased with them; as a beginner you will want a machine with all the basic stitches as well as a stretch fabric setting, an automatic buttonhole maker and a variety of feet (to sew zips for instance) – these cost about £200-300. And then a bit of sewing paraphernalia: good fabric scissors (never ever use them for anything else, never ever lend them, they are YOURS), paper scissors not to be tempted to use your fabric scissors on paper, white, black and navy thread from Gutterman, other thread colours if you fancy (the quality is less important here), sewing pins, sewing needles, sewing machine needles, translucent tracing paper to reproduce patterns, sewing tape, seam rippers. The possibilities are endless, but these are the basics.
- Where to buy fabric? Here the fun begins… Most seamstresses and absolute fabric addicts so beware. My favourite online shops in the UK are Croftmill, Sew Me Sunshine and Selvedge and Bolts. In France, Bennytex is amazing, but they have stopped delivering to the UK for the moment, bouhouhou…
As for knitting, I hope I have tempted you to start sewing. Enjoy!