Sewing Clothes – a (very) beginner’s guide

Hi friends,

I’ve mentioned that lately I’ve been thinking about sewing a shirt, and I think that might be my big project the weekend (it looks like it’s going to be cold and wet, so I might as well stay busy at the sewing machine!).

Considering that I believe I can do anything, as long as I’ve got the right instruction manual (famous last words, I know), the first thing I do when I’m going to try something new is get out my reference books. So earlier this week I headed to my overburdened craft bookshelf to do a bit of reading up.


The the book I turned to first was Sew U: The Built by Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe by Wendy Mullin of Built By Wendy fame. It’s a good basic guide to learning to sew your own clothes, from primers on what sort of tools to buy, to learning about fabrics, to the nitty-gritty details such as what direction to sew your seams in and when, exactly,  you should sew those pockets on. It also includes three full-size Simplicity patterns (though be warned: the patterns don’t include sizes past 12, so if you’re a tall lady like me, you’ll probably be making a trip to the fabric store).

rd-sew-guide I also turned to a classic – The Reader’s Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing. My mum had a copy of this in the house when I was growing up, and she gave me a copy with (or shortly after?) my sewing machine. Some of the photos and projects are a bit old school, but the technique is solid, and that’s what matters.


I added my copy of Design-it-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified to the pile, but I think it’s a bit beyond my needs and abilities at this point. It’s a good book, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

One of the things I love about the Internet is that it’s possible to peruse patterns online – no longer is it necessary to stand at the fabric store to look through those heavy pattern catalogues. I went to the Simplicity site and chose a couple of contenders: Simplicity 2447 and New Look 6952 are the ones I’ll be looking for, I think. Also maybe New Look 6704 and 6407. Melissa shares good tips on how to look at a pattern and decide if it’s what you want – that lady speaks my language. (Do  you have a favourite sewing book, blog or other resource?)

So here’s the plan: tonight I have a date with the measuring tape and my sewing books; tomorrow morning I head to the fabric store; tomorrow afternoon and Sunday, I sew. I’d love to go down and buy a pattern and fabric tonight, but it’s probably best if I stay away from decision-making when I’m hungry (we know where that leads, and it’s not pretty!). And with any luck, after some hard work on Saturday and Sunday, I’ll have a brand-new shirt to show off on Monday!

Fingers crossed, anyway…