How Hard is it To Design Your Own Clothes?

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That depends on you.

Are you willing to make mistakes? 

You will make many, so it is essential to realize that many mistakes can be corrected, and if you can’t fix them, you will at least learn how to make different choices in the future. And mistakes can take your design in a whole new direction!

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Are you patient? 

You must be willing to take as much time as necessary, which is often more than you expect. And you must take things apart and redo them. Impatience will only cause you to ruin the fabric and make you believe sewing is too hard.

Are you willing to be careful? 

Will you rip out a seam as slowly as necessary using a pin and a pair of sharp snips, even if doing so requires the entirety of the two hours you’ve put aside for sewing? (Carefulness also involves patience.) 

Will you test a scrap of your fabric to determine the best sewing machine needle, presser foot, stitch, and stitch length, or if should you place a piece of tissue paper between the feed dogs and the presser foot? If you are not careful, you will ruin the fabric and decide sewing is not only too hard, it’s causing you to waste money.

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Are you imaginative and creative?

It would be wise to buy muslin and cheap fabrics and make prototypes/toiles of garments vital to the design process. You might also get items from thrift shops or accept things you don’t like from friends, take them apart, and rework them. 

In taking clothes apart, you will learn that ready-made garments have lots of mistakes, and you will also learn about putting clothes together. 

You will need to make sketches, but you do not need to be a great fashion illustrator. Many designers don’t draw beautiful sketches. Some make stick figures or drawings that look like something an average ten-year-old might do. All you need to do is make drawings that depict what you want to make.

Are you willing to learn? 

You must begin by learning to hand sew, to do neat work, to be able to hand overcast, or make a buttonhole or sew in a sleeve by hand when that’s the better choice for your fabric. Learning means learning about your sewing machine (and serger, if you buy one), about the material, about various tools, how to make a basic pattern that fits perfectly, and manipulate it to make many other designs. Learning may mean learning to drape fabric.

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It will mean studying new techniques. (Even though I have been sewing since I was seven and can make just about anything, I often buy vintage patterns to understand how various designs are made. And I subscribe to Threads to learn new techniques or review what I know. And sometimes, I just want to learn a new way to do something that might work better or give a slightly different result.) If you don’t learn, you will never make anything you love; you will waste fabric and lots of money.

Can you accept that sewing will probably not save you money? 

Fabric is expensive, as are buttons, thread, and embellishments. And collecting all the tools you need and want (there are so many shiny things) isn’t cheap. So, depending on how much you spend on ready-made clothing, you may spend much more making your clothes on a garment-to-garment basis.

All the questions might seem to be reasons not to learn to sew and design, but this is vital; if you are willing to give it an honest try and keep at it, you will eventually have unique, beautiful clothes that suit your personal style. If you’re eager to learn, check out DIY t-shirt printing your clothes that suit you better than anything you can pull off the rack. 

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