Hello hello, I know its been quite some time. If you didn’t know, I’ve been working on a new venture over on youtube where I’ve been sharing some of my fashion design projects, which I’m glad to hear that you’ve been loving! Along with your kind words theres also been a few questions surrounding resources, where I find fabric, what patterns I use etc, so I thought that I’d create a collective guide to if you’re wanting to start out with making you’re own pieces whilst answering a few recurring questions.
Choosing a sewing machine is a lot like choosing a car, it needs to do the job whilst being reliable for many years to come, and it can get costly. Now thankfully you don’t need to take out a loan for a sewing machine, but the general price point for your everyday domestic machine is still in the £100-£200 mark. Most machine companies have been household names for decades which your older family members might be familiar with, but Id say the two most reliable for beginners are Brother and Singer.
I myself started out with a brother as my first proper machine that lasted me a good 3 years of intense fashion student based labour which it definitely was not built for, but for everyday fabrics it works wonders. I currently have a heavy duty singer which was around £250, which is built to tackle even the more difficult fabrics like denim and leather. Although this type of machine is more expensive, and it won’t provide much of a difference in performance with household fabrics than a machine for £100 less, it is worth the investment if this is something you’re looking into making more of a dedicated hobby.
Recommended Machine: https://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/janome-hc1200-sewing-machine/638245-1000
My Singer Heavy Duty machine: https://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/singer-4423-heavy-duty-sewing-machine/598937-1000
Patterns are the building blocks to that garment that you’ll use as a sort of stencil when cutting out your fabric. When you have an exact idea in your head of what type of item you’d like to make, it can be quite tricky to find the right search terms or even just to find a place to start looking. A lot of pattern brands haven’t really advanced much in the last 10 years and so you’ll easily find that many of them feature silhouettes that aren’t very suited to today’s preferred styles, but the brand Mccall’s has began to tailor more of their newer patterns towards a younger audience. their prices are usually around £10 each and every pattern booklet will contain 3 variations of designs to suit whatever you’re wanting to make down to an exact style.
Best website for patterns: https://www.sewessential.co.uk
You can also try and find some vintage patterns through eBay or Etsy (and charity shops when they open back up), if you’re wanting something a bit more detailed or of a certain time. I’ve only used vintage patterns until I got to uni, since they’re super affordable and practical when you’d want to be spending your money on a nicer fabric. The only thing I’d note when looking through vintage patterns is that the sizing on them might suggest that a 10/12 is the smallest size, when in fact depending on the time of release this could be the equivalent of a size 6 today, due to a change in the sizing system a few decades ago. Also be aware that the pattern that you’re buying does in fact have your size in it, as many of them that have been used previously by and individual may have been cut out in their exact size that might not be yours.
Now this is a topic that I’ve definitely had the most questions around, and that is where I get my fabrics from. Of course prior to lockdown I had my few favourite fabric shops (and good old boys for when you’re really on a budget), but adapting to working from home has meant that I’ve discovered a few online shops that are worth taking a look into. My current two favourites for the price point and variety are:
When buying fabric online it’s of course very difficult to see for yourself how the texture will look, how it feels, etc. However many websites will note if a fabric has any stretch in it and what type of garments its best suited for. Most household pieces can be made best with cotton, polyester, or poplin, and 2.5/3 metres of such will provide you with enough to suit nearly every type of project (of course varying depending on lengths of garments, if theres any gatherings or smaller details, things like that). These types of fabrics are usually around the £5 a metre price point, but some go for as cheap as just over pound a metre if you’re lucky. If you’re just starting out then id also recommend avoiding any stretch fabrics, or projects that would require stretchy materials for that matter, as stretch fabrics are super fiddly to work with and if you’re paying good money for fabric then you would want your project to go as smoothly as possible.
Some other basic equipment that you might not have lying around the house or you may not realise you need until you need it (I’ve had plenty of those moments in this lockdown alone), are generic things like fabric scissors, measuring tape, a ruler, sewing pins, the usual. There isn’t necessarily a particular brand id recommend for each of these as anything will do the job really. However one thing that isn’t necessary but I definitely can’t live without are fabric clips. these are great for holding together whatever pieces of fabric you’re wanting to sew together, and they’re less than a fiver for about 50 so they’re totally recommended from me. Other than that, Id say thats all you’d need. Things like a mannequin, pattern paper, or a pattern master (the fancy ruler to make curves too) are totally optional but would be highly beneficial if this is something that you’re aspiring to do more as a practice, so ill link the ones that I got below.
pattern paper: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sewing-Pattern-Marking-Designs-Dressmaking/dp/B00XNNJSGI/ref=sr_1_2?crid=PI16C65JZ0IY&dchild=1&keywords=pattern+paper+for+dressmaking&qid=1587577235&sprefix=pattern+paper+%2Caps%2C163&sr=8-2
So that pretty much everything Id recommend when it comes to starting out with sewing. I hope that you might have found this post useful and also Id be super happy to see whether you decide to make something! I’ll be back on this space very soon.