I’ve made a lot of sewing mistakes that made items sit in my wardrobe instead of being worn. Today I’m going to go in depth on what I learned about how to sew items I’ll love and items you’ll love.
Unworns: I just made that word up. But if you sew clothing you know exactly what I’m talking about. You sewed it, you like one or two things about it, but it sits in your closet UNWORN. Why is that?
It doesn’t fit correctly. (too long above the bust, too short below the waist, it’s too tight in the sleeves, too loose on the waist, the neckline is too low, the back is too tight, etc)
You like looking at the colors, but the colors actually don’t look good on you or “gasp” you just don’t like wearing those colors.
You used the wrong fabric so it is too stiff when it’s supposed to drape or it is too light when it’s supposed to have body.
You have nothing in your closet to match with it.
I used to make unworns all the time.
I often felt pressured to make something for the blog and would rush through a project. After taking pictures of it and blogging about it, the item would quickly become an unworn. I usually got rid of it.
It felt like a waste of fabric (inexpensive or expensive) and a waste of time. For the past 18 months I have been on a mission to stop making unworns.
I wanted to make things I loved. I wanted to want to wear things I made. I wanted to stop wasting time and money.
How to Sew Items I’ll Love
I haven’t been doing this for every long, but it has already made a difference in my wardrobe and in my sewing. These are my steps for sewing loved handmades, making a handmade wardrobe you’ll love, and avoiding the accumulation of unworns.
- Figuring out your style
- Planning your wardrobe
- Planning your project very carefully
- Making a muslin
- Slow sewing
Figuring out your style
For some people they have always known what their style is, what they like, and they are not swayed by trends. I was not one of those people. I have always liked fashion and liked almost all the styles. I thought I had to have a lot of styles represented in my closet to have a good wardrobe.
Finally I went through the Colette Wardrobe Architect series. I recommend this series 100%; it’s great for people who sew and for people who don’t sew. It’s free, and it helps you figure out the words that describe your style, your colors, your silhouettes, your accessories, etc.
I love it because everyone is so different, and not everyone fits into the categories: preppy, classic, romantic, rocker. The series helps you create your core style which is different and unique.
I have found that I am casual, preppy, and bohemian. Who would’ve thought preppy and bohemian could go together, but it totally works in my wardrobe because it’s mine.
Another great resource is this article, how I developed my personal style + 3 steps to develop your own.
Planning your wardrobe
After I figured out my style, I would make things of my silhouettes and my colors, but I still had problems putting outfits together. This was mostly because I had too many prints and didn’t have any solids to go with my prints.
I wasn’t planning out my wardrobe before sewing. I was just sewing whatever I wanted. I liked the idea of capsule wardrobes, but I didn’t know how to make it work.
The Free Notion sudoku helped a lot with planning along with the capsule wardrobe facebook group (Come join one of these sewing groups on Facebook!). What really made it click for me was the class Sew to Flatter: How to Plan Your Best Wardrobe (affiliate link).
Besides learning how to find the colors that flatter me, how to find my shape, and how to flatter my own shape, the teacher also demonstrated how a 12 piece wardrobe can make 96 combinations. It was like a light turned on when I saw the outfits happening right in front of me. I definitely recommend this class.
Planning your project very carefully
I have found that most of the time a project turns out unwearable, it is because I used the wrong fabric. I would often forget to read the suggested fabrics for the pattern. I thought I was a good enough seamstress to force a fabric to work for the pattern I wanted.
Or I wanted to be cheap, so I tried to use what I had instead of purchasing the right fabric for the right pattern. Then I watched the class Fabric Know-How: Choosing and Using Your Favorite Fabrics (affiliate links), and I was reminded how important fabric choice is. Here are some other great tips for sewing and saving money.
If you are using wovens or knits, knowing your fabric and how to use it is so important. A fabric will not change it’s drape or hand. You might be able to underline something to make it stiffer, but that’s about all you can do.
The Fabric Know-How class teaches you how to use the right needles, how to use interfacing, how to cut out fabrics differently, and the right hems for all different kinds of fabric. I learned tips and techniques for fabric that I never learned in my college textiles class. I’m going to rewatch this class over and over again.
Making a muslin
Once you know your style, you’ve planned your wardrobe, and you’ve planned your fabric and pattern carefully, you think it’s time to start sewing. But there is one more step: muslining. You can do flat pattern alterations all day long, but you should see it on your body in a similar weight fabric as your fashion fabric before you start cutting into your fashion fabric.
I muslined a pattern four different times before I ended up scrapping the pattern altogether. I am SO grateful I never cut into my expensive fabric. Most of my fitting and muslining skills I learned from my college classes, working as a tailor, and sewing experience I’ve had since.
I have never watched an online fitting class so I can’t recommend this, but this one looks good since it teaches you how to fit without help: Fitting Solo: From Measurements to Muslin (affiliate link).
Once you’ve gone through all these steps, you can start sewing. But after learning all these things about yourself, you should know when your best times for sewing are. I almost ALWAYS make a mistake if I sew in the evening (I’m just too tired) or if I’m in a rush.
I’ve come to terms with the place I am in life as a mother of young children so I can only sew a little bit here and there. I’m trying to embrace slow sewing so that I don’t make mistakes and don’t neglect other important things in my life.
What will you do to about how to sew items I’ll love and you’ll love?
If you make something using this tutorial, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!
Learn How to Sew Your Own Clothes
- If you want to learn how to sew your own clothing you need to start somewhere. These are the Things I Wish I Could Tell Myself Before I Started Sewing. They will help any beginner who wants to learn how to sew.
- Then you can read some Tips to Start Sewing Clothing.
- Once you start you’ll get better at using a sewing machine, but you’ll make clothing that you might not wear or love. I made every mistake and this is How to Sew Clothing You’ll Love. (Avoid my mistakes!)
- As you get better and better you’ll need to learn How to Choose Fabric for Sewing Clothes and the Best Fabrics for Sewing Clothing. I recommend fabrics that I love, but you’ll find the fabric you love the best.
- You can use paper patterns which are great to buy on sale or you can use PDF patterns which are great for instant gratification. There are lots of Different Ways to Assemble PDF Patterns so you need to find what works for you.
- Lastly, when you are sewing your own clothing and you are drawn to lots of different printed fabric, you need to learn How to Make a Versatile Handmade Wardrobe + Free Printable so that all the items in your wardrobe can coordinate with another item of clothing and be worn!