How to Sew Clothing I’ll Love

This post may contain affiliate links

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 clothing I’ll love and clothing you’ll love.

Unworns: I 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?

how to sew clothing i'll love

It doesn’t fit correctly. It’s too long above the bust, it’s too short below the waist, it’s too tight in the sleeves, it’s 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.

learn to sew clothing I will wear

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, money, and time. For the past couple of years 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 Clothing 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.

  1. Figuring out your style
  2. Planning your wardrobe
  3. Planning your project very carefully
  4. Making a muslin
  5. 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, comfortable, classic, preppy, and bohemian. I didn’t think that 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.

how to sew clothing

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 capsule wardrobe facebook group (join one of these sewing groups on Facebook!) has been a great resource with asking questions and getting help.

What really made it click for me was the class Sew to Flatter: How to Plan Your Best Wardrobe*. 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.

I also created my own free handmade wardrobe planner to help me plan garments with handmade garments that are already in my closet. I love to see who colors and silhouettes work together before I make it.

plan handmade wardrobe

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*, and I was reminded how important fabric choice is. Here are some other great tips for sewing and saving money when buying fabric.

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.

These are my tips for sewing knit fabric to help you get started. These are my tips for sewing lightweight fabric to help you get started.

How to Sew Pintucks + Simplicity 8551 //

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.

My favorite way to get help with fitting is to look up videos on youtube. It’s free and you can learn so much. If you don’t understand the way one person does it try looking for someone else.

Slow sewing

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 clothing 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! 

how to sew clothing you'll love

Similar Posts

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

so many ads! I can’t read your article.

Every word of this rings true for me. Sometimes it’s just so fun to sew something I see on Instagram or buy fabric because it’s on sale. The key is basics and sewing items I love. Thanks for a great website. I’m looking forward to seeing and learning more from you. The pop ups, videos and ads are a little bit challenging for my ADD brain.

Great read…thanks for sharing! I have considered the Dress to Flatter class several times, but have wondered if it's really worth it. Thanks for the review!

Great tips!!! My biggest challenges now are weight fluctuation ando trying to use my stash (which is full of prints haha).

So insightful, thanks for sharing!

Such great advice. Watching yo go through the wardrobe architect series has been so helpful to me. I have started seeing things I buy or make as wearable or unworns(and wasteful).
My sister in law tried in vain to convince me to do the dressing your truth thing. I just didn't like being stuck to one of 4 different types. Its like the seasons thing that my mom did forever ago. I hate the idea of having to buy or wear anything that fits a specific style that isn't mine.
I have discovered about myself that I love wearing solid colors with textures to it. I hate stripes on me. It was on your suggestion that I checked out the wardrobe architect and learned these things about me.
So thank you so much for all your encouragement and suggestions. Thank you for posting the good and the bad. Thank you for sharing your tried and true patterns and how you have used them. I truly appreciate your time that you put into this blog and how it has helped me to become a better seamstress!

I wanted to say something but you have said almost exactly what I would have said…YES A BIG THANK YOU FROM ME TOO HEATHER.

This is great advice, Heather! And definitely a great posy to share in yhe capsule FB group. I am sure it will help many others facing the same challenge.

Thank you! I am in the middle of rediscovering my style. Somewhere in between my end twenties and 2 kids later and becoming a stay at home mum my orignal style did not evolve with me but got lost somewhere on the way. It is so nice to finally realise this and do something about it. This post is very helpful for me to continue on this personal style journey! I will definitely check out Colette Wardrobe Architect Series.

This was all really great information. I'm right now in the "Stop making all the prints" stage. Its hard when you see all the pretty fabrics, but if you want a complete capsule, you have to be able to mix and match.

Your post is so timely! I've been feeling lost in my "to sew" list & just ordered Colette's sewing planner in an attempt to be 1) more organized & 2) more strategic with what I make (I too have some disappointing unworns in my closet). I also have their Wadrobe Architect series on my to-do list – glad to hear it's worth the time investment! Thank you for the great tips & resources!