Sew? You ready to start?

I have decided to try something a bit different on the blog and occasionally post about style on Saturdays. I love clothes. I love making clothes. I love planning out what I am going to wear. I love accessorising. I love shopping. I love seeing what other people are wearing. All of it. And I wanted to share some of that love with you.
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I thought I’d start with talking about sewing. My lovely sister in laws bought me an overlocker for Christmas and I have been sewing like a woman possessed. There’s an amazing alchemy to sewing. I dream something and then bring it to life. If I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for in store, I can whip it up under the machine.


My Style Saturday

I have been sharing my creations over on instagram and have had a few people comment that they would love to be able to sew. I’ll let you in on a secret. You can sew. You really can. I often joke that I can’t bake. You can read about that here. I’m not a natural cook. But if I follow the instructions, have a little faith and am prepared to learn new things, I can manage something fairly tasty. I may never be a confident chef, whipping up complicated dishes, but I can be a mediocre cook. I may never tailor a three piece suit or become a fashion designer, but I can still be an enthusiastic home sewer.

So if you want to give it a whirl, here are some beginners sewing tips.

What you need

  • A sewing machine with a fairly new needle. A blunt needle is not a fun sewing experience. If you are dusting off the cobwebs, think about changing the needle before you start. (It’s not hard. You just need to unscrew the little screw and place the new needle in – easier than changing a battery)
  • An overlocker. Well you don’t need an overlocker but they do make life easier. If you don’t have one, you can neaten your seam edges using pinking shears, zig zag stitching them or (if you are feeling really excited) French seaming.
  • Pins.
  • An iron.
  • Fabric (more on that below)
  • A pattern (more on that below)
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Whatever notions you need to finish your garment (e.g buttons, elastic)
  • An un-picker / seam ripper (sorry, but you probably will need it.)
  • Some good tunes
  • A sense of humour, some patience and a fair wack of time.

Choosing a Pattern

For your first attempt it’s best to choose something simple.
Here are some guidelines to help:

  • Look for patterns with three to four pieces or less.
  • Avoid darts and closures like zips for your first project.
  • Don’t be too scared of linings or facings – they are actually the easiest way to neatly finish a neckline. They just will take a bit more time.
  • Simple dresses, elasticated skirts and shorts are perfect choices. The current off shoulder dresses and tops are super simple to make.
  • Do buy a pattern – either a paper one or download one. Winging it can lead to disaster, plus a good pattern will clearly tell you the exact steps.
  • Patterns are normally rated. Look for the easy rating.

Choosing Fabric

  • Avoid anything slippery like silks – it will be a nightmare under the machine.
  • Cotton fabrics with a bit of weight are perfect.
  • Simple patterns allow for prints, so go nuts but choose something that doesn’t have obvious repeating join (e.g checks). That way you won’t have to worry about matching it up at the seams. (confession: I never bother anyway)
  • Choose a two way print so that you don’t have to worry about which way the fabric falls when you are cutting out the pattern. It sucks when you cut the pattern out and realise that the print is upside down.
  • Make sure that you check that the fabric type suits the pattern (there will be details of suitable fabrics in the pattern information).
  • Make sure that you buy enough fabric. Sometimes the lengths of fabrics listed on the pattern are based on bolts that are wider than what’s available in Australia. Do check and buy some extra fabric if you aren’t sure.
  • Don’t buy stretch fabric – it’s a whole other ball game.
  • Don’t spend too much. Or if you are in love with something expensive, make it up in a cheaper fabric first – just to test.
  • Don’t forget to buy matching thread. If you make a few mistakes, they will be well hidden if you have a good thread match.

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Happy Sewing!
I’d love to see a pic if you do decide to make something.

10 thoughts on “Sew? You ready to start?

  1. the hipsterette says:

    What a great idea – sewing 101. So much to learn – keep it coming! PS Who doesn’t love clothes and how good it feels to wear a brand new outfit. I imagine the feeling is heightened if you’ve made the outfit yourself!

  2. I'm Sarah says:

    I love this Robyna. When I was young, I did in fact sew a couple of my own dresses (I’m pretty sure I have a photo of my young self wearing one somewhere 🙂 ), but since my early twenties I have not sewn at all and after years of lugging my sewing machine around, we finally got rid of it last year (having lost attachments and the power cord with each successive move). Since making that decision I have had an overwhelming urge to sew! Oh the irony. This is a great place for me to start and perhaps for my upcoming birthday I may even treat myself to a machine. Great idea and so simple to follow. I look forward to more in the series. PS Your creations are amazing!
    I’m Sarah recently posted…New Theme: CanapéMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Oh no! Hopefully you have a machine you can borrow from someone? I keep having this little fantasy of opening an creative space, with sewing machines and overlockers, where people can come in and learn how to sew or just use the equipment if they don’t have it themselves. People could sell what they make in a little shop. There would be free coffee, tea and biscuits and a play area for the kids. Sorry. That was WAY off tangent 🙂

  3. Nicole says:

    I love sewing. My little business is based around sewing. But I haven’t ventured to clothes yet. Not only because I feel I have no time – but truth is I hate following patterns! I have to do things my way! I then have the fear that I will waste the fabric by messing up!
    Silly isn’t it?.
    I think I really do need to just step out of my comfort zone and follow a pattern at least once!

    • Robyna says:

      I think adult’s clothes in particular DO need a pattern – I have tried before and had some dismal failures trying to wing it. But soft toys, bags etc. I am more than happy to leave the pattern 🙂

  4. Miss Chardy says:

    I have just finished whipping up a really easy summer top. I too am possessed at the moment with the sewing bug, not sure what has come over me.

    An easy project for your readers who want to give sewing a go would be a pillowcase top or dress – takes about half an hour to whip up and they can just search these on Pinterest or YouTube and find great instructions.

    Happy sewing to you and how exciting about your overlocker!!!

    • Robyna says:

      It IS a bug! Particularly if you end up doing something well, then you just want to keep going. I love your cute little top on insta. I have only ever made pillowcase tops and dresses for kids but I do love a pillowcase style maxi – it can be worn so many different ways.

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