Please Don't Eat the Artwork


DIY: How to Learn How to Sew Your Own Clothes


This post is very overdue. Like, if this was a school project I would have all kinds of points knocked off for being so darn late. It is now January-o’clock and these projects were started back in November during Thanksgiving break.


For my birthday, my S.O. gave me a sewing machine. I have always been interested in fashion and clothing making and I watch Project Runway religiously. I had been looking wistfully at sewing machines for a while and never got myself one because I thought any attempt at making something would ultimately end up in disaster. But my ever-supportive guy believed enough for the both of us and surprised me with this beauty of a machine. The manual of course is complete gibberish and quite indecipherable so I learned how to use it from Youtube.

So on a sunny November weekday morning, I went to a local fabric store and completely splurged on fabric, notions, and patterns. When I say I spent a few hours in there I am not exaggerating. It was just such a luxury to be in a place on a weekday morning when everybody else is working. I felt like a Real Housewife!

Anyway I left the shop with a million ideas and all the motivation that I could muster up. I had purchased 6 different fabrics and 3 different patterns and had no idea how to begin or make something. The first project I embarked on will not be shown here because it was so dreadful that it will probably never be shown anywhere. I tried to make a tunic top out of ikat upholstery fabric and it was a complete and utter #fail (and of course the most expensive fabric) I think this is probably because I did not follow a pattern and just basically disregarded basic rules of measuring and planning. This is a lesson I have been taught the hard way over and over throughout my life: you have to know the rules before you can break them. This is true in art and creating especially.

I was not to be discouraged. I decided to try out a pattern and make a dress. With darts. And a zipper. Because how better to learn something than to jump right in! The pattern is this:


I did the racerback style with example A.

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^ Front View ^


^ Obligatory Spin! ^


^ Crooked Wacky Yellow Zipper ^ 

Not pictured: the messy and uneven hemline, the atrocity that is the connection of the bodice to the skirt, and the white thread (why oh why didn’t I match the thread?!) It really is a learning experience and I am quite proud that I created something slightly wearable on my first attempt!

Project two is also from a pattern:


I made option B and improvised with some pockets. (Once again a little over-ambitious!)  I was really excited about this fabric and wanted to play around with the bold graphics of it.


^ Front View. This this is super wide and ended up being kind of circus-tenty. ^


^ Do your pockets hang low, do the wobble too and fro? ^

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^ Back detail with racing stripe inside of the hood. ^ 

The hood was sooooooo tough. I originally lined it with the zig-zag fabric but it turned out to be too heavy and bulky so I covered the middle seam with a “racing stripe” of zig zags. The way it is attached is a little wonky but it kind of works!

Project three is from this pattern:


I made this amazing pizza skirt from pattern A.

20150111_093000 20150111_092959


This “simple” circle skirt with elastic waistband ended up being pretty tricky. I messed up the waistband by pulling the elastic taut before sewing it (thus negating the entire point of having it!) and the back is a little poofy and messy. But I just love the fabric because pizza is of course the best food on this good green Earth.


What I learned from trying to sew my own clothes: 

1. Using a pattern is hard. Not using a pattern is way harder. I still don’t really understand all of the symbols and instructions on patterns and maybe I never will – after all some things will always remain a mystery like how magnets work and the meaning of life. But after trying my hand at creating clothing my hat goes off to people who can create their own pattern or even drape fabric without a pattern.

2. Pockets are amazing and amazingly confusing. If it was up to me, every garment made for a female would have functional pockets already in it. Dudes aren’t the only ones who need to carry stuff around! Figuring out how to make something that is symmetrical and inside-out-upside down is really tricky but worth it.

3. Like every skill, sewing takes patience and practice to become proficient. I am just a beginner and even though the stuff I made is, in my humble opinion, a hot mess – I am going to keep at it until I am better. It’s like what I tell my students when they ask how they can be better artists: you have to practice, practice, practice! I am excited about some fabrics I have stashed away and ready to go. It might be a while again before I find the time/energy/focus to sit down and create clothing (especially because I am about to start a master’s program for Art Ed) but stay tuned . . . there will be more!

Author: artwithmsk

Hello! My name is Ms. Katzin and I am an art teacher at an elementary school near Atlanta, Georgia. Teaching art is my passion and I love what I do!

4 thoughts on “DIY: How to Learn How to Sew Your Own Clothes

  1. good job! I’m self-taught sewer also and I learned to make my own patterns from a book. But it is hard, so don’t give up! 🙂

  2. Your clothes look awesome! I like that you can say your style is truly unique. No one buying clothes from a store can really say that.

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