Do you dream about a fabulous wardrobe, where everything fits, is exactly your style, and is made with quality and love?
Instead, do you have a wardrobe of “meh” clothing that looked cuter in the store than it does on you in real life? Do your clothes fit sort of okay or really not at all? Do you wish you could choose different colors or styles of clothing than what you can find in stores?
All of those problems can be solved by making your own clothes. I’m serious! I have an 80% handmade wardrobe. Have you ever wanted a handmade wardrobe of your very own? Are you making excuses about why you can’t have one? Let me talk you through it.
I haven’t always had a handmade wardrobe. My teens and 20’s were spent with a bunch of trendy clothes I bought for cheap and stored in huge piles.
I’ve always thrifted, and I never really spent a lot of money on clothing. I was all about the deals, the steals and the trendiest items! I’ve always dressed weird, but at that point - it was all about quantity not quality.
Things changed for me when I was in my mid twenties. I had been sewing detailed costumes for myself for a while, and I really geeked out on historical sewing construction techniques. I loved reading about how garments were made and trying to recreate the methods with my crummy little sewing machine and fabric I got for $5 a yard at JoAnne’s.
I soon became passionately obsessed with sewing. But costumes aren’t clothing… and I was starting to get this feeling that I wanted to make real clothes. I enrolled in a fashion design program and spent only 1 semester there.
I quickly realized that I was WAY ahead of the class in skill and ambition.
Most of the other students didn’t know how to thread a sewing machine, much less sew - and they all wanted to be celebrity stylists, not designers. None of the advanced couture classes I wanted were anywhere in the curriculum. I left immediately and started looking for sewing gigs.
I landed a little job making costuming for the Littleton Historical Society in Colorado, where I lived. It wasn’t steady work, but it allowed me to make some cool dresses. I bought a nice sewing machine with a loan from my Mom. Then I answered a Craigslist ad for a bespoke seamstress, and fell into one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve ever had. I spent the next two years apprenticing for a small bespoke clothing company that specialized in completely custom, handmade garments. My boss Lianna was a designer who graduated from FIT and worked for Liz Claiborne in New York, before the recession forced her to find other work. Her and her then-boyfriend moved to Denver and started their own small fashion house.
Lianna taught me how to make patterns, how to fit clothing and alter patterns for all types of bodies, and how to sew bespoke clothing for all types. She also taught me the value of making custom clothing - all of our customers were so delighted to have unique clothing that actually fit them.
While I was working for the bespoke company, I didn’t make many clothes for myself. It was all client work, and raising my sons. But then I left to move to California, and I had a lot more free time. And what I did with that time was start making my own clothing.
Well, you might be saying, that’s great. Of course you can make your own clothing, you trained as a custom seamstress. I’m just some chick (or guy, or human) who’s never sewed, working at my job or going to school - I don’t have the time or knowledge to make my own clothing.
Let me assure you, it is possible. My own handmade wardrobe journey has been long. It’s not like I had a wardrobe of gorgeous handmade clothing overnight.
All it takes is a little dedication, a little patience, and a little learning. All it takes is one step along the journey. I'm hosting a webinar coming up very soon going over the basics of starting a handmade wardrobe. I'll go over what you need to get started, and answer any questions you may have. There's a sign up form below if you want to get an invite to the webinar.
If you’re really serious about having a handmade wardrobe, it can be done. And I can teach you.
I’ve spent years learning all about what it takes to make a handmade wardrobe - the sewing skills, the planning - the curation of clothing styles that will suit you.
I’ve learned the hard way what fabrics are easy to work with and which ones are the most difficult. How to choose patterns within your sewing level that will flatter you. How to sew garments you will actually wear. How to sew for your lifestyle.
The hard, scary part of learning to sew clothing comes from the non-knowing… not having anyone to turn to, to ask questions, to help you decide what steps to take next. Or even how to get started! Luckily, I've gone through the whole process.
The benefits of a handmade wardrobe are many. You feel a deep, intimate connection with your clothing. You feel empowered, because what you put on your body belongs to you, is made by you, is part of you. You own your appearance. Things fit. Fabrics delight. All the details are perfect.
An added bonus is stepping outside the world of extreme consumerism. The state of the mass-manufactured fast fashion industry is dangerous and excessive. We throw away and waste an enormous amount of clothing. We don’t love and cherish our clothes - we toss them out as easily as old paper towels. We have no deep connection with our garments.
Making a handmade wardrobe isn’t as daunting as you may think.
It’s like any other learned skill - you learn it. Little by little. The knowledge builds upon itself. I’ve made plenty of garments I haven’t kept. Some were just terrible and I threw them away, some were awesome but not my style. I gave those to friends. The thing is, every little step is a learning experience. It’s all valuable. All you have to do is …. Start. One seam at a time.
I’m working on building a sewing tutorial library for Making Something Rad. I’ll be posting them in the coming months. I’m also going to start offering sewing coaching. I’m passionate about giving people the experience of building a handmade wardrobe.
I’m getting started by hosting a one hour webinar about getting started making an handmade wardrobe, coming up soon. Sign up below and I'll send you an invitation when it's ready.
I can answer any questions you may have about getting started sewing garments. I have years of experience, and I've taught many people how to sew and alter their own clothing. I’d love to talk to you! After I’ve discovered what questions I need to answer and what subjects I need to address, I’ll be crafting some coaching offerings to start helping people create wardrobes they love.
Sign up here so I can let you know when my webinar will be, and you can keep updated on my coaching!
Get your sew on!
Interested in more sewing tutorials, classes and workshops? Sign up here and I'll keep you in the loop!