Who Dares Saves
No, this is not advocating a whole new Special Forces unit, but is addressed to those who scroll through the Fabworks fabrics, sighing and saying, ‘but if I made something in that it would look rubbish’.
Let us be honest - it might look rubbish. However, if you are trying something complex and have never sewn before, that is about as likely to end well as setting off on a marathon having done no more preparation than jogging to the post box. So look at the simple things, the patterns that have ‘easy’ on them, that do not even require you to set a sleeve, make a buttonhole. If you have a sewing machine lurking in the spare room, dig it out. Still unsure? Now is the time to give yourself a boost!
Go online and look at the labels you buy, especially if they have things in natural fibres, wools, silks and cottons. One of the things that has pushed me back into making clothes is the demise of labels I used to purchase (in the sales). I am a woman of a certain age and I am no sylph. I also like natural fibres, so I used to wear Viyella, Alexon, Country Casuals, Rowlands of Bath. They are now all gone. Jaeger remains, and so I had a look at Jaeger’s website this morning. You will find simple tops and skirts, some in wool, and all at far, far greater cost than making the damn thing yourself. And all in the colours and fabrics of their choice, not yours. Do the maths; work out how much fabric it would take for a garment, and add on a couple of pounds for thread, perhaps for a zip, and factor in a lining if required (though many simple projects are not lined), and a pattern (I tend to buy those when half price online). Now look at the difference compared to buying garments from a shop/brand. Buying is likely to cost at least threefold as a minimum, and could easily be sixfold. You do have to factor in your time, but with that include the sense of achievement.
Ah yes, you say again, but I might make a real pig’s ear of it. This is a risk, but if you have not invested a huge amount in the materials, think of it as a learning curve. Your first garment might not be haute couture, nor stand up to intense scrutiny, but chances are you can still wear it without shame at home, just not to Ascot.
Do not begin with silky fabric that plays games when you tack and machine, and is expensive. Begin with a nice cotton or linen, or even a lightweight wool if a fabric really catches your eye. I made a dress last week in Semper Fidelis that is a dream to stitch and I am about to make a summer dress (despite the snow this week), because I have not used heavy checks and plaids before, and want to try dealing with one in a fabric that is not going to break the bank. The pattern is not difficult (Vogue V8811) and you can even make it without a zip and use fasteners if a zip is a step too far for you. I am making it in a beautiful 100% linen - Earth, Air and Water, because I love the colour palette, and the fabric is only £6 per metre. I bought the pattern at half price, so it cost about £7.50, but of course it can be used many times so I am going to add half of that to my dress costings. I am using a zip, and there is the cost of thread, so the dress will cost about £25 all in. Could you buy a linen dress like that for anything similar? I doubt it very much, even in the outlet sales.
So watch this space, and I will let you know how it goes, because I am not a pro, not even a gifted amateur, when it comes to dressmaking. I just have a crack at things. You can be this ‘brave’ too. It does not earn medals, but it will give you confidence, a pride in your own creative achievement, and the knowledge you have made yourself a bargain.