Wednesday, December 22, 2010

EB Special Guest Post: Show Your Style with Handmade Clothes

The Elle's Beads Blog has opened up guest posting opportunities to knowledgeable craftspeople who are enthusiastic about handmade.  I hope you enjoy this new endeavor!

With so many shops and sites selling mass-produced clothes on the cheap, how’s a girl to show her sense of style - without spending a fortune? Of course there are loads of ways of styling up an outfit to inject some personality, but for a guaranteed unique look, handmade clothes are the way to go.

Coat's & Clark's Thread
Coat's & Clark's Thread
Photo by trekkyandy
Used under Creative Commons License
When I say handmade, I don’t mean that you have to hunch over a needle and thread to get that “authentic” look. Shop-bought patterns, whizzed up on a sewing machine can still have loads of personality as well as being a perfect fit. The trick is to look for patterns marked as simple or easy, and if you’re not sure how to do that go ahead and ask the shop assistant for help!

Now you want to pick fabric that’ll make your simple pattern shine. Seek out vintage fabrics, patterns and colours that you love, to make even the simplest smock stand out. Or get playful with your choice of dress fabrics - try velvet instead of cotton, embroidered fabrics and brocades.

If you’re panicking at the mere thought of crafting your own clothing, there’s still lots you can do to get the homemade effect. Even simple customisations, like stitching a trim to a skirt or cutting a new neckline into a plain t-shirt, can transform your clothes instantly.

And there are a whole host of fixings and fastenings that can be used on your clothes to minimise stitching. From safety pins for a punk look to fabric glue and the less messy fusible fabrics – sometimes called “no sew” adhesives. Just place the adhesive between the two pieces of fabric, iron and voila! You’ve just customised your clothes.

 summer grass dress
Summer grass dress
Photo by ingermaaike2
Used under Creative Commons License
If you’re brave enough to give a homemade dress a go, but are still scared by proper patterns, get online. There are loads of great craft blogs with simple tutorials for dresses, shirts and skirts for maximum impact with minimum effort.

Or if you prefer books, there are lots to choose from. I’m a fan of Yeah, I Made It Myself by Eithne Farry. The subtitle - DIY Fashion for the Not Very Domestic Goddess - tells you all you need to know about this book.

Once you’ve got the hang of dressmaking, you’ll find her simple ideas a little pedestrian. But if you’ve got enthusiasm and not a whole lot of technical skill, it’s a great starting point – even Coco Chanel had to learn somewhere.

So if you’ve got a fabulous fashionista inside you just waiting to break out, start to make your own clothes. Not every experiment will work, but you’ve got to keep going until you’ve built up the skills to personalise your entire wardrobe (although you don’t have to customise/hand make everything).
Good luck!

About The Author

Katie Saxon is a devoted crafter who loves to make clothes. She’s working for White Lodge Fabric, a UK-based online fabric shop selling dress fabrics worldwide.


QueenofQueens said...

Great advice! I completely agree that small details can make all the difference to giving a typical article of clothing a custom feel. Thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of wearing handmade! Although I love to sew, for some reason I have never had much luck with apparel construction -- but that doesn't stop me from embellishing the clothes I already have so that I can continue to enjoy them even longer! My advice would be to frequent your favorite thrift store for great finds and reasonable prices to practice on. Besides the economic value, I personally love wearing pieces that have been given a second life. Those handmade embellishments combined with the unique secondhand-store finds can really jazz up your wardrobe for next to nothing!

Jess said...

I personally don't have much in the way of sewing skills. Rather, I like handsewing patches on my pants/hat/vests for the punk look. Basic sewing is really easy it just takes some time. I have altered one of my vests before using another vest I had as a pattern. So, you can get really creative and use what you have laying around without necessarily needing to buy anything.

Michelle said...

I'm just learning to sew, at age 53and am very excited about it. I am in awe of the fabrics and prints available in our local fabric store. Can't wait to try new projects. Thanks for this post.

Elle said...

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts! I agree that embellishing is easier for me than trying to make an outfit from scratch. That's one of the reasons I make pins and patches - they are easy to make for someone at my skill level while still being 100% unique.

Stacy Jill Calvert said...

What a great post! I have been thinking about going to the local thrift store, picking up some shirts and altering them with flowers or whatever I can pull together. :)

Elle said...

That sounds like fun! I love thrift stores - you can find some really neat clothing there to upcycle.

Katie said...

Thanks for all your comments! I definitely agree that simply customising your clothes is a great way to go - it's tough to find the time to spend on dressmaking, even if you are great at sewing. And thrift stores are a great place to look - you might even find some vintage fabric or old curtains that you can use to make your next garment.

HeadpinWear said...

Although I can only sew by hand, your article certainly inspired me!
And might I add wonderfully written, and chalk full of information.
Thank you so much!

Your Daily Jewels said...

Now, I want to learn how to sew!
So many crafts, so little time.
Thanks for a great post!

Elle said...

"So many crafts, so little time."

Too true! Basic sewing is not that difficult to pick up. If I can do it, anyone can! Of course, a project as involved as designing your own clothing will take practice and considerable skill development, but there's no reason you can't get there!

Cookala said...

Great post, Elle! And what a super idea to branch out to a different craft. Personally, I don't enjoy sewing. I find it tedious (sorry!), but I still admire and commend those who do. But, I still enjoyed reading the post!