I have always been a dressmaker since being a young teenager, a lady called Janet, a friend of my parents, taught me as part of my Duke of Edinburgh Award when I was 14.
I can remember going to her little cottage every week and being so excited when I completed my first garment. It was a wrap apron dress in a in a monochrome checked fabric and I still have it in my wardrobe.
That feeling of excitement has never gone away, each dress I complete, every top, every pair of trouser, every outfit still fills me with that same sense of excitement and pure joy, that pride, the “I made that!” feeling. I love being able to put on something I’ve made and feel special wearing it.
I made my own prom dress and attending the prom wearing this fabulous red crepe ball gown that I had made for myself made me feel like the Belle of the Ball! My dress matched the occasion and made me feel like I was ready to embrace the future and all it had to hold.
I also love to make clothes for other people, the blood, sweat and tears that can go into sewing a bespoke gown for someone else will all be forgotten when I see the smile on their face when they try the dress of their dreams on for the first time. I designed and made my sister’s wedding dress and felt a glowing sense of pride as she walked down the aisle on her Big Day.
For me, the reason I started making dressmaking is because I love fashion, I love style and quitesimply I love clothes. I love how the right outfit on a dull day can cheer you up, how wearing a well-fitting dress can make you feel inches taller and slimmer. Clothing can be an exciting form of self-expression and by sewing your own clothes you can create a style that truly reflects you.
Over the last couple of years since I have been teaching dressmaking I have encountered all kinds of personal reasons that people learn to sew.
- I don’t like shopping
Shopping can be a drag, trailing round dozens of shops, trying on clothes in sweaty unflatteringly lit changing rooms, to still not find what you’re really looking for. You have an epiphany that maybe you could make it yourself.
- I can’t find anything to fit in the shops
High street retailers have spent years finely tuning the fit of their clothes so that each size fits as many people as possible, but what you actually get is clothes that fit very few people well. Look around at the unique individual body types and shapes; there is no “one size fits all”. Stop looking for your perfect fit in the shops and sew it yourself.
- I just love fabric
I have noticed more and more people are just addicted to buying and hoarding fabric. There are so many beautiful colours, prints and textures available that I can see how addictive that could become. And these fabrics have the potential to become stunning clothes.
- Making new friends
There’s no such thing as having too many friends and meeting new friends that share a common with can be more difficult once you leave school. Joining a group sewing class or workshop can be a fantastic way to meet new people who are into the same thing as you.
- I want to save money
Good quality clothes can be expensive, if your kids have grown out of the next size every time you look at them, then maybe making your own could be the way to go. Although having said that, making your own is not necessarily the cheapest option, but it will make you appreciate the time and skill that goes into a good quality item of clothing. Charity shops, scrap stores, and curtains, duvets and sheets can all be a good option for inexpensive fabrics. You can re-use a pattern multiple times.
- I want to start a business
If you are a budding entrepreneur, have an idea and have spotted a gap in the market, you could make money by selling clothes that you have made at craft fairs, local craft shops, on Facebook, or on selling sites such as Etsy.
- I’ve retired and I finally have time to do this just for me
If your life has always been so busy, raising a family, working and keeping all the plates spinning, you may find that when you retire you finally have time to do the things that you always wanted to do such as learning to sew your own clothes.
- Sewing is great therapy
So many of my clients tell me this that it must be true! Whether it’s the lift in mood from creating something with your hands, or the fact that sewing occupies the part of the brain that is usually worrying about stuff and doesn’t leave any room for the worry; whatever it is, sewing makes you feel better!
- I don’t like kids’ clothes in the shops
You don’t like the colours, the options for boy’s clothes is so limited, you prefer more traditional styles… whatever your reason, making clothes for your children means that you can dress them in whatever shapes, styles and colours you choose.
- I want to make clothes for my children/grandchildren
If you’re a new Mum or Grandma, that could inspire you to start making clothes for your little ones. The choices are endless and there are heaps of fabulous printed fabrics available and there’s probably even some with their favourite characters too.
- I worry about the ethics of high street clothing
If you’re ethically savvy you will know the human and environmental impact that our mass consumption of fast disposable fashion is having on our planet, you’ll probably want to make more ethical choices and by starting dressmaking you will be able to choose ethically produced fabrics and know that no unfair labour practices have been used in making your garment.
- I wanted a new hobby
So you’re already crafty, you might knit or crochet or do papercrafts or something else completely, but you need a new challenge. Dressmaking could be that new hobby that you’re looking for, a good mix of technical skill and creativity, a wide variety of people find that dressmaking is a good pastime for their downtime.
- I loved sewing at school and wanted to try it again
You were one of the lucky few that had a good sewing teacher at school, and were inspired. Life has got in the way of you taking this further before, but now the opportunity has arisen there’s just no stopping you riding this nostalgia train and getting into sewing again.
- Sewing keeps my hands busy so I can’t smoke/eat junk food
If you’ve recently stopped smoking or find yourself reaching for an unhealthy snack when you know you really shouldn’t then taking up an activity, like dressmaking where your hands are busy, could be just the distraction you need to keep yourself on track.
- The quality of shop bought clothes is shocking! I could do better.
If you’ve ever picked up high street (or even designer) clothes and been appalled at the quality of the stitching and realised that you could probably do better, what an excellent reason to start dressmaking and prove yourself right.
Do you have another reason to start dressmaking? Share your thoughts with us below.
Book your place on the new Beginner’s Dressmaking or Kids’ Dressmaking courses at StraightCurves with me and start your journey into learning dressmaking skills and make yourself a dress.