Author Topic: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes  (Read 78149 times)

skyrefuge

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My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« on: January 30, 2013, 03:15:07 PM »
I've been meaning to post a thread about sewing for a long time, and another thread over at the General forum finally prodded me to do it. This is really long, so I broke it into three posts. The first two posts are mostly me just showing off, so you can skip to the third one if you just want to learn how I learned, or see if it's something right for you.

The Problem:
Sometime in 2010, I discovered that most off-the-rack dress shirts that fit my neck are consequently way too baggy for my torso. I believe I finally came to this realization when I was "forced" to buy a concert t-shirt in "medium" since they were out of "large", and I discovered how much better the "medium" looked on my 6'4" 180lb. frame. In retrospect it's painfully obvious how terrible I looked, but I had apparently become used to the look of ill-fitting clothes, simply because most off-the-rack shirts are designed for average Americans, who are fat (and also not as tall as I am). 

Below is the most extreme example that I had buried in my closet, but it's actually not too much worse than an average non-fitted shirt sold to fat Americans these days:


This is the slimmest-fitting off-the-rack shirt I've been able to find, and it's far better than the example above, but still not as good as I'd like.


Solution Attempt #1: Buy a Custom Shirt
So I ordered a custom shirt from propercloth.com, for $150 (I paid for a $50 upgrade to a higher-end fabric). It arrived in a fancy box, with a nice letter that explained that some of the measurements were a bit longer than specified, but that it would shrink to exact size after a wash. And it did. Except for the chest being perhaps a bit wide, all the measurements were bang-on, so as far as I'm concerned, they did an excellent job of delivering exactly what I'd ordered. Here are the two shirts from above, along with my new custom shirt, showing the relative sizes:


And the result is just what I was looking for. Except for the ridiculous price, I was very satisfied:


Solution #2: Make my own Custom Shirt
Once I finally got a well-fitting shirt, one of the first things I discovered is that I don't have any pants that fit either. It's almost impossible to find pants that are simultaneously long enough (~35" inseam) and narrow enough (~31" waist) for me. In fact, pants with a 35-36" inseam are very rare in *any* waist size. So without really being aware of it, apparently my solution to this problem for years has been to get pants that are far too loose in the waist, so they sit very low on my hips, which allows the too-short legs to reach the right point on my shoes. This becomes a problem when wearing a closely-fitted shirt, because, when tucked in, it tends to sag out at the bottom, and when untucked, it has to stretch out around the too-wide pants. So I ordered a pair of nice pants from Bonobos that fit my waist, and the customer is expected to (re)hem to the proper length. In learning the proper way to hem pants, I did a lot of investigation into the way pants (and then shirts) are constructed. None of it really seems like rocket science, so I thought "c'mon, how hard can this really be? Maybe I can do it myself!" It was awesome later on to then hear MMM speak similarly about welding, or other construction skills he has picked up over time.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 03:17:57 PM by skyrefuge »

skyrefuge

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2013, 03:15:50 PM »
So instead of buying another $150 shirt or $100 pants, I bought a $150 sewing machine, and with the help of some library books and the Internet, started teaching myself how to sew. Up 'til then I knew how to sew a button on by hand, and was able to hem those pants by hand, but that was the extent of my sewing knowledge. First I mended some shorts and tailored some too-big t-shirts, and eventually got to the point where I could start experimenting with men's dress shirts. I almost completely deconstructed that huge, billowy shirt in the first post, recut all the pieces to match a pattern I created based on my Proper Cloth shirt, and sewed them all back together. I had to convert it to short-sleeves since I moved the armholes in 3-4", which would have made the long sleeves way too short. It was really just an experiment to hone my skills, but the result ended up actually being wearable:



So, I've now converted what could have been a very-dangerous desire for $150 shirts into a much more Mustachian idea to make my own clothes. My biggest goal in the whole process was to make sure that no one thought my home-made clothes looked like "clothes that someone made at home":


Apparently I surpassed that goal: experience revealed that not only did my clothes not look home-made, they must have looked substantially better than the store-bought clothes I had been wearing before, as the number of girls randomly hitting on me increased exponentially (from like 0). Woo hoo!

One of my first from-scratch shirts (making your own lets you get creative with the fabric design too!):


Once I got good enough at making them for myself, I made one custom-fit for my brother:


Then I turned to pants. First, I altered a pair of khakis I had from Express. Took the waist in a couple inches, and slimmed the legs a bit (they're the same pants, the color is just different due to different lighting. And I might have been sandbagging a bit by not ironing them in the "before" picture!)


And then a pair made from scratch:
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 03:23:08 PM by skyrefuge »

skyrefuge

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2013, 03:16:18 PM »
How did learn this skill? I first needed a sewing machine. I read a fair number of reviews, couldn't understand why so many individual models are marketed by sewing machine manufacturers, and ended up getting a Brother CS-6000i new for $150. That's relatively cheap in the sewing-machine world, and it seemed to be described as a good value for the money and had lots of really good Amazon reviews. So far it's done everything I've needed it to do (and even quite a bit more...haven't found a use for most of the wacky decorative stitches yet!)  Surely even better values could be found on Craigslist, particularly since basic sewing-machine technology hasn't changed much over the years. Though the one thing I would miss in an older non-"computerized" machine is the ability to automatically stitch buttonholes.

Another "new technology" thing I'm happy to have sprung for is a rotary cutter (and self-healing mat) to cut out fabric pieces. It must have been way more annoying (and less-accurate) in the old days to cut things out with scissors.

Then I went to the library and checked out a couple of general sewing books to get an idea of the basics. I don't remember the titles, but I think most libraries would have similar books (though it's funny/annoying that at least in my library, the sections for 'quilting', 'embroidery', and 'knitting' are each like 5 times the size of the straight-up 'sewing' section).

A related annoying thing (as a guy) was discovering how female-focused even sewing books are. I saw one pattern book where there were 10 sections, and the 10th was "Men's and Children's Clothing". Men don't even get 1/10th of the book to themselves! Luckily, David Coffin was there to rescue me with his excellent Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing. The book goes in-depth in both basic sewing techniques (at least those required for the task at hand), and in detailing specifically how to design, fit, and construct men's dress shirts. Most importantly, he very much has the same philosophy as I do in wanting professional-looking results, so he has researched the way the real tailors make shirts and how they're different than some of the methods instructed in home-sewing patterns you might buy.

I also then got his Making Trousers, and it's helpful, but is mostly an exploration of different design options and contains very little about sewing techniques.

Google searches taking me to various sewing blogs or YouTube videos have been helpful from time to time as well, when I encounter a specific issue or have a new question pop up.

So, is sewing your own clothes a Mustachian thing to do?  From a financial perspective, no. Home sewers, buying at retail, pay extremely inflated prices for various things. I can get an entire shirt at a thrift shop for the price of a set of buttons on one of my own shirts. A Craigslisted sewing machine might pay for itself over time though, because once you have it and know how to use it, you can find lots of other things to repair/tailor/create besides from-scratch clothing.

But I maintain that it's totally Mustachian from a DIY, teach-yourself-new-skills perspective. Given how female-biased the activity is, I was surprised to discover how it's actually a very "manly" thing to do.  It involves a whole lot of geometry, math, thinking in 3D-space, operating complex electric machinery, following detailed instructions, etc., all things that we're supposed to believe women are utterly hopeless at! It's basically the same thing as the manly sport of woodworking, except you're designing and building things out of cloth instead of wood. Unfortunately, unlike MMM's welding, I don't think it's quite a skill that can lead to riches, since you'd be competing with an enormous worldwide clothing industry that has FAR lower costs.

But if you're a tall, thin guy who is interested in attracting members of the opposite sex, then I would say that, if not quite Mustachian, it can be at least help you achieve your goals more-economically than paying someone else to custom-make your shirts!
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 03:26:15 PM by skyrefuge »

Welmoed

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2013, 03:45:48 PM »
Good for you for tackling making your own clothes!! Once you discover what it feels like to wear something that REALLY fits properly, it's so hard to go back to ready-to-wear. I make a lot of my own clothes as well, and also sew for my husband and daughter (my son lives in t-shirts and jeans, so the only thing I sew for him is costumes).
One thing I will recommend you look into is pattern drafting software. As you no doubt have discovered, patterns can be expensive!! I use software to draft custom-fitted patterns, and have saved so much over buying all these patterns individually. The one I use is called PatternMaster, and they have a package for menswear called Tailor Made. www.wildginger.com (no affiliation, just a very happy user).
You are so right about the creative freedom; mixing and matching fabrics can be a hoot. Unfortunately, fabric can be expensive too; watch for sales and start looking at the good online stores such as Fabrics.com and Fabricmartfabrics.com. And consider joining an online sewing group; one I run is called the Creative Machine (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/creativemachine/. Yes, it's pretty heavy on the distaff side, but we do have a number of active male members who participate.
Keep up the great work and happy sewing!!!
--Welmoed

amyable

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2013, 03:58:17 PM »
I am extremely impressed with your pants.  I'm sure you know that pants are a notoriously difficult garment to fit to the body, and these look completely professional.  I've been sewing for about three years, but I tend to use my skills for curtains, comforters, etc. and the occasional alteration. 

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2013, 05:05:58 PM »
That's crazy awesome.

frompa

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2013, 05:56:50 PM »
Very fine job on your sewing, both for having the chutzpah to take on the project in such an independent way, and for how well you've carried it out.  I really enjoy sewing, too, though years ago I realized that sewing can be as much a consumer activity as anything else -- all the equipment, doo dads, new patterns every season, every year, more and better fabrics.  I learned that I could make my own patterns.  I bought a HUGE roll of tracing paper.  Then I found basic clothes I liked, dirt cheap from the thrift store, and used the cheap clothes to trace the pattern pieces on the paper. Sometimes, I'd even find something I liked but the fabric was shitty or full of holes, I'd get it for a song, then take it home and actually take it apart for even more accurate tracing on my huge roll of paper.  I cut out the pieces on the paper and,  Voila!! my own pattern, which I could use on infinite kinds of fabric.  I also enjoy altering quality used clothes. Obviously, this is a lot of fuss for something to wear, but I enjoy the process, and developing the skills, as it seems you also are doing.    Keep it up, dude!

Sylly

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2013, 06:00:39 PM »
This is awesome!

But if you're a tall, thin guy who is interested in attracting members of the opposite sex, then I would say that, if not quite Mustachian, it can be at least help you achieve your goals more-economically than paying someone else to custom-make your shirts!

I think this holds true if you have a non-standard body type, period. SO has the somewhat opposite problem you do, short with athletic build. Anything that fits neck and shoulder is too long and billowy. Anything that fits lower torso and has the right arm length chokes him and would probably rip at the shoulders if he moves his arms.

You've just given me a skill to aspire to. I'll definitely look into picking up sewing in the (hopefully near) future.

arebelspy

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2013, 06:02:56 PM »
You did an amazing job.

I can't find pants that fit me (too thin/tall), so this is quite intriguing to me.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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Milkman666

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2013, 06:38:02 PM »
This has got to be one of the few places where all the straight guys will think this is AWESOME, and is something they should try.

I took a sewing class in high school, and quite liked it.... it may be time to give it another go!

Great job!

Jimbo

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2013, 08:19:48 PM »
Holy crap, this is impressive!!

My wife sews her own dresses and it always impresses me and everybody else... But i never thought of trying for my shirts... I guess I always mangae to find shirts I like... Plus I don't own a lot.

The one shirt with the different fabric in the collar and cuff is crazy nice. I would wear that any day.

Kudos mate, you get one Renaissance Man point. Ah, make that 20!

N

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2013, 09:10:11 PM »
really nice!
you can also find fabric at the thrift store, too. Sheets, other linens, and often, remnants, etc.
or buy a larger shirt in a fabric or pattern you like and remake it.

kudos!

savingtofreedom

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2013, 09:43:59 PM »
Super impressed.  Thanks for the very detailed post.  My husband has the same issue.   With the introduction of slim fitting shirts we have been able to find some decent options.

I looked into learning how to sew and I really need to attempt it again. I agree that the cost is much more than buying something high quality on sale but being able to tailor things can be very helpful.


daymare

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2013, 10:48:24 PM »
Quote
Apparently I surpassed that goal: experience revealed that not only did my clothes not look home-made, they must have looked substantially better than the store-bought clothes I had been wearing before, as the number of girls randomly hitting on me increased exponentially (from like 0). Woo hoo!

I love this.

I love the thread in general, as well, & actually ordered that same sewing machine off Amazon a few days ago (using credit card points ... woohoo).  It should get here tomorrow and I'm planning to buy some fabric this weekend (I live in DC but there's a Joanne's store in Falls Church that's not too bad to get to by subway & bus).  I recently read Elizabeth Kline's 'Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion' and found it informative as well as motivating.  I've decided to spend <$500 for all of next year on clothes (I'm giving myself a bit of a buffer because I have 4 weddings to go to this summer and at least one will probably require a new fancy dress).  Otherwise -- should be easy given I have way too many clothes already, and I'm excited to learn a new skill.  I started knitting about a year ago and so far have made a scarf, hat, and finished a sock, so I'm excited to add to my list of practical skills.  It feels great to actually make something after spending all day in a job that's all about intellectual creation (aka innovative ways of analyzing problems, smart ways to query data).

The ability to customize clothes & get a great fit definitely seem like advantages for making your own clothes.  As a woman, I've never actually found collared shirts that fit all parts of me well, so (I sympathize and) I'd love to follow in your footsteps with some construction of shirts.  I think I'm a ways away, but have a fairly easy first project: a sheer maxi skirt with an opaque mini underneath, similar to a skirt I saw at Zara last summer but didn't buy due to its ridiculous price and lack of work appropriateness.

I'd be curious to hear from others about how they get fabric -- I'll soon be living a few blocks away from a fairly large Goodwill store, so I figure I may be able to find some decent fabric in XL sizes that I can then cut down to make me-sized clothing.  I know that Joanne's has some great sales on low-quality but machine-washable yarn, so I assume they occasionally have great deals for fabric as well.  And of course, tailoring existing clothes hopefully will involve minimal cost.  What are other sources people have found for fabric?  It's truly unfortunate that the fast-fashion clothes are likely cheaper than buying decent fabric, but I'm really looking forward to having clothes that fit well.  Goodbye, too-large and unflattering t-shirts: can't wait for my 'this is what a feminist looks like' t-shirt to actually look good on me!

John74

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2013, 11:31:22 PM »
Very impressive!

I love building pieces of furniture for the house and a decade ago decided to teach myself how to sew in order to make upholstered furniture - sofas, ottomans, headboards, etc... I later branched out and tackled other sewing projects like draperies, bedding, and table linens. This skill saved us thousands of dollars over the years. Last year my wife saw an upholstered headboard she liked in a store. They were asking $1,200 for it (plus delivery)!!! I built a replica for less than $200 using reclaimed lumber and a few yards of very good quality linen fabric. Looks terrific too. My aunt is a tailor and she thinks I have skills. But making my own clothes seems like a daunting project. Maybe I'll have to give it a try. The hurdle is getting good fabric at a decent price. I can get a perfectly tailored shirt at Banana Republic for less than $50 (using my Wednesday 40% off coupons). Fabric is pretty expensive around here and I am not sure it would be financially advantageous to make my own shirts at this point.

kt

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2013, 01:29:57 AM »
very, very impressive. definitely does not look homemade, think of it as tailor-made instead!
i like how you worked up to making it from scratch. i've thought about this before but i'm not highly creative or patient. but i'm sure i can make some adjustments as a starter.
thanks for the inspiration!

Worsted Skeins

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2013, 04:14:40 AM »
Skyrefuge--I am impressed!  Well done and thanks for the Shirtmaking book link.  That is one I had not seen.

Those who might want additional hand holding on a shirt making project might want to look at the Colette Negroni Pattern (http://www.colettepatterns.com/shop/negroni).  There is also an accompanying "sew along" on the Male Pattern Boldness website (http://malepatternboldness.blogspot.com/2011/01/mpb-mens-shirt-sew-along.html)--lots of info on sewing for men on that site as well.

As many have noted, a lot of ready made clothing is junk--but so is much of the fabric at places like JoAnns. You really do have to scrutinize.  I put the finishing touches on a wool knit jacket yesterday.  The fabric came from Fashion Fabrics Club which is not a club but an online store. They have great deals but you cannot feel the fabric before buying.

The charity shops occasionally have fabric or yarn.  Without labels though you are sometimes guessing what the fiber content is. Look online for some tests you can conduct to determine what the fiber is.

The idea that sewing is a female sport just baffles me. I taught my son to sew when he was in elementary school.  A good first project is a simple pair of pajama pants.  He has since made things like a fleece jacket and is the master of the bow tie.  Although he is a minimalist, he has an old student Singer sewing machine in his dorm room, something he picked up for $5 at a charity shop. 

Yeah, you don't always save a bunch with sewing (although you can if the stars are in alignment), but you can get what you want.  I'd rather sit at my sewing machine than stroll through a mall!




madgeylou

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2013, 06:02:53 AM »
Amazing job on your handmade clothes!!  I make a lot of my own clothes, too, and most of the fabrics I use are vintage -- better quality, and many times far cheaper than the shitty stuff you can get at Jo-Ann. In fact I ran a custom dressmaking business for a few years, because off the rack clothing sucks and is designed to fit an extremely narrow range of body proportions which I and like 90% of the population simply don't fit into.

Button down shirts and pants are impressive! I mostly sew dresses -- a simple shift style that I wear with tights and cardigans in the winter, and with sandals in the summer -- and skirts. Which are a lot easier. I really like sewing -- especially designing and fitting garments different kinds of garments. But I find a lot of really detailed finishing work to be tedious, so the projects i sew for myself tend to be a little more slapdash than yours. :)

kolorado

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2013, 08:11:45 AM »
I've been sewing for 20+ years and I am absolutely stunned by your work. It is AWESOME! I'm all kinds of inspired by your skills. WTG and TFS!

NumberCruncher

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2013, 08:27:12 AM »
In retrospect it's painfully obvious how terrible I looked, but I had apparently become used to the look of ill-fitting clothes, simply because most off-the-rack shirts are designed for average Americans, who are fat (and also not as tall as I am). 

As a fat American, I can attest that off-the-rack shirts are certainly not designed for me, either!

Awesome job on the sewing! Once I move and get a little more space for my sewing machine, I have some big plans too. :)

Jill the Pill

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2013, 08:37:52 AM »
This is just wonderful -- good for you!  I'd love to learn some alternatives to Jo-Ann's expensive crap monopoly. 

jba302

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2013, 09:22:03 AM »
Great thread, I will have to keep an eye on this and try to convince the wife to let me buy a machine at some point. We both have trouble with clothes (I powerlift, big quads smaller waist, and she's just tiny). Seems the XXXXXXXXL clothes are almost always on heavy sale, sounds like it would be worth it to tear down one of those massive garments and self-tailor it wouldn't it?

anastrophe

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2013, 09:34:22 AM »
Another "new technology" thing I'm happy to have sprung for is a rotary cutter (and self-healing mat) to cut out fabric pieces. It must have been way more annoying (and less-accurate) in the old days to cut things out with scissors.

Have you considered purchasing a serger? Normally I would not advise this to home sewers, because it's overkill for almost everyone's use--but you are making very professional-looking items and for your projects, it might be a real help. A serger cuts and overlocks your seam allowance very quickly and gives very professional seams, and can be very convenient for sewing with knits. Not a necessity by any means, but a real step up when making clothes that don't look "home made". They are pricey but I see decent older sergers go for $100-$200 on Craigslist, if you don't care about the newer features like jet-air threading (which no Mustachian should need).

Phoebe

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2013, 09:48:42 AM »
Nice job - that is super impressive!!!

skyrefuge

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2013, 11:05:19 AM »
Thanks everyone for the generous compliments! The unspoken but implicit compliments from female strangers who make eyes at me are nice, but it's also great to have some explicit feedback from people who know what I'm up to, especially from people who know much more than I do about sewing!

One thing I will recommend you look into is pattern drafting software.

Ah, interesting, I wasn't aware that such software existed. I bought a couple of patterns early on, mostly just to help me understand construction methods. I never actually made something based on a store-bought pattern, and I hadn't anticipated ever buying any more (I developed my own from body-measurements + copying/modifying existing clothing), but as I've thought more about making clothes for other people, I've been curious to find an efficient way to adapt my self-created patterns to different sizes. Or even just have a digital storage format for my personal pattern. I'll check out their demo, thanks!

I am extremely impressed with your pants.  I'm sure you know that pants are a notoriously difficult garment to fit to the body, and these look completely professional.

ha, thanks. They actually benefit from careful posing, because the fit isn't *quite* what I want it to be (unlike my shirts that I wouldn't change at all). And yes, apparently I do know about the notoriousness of pants, as told by the denim fabric that's been laying on my floor, uncut, with pattern shapes on top of it for nearly a year. I've literally spent hours just trying to conceptualize how the 2D pieces of fabric curve into a 3D shape, so I can figure out what adjustments I need to improve the fit where I want without breaking it somewhere else. I really just need to run some experiments on cheap fabric, but can't get myself to do even that because I haven't built the confidence yet.

I really enjoy sewing, too, though years ago I realized that sewing can be as much a consumer activity as anything else -- all the equipment, doo dads, new patterns every season, every year, more and better fabrics.

Yeah, early on when reading sewing forums and stuff, I discovered that there is a large overlap in the populations of "home sewers" and "hoarders". :-) Luckily, I don't have much of a "collector" personality, though when my sister-in-law asked me a couple months ago if I wanted to go to Pendleton Woolen Mills with her, I was like "uh, I probably shouldn't, since I still have fabric from when we went last year", but I went anyway. :-( To my credit, tonight I'll finish the shirt whose fabric I bought on that trip (though the pants fabric from a year ago is still waiting for me to dial in my pants pattern!)

I learned that I could make my own patterns.  I bought a HUGE roll of tracing paper.  Then I found basic clothes I liked, dirt cheap from the thrift store, and used the cheap clothes to trace the pattern pieces on the paper. Sometimes, I'd even find something I liked but the fabric was shitty or full of holes, I'd get it for a song, then take it home and actually take it apart for even more accurate tracing on my huge roll of paper.  I cut out the pieces on the paper and,  Voila!! my own pattern, which I could use on infinite kinds of fabric.

Awesome, I can very much relate. So much of my pattern-creation is based on analyzing/copying/measuring (parts of) existing clothing that I have. I haven't actually yet gone to a thrift shop for items to copy/deconstruct yet, but that's just because I have enough things buried in my own closet that I've taken apart either just to study or to alter.

skyrefuge

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2013, 11:18:56 AM »
I think this holds true if you have a non-standard body type, period. SO has the somewhat opposite problem you do, short with athletic build. Anything that fits neck and shoulder is too long and billowy. Anything that fits lower torso and has the right arm length chokes him and would probably rip at the shoulders if he moves his arms.

Good point! I'm so aware of my own peculiarities that I forget that there are all sorts of ways to be non-standard. Sounds like you'd have a very good use for such a newly-acquired skill.  :-)

This has got to be one of the few places where all the straight guys will think this is AWESOME, and is something they should try.

haha, yeah, some of the straight guys I've told have been perhaps a bit skeptical, and somehow the "it's just like woodworking!" argument doesn't bring them over, though the "you'll get a lot more attention from women!" seems to help.  :-)

I took a sewing class in high school, and quite liked it.... it may be time to give it another go!

Definitely! It's funny how many people I've talked to have some memory about sewing in high school/middle school that traumatized them and put them off it for life (I never had a sewing class in school). So the fact that you actually liked it then makes you a strong candidate for liking it now!

My wife sews her own dresses and it always impresses me and everybody else... But i never thought of trying for my shirts... I guess I always mangae to find shirts I like... Plus I don't own a lot.

The one shirt with the different fabric in the collar and cuff is crazy nice. I would wear that any day.

Yeah, like I said, it makes more sense the more non-standard your body is, so if you do well off the rack it doesn't make a lot of sense. Though from your side it sounds like it might be the creative customization that would be the draw.  :-)

skyrefuge

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2013, 12:50:41 PM »
I love the thread in general, as well, & actually ordered that same sewing machine off Amazon a few days ago

ha, great choice!

It feels great to actually make something after spending all day in a job that's all about intellectual creation (aka innovative ways of analyzing problems, smart ways to query data).

Completely agreed. When I started sewing, I figured that I would really like the results (if I was successful), but I was surprised to discover how much I like the process. The sound of the machine, the feel of the fabric moving through my hands, the smell of the iron opening the seams...  And I came to the exact same conclusion as you on why I enjoyed it so much: actually creating something tactile in front of my own eyes is so different from the abstract typing-into-a-computer I do in my day job.

The ability to customize clothes & get a great fit definitely seem like advantages for making your own clothes.  As a woman, I've never actually found collared shirts that fit all parts of me well, so (I sympathize and) I'd love to follow in your footsteps with some construction of shirts.

The Shirtmaking book I linked does spend a little bit of time discussing the variations needed in fitting procedures to make a pattern work for a woman (and then has a whole section of all kinds of wacky variations, like 18th-century shirts), so if collared shirts I something you like, I'd definitely recommend the book.

I think I'm a ways away, but have a fairly easy first project: a sheer maxi skirt with an opaque mini underneath, similar to a skirt I saw at Zara last summer but didn't buy due to its ridiculous price and lack of work appropriateness.

Hot. :-) And yeah, that sounds like a good first project.

I'd be curious to hear from others about how they get fabric

Given my personal desires that put me more to the snobbish side of "quality", as well as my focus on cotton shirting material, Joann's has never been that useful to me. They simply don't have a lot of fabric in that category. I've also never done actual thrift-shop raiding, but some of my own stuff that I've modified has been buried in my closet for 15 years, so that's basically the same thing and means it could be a totally valid approach.

For stupid-expensive not-on-sale shirting fabrics (usually something like $15-20/yd, or $30/shirt, yikes), I've ordered from Farmhouse Fabrics, shopped locally at independent old-school Fishman's Fabrics in Chicago, and *love* Pendleton's Umatilla wool from their outlet store in Portland.

Good luck, look forward to seeing your own thread here sometime!  :-)

nubbs180

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2013, 12:56:46 PM »
I have to say, if you're making your own clothes with high-quality, high cost fabrics, they should last forever, and not need replacing.  In this respect (needing less) DIY garment construction is very Mustachian.

I'm still a novice at alterations, so the following link has helped me some when trying to make things fit correctly.
https://agrilifebookstore.org/publications_browse2.cfm?keywordid=62
They have different PDF pages for different fit problems and how you can work them out.

One of my goals this year is to put together a my-style, fitting wardrobe that I can wear everyday, and get rid of the things in my closet that I have and don't wear. 

skyrefuge

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2013, 01:13:10 PM »
I love building pieces of furniture for the house and a decade ago decided to teach myself how to sew in order to make upholstered furniture - sofas, ottomans, headboards, etc... I later branched out and tackled other sewing projects like draperies, bedding, and table linens. This skill saved us thousands of dollars over the years.

Awesome. I totally love how it was just a natural outgrowth of furniture-building for you (and then how it went further than that). I definitely plan on doing some upholstery stuff in the future, and in fact my "teaching myself how to sew" inspired my parents to figure out how to re-upholster their 4 kitchen chairs, which they did for something like $5 in materials, and they look great.

i'm not highly creative or patient.

I didn't think that I was at all creative either (in terms of fashion sense), but apparently it comes out naturally when choices are opened up to you.

But the "patient" part might be more important. I think my patience is a critical reason why I've been successful at making my stuff not look homemade. Even now, after making a bunch of shirts based on a similar design, I still mess stuff up laughably often. Some is stuff that must be redone ("whoops, attached that sleeve to the wrong side!"), but others ("that seam is a bit stretched and not like the other one") are things that I could "get away with", but somehow I still have the patience to say "No. Stop. Undo it and try again". And then I have the patience (most of the time!) to calmly and carefully remove the stitching without breaking anything even worse.

Button down shirts and pants are impressive! I mostly sew dresses -- a simple shift style that I wear with tights and cardigans in the winter, and with sandals in the summer -- and skirts. Which are a lot easier. I really like sewing -- especially designing and fitting garments different kinds of garments. But I find a lot of really detailed finishing work to be tedious, so the projects i sew for myself tend to be a little more slapdash than yours. :)

I have a significant number of female friends who have suggested how much they'd love it if I could make something for them, and I've always said that I have enough trouble fitting stuff to my own body, so it will really take me some time before I'm able to move on to not just other peoples' bodies, but bodies that curve in totally different ways than mine. But you bring up a balancing point: the precision and detail might not be as critical. Hmm.

I do always find it amazing what percentage of time goes into the "little stuff" like collars or sleeve plackets. It's especially pronounced in pants, where it seems like you could literally just cut out four pieces of fabric, stitch them together, and be done. Until you want them to have pockets, and a closure to allow you to get them on and off. All that "little stuff" ends up being like 80% of the work. Which, luckily, I don't (yet?) find tedious.

GuitarStv

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2013, 01:24:14 PM »
BADASS!

I will have to look into this.  Clothing seems tailored for fat people these days.

madgeylou

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2013, 01:35:29 PM »
BADASS!

I will have to look into this.  Clothing seems tailored for fat people these days.

huh? maybe at wal-mart. but not in real stores. clothing is designed to fit specific people called 'fit models' who are basically people with perfectly proportioned figures. if your body proportions don't match the proportions the clothes are designed for, then shit is not going to fit you whether you're fat or skinny or whatever.

i am waiting for the day when i can do a 3D body scan of myself with my phone, upload it to a website, and have custom clothes built for me based on that scan. i was working toward this with my dressmaking company -- even hired a 3D engineer for a while to work on it -- but wasn't able to marshall the resources to take it all the way.

i think that's got to be the future of fashion, though. bodies are different. and it's not just fat bodies are different from fit bodies -- even fit bodies have lots of variation. some people are super curvy, others are straight up and down. there's really not a way to make mass-produced clothes that actually fit people well. i want tech-enabled custom!

skyrefuge

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #31 on: January 31, 2013, 01:35:52 PM »
Have you considered purchasing a serger?

I've certainly thought about it, but haven't been able to justify it yet. My impression was that they're mostly good for overlocking unfinished edges of fabric. Since the majority of my work has been men's shirts, where all the seams are enclosed, that wouldn't be useful, but it could be very nice once I start doing more pants (I just used my machine's "overlock" stitch for the one pair of pants I made, and that's not the greatest). I also have an anti-knit bias at the moment, so no help there. But maybe there are other good uses I'm not aware of at the moment?

Debbie M

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #32 on: January 31, 2013, 03:58:35 PM »
So much of my pattern-creation is based on analyzing/copying/measuring (parts of) existing clothing that I have. I haven't actually yet gone to a thrift shop for items to copy/deconstruct yet, but that's just because I have enough things buried in my own closet that I've taken apart either just to study or to alter.

You could search in thrift stores for the pants that fit perfectly except for being too short.  This could get you through the 3-D wackiness of (non-elasticized) pants.

MrsKensington

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #33 on: January 31, 2013, 08:21:23 PM »
Wow. Amazing. This forum never disappoints and your post is a lovely and informative surprise. Thanks for posting it.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #34 on: February 01, 2013, 06:22:40 AM »
My comment relates to the last photo, which for some reason, I can't quote:

Nice bum, where ya from?











Ok, pretty sexual-harassmentish, but that's the first thing that popped into my mind :)

My husband sews a lot, so you really aren't alone.  He hems his pants, but mostly does quilting.

Miss Stachio

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #35 on: February 01, 2013, 09:36:56 AM »
Holy batman, this is inspiring!  Great job!  I used to make dresses in high school, not very well, but wearable.  Luckily I'm a popular clothing size so finding nicely fitted clothes at thrift stores is pretty easy but.. it may be time to go digging through CL for a sewing machine.

anastrophe

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #36 on: February 01, 2013, 10:32:12 AM »
Have you considered purchasing a serger?

I've certainly thought about it, but haven't been able to justify it yet. My impression was that they're mostly good for overlocking unfinished edges of fabric. Since the majority of my work has been men's shirts, where all the seams are enclosed, that wouldn't be useful, but it could be very nice once I start doing more pants (I just used my machine's "overlock" stitch for the one pair of pants I made, and that's not the greatest). I also have an anti-knit bias at the moment, so no help there. But maybe there are other good uses I'm not aware of at the moment?

You are correct, they are mostly good for overlocking unfinished edges. (It's nothing like the crappy overlock stitch on your machine, though.) Not helpful if you are french-seaming your shirts, but for pants, yes, it's like magic. You can also simply serge the seams together and not bother also sewing a separate seam, which works pretty well depending on your fabric. I used to be afraid of knits too but I would suggest you might try to get over your anti-knit bias because knits are nice for things besides women's tops and dresses--not just t-shirts, but pajamas, bathrobes, whatever you want. Some tutorials, etc here are helpful: http://sewaholic.net/a-big-list-of-tips-for-sewing-knits/

Pattern drafting software is pretty cool but you can do the same thing low-tech by deconstructing things that fit you well, altering patterns for specific fit issues, etc. I've found that once I had a few basic patterns that fit perfectly all I needed to do was learn how to make small stylistic changes like different sleeves, collars, pockets, and with different fabrics it looks like I have totally different items even though they're all the same basic patterns.

IMO it is not worth buying full retail price for fabric, I alter clothes from thrift stores, use old quality sheets, and wait for the 40% coupon at Jo-Ann fabrics and buy nothing but one cut of fabric. The markup is absurd.

daymare

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #37 on: February 01, 2013, 10:40:21 AM »
People have made a lot of great points about tradeoffs of efficiency/time/cost for making various garments -- ie making a shirt from a nice fabric from scratch may cost more than bringing in a shirt that was bought prior, simple skirts vs. complex construction, garments that will last much longer than certain store-bought items if properly constructed and maintained.

What have people found to be the most impactful sewing (or even knitting)?  I've found (in knitting, I assume sewing might be similar) that much of the utility comes from the ability to customize, rather than on cost alone -- materials can be expensive (and construction can be time consuming).  I could buy a scarf for less than the materials cost to make one.  On the other hand, my hat is of much nicer material than a hat you'd buy at Target, I can make it exactly the size/pattern/color that I want.  I actually haven't ever found wool socks in the US that I love (still wear older-than-me pure wool socks that my grandmother knitted whenever I go skiing), so that would be a more 'useful' project than others.  (Of course, being self-sufficient and have skills is impossible to put a price on.)

I suppose functional items like pillow cases would be both easy and cheap to make, so sewing would allow you to save money and launder less frequently/change covers more often (I absolutely hate doing laundry).  A friend has made kitchen towels and bathroom rugs with very cheap/machine washable yarn that knits up quickly.

Quote
I really enjoy sewing, too, though years ago I realized that sewing can be as much a consumer activity as anything else -- all the equipment, doo dads, new patterns every season, every year, more and better fabrics.

Ain't that the truth.  I see this a lot (and have to consciously avoid not falling into this myself) -- people want to commit to learning a skill or trade, and think that buying 'things' you need is the way to make that commitment.  Not so: you need to put time and effort into learning skills and producing results, as it's ultimately too easy to abandon a project if all you've committed is money (especially in our days where some have a fuzzy concept of the value of money).

Got my new sewing machine and spent an hour trying to figure out how it works.  I will totally brag about my latest knitting endeavor, though -- a sock! (Trying to build my skills, so this is the third thing I knitted, though I did up having to restart it twice, and straying from the pattern anyway)  I think it will be awhile before I sew anything post-worthy, but I would love to see what others have done.

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #38 on: February 01, 2013, 04:00:48 PM »
The shirt book is totally on my list. I'm more interested in altering what's in my wardrobe now than replacing it with bespoke pieces, however. Anyone have good resources in menswear alterations?

But the "patient" part might be more important. I think my patience is a critical reason why I've been successful at making my stuff not look homemade. Even now, after making a bunch of shirts based on a similar design, I still mess stuff up laughably often. Some is stuff that must be redone ("whoops, attached that sleeve to the wrong side!"), but others ("that seam is a bit stretched and not like the other one") are things that I could "get away with", but somehow I still have the patience to say "No. Stop. Undo it and try again". And then I have the patience (most of the time!) to calmly and carefully remove the stitching without breaking anything even worse.

Something tells me I'd go all Hulk and tear the offending seam by hand, ruining everything. I suck like that.

greenmimama

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #39 on: April 06, 2014, 06:59:41 AM »
I am bumping this because it is crazy impressive, also I want to be able to find it later.

Very impressed OP! Those clothes look great on you!

CarDude

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #40 on: April 06, 2014, 08:36:54 AM »
I am bumping this because it is crazy impressive, also I want to be able to find it later.

Very impressed OP! Those clothes look great on you!

Crazy impressive is what I came here to write. I've always been interested in the idea of making clothes, but never followed up on it.

momo5

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #41 on: April 06, 2014, 07:09:31 PM »
I'm so impressed by those shirts and pants! I've been sewing for about 15 years off and on. I've made only two wearable garments for myself, but I made all of my kids cloth diapers, swimsuits and pj's (I love my serger for knits! you probably dont need one for tailoring shirts though, especially if the seams are all folded in, forgot what that's called, french seams? maybe?). I dont have your attention to detail which is why I would not attempt my dh's clothing (similar issues to yours). He found some million dollar shirt that fits him and buys them used on ebay.

my son recently asked me to teach him to sew, right now he's making a tote bag. I hope one day he can make his own clothes too.

Daisy

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #42 on: April 06, 2014, 08:10:48 PM »
Interesting thread. The clothes you sew definitely highlight your fit physique.

I took sewing lessons as a child but haven't done much with it as an adult. I thought about it recently after a shopping trip. However, the low price of clothes, the multiple sales, and my recent introduction to thrift stores makes me think it's not worth the effort.

As you say though, the benefit may come in tailoring clothes to meet specific body differences you may have with the average person out there that clothes are made for. My "weak spot" is bigger thighs than the average woman out there, I guess. Although I did read an article recently about Olympic skiers having this same issue with pants. Most pants that fit through my thighs have a few extra inches around my waist. It's hard to find something that fits right.

Dug up the article:
http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/fourth-place-medal/downhill-skiers-pants-015757117.html;_ylt=A0LEVxbhCEJTLHMAL0VXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEzN2I3cGdsBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1FCQUNLMV8x

sunnyca

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #43 on: April 06, 2014, 11:35:25 PM »
I'm so impressed!  This is a skill I've been meaning to pick up for a while- at least basic alternations. I'm short, so all my pants need to be altered, which can get pricey.

You've inspired me!

1967mama

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #44 on: April 07, 2014, 01:52:56 AM »
Your post has inspired me to dust off my sewing machine after many years in storage.  I am a self-taught seamstress, so just the basics, but surely I could make some pyjama pants for my teens!

Osprey

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #45 on: April 07, 2014, 04:22:39 AM »
Oh wow. Those clothes look amazing. You would definitely see some admiring glances from me if we happened to pass each other on the street!
I have been sewing for years but lack the patience for anything more complex than skirts and alterations. I also tend to take shortcuts and end up with less than professional results. You definitely put a lazy sewist like me to shame.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 06:38:26 AM by Osprey »

happyfeet

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #46 on: April 07, 2014, 06:37:56 AM »
Wow. You did an amazing job.  Totally impressed!

homehandymum

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #47 on: April 07, 2014, 03:13:08 PM »
This is awesome.  My DH has a narrow waist and huge thighs, so can never find pants that fit.

I've even got books out of the library right now on altering clothes to fit, and there is even a section on men's trousers!  (a miracle!  like you, I've been really frustrated by the lack of attention to men's tailoring in the sewing books).

So all that I've been waiting for is to make the right measurements and actually move beyond the 'thinking and planning' stage, into the 'actually cutting the fabric' stage.

You've given me the courage I need :)

TrMama

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #48 on: April 07, 2014, 03:47:59 PM »
I realize I'm way late to this party, but I just had to comment on your amazing sewing skills. Your topstitching looks perfect and the fit is spot on. I've been sewing since I was a kid (aka 20+ years) and your clothes look great.

If you're interested in branching out from button downs and khakis you could try looking at patterns from Burda and Jalie. Both brands are known for making well drafted patterns that have a consistent fit.

Plus, if you ever decide to procreate with any of those hot women who are hitting on you, you'll be able to quickly and cheaply fix all the itty bitty clothes your spawn will attempt to destroy. (Says the woman who spent 2 hours dealing with her family's mending this weekend in order to save over $100.)

zinnie

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Re: My secret and successful journey to making my own clothes
« Reply #49 on: April 07, 2014, 03:53:04 PM »
I am very impressed. Your stuff looks amazing. Very inspiring; thanks! I have always wanted to do this but have stuck to very simple alterations so far. And now I will read the rest of this thread to see how/where you learned all of this... :)