In a world where it can be all too common to think negatively about our bodies, the act of making our own clothes can be powerful.
We discover how the simple process of stitching can transform how we see ourselves.
I think we’re all familiar with the idea of crafting as an act of love. Whether it’s making a card for a friend’s birthday, knitting a blanket for your baby godson or stitching a gift for your niece’s new home, as crafters we know that everything we make is filled with love, and we hope that the recipients feel that too.
That’s why it can be such a powerful and positive action to make something for yourself – carving out time to sew a new dress is proof to yourself that you are worthy of something special. These are our top tips for creating a handmade wardrobe to lift your spirits and help you love the skin you’re in.
Many of us have been tempted to put off making our own clothes in the expectation that our bodies will change in the future. All too often I’ve heard a friend say that they won’t make a new shirt or knit a new jumper until they’ve lost weight and it always makes me feel so sad. There’s plenty of evidence that the more positively you think about your body, the more likely you are to treat it well and stay healthy. I want to tell you all – “your body is worthy of lovely clothes now!”
Support companies who support you
I know all too well the disappointment of seeing something beautiful that I want to make, only to find that the designer hasn’t included my size. That’s why it’s been so lovely in recent years to see more pattern companies becoming more inclusive with their sizing. The folks at Sew Over It have committed to expanding their size range and I’ve definitely got my eye on a few of their patterns!
I love the idea of creating clothes which are forviging. Tom van Deijnen’s ethos of sustainable dressing is a great inspiration - he chooses clothes with the knowledge that bodies inevitably change, and so garments which are adjustable or can be worn with varying amounts of ease will have a longer lifespan. He’s also a master of beautiful visible mending – check out his feed if you’re looking for inspiration.
What's in your wardrobe?
Look at the shape of the garments you already own and love. Are they boxy and square or do they come in at the waist? What style of sleeve do they use? Picking a garment with a fit which works for you is key to finding the perfect match. Pay attention to fabrics as well – if you run warm, you probably want to wear more cotton and linen than fleece and wool!
Learn to be number-neutral
Measurements are just numbers, so try to be gentle with yourself. The tape measure is a tool to help make sure your clothes feel great when you wear them, nothing more. The important thing here is making sure your measurements are accurate, so take the time to get a good handle on your measurements. Check out Alison Smith MBE’s tips for taking accurate measurements in our free guide to dressmaking.
Measure twice, cut once!
The most important thing to remember is that a good fit for you might not be a good fit for someone else. We’re all different and the way we wear our garments is different from person to person. Have a look at what you wear most often and measure the actual garments themselves. If you wear a lot of over-sized dresses, you might want to consider sewing a larger size in your pattern than your measurements would suggest.
You are normal!
Most patterns are designed to fit average proportions in a set of standards. For example, the sizing standards we use tell us to make the arms slightly longer in larger sizes, as the average person with a 32” bust is shorter than the average person with a 48” bust. That might be true for an average, but not for a every individual person! That means if you don’t ‘fit the standard’, you’re totally normal. Once you’re over the hurdle of expecting that every garment will fit you without any adjustments, you’re halfway there. Need tips on making easy adjustments? We’ve got an expert guide from Claire-Louise Hardie.
CraftWorld members can save 15% at Sew Over It in June! Click here for your discount code.