I’ve always regretted not picking up the sewing machine earlier. I was 24 before I discovered the art of sewing. Designing and creating garments for myself has not only increased my body confidence but it has also made me more aware of my unique body shape (in a good way). I quickly realised there is no such thing as the perfect size 10.
I create and design dresses for others which means taking lots of different measurements, and I am yet to design a dress which does not require pattern alterations! Getting to know your body shape and learning to love your unique curves is part of the magical journey of sewing.
Throughout my teens and early twenties I got excited when I squeezed into a size 8. I judged my body shape on how large retailers ‘labelled’ my shape and size. It was only when I started sewing that I realised my body shape was unique and no high street garment would ever fit me as perfect as a handmade fitted design. In my closet, any high street clothing labels range from a size 6 to size 14. After sewing for yourself you realise that bust, waist and hip measurements are powerful tools; to love your body and that a label on a dress becomes nothing more than a random number.
It was only when I started making clothes for myself that I realised my shoulders were much larger than my hips and waist, and I needed to cut a larger size up top to fit. When designing for myself I like to make dresses that highlight my smaller, more flattering features like my waist and hips, drawing the eye away from my larger features.
Regardless of what price tag is on a high street garment you can be guaranteed it won’t fit properly and to the untrained eye this may be acceptable however, as my knowledge and love for sewing grows badly fitted clothes are just no longer an option. When making a garment for yourself focus on the areas of your body that you consider to be your good points. If you have structured shoulders, then focus on designs with detail around this area. If you have great legs then add that split or if your waist is like Marilyn Monroe then make sure you have a nicely fitted waist band.
Choosing the best fabric for your next make can be daunting and we often refer to the pattern for guidance on which fabric to choose. However, although this is a good guide, I would say don’t take this as gospel. I have in the past made dresses from Ikea curtain fabric and re-claimed lace bed sheets. Who should tell me this is wrong?! Play with fabric types and don’t be afraid to make some mistakes along the way. I once made a coat with an imitation leather (verging on PVC) lining. Not only was it cold but it distorted the shape of the garment. Mistakes are a way of life, if you don’t make them you never learn - and if you never learn, you will never improve.
I ooze confidence when I wear my handmade garments and so should you! Be proud of the effort, time and skill that has been injected into your designs and wear them with pride. Walk away with confidence and remember the most alluring attribute of any lady is her confidence, so work it!