How to Sew Your Own Clothes

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Sewing your own clothes can save money.
Sewing your own clothes can save money. (Image: sewing machine image by pavel siamionov from Fotolia.com)

Sewing your own clothes or making them for your growing kids can be a real money saver. Kids' clothes, especially, cost a lot of money. If you enjoy sewing, you can make your own clothes for pennies on the dollar.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machiner
  • Serger (optional)
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Needles and pins
  • Thread
  • Patterns
  • Zippers or buttons
  • Elastic
  • Iron
  • Ironing board

Learn how to operate a sewing machine. Using the instruction book that came with your machine is a good place to start. It will explain everything you need to know to operate your machine. A serger is an optional sewing machine that can make homemade clothing much easier to sew, because it cuts, sews and edges seams all in one step. Threading a serger the first few times is a taxing process, so be patient while you learn to use your serger.

Buy a pattern. Choosing a simple one is the best idea. Many patterns are marked "easy" or "learn to sew," and those are good for beginners. Double knit T-shirts or turtlenecks are among the easiest things to sew, as are simple shorts or pants without waistbands or pockets.

Following the instructions printed in the pattern, place the pieces on your fabric using pins or pattern weights.

When you have all the pieces laid out correctly, cut them out.

Pin the appropriate parts together and sew them together according to the instructions. As you create each seam, carefully remove the pins before you sew that area. When using a serger, you should not have the pins placed anywhere close to the serger blade or needles. You can ruin your machine by sewing over a pin. If you are using a serger, you can finish the edges of the hems for your T-shirt or shorts, along with the waistbands.

Try the garment on to see how it fits. If it is too big, make a bigger seam allowance. If it is too small, rip out a seam and sew it over again with a narrower seam. If you made the garment using a serger, either give it to someone who is smaller than you, or finish it and donate it. Iron the garment if it fits. If sewn with a sewing machine, iron the seams open and flat.

Depending on what you are sewing, finish the garment by adding the elastic to the waistband and sewing it down, or add the ribbing to the T-shirt.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sewing is a rewarding hobby that can keep you in new clothes for a lot less money than buying them.
  • Make sure your garment will fit by comparing the pattern pieces to T-shirts that you already have, or shorts that are a good fit.
  • You can take classes that will teach you everything you need to learn to sew your own clothes and clothes for kids.
  • Avoid patterns that use zippers or buttons and button holes until you have a little experience with sewing. Once you have some practice, adding these closures is easy.
  • Learning to rip out is part of sewing.
  • Keep a magnet handy to pick up your spilled needles.
  • Serging makes home sewing go much more quickly. It is worth the investment in a machine. Many fabrics are easier to sew on a serger than a sewing machine. The finished garment will be much sturdier when sewn on a serger. Use the sewing machine for the finishing work.
  • Sewing machines have sharp, moving parts. Watch your fingers around the needles of sewing machines and sergers. Many people who sew have had the unfortunate experience of having a needle go through their nails. It hurts, so watch where your hands when you are operating a sewing machine.
  • If you have cats and dogs, make sure you keep the needles and thread in an inaccessible place. Cats like chasing thread, and they can swallow it with dire consequences. Some dogs will eat anything.
  • Sew when the kids are napping to keep them out of your pins, needles, scissors and sewing machines.

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