Why I suck at sewing clothes

I’ve been doing a lot of “sewing soul searching” lately about why I am so reluctant to sew clothes, and why I always dislike the clothing that I do attempt. I have been sewing costumes for about 8-10 years (mostly beading and decorating), and have sewed odd bits of home-wares over the last few years, but I haven’t made one piece of clothing that I have worn for more than a couple of months. I have attempted many, many items of clothing but they have rarely turned out or been finished. Eventually I just stopped attempting them. This year though, I am determined to turn it around! After taking a good long look at myself, I figured out the reasons I’m afraid of sewing clothes. And in the interests of public accountability and baring all to the blogosphere I will list them here!

I buy patterns that I think are gorgeous, but when it comes down to it – they just don’t suit my style.

Beautiful pattern from Esty seller allthepreciousthings

Beautiful pattern from Esty seller allthepreciousthings

I have so many beautiful vintage patterns. Most of them I picked up from markets or thrift shops, and a bunch have been given to me over the years. I love vintage clothes and styling, but I really can’t commit to wearing a vintage style every day. I feel restricted and uncomfortable. Most days, I would be happy to rock out in jeans and a tank or a simple skirt. So I’ll spend a bunch of time finding the right fabric, cutting out the pieces, putting them together, only to get half way through and feel unenthused about it because I realise it’s not going to work for me. I know it seems dumb to keep making this mistake over and over, but I can’t help it! I love vintage patterns! Maybe I need to start making the clothes for other people….

I buy patterns that are too advanced for me

Piped Trench Coat by Burdastyle

Piped Trench Coat by BurdaStyle

Ok, so this time I’ve found a pattern that I love and I think I will wear all the time. What’s that? It’s an advanced sewing pattern? No problem! I’m sure I can master the million techniques I have never attempted before. It’ll be alright won’t it?…..anyone?

I don’t follow the instructions


This is the hardest thing to admit, but it’s true: I’m a skimmer. I start reading the instructions on a pattern and my eyes go glazed over and I throw caution to the wind along with the instructions. I think I have developed this bad habit because I have spent so much of my life sewing costumes in which it was ok if they were put together pretty dodgily as long as you didn’t see it from the audience and it stayed together. Pretty much all my costumes I make up on the fly without a pattern. I can get away with this for stage when it’s just for me, but you really can’t do that if you have no idea how to sew clothes!

I’m determined to make more clothing for myself this year, and even though this stuff is embarrassing to admit it’s helped me set it all out. So from now my sewing commandments are 1) Only buy patterns that are actually wearable, 2) Only buy patterns I can actually sew – e.g beginner! and 3) Follow the instructions on the pattern step by step!

On that note, here is a pattern that I am going to try which is specifically for beginners.

Miette skirt pattern by Tilly

Miette skirt pattern by Tilly

I found this pattern through the blog Ginger Makes. I’m not 100% sure if it’s my style (am I breaking one of my new sewing commandments already?), but Ginger pretty much sold me on it with her enthusiastic description of how easy it is to put together and how great it turned out. I recently chopped pretty much all my hair off (hello pixie cut!) so I am trying new bits of clothing that I perhaps wouldn’t have in the past, because my new hair makes me want all new clothes. Plus it has pockets! Skirts with pockets are the best!

I have the pattern – now I just need some fabric! I will post again when I have completed this cute skirt and let you know what I think.

Is anyone in the same boat as me when it comes to sewing clothes? Or do you have other sewing confessions to make?


6 thoughts on “Why I suck at sewing clothes

  1. I’m with you on a lot of these. My mission this year: sew myself some t-shirts that fit me properly (because no bought t-shirt ever will). I figure once I find that one good t-shirt pattern, I can bang ’em out as fast as I like, and since most days I go for the t-shirt and jeans look, I’ll wear them!

  2. I hope you like the Miette skirt! It is really easy to put together- you can do it! And as far as the trenchcoat goes, I don’t really recommend Burda if you’re not that confident following patterns. They skip lots of steps and I’m always kinda tearing my hair out whenever I use their patterns. Maybe you would like the Sewaholic Patterns trench. It’s a really similar style, and I find their directions to be really clear and easy… if you don’t skim them. 😉 Happy sewing!!!!!

    • Thanks Ginger! And I’m definitely not going to attempt anything close to a coat for a long while. Luckily, I wouldn’t even want to think of it at the moment. I live in Australia and it’s 41 degrees today (106 F). Blegh!!! Too hot!!

  3. I love that skirt! Pockets are just the best thing ever. Don’t worry about the ‘skimming’ instructions part, because once you make a certain style of clothing a few times, you can be a bit less precious about following them. Most skirts, shirts, dresses, etc. follow a very similar order of construction, so once you’ve made a few different ones you will only need to refer to the instructions for parts that are unique to that design. Maybe we could do a sew along sometime??

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