The Beginner’s Guide to Making Your Own Clothes

Occasionally, I field emails from readers that wish to design their own clothes and are searching for advice on the type of sewing machine to purchase. I decided that now is the time to share my knowledge on the topic for those that have no sewing experience. Although I have no formal training and by no means am I an expert, I’ve learned a substantial amount through a mentor in Nashville and have quite a bit of advice to share.

The first snippet of advice is that anyone is able to learn how to sew and there is no need to fear a lack of knowledge. Being able to make clothes exactly as they are in the store, however, takes a lot of work so don’t expect miracles as it takes time. Have realistic expectations and learn as you go and before long, you will be well on your way. A few tips and hints to get you started:


  1. Determine which garments you would like to make and stay committed to the cause. From there, decide on a budget for the type of sewing machine you want to buy.
  2. The type of sewing machine you purchase boils down to personal preferences, the types of garments you wish to make, and overall budget. With so many types available on the market, research thoroughly before you decide on one, keeping all variables (power, speed, size) in mind.
  3. Learn how to use the machine through classes or a friend with knowledge. If all else fails, private lessons are an alternative.
  4. Keep initial projects simple and use commercial patterns until you develop the skills necessary for more intricate clothes.
  5. After you’ve moved on to more intricate patterns, make a few test garments with cheap fabric until you have the experience to use more expensive material.

For even more detailed information about learning how to make your own clothes, there are a slew of books available on the subject. Two that come highly recommended are David Coffin’s Shirtmaking and his other book Making Trousers for Men and Woman. You also can learn a lot about the construction of clothing through deconstruction – when you buy clothes in the future, turn them inside out and inspect the seams, pockets, and lining to see how it was all put together. But the best way to learn is through experience – the more time you have under your belt sewing, the better your skill set becomes which will ultimately allow you to make clothes intuitively. The following are some of the tools that are utilized the most often:


  • Iron/Ironing Board – you may already have one lying around, but in the future, invest in a high quality one as you will end up spending a lot of time pressing material.
  • Chalk Wheel – use to mark areas on the fabric
  • Seam Ripper – to remove seams when you make a mistake
  • Point Turner – used to rotate several types of points
  • Rulers – to draft patterns and measure during construction
  • Tracing Paper – used for pattern drafting and alterations
  • Pattern Weights – used to hold material down during construction
  • Rotary Cutter/Cutting Mat – used in combination with pattern weights to cut fabric
  • Scissors – to trim fabric and for other types of alterations
  • Flexible Tape Measure – used for fit adjustments
  • Pins – used to temporarily hold fabric in place while sewing

Now is the perfect time to begin a new hobby like learning how to make your own clothes. If you need any further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me for help.

How to Choose the Right Sewing Machine for You

With so many sewing machines available on the market, from the basic to the specialized, there are a lot of options to take into consideration before you choose the best sewing machine for you. Whether you are a beginner on a budget or an expert looking for all a multi-functional computerized machine, here are the features that should be researched before a final selection is made.


  1. Consider the reasons you want to purchase a sewing machine. Is it to make clothing? Hand-crafted items, Sew Drapery? Alterations or embroidery? Once you know what you will use a sewing machine for primarily, you can narrow down the type of machine to choose.
  2. The time spent on sewing must also be taken into consideration. If you only sew a few times a month, perhaps spending massive amounts of money on a machine is not cost-effective. It is important to seriously ponder the hours per week or month you may use a machine. So Sew Reviews is a great source to determine which sewing machine is best for your needs.
  3. There are a multitude of sewing machine types and ranges available on the market and before you choose a sewing machine, keep in mind the price ranges that are on the market today. From basic machines starting at $150 to high-quality machines that can cost as much as $15,000, what you want to do with your sewing machine and what you will need it for dictates the price points.
  4. In order to get the best prices possible, it is a good idea to look online for a sewing machine. By shopping online, you can take your time deciding on a machine and avoid pushy salespeople in search of a commission.
  5. Be aware of the price points and what those price points mean in terms of what you’ll get for your investment.
  6. Disposable machines often include plastic parts and include brand names such as Singer, Kenmore, and Brother, and usually are in the 0-$200 price range.

Singer sewing machine

  • If you are an occasional seamstress, sewing machines that fall within the price range of $200-$600 include brands like Singer, White, Janome, and are ideal for those that need to sew minimally each week.


  • Longer-lasting sewing machines that feature better materials and features run in the $700-$2000 range and include brands such as Bernina, Juki, Pfaff, and Viking Husqvarna. Sewing machines in this range are typically not available in department stores and must be found online or a boutique sewing shop.

Viking Husqvarna

  • $2000+ sewing machines are those that are used by professionals on a daily basis and are excellent for extensive quilting, embroidery, upholstery, and more. If you need to use a machine of this level, there is also the opportunity to rent time on them at sewing shops in order to avoid buying one outright.

black sewing machine

Of course, there are other specialty sewing machines too, and has specific information on the best sewing machines for kids to take into consideration. A Serger sewing machine can sew with multiple needles and threads to create stitches that are ideal for stretchy material.


Once you have researched the machines that work best for what you hope to achieve, narrow down your choices to two or three types.


Visit sewing shops in your area and ask for a demonstration from a professional on the type of machines you may be interested in. It may be necessary to go to several shops and check out various brands to collect all the pertinent information.

With your budget in mind and all the requirements you demand, ultimately you must decide on whether to get a used machine or invest in a new one.


Check eBay and other online sites to get the best price possible If you are searching for the best sewing machines for quilting, then hone in on the specifics available on this page and research thoroughly to get the best deal possible.


If you are more experienced in sewing, you may not have to research as much about a machine and can possibly save a significant amount of money that can be used to invest in a better sewing machine.
Lastly, buy your new sewing machine, learn how to use it over time and enjoy the art of creation!