So you want to be a fashion designer, a pattern maker or the world’s best sewist? Good for you! If you’re just starting to learn about sewing and garment making, you’ll be happy to hear it takes very little time to learn the basics of sewing and start making your own clothes using patters.
Learning how to adapt and transform existing commercial patterns is another level in sewing. And then there’s making your own patterns, following your own designs – that’s the most tricky part, as you will need many skills, from sewing basics, to draping, sketching and other things that are not always mentioned in sewing, but should be the most important: basic anatomy, body shapes, movement knowledge (supposing you want to create garments that are also comfortable, not only pretty).
I know user experience is not something you hear a lot of sewists talking about, but for me it is the most important: the way your clothes make you feel when you wear them. This should be the ultimate goal of the garment designer: to understand first how their garment will make the wearer feel; will they feel extravagant and bold (like costumes and evening dresses), will they feel relaxed and serene (summer sleeping garments, silky tank tops, beach wear) or energized and ready (workout gear, structured jackets)etc. I think you should always start with how you want your end product to feel when worn.
But I digress. What I really wanted to talk about was those things you could start doing now that will make you a better garment designer in the next 12 months:
- Find people who are passionate about the same things. Look at what they make, learn from there. Get to know them.
- Start a small notebook for all your thoughts and ideas about sewing, fashion and garment design. At the end of the week transcribe, scan or capture everything in a digital file, or a blog. Add extra notes and ideas.
- Read sewing and pattern making books. Read everything you can with the notebook on hand. Write down any genius ideas or must remember tips.
- If you’re sewing for many hours adjust your desk and chair to prevent back pain. If possible don’t cut fabric on the floor and don’t press fabric on a surface that’s lower than your waist. If you do, include 5 minutes of exercises or stretching to protect your back.
- Take 5 minutes everyday to daydream about making thigs that you can’t make yet. Write these ideas down.
- Be mindful when you are creating and make things that you will enjoy for many years.
- Sew or make something for another person at least every few months. It doesn’t have to be something big, just put in a lot of love and see your loved ones enjoy your master skills.
- Travel. Look at what other people wear, eat, how they move in their clothes. Learn from them.
- When you ruin a garment, go out for a run, then put the garment in the recycle box and wait for an idea to come to reuse that fabric. Make rugs or donate leftover fabric.
- Sew less and enjoy more. If you want to learn, don’t limit yourself to making 4 blouses of the same pattern you already master. Move on and experiment. Think about what you’ll sew next, think about what you want.
- Go shopping and make a list of things you dislike. Take photos if you want. Make notes about fit, fabric, brands; as you learn more and more about garment making, this will further help you to create better clothes for youself and who knows, maybe for the entire world.
Image by ROBERT HUFFSTUTTER via flickr.