Tips for making first garment?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by WetbehindEars, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. WetbehindEars

    WetbehindEars Active Member

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    Hi all,

    This is my first post to Styleforum. After reading page after page of discussions, I've noticed that there are certainly a lot of knowledgeable people around here and I'd like to borrow some of your collective sartorial wisdom. (disclaimer: I have searched for a thread similar to this one and didn't find one, if one already exists kindly direct me there and I will take no more of your time).


    (The following is a bit of back story, if it bores you please just jump down to dotted line.)

    I guess I'll start by saying that I'm a 22 year old guy that has never been accused of being well-dressed until very recently; I have always known that there were clothes out there that fit well and looked good, but for several reasons (mainly lack of guidance and lack of funds), I never ended up looking the way I wanted to. Recently (since last January), I've decided to start taking better care of my body (lost 25 lbs so far, about 15 to go) and also start making myself look more like a grownup and less like a frumpy man child. So far, I've thrown out most of my old clothing and made some new purchases (not much that SF would approve of, but definitely steps in the right direction), started going regularly to a hair stylist (no more 5 buck hack jobs) and of course, reading about/studying up on clothes. I've been looking around SF quite a bit, as well as several blogs, online magazines, etc. just taking in all of the info that I had never encountered before. Needless to say, I'm definitely taking an interest to the world of fine clothing, and more than anything, I'm blown away by the amount of effort and dedication and craftsmanship that goes into making superb garments... It's definitely something that I admire and look up to. So this brings me to the actual meat of the post:

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    I'm interested in trying my hand at some tailoring; I know it's something that isn't learned overnight (it takes years of practice and apprenticeship) but I want to see if I can make something. If it's wearable, great, if not, I'll have enjoyed the experience. I'd like to start with something like an unstructured blazer (out of cotton, something light to wear with jeans) or perhaps some jeans or other type of pants.

    There are a couple of things that I'd like input on (preferably from people that have at least some experience in this realm); first, is this a far-fetched but possible goal, or is it pretty much doomed to fail? Is making a wearable blazer or pair of pants impossible for a first-timer? (I'm willing to do it either way, I just don't know what to expect). Second, what resources should I look into? I know there are many books/patterns out there, I could also simply work off a garment that already fits well and try to make some basic changes... what do you suggest?

    Alright, I think that's it... remember, first post, so go easy on me :)
     


  2. sparrow

    sparrow Senior member

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    Start small. Try a tie.
     


  3. GBR

    GBR Senior member

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    Maybe a handkerchief?

    This is a skilled area which you identify, so try with small items, possibly not even clothes until you develop sewing skills let alone clothes making skills. Apprenticeships last for up to five years or else people are taught to do one repetitive job in sweatshops so what make you think that you can make anything wearable?
     


  4. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    You'll learn more by doing smaller projects well, and making one or two errors and learning how to correct them than you will from making something large, making 10 or 20 errors and not really being able to correct them.

    Your enthusiasm is commendable, I think it'd be great if you put that enthusiasm to intelligent use.
     


  5. MikeDT

    MikeDT Senior member

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  6. WetbehindEars

    WetbehindEars Active Member

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    Haha sewing for dummies... thank you.

    I appreciate your responses, once again I know this is a field rich with skill that isn't something one can simply start doing one day... but I'd like to start with something, so a tie and handkerchief sound good.
     


  7. Jellybean

    Jellybean Active Member

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  8. FlaneurNYC

    FlaneurNYC Senior member

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    You most definitely can create things that you can actually wear. I've created items that people have been gobsmacked to find out I made with my grandmother's old, metal, hand-me-down sewing machine.

    Once you've mastered the art of hand sewing -- since that's what you'll mostly do creating a tie or handkerchief -- I suggest you try a waistcoat before attempting a sportcoat or trousers. A waistcoat has some of the skills you'll need to create the other two with a lot less confusion. (The trouser fly is not for a novice and anything large scale -- like a sport coat -- should wait.) If you choose a waistcoat with a different fabric on the back from the front, you'll gain experience with two fabrics. You'll learn buttons and buttonholes, darts, and they usually also have some fusing/interfacing -- at least in the front placket area.

    Get a pattern and use it for your first foray in to sewing on a machine. If you aren't familiar with construction, copying an existing garment will be a nightmare. Learn from following a pattern.

    Also, get a basic sewing reference. The Internet is all well and good, but experienced editors will have vetted any printed material or ebook that you might select. I'd get a good, all-around sewing book that has clear, concise instructions for any sewing situations you might find yourself in. Most include a glossary of hand stitches as well.

    There are lots of inexpensive vintage patterns available out there. Just be sure to find one that isn't cut.

    Good luck and have fun!
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013


  9. WetbehindEars

    WetbehindEars Active Member

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    Thanks Jellybean, that looks like just the ticket. Just out of curiosity, do you know anything about the author of the booklet?

    And the forum is a gold mine, thanks for the tip... vast amount of good information.

    Thanks!

    And to start out, is there a good place that I can find decent cloth to practice with? Nothing expensive or fine of course, just material that has some similarity to what would be used by people who know what they're doing :)
     


  10. impolyt_one

    impolyt_one Senior member

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    Start with the handkerchief, see if you actually want to do more, then move on to a shirt. Fabrics don't matter as most you will find of natural composition in any given first world country will exceed your skill level. It will probably take you at least a few years before you can make a decent shirt that anybody else would want to buy and wear.
     


  11. Jellybean

    Jellybean Active Member

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  12. WetbehindEars

    WetbehindEars Active Member

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    Thanks for the comment, I'm planning on getting some basic sewing/cutting manuals to start, if anybody has any recommendations (there's a lot of literature out there, is most of it good?) those would be much appreciated.


     


  13. Lachlan Mor

    Lachlan Mor New Member

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    As a tailor I disagree, there is a reason most bench tailors start with trouser making. Trousers are quite straight forward in making up, where as on waistcoat you need to know how to hold on tape and be a confident sewer to hit the marks for bagging out the linings and straight edges. Not to mention piecing of facings etc.

    Flys, be they button or zip are not difficult going in, just make sure you take care matching up the crutch notch and hit your mark or you risk a pucker at the bottom of the fly. The most difficult part of trousers is the pockets especially if the hip pockets are jeated in.

    Since the gentleman is not an experienced pattern maker I agree with others to seek out a commercial pattern. When selecting a pattern find one of moderate style and straight hanging as you will not have to worry about manipulation with the iron. Also remember to have yourself measured by another person and compare these measures to the actual pattern as commercial patterns tend to run large. Take into account seams and ease when measuring the pattern. Commercial patterns typically have 5/8" seams.

    Good luck and wish you the best!
     


  14. WetbehindEars

    WetbehindEars Active Member

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    Your response is most appreciated, it is great to hear from someone who is experienced and who works in the trade.

    I have only had time currently to finish a few linen handkerchiefs, I've experimented with several different stitching styles to try to get better at hand sewing. Do you have a recommended textile from which to make my first pants? I'm thinking denim but perhaps that is too heavy... what do you think?
     




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