Tailoring and Sewing

What skills to learn, what tools to get
AnalyticalEngine
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Tailoring and Sewing

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

As anyone picked up tailoring or sewing as hobbies/skills? Any advice? I'm thinking it would be drastically useful to be able to alter clothing you obtain so it fits you better. You could pick up stuff that's sizes too big and tailor it down so it fits you properly.

The only downside here is the need to own a sewing machine. I suppose you can alter clothing by hand, but it's a lot harder.

Alphaville
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by Alphaville »

@horsewoman is the resident tailoring deity. professionally trained as i understand.

ertyu
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by ertyu »

I am now doing that. Seems to me there are two distinct skill sets that come together here:

1. The skill of sewing and stitching as such
2. The skill of garment construction - sewing and stitching then is used to attach the constructed pieces together.

My approach has been to work on 1. first by making household items as I need them using salvaged/second hand/curbside-find material. Because I am working with material cut from shirts, t-shirts and sweatshirts other people threw away, it's not such a big deal if I fuck it up. In addition, most household items I have found myself needing are simple iterations on attaching rectangles to each other. I have made 3 pillows cases, a laptop sleeve, a coin purse, a headphone pouch, and a water bottle sleeve which have all turned out serviceable. My most unfortunate project has been a pair of house slippers which turned out rather sad. Fortunately, they are vaguely slipper-shaped, in the sense that even though they're kind of misshapen and came out different sizes even though they were cut from the same pattern, one can stick one's feet in them and putter around the house, so I call that a success.

Skills I am developing so far while working on 1.:

1.1. Practicing different stitches. Acquiring a sense of which is useful for what.
1.2. Practicing basics of construction: how would it come out if you attach 2 pieces right side together? wrong side together? When should you work from the front, when should you work from the back and turn? What shape of fabric should be cut if you want the fabric to form the top bulging part of a slipper? etc.
1.3: unintended consequence: my relationship to time is changing. But that is the subject of another post. I am developing the patience needed to stay with a piece of work. This patience is essential if you want your piece to be crafted well, but it turns out patience doesn't mean what I thought it meant in salaryman world. I used to think of patience as putting up with something dull and tedious and tolerating the irritation until done. Turns out it means crafting without regards to time: it takes as long as it takes, and if it becomes dull or tedious, you can stop. There is no deadline. You do not need to be "efficient" or account yourself to anyone.

My personal approach has been to watch many youtube tutorials of the same thing. Each person makes the thing in roughly the same way but somewhat differently. I internatize the general principles of how the thing is constructed and why, and then I freestyle on my own. This suits my INFP-ness much more than picking one tutorial and precisely following a set of steps. A different approach might work for you depending.

I recommend sticking to Indian, Thai, South American, etc. tutorials even if they are not in English (the people show what they are doing very clearly, so language is rarely an obstacle. Often under one of those videos that was made all in Thai you would see thanks from Russia, Indonesia, and Israel :) This makes me v happy). The reason for choosing tutorials from developing countries is that they rely less on assembling pre-polished pieces purchased at Corporate Crafts. Many US tutorials are ads for overpriced craft products in disguise. Tutorials from developing countries, on the other hand, rely much more on skill and using what is on hand. An American tutorial would say, "use bla weight fusible fleece, link in description." An Indian tutorial would say, "well I am using some stuffing here, but if you don't have any you can use 3 layers of old towel." American tutorial: "here are my soles I purchased". Indian tutorial: so we will iron a plastic bag inbetween these 2 sturdy pieces of fabric until they fuse together and we will cut out the bottom of our slippers from that. Thai/South Korean/JP tutorials focus much more on the intricacies of a particular skill.

Bonus: I find tutorials rather claming. Good for my anxiously depressed ass.

As for tailoring down specific pieces, there are two approaches that I see:

2.1: easy simple fixes: e.g.
-taking in a pair of trousers from behind to make the waistband smaller without necessarily changing the rest of the garment.
-Making your jeans more fitted to your legs by making a second seam a little to the inside.
-Shortening trousers: cut off, re-hem. Also used for converting trousers (jeans or track pants) to shorts.
-taking in a men's shirt on the sides so it's a bit more fitted to your body. Also involves making a second seam closer to the body but gets a bit more involved under the arm hole. Also, this is obviously only a useful strategy if the shirt is short-sleeved. If long-sleeved, you might fuck up the length of original sleeves etc.

2.1 is the next step for me personally. Approach is the same: watching many many tutorials until I feel brave enough to butcher a second hand store piece. These are all v useful alterations, but also only really work if the piece you are altering is already close to your size.

2.2. Thorough disassembly of original piece: part or entire. Re-cutting of original panels to size. Replacing some pieces of fabric as needed. Reassembling piece to fit.

This is currently over and above my head, but I find this dude quite inspirational:

How to recycle your jeans, parts 1-3:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2T30A-mn3E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMzu8i_LP8A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZySwsbYaSM

I am getting into "visible mending" and the japanese concept of boro: the repeated patching up of clothes as they wear out, thus making them warmer in the process. These days, boro seems to be made by "distressing" new fabric with a file, but original pieces that have been mended over generations are considered antiques and sell for ridiculous amounts of money.

Alphaville
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by Alphaville »

wow @ertyu you’ve really gotten into this, i had no idea

btw @sclass is into upholstery in a fairly advanced way also
Last edited by Alphaville on Sun Sep 27, 2020 8:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

jacob
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by jacob »


Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I do easy repairs and have made a few items from scratch. I learned from youtube. Start by learning to reattach a button, then learn to repair a year (doesn't have to mean sewing, I like the iron on patches).

horsewoman
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by horsewoman »

:lol: @alphaville

@analyticalEngine - @ertyu makes good points. Starting with stuff like dish towels and other household stuff is a good way to get into sewing, plus doing so with reclaimed fabrics is great.

The threads @jacob linked are a good starting point and if you have some specific questions I'm happy to help or to point you towards appropriate tutorials. YouTube is a great resource for sewing, even I (with over 2 decades of experience) look stuff up and have face-palm moments now and then... The biggest problem for beginners often is that there are plenty of specific terms you need to know to find a tutorial.

In terms of ERE I think mending is an important skill. This is an art in it self. I have garments that are really old but I love to wear them, so I patch and mend the hell out of them.

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jennypenny
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by jennypenny »

I don't have time today, but I'll set up a sewing/fibre arts section on the ERE wiki sometime this week. I'll include any links that people post here and in the other three threads (the two listed above and S10Y's fibre arts thread).

ertyu
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by ertyu »

@horsewoman @Sclass and whoever else who has this skill but I forgot to mention them: could you guys speak more in detail about what's involved in altering a piece to size? Let's say you get a quality item from a second hand store, maybe a suit jacket or a pair of trousers. How would you go about reducing the size to fit you when such reduction isn't simply a matter of taking it in a little (e.g. like one would when one tries to make trouser legs narrower). What is the next level when it comes to alterations?

horsewoman
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by horsewoman »

@ertyu - altering a suit jacket is quite the project. Not the least because these garments are lined, so you need to detach the lining first, and every alteration done on the outside fabric needs to be repeated on the lining. Afterwards the lining has to be reattached. So even smaller alterations are quite labour intensive.

To be frank, I'd not feel able to reduce a suit jacket down one size. You'd need to completely deconstruct it, reduce the size of the parts and put it together again, sleeves and lining and all. It has a reason that bespoke suits are this expensive, this is master level stuff.

But if you are interested in gaining skills taking apart a thift store suit jacket will teach you a lot about tailoring.

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Sclass
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by Sclass »

horsewoman wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:39 pm
But if you are interested in gaining skills taking apart a thift store suit jacket will teach you a lot about tailoring.
This is an excellent tip. Experiment with something you don’t mind ruining. This applies to a lot of self learning exercises. The good news is XXL clothes are cheap at the thrift store because nobody wants them. They have a lot of fabric to work with.

My learning process went like this. Sleeves or legs too long. Shorten. Waist too big. Shrink. Now I look like a guy wearing a big bag with proper length legs and pants that don’t fall down. The rest looks like a balloon or a tent. Basically a circus clown costume. Now break the seams at the butt and legs and start removing material on the periphery and sewing it back together. Cut, sew, try on, repeat. The worse it comes out the more you’ll learn. :lol:

You got the length and waistline right, now imagine what do you remove next?

Image

ertyu
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by ertyu »

An excellent approach Sclass. I am at circus clown stage with my skills right now. That's exactly the limits of my knowledge: shorten and shrink waistband :D . Thanks for the advice, I'll see what I can experiment on. Might be a while because I do want to master this "run an elastic through the bottom hem of a t-shirt, cut off, make underwear youtube hack ;)

shemp
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by shemp »

I sew my outdoor gear and most clothes (other than wide brim hat, socks and boots). I use cheap sewing machines and throw them in the dumpster when they break and buy a new one every few years. Apparently, these $100 machines are designed to break easily, probably some plastic part inside.

USE QUALITY THREAD. I use RayJardine black thread for everything except my shirt, which requires grey thread, so I use Gutermann polyester for that. Gutermann is good but definitely several steps down from Jardine's thread. Order 10 or more rolls at a time, you won't be sorry. [After writing the preceding, I looked at my shirt and decided black thread would probably work for that too. So 100% Jardine thread from now on.]

USE QUALITY NEEDLES. Schmetz Universal 90/14 (80/12 for lightweight silnylon) are good, not expensive and widely available. Replace needles frequently.

ertyu
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by ertyu »

shemp wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:22 am
I sew my outdoor gear and most clothes
I remember you saying you use material that is lightweight and easy to dry. Would you mind talking a bit about how you went about acquiring the skill of making your own clothes? What order did you do it in? How does making your own clothes (and needing a machine, supplies, etc.) work with your traveling?

Edit, so you may all laugh: I attempted making a sleep mask after watching a couple of tutorials and somehow the "stuffing" ended up on the outside when I flipped it around :lol:. I guess that's how we knew I didn't understand all those tutorials I watched before I actually made my own :lol:. I have since understood my mistake, and will attempt to make a new one as soon as I finish the attempted pair of boxers I am now working on. What can I say, making one to throw away really holds in my case :lol: :lol:

shemp
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by shemp »

I started making gear (tarp, bugbivy, backpack, quilt, stuff sacks, etc), then progressed to clothing. Both my gear and my clothing are far superior, for my purposes, than anything I could buy. That is, saving money is not my motivation, though I do save now that my patterns are all worked out, but rather higher quality than what I can buy.

I probably made 10 to throw away before I was fully satisfied, but after that, I can sew up a lifetime supply (40 years worth) and save all the time and money back. Suppex/taslan nylon, dating from around 1960, has never been improved upon, for clothing purposes, so I'm not worried about my lifetime supply becoming obsolete for clothing. For some gear, pure dyneema might be an improvement over nylon, but only marginally so.

Clothing is easy once you get rid of unnecessary and counterproductive features. For example, my taslan nylon pants have no zipper, no back pockets, built-in elastic+webbing belt rather than belt loops and interfaced waistband. Result is easier construction, lighter weight, faster drying time. Seams are double stitched (dual lines of double stitching for critical back crotch seam) to add durability. Shirt is simple supplex nylon pullover with 12" zippered neck opening and simplified sleeve cuffs. Buttons hand sewed with multiple knots so they will never fall off. Shirt works far better in hot weather than anything commercially available (though shirtless is best opt-in in hot weather, if socially appropriate and no mosquitos) and works as well as commercially available shirt in cold weather. My other clothing is also simplified.

For clothing, I buy commercial patterns then drastically simplify. For gear, I make my own patterns. Scrap vinyl from outlet fabric stores works much better than paper for patterns.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by Hristo Botev »

shemp wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 1:22 am
For clothing, I buy commercial patterns then drastically simplify. For gear, I make my own patterns. Scrap vinyl from outlet fabric stores works much better than paper for patterns.
Rather than buy a pattern, can you just work off of clothes you already own that fit well? I'm a complete newbie on this topic, so apologies if that's a really dumb question.

horsewoman
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by horsewoman »

@HB I regularly do this (using an existing garment as a pattern) but is harder than using a pattern. The pattern piece lies flat (2D), whereas in a garment there are curves and shapes (3D). Especially with sleeves it is a problem, since the sleeve is not symmetrical. Of course it depends on the fabric and the style, this is not so much an issue with a wide t-shirt, as compared to a fitted cotton shirt.
With enough experience in how a pattern piece is supposed to look like, it gets of course easier.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by Hristo Botev »

Thanks hw, that makes sense. So I'd imagine with pants it'd pretty easy to work from an existing pair, since they (I think) would lay flat along the seams.

shemp
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by shemp »

Just buy a pattern. It's like $5, or get free ones on the internet. You'll waste far more than that in money and time reworking a hand-made pattern multiple times. Even 1cm off makes a big difference when sewing, especially if that difference multiplied 4 times.

My pants pattern has 3 pieces: front, back, front pocket. Simple, but exact dimesnsions are critical for good fit. Otherwise, too tight, or else too loose and big saggy rear end that looks like you are wearing diapers underneath that you made a mess in. Or legs too long or short. Etc.

If you're already a skilled clothing pattern maker, and understand pants patterns, you could go straight from tape measure dimensions to pattern.

ertyu
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Re: Tailoring and Sewing

Post by ertyu »

there also exist multiple youtube tutorials on how to draft patterns from measurements for the basic clothing types.

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