The perfect dress or suit can be a nightmare to find out in the land of endless retail stores. You may not see the styles you like in the colours or fabrics you want, or you may have trouble finding things in your size. Many people do not fit the standard sizing used by stores, as human bodies come in a variety of shapes too great to account for in generalised numbers. Those who wish to be more particular about the clothes they put on their backs can, with a little sewing skill and hard work, create their own fancy dress clothes for a special occasion. Making your own clothes may not be as easy or cheap as buying from a store, but the results are far more satisfying.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Dress patterns
- Sewing equipment
Choose the style of clothing you would like to wear, whether it is a dress, skirt and blouse, suit, or trousers and shirt. Make a general sketch of the look you are going for.
Browse through the racks of patterns at your fabric store or online to find those that come closest to your sketch. You may have to combine patterns or do some pattern alteration. Look for more complicated, professional-looking patterns from companies like Vogue, Burda and Butterick, rather than easy-sew patterns like those of Simplicity or New Look. If you have any drafting skill, draft your own patterns.
Take your measurements. Women's patterns generally require bust, waist, hip, back waist length, front waist length, shoulder to bust, shoulder length, back width, arm length, shoulder to elbow and upper-arm measurements. Men's patterns need chest, waist, hip, back waist length, front waist length, shoulder length, back width, arm length, upper arm, neck, neck band and shirtsleeve measurements.
Cut the pattern size closest to your measurements and make alterations so it fits you accurately. Be sure to account for any ease in the pattern.
Create a mockup of the outfit from muslin. Put the mockup on your body throughout the process to double-check the fit. Do not bother with embellishment and finishing. Make all fitting adjustments directly on the mockup.
Making the Mockup
Take apart the mockup and use it as a pattern for the final clothing.
Buy fabric in the size and type recommended on your pattern. Do not skimp on cost; choose fabric that is appropriate for fancy dress, like silk, twill, wool, tweed and taffeta. Pay close attention to colours and patterns to be sure they match and are flattering on you.
Choose notions and embellishments that look like they might be found on store-bought clothes, rather than in a craft store. The idea is to look as sophisticated as possible. Smaller trims and buttons in colours that complement the fabric are key.
Cut the fabric using the mockup pattern. Repeat the sewing process you originally performed in muslin, making sure to follow all of your own alterations. Remember any tricky parts from before and make the correct adjustments.
Put the outfit on your body before finalising it, to make certain it fits.
Attach all embellishments and finishings. Be sure that there are no hanging threads, raw edges or other giveaways of an amateur job. The finished product should be neat, fitted to your body and classy-looking.
Making the Clothes
Tips and warnings
- Avoid stretch fabric and cheap, shiny satins.
- You may have to look outside your local fabric store for good elegant fabric. Do not discount the Internet, as you can sometimes find great deals on eBay or speciality fabric sites.
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