This might sound odd, or hypocritical (especially if you’ve read a few of my other articles already), but I promise it’ll make sense! Especially if inclusive clothes making is important to you, or maybe someone close to you.

If you’re new to sewing, or have come to it from a place of need, this letter is for you.

I don’t recommend making ALL your clothes, at least not in the very beginning. Wherever you are, and whatever your needs, take your time and work up to this.

This is especially important if you’re plus sized, or disabled, and need to make your own clothes. You need them to fit, or to allow you to have some independence. You need natural, breathable fibres, and you need people to stop judging you. Please let me give you a virtual hug. It’s hard because it’s hard, not because you’re doing it wrong. Making your own clothes is definitely fun and rewarding – but it’s a big commitment. Getting dressed and ready for the day should be the least of your worries – and it is possible to make it less stressful.

If I may – it’s better for morale if you focus on learning how to make the garments that NEVER seem to fit you well, no matter where you buy them. This is often the easiest place to start, because the process of elimination has already begun. Here’s an example.

If you love dresses, or a certain style of dress, but can’t get RTW items to work, put them at the top of the list. Work towards learning the garment construction skills you need, nail the fit, make toiles. Practice handling the fabrics you’d like to make your dresses in.

Use your notes app, Pinterest or similar to record pattern options and reviews from fellow sewists or knitters. Pattern Review is a great website if you sew, and Ravelry is the go-to for knitters.

Stick to what you know suits you, and don’t let trends or anyone or anything else sway you. Have a look at these wardrobe curation resources if you’re not sure about what you do or don’t like. Clothes are there to support you throughout life. It’s not the other way around.

Natalie Warner

I design size inclusive knitting patterns for clothes makers who want their garments to fit well. Clothes should serve you, not the other way around. You alter clothes to fit you, not alter yourself to fit the clothes. This is at the heart of everything I do.

I also teach other people how to design knitwear and am currently creating a comprehensive, year-long knitwear design course, covering everything from illustration to pattern grading.

If you’re enjoying my content, you can get more by reading my blog, which features several articles on garment fitting, alterations, knitwear design and sewing pattern reviews, following me on Instagram or Pinterest @natalieinstitches, or signing up to my newsletter.