The Halston Cast Look So Much Like The Real People In The Designer’s Orbit

Refinery 29 UK

How Much It Actually Costs To Make Your Own Clothes

Gone are the days when making your own clothes was reserved for former nuns in The Sound Of Music and the Shreddies nanas. After the rise of fast fashion in the late 20th century – and the more recent backlash – people are turning once again to slow, handmade fashion.Even before the pandemic, digital magazine service Readly reported that of the 5,000 titles and 83 million issues read globally in 2019, the most searched topic was needlework craft. The last year only accelerated that trend: Google searches for sewing machines jumped dramatically from March 2020 in the UK, with John Lewis reporting in June that sales of them had risen by 127%. Likewise knitting, crochet and embroidery saw a resurgence in popularity as people sought things to do with their hands during lockdown.For someone on the outside looking in at the world of sewing, knitting and crochet, getting started might seem intimidating. What does it actually cost to make your own clothes? How much time does it take to produce something wearable? And how can I get started?We asked six women and non-binary people whose homemade clothes we love to share their favourite self-made piece and use it as a way to explain just that: the real cost of materials and equipment, the time spent and the satisfaction gained from the final result.Nicole (@coolstitches)What’s your favourite piece and why?It’s hard to choose a favourite since I’ve made quite a few garments and loads of them were challenging, which is usually what I love about sewing. I made this corset top last year and at that point it was the most challenging piece I’d made. How long did it take you to create?It didn’t take that long because I usually get really into it. I first did a toile to figure out if what I’d drafted on paper would work. The toile took a day. The final version was sewn through the span of three days. I took my time to figure out the construction and I ended up making a few changes to the pattern again and sewed this version which turned out to be my favourite.How much did the materials, pattern and equipment cost?It’s hard to remember after a year of so much sewing but here’s my estimation: Toile fabric: €3 (£2.58)Final project fabrics: €10 (both were remnants) (£8.60)Thread: €3 (£2.58)Equipment in sewing is hard to break down because I would have to divide the price of my machines by everything I’ve used them to sew but I have lower range machines (sewing machine and serger). Sewing isn’t cheap but you also don’t need the best machinery in the world. Do you have any advice for people looking to make their own clothes? Honestly, just start. I think the best trait you can have to be good at sewing is not being afraid of failing. Sewing is a lot about trial and error. Things don’t need to be perfect and you’ll get there with practice! More practical advice: check out @theessentialsclub. Patterns can be intimidating at first so drafting something taking into account your measurements might be easier to understand at first and that’s exactly what she teaches you how to do.Mariel (’s your favourite piece and why?I think it’s a close tie between my two latest makes – every time I’ve made something new, that garment has quickly become my favourite piece until I get to the next one. Often it’s more about how proud I am of the fit or construction. I genuinely learn something new with every item I sew or knit, so with each garment made, I feel that much more confident and proficient in my making. This last month I finished a pair of trousers and a knitted vest. Both of them took a lot of time and planning and effort but I’m so pleased with the finished outcome. They are comfortable, they fit right and they’re made from materials and colours that are super wearable.How long did it take you to create?I’m a bit of a nerd here. The past couple of years I’ve been following in the footsteps of a friend and doing a buying ban – basically I’m not buying any new garments or soft furnishing items. If something breaks, I either repair it or make one myself. It’s helped me retrain myself and my understanding of what I actually need and what is just me absorbing/replicating irresponsible consumption. Part of this has helped me to think a bit deeper about garment production and the exploitation that must exist for us to purchase the clothes we do at the prices we expect.When I started sewing and knitting, the amount of time it took to make something shocked me – how can it take me a full day to make a vest top but I’ve been used to buying them on the high street for under a fiver?The trousers took me nine hours over two days to create – four hours in planning and prepping my materials, and five hours in actual construction. Being honest, when I think about sourcing inspiration and settling on a design, that probably took a fair few hours before too.How much did the materials, pattern and equipment cost?For the trousers, I spent £18.75 on materials – the bulk of that is in the pattern, which was about £12. The material I bought from a wholesaler in Hackney for really cheap, it was £4.50 a metre and I used 1.5m for these trousers. Technically we could include my sewing machine in there but that was a gift from 2018 so feels slightly disingenuous. If I included that, it’d be an additional £210. Do you have any advice for people looking to make their own clothes?Start slow! Don’t buy everything all at once! It’s so tempting to just throw yourself in with wild ambition to totally recreate your entire wardrobe, and buy ALL the material and ALL the equipment and ALL the patterns… But what I’ve found is that the items I made in that frenzy of making at the start of my sewing/knitting journey are actually the items I wear the least. It’s the stuff I’ve been making lately with more time and consideration behind them that I’ve been most proud of and have got the most wear out of.Mette (@ungtblod)What’s your favourite piece and why?It’s hard to pick a favourite! I have been knitting for two and a half years and in that time managed to knit 20-30 projects a year! But if I were to pick a favourite it could be my cloud sweater: I love it because it’s my own design and combines some of my favourite things about knitting and making my own clothes.I got the idea from this amazing coat by Helmstedt – I fell completely in love with it but instead of saving up to buy it, I decided to try to make my own version. It’s knitted using scrap yarn from my (ever growing) yarn stash and knitted using the technique called intarsia [where you create patterns using multiple colours]. Wanting to learn intarsia was one of my main motivations for learning to knit. With intarsia you can do almost anything – or so it feels.How long did it take you to create?My guess is around three weeks. I don’t really keep track, and more and more I work on many different things at once; some will take months to complete and some I will finish in a week. I’m a huge believer in knitting where your motivation and inspiration is.I love taking my projects with me on the go but when knitting intarsia you use several different skeins of yarn at once, which quickly becomes a messy chaos. This project was done in the beginning of lockdown where we were all bound to the sofa.How much did the materials, pattern and equipment cost?I used yarn from my stash so it’s hard to calculate the cost. I often buy deadstock yarn and whatever catches my eye, and this sweater is knitted in several strands of yarn at once. My best guess is the cost is around 300-500 DKK (£34.69-£57.82). Throughout the sweater I used a blow yarn and combined it with all types of different yarns – some that I dyed myself. I improvised the sweater pattern but used the basic construction from one of my favourite patterns: Stockholm Sweater by PetiteKnit. It’s a really good pattern because it’s easy to modify. My version is in a completely different gauge than the original. The pattern costs 40 DKK (£4.63).Knitting can be a really expensive hobby because lots of yarn is very expensive and there is also plenty of expensive needles and equipment. But you can start out pretty cheap if you want. By now I have bought several needle sets with exchangeable needles, but really you can start out with just the size of needle you need and it won’t cost you too much. Do you have any advice for people looking to make their own clothes?To me knitting is the perfect combination of a way to use my creativity, having a hobby and making my own clothes. I think I have become addicted to knitting – to the calm it brings me. It’s an invaluable break and way to recharge. I knit every day, often while watching TV or listening to audio books, which is a perfect match. So the part where I make my own clothes becomes only one part of why I’m doing it. I enjoy the process as much as the result. Nisan (’s your favourite piece and why?My latest coat holds a really special place in my heart. It’s made out the most beautiful dark golden-olive wool with tiny multicoloured flecks in it, and features raglan sleeves, an oversized fit, big collar and lapels and welt pockets. I have been lusting after big wool coats that blend modern-day minimalism with ’80s drama for at least a full decade, so it feels amazing to finally own one! It makes me feel like I’m the main character of my TV show whenever I wear it out, which is truly the best feeling. How long did it take you to create?From assembling the pattern and making a toile of the coat to a final press, I worked on it for about 46 active hours over the course of 16 days. Here’s a rough breakdown of how long each step took:Assembling the PDF pattern: two hoursMaking the toile: four hoursResearch on construction: eight hoursCutting out the fabric / lining / inner structures: six hoursConstruction: 25 hoursFinal press: one hourHow much did the materials, pattern and equipment cost?Important context: I live in Turkey and our economy is in such a terrible state that the numbers I give will sound ridiculously low when converted into pounds (£1 is about 11.5 liras right now). The monthly minimum wage is currently 2,800 Turkish liras (£234.67) and we pay 1,800 liras (£150.86) for our three-bedroom apartment at the city centre (in Ankara, the capital). The main wool fabric cost me 55 liras (£4.61) per metre, so 165 liras (£13.83) in total. (It was originally 125 liras per metre but I got it at a reduced price.) The lining was 35 liras (£2.95) per metre, so 70 liras (£5.85) total. The interfacing and other inner structure layers were around 15 liras (£1.26) total. Thread was 10 (84p). That brings it up to 260 liras (£21.79) for materials. The pattern was 4 liras (34p) from Burda Style (it costs close to $11 on the US site so I don’t know what’s up with that). In terms of equipment, my sewing machine was 6,100 liras when I bought it (it’s about £1,140 in the UK) and I would estimate all other essential equipment to cost about 3,000 liras (including the iron, ironing board, pressing supplies, scissors, needles etc.). The cost of labour that went into the making of this coat is approximately 500 liras (£41.91). That brings the total up to 764 liras (£64.03) excluding the equipment and 9,864 liras (£826.70) including the equipment.Do you have any advice for people looking to make their own clothes?Yes! I made a lot of bad garments before I started making good ones, and I learned so much from those ‘bad’ first garments. It’s very easy and understandable to be discouraged when a sewing/knitting project goes wrong, especially for newer makers, but I’d say treat those misadventures as learning opportunities and treasure them. No amount of research will teach you more than a failed attempt! Also: Google and YouTube are your best friends when it comes to learning how to sew (or knit). I learned everything I know by googling how to construct various elements or use different techniques. In short: lots of research and even more practice! Mel (@melt.stitches) What’s your favourite piece and why?This was a tough one. I would have to say these denim shorts. I achieved my dream shorts through drafting my own pattern, sewing them up and bleaching to create my perfect denim high-waisted shorts. How long did it take you to create?I spent a couple of hours a day over two weeks on these shorts. I took my time in creating a pattern, making three toiles until I got the right fit, sewed them up over a day, bleached the next, then installed the hardware once dried. That’s probably why they are my favourite piece. They took days to create but I loved every step of the process!How much did the materials, pattern and equipment cost?Denim was leftovers from a previous jeans project but I’d say $10 (£5.49), bleach $2 (£1.10), threads $8 (£4.39), hardware was gifted to me… So $20 (£10.98)? And the pattern was self-created but that in itself is hours of my time.Do you have any advice for people looking to make their own clothes?I would say the best thing is to take the plunge and just give it a go! Your first projects aren’t going to be perfect but you’ll learn so much and feel so satisfied making your own clothes. Don’t get hung up on the little details and just get it done. I also would invest in good quality fabrics. I found once I got over my fear of stuffing up and purchased nicer fabrics, like linens, I treasured my garments even more.There are so many free resources out there to learn from: YouTube, sewing blogs, IG pages – I especially love @_diydaisy for her beginner-friendly tutorials that don’t require a pattern.Sadhbh (@sadhbhknits)What’s your favourite piece and why? I love this vest because it was the first time I designed something myself. I’d wanted a cropped, high-neck sweater vest for a while and was feeling inspired by the repetitive floral patterns of the ’70s. I have other pieces I’ve made since then that I’m also really proud of (this kind of mad clown jumper is a standout) but this was my first success at writing my own pattern. I got so excited about finishing it, I actually wore it outside without weaving in the ends (which explains the yarn you can see poking out!). I’m now making one for a friend in lilac and yellow.How long did it take you to create?In terms of actually knitting it took me about a week and a half, spending a lot of my evenings and most of my weekend on it (lockdown, baby!). But it took a lot of trial and error before that week and a half, where I drafted a whole other vest that I ended up having to take apart. It was about a month of trialling (again, around work hours) before knitting up over a work week.How much did the materials and equipment cost?I already had my needles so the only cost was the yarn, which cost £35. It was one of my cheapest projects – yarn can run very expensive if you go in for silks and alpaca wools. This is just a very standard and sturdy Cascade 2200 which comes in big balls and has every colour imaginable.Do you have any advice for people looking to make their own clothes? YouTube tutorials are your best friend, there’s an answer for everything. Starting with simpler chunky projects is a good road in for knitting, too – you can see mistakes quicker, it knits up quicker and it’s easier to undo if something goes very wrong. Also! Don’t try and watch anything intense while you’re knitting something complicated. If it’s too absorbing or distracting you’ll either mess up your stitching or miss some key detail in the show, which isn’t fun for anyone. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?How Hobbies From Period Dramas Got Cool AgainMaking Clothes As A Plus-Size Person Is RadicalMake Your Own Clothes Like These Insta Babes