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How to design and start making your own clothes - Designing - Part 1/4

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

You don't have to be a designer to design and create your own dream clothes

I get a lot of messages from people who'd love create their own clothes but they just don't know where to start, or even what to design let alone how to draft their designs into workable sewing patterns.

I know that this can be really frustrating which is why I've decided to write this 4 part series to help you start creating and designing your own dream wardrobe!

I've put together some great resources that I personally use to help me design my own clothes. Some may work for you and some may not, so just have a little go and see what works for you and you'll soon get into your rhythm. There's no right way and some days I use one method and another day I'll use a different method.


Step 1: Finding your inspiration

With so many great resources out there here are just a few that I use to piece together inspiration for designs I'd like to make.

1. Keep ideas that you like from magazines & newspapers

Build up your own scrapbook of ideas from magazine cutouts, newspaper cuttings, to photos you've taken of garments you like.

Top tips: I try to annotate my images as much as possible so I can remember what I saw in the design later on. Like circling a particular hem I like, a colour combination or the shape or fit of a garment. Then I can piece these bits together into designs I like later on.

If there are too many ideas in one magazine, I'll just keep the whole thing and put markers with notes on annotating what I like on that page. I even have 15-year-old Vogue magazines that I get ideas from to this day.

2. Save inspiration images you see on Instagram

I know Instagram posts can be impossible to find again unless you know who posted them but you can easily save them for later using the steps below.

All you have to do is click on the Save button at the bottom right of the image you like. Your image will then be saved to your generic saved folder but if you want to be super organised, then you can create different category folders. Just click on the 'save this to a collection' bar that appears when saving an image and then from here you can create new collections.

To find your images again follow the following steps:

  1. Click on your profile and then the burger menu (3 horizontal lines) on the top right

  2. Click on 'saved'

  3. Either select all posts or click on the collection you'd like to view

3. Use Pinterest boards to create a digital scrapbook of ideas

I find this method the easiest way to find new inspiration because if you click on a pin you like then similar ideas will come up, it's like a domino effect of never-ending inspiration.

All you have to do is create an account or use your existing account, create a new board and then save inspiration images to it. You can find my 'slow fashion inspiration' board here to see what I mean.


Step 2: Designing your wardrobe

Now you've found lots of inspiration, it's time to draw up your ideas.

I don't claim to be some kind of fashion illustrator but I do think this part of the design process is vital even if you're just copying someone else's design. By drawing up your ideas you'll find that you subconsciously think about the construction, design details and trimmings/notions you'd like rather than just going from image to pattern cutting straight away.

There are different ways I do this depending on what I have with me or how I'm feeling it and these are just the main ways I use. I have been known to draw on the odd napkin whilst drinking a glass of vino too.

1. Put pen to paper with Fashionary sketchbooks

Fashionary sketchbooks provide a faint dotted outline of the figure so that you can quickly draw up your wardrobe ideas without having to think about the proportions and so you can focus on your designs. Your drawings will automatically look great really quickly!

I've been using them for years and they're super helpful and have an amazing info section at the front too. Below you'll find a video review I've done of the Women's Wear one that I use to show you what they're like inside. You can also find about all the different ones which are available in my blog post that you can find here.

2. Put (chargeable) pencil to (digital) paper

Isn't it crazy how we can now 'charge' a pencil now? With an iPad/tablet, digital pencil and either a free drawing app or Procreate you'll be able to digitally craft and edit your design ideas. I use Procreate and I absolutely love it and I think it's well worth £9.99 (I've tried a few free ones but they just aren't quite the same).

A little cheat idea: you can import a photo of yourself and then draw over yourself to see if your idea will suit your shape and size, or just grab an online template of a figure and then trace over it :). This isn't meant to be a drawing competition, it's a way of designing and creating a positive experience.


Come and learn how to start creating your own sewing patterns with my free online class. In just 60 minutes, you'll learn how to take your design and transform it into dream clothes that you can wear. Sign up here to grab your spot now.

I can't wait to see you in the masterclass and answer your pattern drafting questions.

Happy designing, Sarah x

P.S. Come over to Part 2 where I'll be talking about how to create your own sewing patterns.



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