If sewing clothing intimidates you, it’s time to reconsider. A plethora of independent designers are creating patterns for new sewers, as well as for those who know their way around a machine but may not have stitched a French seam or sewn a hem in awhile. Two whose patterns are available through United Notions are April Rhodes, creator of the au courant Staples dress, and Bonnie Ferguson of Fishsticks Designs.
Though April started sewing when she was eight and she and her mom opened their Columbus, Ohio shop, Sew to Speak, six years ago, it was barely a year ago that she published the Staples dress. She designed it after searching for a pattern to teach. “I couldn’t find one with fewer than eight pieces and that’s just too much cutting time,” she says. “So I created the dress that could be made in two class sessions of two to three hours each. I wanted it to be easy enough for beginners, but also interesting for an advanced sewer. I figured if we needed a pattern like that, other shops might too.” April’s since published two more patterns: The Date Night Dress and the Riding Peplum.
Bonnie, a mother of six and grandmother of one, started sewing children’s clothing for her own brood. “I was frustrated because I couldn’t find cute clothing for boys, so I designed some,” she says. Her pattern company, Fishsticks Designs, was born when friends asked her to share her skills in online tutorials. Since 2007, she’s created 35 patterns for children and adults. The instructions feature photos of each step and designs include pajamas, tee-shirts, jumpers, and hoodies. “I like to make practical stuff that you’ll use everyday,” says Bonnie. “Moms and grandmothers are busy and if they’re going to take the time to make something, it’s nice to see kids wearing it often.”
April and Bonnie encourage both brand new sewers and experienced quilters to give sewing clothing a try. April recommends perusing social media to see what people are making and what looks good on various body types. “There are so many great independent patterns out there now and when you spend time on something you want it to fit and be flattering,” she says. “Ask questions, take classes, and connect with others in your local quilt shop or online. You never know what you’ll learn from another sewer.”
Bonnie suggests that those new to sewing clothing start with pajamas. “If they don’t turn out perfectly no one will see them, and once you master PJs you’ll have cute Christmas morning pictures each year” she says. “Or start with something small: a basic tee-shirt or even underwear is great.”
April and Bonnie both note the satisfaction and excitement of wearing clothes they’ve created themselves and encourage others to step outside their comfort zones.
“Choose a simple pattern to start, and don’t be afraid,” says April.
“Buy some fabric and try it,” says Bonnie. “Just like quilting, the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be with it.”