You will need:


A sewing machine

These days you can buy fairly decent, basic machines from department stores or supermarket’s online.  Expect to pay from £80 upto £2000 depending on the type of machine.


If you are looking to buy a 2nd hand machine from an auction site,  always make sure it is being sold in good working condition and that it has all the attachments and instruction manual.


Most “sewing” shops sell or know where you can buy refurbished machines.


A space to work

Find somewhere you can spread out.  A kitchen or dining room table are ideal. The height of the table is just right and you have plenty of room to lay out fabric for cutting.  You’ll need good light too as much sewing involves close work (especially if you need to un-pick!)


Other equipment

A sewing box – to store all your bits and pieces. This can be a tool box; I found mine at a car boot sale for £5!


A pin magnet -  is a great tool to use to pick up pins from the floor or work surface quickly if you don’t have the luxury of being able to leave your machine out.


Magnifying glasses – for close work (un-picking!)


Machine needles and sewing needles -  universal machine needles can sew through most things unless you are using denim (denim), jersey (ball point), leather (leather), silk (fine)


Thread – cotton or a cotton and polyester mix are the best options.


Scissors-  flat ended ones for cutting out your pattern pieces and small ones for snipping loose threads.


Seam ripper (un-picker! ) - buy a few as they tend to disappear, a bit like biros!


Pins – ones with the bobble heads are the best. They are easier to put in and pull out.


Tape measure - to take body measurements, and measure fabric and seams.


Dress pattern

Most dress patterns manufacturers state the difficulty of the pattern on the sleeve.  Start with an “easy” one. The last thing you want to do is start with a difficult pattern, get frustrated and then be totally “turned off” by sewing.  Sewing is fiddly and you really do need to read the pattern instructions.  Patterns are available online.  If you find the picture online hard to see, you can always print it out. If you are like me and quite indecisive, it’s sometimes easier to print out front covers of the patterns you like.  This way you can compare and hopefully choose one (or maybe 2 or 3!). The pattern books in sewing shops are really heavy and it’s hard to compare patterns in the catalogues.



I love using vintage fabric, which I source from scouring charity shops.  Just be careful that there are no nasty stains, holes or fading in the middle of the fabric. Duvet covers, curtains, bed sheets are great items to use.  If you are buying fabric from a shop, read the pattern you are using and make sure you buy the correct amount of fabric.  I tend to buy ½ metre more than I need. You’ll notice that I’m not metric! Choose fabric suitable for your garment, the pattern will have suggestions.  Remember that the whole point of making clothes for yourself is that they are unique to you.  So choose fabric that catches your eye, I'm a lover of "good ugly" fabric!



Exciting! so you've made the decision, lets get going.....