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Thursday 10 November 2011

Sew it yourself: DIY Couture

I've been a frustrated sewer for a long time now. I get befuddled by patterns but lack the confidence to go it alone - or when I've had the confidence it's never quite been matched by the results. I've been relieving some of my frustrated ambitions through DIY Couture who have been gently guiding me through the process of making a pleated skirt.

DIY Couture are the people behind a very simple idea. They produce books, each based around how to produce one garment of clothing. Their instructions are straight-forward, refreshingly jargon free and have lots of diagrams to guide you through the process.

The books themselves are quite nice things: as well as the plentiful illustrations, they are printed on uncoated paper, with space at the back of the book given over to a guest artist to do with what they wish. All that aside, what I like best about their approach is the way they encourage you to think about things for yourself in a non patronising way: What fabric do you want to make your skirt in?  How many pleats? What length? There are plentiful pictures in each book to help you visualize the impact of these decisions. For example, below is the pleated skirt in a much longer length. I'd like to think that thinking about these things will help me become a better maker in the future.

However much the books demystify the whole clothes-making process, there is still plentiful room for human error. I do not want to recount how many times I've sewn and had to unpick my pleats because I still haven't got them quite right. The point is, thanks to the instructions, I realise when I've ballsed up a lot earlier than I usually do and therefore saved myself lots of sweat and tears further down the (hem)line.

There are twelve items in the DIY Couture collection, everything from jumpsuits to hoodies,  but just three available as the instruction books for now (with the rest presumably to follow): the skirt, a cape and a gathered dress. Each costs £9.

Whether you buy a book or not, all aspiring seamstresses should take a look at their website. Their links section covers everything from sewing machines and classes to fairtrade fashion and DIY publishing - no excuse really not to try it out for yourself.


  1. Why have they teamed the Amish-style skirt with a see-through top and no bra??

  2. Maybe lingerie making will be in the second set of books?


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