Amber learns to sew!
Hi everyone, I’m Amber! I’ve been part of the Wild Boar Fabrics team for a while now. If you follow our social media, you’ll have seen my work. I take photos of our fabrics and post them online. I also help out around the office sometimes. I’m currently studying visual arts at university here in Hong Kong. Being able to apply the skills I’m learning at university to work is fulfilling. As an art student, naturally, I find that anything creative is exciting.
Wild Boar Fabrics founder, Zoe, has begun teaching me the basics of garment making. It’s impossible not to want to learn when your workspace is surrounded by such fun prints every day!
Going into this, I knew next to nothing about sewing. I’d never really done anything more than patch up holes in my trousers and teddy bears. To be honest, I’d always been a little bit intimidated by sewing machines - the speed, the needle, even the sound. But after giving it a go, I quickly realise that it's not so scary and sometimes we just need a push to get out of our comfort zones and try something new.
I’ve been inspired by videos on YouTube where people sew their own clothes or alter thrifted clothing, and it was something I’d hoped to try. I really liked the idea of sewing my own clothes as I feel it can help in the fight against fast fashion. Obviously making one piece of clothing isn’t going to make a huge impact on the fashion industry. But I believe that when we make our own clothes, we cherish them a bit more. This can at least lessen the amount of clothing we buy in shops. I've been on a bit of a sustainability kick recently, changing to soap bars, period cups, and the like. I think that with the current state of the world, it's important that everyone makes some sort of lifestyle change to help the environment.
So, let’s get into it.
Zoe handed me a stack of 1m cuts of cotton woven fabric and told me to pick a print that I was most drawn to. Immediately my eye was drawn to the watercolour dragon fruits on the yellow background because it was so bright and bold, yet it wasn’t so in your face. And it had been designed by a teacher from my high school, Ms. Sophie Reeve! (Zoe's note: unfortunately it is now out of stock for the time being!)
Next up was what to make with it. I already knew I wanted it to be a top and after some internet research and guidance from Zoe I settled on the Ogden Cami from True Bias because it was something that I knew I’d keep wearing and it didn’t look too challenging to make.
I had the assumption that I would only learn how to use the sewing machine, but I was surprised to find that sewing clothing really includes so much more. I was taught to take measurements accurately, how to follow sewing patterns and what all the various markings mean - 1 notch for the front, 2 for the back and how to cut the fabric without losing a finger to the rotary cutter. This was all before the actual sewing!
Actually using the sewing machine was much easier than I expected. Of course, I started with the slowest setting, but very quickly I could speed up when sewing straight lines. I had no idea just how much I would learn from such a simple top. Skills like stay stitching (which Zoe says can be very tempting to skip but it's really important to do it to prevent the necklines from losing their shape while you construct the garment) and understitching to stop the lining from rolling to the outside of the top.
I’m really happy with my choice of fabric as well, which was cotton. Although it didn’t give the same kind of drape or flow as a lighter fabric like linen, it was sturdy, which meant that the fabric didn’t stretch, slip or slide around while I was sewing it. It also made it easier to press so that lines and creases wouldn’t fade quickly. And the most important thing — it’s super comfortable to wear!
[Stay stitching the necklines and arm holes]
Learning how to sew the straps was interesting. I didn’t realise that they are sewn inside out, but of course they are! How else would we hide the stitching? It was really satisfying turning the straps the right way and revealing the work. This was a little bit fiddly, but having the right tools to hand such as a loop turner sure made it easier.
Of course, I also made some mistakes, such as very wonky lines, which led to me having to unpick, something really quite tedious. But it’s all a part of the learning process. Not wanting to do that again definitely motivated me to keep my lines straight.
Finally, I put all the pieces together and out came the final product, my very first (but not the last) Ogden! Voila!
I’m thrilled with the way that my Ogden Cami turned out, and I really love the pattern as well. I think that the bright and bold dragon fruits pulled the entire top together, and it’ll definitely make people look at my handiwork. I love how versatile the Ogden cami is, it’s so simple, but that’s what makes it so wearable in different styles. The instructions were super easy for a beginner like me to follow, and it turned out great (if I do say so myself!) The only thing I would adjust next time is the armpits. I felt that the fabric under my arms was a little too high, so I’d lower them when I cut the pattern next time. It would also be cool to sew up variations of this cami.
Overall, it was a great experience for me. I am really proud of myself for having a decent first go. I think the Ogden Cami is a great first sew for anyone who wants to learn how to sew, even with zero prior experience. It’s comfortable and something I actually want to wear. I'll definitely keep at it, so look out for my future sewing projects! I’m making a pair of Closet Core Carolyn PJ shorts next, I’ll be improving my skills with some French seams and piping.
What was your first sewing project? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to read them!