Q&A Monday: Getting Started!

Mauve Maven Dress
First Ever Thrift Score Thursday!!!

Welcome to the FIRST EVAH SlipsKnute Q&A Monday!!! *drum roll*

I’m going to kick this week’s Q&A off with the most frequent question I get:

Q:  I want to start refashioning, but how do I get started?

Trying something new is scary.  What if you aren’t any good at it?  What if you screw up?  As Einstein once said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried something new.”

Listen to him.  He knows his stuff.
Listen to him. He knows his stuff.

Think on that.

When you were born, chances are you were pretty terrible at walking, speaking, eating, and not crapping all over yourself.  The more you tried these things, the better you got (hopefully).  Then you started learning new things, like math and reading– which you also probably sucked at when you were first figuring them out.  Now you’re probably a bit better at these things (once again, hopefully).

Fast forward to Grownup You.  Grownup You doesn’t want to screw up, and that fear of failure is going to hold you back from doing all sorts of awesome stuff if you let it.

So don’t let it.

You’re going to mess up a LOT of your refashions when you first get started.  It’s okay. Your innocent victims only cost you a dollar, and they were hopefully ugly and unwanted anyways.  You’ll learn from your mistakes, and you’ll get better.  :)

Okay…so now you’re all psyched up and ready to get started with some refashioning!  What now?  What supplies do you need?

You really don’t need very much to get started.  This is what my current sewing setup looks like:

This is where it all happens!
This is where it all happens!
I use cheapo over-the-door shoe bags for storage!
I use cheapo over-the-door shoe bags for storage!
My dress form & bins 'o future refashions!  :)
My cabinet of patterns, dress form,& bins ‘o future refashions! :)

You might think that’s an awful lot of stuff, and you’re right.  Luckily, you don’t need all of that to get started.  Your beginner setup will look more like this:

The box of Pinot Noir is optional, but highly recommended.
The box of Pinot Noir is optional, but highly recommended.

Here’s all you need to start your own refashioning adventure:

A sewing machine (which should come with bobbins and a needle)

black thread

white thread

pin cushion

stick pins

needles for hand sewing

safety pins

seam gauge

tailor’s tape measure

small scissors

larger scissors

seam ripper

You’ll also want to have these guys on hand, but you probably already own them.  :)

Remember us?  :)
Remember us? :)

I keep all of my supplies out in the open (which is why I can’t use my dining room for actual dining), but I didn’t always do this.  You can always tuck your machine and supplies in a closet or on top of your fridge (where I used to keep mine!) if space is scarce.  Just make sure you can get to it easily and get it set up quickly.  :)

So now you have your courage and supplies, but how do you actually get down to the business of learning how to sew?

I’m self-taught.  I studied my sewing machine manual and checked out books from the library and eventually figured the basics out.  I read lots of sewing blogs and googled lots of questions.  Youtube was a big help.  But, you could take a class (many craft and fabric stores offer them) or get a friend you know who sews to teach you in exchange for booze and food.

I hope this post gives some of you who are on the fence about getting started remaking your own custom wardrobes the push you need.  Viva la Refashion!  :)

Cheers!

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45 thoughts on “Q&A Monday: Getting Started!

  1. I love your blog!! And getting your emails inspires me to be creative and fun! I’m taking my first sewing class in two weeks! I’m super excited!

  2. Nice job, nice set-up. Simple, and do-able! So many are scared to just try…which is what makes those who do SEEEEEM so creative/ Really, creativity is just bravery: willingness to try anything!

    Another idea for those with limited space: I use my ironing board as my sewing table. I like to stand to sew! It’s constantly set up in my garage (which makes for 3 miserable sewing months each year (So. California), but it’s functional for me.

  3. I would go so far as to say – you could probably live without the seam gauge. I’ve never sewn with one and have always just used a ruler or a tape measure on my hems (or, usually: winged it), and they’ve never been *noticeably* wonky…

  4. I have a question….how do you know to use certain kinds of stitches on different fabrics? Can you recommend a good book or website? Love your blog!

  5. Great post, thank you. I think an important element of your refashioning is the creative way you accessorize your refashioned creations. It would be great if you would accompany your “reveals” with an explanation of how you selected your shoes, stockings, jewelry, etc. to add sizzle to your new outfits.

  6. I’m self taught, too! Awesome, now I don’t feel so disheartening for not have taken a professional class other than middle school home ec!

  7. We have the same sewing machine YAY! It makes me feel cool. Like I can do this.
    You inspired me to try refashion. I attempted to sew a skirt from pattern, and it was not bad the first time around (it was not good either but shhhh) Now I scored $3 skirt from Value Village (that I actually like) and I am trying to shorten it properly. So far the lining was shortened, I’m scared to move on to the skirt. My goodwill and thrift stores have nothing for $1. Where do you find deals like that?

    1. Haha! Twinsies! :) I live in Columbia, South Carolina. Different cities and countries have a wide variety of price points at thrift stores. There might not be anything like the stores I go to where you are. But, ask around! I find most of my awesome cheap places by word-of-mouth. Also, try garage sales and flea markets. :)

  8. I continue to love your blog. Keep up the awesome work, I am a huge thrift store queen, I have not bought any clothes brand new except nickers, bras and socks for over a year. I will often buy pieces just for the fabric and refashion them into something completely different. You inspire me to be courageous with my refashionings and I always get a little thrill when I get a notice that you updated. Cheers

  9. I’m so excited for this series. My sewing area looks similar to yours. I, too, am self taught minus the beginners lessons I got from my grandmother back in grade school. So excited to learn more about your dress form. I have the same one and want to learn to use it the “right” way.

  10. I LOVE your setup – the clear bags to show everything are brilliant, much better than having everything in a sewing box. Love that thread holder too! I agree – the box of Pinot Noir is a really good addition, as long as you don’t drink the entire box and THEN try to refashion something!

  11. Why have I never thought of the wine box before!?! LOL I too am self taught and I’m still learning after many years of sewing. I have never refashioned anything but am inspired to give it a try…as I love to go thrifting and don’t always find what I’m looking for. Now I can look with a new set of eyes and creative thoughts. Love your posts, keep em coming!!!

  12. I’ve been following your blog for o couple of weeks now. So glad I found you :) You are a big inspiration to me, and clearly to many others aswell. Refashion is the thing and you make it cool. Go gal!

  13. Love your blog! Easy question for you–where would you recommend looking for a dress form? So far, I’ve only found them available brand new in sewing/craft stores–any hints? Thanks!

  14. Bonjour from Paris! I love your blog. i bouger à sewing machine and à serger to stars sewing and refashioning. I bave round nice cloches to refashion at 1 € but I am trying to find sole ideas. You inspires me and non I can start. Thanks for taking time to share your refashion and all thé best for this New Year. Bonne Année et Bonne Santé à toutes. Cheers! Cristina
    .

  15. Hey there! Love, love, love your blog!!! Found you on Pintrest, and have been following ever since. Any tips for changing a turtle neck sweater into a V-neck? I can get the neck off no problem, but would sewing before I cut be strong enough to keep the front from unraveling!?

  16. OMG why didn’t I think of the shoe holders?? That is brilliant!! Especially because I only have my bedroom for sewing and not enough space to lay out & see everything. You are the awesomesauce!!

  17. Love your blog! Please keep inspiring us. Your shoe holder is an excellent idea. I just bought some hanging jewelry holders to keep my necklaces from tangling. They also have clear pockets and might work well for smaller sewing items. :-)

  18. I use the exact same shoe thingys and put them on the wall too!
    they are great bc you can SEE what’s inside!

  19. I’ve been sewing since I was a young girl and thrifting for years as well, but your blog has inspired me to REFASHION my thrifted finds and I’ve been having so much fun doing it! You are so imaginative, keep up the good work!

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