What is it?     What you need     Getting started     Find out more


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What is it?

  • Making clothes and soft furnishings for the home and elsewhere is a very traditional activity.  Once a basic essential, it has become a significant use of free time for people who like to work with textiles.  

  • There is a wide range of possible items you can make, including men's as well as women's and children's wear, tailoring or upholstery.  Dressmaking may be combined with other work with textiles (see eg embroidery, and other textile crafts). 

  • It is possible to work from printed patterns and other easy to use designs, or to create your own items from scratch.  

  • Many people do dressmaking for their own pleasure and satisfaction.  For some it is also an important money saver and a way of getting an item that really suits.

Find out more


We have not managed to identify any organisations specifically concerned with home dressmaking.  Some of the magazines listed opposite should help.  So too should the following outlet.

The on-line sewing store www.sewessential.co.uk 



Popular Crafts
Practical Craft
Sewing World

Getting started

  • Find a local sewing or dressmaking group or club (see organisations above).

  • Take a class or course at your local adult education centre.

  • Consult books or magazines on different types of dress making.

  • Check in your local library/paper or education centre for more information.

What you need

Skills and people
  • People of all ages and both sexes can do dressmaking, though these are activities traditionally done by women.  

  • This is not a difficult activity to pick up, though there are many special skills that you can learn if you want. 

  • Most people do their dressmaking or soft furnishing work at home.  But there are groups and classes that you can join, and many do this for the chance to learn, and the stimulus of being with others.

Equipment or clothing
  • Material suitable for what you are making, plus a pattern or design and basic items like needles, thread, scissors, and probably a sewing machine, are the usual essentials.  

  • There are many small sewing machines suitable for home use.  More heavy duty equipment may be available at any class or group that you join.  

  • People doing upholstery may need more specialised tools. 

A place or facilities
  • Dressmaking and soft furnishing work can be done almost anywhere.  At the stage of cutting the material, a large flat space is needed.  

  • Classes and groups may use special work spaces with large flat tables and other equipment.

Have a go - get started now

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