Making your own clothes can be deeply rewarding. There’s something satisfying about wearing garments that you created with your own hands and ingenuity. If you just got a new sewing machine and are a beginner, however, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are four beginning steps to creating your own clothes:

1. Take your measurements.

  • Unlike buying clothing from a department store, sewing patterns don’t come in small, medium, and large sizes. Instead, you’ll be using your own measurements to find a suitable pattern to fit your body type. Simplicity recommends wearing only your undergarments in order to get the most accurate measurements.
  • Get some flexible measuring tape. Measure the circumference around your bust, waist, and hips, and write down the number for each. These are the three most basic measurements that you will use when picking out a pattern to fit you.

2. Pick out a pattern.

  • Don’t pick something too complicated for your first foray into garment-making. It’s okay to challenge yourself, but you don’t want a pattern that is so difficult that you give up in frustration.
  • Try to choose simple patterns that don’t include buttons, zippers, or snaps. Shorts with an elastic waistband are a good first project for a beginner.

3. Choose your fabric.

  • This is one of the fun parts of making your own clothes. Go to a fabric store with your pattern and pick out cloth for your garment. The back of your pattern will tell you how much fabric you will need to complete your project.
  • Your pattern should also contain guidelines for the types of fabric that are best suited to your project. For example, many garments are best made out of cotton, linen, or other light materials. Heavy fabric, like the kind that is usually used for upholstery, is probably not suitable for making clothing.

4. Buy any additional supplies.

  • While you’re at the fabric store, don’t forget to buy thread for your project as well. Pick a thread that matches the fabric you will be using for your garment. If you’re feeling adventurous, however, you might choose a contrasting color for some visual interest.
  • Read the back of your pattern to find out if you need any additional supplies, often referred to as “notions.” Purchase any elastic, interfacing, or other notions that your pattern requires.

After following these four initial steps, you’re ready to start sewing. Make sure to read your pattern thoroughly and carefully before you begin. If you have any questions, you can always ask the employees at your local fabric store, who will most likely be happy to give you guidance. Now you’re beginning to make your own clothes!