DIY Garment Series Part One: Why I Want a Handmade Wardrobe

Posted by Ashley Daly on

Forever impressed by those who could sew their own clothes, Natasha Ball, owner and textile maker at House Sparrow Fine Nesting, has herself embarked on the new Garment Series. Natasha will be blogging her way through the classes here at Owl & Drum.


Natasha Ball of House Sparrow Fine Nesting


Part One: Why I Want a Handmade Wardrobe

When I looked into my closet last fall in search of something to wear and let out an audible UGH, I knew it was time for a wardrobe shake-up. 

A visit to my closet is like going to a store where you can buy all the basics, but only in black. T-shirts in short, long, and no sleeves? Yes! But all in black. Shorts, pants, overalls, skirts, dresses, coats, sweaters? Yes! Hope you like black!

People. Even my bathing suit is black. 

This is all fine and good for funerals. It is not so great for someone who is tired of everyone wanting to know who died. 

Know what bothered me most? I’m a maker, and I owned almost no handmade wearables—that is, handmade wearables for myself. For the other members of my family, that’s a different story. (Funny how that works.) 

While I’ve knitted a thing or two for myself, I haven’t had a piece of hand sewing in my closet since high-school home economics class. My teacher, for some unknowable reason, thought a good first project for our class was a pair of boxer shorts. I decided it would be a good idea to make my boxer shorts, which were basically two shorts-shaped pieces of fabric sewed together with a thin piece of elastic at the top, out of black fabric (surprise) with yellow smiley faces all over it.  

Proud of what I had managed to mash together once I finished, I couldn’t wait to show everyone my handiwork. Thing was, the shorts were too short for the school dress code. Plus, they were boxer shorts, which by definition aren’t flaunted around town as a fashion statement or as a craft project. I wore them once or twice to bed and then, once the elastic in the waist was irreparably twisted, the shorts went deep into a dark corner of my dresser drawer. Magically, I haven’t seen them since. Boxer heaven? Not likely. Boxer purgatory, maybe. 

I knew that as I set to work on my wardrobe, I wanted to support makers I know and love. But I wanted to try again and make some things on my own, too. Problem was, I wasn’t sure where to start. And I certainly didn’t want to go back to penance-inducing boxer shorts. 

With visions dancing in my head of beautiful #memademay posts filling my Instagram feed, I decided to talk to my friends Bianca of Owl & Drum and Mary of Mary Make & Do. As usual, they came up with a pretty great plan of attack. And it wasn’t just for me and the sad, colorless, mass-produced state of my closet. Bianca and Mary decided they knew how they could help anyone who has been toying with the idea of wardrobe sewing - even those of us who have been scarred by a prior wardrobe-sewing experience.

I love how the new Garment Series pairs skill building with beautiful design. Boxer shorts, I assure you, have been banned from this program. And I have promised myself that I will experiment with color. As part of the series, I get to look forward to slowly building my sewing skill set - learning hands-on as I build a new, colorful wardrobe of tops, skirts, and dresses. 

design wall natasha ball of house sparrow fine nesting

In my bedroom I created a gallery wall of things and images from my life and that of my spouse’s that make me smile. I included a boy’s suit, handmade for my husband by his mother, in the mix. It’s beautifully made and charming and heartbreakingly sweet. I have it displayed in a place of honor, hanging on a vintage wooden hanger, treated like art rather than a disposable commodity like so much of our clothing is these days.

My dream is to create pieces that I can wear like my bedroom wall wears that suit. I’m eager for when I can pass by a mirror and enjoy a glimpse at a handmade hem, the thrill of specially chosen fabric, and the memory of making things that matter with my friends. 

Until next time,


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  • Know the feeling about wardrobe. Have retired and working on getting rid of certain items. Also, have thought of sewing a current wardrobe for myself. Changes in style, color for myself and activities are different than when I was among the work force.

    Amy A Tiget on

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