Craving individuality, sustainability, and creativity, intrepid sartorialists are taking their sewing projects to Instagram, serving homemade looks you could only dream of finding in stores. Whether they’re dusting off their childhood Singers or threading brand new Berninas, these stylish creators are making great things happen with fabric and sharing the details—from pattern numbers and modification tips to specific fabric choices and body measurements—so you can, too. Here are some of our favorite sewists (a new term that combines the words “sew” and “artist”) to follow, along with their tips to get your needle bobbin’. By: Stephanie Ganz
Aaronica Cole, Atlanta, GA
Atlanta-based sewist Aaronica Cole flaunts her “me made” looks, from loungewear and yoga pants to lingerie, with equal parts realness and positivity. “Creating my own wardrobe has been empowering and has helped me love my body exactly how it is,” she says. As a batch sewist, Cole cuts multiple patterns at once, using binder clips instead of pins and a projector rather than printed patterns, finally assembling her designs in one big, satisfying swoop.
Shannon Flaherty, Richmond, IN
Shannon Flaherty shares her pattern tests and original creations with her art historian’s eye for color and composition. She’s also the founder of Sew Queer (sewqueer.org), an online community for queer and trans-identifying sewists, “building identity, community, and resilience.” When it comes to getting started with a DIY wardrobe, Flaherty says skip the simple tote bag and embark on a project that excites you; you’ll figure out the rest as you go.
Gyasti Averia, Los Angeles, CA
Poofy dresses and quilted vests abound in Gyasti Averia’s handmade wardrobe. The Indonesian-born sewist says she began sewing when she realized she could make the looks she loved for less. Averia suggests starting with a toile, aka test garment, in an inexpensive fabric to determine adjustments before sewing with the final material. She also says, when in doubt, seek out the online sewing community, “a hive-mind with super generous folks that always want to help.”
Atia Azmi’s Instagram feed is a vibrant mix of flower arrangements, DIY projects, and, of course, hand-sewn garments in a palette of fuchsia, lilac, and marigold. The stylish Londoner says she looks for sewing projects that can be constructed in a few hours or over the course of a weekend, opting to work in the evening, cutting and constructing everything from cardigans to overcoats as she watches TV.
Andrea Jones, Whispering Pines, NC
A sewist and knitter, Andrea Jones’ romantic flouncy blouses and chunky knit sweaters will have you hopping down the rabbit hole of the slow fashion movement. From swimwear to puffy jackets, Jones posts her aspirational projects and fills up her Instagram Story Highlights with invaluable instruction, including pattern and fabric specs, so you can try them at home.
These goods will get you goin’: Pattern Play
papertheorypatterns.com, $15 – $21
Sustainable, user friendly, modern PDF patterns that feel like instant classics. Try the Zadie jumpsuit!
Friday Pattern Company
$14 – $27
With an inclusive range of sizes, FPC has the kind of printed and PDF patterns—blazers, dusters, dresses, and more—you’ll want to make in multiple ways.
$14 – $35
With both physical and digital patterns available featuring simple shorts, tops, and jackets, too, this New Zealand brand is perfect for novice or pro.
When you’re ready to commit
Vivimage Explore 2
Mini Wifi Projector
Skip the paper patterns and project right on the fabric just like Aaronica Cole!
Olfa 45mm Deluxe
Handle Rotary Cutter
Spring for the ergonomic design—your hands will thank you.
Fiskars Self Healing
Rotary Cutting Mat
Every project starts with cutting, so give yourself a good foundation to work with.
Gravity Feed Bottle
Ironing is, like, one third of sewing. This one does it right.
Photo courtesy of models
This article originally appeared in BUST’s Summer 2021 print edition. Subscribe today!