Made by me / Video

Video: Sewing basics or buying them?

What are your take on sewing basics, like t-shirts and other simple garments? Those ones that you can pick up for a song in a store, and might not be all that rewarding to sew compared to more creatively challenging clothes? In this video I share a conversation I had with a women in a fabric store recently on this topic and also show some of my really simple me-made knit tops. I think this is an interesting subject and would love to hear your take on it, so please share your thoughts in the comments!

Garments mentioned in this video

Puff-sleeve wool knit top

Built By Wendy Home Stretch book (amazon affiliate link)

Burdastyle raglan top

Various versions of the Burda 7915 t-shirt pattern I’ve done over the years for both me and my husband (have not blogged about any of those apparently!)

Sewing themed top and leggings

Sewing themed jersey print fabric is from Tygaffären


  • Faye Lewis
    June 11, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    You add so much interest to your tops so they are never boring. I sew lots of basics.

    • Johanna
      June 12, 2017 at 8:17 am

      Thank you and nice to hear that I’m not alone in enjoying making basics ☺

  • Adrianne
    June 11, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Hi Johanna. I love your far from “basic” tops! I like to spend my time sewing items that I will wear a lot; so lots of basics. I can’t imagine having the time and patience to sew something elaborate that I may only wear once or twice, BUT I admire people who do!!

    • Johanna
      June 12, 2017 at 8:21 am

      Yes people are making some very impressive elaborate garments and they are a very different experience for sure. I can really enjoy the process of putting a lot of time and effort into things too, but a mix is nice!

  • PsychicSewerKathleen
    June 11, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Great topic Johanna! I swing wildly between these 2 places – sometimes I’ll think making myself simple knit tanks, shorts, leggings is silly when I can pick them up for about $15 and wash and wear them for years OR I can made myself a few out of fabric I love that is lighter and drapier and soft like bamboo. So far I’ve made myself leggings and have to say I love them! The advantage of making your own “basics” is that you can use whatever fabric you fancy and you can make them interesting in a way that flatters your body – fitted without being too tight in all the wrong places! Then I get into this thinking why waste my sewing time with basics when I could be spending it making lovely silk tunics that would cost me a fortune to buy? I guess like most sewists I swing wildly between these 2 regularly 🙂

    • Johanna
      June 12, 2017 at 8:29 am

      Being mindful of fit and fabric choices definitly transfers into basics too once we dip our feet into sewing so there are good reasons to test out skills with basics too. But just like you a swing between the two approaches ☺

  • Summerflies
    June 11, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    I go between both too. I’ve made lots of ball dresses, special occasion dresses, a wedding dress (designer copy), t-shirts, tights, plain elastic waist skirts anything really. I often joke my stash could produce anything for any occasion only not a wet suit. I love to make basics as they push you through some techniques on something that will get a lot of wear but you may not feel the pressure about. Also I usually love what I make so it won’t get trashed quickly like some RTW as it more unlikely that it will go out of shape and there are not that many bad fabric choices i.e. pilling, twisting etc. Your black raglan t-shirt with the mesh sleeves is so far from basic – it looks terrific.

    • Johanna
      June 12, 2017 at 5:36 pm

      You make such a good point about longevity, I too find that my own makes have better staying power, both when it comes to style and quality. Plus I think we often form a stronger bond with the garments that we have made ourselves

  • Marjorie TRUNDLE
    June 12, 2017 at 5:04 am

    I sew all of my basics these days to get the fit that I like. I have several favourite tee shirt patterns from StyleArc, Ottobre, Burda and Grainline. After sewing a challenging garment, I love to follow up behind with a basic tee-shirt. It is like de-stressing or warming down after a marathon!! (I don’t run marathons) .
    I really enjoy your videos and your down to earth approach to sewing. Thank-you.

    • Johanna
      June 12, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      I think you are spot on about the need to mix, they both have their pro and cons! After a bigger project like a jacket/coat or trousers I need to decompress with a quick instant gratification garment, but I usually have to add a little something to make it feel special ☺

  • Sandy
    June 14, 2017 at 4:52 am

    I make a few and purchase a few. We have Walmart in the USA and I purchase a lot of the Faded Glory t- shirts for around $5.00 each they last forever. Not much style, I wear them to clean house and lounge wear with my knit shorts, I don’t have to worry if they get stained and they fit like a dream.

    • Johanna
      June 14, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      You point to a great thing about shopping good basic RTW clothes, it removes the angst when stuff happens to them. I get so down when I ruin my makes, but never feel that way about the organic cotton tank tops from HM that I buy in bulk


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