My name is Lex, and I’ve been selling my handmade clothing designs since 2002.
I’m mostly self-taught. And by self-taught I mean there was a lot of time and effort and trial and error put into teaching myself how to sew and draft patterns, but there were also a lot of kickass people out there, sharing free tutorials and tips on the internet.
I started WhatTheCraft because I love sharing what I learn, but it was also a way to pay it forward. Through this site I share my projects, tutorials and tips, my favorite fabric suppliers, the secrets to marketing your handmade business, and all the other things (cats, food, life) in between.
So naturally, you probably have some questions:
Are the tutorials here free for anyone to use? If I make an item using one of the WhatTheCraft tutorials, can I sell it?
Yes and yes! I’m a thrifty mofo, so I LOVE free stuff. You don’t need to be a member or donate or pay anything to use the tutorials, but any support you can give is much appreciated.
The tutorials are free to use, provided you follow the ground rules:
Please don’t post full WhatTheCraft tutorials elsewhere without my permission. You can post a photo and a snippet of the tutorial with a link to the full content on WhatTheCraft if you’d like to share.
Please don’t steal my photos. If you’d like to use them to link back to WhatTheCraft, that is totally cool, but using MY photos in YOUR tutorials (which doesn’t make sense, but I’m sad to say it’s happened) is not cool.
If you make something using one of my tutorials and post pictures elsewhere on the internet, I’d be much obliged if you could mention WhatTheCraft.com and post a link back here! Part of the DiY spirit is making sure sharing goes both ways. Pay it forward!
Can you sell an item made from one of my tutorials? Sure, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Chances are if you need to use one of my tutorials to make something, then you’re probably not ready to be selling that item. Work out the kinks first. By the time you perfect your design, it won’t really be from my tutorial anymore, will it?
Do you take tutorial/pattern requests?
Sure! You are more than welcome to request tutorials and patterns, but keep in mind that no matter how much I’d like to think so, I’m not the God of All that is Crafty. I don’t know how to do everything, and even if I know how to do it, I might not know a good way to SHOW how to do it.
So request away, just be nice! You might not think so, but these little tutorials can take hours and days to put together. The patterns take WEEKS. A little Please and Thank You would be spectacular.
Where do you get t-shirts, fabric, etc?
There is a ridonkulously huge list of such things here. Unfortunately, if you want to know about something really specific (i.e. “Where did you get the lime green leopard print velour?”), I won’t always remember. I’ve got fabric and t-shirts coming out of my… uh, rumpus. I have fabric that I’ve never used that I bought years ago. So you’re going to have to do a little searching on your own, but hunting for those rare gems is part of the fun!
Fabric supply with knit and stretch fabric in particular seems to be an extremely inconsistent market. I’ve bought 5 yards of zebra print one day, and then the next time I look for it, it is nowhere to be found. If you’re looking for something super specific, sometimes you have to be patient.
How did you learn to sew?
In a middle school “Life Skills” class. Seriously. After that, my mom taught me how to use a sewing pattern, and then I promptly stuffed it all into the back of my head until years later when I decided it’d be fun to sew again.
How did I get good at it? Practice. A lot of practice. I know it sounds like a B.S., Cheater McPeter answer, but it’s the double truth, Ruth. You aren’t going to be good at anything without a ton of practice. Don’t get discouraged. If you keep at it, you’ll be awesome at sewing, plus it’s fun! And if it’s not fun for you, well… then you should probably find another hobby.
How can I help/support WhatTheCraft.com?
You. Are. An. AWESOME PERSON! Seriously, any help is welcome and much appreciated! You can post a link to WhatTheCraft.com on your website, in your blog, facebook, twitter, etc. If you post pictures of projects you’ve made using WhatTheCraft tutorials elsewhere on the ‘net, please mention this site!
Do I have to use t-shirts to use your tutorials?
Certainly not! Most, if not all, of the tutorials could be made with any sort of stretchy material (knit, interlock, jersey, lycra, etc.), and lots of them could be made with woven, non-stretch materials with some slight modification (you’ll probably want to add a few inches to make room for darts if they’re needed and consider adding a zipper or buttons to help getting it on and off).
I know that knits and stretch materials can be a pain to work with if you’re not used to them, but it’s my fabric and material of choice, so that’s why all of the tutorials are kind of geared in that direction.
Worried about the expense? Check out the Craft Supplies section for some places that carry knit fabrics (almost always cheaper than the local fabric store), or buy some jumbo sized t-shirts at the thrift store!
What machines do you have?
I have 2 standard sewing machines, both of which are vintage. I like vintage machines because you can often get them for HALF the price of a wimpy new plastic machine. I have a Singer 301 (a straight stitch machine I bought for $30 at a garage sale) and a Kenmore 158.470 (a zigzag machine I inherited from my mother who bought it for $15 at a rummage sale). I have more machine recommendations here.
I also have 2 sergers: a Huskylock 936 and a Brother 1034D. If you’ve got the budget, the Huskylock is a BEAST. If not, the Brother is a very good machine for an exceptionally reasonable price, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking to buy their first serger. If you’re new to sewing, you need a standard sewing machine first. There are very few situations in which a serger would be useful as a standalone machine.
Lastly, I have a Brother 2340CV coverstitch machine. People ask a lot what machines they NEED, so I’ll say now that a coverstitch is not a necessity. It’s a luxury if you do a lot of sewing, and a nice addition to the collection if you are addicted to buying machines.
My rule of thumb for buying machines (especially the newer machines) is to check the reviews. Anything with 4.5 or higher stars on Amazon and 100+ reviews is a machine I’d be willing to gamble on.
I want to thank all of your other crazy craft people out there for keeping WhatTheCraft.com afloat, both money-wise (all of our awesome past sponsors and donors), content-wise (guest tutorialists, readers/commenters, etc.), and also traffic-wise (1.25 MILLION page views in a month? Holy crap!). I never imagined this site would grow to be so popular, and your continued enthusiasm and appreciation keeps me motivated!