How To Design Your Own Clothes and Get Them Made Overseas

Posted by Team Uberkate on

May 30, 2014

I have been lucky enough to travel annually to Asia for over 15 years now. On my very first trip all those years ago, I was a frustrated fashion designer and I took fabric with me and had some hideous dresses made up.

I had chosen the wrong fabric – it was too stiff and the dresses didn’t turn out how I had hoped. They did however ONLY cost $10AUD each to be made.

At that price, I was not giving up!

The next time I went Overseas I put a lot more thought into what I wanted made and now when I go on my yearly trip to Thailand,  I always have a few pieces made up.

I want to share with you how to build your perfect wardrobe and how to design and have made some key pieces that will last you throughout your life.

There is nothing more satisfying than when someone asks you where you got your leather jacket from and you get to say to them “I designed it and had it made myself”.

1. The first thing to do is to work out your most beloved pieces in your wardrobe and think about how you can replicate them in a different type of fabric.

2. Think about the season that is coming up. For example we often travel to Asia in winter so having leather jackets made at that time is ideal as you can wear them as soon as you get home.

3. Visit some fabric/ leather stores before you leave and start to get a feel for what you love and need…. or simply want.

4. When purchasing fabric or leather ask the store assistant for help and get them to tell you how much you will need for a pair of pants or a dress or whatever it is you are having made.

5 Pack your suitcase around the fact that you will be taking fabric with you on the way there and bringing clothes home with you on the way back… i.e leave plenty of room.

6. Don’t forget to take your lining! I always like to use a special signature lining which makes me love my design even more. For my recent trip I hand painted some silk lining especially to line one of my leather jackets with.

7. Think about the details. I wanted sequin pockets on a pair of pants, so I took with me a small amount of sequins that would be just enough for pockets only.

8. When packing, roll all your fabrics up so they take up less room in your suitcase.

OK now it is time to GET EXCITED!

1. First things first – have a cocktail. No I am not kidding. Whilst you are out having those cocktails, keep an eye out for tailor shops near where you are staying. They are located pretty much everywhere.

2. Make sure you start to organise your designs by the second day you are there. Don’t leave it too late as it will take three or four days for a fabric outfit to be made and up to a week for leather to be made and perfected.

3. Most of the hotels in Thailand also have a tailoring service so if you don’t feel comfortable heading out to a tailor – order another cocktail and call reception to book a tailor to come and do a private fitting in the privacy of your room.

4. Haggle. Haggle Haggle… and have fun with it. Make sure you agree to a set price and get it in writing before you leave your fabric with the tailor. I tend to use on the street tailors as they are usually cheaper than the ones attached to the hotels.

5. If you have an item to be copied, provide the tailor with the item to be copied, the fabric, and a sheet of paper explaining which fabric is to be used for the outside and a small swatch stapled with any important details (eg lining)

6. Book a fitting for a few days time after your initial meeting the tailor. It gives you enough time to make any changes and if you are not happy with how things are going then you still have time to have things taken in / changed / double stitching added etc.

7. The hard part is over. Now go get a massage, shop for some special accessories to go with your new pants/ jacket/ top that is being made and delight in the fact that you too can design pieces that will last you for years to come!

Design Travel

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