Designing on her own


Despite all the chaotic happenings in the world, Annabelle Lee can be found peacefully hovering over a sewing machine. Unlike most people who’ve picked up hobbies over quarantine, however, Lee has been making clothing of her own design since last year.

“Making clothing was somewhat of a spontaneous decision; I had always liked sewing but never really did anything serious,” the Diamond Bar High School junior said via Instagram. “Last year I just decided to go to Jo-Ann’s and buy some fabric, which I eventually made into a skirt.”

Prior to her trip to Jo-Ann’s, a craft store known for its wide selection of fabric, Lee was inspired by influencer Bernadette Banner on YouTube. Banner is a dress historian who posts videos demonstrating different stitching and sewing techniques used for various projects.

Although Lee likes to admire other’s work, she continues to make her own personal designs. Designing a piece is one of the first steps in her artistic process. 

“The most difficult part for me is definitely drafting the pattern and cutting out the pieces,” Lee said. “There’s a lot of measurements and planning involved, and if you do it wrong then you end up wasting fabric.”

Lee said  that her projects vary in the amount of time they take. Right now, she’s tackling the design of a Victorian corset. 

“Hand-made clothing can take anywhere from a week to a month, or longer,” Lee said. “My current project, which is a Victorian corset, requires many mock-ups and fittings, and has already been in progress for about a month.” 

Regardless of the difficulty, Lee said that she enjoys completing a project.  

“My favorite part is when I finish it,” Lee said. “It’s satisfying to see everything come together and to wear something you made yourself.”

Besides fabric, this hobby requires a lot of other supplies including a sewing machine and plenty of needles. 

“I have the general sewing supplies: sewing needles, thread, fabric scissors, pins, ruler ect.,” Lee said. “I also have a rotary cutter and mat, and tracing paper for making patterns.”

Apart from designing things for herself, including skirts and outerwear pieces, Lee said she also likes to make garments for her friends and family.

“I’m still quite new to sewing, so I haven’t made a lot of pieces yet,” Lee said. “Some of them include an embroidered beret for my mom and a sweater I made for my friend’s birthday.” 

While Lee said that she enjoys the creative process of sewing, she doubts she will ever make clothing for profit. 

“I’ve thought about selling my pieces, and decided that I don’t want to,” Lee said. “Taking commissions would be tiring and I don’t really have the time to make clothing with a deadline.”

While she has a lot of projects under her belt, Lee still has a few different things she wants to try within her creative realm, including  thrift flipping, or upcycling, used clothes in the future. 

Although Lee looks forward to making more items, she can’t see herself continuing her hobby as a career. 

“I don’t want to continue this as a career,” Lee said. “It’s just a hobby, and I’d rather not overwork myself when I do it for fun.”