Nate Wessel


I’ve been sewing since about 2008 when I snagged an old 1963 Singer from the local Goodwill. Since then I’ve slowly ramped up to the point where I’m making pretty much all of my own clothes. I enjoy the design challenge of flat patternmaking – it really stretches my visual/spatial imagination – and I find the process of cutting, sewing, and fitting a garment thoroughly satisfying in contrast to all the computer-work I’m usually stuck doing.

Most of the time, unless I’ve been especially inventive with my design, no one else seems able to identify or appreciate a handmade garment. I’ve noticed that when I get a compliment on something, it’s almost always really a compliment about a bold fabric choice – usually a print or something shiny. Once in a while I’ll get a compliment about fit or overall design, but these are a rare exception. Modern industrial garment manufacturing means that most people are well-fitted with well-constructed clothing, so a good fit or a neat stitch won’t tend to stand out.

In 2012 or so I did some freelance fashion design work, though I’ve found that the prices people are willing to pay generally can’t justify the time spent. The impression I got was that most people wanted clothes that were really fairly ordinary, though perhaps with a few alterations or fit adjustments. They were almost always better off just buying what they wanted from a good brand, possibly from a department store which will make free alterations with a purchase. I think the real potential for bespoke sewing/patternmaking as a viable career lies in working for people with asymmetrical bodies and/or disabilities that aren’t well served in the current market – or in highly niche areas like certain kink and BDSM clothing which needs to be very closely fitted.

Still, I find it satisfying to go about in an outfit I made myself, fit to my body and preferences, pockets just exactly the right size for my hands and so on. It’s not worth the money, but it is worth the time.

So anyway, this page used to be a section in my portfolio but since I no longer think of this as a commercial skill, there is little need to advertise my talents. One of these days I’d like to build out this part of the website a bit with some various thoughts on design in menswear, construction tips I’ve learned over the years that aren’t well documented, and so on.