A love for fashion and a desire for custom-fitting, modest clothes led Jessica Hooley to scour the internet to learn everything she could about sewing clothing. After hundreds of hours of reading, as well as trial and error, Hooley has filled the gaps in the pattern and sewing world with her online club, Do It Better Yourself, or “DIBY.”
“It very quickly became apparent to me that a lot of people have fashion needs or wants that are not met by the fashion industry,” explained Jessica Hooley. “Some women are looking for more modest fashions and they can’t find it. The average woman is a size 18, and there are almost no sewing patterns available for the average size woman.”
The DIBY Club is an online platform with a community of sewists (Hooley’s modern, gender-neutral word to replace “seamstress”), a growing library of sewing education online that includes video tutorials, and professionally drafted sewing patterns with the easiest comprehensive sewing instruction available. Unlike the big-name pattern companies, all the DIBY Club patterns come in size 00 all the way to size 36 in one envelope. “I really wanted people to be able to buy the pattern once and make it for anybody you love in an inclusive range of sizes,” said Hooley.
It’s not just about the sizes in Hooley’s patterns, she teaches how to measure and customize patterns by grading them and adjusting them to fit each body perfectly. “There’s a large number of people who DIY for pleasure and also as an art form. They want to do things better themselves. I’m teaching people how to make clothes that fit them better, that look better, that represent them better than anything they could buy at the store,” said Hooley. “Nothing represents you better than something you’ve made yourself.”
Sewing clothes at home was economical thirty years ago but has become less and less popular as the price of fashion fabrics has gone up. The industry is coming full circle as small shops online can carry remnant fabrics from department stores at deeply discounted prices. These are high-quality fashion fabric that didn’t end up getting used by designers. Hooley shares her best fabric finds with her DIBY Club members. She is always researching trends too, whether it’s at boutique stores or noticing people while she’s out and about. “Sometimes I’ll stop a person and ask if I can look at the back of their collar to see how it’s put together. I even took a picture of a couple of ladies at Cornbelly’s because I liked their outfits!” said Hooley. Her latest pattern, based on a mini-skirt trend she observed, is her 1990s-inspired corduroy, button-down, mid-length panel skirt.
“I never understood until now how anyone could be a workaholic. I really do love what I do!” said Hooley. She has received emails from DIBY Club members who have turned to sewing as a refuge from chronic pain or grief due to terrible losses in their lives. “There’s something really special about being able to create something from start to finish, to have someone guiding you all along the way. Sewing clothes should be an enjoyable experience, not a frustrating one.”
Jessica Hooley’s DIBY Club is online at https://doitbetteryourself.club and on the Facebook group, The Do It Better Yourself Club.