When I was thinking about how long I’ve been sewing and all the cool stuff I’m able to make, I remembered all the great advice I’ve received or things I’ve learned along the way.
Here’s my first list, in no particular order! I say “first” because I’m sure more tips will come to me after I post this. 🙂
- Never buy fabric you don’t love.
Because you’ll end up with a garment you won’t want to wear.
- Always do to the fabric what you expect to do to the garment . . washing-wise, that is!
I throw ALL of my fabric in the washer and the dryer before I cut anything out. Since I don’t dry clean anything if I can help it — in NYC it’s too expensive — everything I create needs to be able to make it through the washing machine and, usually, the dryer.
- Make a muslin (a proto sample) of your garment first so you can make any corrections to the pattern before cutting into the “real” fabric. Unless you know the pattern you are using already fits you great, or the style is so loose and forgiving it doesn’t matter how it fits — in those cases, just go for it!
- Your iron should be your best friend! Press. . . frequently!
This is the KEY to a professional looking garment. You’ll be absolutely amazed at how much better a garment (or any fabric project) looks if you press the seams (and any other parts that need it) after each major step.
- Figure out how to fit your personal body shape. If you are busty, learn the Full-Bust-Adjustment technique. If you are petite, learn how to shorten the body and sleeve lengths of patterns. If you are tall, learn how to increase sleeves and body lengths in the right place on the patterns. Go search out fitting techniques that will improve the fit of garments you like to make. There are some great books on fitting out there and lots of websites and blogs that will walk you through the steps. (** See note below.) Just remember…A great fit will always improve the look of your garment.
** Note: I didn’t learn to sew until I was in college (my first project was curtains for my dorm room), even though I’d been watching my Mom sew when I was growing up. While I originally learned to sew from books (this was before the internet! ha ha), I learned how to “fit” years later when I was a pattern maker and draper at Anna Sui and a Technical Designer at Tommy Hilfiger and Banana Republic. There’s nothing like fitting garments on a fit model and on a dress form, correcting patterns and describing how to improve the fit of a garment to a factory to improve your “eye” at fitting!