Updated on September 27, 2022 by Sarina

Do you know how to become a haute couture seamstress ? At the least, do you know the knack of sewing perfect clothes with a simple home sewing machine? There are some common dressmaking tips and tricks that will make your homemade clothes just WOW.

dressmaking tips

When you start a sewing project you have the best of intentions and expectations. It is mighty disappointing for it to turn out to be a dud that you have to discard. After all the hard work you realize that you are not going to wear or use it anymore.

This kind of disappointment, if repeated, often will kill all your sewing enthusiasm and creativity, in the bud. We do not want that – checkout these sewing practices – if followed strictly, they can make your sewing top notch.

1. Select the best fabric

Quality fabric choice is the number one pre-requisite of a great looking polished sewn garment.Checkout this post for the different types of fabric you can buy for your project.

Fabric is expensive; Sometimes the final product may end up way more expensive than what you would have found it on the stores. Do not buy more than what you need. Buy as per your sewing pattern or follow the general guidelines to see how much fabric you need for your sewing project.

Different fabric types call for different types of sewing techniques – checkout relevant articles – sewing with sheers and transparent fabrics,  sewing satin, sewing with leather, sewing with vinyl, pleather, poplin, polyester and sewing with denim

Related posts : How to buy fabric; Quality yardsticks to check for in fabric; Best thin lightweight fabrics ; Best thick fabrics ; 14 Best absorbent fabrics; Best UV protecting fabrics; Best waterproof fabrics; Best cold climate fabrics ; Best warm weather fabrics; Best fabrics for shirts ; Transparent see through fabrics; Best stiff fabrics ; Best interlining fabrics

2. Prewash fabric before sewing

Most of the fabric shrink in wash. This will make your finished sewn project unfit to wear after the first few washes if you have not prewashed the fabric.

Prewashing the fabric is nothing but hand washing it and drying it properly. Remember to iron all the wrinkles out before using it.

And if you are using interfacing, ensure that it doesnot shrink. If it does, you will have to prewash that too.

3. Learn to cut fabric properly

Use Sharp good quality scissors to cut fabric

Cutting is one of those chores that I bear for the joy of sewing. Imagine if I have to do it with blunt useless scissors. I usually pull my hair out when I have to cut fabric with blunt scissors

Checkout these different types of cutting tools you can buy and the best way to maintain the sharpness of your scissors. 

  • Find the right side of your fabric. For your knits, stretch it by the crosswise grain – it will curl to the rightside. For wovens usually the right side will look brighter with a good sheen. If you still cannot, look for the selvedge holes – you will find open holes on the wrong side. There may also be thread knots /slubs on the wrong side.
  • Ensure that the fabric is cut on the lengthwise grain for dresses pants skirts etc for proper drape and good fall. Learn more about cutting the fabric properly here and  about grainline and how to cut fabric on the bias
grainline of the fabric

4. Get a  good enough sewing machine

Your Sewing machine doesnot have to be a fancy piece for you to take up sewing. An ordinary straight stitch or zig zag sewing machine will suffice. Checkout this post on what to look for when buying a beginner’s sewing machine. But it has to be sturdy enough to withstand long hours of stitching that you will definitely do on it. Definitely not one of those mini machines.

If you are thinking of continous sewing you may want to buy an industrial machine – with just a little bit extra you can buy a machine which will do all the heavy work for you. Checkout this post on buying an industrial sewing machine, to decide whether you need one or not.

Also learn the inner outs of your sewing machine and its parts  which is necessary if you are going to use it frequently. Learn to sew a straight line with your sewing machine by practicing it and also get yourself familiarised with the sewing stitches in your machine.

5. Press as you sew

It is very easy to skip the pressing when sewing clothes. Actually you do not need an iron box, when you think like that. But do not think like that.

Pressing is such an important thing when sewing, the whole look of your final product may depend on this. So ignore pressing while sewing at your own peril.

There is only so much you can do with finger pressing. An iron can give that professional ‘not- homemade’ look to your home made clothes. Always sew the seams open. You can bulk finish seams and then bulk press. Checkout this post on how to press correctly.

The polished look pressing gives has to be experienced. I cannot emphasise enough the need of pressing. Ensure that the heat settings for the appropriate fabrics are set correctly in your iron box.

6.  Always interface where necessary

Interfacing is a fabric material which is used to give firmness, strength, stability and weight to seams and fabric surfaces.The fabric would just flop around if not for the interfacing- I cannot imagine a collar or cuff without interfacing.

You can use fusible interfacing on just about any fabric. Just place the glue side of this interfacing on the wrong side of your fabric and then use a hot iron to press in place.

I usually interface a big piece and then cut the necessary pattern piece from the fused fabric. Or else cut different pieces from  main fabric and interfacing and then fuse them together. Always use interfacing on facings and seams with stresses like buttonholes, zippers, behind pockets

Do not buy as small pieces (anyways the shop I shop at never sell less than 1 meter). You will find many uses for it in your sewing journey. More on interfacing here.

7. Maintain your sewing machine 

Your sewing machine can make your sewing life a struggle if you do not give it the care it deserves.

Checkout these 18  problems you may encounter if you have not been maintaining the sewing machine properly. This post will give you some tips on how to go about doing the maintainence of your sewing machine and also for repairing your sewing machine

8. Learn to make clothes from sewing patterns 

Sewing patterns can be self drafted or store brought.

Making your own patterns is easy with the instructions here or buy sewing patterns online at these stores.

Learn to sew  – Checkout this post with to reference posts to learn sewing easily. These tutorials will teach you the basics of stitching and then you will learn as you sew more.

9. Get some nice sewing supplies and tools

You most likely already have the most essential sewing tools like sewing machine, tape measure, scissors, pins, chalk and pattern paper. Checkout the other sewing tools and supplies you may need to further your sewing expertise and make your job easier.

10. Plan  the sequence of stitching in advance

I usually write down the sequence I will follow in making a garment – especially if it is the first time that I am making it. I need it for my disorganised mind. You can stitch the sections as per the sequence detailed below or as per your pattern instructions.

1. Panels, princess lines
2. Yokes
3 Darts, tucks and pleats
4. Pockets
5. Zippers
6. Facings
7. Shoulder seams
8. Collars
9. Sleeves
10. Waist seams of dresses / waistbands
11. Hems
12. Buttonholes
13. Buttons

11.Always clip and trim seam allowances wherever necessary

For seams to work nicely this is a necessity, especially if you have curved seams. Your pattern pieces have curves and you stitch straight lines. To conform to the curves the seam allowances should be trimmed to the minimum and clipped at intervals

Learn how to sew and finish curved seams and hems properly here.

12. Buy the best quality sewing notions and trims

Sewing notions and trims you use on your clothes shout the quality of the final product. Even a well tailored clothing in a good fabric can be ruined with a cheap looking zipper or button. So do not compromise on this.

Checkout these posts to know what you should call them : Tapes used in sewing; Cords used in sewing; Fabric trims used in sewing; Different types of buttons; Different types of fasteners

13. Follow couture sewing techniques

Finishing the fabric edges, using delicate invisible stitches are all techniques designers use to finish their exquisite creations. Learn and follow them.Check out this post on 5 invisible stitches used in hand sewing hems and seams.

You may think that it is simple enough to leave the inside fabric edges as is. But after a few tumbling in the washing machine the fabric edges will definitely fray and create a mess inside your garment. It looks professional and polished if you have finished fabric edges inside your garment too.

Checkout the 15 different ways to finish the fabric edges 

Topstitching, edge stitching, using appropriate linings inside for great drape and shape, using hand sewing adequately are all couture secrets that you can use

14. Hang garments before hemming

Most fabric stretch. To ensure that the stretch is done away with before hemming hang the dress for atleast 12 hours before you hem it. You will eliminate the stretch of newly sewn clothes this way. Easy.

Checkout the different ways to hem with a sewing machine and the different hand hemming stitches. 

15. Check for loose thread trails and trim away

Nothing is more unsightly than loose threads on a garment you are wearing. When you backstitch at the start of a seam and when ending it, you will be leaving a lot of thread tails – just clip all of them at the end of your session painstakingly.

Have you ever seen thread tails on shop-bought clothes?

16. Follow the Fitting standards in clothing

There are some standards of clothing that you should ensure that your finished sewn product should adhere to. Ensure that they are followed so that you make something that you are proud of.

You should ensure that the garment you have sewn meets the following criteria

  • Buttons fasten easily, neatly and securely. 
  • There are no loose seam stitching or hanging threads 
  • Buttons and buttonholes are all placed at an equal distance from the edge
  • Stitches are all even and smooth
  • Collars are neatly finished, equal on both sides, undercollar doesnot roll to the front collar. The corners are neatly turned out. 
  • Darts are lying smooth without any projections. Darts on either side of the bodice are placed equally and look the same. 
  • Facing at the neckline is neatly turned inside the garment without any bulges. The fabric edges are finished
  • Prints and patterns of the cloth you have chosen look neatly joined. 
  • Hem stitching is looking smooth without any projections or bulges and at an even distance from the hem edge
  • The pant hem is ending 2 cms from the ground when you are wearing shoes. Long sleeve hems are touching the top of your hands. 

Dressmaking is rewarding. But shoddy work is not encouraging. Make clothes you can wear with pride by following these tips.

a line dress sewing pattern dress sewing pattern

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    1. I appreciate and understand it, step by step break down process on how to sew all the information is good and well done thanks continue with your nice work keep it up

  1. This information work on many sewing levels. I am going to make a mind map showing the order in which to complete garments. …….and another denoting the best tips for making garments that you are proud to wear.
    It is so easy to forget something and then spending time rectifying it.
    It is going to take pride of place on my notice board above my sewing machine

  2. hi
    i would like start a new shop of ladies garments.
    i dont know how to start it..having morethan enough interest.
    would u give me some advices