Dressmaking tips in sewing (Be perfect in everything you sew)

Tips for improving your dressmaking and sewing skills and guidance to find tailoring techniques that will help you achieve a high level of skill and precision in your sewing projects so that final results do not have that homemade look.

Do you know how to become a haute couture seamstress? At the least, do you know how to sew 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, will often kill all your sewing enthusiasm and creativity in the bud. We do not want that – check out 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 stored in bolts at a fabric store

Fabric is expensive; Sometimes, the final product may end up way more expensive than what you would have found in 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.

The right fabric can make your project enjoyable and successful, while the wrong one can lead to frustration. If you start sewing with a slippery fabric, do it at your own peril.

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 the right type of fabric; Quality features of 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 can 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 right side. For wovens, usually, the right side will look brighter with a good sheen. If you still cannot, look for the selvage 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 does not 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 continuous sewing, you may want to buy an industrial machine – with just a little bit extra, you can buy a machine that 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 inside-outside of your sewing machine and its parts which is necessary if you use it frequently. Learn to sew a straight line with your sewing machine by practicing it, and also get familiarised with your machine’s sewing stitches.

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 important 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. Iron can give that professional ‘not-homemade’ look to your homemade 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 to be experienced. I cannot emphasize the need for pressing enough. 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 that 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 it in place.

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

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 this post on How to fix sewing machine not stitching 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-bought.

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 essential sewing tools like a sewing machine, tape measure, scissors, pins, chalk, and pattern paper.

Check out 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 disorganized 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; Understanding Sewing Button Varieties; 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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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

19 thoughts on “Dressmaking tips in sewing (Be perfect in everything you sew)”

  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

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