Top tips to get the most from dressmaking

Many people find dressmaking a very rewarding occupation and there are often exhibitions and shows where you can meet experienced dressmakers and learn from them. The Knitting and Stitching show at Olympia was one such event where new dressmakers were able to get advice from seasoned professionals. Here are some of the top tips they shared for getting the most from dressmaking.

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If you are using a fabric such as denim or floral cotton poplin fabric, it is important to wash it before you think about cutting out your pattern pieces. This is because fabrics are frequently stentered during manufacturing. This means that they are pulled into the width and length required and a chemical is applied to finish them. When the fabric is first washed it can relax or shrink, meaning that the garment you make is likely to shrink if you have not prewashed the fabric.

Fans of the Great British Sewing Bee, according to the Daily Mail, more than twenty thousand, signed a petition to protest against the axing of the show, will have seen sewers constructing garments without a pattern in sight, but most of us begin by using a paper pattern. It is important to iron the paper pattern pieces so that your fabric is cut accurately and check that you are following the grain line printed on the pattern. Before cutting check your measurements accurately too against the size chart on the pattern. If you are between sizes, select the larger one and you will be able to alter to fit as you go along.

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Choose your fabric from a reputable supplier such as so that you can be sure of its quality.

Starting to sew

Depending on the fabric you are using you will need a different needle. Some fabrics such as knits require a ballpoint needle while for finely woven fabrics sharp needles should be used. Naturally, heavier fabrics such as leather or even heavy denim will need a heavier needle. It is a good idea to use some of the off-cuts of your fabric to practice on so that you can find the best stitch length and machine tension. If your garment has buttonholes, make a few of these on off-cuts until you are happy with the result before you make them on the actual garment.

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