The first step in making clothing would be to have someone measure you. It is better to have someone measure you than you trying to do it yourself because they can be more accurate. Most patterns ask for a chest, waist and hip measurement. When you are having measurements taken it is best to have very form fitting clothes on. Make sure you have nothing in your pockets as well. Breath normally and stand up straight. Don't look at what the person taking your measurements is doing. All of these things can influence the measurements.
Tricks to Taking Accurate Body Measurements
Next, choose your pattern and size. A lot of times when you buy a pattern the sizing chart is on the flap that folds into the pattern or on the back of the pattern itself. Use your measurements and mark where you are at, at the chest, waist, and hip. Most people do not fall into one size. You will need to make some decisions. If you're making a shirt or a dress with a flowy skirt, the hip measurement might not be as important. If your goal is for an extremely well- fitted garment you may need to make some alterations on the paper pattern before getting started. Sometimes when buying a pattern off a website like Etsy they sell them in one size, not four or five sizes like other patterns. I like to look at the picture of the garment and make decisions from there. I almost always go with the larger size because it is easier to take a garment in than it is to add fabric. Some patterns come with multiple size iterations of the garments. Find your pieces and alter those. I suggest tracing the pattern out on another piece of paper instead of cutting the original pattern. This makes sure you always have the original pattern intact if you want to do smaller or larger sizes later (kind of like keeping the original pattern from foundation paper piecing). Once you have decided on your size for the pattern you have chosen, there is another chart that indicates how much fabric you will need for the pattern. I have found that the yardage amounts are generous, so no need to buy lots of extra.
This is also a good time to read through all the sewing information glossary and directions. This will help with any terminology you are unclear on. You will also see the right and wrong side of fabric designs, how they're indicating interfacing, and the right and wrong side of your lining if you have one.
How To Read Sewing Patterns
Once you have the pattern where you want it to be, it is recommended that you make a test garment called a mock-up or a muslin. This is usually out of a cheap muslin, or a fabric of a similar weight to your garment. This allows you to catch any other things that you might want to change with the pattern before doing it out of your fashion fabric. A mock-up is usually just the main seams and darts. Not all the finishing work is done on this test garment.
How To Make A Muslin
Making and Using A Muslin
Sewing Pattern Symbols Guide
When laying and cutting out all pattern pieces, the pattern pieces have a line indicated with an arrow on either side noting the straight of grain. This is important when laying out your pattern pieces. Most patterns will have a suggestion of how to best utilize your fabric while staying on grain. When you're laying out your pattern on your fabric make sure to transfer all the markings. The markings may be for notches to line up, dots for darts, and/or markings to indicate gathers and other important locations. Once your mock-up is fitting you how you want, transfer those alterations to your paper pattern so you don't have to redo it every time.
Now you can finally get to sewing your garment! Wait, the seam allowance is not 1/4". Most seam allowances for clothing are 5/8". Make sure you find the correct seam allowance in the notes or directions.
All About Seam Allowances
Take it slow and follow all the instructions. Line up all your notches and press all your seams in the direction the pattern indicates. Universally one notch means the front and two notches means the back if you are ever unsure. A pattern may not indicate which inside seams to finish. This is unnecessary if you are lining it. However, if you are doing a single layer garment, you may want to use pinking shears to keep the fabric from fraying too much. Better yet do a zigzag stitch along the edge to keep it from fraying or, the best of all, serge the edges if you have a serger. Serging or zig-zagging all the raw edges before getting started can really help.
Start with a simple pattern. A tailored, quilt coat is not a beginner pattern! The Trillium dress is. You can also start with some easy pajama pants and an easy, loose fitting top. Watch our website for a beginning clothing class coming soon!
No new fabric this week. But a couple of new classes have popped up.
Intermediate Foundation Paper Piecing
Quilts of Valor Sit n' Sew
Mini Stuffed Pumpkins
Click on the class to sign-up. Or you can call or come by the store.
Enjoy the outside, sew by a window.
Happy sewing everyone,
Phyllis and the QA staff