- Stick with easy fitting garments until you gain confidence. Skirts with and elastic waist and tops with a relatively loose fit would be in the super easy range. The Learn to Sew line up from McCalls Patterns has quite a few possibilities for a variety of garments. Amazing Fit patterns from Simplicity include a lot of fitting opportunities. Always remember that while princess seams take a bit of practice to sew, if you have curves on your body, princess seams are your best friend. Simplicity 2247 is already in my pattern stash and making it's way to my cutting table soon!
- Pattern sizes and fitting is another great big topic but let's assume you are getting back in the swing of garment sewing by sewing an easy fitting garment. This archived blog post from Craftsy can help you choose a pattern size from the big four pattern companies. This Simplicity Guide is also helpful for choosing sizing. Last but not least, this blog post from Let's Go Sew has some additional tips on patterns.
- While knits are not hard to sew, a light to medium weight woven is easier to handle and the seams can be finished with a serger, sewing machine overcasting stitch, or even a simple triple zig zag stitch to prevent raw edges form raveling.
- If you're not too sure of yourself, start with a low-cost piece of fabric or a piece of fabric you're not totally in love with or emotionally attached to. Use this fabric to test the pattern. You do want the trial fabric to have a similar hand or characteristic to the fabric you choose for the final garment. Otherwise, it may hang totally different and cause you to be disappointed. If all works out well, you'll be ready to stitch it up again in fabric you really love.
- Be sure to mark the right side of each cut piece either with a small safety pin or an “X” made with a removable marker. Keep pattern pieces loosely pinned to cut pieces, removing them as you sew. Always read through the pattern instructions before beginning, even if everything doesn't make sense at first. Check off each step as you complete it.
- I still like to cut my notches outward on many pattern pieces, especially if there are multiple pieces that may look similar. I know a lot of sewing enthusiasts like to make small clips into the fabric for notches but if you end up needing to let the seam out you won't have as much strength with snips in your narrow seams. As an alternative to cutting out notch shapes you can use a removable marker. By the way, always test your markers for complete removability on a scrap of fabric.
- While constructing your garment, always handle fabric gently. If your fabric pieces get stretched or skewed they may not fit corresponding pieces.
- Take the time to pin baste or machine baste seams to test fit and always try the garment on with the right side facing out.
- Finally, give yourself a pat on the back for giving it a go! If your finished piece is wearable, great! If not, chalk it up to experience. You've gained a lot of practice and you can always donate the piece to a thrift shop where finding a bargain will make someone else happy. Start a new garment and enjoy your garment making journey stitch by stitch!
Reusing patterns is not only a great way to get your money's worth out of them, it makes repeat sewing faster and easier. I make sure to take notes for any preferred changes and slip my notes inside with the cut pattern.
I hope you found these tips helpful! Please leave any comments or questions you have below. Happy sewing!