Sewing your own clothes is a huge achievement especially when every detail is completed to perfection. It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve lovingly put in to making your clothes, even the smallest of details can make your clothing look cheap if you’ve made a mistake.
Here’s some tips to help you avoid mistakes and make your homemade stand out for the right reasons!
Zips are great fasteners for your clothing but if the details aren’t spot on, they can cheapen the appearance of your clothes. From misaligned zips, to folds in your fabric or not enough allowance for hems, inserting zips can be tricky and frustrating so here are some links that’ll help make inserting a zip become sew, sew easy!
Firstly, it’s important to choose the right zip for your garment. Zips come in various weights, colours, size and can be open-ended or closed-ended. For some in-depth advice on the selection of zips available, visit Sew Hot. Choose the right zip and your garment will sit beautifully; choose the wrong zip and you’ll have stitched yourself up before you’ve begun!
If a concealed zip is part of your pattern, the instructions will tell you exactly how to insert the zip but some extra tips can’t hurt! If you’re creating your own garment or changing the appearance of the zip, you need to make sure that you insert the zip properly. Sew Over It give great instructions to insert a concealed zip in their video tutorial.
Pickin’ and throwin’ make this look easy in their blog Sewing a Zipper into a Cardigan. This is a fantastic tutorial not only for sewers but for knitters too. As Laura says in the blog, instructions in knitting patterns often say “insert zipper” with no further directions. If you follow this tutorial, you’ll pick up some brilliant tips for inserting open-ended zips, whether into knitted or sewn garments.
Again, buttons are a great fastener but they can cause problems in their own way. To make them perfect, they need to be evenly spaced, the button holes must be the right size for your buttons (we want to avoid any embarrassing button-opening situations or buttons not passing through the hole!), and the stitching needs to be neat with no fabric pulling.
There are crucial points in a garment where button holes need to be placed and the other button holes need to be evenly spaced around these. Craftsy gives detailed advice on this in the blog Beautifully Buttoned: A How-To of Button Placing and Spacing. And once you’ve mastered the basics of sizing and spacing, you can unleash your creativity and begin to make your buttonholes into features.
Neat stitching around your buttonholes is a must. Have a look at these links for some top tips whether your sewing by hand or using a buttonhole attachment on your sewing machine.
Sewing a hem
There are a variety of ways to sew a hem depending on how you want your finished garment to look. But, importantly, there are mistakes you want to avoid to prevent giving your clothes a cheap finish. You hem needs to be even (unless it’s meant to be wavy or asymmetrical) and crease-free – a crease in your hem gives the impression that you’ve rushed the finish.
Hemming by Hand
Everyone has a favourite way to hand sew a hem and Thrifty Stitcher shares hers in this video tutorial explaining how to use herringbone stitch. If you’re interested in learning more about stitching by hand take a look at By Hand London’s post describing how to use their four favourite hand stitches, including basic blind slipstitch which is perfect for … you guessed it, hemming by hand!
Machining a Hem
You could be stitching a basic hem, rolled hem, a blind hem, a straight edged hem or a curved hem. Whatever hem your project requires, take a little time to become confident in your technique as any mistakes in this finishing detail could ruin the whole quality of your garment. The Sewing Directory has a great tutorial which includes pictures of the stitch and foot needed to complete a blind stitch on your sewing machine. Or, if you need some help to sew a rolled hem, try By Hand London’s Nerdy Sewing Tips – Rolled Hem Tutorial. To avoid unfolding seams and fabric that sits awkwardly, follow the tips from Fabric Godmother’s How to Sew a Curved Hem tutorial.
Matching checks or other fabric patterns
Using fabric with patterns or checks can add to the overall effect of a design but if the patterns can be matched at the seams then it’s very important that you do or it can make your clothing look cheap. As well as being fiddly to match, you’ll end up with some fabric wastage so it’s a good idea to allow for this when you’re buying your fabric. Straight edges don’t cause too much problem, but diagonals and curves can be a bit of a pain! Luckily, Sewaholic has a tutorial for Matching Plaids that you can adapt to use for other patterned fabric.
Sewing one dart can be hard enough but, more often than not, you’ll need to add pairs of darts or more than one type of dart. It’s easy to make mistakes when inserting darts that will spoil your clothing. Fabric can pull, darts can be uneven and they’re positioning can be just a little too high or too low. Colette’s tutorial How to Sew Darts covers straight darts, curved darts and double point darts but if it doesn’t help build your confidence you could try out Laura Marsh Sewing Pattern’s ideas on How to Remove Darts from a Pattern.
From start to finish, every detail of your clothing needs to reflect the time you’ve put into designing and making it. Avoid the little mistakes and avoid making your clothing look cheap. As well as those mentioned here, look out for accuracy in other details like adding pleats, making slits in skirts and adding straps to clothing like dungarees.
If the advice helps with your sewing or if you have any tips to share, remember to let us know in the comments.