20 Ways to Improve Your Sewing
by Barbara Emodi
from Threads #79, pp. 38-40
Besides all the surprising things that I've inevitably learned from the ingenuity and talent of my students, one of the most interesting aspects of working with lots of sewers is how one begins to see that almost everybody (myself included), no matter how skillful or experienced, has a few blind spots, or areas where they could improve their results. Of course, blind spots will vary from sewer to sewer, but they tend to occur in areas you think you have down cold. So, I suggest reading through the following wide-ranging list of potential pitfalls (developed in the course of conversations with my students and other teachers, in our relentless pursuit of ever-more-satisfying sewing projects) with as open a mind as possible. May it prove as useful to you as it has to us!
1. Mark the things that matter
It's important to always mark center front. Thread-trace lines that need to be seen on the right side (pocket placement, roll lines). Color-code your markings-how can you tell a large dot from a small dot if you've tailor-tacked them in the same thread color? This will save time, not waste it. How often have you pulled out the pattern pieces to double-check a marking?
2. Establish priorities when choosing a pattern size
Few of us are one size all over, so be sure to select a pattern size to best fit the part of your body that will carry the weight of the garment. When buying a pattern for an upper-body garment (jacket, dress, shirt, blouse, or coat), choose the size that fits your shoulders and neckline. When buying a lower-body pattern (pants or skirt), choose a size that fits your waist and upper hip. Shoulders/necklines and waists/upper hips on patterns are very difficult to alter, so it's easiest to start off with the closest possible fit right from the pattern envelope.
When you choose tops, use your chest measurement (above the bust, as high as possible under your arms, and over your shoulder blades-don't worry if the tape isn't perfectly horizontal at all points) and alter for the bust if there's more than a 2-in. difference between your chest and bust measurements. It's always much easier to make a pattern larger than smaller.