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20 Ways to Improve Your Sewing

Improve your sewing by marking things that matter
Prioritize pattern size for a better fit
Learn the difference between topstitching and edgestitching
Improve your sewing by marking things that matter

Improve your sewing by marking things that matter

10. Eliminate back-neck facings in garments with a collar
Substitute a serged or bound neck edge; you'll never miss the facing, and you won't have to struggle to make it lie flat.

Cross seams, don't pivot

11. Cross seams, don't pivot, whenever possible, at the junction of two seamlines
Pivoting can cause twisting and distortion of the grain, which often creates a bubble at the point of an in-set, for example, that no amount of pressing will eliminate. For the same reason, always stitch both seams away from, rather than toward, the point of intersection.

12. Keep in mind that shoulders move
If your garment has shoulder pads, you'll need to stitch some mobility into the points of the shoulder pads. Working from the right side, hand-sew a small, invisible backstitch in the ditch of the shoulder seams to attach shoulder pads from sleeve to neck, catching just the pad cover, and use small swing tacks on the inside to anchor the points of the pads to the armhole seam allowances.

Prepare seams to fit armholes

13. Prepare sleeves to fit armholes
Measure the armhole and shape the sleeve cap to fit; don't try to stitch the gathered sleeve in place and then press it into shape. Ease and gather the sleeve seam until the measurements of the sleeve and armhole match. Then hang the sleeve cap over a tailor's ham or the small end of an ironing board and steam-press it until it's smooth, shaped, and all puckers have been eliminated. Only then, pin and stitch the sleeve into the garment.

Topstitching vs. edgestitching

14 Learn the difference between topstitching and edgestitching. The side of your presser foot isn't always the best distance to stitch away from an edge. Topstitching defines an edge or attaches a detail with stitches more than 1/8 in. or so from the edge, and edgestitching (stitching less than 1/8 in. from the edge) often does this job better. Keep your topstitching, like all other elements, in proportion to the scale of the garment and fabric. Consider placing topstitching a distance from the edge of the fabric that reflects the fabric's own body and thickness. Thin, hard fabrics like fine gabardine should be edgestitched close, perhaps 1/16 in. from the edge. A lofty mohair coating, by contrast, would probably look better topstitched 1/4 in. or more from the garment edges.

15. Don't use a standard hem measurement

A good hem is one that hangs nicely, which in different fabrics means different hem widths. As a rule, the wider the skirt, the narrower the hem-and vice versa.

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Comments (5)

MurielM MurielM writes: About the diagram for #4, when it is turned, would not the outside curve then be an inside curve, and vice versa? Or am I just seeing it wrong?
Posted: 10:41 am on July 25th

user-3957048 user-3957048 writes: The diagram that shows when to clip a slit and when to clip a V is the wrong way around.

On an external curve, clipping a slit is correct. There is less fabric on the outer edge than on the seam, so the curve will spread these slits apart to allow the outer perimeter to be larger than the inner one. You don't need to clip a V.

On an internal curve, the perimeter at the outer edge is larger than at the seam. It needs to squash up into a smaller space so to you need to clip V notches to prevent the fabric from overlapping and being lumpy. The Vs will just look like slits around the curve once it's clipped.

You have Vs on the external and slits on the internal - please correct the diagram: 79-improve-your-sewing-04.jpg - move the V shaped bits above the internal curve.
Posted: 9:55 am on June 28th

sewingbeginner sewingbeginner writes: This helped alot with the placement and how to do the pockets in the seam of a ready made dress.
Posted: 12:24 pm on July 5th

katzber katzber writes:
As a sewer of 40+ years, I recognize good advice and there's a lot of it here.


Posted: 6:40 am on April 18th

rosb rosb writes: I thought this was well thought out & the last comment is so true so I recently donated all my bits to a migrant learn to sew group & its interesting to see my pieces of fabric walking around the streets all made up & someone has fallen in love with them. Some of these fabrics I have kept for many years carting them around the globe then thinking what made me buy that its not me
Posted: 6:48 pm on December 15th

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