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Four Techniques for Creating Designer Garments

Four techniques for finishing and sewing high-fashion clothes
Threads magazine - 167 - June/July 2013

What sets a designer garment apart, and boosts the price sky-high? It’s usually not the silhouette. Many designers don’t rely on special patterns to make their ready-to-wear styles unique. They start with classic looks with basic lines, but add striking details to make their clothes original.

As a former garment industry professional, I’m inspired by runway shows and luxury ready-to-wear. Here, I share four designer embellishment and construction techniques I’ve discovered. On a lightweight, unlined jacket, use a reverse facing to finish the front, apply chiffon-wrapped chain to weight and adorn the edges, and use more bias-cut chiffon strips to bind the seam allowances together. Improve a basic straight skirt by adding a pretty kick pleat in sheer fabric.

Enjoy a key privilege of sewing at home: being able to select and apply elegant touches, just like a designer.

Embellish with a reverse facing

I examined a St. John jacket with a reverse facing finishing the front, neck, and cuffs. Edged with a strip of bias-cut chiffon, the facing brings a raw fabric edge to the garment exterior. Fray the chiffon’s edge for texture, and add “bling” with chiffon-wrapped chain.

Draft a facing

1. Trace the jacket pattern’s cut edge for center front, neck, and shoulder. Trace the back-neck facing and shoulder. Trace the sleeve hemlines for cuffs (not shown).

2. Draw the reverse facing, following the front and neck edges. This example is about 3 inches wide. You can shape the facing’s inner edge to whatever flattering line you prefer. Add a 5⁄8-inch-wide seam allowance to the hem edge. This creates a pattern for a 1-3⁄4-inch-wide reverse facing. Create a back-neck reverse facing and a sleeve cuff in the same manner. Cut the pattern and the facing pieces, and interface them if necessary.

draft a facing


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  1. User avater
    eatsallinsects | | #1

    Wrapping the chain with chiffon sounds neat but I do not care for the "frayed" look.
    And I think I will stick with the main skirt fabric for a kick-pleat.
    Love reading the ideas though.

  2. Glimmertouch | | #2

    I like the idea of binding the seams with chiffon, such a nice lightweight touch.

  3. MaryBob | | #3

    Jacque Goldsmith wrote a great article about alterations to a classic pattern. It is marked for future use. Yet, I have this article because I subscribe to Threads. When I subscribed to Insider, I thought it would supplement the magazine, but every month is devoted to a repeat of an article already in my reference Threads library. What a wasted opportunity to give subscribers more education and make Insider invaluable.

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