Sewing Project Checklist: Don’t Forget These Steps
I spend almost as much time prepping my sewing projects as I do sewing them.
Preparation is essential to successful sewing. Skipping preparation ends up costing me more time if I have to interrupt my flow or—even worse—undo work because I didn’t test thread tension, choose the appropriate topstitching thread, or practice using a particular presser foot.
Here are the steps I take before beginning any sewing project. I’ll be honest: I’m often tempted to skip a few these in my eagerness to get sewing and/or finish a project. When I do, however, I just as often regret it.
I’ve divided preparation into 10 top categories. Each includes questions I ask related to the category, along with my own experiences and tips.
When using a commercial pattern that’s new to me, I confirm I’ve traced and/or cut the correct size. I like to measure the pattern against my body measurements, remembering there are usually seam allowances on the paper pattern I won’t want to include, to ensure the finished garment will fit me.
If I’m making a shirt, for example, is there enough ease in the chest, or too much? Is the back full enough, or too full? Will the finished sleeve length—cuff included—be the desired length? I have skipped this step and had to shorten the sleeve from the bottom. Since a standard sleeve narrows toward the cuff, trimming from the bottom can lead to too much fullness above the cuff.
Are the seam allowances wide enough for a technique like flat-fell seams? Conversely, are the allowances too wide? I generally trim my collar/neckline seam allowances to 3/8 inch, which I find easier to sew.
Does the sleeve fit the armhole? If there’s too much…