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Beginner Dressmaker - what do you wish you had known when you started?!

(16 Posts)
Zorion Wed 17-Feb-16 14:56:19

I was thrilled to get a sewing machine for my birthday and have started gathering supplies! As I live abroad I am delivering everything to my UK address (Mums house) and will pick it up at Easter so I want to have everything ready.

So far I've bought two patterns (Colette Laurel and Colette Hazel) and printed a couple of basic PJ shorts patterns off the internet.

I've also bought some expensive liberty fabric and some cheap fabric to test it on! I've ordered bias binding makers...

What is fusible interfacing? One sided bondaweb?

Do I need to line dresses?

And I have bought the Jane Bolsover book.

And I'm also keeping my ear out for practical tips, things to avoid or do! I crochet and it was 6 months before I figured out I was doing single crochet stitch wrong, and I wish someone had told me early on, so I'm hoping to avoid that with sewing!!

Thank you

Izzadoraduncancan Wed 17-Feb-16 15:07:55

Having a decent serviced sewing machine is really rewarding.

I have been sewing quite a few years but have come on in leaps and bounds now I am part of a sewing class... My recommendation is to join a sewing group or class if available locally!

MeolsCop Wed 17-Feb-16 15:12:00

It's a great hobby, OP, you'll become obsessed quite quickly!

My tips would include a recommendation to follow sewing blogs (there are tons - and pattern companies like Sewaholic post really useful explanations & photos of techniques). And YouTube is your friend. Pretty much anything you will want to do has helpfully been filmed by someone and uploaded.

I'd also recommend joining Craftsy, which has masses of online courses and tutorials. Lots require you to pay, but plenty don't, and they can be very good indeed.

I'll think of more, but someone else will be along in a moment. Oh, and fusible interfacing is to add structure/stiffening to parts of garments, eg collars or cuffs. It comes in different weights and thicknesses, from very light to fairly structured (and there's also interfacing that isn't fusible, ie you have to stitch it to the fabric. And there's stretch interfacing for knit fabrics).. It's not quite the same as Bondaweb, that's more for sticking two fabrics permanently together for eg appliqué.

The main thing is to dive in and give it a go, I think - using your cheap fabric to start. Save the good, expensive stuff for a bit later!

Zorion Wed 17-Feb-16 15:18:23

Thank you for your replies! I would LOVE to join a class but living abroad my language skills wouldn't be quite up to scratch to pick up all the information I don't think.

I will definitely look at Craftsy!

I've looked at some blogs and they all show off wonderful amazing dresses, but I would love to actually see them being made, maybe with their tips about how they did tricky bits. Are there any like that? Basically, crochet's Attic24 but for dressmaking.

I'll look at the Sewaholic patterns. Has anyone made the Colette ones?

Interfacing sounds scary but I need it for the Hazel dress. I'm not sure how I'm meant to know which weight to get. I don't have the pattern (its in the post). Will ask Mum to open and look.

I made PJ shorts for DS and I loved it! They actually look like shorts!

MeolsCop Wed 17-Feb-16 15:24:40

Have a look at this OP Might be useful as an illustration? That's a nice blog to follow, the way.

MeolsCop Wed 17-Feb-16 15:36:50

I've just had a look and there is apparently a sew-along for the Hazel dress, but you need to log into Google to access it - I can't at the moment, I'm at work doing other things, but the link is here

I'd have thought you won't need very thick interfacing, it looks like quite a light, summery dress. It's just to give a little bit of extra body.

fortifiedwithtea Fri 19-Feb-16 13:31:23

If you have a multi-size pattern trace on to dressmakers tracing paper your size. Do all pattern alterations on the paper pattern before cutting out fabric.

Bear in mind the big name pattern companies Simplicity/New Look/ Butterick/McCalls etc base their bust sizes on a B cup. If you differ from that do a bust adjustment. Loads of internet reading to learn how.

Buy proper tacking thread I like Guitermann and learn how to do tailors tacks

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Fri 19-Feb-16 13:37:36

I wish I knew how to sort the sewing machine out when the thread gets snarled up... is that too basic?

Poor DD loves to sew but her machine has started snarling the thread up and I have no idea how to help her sort it out! She was doing well til that started happening and had made some nice little things...

fortifiedwithtea Fri 19-Feb-16 14:53:29

Could be a blunt or bent needle. If the needle is wrong the timing goes out and you get a birds nest of thread in the bobbin.

Checklist. Does the machine need oiling.
Re-thread top thread and re-insert bobbin. Are you using a quality thread? Moon thread is fine for overlockers but not sewing machines. Is the needle in the right way round - flat side to the back for modern machines. Put in a new needle anyway for good measure. Check for and remove any fluff trapped in the dog feed or bobbin case.

Hope that helps.

Icouldbeknitting Sat 20-Feb-16 14:43:57

The one thing I wish I'd learned decades earlier was how to make a pattern fit properly. The garment can be beautifully made but if it doesn't fit well then it's time wasted.

LadyLuck81 Sat 20-Feb-16 14:54:44

I'm learning as I go too and my biggest lesson so far is that cutting and pinning accurately is as, if not more, important than the actual sewing. Go wrong there and you're buggered

Wolpertinger Sat 20-Feb-16 15:02:04

I wish I had known to measure my high bust measurement and pick my pattern size from that and then do a full bust adjustment. I now do an enormous FBA on much smaller size pattern and the clothes fit me. Colette tutorials are great for this as are Craftsy classes.

SenecaFalls Sat 20-Feb-16 15:04:38

Another vote for learning how to make pattern adjustments. I have a very short waist and a long torso so nothing fit properly until I spent some time learning how to make adjustments.

ishouldcocoa Sat 20-Feb-16 15:12:49

Practice putting a zip in before you have to do it 'properly'

Make a basic pattern (to your size) in calico first. I think they call it a toile!

mydutifullaunderette Sat 20-Feb-16 15:14:37

Practice lots on scrap fabric, using the guides on the sewing machine's plate, getting used to sewing with different seam allowances (a quarter inch or a half inch from the cut edge). Get some masking tape and put along the seam allowance guide, so you can line your fabric up with that easily.

I used to cut an over-generous seam allowance because I wasn't confident of sewing seams accurately, so basically it was inexact cutting and unsurprisingly things didn't then fit very well!

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Sat 20-Feb-16 19:01:21

Thank you fortifiedwithtea - will get the machine out again tomorrow and go through your checklist! It could well be the needle as the machine is second hand and it didn't occur to us to change the needle... she made a few things successfully before the snarling/ birdsnests started happening.

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