Sewing Guide: Dressmaking Tips

Dressmaking is, for many, the pinnacle of sewing. From the time you get your first beginner sewing machine, you are aspiring to one day being able to make dresses. Every small design you make is helping you build towards making more complex designs, like dresses, and sparing no expense on fabrics and notions.

Whether you are new to dressmaking and want to avoid rookie mistakes or have more experience but want to perfect your craft this guide will help you take your dressmaking to the next level.


Prewash Fabrics To Prevent Shrinkage

Many fabrics will shrink in the wash, which poses an (easily overcome) issue to dressmakers. The last thing you want after creating a dress is to wash it and have it shrink, losing its shape and becoming too small to wear. To avoid this, prewash your fabrics. This means you will be sewing with already shrunk fabrics and don’t have to worry about ruining your dress when you first wash it. This one small step will save you all sorts of problems and a lot of upset. Imagine spending all that time creating a dress for it to shrink – something you want to avoid.


Use A Toile To Get The Perfect Fit

Before making a new dress design for the first time create a toile – a toile is a mock-up made with cheaper materials. A sort of practice run if you will, especially if the design is complicated. Creating the dress, from cheaper materials and without the embellishments, will allow you to make any needed changes to fit and size which you can then copy onto your designs. This way you get a better fit the first time when using more expensive premium fabrics and notions.


Have A Good Sewing Machine

You do not need the most expensive sewing machine model on the market but having a good sewing machine is fundamental to dressmaking. You need something that can withstand long hours sewing.

Leading models from Singer sewing machines, for example, will be able to accommodate long dress making sessions. If you want to make extra savings, you can always purchase a refurbished sewing machine.


Maintain Your Sewing Machine

With long hours of sewing ahead you also want to make sure you are properly maintaining your sewing machine. Some basics of maintenance include covering the machine when it is not in use and using the appropriate thread and needle for the fabric you’re using. Always read the manual that comes with your machine as this will give you more details on how to properly care for and get the most from it.


Pay Attention To Zippers, Buttons And Other Notions

Your notions and trims are a big part of a design. If you are taking the time to create a dress and are using more expensive fabrics don’t opt for lower quality accessories, zippers and buttons. The savings are inconsequential compared to the difference they will make to your dress. The quality of a dress is shown in these smaller details, pay attention to these to create something that really stands out.


Hang Before Hemming

Similarly, to the way you prewash fabrics so that you avoid shrinkage later, before hemming you should hang your dress to account for stretch. Once the stretch has occurred you can get to hemming – hanging for about 12 hours should be enough. It can be tempting to race through sewing your first dress but taking the time to hang it and having the patience to wait pays off.


Dressmaking is one of the highlights of sewing. It combines a host of skills; measuring, toile making and sewing all manner of notions. As with all sewing, you get better with practice learning from your mistakes as you go but with the tips in this guide, you can skip some of the mistakes and get them right from the start. Use these tips to jump ahead on the learning curve and upgrade your dressmaking whether you are a newbie or have some experience.

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