Back to basics: dressmaking tips

HB woman sewing tape in

For great results...

● If you want to use both sides of a Prima pattern why not order a second pattern - it saves tracing or photocopying one side.

● Check your body measurements before cutting out the pattern - don't assume your measurements never change. If you are between sizes, cut between the lines for the two relevant sizes.

● Before you buy fabric check the finished length of the garment and adjust the pattern pieces, if necessary. Cutting layouts are usually worked out for fabrics with nap or one-way design. If your fabric is plain or has no definite one-way design, you may be able to save fabric by dovetailing pattern pieces. Check before you shop.

● Cut out on a large table or use the floor if your table is not big enough. Follow the cutting layout and make sure the pattern grainlines are parallel with the fabric selvedges.

● To save time, hold the pattern pieces in place with weights instead of using pins - old fashioned weights from kitchen scales are ideal.

● After cutting out, work a row of machining around all curved edges to prevent them stretching during making up.

● Press after each stage of making up. Keep the iron and ironing board set up near your machine while you are working.

● If you have difficulty threading a needle, re-cutting the end of the thread at an angle using sharp scissors should help.

● Always work in good light. You'll find it is always easier to sew black fabrics in daylight.

● When you've finished a garment, wind leftover thread from the bobbin back onto the thread reel - this not only saves thread but will ensure you always have an empty bobbin ready for the next project.

● Wherever possible, press on the wrong side. If using velvet or fabrics with pile, place a leftover piece of fabric on the ironing board so the two layers of pile sink into one another rather than flattening.

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