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Observations of a novice dressmaker

I am working my way through the first project in a “teach yourself dressmaking” book (Love at First Stitch available from Tilly and the Buttons) and thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far!

In no particular order..

  • Take your time when tracing/transferring the pattern and cutting the fabric. It’s really easy to miss little marks which you will need about fifty steps down the line. I thought I had transferred everything but still found instances where I only had notches on one piece which were meant to be on two pieces in order to confirm they’re properly aligned. It kind of reminded me of those little boxes on IKEA manuals with the pointy “take note” fingers:


  • I always find that when you miss, or misinterpret, the point of those boxes ( or shrug your shoulders and think, I’m sure it’ll make sense later), that’s when you end up having to go back at some point and undo fifty thousand screws to redo whatever that box was telling you to do. Definitely one to avoid in dressmaking.
  • Make sure you’ve folded your fabric the right way and laid out the pattern as instructed in relation to the grain of the fabric, before cutting. I initially had my fabric folded right side out which is incorrect. Luckily I realised it before cutting. 
  • Choose fabric you love, then wash and press it before use. Loving the fabric will probably help motivate you to keep going even if, like me, you’re struggling to find the time..
  • If you don’t like having to use too many pins during the sewing/construction phases, you can hand stitch temporary/basting stitches instead – I’m totally sold on doing this for a few reasons: less risk of me leaving pins on the floor by accident (I’m paranoid with Toddler Boy and Baby Boy around); it means I can freely turn the sewn parts right sides out and try them on before the proper machine stitching is done (without pricking myself on pins); and I understand from the blogs that this gives greater control and makes a more accurate stitch more likely. Using a stitch in contrasting colour makes it easier to see where your seam allowance should be when sewing, too.
  • Press, press, press! Your iron will make all the difference.
  • There’s a wealth of information available online, from articles to tutorials to full courses. So if you get struck at any point, Google is your friend and the sewing community online will undoubtedly have the answer.
  • With clear patterns/instructions, it’s not as bad/difficult/scary as you thought! I’m really enjoying Love at First Stitch and see now why so many sewing blogs referred to it.
  • If you have a slightly obsessive personality like me you’re likely to spend waaaaaay too much time on Pinterest looking at patterns/designs etc of things you convince yourself you’re going to make at some point now that you’ve decided to learn to sew. Go crazy!! Create as many seeing boards as you like!…
  • … But you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get started! Yes, there’s the investment in a sewing machine, but don’t (like me) buy loads of different patterns of styles you like and every single tool or gadget going. I have way too much fabric and way too many gizmos for someone who has never before made a complete garment 🙈. Just get enough to get going and add to it as you go along.

So far it’s been great fun making progress on my pyjama project. It turns out sewing  is somewhat addictive!

x Michelle

Penny for your thoughts?: Any tips for those just starting out on their sewing journey? Have you always wanted to learn but never found the time? Get stuck in, go for it!

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Today I made the skirt of my black suit, which is now ready for next week (can’t believe I’ve actually finished it with a week to spare 🙌🏾💃🏾) ... and the timing worked out well for the #sewsuitup challenge being hosted by @crumpetsteaandsewing and @andreanaturally! The jacket is the @schnittchenpatterns #schnittchencoco and the skirt is my own @pearsonandpope #ppagnes pattern (with a Petersham waistband facing). The fabric is a Linton Tweed wool that I’ve been saving up for years (#sewtheprecious ✅) ! . . #sewcialists #isew #slowfashion #diyfashion #sewistsofinstagram #diydressmaker
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