I know we are all proud of our handmade clothing. Who wouldn’t be? But the thing is – we are proud to wear handmade, but we don’t want it to look handmade. That’s a big difference. Am I right?! Nothing is worse than when your finished project just screams “I made this at home! This is homemade!”. It can be a little painful sometimes.
Go you for making your own clothes, but you still want it to look professional. You still want it to look like it belongs in a store window. There are plenty of things you can do to avoid the homemade disaster. So read on to find out how to go from homemade to fabulous!
1. Choose the right fabric.
There is a reason your pattern envelopes give you fabric suggestions. Not to say that those will be the only ones suitable for that pattern, but they are a good starting point for a beginner that might not be know much about their options. Just think about what kind of garment you are making before you buy the fabric. Are you making a pair of pants? Try denim or twill. A floaty dress? How about silk charmeuse, or maybe voile.
And try to avoid using quilting cotton fabric for garments. That is almost always a dead giveaway that the item is homemade.
2. Cut out your fabric pieces properly. And pay attention to grainlines.
Grain is very important! Before you cut out your pattern pieces, spend plenty of time prepping your fabric. That means pre-washing, ironing (if necessary), and laying out the fabric perfectly straight. Most of the time, you’ll probably be doubling over your fabric and cutting some pieces on the fold. So make sure you bring selvage edge to selvage edge and line them up perfectly.
When laying out your pattern pieces, make sure your pattern grainlines run parallel to the grain / selvage of the fabric. If you don’t do this correctly, your fabric pieces may end up off-grain, and therefore fall and drape incorrectly.
3. Use the right machine needle.
We talked about sewing tools yesterday, and using the proper tools can actually make a difference in your garments. Dull scissors can ruin a fabric. So can the wrong marking materials.
But most importantly, make sure you use the right machine needle. Sure, a universal needle would probably work for most woven fabrics. But it’s best to get specific. There are specific needles for denim, specific needles for lightweight / sheer fabrics, etc. And there are specific needles for knits. Using a woven needle on knit fabric can snag and put holes in it.
4. Go slow.
I’m especially guilty of not doing this. But rushing through your sewing will show on your garment. So slow down. Take your time. Make sure things line up correctly, and your seams are straight and even. It makes a world of difference.
5. Press. Press. Press.
Out of all these tips, this might be one of the most overlooked step, and yet – one of the most important. Unpressed seams and hems can look lumpy and sloppy. So press as you go. Seriously. After every seam – press it. Ok, maybe you don’t have to do it immediately after every seam. Keep it practical. Before you enclose any seams, or cross over any seams, make sure you press them first.
A few other tips – for curved seams and darts, use a tailor’s ham (pictured above). And when in doubt – place some cheesecloth or lightweight cotton in between your iron and fabric as a pressing cloth. Certain fabrics might be ruined by the iron – it could leave the fabric shiny, or even burn through it. So the pressing fabric will protect your fabric, while still being able to press it properly.
Megan did a nice in depth post about pressing. You can see that here!
6. Finish your seams.
We’ve gone over different seam finishes in the past. Unfinished, unraveling seams look homemade and messy.
So what about you? Do you have any other tips for keeping your creations from looking homemade? Please share!