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How To Avoid Your Creations Looking Handmade

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!

About Author

Holly writes part time for the Megan Nielsen blog– sewing like crazy, creating tutorials and sewalongs. She has been sewing since she was a little girl, and has her degree in apparel design. Now she’s a stay at home mama, and spends all her free nap times at her sewing machine.

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Brigid
9 years ago

I have learned all of this wonderful information in the past year, and it certainly has lead to my garments looking more professional. Learning proper pressing techniques, a tool that I rarely used, has greatly improved my garments, and I can’t believe that I used to hardly ever use the iron now! It is SUCH an essential tool!

Brigid

Sky Turtle
9 years ago

I second the pressing. If I’d learn to proper press things all my clothes would look 10 times better!

Ruth
9 years ago

Very good advice, I really cannot think of much to add! It’s been covered nicely.

I have always kept in mind the saying that there is a difference between Handmade and Homemade. I love Handmade items, but I don’t love crafty homemade items! So, I personally, like my creations to look Handmade and Unique, but not like a Homemade Craft Project…

Ruth
9 years ago
Reply to  Ruth

OH, I thought of one thing….A wooden pressing clapper works very well pressing seams, darts, and edges….Well, and maybe a professional ironing board…but, who can afford one of those…;)

sallie
9 years ago

Great tips! I’m definitely a huge perfectionist about grain, but having made many a ruined garment by cutting the fabric off-grain taught me how much of a difference this one little thing can make in the finished product! I would also add trimming and grading seams in here – an absolute must! Nothing looks sloppier than bulky seams!

Kelly
9 years ago

Every single failed garment that I’ve made has been the result of using the wrong fabric. Building a knowledge of sewing techniques and skills is one thing, but I feel like my sewing will only go to the next level when I really learn how to pair fabric and pattern.

Vivi
9 years ago

Great advice! I still remember how I found out how important it really is to use the right kind of needle – as a teenager, I was sewing this really nice dress with jersey fabric, and the wrong needle tore so many tiny holes on the fabric. After that, there’s not much one can do! So yeah, I totally agree with these tips!

Vivi
9 years ago
Reply to  Holly

Yeah, it sure was! I guess sometimes you have to learn a lesson the hard way :D But I am still quilty for skipping ironing sometimes etc. so this post was a great reminder of how important all that is!

maddie
9 years ago

I’m guilty of not prepping my fabric correctly. To be honest, I don’t know how to one hundred percent. I would love a tutorial on that!

Helen
9 years ago

Great posts. And why are tailor’s hams always tartan (plaid)?

Helen
9 years ago
Reply to  Helen

Sorry, actually I have a real question. If you are mixing types of fabrics, what type of needle should you go for? For example, I’m planning to mix jersey (a knit) with cotton or silk (a woven). I feel the ball point needle would be MORE wrong for the woven, than the other way around. What do you think?

Bec
Bec
9 years ago

Great post, love the advice:)

LauraB / CraftyHourMom

Great post! I agree – handmade vs homemade is a world of difference.

I disagree on one thing. I do think that lines of good quality quilting cottons have their place in clothing. Evidence: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8386/8685132962_746759a00d.jpg (blogged at http://craftyhour.com/?p=391)

Christine
Christine
9 years ago

So many good ideas. I would like to add making a muslin and learning to adjust a pattern to fit well.

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[…] Megan Nielsen’s Design Diary there was a post on how to avoid having your clothes looking handmade. I really need to read those […]

Ramsi
Ramsi
9 years ago

hi megan…
i really love your blog.its very helpful to me…. thank u soooo much…

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[…] Further reading (don’t forget to read the comments, lots of tips there): Sewaholic: How Do You Make Your Sewing Projects Look Less Home-Made? Megan Nielsen: How To Aviod Your Creations Looking Handmade […]