Top 10 Tailoring Techniques
Tailoring doesn’t need to be more complicated than other dressmaking – just take your time! Wendy Gardiner, Brand Ambassador for The McCall Pattern shares her 10 essential tips
Tailored garments are not harder to make, they just require a few more steps!
A tailored garment is moulded and shaped with the help of pressing, and inner support is provided by interfacing, interlining and lining. Working with good quality interfacings and pressing tools will help enormously, so do arm yourself with a ham, sleeve roll and pressing clapper. An interlining is an additional layer used to back main pieces. It is cut to the same size, stitched to the reverse of the main fabric piece around the edges and then treated as one for the rest of the construction.
Choose interfacings appropriate for your fashion fabric, which may mean having a range of them from lightweight to heavier weight. The aim is to add support and stability without changing the drape of the cloth. Interfacings will also help prevent ridges at seam and darts from forming during pressing and cleaning. If using fusibles, attach them permanently by fusing accordingly to prevent them from bubbling up when washed and worn. Cover the work with a press cloth and using a hot steam iron, then place down on the material, hold for a minimum of 10 seconds, lift and move to the next position. Let the fabric cool before working with it.
If you are working with a pile fabric or one with surface texture, use sew-in interfacings to prevent them from being crushed with excessive pressing. These interfacing pieces need cutting slightly smaller than the garment pieces, so they are not caught in seams, causing ridges. They will need to be catch-stitched in place.
Make any adjustments to the pattern before you start cutting into your main fabric. You can make a toile first, in calico or lawn, or even in the lining fabric. Jackets have additional ‘ease’ at bust, waist and hip to provide ample room to fit over a dress. Coats have more ease to fit over suits. Bear this in mind when choosing a size. Check the finished garment measurements and compare these with a garment already in your wardrobe.
FREE TAILORED SEWING PATTERNS
Cut out the main fabric and interlining pieces with expansive seam allowances than marked on the pattern – at least 2.5cm wide, particularly around fitting areas of bust, waist and hip. Working with thicker fabrics, you may need to increase your stitch length to 2.8-3 – try on fabric scraps to see which looks best.
Grade and layer seam allowances – cut the one closes to the garment to 1cm and the facing seam allowance to 6mm to reduce the bulk in the seams when the facings or collars are turned through.
Clip and notch seams – on outer curves, take wedge-shaped notches out of the seam allowance; on inner curves, cut diagonally into the seam allowance to allow the fabric to spread and lay flat.
Darts – when making darts in bulky fabrics, it is sometimes advisable to cut the fold of the darted fabric open as far as it will go. Press carefully. Double darts – these are most expansive in the middle and have points on either end. Cut in the middle fold, then cut a wedge shape, so when it curves towards the body, it can spread evenly without bunching.
Blind hems are brilliant on jackets and coats. Add interfacing to the inside of the garment at the hem allowance, which will add support to the area and provide another layer so when blind hemming, the stitching will be invisible.
Use steam and a ham or sleeve roll to help shape woollen cloth, turn shawl collars and allow the fabric to dry before working with it again.
Wendy's Top Tips for perfect fit and finish
- Make the lining up of the coat first and you can use it as a toile (test garment) before cutting into your main fabric.
- If you are pear-shaped, leave out the side seam pockets
- Princess seaming is great for easier bust alterations. Simply cut from one size line to another around the full bust point, then tissue fit to check sizing before cutting out in fabric.
- When interfacing a shawl collar and facing on a jacket or coat, cut a strip out where the collar will fold to help it fold more easily and permanently.
- Try top stitching with two strands of thread through a top stitch needle and increase stitch length to 3-4mm. Or hand stitch with three strands of embroidery floss.
- To ensure a perfect curve at the hemline, clip the seam allowance to allow the fabric to spread as it is turned through.
- Make sure the buttonholes are perfectly aligned and the same size by marking position (as shown on tissue pieces) and using the automatic buttonhole foot that comes with most machines – in which you fit the button in the back.
- If making a garment with a shaped hemline, remember the lining will show – so pick a vibrant print that adds to the design.
Take a look at these stunning fabrics, which would be perfect for any dressmaking project where you want to achieve a high-quality finish. Empress Mills has a whole section dedicated to dressmaking and tailoring fabrics which is updated all the time. These are some of our favourites at the moment.
Premium stone washed pure linen
Mohair touch coating