5 techniques that have elevated my sewing
Last month was the two-year anniversary of my blog. Although I have been a pretty sporadic blogger thus far, I have been sewing very consistently over this time. In the process, I have learned a lot of new techniques which have significantly improved the quality of my homemade clothing.
I still have a lot to learn – particularly in regard to fitting; but my recent blogiversary got me thinking about how far I’ve come. In this post I’m going to reflect on the top five techniques I’ve learnt in the last two years. Together, I think these techniques elevate the look and quality of a garment.
I incorporated the five techniques discussed below into my latest make: a linen Willow Tank by Grainline Studio. Although it looks very simple, this garment epitomises how I want to approach all my sewing projects moving forward.
1. Basic fitting – Getting my apex right
In my last blog post, I outlined how I alter the height of any bust darts before trying a pattern. This is a pretty simple technique (as far as fitting goes) but it makes a huge difference to the look of a garment. Taking the time to get my apex right has been a game changer for me. My garments now fit, look and feel so much better.
2. French seams
I love French seams. I have an overlocker but I never use it anymore. French seams look and feel so much better. For me, a lot of the joy of sewing is associated with doing things slowly and thoughtfully – something exemplified by my obsession with French seams! Learning to French inseam pockets by following this tutorial by In The Folds was a big moment for me. I love this technique and I use it whenever I can.
3. Large hems
The Willow Tank pattern includes a nice wide hem which I really appreciate. I think a wide hem gives a garment weight and balance. Because ready-to-wear garments often reduce hem width to save money, I think a wide hem makes a garment look tailored and considered. Moving forward, I’m going to pay a lot more attention to hem width. Using the Willow Tank’s 5 cm hem as a guide, I plan to increase my hem width on all future projects (provided I have enough fabric!).
4. Homemade bias tape
Learning to make my own bias tape has been another game changer for me. I never even knew handmade bias was a thing until I started using indie patterns. Now I will never buy the poly-cotton pre-made stuff again. Making my own bias in matching (or contrasting) fabric is so satisfying and looks beautiful.
I used to think hand-stitching made my garments look unprofessional. But now that I have learned to do invisible slip-stitching, I like to hand stitch every hem and binding edge! While machine stitching is quick and durable, it looks very heavy. I prefer the look of hand finishing. I also find it wears well. I wash all my handmade clothing in the washing machine and, so far, I haven’t had any issues with my hand-stitching.
Looking back on this list of techniques makes me feel proud of how much my sewing has improved over the last two years. But it also makes me feel a little worried my perfectionist streak is getting out of control!
Sewing should be about joy and I don’t want to suggest that focusing on small details is the right approach for everyone. However, for me a lot of the pleasure I get from sewing is in the doing. I love to slow down, be deliberate and learn new techniques. If this isn’t your style that’s okay! But if it is, I hope you’ve got a few ideas from this post.