Tailoring Your Garments with New Fabrics

Tailoring Your Garments with New Fabrics

During the winter months, I like to tailor at least one garment. When I tailor, I take it slow and I simply enjoy the pleasure of sewing. Many other projects can be completed easily or in a rush. But to tailor… now that’s a commitment to a longer project.

There’s something very satisfying about the slower pace of construction and seeing the garment develop with each technique. The feel of the natural fiber fabric, particularly wool in my hands is really pleasurable. I enjoy building in shape with hand-pad stitches, hair canvas and careful pressing. If you plan to take this on this winter, give the tailoring project some thought before you dive in. Whether your special project will be a winter coat, tailored blazer or special occasion wool crepe ensemble, a feeling of accomplishment will be your reward. I like to share with you some ideas which, over time, have helped me focus on improving my skills and turning out quality garments.

During the planning and construction phase, I often refer to various books from my sewing library, and perhaps try a new technique or brush up my skills on an old one. Good ideas can be found in both old and new sewing books. Used books stores are a great place to find old sewing books. First I stretch out on the sofa with a few favorite sewing books and make notes of things I’d like to incorporate in my next project. Making notes ahead of time can take some of the intimidation out of a lengthy project. It also assists me in concentrating on the sequence I’ll sew the garment and highlight areas that I’ll practice or need to test. Next, I read through the pattern instructions and jot notes — perhaps changing the assembly order or inserting book titles and pages for reference when I reach various points. Going through the process mentally is like a little lesson plan, and like having a teacher by your side. This investment of time can really pay off and boost your confidence.

When I select a new pattern, I compare a few key measurements with a favorite RTW garment in my closet. This helps me estimate how the pattern will fit. I check things such as broad back measurement; finished body and sleeve length; circumference measurements at bust and hips. This helps to assess whether the pattern is similar to other garments which I enjoy wearing. Once the adjustments I usually do a pin fit on my dressform. Once I’m happy with the pattern I cut out my fabric.

I maintain a project notebook that has proven to be invaluable. During each project I use my notebook as a workbook. It’s the place where I jot measurements, record interfacings I used, etc. If a particular book was used as a guide during the sewing process, I’ll make a note about that too. When the project is completed, I add “next time” comments about things I’d like to improve. If you try this idea, also staple fabric swatches to the project pages.

When searching for information at a later date, it’s easier to spot the page you’re looking for when you see the fabric you used. Over time this project tool serves to reinforce what worked and teach you things to avoid — not to be mention the fun you’ll have when reminiscing about things you made years before.

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