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A Guide To Sewing A Wardrobe And More

Updated on March 26, 2012

A Guide To Sewing A Wardrobe And More

Sewing is such a rewarding craft. The end result is unique and personally your own. You can simply sew your own clothes or you can use it as a source of income. To help you get the basics I have created this hub called "A Guide To Sewing A wardropbe And More. I hope this guide will inspire you to start sewing! 

How to Choose the Right Sewing Machine for Your Craft Needs

To the uninitiated, all sewing machines may look alike. But to the crafter, each sewing machine has its own unique features. Different machines are suited to different purposes, and some are created to be used for a variety of projects. Choosing the right machine is not to be taken lightly.

If budget is not a primary concern, it might be tempting to buy a multi-purpose machine. But machines that are designed for specific types of sewing usually do a better job at their respective purposes. They are created with a specific type of crafter in mind, and as a result, they tend to have the features needed to complete certain kinds of projects.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a sewing machine:

1. What kind of crafting do you do? If you do one specific type of crafting, you will probably be most satisfied with a machine designed for that. If you do several types of crafting regularly, investing in machines designed for each one is warranted. But if you just dabble in a variety of projects, a multi-purpose machine might suit your needs just fine.

2. Do you need an electronic machine? Many electronic models are available today, and it's true that they can make your work much quicker and easier. But they also tend to need repairs more frequently. And if you will not use the added functions very often, a non-computerized model will probably be much cheaper and suit your needs just as well.

3. Will you be traveling with your machine? If so, you'll need something that can withstand being toted around and exposed to various temperatures. Electronic machines usually do not travel well, and large machines will be harder to carry, load and unload.

4. What features do you need? Although there are machines that are designed for specific types of crafts, they may or may not have the specific features that you need. It's wise to make a list of the features that you need and want before you go shopping. This will make the selection process much easier.

5. What attachments are included? The more useful attachments that are included, the less money you will have to spend to get the setup you want. For those that are not included, how expensive are they to buy separately?

Finding the best sewing machine for your needs requires careful consideration. A good sewing machine is no small investment, so it's very important to take the time to know what you want and find it. This might take weeks or even months, but when you've found the machine of your dreams, it will be well worth the trouble.

How to Select and Buy a Sewing Pattern

Sewing your own clothes or making them for others is so rewarding. You can make sure they fit better than anything you would buy in a store, and there's just something special about articles that you create by hand. With the right patterns, you can have an entire wardrobe of items that suit your style, and you can give the perfect gift every time.

Sewing buffs often spend hours in the pattern section of their favorite craft store, looking for the perfect pattern for their purpose. You can't just run in, grab something, and hope it works. There are several factors that go into choosing the right pattern. These include

1. Size

Obviously, you'll need to find a pattern that is designed for the size you need. In order to get it right, you'll need to take measurements of yourself or the person you plan to sew for. Most patterns use standard men's and women's sizes, but just like the clothes you buy off the rack, a size 8 in one pattern will likely be proportioned differently from a size 8 in another. The advantage with patterns is that they include specific measurements, so you can go by them for the best possible fit.

3. Style

With the sheer number of patterns that are available, you're sure to find something to fit anyone's style. Pattern books that are organized by garment type make it easy to find just what you need. If you don't have any luck in your local craft store, there are tons of patterns available online. You can even find rare, old patterns for those who like to dress in retro style.

4. Brand

Some sewing fanatics have a particular brand of pattern that they tend to stick with. Others will use any brand of pattern as long as it suits their purposes. The top pattern brands are Simplicity, McCall's, Butterick, and Vogue. Some, including Simplicity and McCall's, offer patterns designed with beginning sewers in mind. Others, such as Vogue, are intended for the more experienced.

5. Price

Prices for patterns vary, but they may cost as little as a few dollars or as much as $20 or more. Those who sew regularly often argue that a good pattern is worth its weight in gold, but for those on a budget, spending a lot of money on the pattern may not be an option. Some outlets put patterns on sale for as little as $1, so checking in frequently can get you great deals on patterns you can use. Sometimes you can also find good deals on patterns on eBay.

Finding the perfect pattern takes some time and effort. But when you complete your project, you'll find that it was well worth your while.

Singer Adjustable Dressform

A good dress form is an essential for any seamstress. Whether you sell your creations, make your own clothing, or do alterations, a functional dress form is crucial. But if you've ever shopped for one, you know how expensive they can be.

A notable exception is the Singer Adjustable Dressform. It can be found online for as low as $129.99, or even less if you catch it on sale. Despite its very reasonable price, the Singer is a high quality, highly adjustable dressform that does not disappoint. It's great for anyone who makes clothing for others, or for those who sew for themselves and have unusual proportions.

The Singer Adjustable Dressform comes in two sizes. The Small/Medium fits sizes 10-16, and the Medium/Large fits sizes 16-22. Each unit has 12 adjuster dials, making it a cinch to adjust the form to the perfect proportions. It even features torso height and neck adjustments, which make it perfect for accommodating long or short waists and various neck sizes. These are things that few dress forms have, but they are crucial for optimal construction and some alterations. Measurements adjust as follows:


* Bust - 33-39 inches

* Waist - 25-31 1/2 inches

* Waist to neck length - 16 to 19 inches


* Bust - 40-46 inches

* Waist - 30-37 inches

* Waist to neck length - 16 to 19 inches

The dressform has a thick foam back, which provides for easy pinning. Its dials are sturdy and easy to adjust. It's also surprisingly lightweight, making it easy to move around as needed.

The Singer Adjustable Dressform has a 2-year manufacturer's warranty, so you can't go wrong with it. It has all the features that a professional seamstress needs, at a price that even the most casual sewing hobbyist can both justify and afford. This versatile dressform is a great help to anyone who sews.

How to Find the Right Pattern Size for Your Children's Clothing

Sewing for children can be tricky. There's the matter of finding styles they will wear, but that's only a small part of the battle. Finding the right pattern size can be quite difficult, especially for children who are short, tall, thin or heavy for their age.

Some inexperienced tailors assume that the size a child wears in ready-to-wear clothing is the size of pattern they should use. But that's not always the case. Sizes vary among clothing manufacturers, so the size of your child's best-fitting jeans may or may not be the size of pattern you should use to make him a pair of pants. And for children who do not conform perfectly to the sizes you find in the store, going with the closest match is a recipe for disaster.

Measuring for Children's Patterns

The first step to getting a good fit is getting good measurements. Here are the measurements you need to get started:

1. Length

For tops, you'll need to know the back waist length. This measurement goes from the back of the neck to the back of the waist. For pants, you'll need to measure the inseam from the crotch to the ankle. It's also wise to measure the outseam, which will run from the waist to the ankle.

2. Chest

Measure around the fullest part, running the tape under the arms and across the shoulder blades.

3. Arm length

This is one of the most common problem areas when using a standard pattern. Measure from the neckline to the tip of the shoulder bone, then bend the arm and measure from the neckline to the wrist. Then subtract the shoulder width to get the best arm length measurement.

4. Waist

In most cases, it's best to measure around the natural waistline, as this is where most patterns assume you are measuring. But if your child likes the waists of her pants or skirts lower, you could drop down an inch or so.

5. Hips

Measure around the hipbones or the fullest part of the abdomen, whichever is larger.

Finding the Right Size and Making Adjustments

It would be nice if all of these measurements always pointed to the same size, but it doesn't always work that way. So we must often go by one measurement and make adjustments for the others.

For shirts, dresses and jackets, the chest measurement is the best indicator of size. If the waist and hips are fuller, you can make adjustments as needed. For pants and skirts, the hip measurement is usually the best indicator of size. If the waist is larger, however, you'll be better served by using that measurement.

Kids grow quickly, so it's best to err on the side of caution. If you find that your child's measurements fall between two sizes, it's often a good idea to go up to the larger size. It should only be a little bit on the large side, and he will probably grow into it in no time.

Children come in all shapes and sizes, and you never know when they'll experience a growth spurt. But that doesn't mean that we can't sew for them. It just means that we might need to adapt patterns a little to make them work. With good measurements and a size chart, sewing for kids doesn't have to be a chore.

Finding Fabric on Clearance

Those who sew do it for many different reasons.  Some just love to create their own clothing and accessories because they can make them as unique as they like.  Others sew to save money on clothes, or to make a living.  And others like to create one-of-a-kind gifts for those they care about.  But no matter what your reason for sewing, it's always nice to find a bargain on fabric.

It's not hard to find cheap fabric, but in many cases, you get what you pay for.  Some of it is second quality, meaning that it has some sort of flaw.  It could have been incorrectly dyed or woven, or it may have been damaged at some point.  Other cheap fabrics are very lightweight or otherwise cheaply made.  These types of fabric work fine for some applications, but if you want top-quality fabric at a low price, you'll need to find it on clearance.

When Does Fabric Go on Clearance?

The popularity of different kinds of fabrics waxes and wanes with the seasons.  Heavier fabrics are more popular during cold weather, and lighter ones sell better in the warm months.  So when it's near time for the seasons to change, many stores put the current season's fabrics on sale to make room for the fabrics of the upcoming season.

Another factor in a fabric's popularity is current styles.  Just like certain colors and articles of clothing go in and out of style, so do certain fabrics.  So if you hear that a type of fabric you love is becoming scarce on the fashion runways, the time is ripe to look for great deals on it.  Fashion is rather cyclical, so chances are it will be popular once again before you know it.

What to Look for in Clearance Fabric

Sometimes stores put fabric on clearance because there is something wrong with it.  They may be getting a lot of complaints about it, or it could have been damaged in storage.  Buying your fabric from a reputable source can help you avoid purchasing such fabrics, but it never hurts to carefully examine any fabric you buy.  Here are some things to look for:

1. Is the texture of the fabric consistent?  Does it look or feel worn in spots?

2. Is the fabric stained?  Look closely, and hold it up to the light if possible.

3. Does the fabric feel durable?  Pull on it gently and see how it holds up.  If it feels like it's going to tear, there's a good chance that it will.

4. Is the coloring consistent?  Are any patterns well defined and uniformly colored?

Stocking up on fabric while it is on clearance is a wonderful way to save money.  The trick is knowing when to look for it and finding fabric that is of acceptable quality.  It may take some searching, but when you find that perfect fabric, you'll know it was well worth the effort.

Your Comments Please

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    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 

      5 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      This is a very thorough hub. My 4-H leaders would approve!


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