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Dressmaking 101

Updated on May 5, 2011

Dress yourself

Basic Stitches
Basic Stitches | Source

Introduction to Dressmaking

Dressmaking is a craft of making dresses. It is the basis and the start of the fashion world. When you make dresses, you will be called a dressmaker or historically, modiste.

Learning the basics of dressmaking can be very exciting. When you say basic it should be basic which means an introduction. In this page, I will introduce you to start of dressmaking, hand sewing. Sure it is easy to use the sewing machine but there are certain stitches that can only be done using our wonderful hands.


Note: Please refer to the picture above from Britannica Online Encyclopedia for your guide on how to the stitches.

Running stitch – is the one of the most basic and useful hand stitches. This is made in an up and down manner. This is also known as gathering stitch and is used to sew seams. When you make dresses, you will need to piece together the parts. Running stitch is used to put the parts together because it is easy to remove it. This can be used as a decorative.

How to do it: First, fasten the thread at the end with a knot. Then run the needle up and down through the fabric with equal spaces. Smaller stitches are firmer while larger ones are quicker to do and to remove. Larger stitches are good for basting, which will be discussed in a little while.

Basting stitch – is similar to the running stitch. It is used to hold two or more pieces of fabrics together so that it will not shift while stitching the permanent stitches.

How to do it: Unlike the running stitch,there is no need for the thread to be fastened with a knot. It is made with longer stitches and can easily be removed.

Slip stitch – is an invisible stitch.

How to do it: Fasten the end of the stitch with a knot. Begin the stitch by bringing the needle out from the fold of the hem hiding the knotted end in the fold. Pick up the thread outside the fabric. Then stick the needle into the fold and slide it along the inside of the fold bringing the needle out and continue across the fold.

Overcast stitch – is used to prevent the fabric from fraying or raveling. Stitch should be made evenly and as closely as together as possible for a secure edge.

How to do it: Fasten the end of the thread with a knot. Make a same length diagonal and equally spaced stitches over the raw edge of the fabric

Hemming stitch – is a stitch used in sewing the hemlines of skirts, blouses and dresses.

How to do it: First, fasten the end of the thread with a knot. Then, begin the stitch inside the fabric that is folded down, take the thread on the outer side of the fabric then bring the needle back through the edge of the fold.

Catch stitch or Herringbone stitchthis stitch is used to securely attach the hemlines of skirts, blouses and dresses in an x form.

How to do it: First, fasten the end of the thread with a knot. Make a diagonal stitch from left to right across the fold. Turn the needle to the left and make a small stitch in the fabric from right to left. Bring the needle out and up towards the right to the folded fabric forming an x on the thread. With the needle still turned on the left make a small stitch in the fabric from right to left and continue the process until the hemlines are fully stitched.

Back stitch – is another useful hand stitches. It is the most firm of hand stitches and forms constant run of stitches that resemble on the top side to those formed by a sewing machine. The back side of backstitch looks different to the right side because stitches are longer and overlapped.

How to do it: First, fasten the thread at the end with a knot. Start the stitch by pulling the needle through the fabric and push it back into the fabric behind where the thread came out. Carry the needle under the fabric to the point where the new stitch is required and repeat the process.

Invisible stitch – is used to draw two edges together invisibly.

How to do it: Fasten the thread at the end with a knot. Make a stitch from the top fabric and draw the needle to the bottom of the fabric. Repeat the process until the hemline is stitched completely.

More dressmaking lesson will come. So keep tuning in.


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