I’ve got a lot of fabulous sewing tutorials on the website which will help anyone new to sewing get started, but for those who are a little more practiced and want to know how to sew high quality clothes I thought a quick guide covering some more professional sewing tips was in order.
These are nine tasks I make sure to do when sewing a garment, whether or not it’s included in a sewing pattern’s instructions. Incorporating these professional sewing tips will definitely give your clothing projects a more professional finish..
Have a look at them, and let me know if there are any that you will be adding to your garment sewing process!
1. Button Hole ‘Toile’
We all toile up our garments in test fabric right? So we should also practise toiling up our button holes on the same fabric scraps too! This means we can make sure that they’re good before sewing the real thing!
It helps to make sure that we have the right needle, the right presser foot and the right thread selected for the job too!
2. Double Stitching Seams
Double stitching is the process of sewing two lines of stitches for a seam instead of one. It helps to strengthen a seam, but it shouldn’t be used for all seams!
For those seams which take a lot of action, try double stitching them. My top three are:
- Pocket openings
- Crotch seams
All three of the above take a lot of wear and tear, so double stitching can help reinforce the seam. Note that the second line of stitching should be just 3mm / ⅛” from the first.
There are some sections of garments which should always be interfaced for better stability of the fabric, so make a list of those in your next pattern that you feel should have the extra support and keep note of it.
I always interface:
- Button stand (sometimes called a button tape or a button placket)
- Collar stand (inner)
- Front facing (tailored jackets)
- Jacket hem (tailoring)
- Placket (sleeves and centre front openings)
- Pocket opening (inset pockets)
- Sleeve head (tailored jackets)
- Sleeve hem (tailoring)
- Top collar
- Underwrap (zipper fly)
There are different types of interfacings which have different purposes, so make sure to choose the right one! If you’ve not used interfacing much do check out my article on what interfacing fabric is and when to use it!
4. Knit Shoulder Seams
Knit fabrics can stretch. By quite a bit. So I always make sure to stabilise any shoulder seams on knit garments.
You can use the selvedge of the fabric you’re using – which is more tightly knitted – or a section of clear elastic, like the sample shown in the above photo.
Learn more about working with knitted fabrics here!
5. Press Every Seam
I am more guilty than most for not doing this tip, but pressing every seam – and before sewing an adjoining one! – is a great way to get a professional finish on your handmade garments!
- Start by pressing the first line of stitching when complete to ‘set’ the stitches in place.
- Then, press open the seam as required by the type of seam that you are sewing.
- Repeat for each seam and hem that is sewn throughout he garment construction process.
6. Pre Washing Fabric
It’s always a good idea to pre-wash the fabric you plan to use in your sewing project, and the reasons are:
- Removes any sizing left on the fabric from manufacturing
- Helps to ‘pre shrink’ the fabric so your finished garment comes out the wash at the correct size
Not all fabrics can be pre-washed though, as some fabric types don’t react well to being soaked or spun! If your fabric is one of those, then check out my guide to pre-shrinking fabric without washing!
7. Secure Your Facings
Adding facings to your garment is a sure way of creating a professionally finished item of clothing. And while understitching – also known as retain stitching – can stop facings from turning outwards, it’s a good idea to secure facings in other areas too.
To stop your facings from ‘flapping out’ when worn, make sure to secure your facings with a couple of hand tacked stitches at key points.
For neckline facings, add a hand stitch or two at the shoulder seams. For armhole facings, you can hand tack the facing to the shoulder and side seams.
8. Serge / Overlock Raw Edges
Whether called for or not in the sewing pattern, its always a good idea to finish the raw edges of each pattern pieces with a serger / overlocker.
This helps to prevent any fraying, and means that even if you sew only the most basic of seams, they will be neat and tidy on the inside.
9. Zipper Basting
Sewing zippers is often the one task than many people new to sewing fear. But, there is a way to make sure your zipper sewing process is as spot on as possible – baste them!
Whether you hand baste in place, or use some temporary adhesive spray, basting zippers into place before sewing them can help get the perfect finish on a zipper, because they won’t shift from their position.
This is an essential step if you plan to sew a zipper with woven tape into a knit fabric, but implementing on any garment project whatever the fabric type used will definitely help you to achieve a more professional finish.
Professional Sewing Tips
I hope that you found these nine professional sewing tips useful. If you implement each of them, your handmade clothing will look far more professional and you’ll have people asking you again and again where you bought your garment from.
And there’s no prouder moment than being able to say ‘Oh this? I made it myself!’
As always, if you enjoyed this, a coffee is always appreciated!
Eve Tokens (aka The Creative Curator) is a fashion designer, creative pattern cutter and sewing pattern designer.
Eve graduated with a 2:1 in Fashion Design from the University of The Creative Arts in the UK, has a BTEC diploma in Creative Pattern Cutting, a Foundation Degree in Art & Design from Wimbledon College of Art and gained extensive experience in the fashion industry by interning and freelancing for London based fashion brands – Hardy Amies, Roland Mouret, Peter Pilotto and others.
As well as running her own small sustainable fashion brand, Eve has more than 25 years experience sewing and making clothes for herself and family members.