Design Your Own Dresses

It is a pleasure to design and sew your own dresses. Here are few tips for doing so.

1. Sewing machine

Any sewing starts with a good sewing machine. If you are planning to use only for domestic purpose, then invest in a lightweight, portable machine with zigzag stitching function.

2. Fabric

Choosing the fabric is another step. Choose fabric that will hold shape after stitching. To test this, Stretch the fabric with thumb and a finger and hold it for ½ a minute. If it regains its shape quickly, it will hold the shape. These type fabrics are easy to stitch.

Test the fabric for wrinkles. Squeeze it tightly for a minute. If it straitens up quickly, then it is wrinkle resistance.

Every fabric roll has the information about the width, length and the type of fabric.

Double knit wool is the best material for most of the dresses, like skirts, pants, and tops.

3. Treating the fabric

It is a good idea to preshrink fabric before cutting it. If you are sewing lining, then preshrink both.

Soak in either warm or cold water as per fabric specifications. If you are not sure then soak it in cold water. Rinse it and air or machine dry.

Steam-press dry cleaning fabrics to preshrink.

4. Some tips before you start sewing

I. Always iron the fabric before cutting.

II. Use tailor's chalk or the ink that disappears after 24 hours.

III. Use all- purpose polyester thread for sewing.

IV. Use 14 number needle for most of the fabrics. Use 11 number for delicate and 16 number for thick fabrics.

V. Always change the needle after 4/5 hours of sewing.

VI. Oil the machine after every 4/5 hours of use. More modern sewing machines may not require as frequent oiling, consult your documentation.



5. Know your body type.

There are four common types of body shapes.

Hourglass: The shoulders and hips are balanced.

Triangle: narrow shoulders and broad hips.

6. Inverted triangle: narrow hips and broad shoulders

Rectangular: little or no waist identification.

7. Selecting a pattern.

You need two measurements for selecting a pattern for tops, vests and shirts, Chest or high bust and full bust.

If your size is between two standard sizes, select the smaller one, as there is enough allowance in the pattern to be adjusted to your size. If you buy the bigger pattern the effect may be baggy.

For bottom patterns, go by your hip and waist measurement, giving more importance to the hip measurement.

8. Cutting patterns at home.

For all the patterns, Cut the pattern on tissue paper and pin it. Try it on. If it doesn't look good, then it will not look good on the fabric too.

Skirts:

Select the best fitting skirt form the wardrobe.

Take these measurements, hips, waist, lower waist (if you have protruding tummy), skirt length and the ease it offers.

Draw the same pattern on newspaper. Check it by placing the stitched skirt on the pattern.

Mark the tucks wherever applies.

Place the pattern on the fabric.

Pin it and cut it.

Always keep 1-inch allowance while cutting.

First join the body to the waist belt. Then join both sides together.

Hem the bottom after joining both the sides.

Top

Select the best fitting top from your wardrobe.

Measure high-bust, full-bust, armhole length, and top-length, sleeves-length.

Draw the same pattern on the paper. Check it by placing the top on it.

Mark the tucks wherever applies.

Place the pattern on the fabric.

Pin it and cut it.

Always keep 1-inch allowance while cutting.

First stitch the neckline.

Join the shoulders.

Attach sleeves.

Join the sides.

Hem the bottom and the sleeves after stitching.

Always allow ½ an inch allowance while stitching.

Pants

Select the best fitting pants form the wardrobe.

Take these measurements, hips, waist, lower waist (if you have protruding tummy), pant length and the ease it offers.

Draw the same pattern on newspaper. Check it by placing the stitched skirt on the pattern.

Mark the tucks wherever applies.

Place the pattern on the fabric.

Pin it and cut it.

Always keep 1-inch allowance while cutting.

First stitch the legs. Then join two legs together.

Join them to the waist belt.

Hem the bottom after joining both the sides.

For any of the above dresses allow 2 to 4 inches ease for comfortable fitting.

© High Speed Ventures 2011