A friend recently asked me to help her make a skirt. Well actually, she asked me to make it, but I persuaded her to have a go. So I was putting together a little pack of instructions and it got me thinking about some things you need to think about when making clothes and I thought I'd put together my little list here for you all.
Firstly, never, never, never, ever, ever, EVER use your fabric scissors on anything but fabric. Remember the childhood game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, where scissors beat paper? Well they do, but paper is the race equivalent of a tortoise.........over time paper will blunt your scissors (and therefore be triumphant!).......and blunt scissors do not and will not cut fabric. In fact, they will eat your fabric, which isn't quite so bad if it is cheapy toile fabric, but not your lovely, expensive me-made-to-wear fabric. So quite simply, only use your fabric-cutting scissors for fabric (and explain to all family members that if they want to keep their limbs, they keep their hands off your fabric scissors too and you must manage as menacing face as possible when telling them this). I have a cheap pair of scissors for cutting paper (actually, I have several pairs of these as little hands keep stealing my paper scissors) and a couple of pairs of fabric scissors, and for these always buy the best you can afford.
When it comes to cutting out your pattern pieces, give some thought to seam allowances. Commercial patterns tend to all 1.5cm seam allowance, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to it. If I am inserting a zip, I like to allow at least 2cm seam allowance on the zip seam. It adds a bit more stability to the allowance where the zip is and also means I can finish the seam allowance. Also, think about how you want to finish your seam allowances; are you going to zig-zag stitch it, overlock it, give a "hemmed" finish (ie turn it under and stitch close to the fold line). How you want to finish your seam allowance (and this will depend on your fabric choice) will determine how much seam allowance you need to have.
Do you want your clothing to be lined? Anything can be lined and if a pattern doesn't include lining, it doesn't mean it can't be or you shouldn't line it. Lining often makes clothes hang better, and also helps prevent wear and tear on seams (as they are hidden away). It also means you don't have to finish off your seam allowances as they will no be subjected to direct wear and tear and so won't fray (if it is a frayable fabric!)
Don't be afraid to change things in a pattern. You may love a particular style of dress, for example, but the neckline may not suit you. Just change it to one you do like (obviously, if you do this, you will need to change the shape of any facing, but it's no big deal).
And lastly, always toile a pattern (test it out on cheap fabric) first to check the fit. You really don't want to go straight into cutting your precious fabric only to find that it doesn't quite fit (and that one is learnt from bitter experience!)
What things do you give thought to when you are sewing?