You Are a Beginner

The first garment should be simple enough to be completed quickly. You will learn basic techniques which will be used on other garments.


- Use the information in Section 5 to assist you in selecting your fabric. Use the “on the spot” tests.

- Cotton and cotton blends are easy to prepare, handle, sew and press.

- If you choose a firm, close weave cut edges will not ravel; seam edges can be finished quickly and neatly.

- A small “all-over” design will not require matching and will conceal many imperfections in sewing and pressing.

- Inquire as to fiber content, special finishes, width of fabric, and ease-of-care.

- Compare prices and width of fabric in regard to the yardage required for your garment.

- Is the texture and colour of the fabric becoming and flattering? Section 2 — Pattern Choice.

- “Easy-to-make” patterns are indicated in the pattern books.

- Is your choice of fabric among the fabric suggestions on the back of the pattern envelope?

- Is the pattern the right size and type for your figure? (Sect. 6— were your measurements taken by an experienced dressmaker?)

- Avoid set-in sleeves; instead, choose sleeveless, cap sleeves or kimona sleeves without gussets.

- Avoid too many seams and collars, cuffs, bound buttonholes.

- Choose a garment that requires little fitting — no waistline seam, a minimum of darts — look at the small black and white drawings of the style and views, in the pattern book and on the back of the pattern envelope.

- Some styles slip over the head and don't require a zipper or buttons and buttonholes. Instead, the opening is closed with a button and thread loop, hooks and eyes, a laced neckline, or a low neckline.

- Will the style conceal a fault in your figure? Is the neckline becoming and flattering? See Section 2.

- An elastic waistband on a long or short skirt, or on pants, is a quick and easy finish.

- If you have a buttonhole attachment and have had a demonstration on how to use it, practice, and you could consider a button closing.

- Patch pockets often add to a garment and are easy to make.

- Have fun with trimmings — fringe, embroidered banding, rick rack, buttons, etc.

Remember: Do not attempt too much too soon; have patience.

Continue to use simple patterns until you have mastered the basic techniques and can operate the machine. Gradually work into patterns with more details.


There is no substitute for careful accurate work. Do each step carefully. Constructing a garment is like a problem in mathematics — a mistake in the first step will carry through all the succeeding steps. Don’t be discouraged. It takes patience to train the hands to co-ordinate. Once a basic construction process is mastered you will find that it has many applications. Follow a work plan. Form good working habits.

Causes of sewing failures:

- Incorrect pattern size due to inaccuracy of measuring or selection of wrong pattern size.

- Fabric not tested for shrinkage and the garment shrank.

- Inaccuracy of grainline — fabric was not straightened.

- Pattern pieces to he placed on the fold were not exactly on the fold.

- Inaccuracy in cutting and in stitching; 1/8 inch or even 1/16 inch on two layers of fabric, repeated a number of times, will soon add up to 1 or 2 inches, and the finished garment could be a whole size too large or too small. There is only 2 inches difference between one size and the next size.

- A work plan was not followed, resulting in overhandling of fabric, unnecessary ripping and re-stitching, and garment sections became stretched.

- Lack of understanding of sewing terms, e.g., clips used instead of notches.

- Darts cut open on a fabric that raveled and they pulled apart when laundered and worn.

- Seams trimmed too narrow for the type of fabric.

- Heat of iron was not tested on your sample seams, resulting in scorched fabric or a shine when being pressed.

Again, follow a work plan and form good habits. A general order of work procedure for all garments is given in Section 12. Before starting to machine stitch use scraps of your fabric and test for size of stitch, pressing and raveling.


If you begin by handling all fabrics gently, garment sections will not stretch and you can pin and stitch instead of basting.

- Lift each cut section gently off the table, supporting it with your hands, because the weight of the fabric, when held upright, can stretch any cut edge, especially the larger sections.

- Support the weight of the fabric at all times; carry cut pieces carefully from the table to the sewing machine.

- Work at a table rather than on your lap, keeping the garment sections as flat as possible when pinning, hasting and hand stitching. Often it will be necessary to stand when pinning and basting long seams, also when transferring pattern markings to the garment section by tailor tacks or by using carbon paper and the tracing wheel.

- At the sewing machine keep the garment sections supported on the sewing machine table as much as possible — you can stitch “straight and even”; also, the cut edges are less apt to stretch.

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Friday, 2009-04-10 2:21