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#SewTalk: How to avoid making “home made” looking clothing?

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Hello Everyone!

These past few weeks have been flying by very fast, so it’s hard to believe it’s Monday again, meaning it’s time for our #SewTalk! If you have any sewing related question that you have – leave a comment below or write me an email at julie@sewingjulie.com, and I will answer them in next weeks #SewTalk! Without further ado, let’s move to our this week’s topic:

How to avoid handmade clothing looking home-made?

Yikes, this question brings me some bad sewing memories! Let me tell you a short story: when I was just starting sewing almost a decade ago, I decided to make a coat. Now mind you, I always had a pear shaped figure, which makes such garment fitting difficult already. Plus, my skills were very limited at the time. Plus, I didn’t do my research on how to make such item. Plus, I did not know how to properly iron it or that I could use steam. You probably know where this story is heading: the coat was terrible. The fitting was awful, the ironing was incorrect, the lining was oh-so-poorly installed – all in all, the execution was bad, very bad. The coat definitely looked home-made, rather than looking “handmade in your own personal home atelier” (the second one sounds much better, doesn’t it?). I was never happy with that coat – I did wear it a few times, but I saw the looks my friends were having (“Should we tell her it looks bad or not?”) and quickly put that coat-disaster out of sight and out of mind, swearing to make higher-quality clothes, that I could wear with my head held high and be proud with the work I done.

Fast forward to nowadays and I have collected a few effective tips how to achieve “handmade in your own personal home atelier” instead of “home-made” looking garments:

  • Fitting can make or break any look: whether it’s store bought item, or something you made – fitting is very important. If the clothing does not fall on you nicely – trust me, it will not look good, even it the rest of the execution would be done to perfection. To improve your fitting, I suggest to do research online on how to adjust any commercial pattern to your exact figure (for example, because I have a longer torso, I always have to lower the waistline about 3-4cm in Burda patterns). Also, I would suggest learning how to make your own basic skirt or dress pattern, based on your measurements, to ensure great fitting with little effort (here is a detailed instruction how to make your own skirt block).
  • Ironing is very, very important. Well, I cannot emphasise more: ironing is VERY important. And yes, you have to press each seam, right after you made it, because it might be impossible to iron it properly once the garment is done (yes, there is a lot  running sewing machine-ironing board-sewing machine involved, but it’s worth it). Additionally, having a steam iron is a great option, as steam allows to achieve perfect pressing much faster and it does a much better job than a simple iron (and those steam irons don’t have to cost a lot as well – mine is this one, and I got it on sale for 70 Eur and couldn’t be happier with it).
  • Don’t fast-through the finishing touches. To me, this was probably the hardest steps of all: somehow, if I saw the finish is near, I would start rushing to it and make sloppy finishing (a not-very-straight hemline, not cutting thread ends and etc.). But those finishing touches count BIG TIME, so don’t rush through it and make sure to check if everything is okay once the garment is done!
  • Do your best with each project. Choose projects that are within your skill area or a little over it (because it’s where the growth is – just outside our current skill area); if you are not sure how make something – do your research online for it or consult with other sewing-people (or ask me in next #SewTalk!) and try your best with each project – a “handmade in your own personal home atelier” clothing is definitely worth the effort!

This is it for todays #SewTalk Monday – hope you liked it! Leave a comment below if you have a sewing question for my next week #SewTalk!

Best regards,
Julie

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HOW TO SEW: half circle skirt to any dress

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Hi Everyone!

To me, half circle skirts are the most feminine of all – they fit all body types, are very elegant and to top it all of – very easy to make. They are made using your exact measurements, thus very little to none fitting is required to achieve best results each time – how great is that?

The only way to make half skirts better is to add them to a dress – I have recently made two of these beauties and could not be happier with the final looks, as I feel very feminine and classy wearing both of these dresses!

Adding half circle skirts to any dress is very easy, thus I would like to share a quick inspiration “how to” – one is made with regular half-circle skirt, and the second one is high-low hemline option. So, let’s move to the quick tutorial!

Continue reading “HOW TO SEW: half circle skirt to any dress”

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#SewTalk: Where to start if you are a beginner?

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Hi Everyone!

In #SewTalk  Monday I will answer most common questions that I get about sewing. If there is anything you want to know or need a sewing advise – let me know in the comments below and I will answer them on next weeks #SewTalk Monday! Let’s start with this weeks pickle, that I actually get asked a lot:

Where to start, when you want to learn to sew your own clothing, but never sewn before? What tips you have for beginners?

Though I pride myself currently being a sewing school student, it’s not where I learnt to sew – my journey to sewing starting more than a decade ago, when I was still in high school and got my first very old, yet very “my own” sewing machine. Back then, there was very limited amount of information on internet about sewing (or perhaps I was not that good of a researcher), so I mostly learned to sew from my Burda Style magazines and analyzing a ready-made garments seam by seam. That somewhat worked for me, and I managed to create an almost solely me-made wardrobe even before entering sewing school, however, I also made every single beginner sewing mistake there is and would often sit in front of sewing machine thinking “what am I doing?”.

Luckily, today internet is overflowed with sewing tutorials, which is a good thing; but it became easier to get lost in the whole mass of information, which is a bad thing and people often do not know where to start. When friends ask me how to start sewing, I always give them few advises which in hindsight, if I were to start from zero now, I would give myself as well:    

  • For first project, choose an easy garment, yet the one that will make you proud of what you made. I would recommend to start with a full or half circle skirts – they are pretty easy to make, the pattern is drawn by your exact measurements, so very little or none fitting is required; and to top it all – they look very cute, feminine and – if made from gorgeous fabric – has “wow” effect, that will have people asking “Did you make that?” and you will be proud that you actually did! Here is quite a detailed and beginner friendly tutorial how to draft a full or a half circle skirt for you to start! 
  • Though I am not a big fan of sewing books (I am more of a “google it” kind of girl), I recommend having one big picture-heavy sewing encyclopedia (mine is this one), that you would get inspiration from. When I was just starting to sew, I would take this book, make myself a nice cup of tea and just spend an evening browsing through pages and analyzing every picture, getting ideas about various finishes, seams or cuts, that I would later apply to my projects. 
  • Don’t over-invest in sewing, before you know you really like it. Like any other hobby, sewing can get very expensive very quickly, so I advise you to start slow. For example, you can get your first sewing machine for less than 100 Eur and it will do a really good job (I recommend sticking with well known names in the market, like Singer, Janome or Brother, when buying a entry level machine; for example this, this and this has great reviews and are very budget friendly options). After you make 5-10 garments and still feel like that sewing fewer is not going away, you can purchase an overlocker or upgrade sewing machine, because then you would know you would get a use of it and it will be an investment worth making.  

This is it for todays #SewTalk Monday – hope you liked it! If there is a question about sewing you would like me to tackle on next Monday – let me know in the comments below!

Have a nice and productive work week!

Julie

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HOW TO SEW: A Totally Invisible Stitch (Step By Step Tutorial)

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Hello Everyone!

When it comes to sewing, I never liked two things: invisible stitch (never managed to make it totally invisible and it was annoying) and hand stitching (well, because, bo-o-o-ring!), and so I never in my wildest dreams could imagine that both of these be the best combination for hemming dresses! Making an invisible stitch by hand is what teach in Sewing 101 (no kidding – I was taught that in my first day of sewing school) and they don’t let you even touch a sewing machine until you perfect this stitch (no kidding here as well – I wasn’t allowed to use sewing machine until I proved I can make a perfect invisible stitch, even though I had nearly a decade experience of self-taught sewing:))

It turns out, that making a totally invisible stitch by hand is not that hard of a task, if you know a few tricks – luckily, I can share these pro tricks with you as well! Full tutorial how to master the invisible stitch for hemming dresses or skirts is below – hope you will find it as useful as I did!

Continue reading “HOW TO SEW: A Totally Invisible Stitch (Step By Step Tutorial)”

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DID IT MYSELF: Instantly Favourite Dress (+ Sewing Tips!)

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Hello Everyone!
If you have sewing for a hobby, you know that there is always that one (or more… ups!) fabric in the storage that is just sooo beautiful, but you cannot find a right pattern for it, and it ends up laying around for ages… For me, this gorgeous plaid stretch fabrics was exactly that – I had in for almost a year, until I finally got the courage to take the scissors and cut it (for me, it’s a LOT of time, as I don’t like storing fabrics at all). But the result was totally worth the wait, as this dress instantly became one of my favourites and I always grab it from the closet if I need extra confidence boost (yes, the saying “Look good – feel good” is actually true)!
I would like to also share with you some tips that I learned in my sewing school (second and last year here!) – hope they will be as helpful to you, as they were for me!

And here we go with the sewing tips – let me know if you find them useful!

SEWING TIP No. 1: when cutting plaid, don’t fold your fabric – draw and cut each pattern piece separately (this will help to match all lines nicely together; also, will prevent from any deviations or some weird line miss-placings (seriously, is there more annoying thing than realising you cut pattern with one plaid column being 1cm away from the center of the dress?)).

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SEWING TIP No. 2: before sewing invisible zipper (or any zipper, for that matter) don’t forget to add fusible interfacing on the wrong side of the dress, all along the zipper placement (placement is marked with arrow in the photo below). This will stabilise the fabric for the zipper and it will be much easier and more accurate to install it.

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SEWING TIP No. 3: to make a nicely round neckline, I use following tricks: leave 3-5mm for seam allowance, not more (this allows the neckline to be nicely shaped and round); use fusible interfacing (stabilising band), when stitching the dress and neckline together (arrow pointing on the right photo is showing the fusible interfacing; this secures the neckline and prevents it from stretching); make one final seam stitching together lining and seam allowance, along the neckline (arrow pointing in the left photo below; this secures the lining in the wrong side of the garment and prevents it from appearing on the good side).

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HOW TO SEW: Armhole In a Sleeveless Dress (video tutorial)

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Hello Everyone!

When it comes to office wardrobe, sleeveless sheath dresses are irreplaceable: they allow you to look well put together even on a hot summer day, and you can still wear them even when a cold season approaches, with a cute cardigan or jacket on top. All in all – a true office-wear  winner.

However, before I started sewing school, I always dreaded to make a sleeveless dress for one reason only: I did not know how to make a neatly looking armhole (*sight*). For me, they never turned out right, always looked bulky/cringely/uneven – you name it – I made every bad-looking armhole there is and jealously looked a neat finishes on ready-to-wear dresses.

But that all changed within my first project at school, when my teacher showed a few simple, yet HIGHLY effective techniques – ever since then, I am not afraid to make a sleeveless dress, armholes always turn out perfect and it takes approx. 5 minutes or less to make each armhole! Therefore, I decided to make my first video tutorial and show these techniques to you – I hope you will find this tutorial useful and it will upgrade your dress making skills as well! If you have any questions about the tutorial – please let me know, I’ll try to help! 

So here it goes – my first ever video tutorial on how to make an armhole in a sleeveless dress:

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DIY Look – Special Occasion Dress (+ Pattern review)

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I believe that each woman should have a “special occasion” dress in her closet, so that when any event is coming up, she can easily grab it, put it on and be ready to go, looking good and feeling good. To me, this red dress is exactly that – I made it over a year ago, and it followed me on several special occasions, helping to avoid the big headache of “what to wear”.

My favourite part about this dress is definitely the back – a true “head turned”, which is exactly what you want in a special occasion dress!

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The pattern that I used is from Susanna Moden magazine (issue 2016/08) and it is a perfection: the fit is good, there are many alterations in the issue available and is relatively easy to make. This pattern for me is a true winner (worth buying entire magazine just for it) and I used it a few times already! I am not sure if this magazine is available to find, but if you do come across it – I highly recommend to get it!

Pattern used: Susanna Moden magazine (issue 2016/08).

Changes made: none

Do I recommend the pattern: yes, this pattern is very versatile and the fit is great!

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Closer look to the back 
Photo of the model in Susanna Moden magazine – highly recommend it!