Home sewing patterns can save a lot of time, especially if one adapts them so they can be used with the professional drafting and sewing techniques used in the industry.
I do this all the time. I thought you might like to know how to do some of this. In this post are some of the professional high-end techniques I learned in the industry. Here is the child’s dress that I made for my cousin’s granddaughter, Ella.
Sewing for children usually doesn’t require making a muslin, almost always essential if sewing for an adult. When I sew for my children I just made everything too big and they grow into it. Sooner or later it fits ;-))
New Look Pattern 6427 called for an invisible zipper, which I prefer. I bought dark coral fabric for the bodice overlay and sleeve, and soft yellow fabric for the skirt. Since I planned to encase the inside of the dress with lining, I bought soft yellow lining fabric as well.
Tracing patterns preserves the original patterns, making them available if there should be problems during the cutting and sewing process. It also makes them available for use in the future. 6427 is a well designed pattern. I may have use for it in the future. If the child should wear a different size, the pattern is intact and ready for use.
In the snapshot, Tracing the front skirt pattern, the front skirt is being traced. Note that the paper is folded. That is because the pattern will be turned over and traced. then opened so as to cut the fabric on the open.
Note: Do NOT cut the patterns out. Cut the patterns with the fabric if you want well cut garments. Granted it’s not good on scissors, but scissors can be sharpened. Slippery fabrics are easily controlled by the method presented in this blog. Chiffon, silk, micro-fiber – NO problem. Just sandwich it between tracing paper which you can buy at any art supply store. Buy canary yellow, 36 inches wide, 50 feet long. You will have no idea what you ever did without it.
If you want beautiful clothing, NEVER cut on the fold! To do so is to invite disaster. One must have total control over the drafting, cutting, and sewing if one is to produce beautiful clothing. Cutting more than one ply works, but cutting on the fold can produce wedges down the fold, and an under ply of fabric that is off grain. Even cheap clothing is never cut on the fold in industry.
I wanted to produce a truly beautiful, high-end garment with a soft finish to the hem, so I set up the patterns so the finished garment would have a two-inch hem that hung on its lining.
To do that the shell is given a 2 inch hem with a 3/8 inch seam allowance, the lining is cut 4 inches shorter than the shell’s hem.
Now I was ready to cut. First I cut the largest piece which was the front skirt. I tore both the lining and the shell fabrics to establish their cross grains, then laid tracing paper on my grid. I then laid the shell fabric over the tracing paper, checking that it was laid on grain, pinning it in place. I then laid the lining fabric over the shell, laying its hem edge 4 inches above the shell’s hem line. Finally I laid the pattern over the stack. The shell and lining fabrics were now sandwiched between the underlying tracing paper and the shell.
Zippers should be sewn in first, or as soon as possible in the construction of a garment. It’s just easier, giving greater control. That is because there is less garment under the machine when one sets the zipper first.
This dress required some rather quirky sewing procedures, since the bodice overlay hung free over the waistline and because I was hanging the shell’s hem on the lining.
That meant that I had to first sew the hem, leaving the hem open at the side seams and center back so the hem could be completed after those seams were sewn. Then I needed to sew the back bodice shells to their back skirt waistbands, leaving the waistline seam open at their side seams.
Now I could set the invisible zipper. I’ve never been able to achieve professional results with the invisible zipper foot. The women in the industry do, but they set 500 zippers a day, so they get really good at it. I find stay-stitching the zipper in place first, then sewing the zipper in works really good. I get fantastic results with this method and have written and diagrammed the procedure in my books for others to use.
Since the dress has a bodice overlay, the waistband’s seam allowance had to show on the inside of the garment. I used lace to cover the waistband.
One final note: When the dress was finished I couldn’t understand why it didn’t look like the dress pictured on the pattern packet. Then I realized! I had sewn the pleats as instructed and as shown on the pattern envelope’s diagrams. I quickly ripped out the stitching and to my great joy, the dress now looked the way I knew it should to overjoy its recipient.
The inside of the garment. This picture shows the hem, hung on the lining to eliminate hand hemming.
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2018.
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