A-Without Nap: the
pattern pieces can lay in either lengthwise
direction. The fabric’s color will look the same
shade from any direction.
B-With Nap: the
pattern pieces must lay in one direction. The
fabric’s color will look a different shade in each
direction. Any additional pattern
pieces like pockets, yokes, etc. would
also have to lay the same as the pant legs.
Most pattern instructions will have
a “fabric with nap” layout. Just remember to
get more fabric than what your pattern suggests,
taking the width of your fabric into
consideration. How much more depends on the
pattern and fabric.
If you don’t fully understand fabrics
with nap or would like more information, go to *Sewing.org, 4-Fabric~Napped Fabrics. It’s
a free .PDF file you can download and save
for future reference. You can also go to The Sewing Partner for
a full explanation of fabric with nap.
3. Cutting fabric without making
sure pattern pieces are straight
A pattern piece is straight when
its grainline is parallel to the selvage of
the fabric. When you lay a pattern piece on
fabric, it’s very tempting to “eyeball” it for
straightness. To the natural eye, the piece may
look straight. If you measure from the grainline
to the selvage, you may find that it’s not as
straight as you thought. The result is a
garment that doesn’t hang right and may look
and feel lopsided and uncomfortable.
Once the pattern pieces have been cut off
grain, no alteration can fix them. The only fix is
to re-cut them, measuring to make sure the
grainline of the pattern piece is parallel to the
selvage of the fabric.
4. Using the wrong
interfacing or no interfacing at all
There are so many different kinds of
interfacing that it can be a chore to figure out
which one is best for your project. Sometimes
interfacing seems like an extra step that can be
skipped altogether. But interfacing is necessary
to give your garment a clean, neat finish as well
any extra structural support it may need.
When I started altering lined jackets
years ago, I was surprised to find that
manufacturers interface the entire front (and
sometimes back) of the jacket-not just the front
& back facing and collar. They use a quality
fusible interfacing that molds to the fabric like
a second skin and gives the jacket a smooth
finish, no matter the weight of the fabric.
All hems, including sleeve hems, are also
Interfacing prevents ripples, folds and
just plain old droopiness. It gives necklines,
collars, sleeveless armholes and hems a crisp,
neat look. It gives jackets and
coats body and support.
For more information on interfacing, *Sewing.org explains
the basics under 5-Linings & Interfacings~Interfacing 101. Download it
and add it to your sewing library to use when you
5. Ignoring pattern
Oh those pesky notches that slow down
your cutting. Or that extra step of
marking those big & small circles when
you’re ready to go straight to the sewing
Pattern markings will save you a lot
of headaches at the sewing machine.
I ignored these markings all the time
because I was in such a hurry to sew. But as we
all know in sewing, a small step skipped in the
beginning can cause us a lot of time and
frustration in the end. When I realized how much
easier those markings made my sewing life, I could
have kicked myself several times.
Ignoring your pattern markings will cause
you to have to guess or go back and mark them
later after the garment is partially sewn. And
sometimes it won’t be as accurate as it would’ve
been had you marked it in the beginning. Save
yourself the time and headache, while
avoiding the homemade look.
Misplaced design features like pleats or
gathers or cross seams not
matching when two pieces are sewn together
will make your garment look homemade.
For basic refresher information on
pattern markings, go to *Sewing.org, 3-Understanding Patterns~Pattern Markings Part 1 & 2.
6. Pressing seam
allowances after they’re joined to another seam
I know you’ve heard “press as you
go” repeatedly since you’ve been sewing. And
surprisingly enough, some people still don’t do
it. And you can tell.
Pressing has a major impact on how good
your garment looks when it’s finished. Skipping
this step will make your hard work and the time
you put in at the sewing machine all for nothing.
A small ironing board or ironing pad
close to your sewing station will make pressing
nice and convenient. And if you have to walk
across the room to the ironing board, take several
unenclosed seamed pieces at one time and save
yourself a few trips. When you see the result,
you’ll be glad you made the extra effort.
7. Folding under
& top stitching a neckline or armhole
instead of using a facing or bias binding
Nothing says homemade like this one, and
I cringe every time I see it. You cannot get a
good result from turning under a curved seam
allowance and top stitching at the neckline and
armhole. Instead you’ll get ripples and possibly
stretch the area so it becomes wavy instead of
laying flat. No matter how well you’ve sewn the
rest, this will mess up the entire garment.
Adding a facing or a bias binding is
going to take longer, but the end result makes it
worthwhile. Oh, and if you add a facing, don’t
forget the interfacing.
8. Leaving your
seams unfinished and unraveling
Your garment should look as good on the
inside as it does on the outside. That’s what they
taught us in school and I just can’t get it out of
my head. “The
inside, really Katrina, no one’s going to see
it!” I know, but it’ll make you feel
better. Okay, it’ll make ME feel better.
But seriously, unfinished seams may be
seen only to you and seem like no big deal, but if
they’re unraveling, it can become a big problem.
Aside from having to cut strings every time you
wear your garment, if it ravels too close to your
stitching line, you’re going to end up with a
hole. And fixing the hole will cut into the
wearing ease of your garment. Even if you don’t
have a serger, check out the link below for other
possible seam finishes you can do with a sewing
While I’m talking about seams, let me
take this one step further-using the wrong seam finish
for the type of fabric you have will
also give your garment a homemade look. A perfect
example: chiffon. You can see through chiffon, so
the best seam finish is a french seam that
encloses the seam allowances, gives them a
uniform, neat appearance and solves the unraveling
problem. Chiffon loves to unravel, so
enclosing the seams is a must. You will thank
yourself for using the seam finish your fabric
For more information on seam finishes, go
to *Sewing.org, 11-General How-To~Seam Finishes Part 1
& Part 2. French seams are
at the end of Part 2.
9. Using the wrong
Use the wrong hem finish on your garment
and it will stick out like a sore thumb. For some
reason the eye just goes right to it. It will
overshadow all of the hard work you did on the
rest of the garment.
Hand stitching is not the enemy.
The hem is usually the last step to
finishing your garment. Confession time: by the
time I get to the hem I just want to get it done
the quickest way possible, which usually means top
stitching on the sewing machine. But that’s not
always the best choice, especially for dressier
Taking the extra time to hand stitch your
hem (I know, I hate hand stitching too), or
investing in a blind hemmer will help you make a
garment you’ll be proud to wear.
For information on hem finishes go
to *Sewing.org, 11-General How-To~Simple Hems.
10. Wearing your
garment as is, without making any alterations to
You take your pattern out of the
envelope, cut the fabric from the pieces you need,
sew it up and try it on. You can’t believe
it. Without any alterations, it fits perfectly!
And then you wake up.
But that was a nice dream, though.
It’s safe to say that 99.9% of the time,
you’re going to have to alter your pattern in some
way-whether it’s a minor or major alteration.
That’s just the way it is.
Before you put in all that work at
the sewing machine, make sure it fits your
body so you don’t waist your time
or your money. Use muslin to test every
new pattern. Yes, it’s going to take
extra time but you won’t mess up your good
fabric and you’ll get a garment that’s made
for your curves. Doesn’t that make it worth
Can you think of any other sewing
mistakes that’ll make your clothes look
homemade? I CAN. BUY YOUR DUDS at a HUGE DEPT
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