5 Ways To Make Everyone Think You’re a Sewing Pro

5 ways to make everyone think you're a sewing pro. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Just think, with a sewing machine, a pattern and some fabric you can actually make your own clothes. Being a beginning sewer is exciting and empowering as you learn how to sew a wardrobe that’s uniquely you. It can also be really frustrating when you’re trying as hard as you can but keep churning out things that look “Becky Home Ecky,” an insult Michael Kors used to toss at struggling designers on Project Runway.

Relax, making clothes that look as nice as better RTW is within every beginning sewer’s reach. All you have to do is follow these five tips:% Ways to Not Look Like a Beginning Sewer

1) Know what fashion styles work best for you.

Just because you now have the ability to make your own clothes—which makes you a super-cool human being—doesn’t mean you need to turn into a DIY fashionista queen. Remember that while sewing may be your new passion, it does take time and money. Before you even think about sewing the latest fashion trend (ooh, culottes!), head to the store and try it on. Or search online and see how it looks on people with your body type. Think of all the time you saved but not sewing something that was going to look terrible on you no matter how well you made it.

5 Ways to Keep From Looking Like  a Beginning Sewer

2) Choose a fabric that makes you look like a pro.

Beginning sewers often feel their nascent sewing skills aren’t worthy of better fabric, so they limit themselves to low-cost fabric. (We don’t mean good fabric at affordable prices. We mean poorly-manufactured fabrics that are priced low because the quality is low.) One, cheap fabric will always look like cheap fabric, even if you sew well enough to meet Patrick Grant’s approval. Two, better fabric is a pleasure to sew with, and will help you be a better sewer because it will cause less frustrations at the sewing machine. Cheap fabrics fray easily, snag frequently, pill when washed, and are often printed off-grain. Three, better fabric can make the simplest of designs—an elastic-waist skirt, for example—look like expensive designer RTW.

5 Ways to Keep From Looking Like  a Beginning Sewer

3) Test the details first.

As a beginning sewer you’re going to have a lot of firsts: first zipper, first pocket, first buttonhole, etc. Grab some scrap fabric and practice sewing these details before you begin working on your pattern. Be prepared: You may need to test-sew several versions before you get it right. Only after you’re satisfied that your imaginary sewing teacher would give you an A+ should you attempt sewing your first [insert scary new sewing technique here] in the garment you’re working on.

basting stitches blog

4) Baste for greater control.

Sure, pins are perfect for holding things together and we use them all the time. But when you want to have real control at the sewing machine and achieve perfect stitching the first time, baste your garment pieces in place. Hand-stitching secures your fabric much more precisely than pins do, and it doesn’t come out like pins can. Sure, it may take you a little longer to baste rather than pin (though not much), but you’re so much less likely to need to rip out your stitching and try again. Use a thread for basting that pulls out of your fabric easily, like a silk thread.

5 Ways to Keep From Looking Like  a Beginning Sewer

5) Press for perfection.

Nothing screams “beginning sewer” louder than a garment that was sloppily pressed during construction. Invest in a good iron with steam and high heat, and pick up some pressing tools such as a tailor’s ham and a wooden point presser. Then follow the pattern’s directions and carefully press seams and sewing details at every juncture, not missing a single step where pressing is called for. The result will be a crisp-looking garment with sharp details.

 

Five ways to make everyone think you're a sewing pro. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Then and Now: ’70s-Style Patterns

ICYMI, the 70’s look is huge this spring. Whether you’re wearing the decade’s looks for the first time or revisiting the fashions of your youth, come hop on the ’70s love train with us. Let’s take a then-and-now look at seventies sewing patterns:

Wear-to-work dresses: Simple lines and a close fit.

Seventies sewing patterns then and now on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Click here for Vogue Patterns dress V8786.

Pants and jumpsuits: The wider the leg the better.

Seventies sewing patterns then and now on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Click here for Vogue Patterns jumpsuit V9116.

Tops: Clingy is best. Bows are big.

Seventies sewing patterns then and now on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Click here for Kwik Sew top K4027. You can easily add the scarf around the neck from the same fabric.

Skirts: Wraps are always right.

Seventies sewing patterns then and now on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Click here for McCall’s skirt M7129.
These three current patterns have a '70s vibe. M7157 halter dress, B6178 culottes, V9076 dress.
These three current patterns have a ’70s vibe. M7157 halter dress, B6178 culottes, V9076 dress.

Will you be adding a little ’70s influence to your spring and summer sewing? I have a pair of culottes all cut out and ready to be sewn. What’s up next on your sewing table?

Question: Are you able to successfully pin images from this blog? Do you end up getting a jpg image that doesn’t link back to the post? Or do you get seemingly dozens of images and have to search high and low for the one you want to pin? Can you please test it and let me know in the comments a) if you were successful or not; and b) what browser you use. Thanks!

A look at '70s-style sewing patterns then and now, from the McCall Pattern Company

Lisette Style: Get the Look

Lisette designer Liesl Gibson for Butterick Patterns.

Here at the McCall Pattern Company we’re so excited about the new Lisette patterns for Butterick. We’ve all been talking about which of designer Liesl Gibson’s patterns we want to sew first. Me, I have my eye on the moto jacket from B6169. A black floral Alexander Wang cotton I have in my stash is so perfect for it and I need to get it sewn up before spring arrives. (Which could be in July this year if you live on the East Coast, sigh.)

Want a closer look at the new Lisette patterns? You can see B6169—moto jacket and dress—in our latest video. The super-cute dress the model is wearing above with Liesl is featured in our next video, coming soon, which is all about fabric options for some of our spring patterns. Below, we show B6182 and B6183, and we’ve styled them with accessories for a casual-chic look. Take a look!

Lisette Butterick B6182 sewing pattern styled with accessories from Net-a-Porter.
Butterick B6182 paired with Frame denim jacket, Acne Studios Roza stretch canvas shoes, Le Specs tortoiseshell glasses, Maria Rudman silver cuff, Jerome Dreyfus Nestor leather shoulder bag. All from Net-a-Porter.

“All of these pieces are appropriate for work as well as casual wear, and they can even move into evening if you make them in the right fabrics. I like updated classics, not trendy pieces that will look out-of-date in six months. So these patterns are designed to look great for a long time, and I hope you’ll enjoy wearing them for a long time too.” —Lisette designer Liesl Gibson

Lisette Butterick B6183 sewing pattern styled with accessories from Net-a-Porter.
Butterick B6183 shown with See by Chloe Cara leather sandals, Alexis Bittar liquid metal bangle, Elizabeth & James Lafayette glasses, Mary Katrantzou acrylic clutch. Bangle from Bloomingdale’s, all others from Net-a-Porter.

Coming very soon: Details on our next sewalong! I’ll give you a big hint: It’s a lot less complicated to sew than the Ralph Rucci coat pattern we made in the fall. Yay!