Picture this: You walk into a party in a fierce outfit and someone whispers, "Hey, who are you wearing?" It's the red carpet dream. Your dress slays, and you know it. Now imagine your answer is, "Oh, this? I made it myself." Drop the mic.
This can happen — believe it! You can sew your own to-die-for party dresses, head-turning pants, chic tailored jackets and much more. All those pieces have one thing in common: advanced sewing techniques. If you're an intermediate sewer, adding these five moves to your repertoire will seriously up your game.
1. Adding Piping and Trims
When trims and piping are missing from a jacket or other piece, you probably won't even notice. But you'll definitely know it when they're there. Smoothly piped seams or edges bring out the design lines of a pattern or add a touch of color. Trims are the perfect way to accent one color in a printed or bouclé fabric.
You can buy piping or make your own with a zipper or piping foot, and trims can be hand-sewn or done on a machine.
Ready to try your hand at these techniques? Start small, by adding piping to the waistband of a skirt or trim to the neckline of a simple jacket. Soon you'll be adding trims and piping to everything you can get your hands on.
2. Making Welt Pockets
Welt pockets are subtle, but their power is real. You'll find them on pants, pencil skirts and even handbags, looking all unassuming but bringing a massive amount of style.
They come in a bunch of variations: single welt, double welt, the kind with a flap, or the zippered version. Once you master the technique, you can modify your basic pocket to fit the pattern or fabric.
As with piping and trims, once you learn how to make welt pockets , you'll want to add them everywhere.
3. Adding Underlining
There are lots of reasons to add underlining to your garment, depending on which fabric you're using. For a lightweight silk, the underlining adds strength and cuts down on wrinkles. In a wool dress, the underlining often eliminates the need for facings. While the underlining quietly does its thing, lending structure and support, the outer fabric gets to play superstar. The underlining also lets you do all kinds of hand-stitching inside the garment too.
If you're an intermediate-level sewer, start practicing the technique and you'll be a pro in no time.
4. Learning Complex Construction
Look at certain patterns and all you see is a maze of markings. Figuring out how to accurately transmit those to your fabric is a super useful skill to develop. All the precision involved, and all that attention to the tiniest details on the most complex designs? It sounds intimidating — but once you're in the habit, your whole sewing universe expands. Some of the most stunning vintage patterns have ultra-complex pleating or darts that you won’t find on contemporary patterns.
So it definitely pays to develop this skill, but don't worry: You can take baby steps at first. Try adding a structured sleeve to a simple dress, and go from there.
5. Mastering Traditional Tailoring
You've always wanted to make that one totally chic yet totally classic jacket that will last for years and years. And you absolutely can, once you get a few new skills like hair canvas interfacing and pad stitching.
You'll also need plenty of steam, not to mention soft skills like patience. A traditionally tailored garment isn't an instant-gratification kind of thing. It's an investment of your time, but there's nothing like traditional tailoring to build up those essential skills and give you a confidence boost.
Just remember: The biggest sewing stars started out like the rest of us, making the simplest garments, getting antsy to learn more and building up their impressive sewing skills one step at a time.