Sewing Garments for Fun & Style

Sewing Garments for Fun & Style

Posted by Karla Menaugh on Aug 31st 2021

With so much ready-made clothing available, there’s no reason for anyone to have to make clothing anymore. So why try? Because you can create your own personal style with hand-made garments, and also fit the clothing to your own body type. But that’s still not reason enough unless the process is also enjoyable (even fun!) and with professional results.

That’s where Barbara Emodi comes in. In her new book, Stress-Free Sewing Solutions, Barbara shares her bag of tricks—the one that she has developed over a lifetime of sewing—to show you how to make beautiful, professional-quality garments in the easiest, most straight-forward way possible.

Perfect shirt-front plackets

Barbara’s all-in-one sleeve and neck facings for a smooth finish

Barbara’s advice includes what to do with F.A.I.L.s—those situations where you encounter Followed-All-Instructions Letdown—to help you understand what went wrong with a garment you’ve already sewn and whether it can be fixed or rescued. Even more important, she teaches strategies for starting with a better method the next time you sew something similar.

Think bound buttonholes, shirt plackets, fly zippers, hems in all types of fabric, invisible neckline and armhole facings, pockets, and any number of challenging sewing tasks. Barbara shows you tricks for sewing them all, no matter your skill level.

Bound buttonholes made easy

Paying attention to small matters often makes a big difference in how much you will enjoy sewing, and how good your garment is going to look. Barbara also includes her top 50 everyday tricks to make sewing a little easier. Some examples:

Tip #3. Buy yourself 10 new bobbins every year on your birthday. No one ever said “gee I have too many empty bobbins lying around here.” If you try to wind new thread over old, you are going to run short in the middle of some seam. Then you are going to have to stop and rewind another half-full bobbin that will also run out. Do yourself a favor, have a ton of bobbins on hand. Now to mention it, do yourself a lot of favors. In general.

Tip #16: When someone asks you to replace the zipper in a pair of jeans, just look blank, pause, and say no. For this, they invented tailors and neighborhood drycleaners. However, if they want you to make a whole new pair of jeans—well, that might be interesting.

Tip #44: Fit your facings, not your pattern. This is a time- and fabric-saving tip I use a lot. Just cut out the facings and see how they fit around your neck or shoulders before you cut out the garment. You will quickly be able to tell if you need to make alterations (like add a few back neck darts) or if this just isn’t a good pattern for you.

Tip #49. Learn to drive-by sew. Keep a machine set up and threaded. Think of sewing as small jobs done on the fly rather than something requiring large chunks of time. I sometimes find thinking of the big picture exhausting. However, I have no trouble with assigning myself mini jobs (I will just sit down for a moment and pin one seam). The coat featured in Chapter 5 was constructed in 15-minute blocks snatched throughout one week. I hardly noticed the work in this project.

Lined jacket with welt pockets, patch pockets, and a hidden phone pocket, all accomplished with drive-by sewing!


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