5 fundamental sewing tips from a tailor

2005, there, on a kitchen table are trapezoid paper cuttings. An old Pfaff sewing machine in dire need for oil is waiting for its use.

This is how my sewing career began.

The newspaper cuttings were supposed to be a sewing pattern for a skirt. Needless to say that trapezes aren´t cutting the best of figures as sewing patterns. But how should I have known this without trying?

I didn´t know how to start sewing my own clothes. Which work flow I should adapt to end up with a finished and fantastic DIY garment. What it takes to lay a solid foundation which helps saving times sometimes, but primarily give your nerves a rest.

Maybe you already heard about me being a kind of "sewing nerd". I like the things planned, but even someone who doesn´t can grab a tip or two here, promised!

So, here are my five fundamental tips that everyone should consider doing while sewing.


Pressing is by far the most underrated but most important task while sewing..

Let that sink in, after all, most of us hate it.

You start with pressing and you end with pressing. And in between it´s all about pressing, too.

It helps to sew accurate seams. Topstitching may get wonky if you havn´t pressed the edge beforehand. It prevents the half finished garment to look rumpled before even wearing it once. And it saves lives when you accidentally cut that waistband a bit too small.

Fun Fact: I hate pressing finished or ready-made garments. But while sewing my iron is always ablaze. I had to bury a few because of this...


So, just between us all, some pattern you just like to sew because you know exactly what to do.

Most garments of the same categorie have the same or at least a similar workflow. Once you understood in which way you have to assemble the pieces of a jacket you can sew a ton of other jackets the same way.

Of course you can switch some individual steps, for example, I like to prepare the sleeves of a jacket, then sew in the collar and finally set in the finished sleeves. Generally speaking, there´s a logical order everywhere. In the case of my jacket the body should be completed before you can even think about setting in sleeves or attach a collar.

The probably easiest workflow is like this:


Preparation (of the cut pieces and workspace)

Sewing (depending on the type of garment with an individual workflow)

In this order. Sounds logical? Say that again when you halfway finished a jacket and notice the absence of a tiny tiny piece of interfacing you didn´t want to cut beforehand. Boom... Now the rummaging through your enormous stash begins. And you start to think about wether it´s really important to interface this particular piece or not.

These disturbances can hold up or even completely disrupt your project. In the worst case, the nearly finshed pants will get lost in a pile of UFOs and never be finished.

Basting & Marking

Again something you don´t wanna skip even if it´s tempting to do so.

Normally, all important points like the centre front, centre back, set-in marks on sleeves are marked in the pattern and you can transfer them to the fabric with a notch.

Pockets, tunnel, other markings and fold overs, for aexample a revers collar, should get marked with chalk on the left side of fabric or basted. This way you can skip a last resort measuring on half-sewn garments. Additionally, you can see at first glance if something went wrong while sewing.

But basting isn´t just marking. Basting can be even more helpful!

Pockets get basted shut so you can sew them accurately. Temporary seams made with basting thread are quite handy when setting in sleeves. This way, you can see if the sleeve is in the right position without having to sew a real seam and ripping it if something is wrong. With pins it isn´t possibly to be that accurat.


No, I´m not kidding you with all this time-consuming stuff here... I know, it can be tedious.

But I think if you sew something for you or another person and spend so much time and effort in it, it should be perfect.

There´s nothing worse than the dress in your wardrobe that took you ages to finish and all the while you dreamt about how marvelous it will look. The dress made out of this expensive fabric which you kept in your stash for something really special. Und this dress just keeps hanging in your wardrobe because it turned out too tight or the waist crept up below your boobs or... whatever...

Sure, a loose fitting sweater made of sweat or jersey doesn´t neccessarily need a muslin, if you already know that you don´t have any spectacular measurement discrepancies. But with everything else you aren´t really sure will fit as you wish, please just make a muslin. You can even make a wearable one.

A new pattern, tight fitting clothing, a pattern for wovens that you´d like to sew out of jersey, these are typical muslin alerts!

I have a problem with pants. It´s difficult to get them to fit because my rear and my legs apparently are "much more different" than these of the standard person the patternmaker had in mind and in his measurement chart. That doesn´t affect me, that shouldn´t affect anyone who sews. We can make it fit exactly as we like!

Why do I tell you this? I made a two-piece for me once. With pants of course. And I made four muslins for it. 4!! I was just shy of becoming desperate, but felt challenged and solved the case really well. This two-piece is just awesome. I get complimented really often when I´m wearing it and I like to think that this is also because I´m proud of it and of myself.


Many of us are sewing because they want to relax. Though, you should already be relaxed when you start. Or have found your "sewing groove" at least.

I too really love to listen to music while sewing but there are situations I just have to cut that off. I can´t bear it anymore. It´s like backing into a parking space, you turn down the radio while doing it.

Sewing requires utmost concentration sometimes. And if you don´t have this concentration because you are wherever with your head or awake for 12 hours, mistake gonna happen. Really dumb mistakes... the kinds of mistakes that make you angry, can ruin your project or can´t be bothered with sewing anymore. And that would just be sad.

Sewing can be so much and sure, it can be realxing at times. But if you already think that this day was shit, then maybe it´s better to slow down a bit. I won´t start about shortage of time, even worse mistakes can happen there.

Well, many time-consuming things. But I want you to go out there with great, new, well-fitted and thought-out stuff. Garments that are one of a kind and this is not just because the seams are slanted!

People like me, who tend to think a lot about their projects really got their money´s worth here. All other people may want to try out one thing or another.

Which challenges are you experiencing in your sewing routine? Would you be able to adopt some of the tips given? Please let me know, maybe i forgot something or should try something out ( no sewing without patterns!).

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