Friday, 12 April 2013

Prom season.

There are many good reasons to sew your own garments and for everyone these reasons can be different ;

Ensuring the perfect fit

Expressing your own sense of style

Requiring a specific colour pallet

Only wishing to use specific fabrics for ethical or health reasons

"Cosplaying" or re-enacting (and therefore the clothes simply don't exist anywhere)

Sewing is fun and rewarding!

To save money.

Money is at the bottom of the list for a reason. It is not always cheaper to sew your own clothes than it is to buy them. At least this is true for "budget" brands of clothes. Supermarkets often sell jeans cheaper than the denim would cost you to make your own. However you have to compare like with like. Your hand crafted jeans would be far superior than just about any denim jeans on the open market.

  At the higher end of fashion sewing your own really does save you a LOT of money. Evening dresses, bridal wear and prom dresses are a lot cheaper to make than they are to buy. By sewing your own prom dress you will not only have something truly unique, that nobody else at the prom, or even the country will have, but you will also save a lot of money.

A simple guide to prom dress sewing.
Following these simple steps will ensure sewing your prom dress will be stress free and enjoyable.

Step one. Choose the correct pattern. Our previous blog on patterns can be found here.  All major pattern companies have designs suitable for prom wear. Some have specific prom dress categories   however most elegant evening wear will look amazing at a prom.

Step Two. Ensure you have the correct size. As I've said before, patterns work on different sizes than the shops so measure yourself up before buying your pattern. It really is worth spending the time to alter a pattern to fit you correctly, the pattern guide will explain how to do this for each pattern.

Step Three. Make a mock up out of muslin or calico in the UK.  The mock up will help you work out if the pattern is fitting you correctly  We use muslin not only because it is cheap but because it is light and you can see the weave of the fabric easily. Gingham fabric where the checks are woven into the fabric instead of just printed on is also ideal.  As a result if the fabric is straining a little you can see it immediately  and then adjust the pattern accordingly  If you use a heavier stiffer fabric then the fabric will not "give" making it much harder to work out where on the pattern you need to make alterations.

Step Four.  Select your fabric. For many this is the most fun part of creating your own clothes. There are many style guides on the Internet to help you decide if you should wear patterns or plains as well as what colour pallet suits you. Five minutes checking these out can help you look truly radiant on the big night. Many hair dressers are also beauticians, so you could even ask for their help on what colours will flatter you the most.
  Satin always looks beautiful  however there are many different sorts out there and each has it's own uses.

Liquid Satin is very well named. This satin glistens and has a slick look. It looks stunning when flat and is perfect for a very structured garment. It drapes well when hanging straight down and also pleats well.

This prom dress I made last year uses liquid satin with an Organza overlay.

Acetate Satin is another very shiny satin. It tends to be a thinner fabric and whilst suitable for firm interfaced panels it does not hang as well as the Liquid Satin  Perfect  for firm bodices or simpler skirts however sleeves can be tricky.

Crepe backed Satin  Is most  peoples idea of a satin. The backing of the satin is "creped" or made of thousands of tiny little crinkles.  The end result of this is the satin truly shimmers as it catches the light at hundreds of different angles. This fabric flows beautifully and is perfect for "floaty" dresses. However pleats tend not to retain  a knife edge like sharpness to them.

Duchess Satin is without a doubt my favourite satin. A heavy weight satin with an understated "matt sheen" look about it. Pleats retain their sharpness when ironed into this fabric and it's weight lends any garment an air of substance. In my mind it's a good all round satin for sewing.

  However you don't have to take my word for it. Pop into Fabric8 or your local fabric shop and play with the fabric and decide for yourself which ones are more suitable for your project. The one thing We often say though is for prom dresses you should avoid satins that are too thin and flimsy. Other wise your hard work will result in you looking like you're wearing a nightie , and not a beautiful couture gown.

There of course other fabrics suitable for prom,such as silk and velvet. As you can see in the picture  of the dress I made, organza and chiffon can be used to add an extra special touch to your dress.

Step Five Check your tools. You will be saving a lot of money making your own prom dress (as well making sure you look fabulous). Don't ruin it by trying to cut your fabric out with a rusty pair of old bacon scissors.

Sharp scissors is a must. We recommend professional dressmaking scissors as well as a set of embroidery snips. Using the snips instead of your scissors to cut loss threads will triple the life time of your scissors. If your fabric is prone to fraying we also recommend Pinking Sheers.

Fresh Sewing Needles are essential for any new sewing job. A blunt needle will lead to skipped stitches, uneven sewing and can damage both your fabric and your sewing machine!

Dressmaking Carbon Paper and Tracing Wheel will cut hours of time from your sewing if you have complicated darts or need to mark where pleats are going on your dress. Using these cheap handy little hours saves you having to mark out with tailor tacks any relevant information on your pattern.

A Point Turner is a handy gadget for when you are turning a garment right side out. I've seen people try to turn a corner out with scissors only to punch through the fabric.

Step Six. Have fun! Enjoy the process at every step. Take your time and take a break every hour or so to rest your eyes (or back) I've been sewing for a decade now and always take a  ten minute break every  hour (it's in these times I learnt to juggle which is great for relaxation and stretching your back out).

And remember your local Fabric8 store is always there to help you.

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