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  1. #1
    4 Patch Pro

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    Mar 2014
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    Default Garment Sewing Advice for a Beginner

    I'm an intermediate-level quilter but have no experience with any other kind of machine sewing. I'd like to try my hand at some garments and was hoping general sewists might have advice. As a tall (nearly 6') woman it's often hard for me to find clothes that fit well and are affordable, so I have added incentive to attempt to make my own clothing.

    It's overwhelming to try to find a pattern by browsing the massive books at a sewing shop! I'd like to try some easy items that don't have complicated or advanced techniques, although I would like to learn new skills with each new project.

    Can anyone recommend what types of garments and/or specific pattern brands/styles might be good for an absolute beginner? I do want to make adult clothing, not kids' items, if that makes any difference.

    I appreciate any guidance.

  2. #2
    Designer Diva

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    Mar 2016
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    Default Re: Garment Sewing Advice for a Beginner

    I would watch sales and get a couple of the easy patterns. They will be labeled easy or quick sew or something along those lines depending on maker. The sales means $.99 or $1.99 at Joanns or Hobby Lobby. The makers also put them on sale online but it is usually a it more plus shipping. Look for skirts, sleeveless blouse, pj pants, simple dresses. Avoid things like zippers, complicated sleeves or pockets until you have sewn a few items. Just to see how to follow the pattern, cut fabric, etc. There is a lot of prep and lingo to know in garment sewing. The biggest things are similar to quilting but there is also a little more give for mistakes. Make sure you understand how to follow the bias and line up things (it will go wonky and shrink weird otherwise), prewash fabric, 1/2- 5/8" seam allowance, and press every seam. Also how my grandmother and mother trained me was to carefully open tissue and press the pattern gently so it lays flat, use straight pins to pin well and cut. Those more experienced will just use weights to get it done quickly but they also have more practice with bias and details. I use weights for holding things down if it is simple and straight but curves I still often prefer pins. Just ask if you have more question. I am just pulling things off the top of my head. LOL

  3. #3
    The Guild President

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    Dec 2013
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    Maryville, TN near Knoxville
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    Default Re: Garment Sewing Advice for a Beginner

    The biggest problem for most quilters is the 5/8 seam allowance! Read through the pattern before you start, and ask questions, either from us here or from the place you buy the pattern. I used to sew clothing all the time, but haven't in quite a few years. Still, I'll be glad to help!

  4. #4
    Applique Angel

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    Jan 2018
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    Default Re: Garment Sewing Advice for a Beginner

    started with pj bottoms from a paper pattern. that was a great learning curve for me.
    but have seen this system demo'd on telly always wondered if would use it.

    the golden rule -Dressmakers-Lutterloh-Systems

    youtube showing how it works https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=617wqrH87gQ

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  6. #5
    Missouri Star

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    Jun 2015
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    Northern CA
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    Default Re: Garment Sewing Advice for a Beginner

    My experience level is the same as yours. I've sewn from a pattern once so far; a dog coat for one of our dogs. I had to google a bunch of terms but it finished up nicely.

    Read through the whole pattern before you start cutting and make sure you understand all the terms. And don't be afraid to ask more questions here, or search for the answer by searching this forum, I've found lots of good help that way. You will do great!!


    Jeannette

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  8. #6
    The Guild President

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    Nov 2017
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    Default Re: Garment Sewing Advice for a Beginner

    Butterick # B5044, easy two seam pants in 3 lengths with elastic waist. Patch type pockets, or not, as you wish. Cute, comfortable, and very easy.
    TRUTH is seldom appreciated, unless you happen to agree with it. When you don't agree, you just call it rude.

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  10. #7
    The Guild President

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    Default Re: Garment Sewing Advice for a Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by Navy Wife View Post
    The biggest problem for most quilters is the 5/8 seam allowance! Read through the pattern before you start, and ask questions, either from us here or from the place you buy the pattern. I used to sew clothing all the time, but haven't in quite a few years. Still, I'll be glad to help!
    I sometimes forget when switching. A strip of painters tape at the 5/8 mark keeps me legal.
    TRUTH is seldom appreciated, unless you happen to agree with it. When you don't agree, you just call it rude.

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  12. #8
    Missouri Star

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    Default Re: Garment Sewing Advice for a Beginner

    I'm only 5'8" but have a hard time with the length of shirt sleeves. If I find a pretty men's shirt I will buy it!

    I was so happy when women started wearing high heels with jeans. The clothing industry started making the jeans longer and I was able to wear jeans with no high waters! I don't wear high heels!
    Vonnie

  13. #9
    The Guild President

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    Default Re: Garment Sewing Advice for a Beginner

    Beeje, congratulations on tackling garment sewing. You can definitely do this! Because you are so tall, you will want to alter the pattern to fit your body. Pay attention to the tissue pattern pieces; they will often have markings and instructions for how to lengthen or shorten. Depending on the garment, this could be for sleeves, pant length, and waist length.

    Don't be intimidated by those massive pattern books at the sewing shop. The books have tabs dividing the book into sections. Look for a section labeled easy or quick. I think pajamas are a great first project, because who cares if they don't turn out perfect?

  14. #10
    Rotary Pro

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    Dec 2018
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    Default Re: Garment Sewing Advice for a Beginner

    Beeje, if you just go to nancysnotions.com, you'll find everything you need. Nancy was an expert in teaching how to sew garments. That was how she started her business. You'll find books, DVD'S designed for beginners, you can also watch her on You Tube. She had an excellent book just on alterations. I believe it's still available, if not I would loan you my book.
    When you have decided what you believe, what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted
    Eleanor Roosevelt

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