Dressmaking Basics

Dressmaking may seem like a pretty impressive skill – and indeed it is – but just like juggling, particle physics, and tying your shoes, it can be learned. Whether your interest in dressmaking stems from a desire to make some of your own clothes, or you’re considering fashion as a career, you need to start with the basics.

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Once you get a base understanding, dressmaking isn’t all that complex. The skills are transferable to nearly any garment you might want to make, and the benefits of having a solid skill like dressmaking are many.

I mentioned that dressmaking isn’t complex, but as with any physical skill, it can seem tough when you’re getting started. Before you start, make sure you have a clear workspace, and that you have plenty of pins,

Basics for Dressmaking

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fabric, and pens available, so you won’t have to interrupt your work to get the equipment you need to finish the job. Fire up your sewing machine, and make sure it’s ready to go, too. Make sure you have bobbins, needles, and plenty of thread, then delve into these tips to get you going:

Take accurate measurements. There are a few basic measurements that you’ll want to have on hand for almost any garment. These are hips, waist, and bust. A flexible measuring tape is a necessity for this step, so make sure you’ve got one on hand. Unless you’re making very tight-fitting dresses, it’s best to measure loosely so that the finished garment doesn’t bind up.

Use a pattern. Believe it or not, some beginners think this step is optional. Only the very best dressmakers should even consider working without a pattern. You can buy a prefab pattern or make one on your own – either way, the pattern is your safety net and ensures that your finished garment is wearable.

Go pin-crazy! It’s nearly impossible to put too many pins into a working project. Careful pinning ensures that your seams don’t wander and that various pieces of your pattern meet cleanly and true to form. If you think you’ve used enough pins, use some more!

Don’t fear the iron! Fabric that’s been tossed about and rumpled this way and that during the construction and sewing process will almost never fall properly. Turn the garment inside out if you’re concerned about scorching.


Sharp sewing scissors are a must-have. Your fabric scissors should never be used to cut anything else around the house. Set them aside and ensure that the family knows that your sewing scissors are OFF LIMITS! Also, always make sure that your thread matches your fabric – you want to draw attention to the clothes, but not through mis-matched seams and hems.

In addition to making a great hobby, dressmaking can be a real financial boon. Combine the potential savings of making your own clothing with the potential income from doing occasional contract or custom work and alterations, and you’ve got a pretty exciting picture. Many find that they can work for themselves full-time as a dressmaker! Everyone has to start somewhere, and even those in the top echelons of the fashion world started out learning the basics. Give yourself time, exercise patience, and someday, you may join them.

Recommended Read; The New Complete Guide to Sewing: Step-by-Step  for Making Clothes and Home Accessories Updated Edition with All-New Projects and Simplicity Patterns

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