Sewing to sell your creations at markets or online is tough and you need something to set yourself apart from the rest – especially from store bought clothing. Basically you should be aiming to be better than store bought. Consumers want to know why they should pay more than what they do at a department store – why is handmade better than mass produced?
To be cost effective, mass produced clothing has to be constructed in the shortest time possible. This often means certain steps are skipped, which can mean a less than perfect garment.
Here are a few of the common flaws seen in store bought clothing and ways for you to improve on that and make handmade the best it can be.
An obvious thing like loose threads is something everyone has encountered in a store bought garment and is the first way you can improve. Get into the habit of going over your finished garments to clip all those threads.
Correct grain – take the time to ensure you’re cutting on the correct grain or you will run the risk of your finished garment warping – either as you finish or worse, after the customer has washed it. Pre-washing your fabric is good for removing the dressing from manufacturing, but make sure you hang it on the clothes line straight or you could be creating another warp.
Pocket facings are used when manufacturers want to save cost on the main fabric, but sometimes they skimp too much and the pocket lining peeks out. If you want to do better – make sure your facings are deeper.
Narrow hems are fine in the right application, but take care not to let them twist and ripple when ironing. If you keep a mini ruler at your sewing machine you can watch that your turning up stays parallel to the edge. For sheer and light weight fabrics, consider folding the edge twice and eliminating the overlocking all together.
Matching stripes can be frustrating but is well worth the effort. The side seams of a top or dress will look so much better if the stripes line up. And don’t forget repeating patterns form stripes too.
Check the direction of the print too. For example, if a fabric has a row of boats finishing just above the hem on a pair of shorts, it’s going to look odd if the other leg doesn’t match. The superman logo on these shorts has been centered in the width of the panel and sits at the same spot on the hems.
If you’re using a cover stitch in your sewing, practice getting the stitch to cover the raw edge exactly. Store bought t-shirts are a common place for this flaw.
If you really want to get fussy with your sewing you could look at how you finish your belt loops. Sometimes you’ll see belt loops that have frayed after washing because the ends have been left raw. While it’s not convenient to overlock them, you can try turning them under a second time to conceal the raw edge. Or even try enclosing them within the waistband at the top edge and where the band joins the shorts.
Have a think about any pet peeves you have about store bought clothing – surely if you notice something your customers will too. Taking the time to do some quality control once your items are finished could make all the difference to your work and will go a long way towards lifting the standards of what consumers expect and deserve.
This article first appeared in Issue 5 of One Thimble magazine and can be purchased here (affiliate link)