During my time working in industry, I picked up some great pointers that have always helped me to create professional looking garments. These tips are super easy to incorporate into your routine and boost the standard of your garments! 

1. Top- Stitching

So this might sound quite obvious, but top- stitching is one of the best ways to add a professional look to your garments. Using top-stitching thread ( slightly thicker) is even better. One thing that is quite important to remember; always top stitch from the outside of your garment, no matter how tempting it is to sew from the inside because you can see what you're doing. 

                                            TOP STITCH THREAD COMPARISON

2. Needles

Always use a sharp, fine needle when working with silk, rayon and viscose. This is also advisable when working with very tightly woven fabrics or fine, delicate fabrics such as georgette. This prevents the needle catching and puckering your fabric. 

3. Cutting fine and slippery fabrics

Lightweight fabrics can have a bit of a mind of their own, especially when cutting, and if we have in-accuracies at this point, you will with the finished piece. My main suggestion is to use a cutting mat and rotary blade when cutting fine fabrics. Don't worry, they aren't as scary as you think, always cut away from your body, keep your fingers away from the blade, avoid applying too much pressure, you'll be fine! Try not to use pins to secure your fabric as they can pull on the shape, weights are much better when cutting with a blade. An alternative, is to use tissue paper with your fabric, pin the fabric to the tissue paper and cut with scissors, this adds more stability and gives you a more accurate cut. 

4. Bias fusing tape

You've probably seen it in lots of sewing shops and haberdasheries, its thin (approx 1cm wide) interfacing tape with a thin thread running through the middle lengthways. This tape will have one glued side and a smooth side, just like interfacing. Take your paper pattern piece and measure the necklines and armholes, cut lengths of the fusing tape to match the lengths. Line up your fusing tape lengths to your paper pieces and cut in any notches you have. Once you have cut your pieces out, iron on your bias tape, lining all your notches up. This will stop the necklines and armholes from stretching out, provide a crisp finish and make the garment easier to sew. 

5. Ironing

Always iron your fabric before you start cutting your pattern out, this helps you to cut accurately. If you are working with stretch fabrics, iron, then leave for 10 mins before you cut out. This gives the elastane chance to get back to the correct state. Never skip the pressing stages as you are sewing, they make such a difference to the standard and fit of your garment. 

6. Tracing

Always trace off your patterns from the hard copy, avoid cutting it up. This means you can make the pattern again in the future if you need a different size, it allows you to make amendments and you can make pattern hacks and keep your original. Rolls of pattern paper can be ordered online, you can also use tracing paper or even oven parchment. 

7. Interfacing

Interfacing is a great way to add a professional look to your garments. Always add interfacing to facings, button stands, plackets, vents and the full front pieces of coats. This helps your garments to hold their shape and quality for longer. It is also important to select the correct weight of fusing for your fabric and if you can, use grey or black on dark garments and white on lighter. There is stretch interfacing available to use when you are working with stretch fabrics, this will help to retain the stretch in reinforced areas. 

8. Toile

Always do a toile! Its such an important step- especially if your making amendments, this can help you to get the perfect fit and avoid disappointment after you have used your fabrics and time making the garment. If you're really averse to toiling, just toile the bit that gives you the most concern, maybe the bodice or sleeve, this will help to give you a vague idea. 



9. Lining

If you are making your own lining for a garment, always cut it 0.2cm smaller than your self pattern. This will help to roll it in a little and avoid you having any lining hanging out. This might sound a very tiny and time consuming adjustment but this tiny change can make such a big difference! 

10. Cutting the correct nap and side

You can always tell the correct side of the fabric by having a quick look at the selvedge. Sometimes it might be obvious, if you have a print or texture, but often it can be a little tricky to tell. When you look at the selvedge, you will see that there are little holes, if you feel the holes you will find one side is flat and the other is raised, the raised side is the correct side. If you are working with velvet, or other fabrics with a nap, you will see that the fibres have a lean. You definitely want the lean, or nap, to always lean in the same direction on a garment. The technically correct direction it to go up the garment, so stroke upwards. 


I hope these tips are helpful, if you have any other hacks that help you out, share in the comments! 


  • Hi Sarah,

    Wool is often a tricky one but if it looks the same on both sides and the weave looks the same, it will be double sided so you can use either side. The side with the writing on will the the ‘correct’ side when they were weaving and this would be the same for all fabrics going forward too!

    I hope this is helpful for you!

    All the best,

  • Hi, I’ve got some wool fabric I bought a long time ago; it looks the same on both sides. However, on the edges there’s some writing – “100% worsted wool” – I’m guessing that that would be the right side. It looks the nicest anyway but I wonder if you could clarify for me. Thanks.

  • Your blog on getting a professional finish is extremely helpful. Thanks Steph, I’ll think about these tips when I make my next garment.

    Les Lawless

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