Pressing Seams : Making Home-Sewn Dresses Look Professionally Crafted

Expert seamstresses agree that one important step to making a home-sewn garment look professionally constructed is to press a seam after sewing the fabric.

The rationale behind pressing the seam, especially for garments that involve complicated sewing processes, is to make certain that seams are laid flat; especially at points where seams meet or cross. A seam that is laid flat when oversewn reduces bulkiness or will not pucker.

Traditional 2-Step Process of Pressing Seams

Traditional sewing involves a two-way process of pressing a seam. The first is to press the seam flat with a flatiron, as a means of setting or blending the stitches with the fabric. The steaming and flattening will allow the thread to meld with the textile to make the stitches disappear.

The second step is to carefully open the seam by “finger pressing” or by running the tip of the flatiron to open the seam. Pressing will be on both sides, with the wrong side first before tackling the right side. However, when iron pressing the seam, take care not to pull hard or stretch the fabric. Iron with up and down movements instead of vigorous back and forth strokes.

Some contend that sewing experts can avoid puckering without having to press seams. That may be okay with ordinary textile but not with expensive fabrics like silk or finely woven cotton. Still, with most commercial dress patterns, instructions for sewing include certain seam-pressing instructions such as: press as sewn, press seam open or press darts.

Special Pressing Tools to Use for Complicated Sewing Steps

In some cases, when the garment involves complicated sewing steps, or if the fabric is a delicate material, a special pressing equipment can make the process easier while achieving the best results. Some examples of special pressing tools include but are not limited to the following:

Pressing Cloth – The use of a pressing cloth will ensure that the fabric is protected from high heat or will not develop a shine or scales after heat has been applied.

Pressing Ham – A pressing ham can create a smooth finish when needing to press curved seams of any shape or size; e.g. sleeve caps, necklines, armholes or hip seams.

Sleeve Roll This device works best not only on sleeves but also on skinny jeans, or for small curved seams, especially on delicate fabrics.

COVID-19 Lockdown : A Crisis that Brought Back the “Maker Movement”

The COVID-19 lockdown imposed on many households had brought back the “maker movement” at the height of the novel coronavirus health-crisis. Aside from being a great diversion in whiling away the day-long hours spent at home, reviving a forgotten sewing hobby or learning how to sew, had proved useful in addressing the face mask shortage.

When clinically-prescribed face masks became an important protective gear against infection, there was lack of their availability to the general public. Mainly because the frontline medical responders and workers had greater need for them as personal protective equipment.

Nonetheless, sewing skills and sewing machines came in handy, allowing even non-professional seamstresses to create cloth face masks for themselves, for family members and even for neighbors.

In other countries where sewing is a popular cottage industry, families were able to earn the much needed income by producing and supplying affordable face masks to local governments, who in turn, distributed them to their respective community residents.

The “Maker Movement” is Bound to Stay as Countries are About to Enter a Period of Recession

The fashion industry is making adjustments in light of the indefinite suspension of fashion shows; coming out with designer masks either with matching lounge wear, or accessories like bandanas, scarves, sashes and even slip-ons.

Yet in a country that is about to enter, or is already in a period of recession, many cannot afford to be extravagant when it comes to wearables. Most especially when there is uncertainty on how long it will take for economies to recover.

The lockdown trend that brought back the sew-it-yourself or the “maker movement” is expected to continue. Mainly because people are still afraid to go out and shop in boutiques and department stores.

Besides, buying at online stores is the new norm and there is an abundance of affordably-priced fashionable face masks and work-at-home wearables being supplied by home-based enterprising and creative sewists.

The return of sewing as a basic skill is expected to last for an indefinite time, with social media platforms providing not only useful resources but also great encouragement and support during these trying times.

Classic Blue : Suggests Simplicity in 2020

Pantone has chosen Classic Blue as the color for the year 2020. This is the blue that can best describe the color of the sky and sea at dusk, when the weather is at its finest. Moments that remind the older generation of times when life was simple and more calm than it is today. It represents the kind of climate condition that the present generation of environmental activists are fighting for; by pushing for reforms that will address climate change.

Perhaps, the Pantone people had those in mind when they chose Classic Blue as this year’s color; knowing that colors can be powerful tools. Fashion and brand designers, as well as event organizers are into choosing a color motif that aims to elicit a kind of emotion and behavior from their target audience.

Known Psychological Effects of Blue and Its Variations

Numerous psychological studies have revealed that some colors can be deeply rooted in our brain when associations are made with our biological surroundings and our cultural development.

The variations of the blue hue are often associated with the color of the sky, which at the same time is reflected by bodies of water. The classic daytime blue is the most assuring hue because based on experiences, the weather will be calm and peaceful. As opposed to dark indigo blue skies that usually serve as warning of heavy rains and related disconcerting occurrences that make us anxious and unsettled.

Yet blue in a lighter shade than the conventional blue of fair weather skies, can have a different symbolism. It is the kind of blue we associate with cold, icy waters of the arctic, which could trigger feelings of anxiety when we are reminded of how global warming is causing the rapid melting of glaciers and icebergs. The melting process as scientists have pointed out results to rise of seawater levels, which in turn lead to stronger typhoons and hurricanes as well as flooding. .

As we see it, Pantone’s choice of the Classic Blue color is a way of underpinning support for the global movements that aim to arrest as soon as possible, the unpleasant effects of climate change. At the same time, reminding us to maintain simple lifestyles that reduce energy use and CO2 emissions.

Home Sewing and Dressmaking : The Motivation Behind the Resurgence of the Maker Movement

Home sewing, particularly dressmaking had seen a resurgence among American women in as early as 1997. Based on a report issued in that year by the American Home Sewing and Craft Association, almost a third of adult women comprising the U.S. population ( then estimated at around 30 million), were already into sewing their own garments.


The resurgence came about, despite the removal of home economics as part of school curriculum. Economic reason was initially the main driving factor, because back in those days, only those with less money to spend took to home-sewing. Only the rich can afford to buy clothes off the rack. According to the trade organization’s survey, many of the home sewers had some college education and/or were taught how to sew by their mother or grandmother.

Yet it came to a point when sewing one’s own clothes was not only practical, but also fulfilling, as it gave women control over the style, color and fit of the garments they wore. Years later, making one’s own clothes became the “in” thing even among celebrities.

Researchers Define the Motivation Behind DIY Dressmaking


A new research paper published in August 2019 by Addie Martindale, an Assistant Professor of Fashion Merchandising and Apparel Design, at Georgia Southern University’s School of Human Ecology and Ellen McKinney, Associate Professor of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management Department of Iowa State University, gave focus on why women are motivated to sew clothes for themselves.

The two researchers developed a model of sewing motivations to illustrate the connection between the emergence of home sewing and its contribution to personal fulfillment among women. It demonstrated that

“Self-fulfillment is a recurring cycle that takes place each time the women created a new garment for themselves.”

UK Women Today Have Started Taking Up Home-Sewing as a Hobby

A 2017 research paper published by the Craft & Hobby Trade Association of UK (CHA-UK), reported that about 7.7 million Britons, mostly women, are now making their own clothes as their hobby. The number is growing since the study showed millios more have taken to home sewing, ever since the BBC launched “The Great British Sewing Bee.” Apparently, the competition, helped rekindle interest in becoming part of the maker movement.

Katharine Poulter, the commercial director of UK’s largest arts and crafts superstore Hobbycraft, said that just as the “Great British Bake-off” boosted the sales of home baking merchandise, retailers of sewing machines, bobbins, dressmaking patterns, shears, tailor’s chalk and threads are now reporting leaps in sales. According to Ms. Poulter, Hobbycraft’s 2016 sales of sewing and knitting patterns soared by 60%, and by almost 30% for sewing machines.

Patrick Grant, the Creative Director of Savile Row who sits as one of the judges in “The Great British Sewing Bee,” remarked that making something with your hands is a very therapeutic experience. Although home sewing and crafting in general went off the radar in the UK for 20 years, Mr. Grant says it is now “cool“ to make your own clothes.

He shared that when he was a kid, there was some kind of stigma to wearing homemade garments. That however, has completely changed because the status quo has been completely reversed.

Craig De Souza, the Executive Director of CHA-UK says “Learning how to do things is different now.

“If a person does not know how to sew and knit, he or she can simply learn from Youtube videos.”


Choosing the Right Kind of Dressmaking Scissors and Shears

Dressmaking shears or scissors are the second most important must-have tools, next to the sewing machine. Professional dressmakers and serious sewing hobbyists give careful thought before investing in a pair of shears or scissors. After all, the best ones tend to be more expensive but can serve them for a lifetime.

Difference between Shears or Scissors

By the way, you may be wondering about the difference between a pair of shears and a pair of scissors. Be in the know that dressmaking shears are those with blades measuring six (6) inches or longer, while their handles come with one finger hole that is much smaller than the other. Moreover, the longer blade is rounded to prevent snagging the large fabric, while the other blade is pointed to ascertain precise snipping.

A pair of scissors on the other hand, have equally sized finger holes in its handles, while the blades measure less than six (6) inches in length. Still, a good pair of scissors is one that can cut cleanly, despite the shorter blades.

Deciding When to Use a Pair of Shears or Scissors

Dressmaker shears are more efficient for cutting larger-sized fabrics, usually when sewing a dress. The longer blades can cut at an angle, with one of the blades having rounded ends to prevent snagging, while the other end is pointed to ensure accurate and clean snipping.

Dressmaker shears are a must have when you need to cut sewing pieces out of larger fabrics. The long, sharp blades can cut at an angle, which makes them much more efficient than the ordinary scissors. Also, the blades’ side bend enables dressmakers to cut a fabric without lifting the material away from the surface of the table, ensuring accuracy; whilst preventing jagged lines.

Most professional dressmakers and sewing hobbyists prefer 8 or 9-inched sized shears because the blades are long enough to give them full control over the entire size of the shears.

The smaller scissors that offer lighter and shorter blades are ideal for less demanding cutting tasks, like quilting projects. In addition, their portability makes them ideal for sewing craft projects.

Buying the Best Dressmaking Shears and/or Scissors

When contemplating options on the kind of dressmaking shears or scissors to buy, is it also important to try them on for size and comfort.

All-metal shears or scissors tend be heavier, so if you are looking for one that is much lighter, there are shears and scissors that come with plastic handles. They are specifically designed as such to put less strain on the wrist and hand.

Another choice to consider are those made from titanium, because this type of metal is much lighter than steel. Shears or scissors with titanium blades are of course, more expensive than the conventional steel-bladed types.

Still, whether your deciding on the plastic-handled or titanium kind, make sure the handles are ergonomically shaped. Make sure that it allows you to cut without the handle pinching or rubbing against the skin of your hand. You may even consider the models that come with padded handles, since the cushioning effect offers additional comfort for larger or more frequent sewing tasks.

Now if you are left-handed, modern technology also took this into consideration. This means buying options for shears and scissors include those specifically designed for left-handed dressmakers, tailors and hobbyists.

Taking Body Measurements Accurately to Make a Pattern

Accuracy of body measurements is essential to a great fit, because measurements are the very foundations by which the block pattern is constructed. On the other hand, it is also important to know how to apply those measurement when making a block pattern, since the latter serves as your basic guide to cutting whatever fabric you intend to sew.

If you are sewing for yourself, it would be best to have someone else take your measurements. Still, it is something you can do yourself by standing in front of a mirror. That way, you will be able to check if the tape measure is in the right position.

Important Pointers to Keep in Mind. When Taking Body Measurements

Whether taking your own body measurements or that of another person, make sure

  • you are making circumferential measurements on a body with as few clothes as possible; either over tight-fit, next-to-skin clothing or undergarments. Taking measurements while wearing thick or bulky clothes makes a big difference. By the way, circumferential measurements are those carried out by wrapping the tape around a particular part of the body, such as the bust, waist, high hip, full hip, neck, biceps or wrist.
  • that when in the process of taking circumferential measurements, you are not pulling the measuring tape too tightly. Neither should the tape be wrapped loosely around the area being measured. A good circumferential measure is one where you place a finger under the tape once you wrapped it snugly around the body. .
  • to keep the tape parallel to the ground when taking circumferential and horizontal measurements.
  • that if you are taking measurements on another person’s body, be on the right side of that person.
  • to measure the bust all around where the breasts are fullest. .
  • to take a waist measure at the area where the body bends, or that area between the rib cage and belly button.
  • to take a hip measure at the fullest area, which is about 3 to 4 inches below the waistline.
  • to start the front to waist measure from the shoulder right beside the base of the neck, down to the waist, whilst passing over the fullest part of the breast.
  • to start the back waist measure from the base of the center down to the waistline.

Most important of all is to make certain you are using an accurate tape measure. You wll be surprised to know that some of the cheapest kind were found to be shorter by ¾ inch on every foot. .

How Clothing, Sewing and Fashion Came About

The idea of clothing came about not out of demureness, but out of a necessity to protect one’s body from the harmful effects of extreme cold temperatures. At first, archaic humans around 60,000 years or so ago, simply wrapped themselves with animal skins or furs. Later they found it more practical to tie the fur wraps with strong vines or strips of animal skin.

In geographical locations where snow and freezing temperatures were more life-threatening, early humans thought of ways on how to make their animal wraps more secure. A secure animal wrap is important when going out to hunt or gather food amidst the biting cold.

The Invention of Awls and Needles

Much later, by around 45,000 BC, someone thought of poking holes on the animal hides, using sharpened pointed sticks or stones. Cords, leather strips or strong twines could run through the holes, then drawn in order to fasten pieces of animal hides or fleeces together. Today, modern people use tools called awls (olls), similar to the the sharpened pointed objects devised by prehistoric people,

Then somebody from the 40,000 BC era, came up with a better idea of putting a hole in a primitive awl. Strings or cords were then inserted through the hole of the awl, which made the process of binding animal hides together, much easier and faster. That primitive invention is what came about as modern day needle.

Next Stages: Spindles, Threads and Fabrics

As groups of people had also learned to trade by barter, the idea of bone needles had spread far and wide in Europe and in North America. Much later, spindles and whorls were invented to make the supply of strings or cords more manageable. Early man’s invention of a crude spindle led to the development of ways to create finer types of fasteners derived from plant fibers. Modern times refined strands into sewing materials we now call threads.

In 9,000 BC in West Asia, the advent of finer types of fibers extracted from plants, led to the development of a process of interlacing strands in order to create lighter, softer and thinner materials. At that point, the early people wove fibers that served as floor mats and blankets used as additional warmers during cold seasons.

Woven materials were expensive as it took some time before a large piece can be completed. Still, as people advanced into becoming civilizations, weaving fabrics became part of a culture. Weavers in different regions devised systems for incorporating artwork, using natural colors of plants as pigments. Fabrics then became a way of determining and distinguishing a race or culture.

Moreover, scholars took to studying ways on how woven fabrics can become much softer and smoother, specifically for the higher members of the echelons; also as a way of distinguishing their rank or level within a civilized society.

Clothing Became a Fascination, which Led to the Birth of Fashion

At first, clothes were mere pieces of soft fabrics sewn together at the sides, had provisions for neck and arm holes and were called tunics. To make them ornate, and look more sophisticated, additional fabrics were either tied, draped, pinned, or sewn on a tunic. As ideas flourished on how to make clothes more attractive, wearers started developing a fascination for clothes, wanting every new creation better than previous piece.

In time, there was no limit or boundaries on how many pieces of fabrics were used, especially if to be worn in colder climates,. Back then, the important thing when making clothes for the elite is to assemble clothing materials into garments that made them look more impressive or better yet, more attractive. If a certain style drew positive attention, then that style was set as the latest fashion.