Garment Sewing: Intermediate Level

If you have made a simple garment or two and want to tackle some bigger challenges, then this post is for you! This post is also for you if you’ve been sewing other things (like quilts!) for a little while and want to put those sewing skills to the test! I’m going to walk you through some new skills to learn how to sew your own clothes!

I started getting a lot more into sewing garments earlier this year after being super inspired by #MeMadeMay. If you aren’t familiar with #MeMadeMay, it’s when people deliberately wear homemade clothing as much as possible during the month of May and get to share their creations with the world! I was very inspired by all the beautiful garments I saw and just HAD to get started!

The first garment I sewed for Me Made May was my Peplum Top which you can read about here, and then I kept the garment sewing going by making myself a Molly Dress, re-vamping my wardrobe by altering some of my own clothes, and then even made a little girl dress too! Eventually I decided that I really should compile some of my garment tips and tricks into one place for you so I posted Tips for Beginning Garment Sewing. This post is a follow-up to that one, so go ahead and read my initial tips to learn how to sew with Rayon and some of the tools I love to use.

The fabric I used for this top is called Flower Toss in pink. It is part of the Rollakan collection by Cathy Nordstrom for FIGO Fabrics.

Today I want to share with you about the process of making my pink Gelato Blouse. This super comfortable, transitional summer-to-fall blouse fits perfectly into my current wardrobe and is already one of my absolute favorites for wearing to work! The Gelato Blouse Pattern features a couple slightly trickier techniques that make it perfect for an intermediate project. You’ll see this top has lots of ruffles, lots of buttons, and has sleeves, which I was actually scared of until I made this top!

Before I dive into my tips to master these skills, be sure to read about my Tips for Sewing with Rayon if you are using rayon for your project!

Tips for Sewing Ruffles

Ruffles are actually pretty easy and I probably could have shared these tips earlier in my beginner blog post, but the top I made to show off on that one did not have any ruffles so I left it out. The key in sewing gathers is to sew slow and accurate!

  • Using a contrasting thread color, sew a large basting stitch (I use the largest stitch size my machine has) 3/8″ away from the edge of the fabric, then go back again and sew another line at the 5/8″ mark. Be sure to leave long tails of thread on both sides of the stitches so you can gather
  • Grab both TOP threads and start to pull gently, careful not to break the thread but firm enough to make the fabric gather together.
  • Play around with your gather placement for a little while. You’ll want to make it as even as possible, which is harder than it looks!
  • Before sewing your gathered piece to the garment itself, I like to stitch another line using normal stitch length at the 3/8″ mark (over the first line you stitched). I find doing this extra step helps the gathering stay where you want it)

Tips for Sewing Buttons

I never would have tackled buttons if it weren’t for my amazing sewing machine. My HUSQVARNA VIKING machine actually has an automatic buttonhole foot that makes it a total breeze! I’m here to say though that you do not need a super fancy machine in order to succeed at making a button hole or sewing on the buttons!

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  • Regardless of what your machine is, be sure to look through the owner’s manual to find out what features your machine includes when it comes to button sewing.
  • Next, go to the good ole’ google machine and search for some videos of people using making buttonholes on your specific make or model of sewing machine.
  • Practice a few time on scraps of your fabric that you’re using on your garment. If the place on your garment where you’ll be putting the buttonhole is 2 layers of fabric and one layer of interfacing, then create a practice piece with the same layers to give you the most “real” practice experience.
  • Lastly, you’ve got this! I believe in you! You’ll be a button pro in no time!

Husqvarna Viking Jade 20 Sewing Machine

from: Sewingmachinesplus.com, Inc.

Tips for Sewing Sleeves

When sewing on sleeves, you will want to go slow and be very careful not to gather too much or too little. Your pattern will likely allow for a tiny but of gathering, and will show you how to match them up to the bodice, so each sleeve is even.

When getting ready to sew on your sleeves, I recommend pinning very carefully, and then sewing it on with a large basting stitch just as if you were doing the real thing. Basting stitches are much easier to take out just in case you don’t love how it looks the first go around. Once your sleeves are basted on, try the shirt on and see how it looks. Are the sleeve ladies even? Are there any accidental holes or puckers? Once everything looks satisfactory, go ahead and sew right on top of your basting stitch with a smaller stitch length. Ta-da, your sleeves are now done!

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