One - sewing with busy prints:
A main thing that I try to avoid when using a busy print, is the bullseye effect. You know when some part of the print (especially circles) land right on your bust points. To counteract this effect, I trace an entire dress or top front. Then I lay the pattern pieces down on a single layer of fabric. After making the front pattern piece, I then place it on top of me and stand in the mirror to mark my bust points with x's. That way when I lay the pattern piece on top of the fabric, I can move it around (making sure that grainlines are kept intact) until I find a spot where the pattern/bust points/fabric design work best. Yes, this requires a little extra fabric but you will eliminate the bullseye effect.
marking the bust points on a pattern piece
bustline on the dress front
Two - sewing with border prints:
Lately I've made quite a few garments with border prints. They are fun to use and create a wonderful effect on a finished garment. So here is my main tip on working with border prints. Trace off right and left sides of a top, dress or skirt pattern and lay them out singly on the fabric. I usually start with the center front piece of a dress/top/skirt, then lay each side piece beside it, then the back pieces. I try to leave small spaces between the pattern pieces so that the border print flows seamlessly. I also double check several times before cutting out.
Now these are my tips, but to me the best tutorials on how to work with border prints and print fabrics have been written by Gigi of Gigi Sews.
Three - sewing with knits:
I don't sew with knits as much as many others do since I prefer woven fabrics. However, when I do, to me what can make or break a knit garment is cutting it out. So I pin the selvedges together the entire length of the piece several inches apart. Once the fabric is pinned, it tends to behave better (well at least for me! *LOL*). Then after it's lain on the cutting table, I smooth it out working from the pinned selvedge to the fold, this insures a perfectly smooth surface to lay the pattern pieces on...and this works for me every time!
Finally, a couple of brief things:
a. Keep a supply of interfacings on hand. You never know when a fabric will buck against a favorite and prefer something different.
b. Keep a small supply of silk organza on hand. It's a great substitute for interfacing in some woven garments as well as the scraps make great pressing cloths.
c. Develop a source of online internet suppliers for things like zippers, bias binding and even sewing machine and serger needles. Ordering in bulk can cut down your costs and many times these items are always in stock, versus the trip to the local craft store or Hancocks where you can return home empty handed. Several of my favorites are Atlanta Thread, Newark Dressmakers Supply, Home Sew and Nancy's Notions. It's nice to have everything on hand when you start a project.
d. Have several different types of pins. I know this might seem like a silly one but do you really want to leave holes in a silk garment because you had the wrong type of pin?
e. Finally, here is a link to my piping tutorial. HTH!
Okay, I hope I answered a few questions that have been left here on the blog and sent to my personal email account. If not, or if you have more questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.
...as always, more later!