Our customers have shared many pattern and costuming tips with us. We share some of them with you here. If you have more tips to share, please send them to us and we will post them in this section or the Frugal Fabriholic section.
To make the patterns last longer
To make the patterns last longer, especially for production work or if using several different sizes, trace the patterns onto pattern paper, or true grid paper, pellon or regular interfacing. Then use those to cut from. We would add that then you can scrawl all over the pattern paper, etc., with comments, lists of what you have made form this piece, etc. And if you lose the working copy, you still have the original from which to make another.
Always make a muslin (mock-up of cheap fabric)...
Always make a muslin (mock-up of cheap fabric) of the garment first, then pin-fit or baste the muslin. If you don’t want to do the whole garment, at least do the fitted parts of the torso. Then, use the fitted muslin as your cutting piece. You can take notes on the muslin; always date it and label who it fits! Sheets bought at a thrift store are the best, least expensive source of cheap fabric for the mock-up
If you don’t want to wear a corset
If you don’t want to wear a corset (perhaps because of heat, or time constraints for changing during a show), use extra stiffening in the bodice and then wear a French-cut bra a few sizes too small, to put “the clams high on the beach”. We use Pellon upholstery interfacing to stiffen the bodice, and at least use boning at the lacing. Let us add that you should try this bra at home first – nothing is worse than realizing you just can’t stand it any longer, half-way through the event and you have nothing to change into… Or use a bra with the proper cup size, or only 1 cup size smaller, but put stuffing at the bottom to push you up.
Keep the larger scraps of fabric from your garments
Keep the larger scraps of fabric from your garments. You may need them to patch the garment or you may find them useful for smaller items like purses. Keep a swatch of each fabric and trim in the garment, stapled to an index card with information such as the fabric content, garment, wearer, date made, etc. Also note down when you get rid of this garment. The swatches should be large enough to give an idea of any pattern. You will be surprised how useful this card will be, and you can take it with you when you are shopping for accessories or fabric for a garment to go with this one.
Your time is not free
It takes the same amount of time to sew a tunic or Elizabethan gown that you love as one you merely tolerate or even dislike. Your time is not free – don’t waste it making something that “will do” simply because you got the fabric cheap.
Haste really does make waste
Haste really does make waste – allow twice as long as you think the garment will take, so you are not rushed. It does take less time in the long run to do it right, than to do it over. Ok, these are platitudes, but they are true!
If you hate hand-sewing, trade with someone who doesn’t like to sew by machine.
If you hate hand-sewing, trade with someone who doesn’t like to sew by machine. I used to do all my mother’s repairs requiring a machine, while she did all my hand-hemming and tacking down of facings, etc.
Organize a fabric exchange
Don’t hang on to those fabrics you acquired but don’t really like or have no use for. Organize a fabric exchange, to swap it for something you prefer.