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You love the new clothes you just ordered online, but there’s something about them that doesn’t fit right. Maybe a t-shirt is too long or a seam came loose in the washing machine.
These are easy repairs you can make at home if you know what you’re doing. This guide explains how to tailor your own clothing with eight quick tips designed for anyone new to sewing.
1. Get the Right Thread
When you pull a jersey t-shirt over your head or slip your swimsuit on, you might wonder how the seams hold tight while stretching. It all depends on which thread pulled the garment together. Tailoring your own clothing starts with the same choice. Using the wrong kind of thread could limit the fabric and prevent your clothing from doing what it needs to do.
Polyester thread is more of an all-purpose option, while heavy-duty thread is better for thick fabrics like jeans. You’ll also want a stretchier nylon thread if you’ll pull on your clothing or need a snug fit, like with undergarments.
2. Check Your Needles
After selecting your thread, you’ll need the right machine needle for your clothing. The wrong needle could make loose or tight stitches that ruin your project, even for a minor tailoring job. While looking at possible needles, match each one to your fabric by analyzing each type.
A ballpoint or jersey needle works best with woven, stretchy materials, but you should use a needle designed specifically for leather if you’re working with leather products. Research your clothing if you’re not sure what to use or need something for a blended fabric.
3. Get Your Measurements
Tailoring won’t work if you don’t know your measurements. Identify what tailoring job you want to do and reference online resources to determine how to figure out where to cut and sew. There are sizing charts that can give you a good idea of the different areas you’ll need to consider.
Getting the correct numbers for your inseam is just as important as measuring your waist correctly. It’s all too easy to mistake your hips for your waist or your total length for your inseam, so follow a sizing chart closely to learn what length you need for each project.
4. Use Disappearing Ink
Many expert crafters recommend tailor’s chalk for clothing adjustments. It’s a temporary solution for outlining where you’ll use your shears or stitch, but it may wear off if you need to handle your fabric for extended periods. Turning it inside out multiple times could rub the tailor’s chalk away, but disappearing ink stays until you dab the lines with water.
Look for invisible or disappearing ink at your closest craft store. The pen tip applies blue or white ink that stands out on even bold prints. Handle your fabric fearlessly and use a damp cloth to dissolve the ink when you finish.
5. Iron Your Seams
Fixing seams is one of the most common tailoring projects. Sewing your thread in a straight, even line is much easier after ironing the fabric first. Otherwise, the fabric could bunch up or fold in on itself, creating crumpled lines or uneven seam allowances.
Plug in your iron before you sit down to sew. Fold everything in place and press the wrong side of the fabric to prevent discoloration. If you accidentally make creases where they shouldn’t be, unfold the clothing and repeat until it stays flat where you need to sew.
6. Avoid Your Pins
Pinning your fabric in place before sewing a seam or adding to your project is wise, but can present a problem. Pins with plastic heads will melt into the fabric and stick onto your iron if you need to press after pinning. Take your time with your iron and avoid your pins or use metal alternatives without plastic parts.
7. Take a Before Photo
After completing your project, it might be challenging to see the difference. Encourage yourself and your new tailoring skills by taking a photo of your clothing before beginning. You can also use it to compare with how it fits after pinning everything in place. The differences will point out any changes you need to make to get the fit you want.
8. Research Helpful Videos
There are endless free videos that explain how to do every step of most tailoring jobs. Research your project to find an expert who can walk you through anything that makes you feel uncertain. Seeing someone demonstrate a technique could save your clothes.
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