Sewing Formalwear: 14 Top Tips

May 30, 2019

Sew your best formal dress yet.

It’s that time of year – weddings, prom, all kinds of fun formal occasions. Our lead designer whipped up this beauty for her daughter and came up with so many great tips along the way that we just had to share. The starting point for this dress is a commercial sewing pattern, paired with a rich plum fabric. A variety of Dritz sewing tools work hard behind the scenes to deliver a perfect fit and custom details.

Tip 1: Take precise body measurements. Reference this guide to take 13 different body measurements, and check out this product information to see the different types of tape measures that are available.

Tip 2: Alter size and design on pattern. Use a Dritz styling design ruler to redraw and smooth lines. Watch our YouTube video to see specifics about how to use this ruler.

Tip 3: Make a muslin bodice – transfer all markings with tracing paper and tracing wheel.

Tip 4: Try muslin on model or dress form. A dress form is very helpful if model is not readily available. Use safety pins to fit muslin to model. No fear of being jabbed by pin points.

Tip 5: Make additional design changes to muslin. Use marking pens and rulers to draw new design lines.

Tip 6: Keep pattern pieces in place with pattern weights to avoid damaging fabric. Be sure to use a pair of sharp scissors when cutting delicate and slippery fabrics.

Tip 7: Transfer pattern markings to wrong side of fabric with straight pins and a marking pen or pencil.

Tip 8: Always, start each sewing project with a new machine needle. Use the machine needle inserter/threader tool to help you change and thread the needle.

Tip 9: Use glass head dressmaker pins to avoid damaging fabric. The fine wire used to make these pins will pierce fabric easily without damaging delicate fabric.

Tip 10: Use a tailor’s ham for pressing curved seams. A silk pressing cloth will prevent irons marks when pressing on right side of fabric.

Tip 11: Wash Away™ Wonder Tape can be used to “baste” zipper before stitching. On very slippery fabric, place tape between seam allowances to keep the fabric from slipping.

Tip 12: Use an Ezy-Hem™ gauge to press under seam allowances on linings and hems. This easy-to-use gauge will easily become a favorite in your arsenal of sewing tools.

Tip 13: Use the chalk hem marker to mark hem line. For floor length hems, have model stand on stool or chair.

Tip 14: Add horsehair braid to add extra body to the hem. In our case, it enhanced the fullness of the skirt and kept it from hanging too straight.

Sewing Tutorial: How to Make Matching Bow Tie & Suspenders

Bonus tip: Wear that dress with confidence and pride – you’ll be the only one at the ball with this bespoke beauty, after all. Need some tips for him? Check out these fabric suspenders and traditional bow tie. When you DIY his accessories, the match will be perfect.

Have fun sewing your next formal! Remember to stay in touch with Dritz on Instagram & Facebook for tips and inspiration every day.

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