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Sewing is NOT dressmaking!

Updated: Aug 14, 2022

What??!! Nonsense, of course it is. Nope!


Sewing and dressmaking are two very different sets of skills. A mistake a lot of new sewers make is, for their first sewing project, picking a commercial dressmaking pattern, buying their fabric, thread and various bits and off they go to 'sew'. Sorry, but you never stood a chance! You are about to enter a world of frustration and half finished projects. Programmes like the marvellous Great British Sewing Bee have reduced the scope of sewing so much that people now wrongly equate it with dressmaking, and speed dressmaking at that - a dress in a couple of hours - ha ha ha!


Sewing is a rich and varied art, with a dizzying variety of processes and techniques to learn and apply to a wide range of projects. When you learn and master these sewing processes you can complete wonderous fabric items, home furnishings, children's toys, maybe a garden teepee and certainly clothing. However, without understanding the basic sewing processes your hands are tied when it comes to choosing suitable fabrics and finishes, deciding which is the best seam to use and how best to finish off edges and get into the flipping thing. Without this knowledge your garment is never completed, never fits or falls apart in the first wash, disaster!


By learning the sewing processes themselves, without the stresses of making a garment or worrying about ruining your beautiful fabric, you naturally build your confidence and are then able to apply this sewing knowledge and confidence to the complexity of constructing garments. Dressmaking takes these sewing processes and adds in the complexity of fitting a two dimensional piece of fabric to a three dimensional uniquely shaped body. Give yourself a chance by at least learning the sewing part first.


Dressmaking involves many different steps and processes, for example:

  • Measure your body accurately

  • Select a dressmaking pattern in the correct size

  • Select your fabric, correct type and weight, correct amount

  • Prepare fabric - prewash if necessary

  • Select your haberdashery, such as, lining material, correct type of interfacing, closures - zips, buttons, belt buckles, poppers, threads, needles, marking materials

  • Cut out your paper pattern

  • Pin fit paper pattern

  • Decide whether or not to make a toile

  • Make fit adjustments to paper pattern

  • Cut out fabric correctly

  • Cut out any lining, interfacing, facings

  • Apply interfacings to relevant pieces

  • Tack together , check and adjust fit

  • Sew pieces together

  • Iron each seam, under pressing as sewn

  • Check lengths of hems, sleeves, legs and pin

  • Sew hems

  • Snip all loose threads

  • Final press of garment

As you can see, sewing is only a tiny part of dressmaking! An essential part, but a small part overall.


Sew pieces together massively simplifies the sewing step! Within this you will be deciding what seam type you wish to use, how you will finish the edges of your seams, will you invisibly hem your garment or are you going to use a contrasting top stitch as a design feature. Will you use a facing at the neckline or maybe a decorative binding, how will you sew in your zip, maybe a lapped zip in the side seam, or an invisible zip in the back. The more sewing techniques you can confidently use, the more personalised and professional your projects naturally become.


At the Dressmaker's Apprentice we want you to succeed and know you can! We initially remove the additional worries of constructing and fitting a garment and focus purely on the sewing processes. We then provide a range of simple projects, so you can practice and apply these sewing skills while making something wonderful. Once you have taken a zip lesson and mastered sewing a zip you can then use this in any number of projects, cushions for the sofa, a gilet for the other half, a dress or skirt, a kids rucksack, the list is endless. By learning and perfecting the process first, constructing your projects becomes so much simpler, creative and fun! What would you like to learn first?!

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