Do you make samples?
For my colorblock dress, I made up some samples. Having never sliced and diced a TNT pattern before to incorporate new design elements, I had no idea what order of construction I wanted to use or how I wanted to finish the seam allowances of the colorblock seams. So before I started sewing, I cut out some pieces of my fashion fabric and started sampling away.
- Did I want orange on pink and pink on orange topstitching? Not sure.
- Or pink topstitching on both? YES!!!
- Did I like the two strands of all purpose thread or the single strand of thicker topstitching thread? Hands down, the single strand of topstitching thread.
- Did I want to use the triple stitch setting on my Viking Emerald 183? Surprisingly, no. I didn’t like it as much as the regular straight stitch at a setting of 4.0 on my machine. The triple stitch setting does not allow for a larger stitch and while the stitches are thicker, I think they would be more pleasing if they were longer.
- Did I want twin needle stitching or a single line of stitching? Hmmm… I think the single line of stitching on each side of the seam.
- Did I want to sew the dart first or sew it after the topstitching? OMG, definitely first!
I learned a lot from my sample making. Could I have guessed correctly at some of the outcomes? Maybe, but for others, maybe not. And I definitely would not have been sure without sampling.
One unintentional learning was finding out that the orange parts of the dress needed to be doubled as they were slightly see through and since I was using a pink lining, I definitely wanted them to pop more against the pink. When I recut my waistbands, I doubled all of the pieces and sewed them as one with the rest of the dress. It created a more opaque orange against the sea of pink — a great contrast.
Now I feel confident, as I continue constructing my dress, that every element will work and look exactly as I imagined it. Do you find making samples helpful? I found it helpful for this dress, which was uncharted territory for me. I don’t expect that I will do it for every future project, but it was inordinately helpful for this one. There is one thing I always do though (although I wouldn’t necessarily characterize it as sample making): I always test my needles/thread/stitch length on the fashion fabric before I sew up the garment. I want to make sure I’m using the right needle, the best shade of thread and correct stitch length for the fabrication.
Do you sample?
The fabric by the way, is linen from Fabricmart Fabrics online. It’s great – it has great body, nice hand, is pretty stable. Depending on how loose the weave is, linen can be pretty unstable, but this one isn’t. For those who might want to know, I pre-treated this fabric by laundering it 3 times in the washer and dryer on high heat. I want to be able to launder the dress myself in the future rather than dry clean it.