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Become the next top designer – Top Tips for Dressmaking

So, you’re interested in dressmaking, but you are a complete beginner. Don’t worry, everyone has to start somewhere. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of basic tips for trying your hand at dressmaking, ranging from the tools you will need to taking the correct measurements.

Tools of the trade

Probably the most important place to start when dressmaking is your tools. What exactly do you need? Collect these basic tools, pop them in a sewing box and you can’t go wrong.

Dressmakers pins

Tape measure

Sewing needles

Dressmaking scissors

Tailor’s chalk


You can start off hand sewing, afterall, this is how people started dressmaking, but a sewing machine will make your dressmaking faster and easier in the long run.

Choosing a sewing machine

Choosing a sewing machine isn’t as daunting as it sounds; for dressmaking a basic sewing machine will suffice. All sewing machines are electronic, generally using a single motor, which is perfect for a beginner. As you become a more advanced dressmaker you may want to invest in a computerised sewing machine.

When choosing your first sewing machine consider a machine that offers different stitching options as well as a selection of foot attachments (to allow basic tasks including inserting zips.)


Start with a pattern, this way you will have something to work towards.

To begin with, use patterns that are labeled as ‘easy’ – dresses with no waistline or sleeves are the easiest.

As well as giving you something to work towards, a pattern will indicate how much fabric will be needed as well as giving you an idea of the best fabric to use.

It’s important to take your measurements and buy a pattern based on these measurements.


When dressmaking, taking the correct measurements is critical. Follow our quick and easy guide to ensure you collect the right measurements.

Waist – using your tape measure, measure your natural waistline – hold the tape so it fits snugly around your waist – but not tight.

Hips – measure the fullest part of your hips all the way around your body.

Bust – measure around the fullest part of your bust - this is one measurement. Then measure around the body just above the bust, across the back and under the arms - this is your second bust measurement.

Back to waist – measure from the most prominent bone at the top of your neck down to your natural waist.

Height – make sure you stand straight!


With thousands of fabrics to choose from, it can sometimes be difficult making a decision. Take into consideration how the fabric you are using feels against your skin – is it comfortable? Below, we have listed some of the main fabric options:

Cotton – incredibly versatile, cotton can be used to create almost anything and is available in varying weights.

Cotton Jersey – generally used to make t-shirts, cotton jersey is a stretchy and comfortable fabric.

Wool – more often than not wool will need to be dry-cleaned. Can be expensive and is often used to make suits and coats.

Linen – often blended with cotton and is perfect for summer clothing.

Silk – a luxury fabric, often expensive and quite difficult to sew with.

Polyester and polycotton – synthetic fabrics that are lightweight and quite cheap to buy.

A top tip for dressmaking is to wash your fabric before you begin – this will ensure that your final creation doesn’t shrink during its first wash.

Dressmaking is a great way to update your wardrobe, without breaking the bank. From taster dressmaking courses to advanced dressmaking classes, Abakhan covers all your dressmaking educational needs, click here to view our latest workshops and classes.