Making something your own, inside as well as out

Posted on Posted in GuestBlog, Sewing

Hi there! I’m Becca and I can normally be found over at Red W Sews where I blog all about my dressmaking adventures (and disasters!)

To me, the inside of garments can be a bit like the drummer in a band (bear with me).  If you’ve got a good drummer, you’re all set; if nothing else, at least everyone will be playing to the same beat.  But if you get a bad one…..well. It’s all going to get a bit messy.

When I first started sewing, all my clothes were finished inside in the same way.  It was the way my Mum taught me, the way her Mum taught her; the very minute you’ve cut your pattern pieces out, overlock the edges with your sewing machine so that nothing frays.

This method does have its advantages.  You’re not going to have any problems getting into any tricky corners to finish things off; you’re not going to leave a project in a pile somewhere, only to find that when you pick it up again, some of the edges have disintegrated to the point where you’re going to have to cut a new piece.

But you’re also going to struggle to take advantage of any stretch of pieces cut on the bias. And finding those notches again is not going to be a piece of cake.

So then I got confident (cocky) and decided that actually, I couldn’t be bothered with this technique any more and I was just going to go with attacking the insides of my finished projects with pinking shears.  Let’s not discuss how many times this involved me chopping into the outsides of the garment, shall we?

I moved on from the sublime to the ridiculous and decided that I was going to be Mrs Perfectionist and French seam all the garments.  All of them.  Regardless of fabric type and whether I’d toiled the pattern first to see whether or not it would actually fit….. This also had some classic errors!

Skipping forward a while and I now realise that there is no one good way to finish the insides of your garments; it all depends on the type of garment and the type of fabric. And, also, how much wear you want to get out of it; a good finish on the insides is likely to add considerably to the wearable life of what you’ve made, but that time investment is your call.

These days, my choice of finish comes down to a variety of factors.  How much time do I have?  What’s the fabric type?  Do I want to take the chance to add some individuality to the garment? Do I want to save a little of my fashion fabric to squeeze a pattern onto less yardage?

I love adding another level of personal touch to a garment.  Sure, I could use matching tape to hand stitch a circle skirt hem, but it looks so much nicer if it’s a contrasting ribbon that you may or may not catch a glimpse of as I walk.

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Where it won’t impact the look of the finished piece, I enjoy cutting my facings from a fun fabric.  Chances are no one else will see it, but I know it’s there and it’s one more thing that makes it very much my garment.

Tilly & The Buttons “Cleo” dress

On a similar vein, I love using a contrast or similar fabric for the button placket, under collar and collar stand facing on a shirt; for my recent shirtdress, I went so far as to purchase the fabric specially rather than find a match from my stash (OK , it was really beautiful fabric and I may have over purchased slightly…)

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I very often use my overlocker to finish seams now (speed, durability, what’s not to like?) but I don’t always use a matching thread if I’m just finishing rather than sewing the seam.  This jumper has a whole range of colours to match the flecks in the jersey;

these dungarees have a red thread which I love against the black demin.

When making my Kelly anorak, I could have just overlocked the seams and fastened them down. However, I chose to make bias binding out of the Liberty fabric I lined the hood with.  That bias is one of my favourite features, combined with the matching channel for the draw cord; I can’t remember the last time I saw a RTW garment with this kind of care taken inside, but I get to use it regularly and feel special because I took that time out to make something special for myself.

I’m a big fan of a garment lining to make something more wearable (ie so I don’t have to go find a slip of some description).  Sometimes that means sticking to a plain, dull colour.  But others, it adds to the fun.  This dress in particular had a feature lining because of the high low skirt.  I knew I’d have to line it because the wrong side of the fashion fabric looked bad, but I could have gone for a plain black lining.  Instead, I went with a vivid red cotton lawn to make the perfect summer frock.

The last thing I really like to do is to put a label in my garments.  I started out with a roll of ribbon from Hobbycraft, cutting off one “Hand Made” section for each label.  This worked ok but tended to fray, so these days I go for a proper woven label (but only if the garment “deserves” it!)

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Some patterns come with their own labels; I have a small, prized stash of these By Hand London labels which I absolutely love.

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For others, I buy labels online.  I’ve not had any personalised ones made (because I have no imagination) but I love these ones I found; who wouldn’t want “Yes, I made it” on the insides of their me mades? Sure, no one else is going to see it, but I know it’s there and it’s just another way of making things special for myself.

What special touches do you like to hide on the insides?

9 thoughts on “Making something your own, inside as well as out

  1. Hi Red, I have been following your makes through Minerva blogger network and I echo everything you have said – we must have the same sewing scruples! Labels make it into my most prized items and i use pinking shears to cut my fabric from the outset sometimes. Your blog is a great read. Jo

  2. Pretty insides are the best!!! I love using contrasting serger threads on relatively quick or easy projects as I find it gives a special touch that’s almost like using bias tape for seam finishing but without the stress.

  3. I’m newish to sewing but I love finishing off the inside so it is as good as the outside. I know only I’m going to see it but it does make the garment feel extra special. Great article by the way, I enjoyed reading about other peoples OCD traits! lol

    1. But who else are you sewing for if not for you? Sewing is largely something I do for myself so if it’s going to bother me, even if no one else will see, it needs to be right. Well finished insides definitely fall into that category!

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