sewing machine

First of all, thanks to everyone for the love on my tips for finding a quality garment! Since this seems to be a topic of interest, I thought it would be helpful to break down those basics and go a bit more in depth. First up is a pretty critical aspect of any well-made garment, stitching quality.

I learned to sew growing up, and it’s not only one of the best practical skills to have, it gives one a detailed understanding of how an item should be put together. I no longer make clothes – that’s truly an art and one I leave to the professionals! – but I do love making home decor items like draperies and pillow covers. So, if you don’t currently sew, consider learning the basics!

Here are some key indicators of a quality sewing job:

  1. Stitches should be close together and tight. More stitches per inch = better quality. Fast fashion cuts corners and keeps prices low by using less thread. More thread means a garment that won’t fall apart. Stretch the seam to make sure you can’t see through it.
  2. Pattern matching. A surefire way to tell a garment was cheaply made is the attention paid to pattern matching. For example, did the manufacturer take the time to align the lines of the plaid on the front and back of the skirt? This not only looks better, but is a good indicator of the care taken in creating it.
  3. Correct treatment of seams/hems. Seams should be straight, even, and pressed flat. Seams that aren’t pressed open are uncomfortable, too, because they rub against the skin. Note I’m talking about woven fabrics here (linen, Oxford cloth) and not knits (stretchy fabrics like T-shirt cotton). The seams on knits can unravel easily, so make sure they’re secure at the ends and taut.
  4. Seams should contour correctly on the body. This is assuming you’re wearing the correct size, of course, so be sure you are. I could do a whole post about vanity sizing (maybe I will someday), but please read the size charts of the brands you’re buying. Focus on measurements and not the highly subjective dress size number. If a few simple tweaks by the tailor won’t make a correctly sized garment a perfect fit, there may be something wrong with how it’s made. Major red flags are a size chart that doesn’t match the actual garments and/or no two garments from the same maker fitting the same way. (I have to shout out Molly Moorkamp again here – her designs are always a perfect fit with no tailoring needed, and it’s clear a lot of care goes into sizing them correctly).