Category Archives: Sewing

How To Make Tablecloths

To calculate the size of the cloth, decide the length of the overhang and add twice this ings. Cut two pieces of fabric to the shape of the pattern.

Making the cover Place the cover pieces with right sides together and stitch 1.5 cm (½ inch) from the edge, leaving an opening on one side to insert the cushion pad.

Amount plus 10 cm (4 inches) for hems, to the dimensions of the tabletop.

Calculate the amount of fabric required, cut it out and make any joins.

Square or oblong cloths Make double hems all round the cloth by folding 2.5 cm (1 inch) to the wrong side and then another 2.5 cm (1 inch). Press the folds firmly.

At each corner, unfold the hems and refold in mitres. Stitch the hems by hand or machine.

Round cloths Start by cutting a square of fabric with sides equal to the required total diameter of the table-cloth. Fold the square in half lengthways and then widthways.

Tie a piece of string to a dressmaker’s chalk pencil, and pin it at the intersection of the folds, leaving half the diameter length between pencil and pin.

Draw an arc from corner A to the corner B, keeping the string taut.

Cut around the arc through all thicknesses of fabric and open it out to give the circle. Finish the edges of the tablecloth either by binding or by turning a narrow hem and machine stitching.


Sheeting fabric can be bought in two widths — 178 cm (70 inches) for single beds or 130 cm (51 inches) for double beds.

To calculate the length you require to make flat sheets, add twice the depth of the mattress to its length, plus a further metre (yard) to give good tuck-ins and hems.

Making the sheets For the top hem, turn 1.5 cm (½ inch) to the wrong side and then 4 cm (1 ½ inches). For the bottom hem, turn 1 cm (3/8 inch) and then 1.5 cm (½ inch). Machine stitch and press both hems. There is no need for side hems because of the selvedges.

Repairing worn sheets Sheets tend to show first signs of wear down the middle, and it is advisable to remedy this before tears occur.

Cut the sheet in half lengthways. Turn the pieces over so that the edges are at the centre, and lap one edge over the other by 1.5 cm (½ inch). Pin and machine stitch twice, once along each edge. Make narrow hems along the new side edges.


Sheeting material can also be used to make duvet covers. The dimensions of duvets vary, so don’t take a chance: measure it properly.

Cut two rectangles of sheeting to the dimensions of the duvet, plus 5 cm (2 inches) each way.

Join the rectangles with French seams on three sides, taking a total of 1.5 cm (5/8 inch) in the seam allowance.

Make a hem around the edges of the fourth side, with 1 cm (3/8 inch) in the first turning and 2.5 cm (1 inch) in the second.

To close the opening, either apply press studs or sew on touch-and-close tape.


Cut one piece of sheeting to the dimensions of the pillow plus 5 cm (2 inches) each way. Cut another piece of the same length but 15 cm (6 inches) wider.

On both pieces, make a hem along one of the shorter sides, with 1 cm (3/8 inch) in the first turning and 2.5 cm (1 inch) in the second. Machine.

Turn down the hemmed edge of the wider piece for 15 cm (6 inches) on to wrong side. Place both pieces wrong sides together and join on the remaining three edges, taking 5 mm (¼ inch) in the seam turnings. Trim and press the turnings.

Turn the case right side out and fold the pocket over the narrower piece. Stitch again round the three sides, taking 1 cm (3/8 inch) seam turnings. Turn right side out and fold the pocket inside.


Measure the bed with bedding and pillows in position. For length, measure from the mattress base at the top, over the pillows to the desired length at the base. For width, measure across the bed to the desired length on each side. Add 5 cm (2 inches) to both

measurements. If you are going to round off the corners, note the overhang measurement which is from the edge of the mattress to the desired length plus 2.5 cm (1 inch).

Calculate the amount of fabric required, cut out and make any joins.

For square corners, make double hems all round the edge, mitring the corners. For rounded corners, mark in each corner a square with sides equal to the overhang measurement. Then, using X as the centre, draw an arc from Y to Z. Cut off the corner outside the arc. Turn up a double hem round the edge.


For a flounced bedspread, measure dimensions over bedclothes. For a valance, take measurements over mattress. Measure the width and length of the bed and then the desired length of the flounce — for a bedspread this will be from the upper edge of the mattress, but for a valance it will be from the lower edge.

Allow fabric for the main panel of the bedspread or valance to be the width by the length of the bed, plus 3 cm (PA inch) each way. For the flounce, add the width to twice the length of the bed and allow fabric to this length by the height of the flounce plus 4 cm (1 ½ inches).

Calculate the amount of fabric required, cut out and make any joins.

Work gathering threads along the top edge of the flounce. Pull up gathers and join to sides and bottom edges of the main panel.

Turn up a hem along the top edge of the flounce and main panel and round the bottom of the flounce.

Making Clothes Fit

The way clothes fit obviously depends on their style and construction, but the principles described here apply in most cases. DARTS AND SEAMS You can take in all garments by increasing the amount of fabric taken at the seams or other shaping areas such as darts, tucks, pleats or gathers. To let out garments reduceContinue Reading

Sewing Repairs And Alterations

Even if you are not a dressmaker, it is useful to be able to repair or alter your clothes. Many jobs can be done either by hand sewing or machine, and you do not need much equipment. For darning, however, you will require a darning mushroom and a darning needle. UNPICKING Mending and altering usuallyContinue Reading

Making Buttonholes

On light and medium weight fabrics buttonholes may be stitched by hand or machine. On heavier weight fabrics buttonholes are best made by binding, as this prevents fraying. For any method, practise on a piece of leftover fabric from the garment and check the size of the but- tonhole by inserting the button. Never makeContinue Reading

Marking In Dressmaking

Paper pattern pieces have several construction marks which are usually indicated by dots for darts, gathering, etc. These marks need to be transferred accurately onto the fabric and in a way that marks both layers of fabric simultaneously. This may be done by making tailor’s tack stitches or by using a tracing wheel and dressmaker’sContinue Reading

Dressmaking Equipment

A sewing machine is really a necessity for dressmaking. You can, of course, make entirely hand-stitched clothes, but it takes so much longer. If you are buying a sewing machine, spend time researching the various makes by asking friends and looking in shops. A swing-needle machine is certainly more useful than one with only straightContinue Reading

Binding In Sewing

This is a strong seam finish ideal for woollens, unlined jackets, etc. It can also be used on exposed edges such as armholes and necklines, or as an alternative to a hem. Binding may either match or contrast with the main fabric. Use straight seam binding or straight edges and pre-folded bias binding — whichContinue Reading

Gathering In Sewing

Gathering may be worked by hand in running stitch or by using a long machine stitch. For a wide area of gathering, divide the edge in quarters and mark in the same way the piece to which the gathering is to be joined. Work two rows of gathering stitches 3 mm (1/8 inch) each sideContinue Reading

Finishing Methods In Sewing

For simple finishes, the edges of the seam allowances may be stitched and pinked; zigzagged; turned under for 3 mm (Ye inch) and then stitched; blanket-stitched Or overcast. French seam This is a good seam finish for fine fabrics and for items frequently washed, such as blouses, nightwear and pillowcases. The edges are completely enclosed.Continue Reading

Sewing Seams

A plain seam is the most usual way of joining one piece of fabric to another. It may be machine-stitched or back-stitched by hand. The edges of the fabric should then be neatened to prevent fraying. There are various neatening methods for different fabrics and garments. Decide the finishing method before beginning the seam, asContinue Reading

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