National Sewing Machine Month: Garment Making Basics

Happy National Sewing Machine Month! Here at WeAllSew we’re celebrating through the month of September with sewing machine inspiration, tips, tutorials, and 4 weeks of fun giveaways. This week we’re spotlighting garment making basics, from simple presser feet tips to techniques most-often used when sewing garments. Keep reading to the bottom of the post to find out how to enter this week’s fantastic giveaway for your chance to win our fantastic prize package!

Best feet for garment sewing

When it comes to basic sewing techniques used most-often for garment sewing, BERNINA has several presser feet that have been specially engineered to help you get the best results. Learn all about the Best Presser Feet for Garment Sewing here.

Gathering Tips

Gathering is a beginning sewing technique that’s fairly easy to do. You can make ruffles, gathered waistlines and puffed sleeves. There are many ways to gather fabric, learn some of the most common Gathering Tips with this downloadable ebook.


Making buttonholes on a BERNINA sewing machine is truly a breeze! If you haven’t yet tried sewing a buttonhole, learn all about How to Create Buttonholes the easy BERNINA way here.

edgestitching with Foot #10

Edgestitching is one of the elements of sewing that gives your projects a professional look. It upgrades your project from “homemade” to “handmade”. Learn all about the Edgestitching Technique here.

Hemming is often the last stage of a project. It’s a step I look forward to as there is nothing more satisfying than taking a seam that yields that beautifully finished edge. As always, it helps ensure perfect results to have the right tools and notions in place. In this post you will learn about the 3 most basic hem styles (techniques).

Hand-look smocking tutorial from WeAllSew

Traditional smocking is a beautiful but tedious art—it requires precise pleating and hand embroidery but results in incredible heirloom pieces. If you’ve ever admired this art but lack the time to complete it by hand, I welcome you to try it on your sewing machine!

Binding 3 Ways

The word “binding” means to secure or hold together. Binding the raw edges of a sewing project with bias strips of fabric is a good way to cover the edge and add a durable finish. Let’s take a look at the most popular ways to finish sewing projects with binding 3 ways!

There’s no need to be afraid of sewing a project with a zipper when you are using the right tools and techniques! In this Zipper Tips post you’ll find zipper insertion techniques, zipper tips, and some very basic free projects to try sewing with a zipper.

Seam finishes 3 ways

In garment construction when you sew two pieces of fabric together the seam allowance is left on the inside of your garment (along with the raw edges of the fabric). Adding a finish to these seams will keep the fabric from fraying, give the seam a clean finished look, and add strength to the seam. Take a closer look at some of the most popular ways to complete your garment with seam finishes 3 ways.

Looking for a simple sewing project to sink your teeth into? Bow ties have always been a favorite in menswear and with just one pattern piece and a few basic supplies, you can sew up some bow ties for the entire wedding party in no time! Find the free pattern and tutorial to Sew a Bow Tie here.

T-shirt Upcycling Tutorial

Here’s a super-simple sewing technique to give new life to an old or too-big knit top. Don’t be intimidated by sewing on knit fabrics—with the right tools, it’s easy as can be. Find a new fit with the T-Shirt Upcycle tutorial here.

The button up shirt is a classic! A tailored shirt, especially a solid white one is an essential wardrobe staple. It practically goes with everything. It’s one of those pieces in your closet that you’ll never regret owing. And it’s so rewarding to sew your own! Find tips and tricks to lead you through the process of sewing the quintessential button-down shirt in this sew-along.

National Sewing Month Week 3 Giveaway!

The giveaway is now closed to comments. Congratulations to our Week 3 WeAllSew winner, fan @janicemm!

One lucky WeAllSew reader will win this fun package featuring sewing tools and accessories! You could win one Binding Babies jar of buttons, one Tula Pink Hardware 6″ straight scissors, one red Zirkel magnetic pincushion, and one handy sewing gauge!

Binding Babies Buttons

Tula Pink 6" straight scissors

Zirkel Magnetic Pincushion

Sewing Gauge


All you have to do is post a comment below and answer the question, “When it comes to sewing garments, what specific sewing skills or techniques do you want to learn more about?” The the giveaway is open for comments through Sunday, September 22.

The giveaway is open to residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia. One comment per fan. Comment must be submitted to the blog by Sunday, September 22, 2019 at 11:59 PM Central Time. Winner will be chosen randomly. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to contact to claim the prize.

257 thoughts on “National Sewing Machine Month: Garment Making Basics

    1. I would love to learn quick and easy techniques for children’s clothing that don’t take a lot of time but look professional. They grow out of their clothes so quickly, it doesn’t make sense to spend loads of time on them.

  1. I would like to learn more about sewing a collar and stand on a shirt. I especially have a hard time keeping the stand smooth so that putting in the buttonhole closure will be carefree.

  2. I love sewing. Yet, I do not like doing buttonholes for some reason. I read about making buttonholes & correct placement before I plan to put in buttonholes. I like zippers because they are easier for me to grasp & they come out so perfect, but putting in buttonholes & aligning them seem like a daunting task – so learning more tips & tricks about buttonholes with my Bernina is a winner.

  3. 1 have sewn for about 60 years. In my younger years I made clothing for my self, my children and later sewed for my grand children. In the last 20 years I’ve made many quilts for myself and family. Recently I made a robe for myself and realized that I need to brush up on many of the new techniques. I have had my BERNINA over 30 years, I call it my baby and love the dependable service.

  4. I would like to learn more about sewing with knits. I’m just intimidated with the thought of sewing with knits. I worry about puckers & stretching out the seams. I also would like to learn how to sew elastic on the fabric for an elastic waistband without stretching the elastic keeping it from drawing back down.
    Thank you, Terry

  5. Zippers! You said it, zippers make me grind my teeth! but I have learned to do them but still….. what I just can’t seem to do is work with knits.. ugh. just can’t do it. I would like to get a few lessons or something.

  6. The sewing skill I would most like to learn is being comfortable with my serger. I have the new model serger and it is SO much easier to use than the Bernette I had bought 20 years ago. (I actually gave that one to one of my students.) However, even after taking a year long once a month serger class I am still not comfortable with it. I loved sewing on it, but I don’t keep it out all the time.

  7. I would love to learn more about sewing traditional clothes for my granddaughter. All techniques. My daughter-in-law and son have a new baby girl and they love the look of handmade clothes with beautiful fabrics, ribbons, smocking, etc. It’s nice to see young people appreciate sewing. They inspire me so much and it is exciting for me as much as for them too. There’s no better way to say I love you than creating beautiful clothes for a grand baby.

  8. I used to sew clothing all the time when I was younger. It was a great joy to make the beautiful clothing in the pattern magazines, but then age and gravity hit. I would love to make clothing that fit and flatter my “new” body. I have trouble fitting the bust area and around my belly. I have had some success sewing princess seamed garments, but would like to better understand how to choose and sew patterns that will reflect the kind of style I want to wear. I would also like to know how to put in a good hem with my machine. I used to be able to do this, but have not had so much luck lately. I tried to hem a couture skirt on the machine, but the result was less that desirable!!

  9. I’m most interested in working with the different stitches on my Bernina. Learning to play with my stitches to get the best performance along with the most perfectional appearance, being able to ware my creation with pride, job well done.

  10. The tips are wonderful!!! The possibility of winning these beautiful gifts are amazing also! What a win-win combination. Thank you for all of these. So much to learn! I agree one of my biggest problems is the collar/stand of button down shirts. Any way to make it easier?

  11. I would love to sew my own garments, but have a terrible time finding a source for fashionable fabric! I would love to put the effort into a beautiful garment if I had some beautiful fabric choices.

  12. Don’t know why, but buttonholes and zippers are the two main problems I have. To the point that now I mostly quilt. So any DETAILED tutorials on these two topics would be most appreciated, especially since I’m buying another Bernina this month. Can’t wait.

  13. I’m busty and have to buy large shirts but the way they hang hides my small waist. I’d like to learn how to alter ready made clothes to flatter my body.

  14. I would like to know more about embroidery on jeans. I see this now in all the fall catalogs and I am not sure how to take out the seams on the legs and then reattach.

  15. There is so much for me to learn! To name a few things, I would like to learn to sew on knit fabrics successfully (larger pieces that is – I can make it through a very small project), how to do basic alterations to patterns as well as clothes bought from a store, and how to get the “handmade” rather than “homemade” look every time! I would also like to master all different kinds of buttons, snaps and other closures.

  16. I would like to learn more about couching. I’ve tried, and tried to couch, but I seem to always have stitches that don’t stitch on the cord that I’m trying to couch down. I’ve tried both the free motion foot and the ruler foot attachments. Neither seems to work for me.

  17. I would love to learn how to use the Ruffler Foot 86 to make ruffles on an apron. I would also like to learn how to use the Spanish Hemstitch Attachment to attach lace to an apron or other clothing.

  18. I would like to learn about utilizing more than just the basic features of my new 770 QE. I know it is capable of so much more and I’d like to explore the possibilities. Videos are the most helpful, though a bit more explanation and length would be useful – they are a bit quick!

  19. I would like to learn more about elastic waist applications. What length to cut elastic to allow for sewing together, true waist measurement or less or more? Also sewing elastic to fabric instead of inserting through a channel. More elastic application like in ready made clothes, running shorts, pajama pants etc. thank you.

  20. I really wish I were better at getting garments to fit me correctly. I am large through the bust and small through the hips, and while this sounds like it would be desirable, it is not so great when trying to alter garments or patterns to fit!

  21. Love the way you refashioned a tshirt by ruching the sides. Can we have more ideas like that? and I’ve nver mastered invisible zippers. I’m sure they are easy…I just don’t get it.

  22. I would like to master machine edge stitching on my sewing machine. There seems to be some knowledge I’m missing on right tensions, needle and thread choices.

  23. I used to make my own clothes all the time, but now it seems, after all my hard work, the garment doesn’t fit properly…….so I quit sewing my own clothes. I need to know how to make clothes that actually FIT my body.

  24. I’d like to learn how to make simple shorts and tees, specifically with real pictures on the pattern (so I can show my teenager before I sew, so we both can be sure she would actually be willing to wear them).

  25. When it comes to garment sewing, I would like to learn better techniques of making collars and switching them out.
    Also would like different techniques of sewing slinky knits, and knits in general. Never can learn enough.

  26. I am returning to sewing after about 30 yrs. So you ask what do I need more information on doing, I need a full refresher course!! I am excited though! Learning new skills will keep me busy!

  27. Hems on a machine have never looked right. Mine are always pulling – but there are folks out there that do such a beautiful job – I would like to learn to do that!

  28. I am so enjoying being a member of the We All Sew group. I’ve had my 790 for a year and am just now getting used to it. These posts are very helpful! Thank you.

  29. I love the series of articles on how to use the different presser feet. Would like to see a series done on the different stitches my Bernina is capable of and how / when to use them. My 790 has so many possible options that I get lost and go back to old faithful (what I’ve always done).

  30. Zippers! UGGGGG. I can sew them, it is just a slow, repetitious nightmare for me. Don’t know why? They were my mother’s weak point and it has been passed down to me.

  31. I would love to learn more about sewing clothes using embellished fabrics. My daughter recently asked for a pair of jeans made from faux pearl embellished denim, and creating the straight seems were impossible.

  32. I am having problems using a double needle to hem a blouse. I am able to do it with a single needle but then need to ho around twice. Tried finding information online on using the double needke on an 880Plus and could not find ANY information. This would be a great topic for learning how to thread for the double needle all the way to finished product.

  33. There’s never enough techniques and uses for knit fabrics. They seem to always bog me down. Love, love the up-cycled t-shirt idea! I recently lost 30 lbs and my t-shirts are big, this is a great way to get more use for them before I shop for new.
    Thank you for always giving us home sewers so much valuable information. It’s great to get it directly from Bernina and my dealer.

  34. I owe my husband a long sleeved shirt. I’ve purchased the fabric and the pattern, but I’m dragging my heels at starting to make this shirt. The shirt has a placket front and I would love to learn how to make this type of closing.

  35. I would love to see more on alterations. I have sewn since a young girl, but as one comment shared, gravity has hit, and it’s soooo hard to get the fit right.

  36. I love the example of how to “spruce up” a T-shirt! I’ve seen people wearing altered sleeves on T-shirts. Can you share more examples of redefining T-shirts?

  37. I’ve been sewing for more than 50 years and there is always something new to learn. I don’t know how to make hand sewn buttonholes like those on a man’s suit and it’s on my list. I want to learn more about sewing leather handbags, something I’ve never done though I have made leather jackets.

  38. Fly front zippers in jeans and slacks are something that I would like to understand how to do. A step by step process would be great, patterns are not always so clear. Thanks a million!

  39. My son-in-law, a 6’8″ Texan (they really do grown them bigger in Texas) always wears bow ties because regular ties are too short. I’d like to master sewing bow tie sewing so I could make him ‘designer’ dies.

  40. I’d like to get better at sewing with knits, especially which knits are appropriate for specific garments.
    are there better ways to Finish seams on knits depending on the type of garment such are skirts, dresses, tops etc.

  41. I would love to see more on alterations for tops. After having a double mastectomy, finding it hard to find nice blouses that don’t have darts or seams for bustline.

  42. I’d like to know more about apparel construction, alterations and repair because clothes seem to fall apart after 2 washes and always need some tweaking to fit just so.

  43. I haven’t done garment sewing for years but before that I made only garments. I would like information about fitting a “mature” body and any tips of fitting when one does not have a sewing buddy to help with fitting the back.

  44. I am trying to learn how to make patterns from clothes I have that fit well. I am currently making a dress that I tried to copy and I hope it fits as well as the original. I am a quilter and do not make many clothes, but I am always trying to learn new things. 🙂

  45. My mother taught me how to sew. I have sew since I was very young but with a new Bernina machine and the amount of information on the internet, I am still learning new tips and techniques. I have avoided working with knit fabric because I like the cotton knit and always have problems with sewing knit projects. I need to find more information online in Bernina on how to sew with knits and make it look professional. Thanks a bunch for this site and all the information that is listed.

  46. It’s not that I don’t have the basic techniques down….but materials have changed drastically since my high school Home Ec. classes. I need to update what presser feet can be used with the thicker (fleece, etc.) materials. Is there any adjustments that I need to make for buttonholes or zippers in sewing fleece? Double sided satin and we are now working with a lot of vinyls.

  47. I’d love to learn more about sewing knits (all types), on my standard machine thru the creative consultant, serging and coverstitch. BTW, when is the new air threading serging coming?

  48. Lately I can’t seem to get enough of heirloom sewing to include smocking. I would love to see more about finishes on sleeves for heirloom sewing, like how to add a flutter sleeve or how to fit the sleeve when it has entredeaux and lace at the bottom.

  49. Finding flattering patterns that will actually fit. I used to sew all my own clothes and then work got in the way. Now patterns seemed to have morphed into something that would have looked good on my 30 something body, but not the late middle aged one.

  50. I want to learn more about professional hemming and coverstitch machines. I would also love to learn about how to read a pattern . I just design my own stuff now.

  51. I really need help in learning how to work with difficult fabrics. I fear sewing on stretch fabrics, leather, and minky to name a few….love my Bernina and wish I had not waited so long to become a Bernina owner.

  52. I would like some information on how total weight of a garment should be adjusted to keep the garment from looking droopy. How can I judge how much weight can still look good for the chosen fabric.

  53. I have not sewn garments for many many years. I would love to start again! And, would like to learn more about all of the comments made. And, yes, where to buy nice fabrics! And, mostly how to make them not look homemade…..

  54. I would most like tips on fitting garments and finishing so that they look ready made. OR expensively tailored! I have a new Bernina and love all the info about presser feet. I am actively adding to my collection. I also love heirloom sewing!

  55. I love my bernina machines!!! would like info on inset zippers for pockets…I have been sewing for many years, but inset zippers… also how to adjust for tall patterns.

  56. Very excited to get back in to garment sewing with my new Bernina and our new ASG Neighborhood Group. Have not tried the button holes yet. Thanks for the great tutorials

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