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Garment Construction for Fashion Design – Introduction
After working your way through the various stages, you have finally reached the point where you can see your vision come to life.
Garment construction can be divided into several different areas, and it is up to you to decide what area you want to enter as a designer.
You may choose to custom stitch your own garments or enter fashion design for mass production, but either way, you need to know and understand each of these different garment construction manufacturing chains:
Haute couture tailoring
These are at the top of the fashion industry and work individually with customers on custom orders.
Industrially produced garments
This is a stark contrast to haute couture and is at the lower end of manufacturing.
Garments produced using this method are quick and easy to process using mass produced methods.
Tools for Garment Construction
Before you start any project, you need the right tools for the job, and in this case, you will need to collect the following items:
Hand sewing needles
Machine sewing needles
Point pressing block
Industrial flatbed machine
With your tools in hand, you need to make sure you have the perfect thread for the job, which is no problem because there are several threads in many colours and weights.
You will find the material you need to spin thread in synthetic, natural, polyester, silk, and wool thread.
The easiest way to join two pieces of material together in garment constructions is with seams. Your seam allowance faces the inside of the garment and is used to create shape and influence the design of the garment.
When it comes to selecting the right theme for your garment, you should consider the different styles, fabrics, and weights that all require a different seam.
You can prepare a seam in one of two ways:
The first involves pinning pieces of the material together to hold them in place.
The second is to place the material together with a hand basting stitch along the stitching line.
Now your material should be ready to place in the machine and you can begin the sewing process.
Hand Sewing Techniques
Although sewing machines are highly sophisticated and designed to handle a variety of specific tasks, there are still some garment skills that will require hand sewing.
When you are sewing a garment by hand, it is important that you are using the right needle and thread for the job.
Also, you should ensure that you have a thimble to protect your finger.
The first step you will take when hand sewing is securing a small knot at the end of the thread. Next, begin sewing with a simple backstitch; pick a small amount of fabric for the starting point, and pull the thread with the knot through your material.
You can then repeat another stitch in the same area, which will create a loop. Finally, pass your thread through the loop, to secure a knot, which will complete your stitch and prevent it from falling out.
If you have sewn before, you probably recognise some of these basic sewing techniques.
However, in the fashion industry, you will work with the following specialised hand sewing techniques:
The basting stitch uses large stitches to temporarily join pieces of garments together.
These stitches are applied with tension and are made with tacking thread in a contrasting colour.
The hemming stitch is used for hemming any type of skirt, sleeve, or slacks.
These stitches are invisible on the outside and show little to no thread on the inside of the hem.
A blind hemstitch uses threads from the outside of the fabric and makes a smaller stitch within the hem.
This stitch is used in woven materials.
A cross-stitch hem, also referred to as ‘catch-stitch’, or ‘figure-eight’, is commonly used in the fashion industry to complete the hemming lines in knit and jersey fabrics.
During the pattern cutting process, you may remember that everything was cut without a lining.
Now that you are in the garment construction phase, it is time to add linings to your clothing. You should add linings to jackets, skirts, and depending on the material, you might add it to trousers.
Your lining should end two centimetres above the hem you are lining and should be cut to allow extra length for a lengthways fold.
Next, fold your lining one centimetre over on the hem edge and pin it to the jacket hem below the edge. Finally, there are two stitching methods that you can use for linings, a slip stitch or a prick-stitching method.
Surface Specific Techniques
At this point, you have covered garment construction skills, which taught you how to sew and stitch basic fabrics.
However, there are some different techniques that are used for specialised fabrics and materials that are difficult to sew, cut, and finish.
A few of these fabrics include lace, sequinned, wool, and leather. Since you will work with these fabrics often, you need to learn the basic construction methods you will use.
Woven felt fabrics are compressed and shrunk with heat to produce a condensed appearance.
With felted fabrics, the edges do not fray, so you can leave your seams unfinished.
Usually, a common stitching choice for light to medium weighted felt fabric is the welt seam or top stitch. However, you can also use an abutted seam or a flat fell seam.
Lace can be made by hand or machine with knotting, braiding, looping, or knitting techniques.
When you are working with lace, keep in mind that it is fragile and needs to be handled with care.
Also, you will need more fabric because most lace is vertical or horizontal in pattern, which means they should be matched up when constructing clothing.
Leather is made of reptile or mammal skin and is one of the oldest materials used. This material is extracted through a process called tanning. Once the skin is properly tanned, it becomes leather after a variety of finishing processes are completed.
When sewing leather, a special leather needle should be used to avoid leaving marks and pinning the skin.
Also, make sure that you remember that leather is sensitive to heat and can get permanently creased, so avoid using an iron.
In the garment construction phase, it is important to use a different approach with leather, so keep the following tips in mind:
Always practise first with scraps of leather
Use a polyester thread for thicker leather and avoid using cotton threads
Use a roller, teflon foot, or leather foot on your sewing machine
When choosing the seam type for a leather garment, always consider the style and weight of a garment
Plain seams work will work for all thin to medium weight leathers
For heavier leathers, use a lapped seam to eliminate bulk
There are two different types of fur that you will come across in the fashion industry.
Real fur comes from an animal and contains short underfur and longer hair called guard hair.
This type of fur is usually very expensive to buy, and in some countries, it is not popular.
The second type of fur is a manufactured synthetic fur fabric, which is much more sophisticated. With this alternative, the fabric is easier to cut and sew because it is available on the metre and not the skins. Also, fur can be processed, coloured, bleached, and even stencilled.
There are several methods that you can use to make working with fur a little easier. For instance, using a polyester thread and a universal machine needle is a good place to start. If you find the fabric skips, you can switch to a wedge-pointed leather needle.
Sequinned and Beaded Fabrics
Although sequinned and beaded fabrics used to be reserved for special occasions, it is very common to see these materials in all areas of fashion.
Beads, sequins, and stones are used now in daywear, eveningwear, and to accessorise the under layer of fabrics.
These fabrics are delicate, so you should take time and extra care when handling them.
If you are working with beads and sequins, for instance, stick with a chain stitch to avoid unravelling. Also, these fabrics are often uncomfortable on the skin, so be sure to line your garments.