How to improve your sewing

Kim Collins, designer and owner Ann Normandy Design shares her tips on how to create a beautifully constructed garment from your sewing room

If your sewing is lacking just that little bit of finesse but you’re unsure how to achieve this perfect finish then how to improve your sewing is the feature for you!

Where are you at?

Consider your skill level, analyse the pattern details and the techniques needed to create the garment. If you’re a beginner sewist, pick one new technique to learn with each garment. Perfect your skills by creating a muslin/toile first.

Fabric quality

Select the best quality fabric that pairs well with the design and the construction techniques for the garment.

Fabric prep

Prewash and dry as per manufacturer’s recommendations and press. Eliminating the fabric sizing brings the fabric to its original drape and hand qualities.

Pattern prep

Cut just inside the edge of the pattern line. Once the pattern is traced and marked, carefully cut on inside edge of the tracing line.

Pressing matters!

The iron is as important as your sewing machine. Real focus, heat, pressure, moisture and time taken to allow your pressed seam to cool, are essential to achieve a beautiful crisp seam finish. Use a Ham for pressing curves and shaping curved seams and a wood Clapper puts pressure on a freshly pressed seam to help set the press. Carefully manipulate the fabric/seam with your fingers as you press. Blocking can add or eliminate shape. Press the fabric with steam until it’s damp, shape as desired, and let dry completely.

Elevate the quality and finish of your garment by encasing your seams into a flat, finished seam.

The seams aren’t only a beautiful couture technique, but they give the garment additional weight and stability to hold its shape.


Applying a strip of fabric to cover a raw edge seam gives a clean finish. A beautifully bound seam starts with precise and evenly cut seam allowances. When folding the binding over the seam allowance, keep the fabric taut over the fold.

Control your single needle stitching

Take it slow, especially when approaching corners, and pivot points. Each stitch matters.


Consider using a lightweight, fusible interfacing to help stabilise loosely woven fabric, as well as reinforce shape and create body.

How to improve your sewing

A bit about…

Kim Collins, designer and owner Ann Normandy Design. Kim lives just outside of Detroit, MI, in the US with her husband, 13-year-old son and their St. Bernard, Bode. She also enjoys travelling, cooking, singing, playing the violin and snowshoeing.

It doesn’t get any better than to bring together constant lifetime passions to create a women’s apparel sewing pattern collection.

So where did your passion start?

Kim Collins’ journey in clothing design started early in life while being taught how to sew by her grandmother. From there, theatrical costume design was the natural next step continuing the creative thought process of ‘making do’ with limited budgets and resources. Period pieces between 18th and 20th century are her forte and passion, using studied design and observing time-honored techniques as her guide.

Inspired from sewists and the linen textiles of those periods, she created a sewing pattern collection using careful consideration to construction details that surpass most high-end ready to wear garments on the market.

If you love this feature on How to improve your sewing from Kim Collins then you’ll love the other Learn to Sew features here.