5 sewing tips we can steal from ready to wear!

Do you think of ready to wear as cheap and nasty?

Ready to wear clothes construction often gets slated in the home sewing community. It’s often assumed that cheap must mean inferior, when in fact modern garment technology includes cutting edge machinery and processes that speed up manufacturing, much of which contributes to the lower cost.

5 sewing tips we can steal from ready to wear!

As a masters student on a garment technology course, the first thing we were encouraged to do was to go shopping and really examine the inside of the clothes to see how they were made. A garment technologist will often test the processes involved in a sample to see if its cost effective and to make process diagrams of tricky bits to send to factories. This ensures that quality control can be maintained across multiple factories making the same garment! So, as a costumer working occasionally on a morning tv news show, I get access to  garments from multiple high street brands ,and can really get a proper look inside. I’ve found some really cool tips that I’ve incorporated into my sewing, my patterns and even the bee!

swapping hooks and bars 2
swapping hooks and bars

# 1- Swapping hooks and eyes for buttons and loops at the top of zips.

Do you hate the little hook and eye at the top of zips? I find them scratchy and a little pointless! This hand worked loop and button looks a lot less irritating!

Oh, and whilst  we’re looking at this picture, notice how nicely the facing is sitting around that zip? That’s another ready to wear hack we can steal which I’ll  cover in depth in my next blog post.

adding a hem tape

# 2- Reinforcing the inner edge of trouser hems.

Having a background in men’s theatrical tailoring means I’m a big fan of this, and used it all the time as it makes costumes last longer. By top stitching a seam tape (straight grain not bias!) to the inside of the hem allowance at the back of the trousers before completing the hem, you can protect from wear and tear.

Nb-always do this after fitting and assessing hem length!!!

shirt hem trick

# 3- Reducing the bulk at the front edge of shirt hems.

Whilst pressing a Tom Ford shirt at work recently- I noticed this detail, and thought what a cool trick it was! Instead of taking the front button stand all the way to the hem, it’s been turned at a 45 degree angle, making an interesting feature whilst massively reducing the bulk at the front hem edge.

placket behind zip
ribbon placket

# 4- Ribbon plackets behind zips.

So sometimes it feels pretty uncomfortable when a zip sits right next to the skin right? Well a ribbon placket is super easy to add, and is often found on slightly higher end ready to wear especially if it’s a metal zip. You simply make the placket by top stitching a folded piece of ribbon to the length of the zip opening, and either hand sew in place behind the zip once inserted, or machine into the seam allowance of the zip. Easy peasy…

Ribbon stabiliser on strtech neckline
shirt collar

# 5– Stabilizing the back of necklines on knit garments with ribbon.

I love this trick spotted inside a favorite dress from joules! Necklines are prone to stretching out over time on knit garments, and this solution is both pretty and practical. You can use velvet ribbon which feels v luxurious, or any regular ribbon. Secured in place by hand sewing makes this a lot less tricky a process too!

    You can also do an adaptation of this by inserting a grosgrain ribbon into the inner side of a collar. Nice little pop of colour and the ribbon will keep the neckline stabilized. Grosgrain can be pressed to a curve before inserting, making it lie flat. 

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I've just got back into sewing and I find your newsletter tips really useful so do please keep them coming.
Many thanks


  • Mary Parker

    25.06.2019 at 11:49

    These are awesome tips I haven’t seen before! I would love to have more photos of these techniques, too. I’m looking forward to the tip on making facings lie nicely next to each other!

  • Carolyn Crook

    16.06.2019 at 08:58

    I love the high end and coture tips. Everyone else seems to focus on beginners. Remember us oldies who always looking to i prove. Lo e the tips. I will use them all. X

    • The Thrifty Stitcher

      27.10.2019 at 09:35

      Thanks for commenting and so glad you enjoyed the tips. Definately like to share the advanced stuff here. 🙏

  • jjsharpe

    14.06.2019 at 13:51

    Great tips. I’ve used kick tape on my husband’s trousers, but I’d never thought of the other ideas. All of them look good and doable.

    • The Thrifty Stitcher

      27.10.2019 at 09:36

      Thanks, good to hear you’ve tried the taped hem. Good luck with some of the others! 🙏

  • Sharon

    14.06.2019 at 13:28

    All great tips.

    • The Thrifty Stitcher

      27.10.2019 at 09:37

      Thanks, glad you liked them 🙏

  • Trina Moesbauer

    14.06.2019 at 12:52

    My family wear out the crotch of jeans, trousers, shorts. Any ideas to help that one?

    • The Thrifty Stitcher

      27.10.2019 at 09:59

      I’d suggest looking at reinforced workwear to see how they are constructed. Essentially you need to add reinforcements to the area that is likely to experience wear and tear before it happens. Both these articles have some useful info for you https://www.thefittingroomonedward.com.au/2017/03/09/crotch-trousers-wears-prevent/


      Thanks 🙏

  • Jane Thomas

    14.06.2019 at 12:20

    Brilliant, will be watching and reading…particularly like the ribbon idea for behind a zip. Have noticed tape on mens trouser hems that have been asked to take up, usually for weddings! Keep up the good work.

    • The Thrifty Stitcher

      27.10.2019 at 10:00

      Thanks for commenting and glad you like the tips 🙏