How to inspire experienced stitchers

Once you have conquered the dressmaking basics, ensure you have fabrics and patterns in stock to suit those who enjoy a challenge, says Jacqui Smith

How to inspire experienced stitchers: Image 1 Home dressmakers are always looking for ways to advance their skills, requiring more challenging patterns and fabrics to progress. There are a number of areas that are worth looking at to ensure you have a product mix to help you achieve this. Whilst there will always be demand for basics like the Linden sweatshirt, Lark tee and Willow dress by Grainline, together with sweatshirt fabric, printed jerseys and cottons, many independent companies are now producing patterns that present a true challenge for more experienced stitchers. Coupled with in-depth sew-alongs and online tutorials, this represents a fast-growing area of the dressmaking market, with significant sales opportunities for retailers.

Sink or swim
Across the summer months, swimwear and activewear are important areas. There are some fantastic patterns and fabrics to help dressmakers expand their skills, and with many people struggling to find readymade swimwear that fits, it can make sense to stitch your own. Megan Nielsen has just launched a new pattern that includes variations on one and two-piece suits. Cashmerette has a lovely option for curvy ladies, while Jalie Patterns offers swimwear for men and women in sizes ranging from child to adult.Of course, all of these require specialist materials that will withstand the rigours of chlorinated and salt water, not to mention plenty of sun. There are lots of options available, from solids and small ditsy prints to big, bold designs. New from Hamburger Liebe, the At the Beach collection is a lovely range for summer that includes swimwear. Make sure you carry co-ordinating prints and solids that can be mixed and matched for a personalised look. Swimwear classes can also be useful, but if you are unable to host one, there are plenty of tutorials available online.

Perfect fit
Sewing your own jeans is also becoming popular, providing crafters with a sure-fire way to achieve the best fit. There are many patterns available including skinny and wide crop, high and low-rise, fitted and boyfriend. Popular designs include Morgan and Ginger by Closet Case, Ash and Dawn from Megan Nielsen and Ames by Cashmerette, which includes pieces for pear and apple shapes. Ensure you have the right products in stock, as some patterns require stretch and others don't. With summer here, it's useful to offer some lighter, brighter denims and the latest range by Modelo has fabric to suit all patterns. Don't forget rivets, buttons and zips too.One final area that tends to cover more complicated techniques is menswear. Thread Theory has just launched new printed patterns that were previously available in PDF form, including two pairs of jeans. The company also offers designs for coats, shirts and trousers, all of which are great for sewists with more experience. It's worth checking that you have materials in colours suitable for men, as this is an area that is often overlooked. Solids, plaids and small, subtle prints are ideal for male garments, including shirts. Keep an eye on social media to see what's popular and check out the most requested indie patterns from the last two weeks at www.hantexonline.co.uk/hot-now

Jacqui Smith is director of Hantex

Fabric Freedom
Crafters Companion Limited