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I would have to say that my top tip for turning out professional looking garments is the use of quality fabrics. Use the very best that you can afford.
For example, I cringe when I hear that corsetmakers use twill, drill, and denim as an interlining. If you are going to make something which is so time-consuming, do it right. For a professional corset, it *must* be coutil.
The same goes for the fashion fabrics. If the fabric came from the remnant bin of JoAnns, it will most likely look cheap. When I look at fashion fabrics, I carefully examine the weave and thread count. The weight of the fashion fabric is also extremely important. And fiber content, of course.
Identify your materials and treat them accordingly. Laurie Tavan
Choice of suitable fabric comes before any other step in making a great costume. Here, in addition to the comments above, is my own experience of receiving this advice:
Very early in my career I gate-crashed the expensive London boutique of my very favourite wedding gown designer, the imposing Basia Zarzycka. Amongst the acres of tulle and lace and exquisite eighteenth century corsetry I dissolved into a puddle of admiration and admitted that I was just mystery shopping her, but as I was firmly escorted to the door, I had the presence of mind to ask her for a single piece of advice for a young costumer’s work. “Use the very best fabrics you can possibly afford,” she told me, and to this day that is the most pivotal piece of advice I’ve ever received.
It was obvious: her wedding gowns may not have shown any more sewing skill on the surface to the uneducated onlooker, but that special something that set her apart was the exquisite lace, the attention to how the different fabrics matched or contrasted in a single gown; even though you couldn’t necessarily pick out the fact that the fabrics were expensive, they were the je ne sais quoi – the quality of those fabrics, the fact that you didn’t see them everywhere, gave them that magical aura.
A good fabric instantly raises your game, and convinces the onlooker that you’re serious about doing great work. Don’t be fooled by the bargain bin; you do get what you pay for.