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Couture Finishing Techniques

with Alison Smith
Couture Finishing Techniques
Sew your most luxurious and long-lasting garments with finishing techniques used by the finest couture houses.

Learn couture finishing techniques that elevate your garments to the highest level of elegance and craftsmanship. Alongside illustrious instructor Alison Smith, you'll master herringbone, catch, blind hem, flat-fell and buttonhole stitches. Sew French seams, hand-finished whipstitch seams, clean-finished seams and flawless seams on delicate fabrics. Sew a concealed zipper with a placket. Create gorgeous triangular buttonholes. Make perfect closures with rouleau loops, corded loops and covered buttons. Use hand-finishes such as interfaced hems, hand-rolled hems, faced hems with horsehair braid, and machine-embroidered scalloped hems. Finish your garments with impeccable couture techniques that stand up to the most discerning eyes and the test of time.

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Lesson plan


Lesson 1. Introduction

  • Meet Alison Smith, the United Kingdom’s premier teacher of dressmaking, tailoring and corsetry, and learn more about couture sewing and details as you take a tour of a 1965 Chanel frock. In this class, each lesson covers a different facet of couture finishing, so you can quickly reference the information you need as you work on your own projects.


Lesson 2. Skillful Hand-Sewn Stitches

  • Handstitching sets couture garments apart from ready-to-wear garments. Alison demonstrates the most commonly used stitches in couture finishing: herringbone stitch, catchstitch, blind hem stitch, whipstitch and flat-fell stitch. Learn when to use these stitches and see them up close.


Lesson 3. Superb Seam Finishes

  • You don't need a serger or overlocker to create beautifully finished seams. Alison demonstrates a plain-finished seam on wool tweed and shares tips for pinking and pressing. Next, she uses a tiny zigzag stitch to finish a seam in a delicate silk chiffon. If you prefer a French seam, Allison will walk you through it. For a truly couture finish, consider a seam finished by hand with a whipstitch. For a vintage look or children's clothing, try the durable clean-finished seam.


Lesson 4. Cleverly Concealed Zipper

  • For a smooth waistband finish on skirts and pants, an invisible zipper is ideal. Alison shows you how to draft a placket to add behind the zipper, then walks you through the zipper installation and finishing the center back seam. Attaching the waistband completes the look. Consider adding such couture details as Petersham ribbon for waistband structure and binding the inside edge with a Hong Kong finish.


Lesson 5. Beautiful Buttonholes

  • Alison shows you how to add drama to a garment with a triangular or circular buttonhole. Once you've learned how to draft a template, cut out your fabric and create the buttonhole, you'll be able to apply the technique in any shape you choose!


Lesson 6. Classy Closures

  • Learn how to create button and loop closures like those on a Dior dress. Use bias strips to create rouleau loops, or add cording with Alison's simple tricks for easy turning. Then see how to apply your loops to your garment, such as the bodice of a dress, and attach covered buttons. Correct placement is the key to a professional look.


Lesson 7. Heavenly Hems

  • A well-finished hem has added weight and structure to help it hang properly and move easily. See how to handstitch an interfaced hem for a straight skirt, create a hand-rolled hem on silk chiffon, add a horsehair-braid hem to a special-occasion dress or try a machine-embroidered scalloped hem.

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