Home sewers can avoid that telltale made-at-home look with the right pattern and fabric, says Sandra Betzina.
"I call it the marriage of pattern, fabric and you," said Betzina, a San Francisco sewing teacher, author of "Power Sewing", columnist and television personality.She travels on behalf of the Sewing Fashion Council.
"So many clothes have that homemade look because they don't fit or they're the wrong style," Betzina said. Other people are "fabric-holics," she said, who stash fabric at home and then feel guilty about not doing anything with it because they can't find a pattern for it.
"I start with a pattern and find one or two fabrics that excite me," she said. "My advice is to choose a simple pattern and let the fabric do the talking."
Betzina emphasizes planning and coordinating to add mileage to a wardrobe. "Build a core wardrobe from two or three colors and add accent colors," she said. "Fashion is not all that new. Good clothes can be kept from year to year and brought up to date."
She buys an extra three or four yards of fabric to make an addition to the garment the following season.
Her philosophy is buy hard and sew easy. "Buy a good blazer," she said, "and make a simple skirt to go with it. And make fewer clothes - out of fabrics you love and are excited about - and upgrade them with accessories."
Although statistics say that 60 percent of American households have sewing machines (compared to 52 percent with VCRs), many women are not sewing because they feel they don't have the time and space, Betzina said.
"Very few people today have the luxury of a sewing room," she said. Her solution is a corner of a bedroom or another room where the sewing machine and ironing board can be kept up, then concealed by a decorative screen when not in use.
She advises home sewers to shop twice a year, "and don't take any money with you." The idea is to find out what's going on in ready-to-wear. "Examine the way the garments are made," she said.
"And don't be so critical of your sewing," she advised. "About 70 percent of ready-to-wear has mistakes. If we were as critical of ready-to-wear, we'd all be naked."