I will be using a 17th century noblewoman’s costume I wore to a masquerade ball as an example. This style of dress features a long skirt, a fully boned bodice with a pointed center front, and puffy sleeves, made of a purple taffeta fabric.
Tip/trick #1: Instead of making a corset as a separate garment, make your bodice fully boned. To do this you will cut out two linings and stitch them together with a series of parallel lines to make channels for your boning! Then you will cover this boned lining layer with your fashion fabric layer.
Tip/trick #2: When you cut out your bodice fashion fabric pattern pieces, extend the sides of the pieces that will make up the neckline, back closure, and bottom edge by about an inch. After you assemble the bodice fashion layer can serge the raw edges, fold them over, and then whipstitch them to the lining. This way your linings won’t show when worn and you can skip making facings.
Tip/trick #3: To make your curved seams nice and smooth, you will want to clip after sewing. Iron your seam allowances open. Cut notches in the inner curve of the seam allowance and snip or cut notches in the outer curve of the seam allowance. Iron again on the right side of the fabric to make a very neat seam.
Tip/trick #4: To add extra body to thin fabric, flat-line it by adding an extra layer of fabric. However, to save time on cutting your pattern piece out twice, only cut out one layer and put it on the second. Use your serger to sew the pieces together and trim the excess at the same time!
Tip/trick #5: Use knife pleats instead of cartridge pleats. Historically many gowns of this type used cartridge pleating to gather up the skirt. However, this is time-consuming and uses hand-sewing so I prefer knife pleats when I want to make the costume quickly. First serge the raw edges of the top edge of your skirt, then pleat, then stitch down the pleats.
Tip/trick #6: If you want to skip making a waistband for the skirt, and have the convenience of a one-piece dress instead of a separate bodice and skirt, when you stitch down your skirt pleats sew them to a piece of twill tape. Then you will whip-stitch your twill tape to the bodice.
Tip/trick #7: If you are trying to sew thing tubular like a sleeve or cuff, remember you can remove the flatbed/storage tray of your Janome to turn it into a free arm machine, making it easier to maneuver your sewing project.
Tip/trick #8: To save time installing metal eyelets or sewing thread eyelets by hand, use the automatic eyelet stitch under your buttonhole menu. After sewing, use an awl to open the holes and put your lacing through. (My dress closes in the back with adjustable lacing).
Tip/trick #9: To save time doing math, use an expandable sewing gauge to mark out where your evenly spaced eyelets should be. This also works for measuring out buttonholes and pleats.
Tip/trick #10: To avoid having an obvious machine-sewn hem, but not have to go through the effort of hemming your skirt by hand, you can cover your machine-sewn hem with a pretty trim. For this hem I serged the raw edge, folded it up inside the skirt, stitched it down, pinned on trim, and then sewed down both edges of the trim using a matching thread.
Thank you for reading and I hope this helps you with your costumes!