So how do we achieve professional looking results from our crochet or knitting? You really do have to follow all the guidelines! There are no shortcuts… I know you didn’t want to hear that did you!
To start with if you are making a garment you really should make a gauge/tension swatch. and especially if you are changing the yarn, even two double knits can crochet/knit in a very different way, then if you change the content of the yarn – eg from acrylic to wool or merino, they stretch in different ways.
You should learn how to sew up your items properly, mattress stitch is your friend! whenever I have taught it, people think its almost magical the way that you cannot see the seam from the right side. Although my USP (Unique Selling Point) as far as designing goes is to reduce the amount of time you spend finishing off the pattern – If once you have fastened off and sewn in the last end the garment-toy-item is finished it is waaaay more satisfying than having to then sew or crochet together many little pieces.
And finally you really should learn to block your items. This is not step by step instructions, but just a gentle introduction! I am showing you lots of examples here mainly of thread work like doilies, or lace which is equally fine, but it really is remarkable the difference when you do block.
So what should you block? – anything that is flat! You cannot block toys/3D objects (as you stuff them the stitches are formed into their final shape, but garments, blankets, scarves/shawls, all have their differing methods.
You might wash the item (I do this most of the time as I find it the most reliable) You can steam the item, and then you can shape it – this might be a light blocking in the case of a garment which you shape to the correct size with your hands and leave it to dry flat. It might be a stronger blocking like a lace scarf, which after you have crocheted might be quite a scrumpled up mess, but once wetted and stretched out with pins and/or wires, shows what a beauty it can become. Or in the case of something like a blanket, you may wash it in the machine (on a slow wool wash) then fold and ease it into a good shape.
This is just an outline of how to block, there are many great websites that go into far more detail – one of them that I found recently is the Shibaguyz they have some brilliant technique postings – this link is to their blocking page. So go for it, and have a professional looking piece