Monday, August 31, 2020

Hi everyone,

 As promised, today I'd like to show you how to add sleeves to the boxtop (view B) in the This or That pattern.   Here's the boxtop with sleeves that I made for my Summer Wardrobe in the group of plum, green, and white fabrics.


I chose a mesh fabric from my stash that happened to go with the pants (Easy Ageless Cool) and shell (Putting It Together) that I had made earlier.  Please keep in mind that this boxtop can also be worn over the other striped shell in the wardrobe as well as the dress/tunic in the flocked white fabric, a pattern hack from the Putting It Together shell.  One garment = 3 new looks. (I covered the how-to's of that dress/tunic in my previous blog.)

As you can see from the envelope, the boxtop (on the left) has no sleeves.  But we're creative, and we can add them if we want them.  First, I decided on how big around I wanted my boxtop to be by consulting the measurements included in the pattern.  Then I used the following steps to draft a sleeve pattern--really easy!

The original pattern has dots that mark the armhole.  I laid the pattern on some tracing paper and marked those dots. I also marked the shoulder point.


Here's a view of the straight line for the top of the sleeve with those markings.

Then I drew the sides of the sleeves by drawing perpendicular lines 5/8" away from my original marks, to give me the seam allowances.

Finally, I added the hem.

Obviously, these sleeves are straight.  They're short (9", I think) and I didn't want to taper them.  The idea of the Summer Wardrobe was easy and casual, so the straight sleeves fit right in.

I was lucky.  The selvedge of my fabric was firmly woven, so I cut my sleeves to have that finished edge at the hem.


Of course, my first step in sewing the boxtop was to follow the instructions to stitch the binding to the neckline.  It's a nice, neat finish.   Take another look at the finished boxtop at the top of this blog--you'll see that I used a more firmly woven fabric for the neckline binding.  The mesh fabric was too loosely woven to use. I had also serged all my edges.

Then I stitched the side seams.  I chose to leave the lower portion of the side seams open as vents.  At the top of the side seams, I secured my stitching at the dots marking the armholes.  I was ready to pin the sleeves into those armholes.  You can see my turquoise dot marking the top of the sleeve.

 At the left of the photo above, you can see the seam allowances at the sleeve underarm.  When stitching the sleeve into the armhole, push those underarm seam allowances out of the way so they don't get caught in the stitching.  There's a pin at the left poking into the bottom of the sleeve showing exactly where to begin your stitching.  

Once the sleeves are stitched, press the sleeve seam allowances toward the sleeve.

Taaaa-Daaa!  You've made a garment you didn't know you could make!  I love pattern hacks, and I hope you'll play around with your patterns too.

Friday, August 28, 2020

 Hi Everyone!

At last I'm ready to show you another project.  I've been working on patterns (soon!!), writing newsletters, and helping to create another special project (also coming soon).  
But I'm so glad to have time to show you another way to use one of your Cutting Line Designs patterns.
As you know, I've been sewing a casual, comfortable summer wardrobe over the last couple of months.  I began with some plum linen, some green linen, and some prints that could work with both.  Once I made the green linen pants from Easy Ageless Cool, I knew I could make a couple more tops to go with them, expanding this summer wardrobe even more.
I had a very lightweight white cotton with little flecks of green thread woven into it.  It would make a floaty, cool something, and I decided to lengthen the shell from Putting It Together to make a sleeveless dress.  Here it is:

And a side view:

  As I began working, I realized that this might need to be a top with long side vents to allow movement over the pants.  I can't really wear it as a dress with such high vents (at least in public), but that's ok as I really was after a new top anyway.  But you might want to think about this detail if you decide to make this same top.  You are your own designer!  Once I was all finished, I decided this would get a lot of at-home wear.
The first thing I did was trace the pattern and make it longer.

I made it just a bit bigger through the hips for more ease over the pants.  Look closely at the right side (side seam edge) of the pattern to see that I added 5/8" to make the side vents wider.  I thought they would give a more finished look to the garment and add a bit of weight so it would hang better.  (The x's are boo-boos!)

I drafted the side vent/hem miter.  For more info on this, search for miters in this blog or read all about them in Louise's article in the September 2020 (issue 210) Threads Magazine.
I used the neckline facing from the pattern but decided on a lighter finish for the armholes.  I cut 1" wide bias strips of white fabric and used my tape maker to make single fold bias tape.  If you haven't done this, be sure you press the folds just as they are coming out of the tape maker.  Otherwise, the tape unfolds.  It's an easy process both for finishes and to make embellishments.

 I trimmed away 3/8" of the seam allowance from the dress's armholes (side seams are not sewn yet).  Then I stitched the tape to the armholes in the 1/4" foldline on the right side of the garment.

 I pressed the seam allowance away from the garment, maintaining the second pressed fold in the tape.  Here's the view from the right side.  It's helpful to press from both sides.

And from the wrong side.

Next, I pressed the tape into the armhole, favoring the seam a thread or two to the wrong side of the garment.

I then pinned the side seams, with the tape turned up away from the garment so I could sew it as part of the seam.  I turned it back down and trimmed away the excess.

After sliding strips of Steam-a-Seam under the bias tape, pressing lightly, and removing the paper backing, I pressed the tape again to fuse it in place.  Then I just edgestitched the bias tape.  It was a quick and easy finish to the armholes.

I pressed the side vents to the inside.  With the added 5/8", they are 1-1/4" wide, of course.  

At this point, I was ready to press up my 1-1/4" hem, stitch my miters, and try on my new dress/top. 

I hope this inspires you to try playing around with your Putting It Together pattern.  You could make your new top any length, from a fingertip-length tunic to an ankle-length dress that would be great to wear while we are all at home so much.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Happy hot summer weather to all of you!


Finally, another garment!  This time, it's the shell from the Putting It Together pattern.  I was happy to discover that I had enough fabric left over from the original shirt to make a matching shell, stretching this little wardrobe even further.

As a reminder, here's the original shirt from The Blouse Perfected pattern.  I wrote about it in an earlier blog, along with the original pair of One-Seam Pants.

With the leftover fabric, I made this shell.

You can just glimpse the "cheater strips" I added at the shoulders.  I had a problem--not enough fabric to match the stripes over the shoulders.  So I used a simple fix.  First, I stitched the shoulder seams wrong sides together, so the seam allowances were on the outside of the garment.  I trimmed them to 1/4" and pressed them open.  Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph that till I already had moved ahead several steps, but this photo will show you anyway.

I cut two strips of fabric with the plum and white stripes at the center.  I folded the raw edges under, pressed, and trimmed.  Then I used Steam-a-Seam to fuse those strips over the shoulder seam allowances on the right side of the garment.  Finally, I edgestitched the strips.  Here's how that looked.

 When worn, the stripes will look just fine.

I'll mention a couple of other construction items.  Once I stitched the facings to the garment, I graded and clipped the seam allowances.  Finally, I pressed those seam allowances open.  That makes it easy to turn the facings to the inside accurately.  

Oh, right--you may be wondering why the facings are a different fabric.  Again, stripes on the facings wouldn't match the garment's stripes, and I was afraid the mismatch would show through to the right side.  So I chose a solid fabric that harmonized and cut the facings from that. 

As you may know, we draft all the miters included in our patterns, so you don't have to figure them out.  However, some of the uneven miters can look a little funny.  

In this case, both the side vent and the hem edges are serged, and those edges are what must be matched--but they will be matched at a point 3/8" from the raw miter edges.  That's because the miters are stitched using a 3/8" seam allowance.  There's also a dot at the bottom corner of the miter, 3/8" in from the raw edges.  Take a look--the photo is easier to understand.

 I also wanted to show you how I measured, then stabpinned the hem in place before pressing it.  It assures a straight, accurate hem.  It's also helpful to have glass-head pins that won't melt from the iron's heat.

Of course, that original shirt can slide over the new shell, giving me a 4th outfit from the 4 garments I've made so far.  

I hope I've given you a couple of ideas for your own summer wardrobe!

Monday, June 22, 2020


Hello everyone.  Sometimes we just want to simplify our lives.  We need to sew up a quick but attractive little top, and we're impatient to get it done. Plus, we want it to be versatile and attractive.

What to do, what to do?

Try a pattern hack.  Seriously--simplify the Simplify Your Life pattern, view B.  Here's how.
 I'm talking about the shell on the left of the pattern envelope.  As you can see, it has a great detail on the left shoulder, where it incorporates facings, buttonholes, and buttons.  When you have time, it's a great look.  But if you're in a hurry, make the top without that detail.  

(Do measure the neckline and your head.  Mine goes over my head just fine as a closed neckline, but it's good to be sure ahead of time!  If needed, sew the neckline facings to the garment with a 3/4" seam allowance rather than the standard 5/8" seam allowance.  That makes the neckline just a bit bigger.)

So I just make up my top with the left shoulder looking the same as the right shoulder--with no buttoned opening.  Here's how I modify the pattern--so simple

First, use the patterns for the right sleeve only.

You'll use these pieces for the left sleeve as well, so pay attention to cutting them properly for both sides.

Then modify the neck facing patterns.  

Use only the portion of the facing that is not covered by the ruler.  I'd trace off the portion not under the ruler that extends from the shoulder seam to center back.  Then you'll cut that traced piece with the center back on the fold of the fabric.

Do the same with the front facing.  Trace a new pattern piece that extends from the shoulder seam to center front and cut the new traced pattern piece on the fold of the fabric to give you a whole front facing.

Of course, I used some of the exquisite, lightweight fusible interfacings that we stock at Cutting Line Designs.  In the instructions for each pattern, we tell you how to preshrink your interfacings and how to fuse them.  

Then you'll need the body of the garment.  As you can see, we've cleverly extended the center front line all the way from the neck to the hem.  How convenient is that?  Let's look.  You can see that I've marked the left and right of the front pattern piece, and we only need the right portion.

We don't really have to trace this piece, but you can if you want to.   To save time, you can just fold the front piece along the center front line.  Of course, you'll need to cut this piece with the center front line on the fold of the fabric.

You'll need to follow the same procedure with the back, but with one little change.  First, the simple part.

Look carefully.  The left shoulder is higher than the right shoulder.  Let's fold.

That pesky left shoulder is sticking up.  Here's a closer view.

Just fold it down out of the way.

So that's it.  I love this top because it can be a basic to go under jackets, and it can be half of a slightly elegant outfit if it is the same color as pants or a skirt.  Then in a print it's a standout and can go with a variety of  jackets, skirts, pants, or shirts layered over it. 

Here's one I made using this pattern hack.  

I hope you find this easy change useful.  Maybe I'll see some of these on the Cutting Line Designs Facebook Forum!

Friday, June 12, 2020


At last I have made progress on my summer wardrobe.  I thought I might not get done before the holiday season--and I don't mean 4th of July.

I've completed 2 more pieces, so take a look:

Sometimes I have to play around in my fabric stash.  That quiet time can give me a push forward into my next project.  I had purchased a pretty striped linen years ago that was white with plum and green stripes in it.  I pulled it out and browsed the other shelves.  Sure enough, there was a plum that worked, then a green, then this floral print that had both the plum and green in it----------and I was off and running.  Found a couple more things as well, and you'll see those soon.

Anyway, the whole idea was to create several garments in fabrics that are cool in Florida's heat and humidity, so these cottons and linens worked.  Also, I chose designs that were a bit loose and easy to wear.

This top is made from View A of Simplify Your Life.
 I left off the pocket because it would not have showed on this lively print, and I eliminated the sleeve bands to make it easier to pull on a jacket over the top.  So here's a closeup of my version:

 Pretty neckline and a pleat at center front.

The pants are soft linen, made from the tapered version of the One-Seam Pants.

 My pants are soft with tapered legs.  But I decided to pull my pants in at the ankle with a detail I found while snoop-shopping.  I simply pleated each pant leg at center front and sewed a button on to hold the pleat.  Looks great when worn.

The idea of a wardrobe is to have a group of garments that can be mixed.  To be more specific, I like to aim for 3 tops that can go with each bottom.  And of course, the tops for one bottom should go with the other bottoms.  It's multiplication. 

So my start is the Simplify Your Life above, the plum One-Seam Pants, and the modified shirt from The Blouse Perfected that you saw in an earlier post.  

So far, I have 2 tops and 1 pant = 2 outfits.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.  If I get with the program, I'll finish before there's snow on the ground.

Friday, May 15, 2020


Hello everyone,

There's been some discussion about pinning the sleeves into the body of The Blouse Perfected on the Facebook Forum.  I'll point out a couple of things that are special about The Blouse Perfected, but the technique in general will work for all our Cutting Line Designs garments. 

 First, let's look at a photo that will illustrate why sewing sleeves into garments can sometimes be a challenge.  In the photo, I've placed some white paper between the sleeve and the body just so you can see each one clearly.


You can see that the armhole curve of the body (bottom layer) extends away from you.  Imagine the stitching line 5/8"  in from the cut armhole edge.  You can tell that the cut edge will be shorter than the stitching line. 

In contrast, the shape of the sleeve cap is an opposite curve. The cut edge of the sleeve (top layer in the photo) is longer than the stitching line.  On Cutting Line Designs patterns, the body and the sleeve are equal or nearly equal at the stitching line. 

The key to controlling these 2 opposing curved edges is to insert your pins so that they pick up only a few threads right at the stitching line where the 2 layers are equal.  This way, the cut edges can do whatever they need to do, without causing a problem right where you are going to stitch.


The Blouse Perfected has dots at the underarm corners on both the body and the sleeve.  These dots must match to get started correctly, so pin those first.  Then insert a pin at the clip at the center of the sleeve cap.  Let's look at a corner.

 Notice that the sleeve and body layers cross right at the 5/8"  stitching line when the dots are matched.  


Once you've pinned the corners and the center clip, you need to pin the rest.  In the photos below, I'll show you 2 ways to do that.  

First, I'll show you the technique that we illustrate in the patterns.  Hold the 2 layers together with the sleeve on top.  This forces the sleeve layer to travel just a bit further as you wrap the layers over your index finger.  You can use your thumb to push a bit of extra sleeve fabric to be eased in before you insert your pin right at the stitching line.  

  I often use a second technique.  It involves once again having the sleeve layer on top.  In this case, I wrap the layers over my thumbs.  I can use my fingers to slide a bit of extra ease before pinning, again right at the stitching line.

You can use either technique, depending on which one is more comfortable for you.  In reality, sometimes you have to go back and pin part of the seam over again to get the ease in just the right place.


 I also wanted to give you a couple of tips about buttonholes and buttons.  I used to use a seam gauge, but I kept having to measure over and over as I looked at various spacings.  Now I have a Simflex, and I can get my spacing right the first time.  Boom--done!  Here's how that looks.

Obviously, I forgot to take a photo until I had already marked and stitched the buttonholes.  Then I realized that everyone needs to know about this time and frustration saver.  Of course, we have these on the website.

Then it was time to mark for the button placements.  I aligned the front plackets, with center fronts matching.  I stabbed a pin through each buttonhole about 1/8"  from the top of the buttonhole.  That placement means that when the garment is buttoned, the buttonholes will rest right on the button shank and stay there all day.

I hope you find these tips useful.  So much of what we do at Cutting Line Designs is about accuracy, and I love the results I get from that emphasis.

Monday, May 11, 2020


Hi ladies,

I'm continuing my posts about The Blouse Perfected.  It's such a useful pattern that I thought it was worth the time and effort.  It can be made as a casual shirt like the one I just finished in the linen stripe.  I've also made it in denim as a casual shirt.  However, it's a classic in silk, and I've done that as well.  

I have to confess that I bought a shirt just about like it in a woven silk stripe, and I've made it in silk chiffon.  That one was a challenge!

Anyway, a casual version like the one I made for my summer wardrobe is a great one to start with.  You have a chance to practice the techniques and end up with something wearable, even if it's a bit less than perfect.  Then you can go on to something more challenging.  I'm really looking forward to making a white shirt from this pattern.


So today I'll talk a bit about constructing the collar on this shirt.  The first thing you'll need to do is interface it.  (Do browse the exquisite interfacings on the website.  All lightweight and fusible.)

I have a specific method for applying interfacing, and the instructions are in the patterns.  But it could be helpful to see some photos of how it's done.  

Here's what you need:  a piece of parchment paper (from the grocery; it's what you bake cookies on.)  A press cloth, preferably silk organza so you can see through it.  And your iron, of course.

So put the parchment paper on the ironing board with the fabric Collar piece wrong side up.  My next step is to lay the interfacing on top, glue side down.  (In the instructions, the order is a bit different--either way works fine.)  Finally, lay the pattern piece on top.  

The idea is that you want the fabric collar shape to exactly match the shape of the pattern piece.  It's easy to skew the shape and not realize it, so check it with the pattern piece.  Otherwise, you can be fusing your collar into the wrong shape and it will never look right when you have finished your shirt.  Here's what you want to watch out for:

Can you tell that I've been using this piece of parchment paper for a while!!?  Anyway, this collar might never be right.  Let's look at one that's correct.

OK.  So now you remove the pattern tissue and put your press cloth on top.  (The collar is long--you may have to do one half at a time.)

Put your iron straight down at the center of the collar, shoot a bit of steam, and count for several seconds.  Then lift the iron to another section and repeat.  Don't slide the iron across the collar unless you like wadded up interfacing glued to your collar!!  Ask me how I know!

Follow the instructions to sew the short ends of the collar together, trim, and press.  Progress to pinning the upper edge of the collar, paying attention to the clips.  

Now for the thing I saw Louise do one day.  I got a bruise from slapping my forehead over this one.  I'll show you in pictures.  Put the collar on your machine as normal, but about 1/2" from the folded end.  Put the needle down into the fabric.

Lift the presser foot and turn the collar around.  Shorten your stitch length to 2.0 and stitch to the edge.  Here, I'm about to stitch to the folded edge.

When you've reached the exact edge, turn the whole collar back around and stitch (at 2.5 stitch length) all the way to the other end. In this photo, I've turned and am ready to stitch all the way across the top.  Stitch a mirror image at the other end (turning and stitching back for 1/2" at 2.0).

So one of the things that always bothers me is that little dent I get when I backstitch.  The tension changes when backstitching and pulls the end of the seam too tight.  It's especially troublesome at the corner of a collar because it makes the corner even tighter and harder to turn nicely.  By always stitching forward as illustrated above, the problem is eliminated.  Give it a try.

Again, follow the instructions for the sequence of steps.  You'll grade the seam allowances.  One thing you might not have thought about doing is pressing the seam allowances open.  It's a crucial step.  I explain it by saying that it teaches the fabric where to fold, so when the collar is right side out, it's so much easier to fold that upper edge precisely.

Once all is pressed in accordance with the instructions, you'll need to edgestitch the collar.  (Look back at previous blogs about the set-up.)  The corners will be tricky, but we cover that in the instructions.  Read the steps carefully.  Here's what you'll do at the corner.  Begin at the bottom of the collar, edgestitching one folded end.  When you reach the corner, put the needle down and raise the presser foot.  Grasp the loose end and bring it to the back of the presser foot, laying it underneath against that folded edge.  Now the machine no longer thinks it's going uphill, and you can start stitching with no problem.

This has been a lot of text for a few steps, but I wanted to give the reasoning behind what we've said in the instructions.  I know that some sewers have skipped over these steps, thinking that they were overly fussy.  However, they definitely give a better result.  I would rather do something accurately once than do it quickly and have to unsew it and do it again (sometimes more than once!).  

I should mention that this edgestitching is much easier and better looking if you have the correct needle.  For nearly all fabrics, Louise and I use size 75/11 quilting needles (they're on the website).  We prefer them because they are so sharp.  They penetrate the fabric in a straighter line than needles that are more rounded.  

There have been some questions about sleeves on the Facebook Forum, so I'll give you some info about sleeves in the next Stitch to Style.  See you then!