Sunday, June 16, 2019

Hi Fellow Sewers,

I wanted to show you my Just a Pinch jacket that I made in tropical-weight wool.  This is a magic fabric that doesn't wrinkle and is light and comfortable.  But the thing I really want you to see is how I finished all the edges in the jacket.  I'll get to that in a minute.  Here's the pattern:

 Just a Pinch pattern

In the recent ad, I mentioned the interesting details, the flattering lines, and the versatility of this pattern, and you saw linen versions of the shirt and vest, pinched and not pinched.  So you've seen the versatility of this design.  Take a look at details in these photos.

I love the standing collar--so flattering.  Note the narrow fronts at the hem to make you slimmer there.  I wanted to wear this jacket with many other garments, so I didn't "pinch" it.  Here, it's paired with a Light and Shadow top in black and white jacquard and black pants.

Here is a gentle version over a blush top from Simplify Your Life, accented with a soft scarf.

And over a View A from Timeless and Modern that I shortened a bit (not enough fabric).  I like the nested collars; I just included the collar stand on the shirt.

So back to the edge finish I used--I added Hong Kong finishes to all the seam allowances and the hems in this jacket.  I usually wear this jacket open, so when I move the insides can show.  I just wanted everything to look pretty!  Here's a look at the side seam where the front and back hems come together.

I'll give you a quick review of how to make Hong Kong finishes, so you can make a garment a bit more special for yourself.  

Begin choosing either silk charmeuse (I know--pretty fancy) or Ambiance (bemberg rayon) lining.  Ambiance is widely available in a rainbow of colors on the web if you can't find it at a store near you.  Both these fabrics are made of natural fibers, making them easy to handle.

Cut bias lengths of your Hong Kong fabric that are at least 1-1/4" wide.  If they're narrower, they will be too difficult to handle.  You'll need to join the lengths here and there to have them be long enough--no problem.

Once you've cut and joined your strips, pin them to the edges of your garment pieces.  (I'm obviously showing you on a sample.)

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I pin so that I am only catching the fabric where I intend to sew--1/4" from the edge in this case.

I moved my needle to achieve an exact 1/4" seam.  

As you can see, the bias strip is sewn to the right side of the fabric.  Once it's stitched on, press it away from the edge, like this:

Now gently but accurately wrap the bias strip around the edge and press.  Do a section at a time to maintain control.

Almost done!  Back at the sewing machine, stitch in the ditch from the right side of the garment fabric, right at the original seam.  I used my edge joining foot with the blade right at the seam, making it easy to be accurate.

Last step.  On the wrong side of the garment fabric, trim away the excess bias strip for a neat, elegant finish.  Because the strip is bias, it won't ravel.  Ta-da!  

I hope you enjoy making Hong Kong finishes as much as I do.  They add such a special touch, one that you might not be able to find in a garment you purchase.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Comfort and Style Tips

Hi everyone,

In my last post I talked about using a few special sewing machine feet to accomplish steps more easily and effectively.  Today I'll follow that up by showing you a sample of attaching the band to the kimono in Comfort and Style, using a couple of the same feet to do different things.

First, I'll show you my Comfort and Style kimono.

 And the pattern I used:
  Comfort and Style pattern

The first step is to hem the kimono itself.  That means staystitching, pressing twice, and finally machine-edgestitching the kimono hem.
I used the blind hem foot to do the edgestitching.  It's the one with the higher left toe that sits on the thicker layers of the hem.  I adjusted my needle position to catch just a few threads of the hem.

Next step is to prepare the band that finishes the front and neck edges of the kimono.  I interfaced the half of the band that will show on the outside of the garment and staystitched 3/8" from the edge of the band, using the edge stitching foot.  You can see the metal flange on the right side of the foot.  Adjust your needle position if needed to get an accurate 3/8".

I used one of our Pressing Templates to press the 3/8" accurately to the wrong side of the band.

I pinned the other side of the band to the wrong side of the kimono.  I pinned by picking up only a few threads right at the 3/8" stitching line, which makes pinning a straight edge to a curved edge at the neckline much easier.  The idea is to control only where you are actually going to stitch.  Note that the band is supposed to be longer than the hemmed kimono. 

I stitched the band on and pressed the seam allowances toward the band.

I folded the band onto itself, right side to right side.  Then I marked a stitching line just a thread past the hem of the kimono to allow for turn of the cloth, and sewed across the bottom of the band.  We've drafted the pattern so that the band is intentionally longer than the kimono, so you can't come up short!

Once that was stitched, I trimmed the seam allowances, clipped the front corner on the diagonal, and pressed the seam allowances open over a point press.

The band gets flipped right side out and laid down a thread or two past the stitching of the seam.

I slid strips of Steam-a-Seam under the pressed edge, pressed lightly, removed the paper backing, and fused the band into its final place.

Finally, I used my blind hem foot to edgestitch the band to the kimono.

I've found that using the various tools I mentioned today really makes my sewing better (and I unsew much less than I used to!).

I hope you'll find my tips helpful when you make your own kimono.  Let me know if you have questions about what I've showed you today.  You can reach me at

Monday, June 3, 2019

Two-thread Stitching on a Classic Shirt

Hello everyone,

Some of you have seen my Blouse Perfected at sewing shows.  You've wanted to know how to do the same topstitching I used, so I'll show you how I do it.  First, here's the pattern:
 The Blouse Perfected pattern
And here's my shirt.  I chose a lightweight, dark blue denim and edgestitched it using 2 strands of off-white thread.

I'll show you some details:

As with any technique, you need to assemble the materials.  Cut some small scraps of your chosen fabric and make samples so you can test your stitching.  You don't want to do your first test on your finished garment--ask me how I know!  Stitch a couple of scraps together to simulate a seam.  Also interface, stitch together, and press a couple of scraps to simulate a collar or cuff.  

You'll need 100% cotton, 50 weight thread in your chosen color and a topstitching machine needle--because it has a big eye.  Finally, you'll need an extra bobbin.  One bobbin will be used as usual, but the second one will be used for an extra needle thread.

Here's how your machine will look:

Make sure one needle thread comes off the spool clockwise and the other one is counterclockwise to prevent tangling.  Then thread the two threads through the machine, and the needle, as one.  This is really pretty easy.

I used a 2.5 stitch length, the same as I used for construction.  I made the left line of stitching much closer to the seam, just to see what different options looked like.

An edge-stitching foot helps with following a seamline.  The metal flange is on the right side of the foot, riding in the well of the seam.

An edge-joining foot, with a flange in the middle, also helps follow a line.  Make use of all your machine feet.  They can make your stitching much more accurate, with less effort.  The seam, and the flange, are right in the middle of the foot.

This is a blind hem foot.  The higher left toe rides up on the edge of a collar or cuff, while the right toe is lower, on the feed dogs.  You may have an adjustable blind hem foot which will work just as well.  You could also try your edge-joining foot.  It's just a bit trickier on corners.

Here's the result of stitching right on the edge of a collar or cuff using the blind hem foot, as in the photo above.  I added a line of topstitching with an edge-stitching foot.

Here's a look at the underside of the simulated collar.  You'll need to decide whether to use the contrasting thread or thread that matches the fabric in the bobbin.  Do you want the contrasting thread to show on the underside of your collar?  I prefer to match my thread.  It gives me a more polished look (uneven stitches show a lot less).

You might notice that I matched the buttons on my shirt to the edgestitching thread.  You can have so much fun thinking about the details and what you'd like to emphasize.  Maybe you'd like to include the pocket--it gives you more opportunity for stitching.

Oh--and keep in mind that when you buy fabric from our website, you can order matching thread too.  We stock Mettler 100% cotton thread, 50 weight, 3 ply.  

I've made this shirt from linen, cotton, denim, silk charmeuse, and silk georgette.  Rayon would also work.  You'll find plenty of options at our website.
Have fun on the 4th of July.

If you have questions or want to suggest a blog topic, email me at

Monday, May 27, 2019

Color Me Chic Top


As promised, I want to bring you a look at the top from our latest pattern.  First, here's the envelope:

The design is really distinctive. The front panel is a bit different, and it extends below the rest of the garment.  The front facing folds down and becomes the right side of the neckline.  It's great fun to "fussy cut" a print fabric to feature just the right elements on that front panel. 

You can see that Louse chose a special element for her facing, then ran the row of little squares down one side of the front panel.  

Here's a detail of the front hem.  As always, we've drafted those mitered corners for you.

And a closer look at the front facing:

The top also has a cool little vent on the sleeve that sits on the inside of your elbow:

So altogether it's a bit different and attention-getting.  I hope you have fun with this pattern.  Post your new top on the Facebook Forum to inspire all the rest of us!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Hi everyone,

Since Color Me Chic is our newest pattern, I thought I would talk with you about it today.  

Color Me Chic

First, I'll show you the envelope illustration.

We've included a jacket that's soft or structured depending on the fabric you select.  It's so easy to make that you might want at least a couple of them.  (I'll talk to you in another post about the top.)

Louise made her first jacket in the shorter length in a fairly firm fabric. She did not add a fastening to the fronts, choosing to let them drape.

She made her second jacket in the longer length and added a fastening.  The versatility of this design is great.

I chose a Japanese linen for my first jacket, so it's a bit softer than either of Louise's jackets.  I let the front of my jacket drape, and I love the look.  It seems to go with the softness of the colors and print.

I really like the collar worn up, as above, but you can also wear it folded down a little, if that's your preference.

If you've used our patterns for a few years, you may have noticed that we have changed to much deeper back neck facings.  They give a collar a much more solid foundation to stand on.  And as a bonus, they look really pretty when your jacket is hanging in your closet and you see the right side of fabric in the neckline.  Here's how mine looks.  It's topstitched in place right next to the serging and just below the collar seam (and yes, I was so short on fabric that I had to piece the facing!).

I'll show you the pocket too.  On the shorter version of the jacket, the pocket extends into the hem.  On the longer jacket, the pocket stays in the same place, so the jacket extends below it.  You would simply finish the bottom of the pocket rather than letting it extend into the hem.  As you can see, I managed to match the line of bubbles.  Maybe that's why I was forced to piece that back facing!

And here's the view of the jacket showing the pocket in place.

Now that I'm looking at the photos, I've noticed that the "bubbles" echo on the right front facing.  How cool is that!?  Lucky break for me, as I was so short on fabric.  

I wore this jacket in Puyallup and Atlanta this year and was quite comfortable.  Give it a try--I think you'll find it easy to make and easy to wear, and you can make lots of variations of it.

You can always contact us at the website:   Let me know if you have suggestions for future blog topics.  In the meantime, you can join in the conversation over at the Facebook Forum.   Louise checks in regularly to answer your fitting and sewing questions, and you can see what other sewers are creating.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Hi everyone,

We're so excited to bring you inspiration, specific tips, wardrobe planning, sewing techniques, fabric info, pattern restyling, pretty pictures, pattern alterations, sewing tools, interfacing info, and whatever else we dream up in our quiet moments.  So here's our first installment of our thoughts about sewing.  I hope you enjoy it!!


Here's a great tip from Louise about how she came up with the casing to shape the collar on the Fun With Fabric jacket.  Wouldn't you know it--right after the pattern was printed, a light bulb went off in her head.  She went right into her sewing room and brought her idea to life.  Here are her instructions for adding a casing and tie (or ribbon) so the collar can gently gather and add a frame around the face, making the jacket even prettier.


  • The garment was totally finished.  I wanted the stitching to go through both layers of the collar...if the casing was only attached to the underside of the would not gather the top collar correctly and would just 'bunch' up in clumps.

Step 1: Creating the casing. 

  • The drawstring casing is ¾" wide, finished (I started with 1¼" wide). Staystitch at ¼" along both long sides and turn and press the 1/4" edges to the wrong side. I made the casing 25" long...but this would really depend on the size jacket you were making. You want the drawstring casing to stop about 3"- 4" back from the vertical front fold of the band on the underside of the collar when folded into the final from the top side of the collar you only see 2 rows of stitching...faintly.  I turned the two short front sections of the drawstring casing back ¼" and stitched them before applying the casing to the underside of the garment collar.

  • I put 1/4" Steam-a-Seam along the long ¼" turned back edges of the casing as close to the edge fold as possible. The placement for the drawstring casing is 1½" above the neckline where the collar joins the body of the garment at the center back and parallel to the top edge fold of the collar band. This is placement for the long bottom edge of the casing. Make sure the casing is parallel to the top fold of the collar and centered so both ends are the same distance back from the front band fold.
  • Stitch the upper and lower long edges of the drawstring casing. Pull all threads to the underside and tie off at all four corners on the under side of the collar so no back stitching is visible on the top collar. It's all in the details!

  • The long drawstring is ½" wide finished and 45" long.   Note that this drawstring was cut on the straight of the grain because I didn't have enough fabric for a bias cord.   I was using 45" fabric, so I have the selvage at both ends of the drawstring and knotted the ends after the drawstring was slipped through the casing.


Here the collar is pulled it up just slightly to make it stand on its own. That's it, you're finished!

Another Fun with Fabric (under the yellow top) jacket with a decorative ribbon for the casing

And of course you can see the pattern and all the fabulous fabrics you can use to make it at