Sunday, December 15, 2019

Cutting Line Designs has wools on sale this week, but no matter when you make some wool into smart, wrinkle-free pants, you might be venturing into chilly temps.

If it's freezing, you might want honest-to-goodness long underwear.  But to be comfy in a mild chill--or even colder--I like to wear a pant liner.  I made mine in nylon tricot.  

Here's what they look like:

They're about the same color I am, so I can wear them under light-colored pants, but they also work fine under dark colors because they are a few inches shorter than my actual pants.

I made these using the One-Seam Pants pattern.  They're really comfy, especially if you don't quite like the feel of wool next to your skin for extended periods of time.

I cut them in the same size as the pants I always make, and my pants just slide right over them.  

A liner doesn't have the same wide casing as typical One-Seams.  Let's take a closer look:

You can see that the bottom line of the usual casing on One-Seams is actually your natural waistline.  So you can fold down the entire 4-1/4" casing out of the way when you cut out pant liners.  Then sew lingerie elastic to the natural waist, hem the liners if you think they need it, and TA-DAAAA! (I cheated--mine aren't even hemmed.  I thought a hem might make a ridge.)

I've also thought about making liners out of Ambiance, also known as bemberg rayon.  It's widely available on the internet if you can't find it near you.  It's usually labeled "Dry Clean Only", but that's only because it water spots.  If you wash it, the whole fabric is water-spotted, so it looks fine.  It will shrink a bit and wrinkle, but press it and move forward.  It's a natural fiber and will be comfy.

Monday, December 9, 2019

We had a request for more information recently.  Someone had seen this photo of a shirt and vest and had some questions, so I thought I'd let you know about the thought process and sewing techniques that went into it.

First, this shirt and vest were made from the By Popular Demand pattern, using the jacket pattern pieces.  
For the shirt, I obviously omitted the jacket's pockets.  I also lengthened the pattern by about 3" so that the orange shirt would show not only at the sleeves but also at the hem.

For the vest, I left the pockets off again.  I shortened the collar by 3/8" so that a rim of orange would show above the blue vest collar when the outfit was worn.  Of course, I left off the sleeves, which meant that I needed armhole facings.  Below, I'll show you how I came up with those.  

Finally, I used 2 threads through the needle to make really prominent orange edgestitching and topstitching on the vest to further tie the outfit together.  I wrote an explanation of that stitching technique in the third blog published in June 2019.  You can find it by clicking on June on the right hand side of the page.

Drafting an armhole facing pattern piece is pretty simple.  Begin by pressing the Front, Yoke, and Back pattern pieces for the jacket.  Use a dry iron on a low temperature.  That gets the pattern pieces to lie flat and ensures that your work will be accurate.  Then overlap the pieces at the shoulder and at the back/vest seam by 1-1/4" (2 seam allowances).  (Ignore the other alterations I've done on these pattern pieces.)

Lay a piece of tracing paper (I use medical exam paper--it's cheap and works fine) over the armhole area of the overlapped pieces.  

Using a fashion ruler, trace the armhole edge of the overlapped pattern pieces.  Also, mark the front armhole clip.  Be sure to also trace the top of the side seam edges.

Move the tracing paper away from the pattern.  Decide how wide you want your armhole facing to be, then add 5/8" for seam allowances.  In this example, I used a total width of 2-5/8", which will result in 2" wide facings.  

Use a seam gauge to mark the width of your new armhole facing.  In the illustration below, note how I have positioned the seam gauge so that both sides of the little blue tab (slide) are lying on the traced line.  Making the seam gauge extend straight out from the original traced line ensures that the facing will be the same width everywhere.  Make marks as you move the seam gauge along the facing.

Using a fashion ruler, connect the marks in a smoothly curved line.

Be sure to mark the front and back of your new facing pattern.  (Now you can see that front clip.  I had to reposition the facing on the Front to mark it.  You can do it in the first step above, when I mentioned it!)

You can adapt many shirt and jacket patterns to make vests using this technique.  Have a good time!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Hello, everyone!  At last, I'm back to bring you ideas on the blog.  It feels good to be able to continue my conversation with you.

Today, I want to bring you part 2 of my information about miters.  Previously, I showed you how to create regular miters.  Now I'll show you irregular miters.  They can seem a bit funny, so let's look at a diagram.  Then we'll sew one to see what it looks like in fabric.

This diagram assumes a 1" seam allowance and a 2" hem.  The diagonal line that extends through the corner dot is the miter stitching line.  (Remember that miters are already drafted for you in CLD patterns, but this will help you with other situations.)

The dimensions can differ.  The process will work if you follow the fabric example below for the pressing, marking, and stitching.

Here's a simulation in paper.

The dot at the corner of the lines marks the point of the miter.  You can also see 2 little dots on the left and bottom edges, designating the match points for sewing the miter.  I folded the 1" and 2" edges, then marked little dots right where they came together. 

Below is the starting point in fabric, with the edges pressed and the dot marked at the corner where the pressed lines cross.  That's the point of the miter.

The pressed edges are folded to meet.  I marked dots where they crossed very precisely (lower left of photo).  They indicate the starting point of the miter stitching.

Here's where things start looking funny, but you have the dots to guide you.  Right sides together, match the 2 dots on the fabric edges marked above.  The first dot at the corner is the point of the miter.  I've marked the stitching line in blue.

Here's what the other side of the folded miter looks like.  

Stitch the miter from the matched dots to the corner dot.  I use a slightly shorter stitch length (2.0).  Secure your stitching at both ends.  (I just stitch in the air off the point and leave that stitching folded into the miter.)

Here's the stitched miter.

Trim the miter, especially the corner.

Press the seam allowances open over a point press.

Turn the miter right side out, using a point turner to walk out the corner.

And there you have it!  I hope you find this useful.  

Monday, August 26, 2019

Hi All,

Those of you who know Cutting Line Designs realize that we draft all of our miters for you, so sewing side vents/hems is easy.  However, you may want to make place mats, napkins, or garments that don't have that convenience.

I thought you might like to see how to fold a regular miter, so you can create these corners yourself.  In this post, I'll show you in paper, then I'll come back next time and show you the same folding plus other sewing and pressing techniques for perfect results every time.  



If you're not familiar with this folding technique, follow along and make a sample for yourself.  Put it with your stash of cool sewing stuff, so you can just pull it out and remind yourself when you next need to make a pretty corner.

On a piece of paper with a perfect 90 degree corner (like just a sheet of copy paper), draw 2 lines representing a hem and a side vent.  Make each line the same distance from the edge of the paper, and have them cross at a corner.

Mark a dot where the lines cross at the corner.  

Turn the paper over and mark the same lines on top of themselves so you have the same reference points.


On the lines, fold both edges of the paper in as though you were folding a hem and a side vent.

You can see the line and the dot at the corner.


Fold the corner in diagonally so that the lines you drew and folded meet themselves.


Open out the corner.  Fold so that the long edges are together and the corner is sticking out.  In fabric, you'd be folding right sides together.  You'll see a foldline extending from the dot you made at the corner to the edges that now meet.  You can mark the line like I did to look like stitches on that new fold.

Open all the folds and lay the paper flat on the table.  Now you can see what you've created.  Your marked stitching line is on the diagonal, your faux hem and side vent edges are there, and you can see all the folding you've done.


Turn the paper over so you can't see your marked stitching line (it will reappear in a minute).  Fold the whole diagonal corner onto the body of the paper.  Finally, fold the faux hem and side vent edges onto what would be the body of the garment, and TA-DA, you see a perfect regular miter.  

This exercise is the simplest version of a regular miter.  If you were doing this in fabric, you'd be working with serged edges.  However, if you wanted a clean-finished hem, you could first press a 1/4" or 3/8" fold on the long edges, then proceed with exactly the same steps, leaving those narrow pressed edges intact all the way through the process.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Hi, everyone,

I've missed you!  We've been working on a project that we hope you'll be seeing soon.  In the meantime, I thought I'd shed a little light on a simple technique and share a reminder that a pattern is just a starting point for your individual design sense.  

Let's see what that means.  Louise found this coat online (by Gudrun Sjödén) that looks so much like our Anything But Ordinary jacket made longer.  She posted it on the Facebook Forum as inspiration for anyone who might be thinking that she'd like a cute coat this fall.

It's a good reminder that we are our own designers.  So you can choose a jacket pattern, make it longer, and proceed with your own coat.  Choose the fabric, the length, the details, the buttons that you want.  You'd never find that particular combination in a store.

Anything But Ordinary pattern
Notice the similarity between the coat's collar and the collar in the pattern.  This could be made any length and from a lightweight to a heavier fabric---so start imagining.

So here are a few tips about lengthening patterns.  Of course, it's a simple thing, but like anything else about adjusting patterns, it helps to do it accurately.  So here's what I do.

First, I iron the pattern with a warm, dry iron.  No steam--ask me how I know!  I can't get good results if there are wrinkles.

Then I cut the pattern on the lengthen/shorten line, obviously.  (You do have to consider whether that would interfere with pockets, etc. so you could draw a line in another spot if needed.)  Then I slide tracing paper (from a medical supply store; it's really the stuff on the doctor's exam table) under the cut edge of the upper Front.

I won't tell you how many years it took for me to realize that taping the pattern to the tracing paper is so much easier if I lay a ruler right beside the edge I'll be taping.  That way, the pattern tissue doesn't fly up and get stuck on the tape with lots of wrinkles in it.  Ever happen to you?

So if I want to add 2 inches to the length of my jacket, I'll use my ruler to draw an accurate line 2" below the lengthen/shorten line.  But I also continue some relevant vertical lines, like the grainline, center front line, perhaps a foldline.  That way, I can align the bottom portion of the pattern exactly in the right place.

Here, I have the lower part of the pattern below its final placement, just so you can see the lines I drew for the alignment.  

Finally, I tape the lower part in place, using the ruler to hold the edge of the pattern tissue down again.  

They're all such simple steps, but I spent years fiddling with trying to place both pattern pieces before I taped anything down, then using little bitty pieces of tape so I didn't wrinkle everything up.  The extra alignment lines and the ruler placed before taping have just helped avoid so much frustration and ensured accuracy.

One student who attended a retreat with us, and who evidently had the same frustrations, said that the ruler trick was "worth the price of admission."  

So who's ready to start making a coat?  If you do, email us a photo when you're done or post it on the Facebook Forum.  I'd love to see your work.  You can email me at with questions or suggestions for topics. 

I'll be teaching a class in September to show you so many variations on the simple idea of the Boxtop in This or That.

Here's the pattern:

 This or That pattern

And here's my winter variation, a snuggly, warm, sweater-like version to layer over another top.  See the Events page for more details.  I'll be adding more ideas shortly.


Monday, July 8, 2019

Hi Fellow Sewers,

As I was posting mostly black and white photos for this week's (July 4-14, 2019) newsletter from, I thought that it could be fun to post some outfits here that started with black and white. 

Some of you may have attended one of my wardrobing classes, or you may know that I filmed a DVD for Threads Magazine called "How to Sew a Travel Wardrobe".

As I did research for the DVD, I came to rely on the principle of beginning a group of garments by using 2 neutral colors.  Neutrals are great because they work well together, plus they work with other neutrals.  

This idea, along with the others I discussed in the DVD, will apply just as well to any wardrobe you might be planning--casual, elegant, work, summer, winter . . . . . 

Suppose you began your own planning with black and white and some patterns from our Cutting Line Designs website:

You could start with a white Anything But Ordinary shirt (using the jacket view from the pattern but in white shirting).  Combine it with black pants from the My Swing Set pattern.
Add a cuff bracelet, a scarf, or some beads to doll it up a bit.  

Or make the jacket view of Anything But Ordinary again, but leave the sleeves off and  . . . ta-da, you have a vest.  So easy.

Sticking with your neutrals, make a top in a print.  This one is View A from the At Every Angle pattern.

So now it's time to branch out to another print--one that has many more colors in it.  Make View A from Timeless and Modern.  Still the same neutral pants.

Once you've chosen a colorful print, you can take colors from it to use as accents, like this:

Look closely.  There's a blush-colored shell from Putting It Together under the shirt.  You could choose several more colors for your wardrobe plan from this print.

Here's another example of the same idea, View A from The Blouse Perfected pattern:

There are red paint tubes in this print, so it's logical to make red pants (One-Seam Pants, tapered).

The paint tubes contain white, so a white skirt from the Putting It Together pattern is in order.  I added a belt, just for fun.

I made this shirt using all French seams, even where I inserted the sleeves into the armholes.  French seams enclose all the raw edges, give an elegant finish, work fine on straight or slightly curved seams, and are not hard to do.  

Let's look at the steps.  First, place your garment pieces wrong side to wrong side.  Serge them together like this:

Open out the garment pieces and press this first step of the seam to one side.  Check your pressing on the back side.

Now put the right sides of the garment pieces together and press the serged seam so it's right at the edge.

Finally, with right sides together, stitch on the sewing machine 1/4" or so from the pressed, serged seam.  Done!

The right side of the finished French seam is at the top.  The seam as it will appear on the inside of the garment is angling across near the bottom of the photo.  Neat, yes?  

Be sure that you take up the usual 5/8" seam allowance as you sew the 2 steps.  Then brag to your friends and enjoy the special beauty you achieved in your garment.

If you have a question or a suggestion for a topic, please let me know by emailing me at

Thursday, July 4, 2019

I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday with friends and family.  Get out of the kitchen for a while, have some ice cream, and cover your ears during the fireworks!

When you're not busy with all of your celebrating, take a look at the photos I've posted below.  I wanted to give you just a bit more detail about the some of the stitching we included in Pick Stitch Perfect, our newest pattern.

First, I wanted to emphasize that you can rely on machine stitching and still get eye-catching results.  As I told you earlier, I tested and decided to use 2 threads through a top-stitching needle to create a more prominent line of edgestitching.  Note that I used green thread on the grey and the white fabrics.  Since that wouldn't show on the green pocket, I used grey thread there.  (If you're visiting the blog for the first time, look at the previous post for more info.)

You know that it's typical to fold the pocket facing down to the wrong side of the pocket, then topstitch it in place.  Note that I used matching green thread to do that (just visible at the bottom of the photo) so it would not stand out or compete with the gray edgestitching.  There are so many details you can think about to easily bring more interest and artistry to your garments.  

Just as a reminder, I'm posting this photo again.  I used 3 strands of DMC embroidery floss to create these hand stitches, another option on this pattern.  On the collar, I wanted the stitching to show on both the upper and under sides, since I sometimes wear my collars up in the back, as shown here.  I also should explain that I edgestitched the collar in matching thread in order to keep the edges flat and crisp.  It just fades into the background, allowing the faux pick stitches to be the prominent decoration.

On the deep front pleat, shown at the bottom of the photo, I again stitched in matching thread to hold the pleat securely, then came back with the handstitching as the decoration.

This photo shows you the beginning of decorating the cuffs.  First I edgestitched in matching thread (single thread) to keep the cuff's edges flat and crisp.  Then I came back with contrasting thread to give myself a reference point for my faux pick stitches.

Here, my faux pick stitches are done.  As you can see, I used the basting (at 4.5 stitch length) to regulate the length of my stitches by stitching beside every other one.  I slipped my hand needle between the layers of fabric, unlike what I did on the collar.  At this stage, I just need to remove the basting to finish my decoration of the cuff.  

I like to use a seam ripper to break every 4th or 5 basting stitch on the right side of the fabric.  Then I go to the inside of the cuff, tug on the bobbin thread, and pull.  Voila--it just comes right off.  It's easy to pick up the remaining threads on the right side, and the whole process of getting rid of the basting takes 1 to 2 minutes.

We have a tool that really helps with the occasional thread that just doesn't want to come out (and with other stubborn stuff I'm trying to deal with).  These tweezers have claw-like ends that firmly grip those last unruly threads, and I love how much time and teeth-gnashing they save me.  Here's a pic:

You'll love these.  See those sharp little grabby things at the end?  They hang on tight!  I think you'll find them as helpful as I do.

If you get a few extra minutes, visit the Home Page at to see even more photos of Pick Stitch Perfect, then browse through the photos under Cool Stuff from CLD and look at all the other pages with goodies on offer.

If you have a question or a suggestion for a topic, please email me at