Monday, June 24, 2019


A few years ago, I filmed a DVD (How to Sew a Travel Wardrobe) about creating a wardrobe for Threads Magazine, and we followed up on that idea with an article in the magazine (Feb/March, 2016).  As I was writing the article, I quickly set up some outfits on a mannequin in my studio and took photos.  I thought you might like to see those photos, so I'm posting them here.

In these first photos, I'm showing you how one top can coordinate with different pairs of pants (or skirts).  It's helpful to begin with a couple of neutral colors, then branch out.  

This is the Ebb top from the Ebb and Flow pattern.  It's made in an off-white rayon, so it's soft and drapes beautifully on the body.  Here, it's shown with One-Seam Pants in black and white houndstooth check.  The top's color is versatile, so I'll show you how it can be worn with other pants.  Note the necklace to bring black up to the top of the outfit, making the whole look coordinated.  Also, the buttons match the color of the top, adding to its versatility.

Staying with the black and white idea, here's Ebb again with a neutral pant and the Artist in Motion vest in black.  This vest was made in a soft wool, but rayon or another drapey fabric would also work well.  It's so much fun to make and wear, as it is one-size-fits-all and only 2 pieces to assemble.  And, of course, this vest would also pair with the Ebb top and the black and white houndstooth check pants in the previous photo.

Here's the Ebb top once again with My Swing Set pants made in a gold-glazed linen.  Note that I changed the necklace.  This one looks good but was quite inexpensive; it is just that "third piece" that completes the look.

Here are the same gold-glazed linen pants.  This time they are paired with a top in a printed linen.  It's a modified version of the top from Anything but Ordinary.  Louise calls it her "go-to" top.  You can find out how she makes it on our Facebook Forum.  Notice that the background of the print is a neutral color, but the print contains blue, green, red, and yellow--all colors that could show up in coordinating garments.

And here's the Ebb top again with a pair of blue linen One-Seam Pants.  The "go-to" top from Anything but Ordinary in the previous photo could also be worn with these pants.  

Let's see where we can go from here.

I made a shirt/jacket from the Take Me Anywhere pattern in the same blue linen.  Now I have a 3-piece outfit.  Remember that the printed "go-to" top could also work here--so 2 outfits.  

Where can we go from here?

Well, we can pair the shirt/jacket with the pants and wear those 2 pieces as an outfit.  A scarf in a print that contains some blue would accent this beautifully.  Scarves make great vacation souvenirs! 

Can we take this a step further?  YES.

The same outfit (shirt/jacket and pants) with the "third piece", which is now a vest from the Discover Something Novel pattern.  The vest makes this a more casual but coordinated outfit.  

Plus, the vest contains both off-white and black.  It could be the "third piece" when combined with the off-white Ebb top and the black and white houndstooth check pants.  It could also work well with the off-white Ebb top and the blue linen pants.  

We had some white linen in the warehouse, so . . . . . .

I made a top from the Just My Style pattern in white linen, with blue buttons on the pockets to coordinate with the pants and shirt/jacket.  The Discover Something Novel vest could go over this white top, since its printed fabric also contains white.

I hope I've given you some ideas for beginning with a couple of garments in neutral colors that work together, then finding a print that contains both your neutrals as well as some accent colors, allowing you to branch out.  Quick, go dig around in your stash and see what you can come up with!!

If you have questions or suggestions for topics, please contact me at  I'd love to hear from you.


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