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Category Archives: Tutorials

Shirt Makers, Your Attention, Please!

Blog Banner_OTC_ShirtmakingThis is important: Pam Erny, Custom Shirt Maker, has started a new blog. An extraordinary, tutorial and tip blog on shirt making. This is something many who know her have prayed would happen over the past online sewing years.

It’s here:

Off The Cuff…from a Shirt-Maker’s Studio

Bookmark, follow, subscribe, like, read, enjoy, try out the techniques and thank Pam.


Following Flikr: How to Follow a Non-Blogger

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Do you have a fabulous online favorite person who doesn’t write a blog but chooses the much simpler format of putting up photos of their work in a Flikr album?

Did you know that you can follow a person’s Flikr pictures? Sure you can!

Just click on the person or group’s “photostream” and copy and paste that URL into your news and blog aggregator .

It should look like this: The first 7 X’s are numbers and the last 3 are a mix of alphabet and numerals.

That’s how I’ve been following Ann Rowley, the winner of the Great British Sewing Bee, for the past three years. I don’t miss a photo and can keep track of all the lush projects that she publishes for public viewing there 🙂

Each picture will be treated as a separate post.

Much easier than trying to track all the entries in a message board or writing or reading a whole blog.

Here’s the Stitchery’s Flikr URL

Overalls for Her Jalie 972 and Jeans Rivet Setting Tute Improvement

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Front Side

This pattern has cutting lines for 32 different sizes for each pattern piece. That’s a lot of lines! This time I laid a sheet of tracing paper on top of the fabric, laid the pattern piece on top of the tracing paper and used a solid tracing wheel to mark the lines directly onto the wrong side of the fabric. My measurements fell between the largest “regular” size and the plus sized. I cut the regular size and can wear regular pants, leggings, and a sweater under them anyway.


There are some problems with this pattern or maybe with the pattern cuter but the cut fabric matched up with each pattern piece. So here’s what to watch out for:

Straps are not the correct angle to lie flat in the back when worn. Even the instruction drawing shows them crossing over each other. I didn’t discover the problem until I had done all the double top stitching and was not going to pick all those stitches to make the correction.


I took a tuck and then put a rivet in each corner. I also had to narrow the straps (yes I did unpick two rows of top stitching for that) and cut off 8 inches of length.

Reset and reinforced back

Pocket piece is not wide enough to allow proper installation of button band. This is a crucial 5/8″ of fabric but I managed to squeeze through the construction by triple step stitching the edges and turning just once.

Add at least 5/8″ to the outer edge of the pocket and pocket facing. It will save a bunch of time in construction.

Pocket Problem

Missing Seam Allowance

Triple Stitch and Top Stitch

The next time saver is a big one and so simple and logical I can’t believe I didn’t find this in any of the two How-To-Use Jean Rivets tutorials published by Fehrtrade or TaylorTailor Oddly enough both of these tutorials were published on the same day May 15, 2011. I found that interesting. Wonder what was going on there?

But here’s the deal:

Rivets nails should be trimmed down after inserting into hole

if the thickness of the fabric doesn’t require the full length of the nail. Sooooo simple. It allows you to see how much you need to trim and since the nail hasn’t been crimped and it sharp point removed it slips right through the pre-made hole.


See that ragged edge?


It catches on on the fabric threads and takes forever to get pushed through



Even with the pointed head left in tack threads can be split and cause a few troubles

Point Slips Fabric

but the point takes much less time to insert. I got my rivets years ago from the nice man at Castbullet. I see that TaylorTailor also sells them and in more colors

As I was working with this fabric I’ve had for years and had always planned to use for overalls, I was wondering why I’d put this gorgeous twill aside for work pants. The answer came as I was applying the rivets to the side tool pocket

Tool Pocket

and found this


It is clearly abraded and marked and must have been there when I received the fabric. I zigzagged over the edges and applied a patch.


Another odd thing about this pattern is that there are no reinforcement suggested for the location of the buttons or buttonholes. I put them in without adding anything since I wasn’t going to do the ripping needed to add in a backing material.

The pattern has you “tack” over all the stress points but I only used them on the faux fly area

Bar tacks on faux fly

and used the rivets where there would be real stress.

Reinforced Tool Pocket

I am glad this pair is done. I compared the pattern pieces with the other two patterns I have in the stash and they are similar in shape. I hope the instructions are better. We’ll see.

Overall patterns

Gratuitous Dog Bomb


Apron, Vintage Style Customized

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I love strong color and I love to cook. My kitchen is full of primary colors: yellow, orange, red, green and blue. Yellow and orange are the main colors.

The dining area is attached and there the colors are more muted into pastel shades but dark blue, bottle green and red glass makes it’s presence known against a proper unbleached Irish linen table cloth and white china.

Life's Treasures

The yellow orange theme kitchen theme is based upon a wallpaper border I put up a while ago. it’s a variation of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with lovely colors and navy background.

sunflowersKitchen Colors

The kitchen is a place of activity and high energy and when I cook I am working as quickly as possible. I cook in batches so dinners can be frozen ahead of time. I make most things from scratch, depending on how much time I have. And, well, things do go flying! The other day, after splattering cherry juice down the front of me, I wished for an apron, one with a bib on top.

I’ve never made one (that I can remember). I have aprons but they are all inherited from Mothers and Grandmothers; you know, the full skirted half apron, that, on me, makes me look “like a potato sack with a string around it” as Ma used to say.

I wanted fullness, like the sense of fullness and abundance that a kitchen should exude. I wanted “feminine, and fun, but serious fun”. I am not a cute cook. I get dirty. It’s more fun that way 🙂

I had yellow/orange cross dyed linen in the stash and some navy so the challenge was to make a full apron with as much covering on top as well as the traditional full skirt in a way that would be more flattering to my short, full body than the outline of a lampshade on two legs. Oh horrors, that is such a bad look on me! So, what did I have on hand????

Ah, the easily disastrous pattern, View D of an old McCall’s 2947:

View D McCall's 2947

Here is the result:

front Back

But I noticed the shoulder “wings” were trying to slip down my arms

Shoulder Straps Slipping Off

and that would drive me nuts. So to make sure I would want to wear this apron I made a shoulder stay Stay

that would make sure I could tolerate wearing my new kitchen “tool”. It’s set across the back of the top of the shoulders so it’s easy to get over my head without having to button and unbutton.

Full Back Front Full
I’m moving quickly when I am cooking so I’ve got to be able to throw this on without hesitation. I think it will work well, now.

The second issue for me in this basic design is the fullness of the skirt. I need no extra fullness in the tummy or at the sides. Taking a cue from the spacing of the gathers in the Anna Sui pattern I made earlier

I made an inverted pleat across the belly of the apron, allowed gathers over the pockets, smoothed the fabric at the side seams and put maximum fullness at the back. Can you see the spacing?

Spacing of Gathers

Here’s the side seam and back

Side and Back Gathers

Here’s the front inverted pleat, top stitched down on each side of the fold. This apron will not be ironed so things must be anchored and stay put. The most I’ll do is to try to smooth out those shoulder ruffles with a quick tug as the apron comes out of the dryer. Maybe.

Inverted Pleat

The peaked front of the waist band was a design detail that insisted on being part of the apron. Seriously, it demanded to be included to counteract all the straight lines of the color blocking. It made me work late.

I drew the curves and stitched them on the waistband, then pulled out the stitches and ironed the shape into the interfaced fabric. Then I could easily applique the shape onto the bib. I like it.

I’m relieved: it cute but not “cute”, decorated but not “decorated”. Hope I remember to put it on before the disasters happen!

Kitchen work

Happy Sewing and Happy Cooking

Oh yes, something to celebrate: no more knee and ankle braces! Serious orthotics though. Something, something, something, mumble, mumble, maybe chemo. No one really knows why the nerves and ligaments are messed up. Chemo, the gift that keeps on giving. At least I can walk now and I don’t hurt like I have been for the past year. That’s great!

Black Tricot Slip

Ooops, I wanted to start on a shrug for a Christmas present today but I needed a quick slip instead. So I made one up and edged it with non-stretch lace.  I wish I had known the slip needed to be straightened for the photo but the picture will suffice for our purposes.


I could use inexpensive non stretch lace because I made the slip very short. At this length my legs are not going to swing as wide when I walk, climb, run or sit than it would if the slip were at the knee or longer. Kind of like how open scissors blades are not as far apart from each other near the handle as they are at the tips.


I took my hip measurement and added a half inch of ease, folded and carefully found the straight of the grain on the tricot, and cut out a 16″ long rectangle by one half the hip + ease measurement.  I serged up the side or back seam, where ever you want to place it, and applied some black elastic to the waist edge using a multiple stitch zigzag stitch to attach the upper edge of the tricot to the elastic after I’d zigzagged the two edges of the elastic into a circle.

You do keep lengths of lingerie elastic in white and black in the stash, right?  It saves so much time!  Stash is a good thing.

I’ll explain how I applied the elastic to the waist even though the method is very well known.  But there’s a first time for everything, right? and I remember how frustrating some things can be when you’ve not done them before.

To gather the tricot to the elastic I fold the elastic in half and mark with pins the two half points.  Then I put those 2 pins together to find the quarter points.   I did the same thing to the tricot and the matched up the pins on both to each other, stretching the elastic as I stitched.

Then I zigzagged along the top edge of the lace to fasten it to the tricot and overlapped and zigzagged the ends of the lace together and cut off the remainder.

It took less than an hour and gave me a new black half slip but that amount of time would have been increased by 15 minutes or more had I cut away the black tricot that is behind the lace.  Maybe tonight I’ll take the time to do the cutting.

For now I’m on to making a gift.

Sewing Slim Pants and Leggings from HP DV Cigarette Pants

I have so neglected this blog! I’ve been sewing up a storm but I swear, I can’t get good photos if my life depended on it. And I’m feeling kind of well, maybe the word is lazy about modeling and photography and cropping and uploading so I’m gonna do this quick just to get it done:

After the fun with the new Vogue 1132 pattern that I blogged about at The Sewing Divas,

I had the pants pattern left to try so I did try it, after making my usual alterations and found it was, well, totally boring and uninspiring. The leg shape is wide and too full. I used some gray/black stretch cotton with black and pink threads running down in a pinstrip-y sort of fashion and some black fabric with primary colored threads running down in it a preschool sort of pin strip-y fashion. Two pairs of serviceable day-to-day pants that I needed for this late summer. But not terribly exciting and fun.

I wanted well-drafted slim pants, the look that is so popular for this Fall so I turned to Hot Pattern’s Cigarette Pants. Ahhhhhh! Much more bedda! The circumference of the leg of this pattern is 14.5″.


And got these in a stretch fabric

HP Cigarette Pants

And then these, cut a little bit more slim (This is a cool beige and denim blue cotton lycra fabric from Bill Blass…)

Bill Blass Cigs

I have to redo the left pant leg as it is not exactly cut. Just a tiny cutting error can put the leg in a twist.

But I had become a woman on a mission, not even a twisted leg could stop me and shortly I devised a pattern for leggings by taking my measurements and taping my Hot Patterns Deco Vibe Cigarette Pants tracings together to make a one-seam pattern


and then tracing that off onto its own pattern piece. The top is extended to make an elastic waistband.


I refined the fit as I serged up the 2 pieces until I had this shape and compared it to the original pattern


I used a very stretchy beefy poly lycra fabric purchased too long ago to remember the source and tried serging first on the commercial Merrow but that produced wavy seams. You can see that in the crotch seam. I found the regular serger was much better because it allowed a feed differential compatible with stretch fabrics.

I next cut into that wonderful stretch lace I showed here in the Leggings post in July from GorgeousFabrics where Ann is having a sale on her stretch fabrics at the moment.

New Stretch Lace
but this fabric didn’t have the stretch of the poly lycra and holes developed. I’ll have to re-cut this pair of leggings. Fortunately I bought enough yardage to play with.


They are quite a bit more pink in the wearing than what I had expected. Maybe cut with more ease the black and silver will be more visible.

Here’s the black poly lycra leggings. The bottoms are not hemmed, just turned turned up.

No Belt

As you can see, I had to make a tunic to wear with the leggings but that’s a whole ‘nother story for a different day…!