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Tutorial: Invisible Zippers- My Method

28 Jan

Some of y’all requested to see my invisible zipper method, so here it is! Just a head’s up – this is a fairly picture-intensive post. Sorry! You have been warned!

Invisible zippers are not necessarily my favorite type of zipper (because only a seamstress would have a favorite type of zipper, amirite), but they definitely have their pros. I like them sewn into the side of slim-leg pants, into the back or side seam of a wiggly dress, and concealed in the seam of a pencil skirt. While I love lapped zippers and I think they are a beautiful touch, sometimes your zipper needs an invisibility cloak. This is where the invisible zipper can rock your world.

Invisible zippers have this reputation for being fiddly, and I totally disagree with everyone who believes that. They really aren’t any more fiddly than a lapped or centered zipper – in fact, in some ways, they are actually easier to sew into a garment. It definitely helps to have an invisible zipper foot, but you can easily sew those suckers in if you have a regular zipper foot and you can move the position of your needle. I think most of what gives invisible zippers so much hate is that it can be difficult to close up the bottom of the zipper after you’ve sewn it in – the seam allowance is off, there’s a little bump under the zipper stop, and dealing with facings is kind of weird.

So, this is where my tutorial comes in! First off – this is not some kind of earth-shattering method I have discovered and patented. I learned this way during my stint at Muna’s, and it’s super similar to the standard method that we are all familiar with (although I find it a lot more foolproof, personally!). Not sure if this is a RTW method or not – I know most of what we did there was based off RTW standards, but I’ve never sewn invisible zippers in a factory so your guess is as good as mine (if you know, speak up, yo!). Try it for yourself and see what you think!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
You will start with an invisible zipper and the seam that it is going to be sewn into. For this tutorial, I’m just using scraps, but this method can be used on anything – skirts, pants, dresses, etc.
Press your fabric and interface along the seamlines of each side, if desired, using either fusible interfacing or sewing in interfacing or silk organza. I did not for this tutorial, so be prepared for wrinkles. The zipper seam should be completely open from top to bottom at this point.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Finish both sides of the seam as desired. Mine are serged, but you can also pink or use a zigzag stitch. I’ve also had some luck with encasing these in seam binding, but be warned that it can get bulky!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting at the bottom, close up the seam, ending about 2″(ish) from the marking where the zipper stop should go, and backstitch.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting with one side (I usually do left first), lay your zipper on the fabric with the right sides facing and the zipper teeth pointing away from the raw edge, keeping the top stop about 3/4″ away from the top edge (or your seam allowance + 1/8″, assuming you will be adding a hook and eye at the end). I don’t use a lot of pins here, just one to keep the zip top in place.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Using your handy-dandy invisible zipper foot, start sewing the zipper to the fabric. To keep everything along the correct seam allowance, you can use the markings on your throat plate (the silver doo-dad under the needle that has measurements etched into it) to line up the raw edge of your fabric and the zipper will fall into place exactly along the seam allowance line. So simple, but y’all wouldn’t believe for how many YEARS I sat there trying to mark the seam line on the fabric and sew the zipper on top of it. DUR. Just use the throat plate guide! Argh, Lauren!!


A few words about the mighty invisible zipper foot:
- The are awesome and worth every freaking penny. The Bernina ones get pricey (I think I paid like $40 for mine, ughf), but most other manufacturers are closer to the $15-$25 range. WELL worth the price if you want a gorgeously inserted invisible zipper every time.
- Some shops sell a sort of “universal” invisible zipper foot that is plastic. Don’t buy that shit, it’s a waste of money and you will likely end up throwing it out the window in frustration (join the club!). Save up and get the real thing, or stick with your regular zipper foot.
- You may also use a regular zipper foot to insert your invisible zipper. This works best if you can move the needle position, but you can still do it even without that. We did not have invisible zipper feet at Muna’s, and we inserted zippers just fine. You just push the teeth out of the way and sew as close as you possibly can. Pressing the teeth flat with an iron helps, but it’s not necessary and can sometimes result in you getting toooo close to the teeth, thus meaning you can’t zip the zipper!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Here you can really see that foot in action. It grabs the teeth and pulls them out of the way, which lets the needle get SUPER close without actually impairing how the zipper functions. Also, still on my 5/8″ seamline, hey-o!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Anyway, go on and sew your zipper as far as you can. You’ll get stopped at the pull if you’re using the special foot. That’s fine. If you’re using a regular zipper foot, stop somewhere at the zipper stop, aka, don’t go alllll the way down to the tippy toes of the tape.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Now close your zipper and mark on both sides of the tape where the stitching stopped. If you are matching stripes or plaids, you may also want to use this method to mark where the lines cross so you can match them when you sewn the other side of the zip.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Invisible Zip Tutorial
Locate the same point where the stitching stopped on the other side of the zipper seam (the unsewn side); this is where you pin the marking on the tape.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
If you did it right (and you probably did, cos you are awesome!), the top of the zipper should match up on both sides.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting from the top, sew this side down, same as before. Use your seamline markings on the throat plate – if your machine doesn’t have them marked on the left side, measure it out and mark it with a strip of tape or a Sharpie. Do NOT start from the bottom and sew up – if you want your zipper to be nice and balanced and not have weird wrinkles or pulls, you need to sew both sides in the same direction.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
After you’ve sewn both sides, test that zipper out! Make sure it doesn’t show when you close it, and that it slides easily. You’ll have a little open bubble where between the zipper and the closed seam, we’re going to fix that now!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Get out your regular zipper foot and move your needle all the way to one side. If your needle doesn’t change position, you can still do this, but you’ll just have to go reeeeeally slow.
Check your opening and make sure you don’t have one side that is longer than the other! This is where bubbles happen. If you marked everything correctly, it should not be a problem, but things can slip through the cracks from time to time. If one side is longer but only slightly so (as in, you can gently pull the top and bottom and it matches up flat), you will want to sew this next part with the longer side facing DOWN. The feed dogs will help ease that tiny bit of length so you don’t get a bubble.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting at the bottom, lower your needle on the stitching line you first created (the one below the zipper) and sew toward the zipper. Remember to backstitch! This can get kind of tricky with zipper bulk, so move the tail end out of the way with your finger if you need to.
Sew all the way to the zipper and try to get as close to the previous stitching line as possible, overlapping by a couple of stitches.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Here’s how mine turned out. The zipper is on the right (the side with the yellow marking), and the remaining seam is on the left. Obviously I didn’t do a super perfect job – there’s definitely a curve in the stitching, whoops! – but as long as you’re within 1/8″ here, it’s close enough.

Now give the zipper a good press on both sides, making sure to press open the seam below the zipper.

No bump! Yay!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
To give the zipper some strength, we want to attach the tail end to the open seam allowance. I used to do this by hand, but why whipstitch when you can shove it under the machine AMIRITE? Flip the fabric away from the seam allowance and sew each side of the tape down (to ONLY the seam allowance!) with a few short stitches.

And that’s it! Easy invisible zipper, no bump at the bottom, no wonky seam allowance below. Also – see the little wrinkles toward the bottom? That’s from my super-lightweight voile not having some interfaced support. Whomp whomp. Make sure you interface if you are using a lightweight fabric!

Now, what about finishing the top of that zipper with a facing? Hold onto yer hats, I’ve got a tutorial for that!
(also, the sun was starting to set at this point, so whoops, pictures are worse than ever up in hurr)

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Invisible Zip Tutorial
Open the zipper out so the fabric is flat and lay your facing across the top. Stitch down with your preferred seam allowance.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Open up the facing and understitch all the way across.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Fold the facing back so the right sides are facing. It won’t lay perfectly flat due to the understitching; this is ok!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Grab the facing seam allowance (at the top, the one with two lines of stitching) and turn it so it folds back on itself with both stitching lines facing up, and pin into place. The top stitching line should be about 1/8″ (or less) from the fold. This kind of hard to explain in words, so hopefully the picture makes sense!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Now stitch next to the zipper stitching line, about 1/4″ away (close enough so you catch the zipper; far enough so it doesn’t interfere with zipping abilities), from top to bottom. The fold that you just pinned down with be stitched into place. I like to sew where I can see the stitching line from the zipper, so I can make sure that I’m getting it at the right distance.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Here is what it looks like from the facing side.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Take your zipper seam allowance up at the corner where that weird fold is, and push the whole thing with your finger toward the facing. Turn right side out.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
You should end up with a pretty nice lookin’ corner! That’s before pressing – and I didn’t even clip or trim any seam allowances. MAGICAL.

Give everything a good press, sew in a hook and eye, and admire your handiwork.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
(I know there are some wrinkles in that facing; it’s because I didn’t make it perfectly square when I was chopping up scraps to use)

Invisible Zip Tutorial

Invisible Zip Tutorial

Invisible Zip Tutorial

So there you go! I think this method is a little more fool-proof, and I love anything that can be accomplished 100% by machine. Hopefully some of you will find this tutorial helpful when it comes to conquering those invisible zippers. Also, isn’t that corner-turning trick AWESOME? You can use that with any corner that needs a sharp point. The extra fabric actually helps keep the corner nice and structured, and is less likely a develop a hole over time (as would be the issue if you trimmed down those seam allowances too aggressively). If you’re experiencing deja-vu, it is very similar to the method Tilly posted about a couple of years ago, except with stitching to keep everything in place.

If you have any questions, holler at me in the comments! Or we can just discuss your thoughts on invisible zippers ;)

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Tutorial: Matching Plaids Like A Boss

17 Oct

I know this is going to make me sound like the biggest dork ever, but I loooove matching plaids. It’s really fun and it makes me feel super smart when I get all my lines to match up. I know a lot of people are skeered of dealing with The Plaid (or The Stripes, or the Gingham, or the Buffalo Check for that matter), but I promise they’re not hard to sew! It just takes a little prep, a bit more attention while cutting, and then you’re golden!

Plaid Negroni

The first think you need to do is determine what areas need to match, and what you can get away with cutting on the bias to avoid matching. My biggest #1 tip for plaids is cut whatever the fuck you can on the bias. It breaks up a monotonous pattern, it creates visual interest, and it saves you a few matching sessions. Generally speaking, the parts that go bias tend to be pockets, the yoke and the button placket (on a shirt), princess seams (on a dress), under sleeves (on a jacket) and waistbands (on a skirt or pants), as well as anything that is a small detail (such as pocket welts).

Lumberjack Archer; Ponte Leggings

A couple things I never cut on the bias – sleeve plackets (those shits are fiddly enough without throwing bias in the mix), shirt cuffs (tends to be too busy; just accept that the lines won’t match up all the way across and get on with your life), collars and collar stands (you can’t see the collar stand, and a collar doesn’t have to match up to the lines on the shirt if there’s a bias piece underneath it. And, again, too busy). It should go without saying, but try not to sew bias pieces next to each other. They are good for breaking up the lines, but use them sparingly!

Gingham Shorts - front

Once you’ve determined your bias pieces, now is the time to locate all the seams that need to match up. Generally, it’s not very many – for my Archer, I matched the side seams and the sleeve seams. The back yoke, pocket and button placket were cut on the bias, and the remaining pieces (collar, collar stand, sleeve placket) were cut without any matching. Sounding easy so far? Ok, let’s get cutting!

Now, just a head’s up – I don’t cut my plaids on a folded layer. I know a lot of people do it that way but I personally have never ever had any luck with that method – there is always oneeee line that is slightly off, and ugh, do not want! So I cut my shit on a single layer whenever I can get away with it. This goes the same for bias pieces (if your piece is on a fold – like the back yoke – trace it so it’s a full piece and cut it on one layer. Trust me.).

1 matching plaids

Of course, there are some pieces you have to cut on the fold – like the back for the Archer shirt. Start with this piece. Fold just the amount of fabric you need, being very careful to match up every single line (and now you realize why I cut shit on the single layer, right? This part is maddening!).

2 matching plaids

Once you’re satisfied with how everything matches up through both layers, pin the selvedge down so the fabric won’t shift. Cut out your pattern piece and clip all your notches.

3 matching plaids

For the next piece – in my case, the two front pieces – open out your fabric so it’s a single layer. Take the folded piece you just cut and open it up (hope you marked those notches, buddy!). Line up the side seam – the part that needs to match – with the plaid lines on the fabric. Get it so it’s totally even and basically plaid camouflage.

4 matching plaids

Then take your front piece and align it on the fabric so the side seams match, from underarm to hem. I know it’s hard to see the in the picture, but the piece I’m holding at the bottom is my back piece, lined up with the remaining fabric.

5 matching plaids

Make sure your notches are aligned on the same bit of plaid, and then cut your one front piece. Don’t forget to clip your notches!

6 matching plaids

Now take the piece you just cut – the front piece – and flip it over on the single layer so the pieces are mirrored with the same sides together. Take care to match the lines on every single cut edge.

7 matching plaids

If you squint your eyes and can’t see the piece you pinned down, you know it’s matched up there perfectly.

Once you cut this piece, you should have two front pieces that are a perfect mirror image of one another – this means that the side seams will match the back on both sides, as well as the center front matching (since it’s a mirror).

I’ve found this technique to be much more successful as you have complete control over the matching and cutting since you are doing everything on a single layer (so no unhappy fabric-shifty surprises when you open up the pieces). And bonus – cutting a single layer means you use less fabric. Seriously! I think I eeked that Archer out in like, less than a yard and a half of fabric. Crazy talk, y’all!

Also, I should probably point out now that once you’ve cut all your pieces, you don’t have to give any other thought to matching the lines as they should perfectly fall into place. Yay for mindless sewing that looks difficult!

Lumberjack Archer; Ponte Leggings

Now go forth and match up those plaids like a BOSS!

Man, this shit will never not be funny to me.

Tutorial: The Paulie Pocket Top

18 Jan

stretch yourself header
This post is part of the Stretch Yourself Series hosted by Miriam of Mad Mim and Miranda of One Little Minute. This two week series is ALL ABOUT the love of knits, so go check it out!
I’ll be showing y’all some embellishment twist on a classic, along with Jessica of A Little Gray

Here she is – the Paulie Pocket Top!
Paulie Pocket Top
I KNOW. The name of this top is totally ridiculous & tacky – but what part about my life isn’t? :)

Paulie Pocket Top
You will need 3 different kinds of fabric to make this – something for the majority of the shirt (in whatever yardage you need to make your top), something to line the back of the pocket with (half a yard or so should be enough), and scraps for the pocket binding. For the binding, you don’t want to use anything that is too thin/floppy, or it’s not going to sit right – try something with a bit more body, like ribbing or a cotton knit.

Don’t forget your pattern! You can download it here. The edges of the paper are part of the band pieces; the lines just didn’t transfer over during the scan.
Be sure the test square prints out to 4″x4″ (or 10cmx10cm, if you fancy). The stretch guide is there for the binding fabric – you just want to make sure the 4″ piece stretches up to the length provided (or else your binding will not fit in the cut-outs). If it stretches more or less, that is fine, but you will need to adjust your pattern pieces accordingly.

Paulie Pocket Top
Cut all your pattern pieces from the main fabric as normal. For this tutorial, I am using the Renfrew pattern. Sew the shoulder seams as instructed (you don’t *have* to sew the shoulder seams first, but I like to because it helps with pocket placement – you can pull the shirt over your head and double-check in the mirror).

Now push the back of the shirt out of your way. We won’t be touching it for the rest of this tutorial.

Paulie Pocket Top
On the shirt front, measure on both sides the distance from where you want the bottom of your pockets to hit, keeping seam allowance in mind. I usually go with 1 3/4″. Mark this with a pin.

Paulie Pocket Top
Align the bottom of the pocket template with the pin and cut from the front of the shirt only.
(pst! I know my template has different wording – while putting together this tutorial, I hadn’t decided on a ~name~ for my pattern embellishment yet ;))

Paulie Pocket Top
Give the pocket piece to your cat to play with, idk.

Paulie Pocket Top
Cut 2 pieces of pocket ribbing, using the pocket band pattern piece.

Paulie Pocket Top
Fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.

Paulie Pocket Top
Pin the pocket band to the pocket opening on the outside of the shirt, matching raw edges, notches, and ends. The pocket band will be smaller than the pocket opening – this is good, we are going to stretch that band to fit and give our pockets a nice curve. Do not overpin this – 3 pins is plenty.

Paulie Pocket Top
Start by anchoring one end of the pocket band to the pocket edge, and stop with the needle in the down position.

Paulie Pocket Top
Sew the band to the edge, stretching the band to fit as you go (don’t stretch the raw edge of the pocket- just the band! It’s much easier if you position it so the band is on top). Sew slowly and take your time. We ain’t in a hurry here.

Paulie Pocket Top
Once the band is sewn down, you can topstitch it on your sewing machine – using a twin needle or a regular ol’ zigzag stitch.

Paulie Pocket Top
You should end up with something like this. Ain’t that fancy! Let’s put a back to those pockets so our sides aren’t hanging out in the glory of the sun – unless you’re into that kinda stuff, eh, no judgement here.

Paulie Pocket Top
Measure from the bottom of the shirt front to about an inch above the pocket band. Mine is 9.5″, which is approximately how tall I need my pocket lining piece to be.

Paulie Pocket Top
Measure that same measurement from the bottom of your shirt front pattern piece and cut that from your pocket back fabric.

Paulie Pocket Top
Finish the top edge of your pocket back fabric – this is optional as we all know jersey doesn’t exactly unravel, but it’ll make the next step a little easier :)

Paulie Pocket Top
Lay the shirt front over the pocket lining piece you just cut, matching all raw edges. Pin along the pocket openings and shirt bottom to keep everything in place.

Paulie Pocket Top
Now, using your fingers to feel the edge of the top of the pocket lining underneath, carefully pin across the front of the shirt so both pieces are pinned together.

Paulie Pocket Top
Flip back periodically to make sure you catch both layers.

Paulie Pocket Top
Topstitch (again – you can use a twin needle or a zigzag) along the line you just pinned. Baste the side and bottom edges together.

And that’s it! You can go ahead and sew your shirt together as instructed by your pattern – treat the pocket-ed front as one piece.

Yay for embellished shirts!

Paulie Pocket Top

Paulie Pocket Top

Paulie Pocket Top

Special shout-out to this awkward picture:
Paulie Pocket Top
No idea why I look so emo here haha

Paulie Pocket Top
There! That’s better :D

Thurlow Sew-Along: Belt Loops & Finishing

9 Nov

This is the last post in our sew-along, folks. We are about to finish up these bad boys once and for all!

Today we will be sewing steps 20-22 – making and attaching the belt loops, adding a button and hook and eye, and hemming the pants. That’s it! That’s all that’s left!

Belt loops first! If you don’t want to add belt loops to your pants, that’s fine – you can skip this part and scroll down. If you are adding belt loops, I hope you can see this picture. It should enlarge through Flickr if you are having trouble.
Finish one long edge of the belt loop piece – preferably with something that won’t add much bulk, as this fabric will be triple folded onto itself. Mine is serged. Fold the piece into thirds – start by folding the unfinished long edge about 5/8″, press, then fold the finished edge over that, and press again. Topstitch on either side of the folded piece, making sure to catch all layers through both rows of stitching.

Cut the belt loops into 6 equal pieces. The instructions call for 4 1/2″ length, but I find that to be a bit too long for the width of the waistband, so mine are 3 1/4″.

This step is totally optional, but I like to finish the raw edges of my belt loops so they don’t unravel over time. If you have a serger, just shove them under the presser foot one after the other and serge in one long line. If you don’t have a serger, you can zig-zag with your sewing machine. Repeat on the other side.

You will end up with something like this.

Then cut all the little pieces apart.
Again, this step is optional. If you don’t finish the edges of your belt loops, I’m pretty sure the sewing police won’t arrest you for fraud or anything :B

Take your first belt loop and fold one end back about 1/2″ or so (however little you can get away with, due to the bulk). If your belt loops are closer to 4″, you may need to fold more back.

Pin the belt loop to the pants waistband, right along the top edge. The belt loops are centered over the back darts, side seams, and front pockets. The diagram in the pattern is very helpful if you need more placement guidance.

Fold the bottom of the belt loop back approximately the same amount as the top (in my case, 1/2″) and pin along the bottom of the waistband.

The belt loops are not intended to lay perfectly flat along the waistband – there should be a little bit of room. You know, so you can fit a belt in there :)

Continue all the way around the waistband until all the belt loops are pinned down.

To sew them down, stitch as close as possible to the top edge of the waistband. I like to go over this stitching line a few times – forward, backward, forward again, and then a small back stitch to secure. Don’t want those belt loops going anywhere!

Sew the bottom of the loops down in the same manner, getting as close to the seam as possible.

Here is what my sewn on belt loops are looking like. Shnazzy!

All belt loops should be sewn on at this point.

The next step is hemming, but I like to save that for last and I find the fit of my pants is slightly affected without a proper closure at the top. So I’m going to skip 21 and jump straight to step 22.

Button hole goes on the left front – it should be placed right at the edge before the triangle point starts.
Sew your button on the inside of the right front, being careful not to stitch on the outside of the pants.

Hook goes on the right front – butt it as close to the edge as you possibly can, without it actually showing from the outside. I like to sew mine on using a blanket stitch, as it tends to be a bit more secure.
To locate the exact placement of the eye, zip the zipper closed and rub the edge of the hook (where the eye would sit if it was closed) with a soft piece of chalk until it is coated in powder.

Close your pants up and press firmly over the hook.

When you open them again, there should be a little chalk print where the hook was.

Sew your eye right over it! EASY.

You can go ahead and hem your pants at this point. The pattern allows for a 1 3/4″ seam allowance, which can either be turned and topstitched or hemmed invisibly with a slip stitch. Tasia has a great tutorial on invisible hemming with seam binding – hers is shown on a dress, but it would work just as well with pants.

And that wraps it up for the sew along! If you’re still catching up or have only been watching from the sidelines, don’t worry – these posts will be here indefinitely, as long as you need them. If you have any questions that were not covered, I’m always happy to answer via comments and/or emails. Hopefully these pictures & word vomit made you feel much more confident about tackling pants. Because, dude, pants are awesome. Especially when they have cowboys inside them :)

I’ll post a reveal of my finished pair on Monday. PANTSSSSS.

(thanks, Andi, for reminding me that this exists!!)

Thurlow Sew-Along: Attaching the Waistband

7 Nov

Holy shit, do y’all even realize what is going on today.


Ha! But in all seriousness… we’re just a few steps away from being finished! Let’s get excited, yeah? :)

Today we are attaching the waistband, steps 15-19. You should have a semi-finished pair of pants at this point, all major seams sewn except the back extension. We will get to that today!

You should have two waistband pieces – a right side (with one square end) and a left side (with one pointed end) – cut in both your regular fabric and your lining fabric, and one set should be interfaced (I opted to interface the side with my fashion fabric, as it needed a bit more structure. Do what works best with your particular fabric, though!). Stack both left pieces together and both right pieces together, and sew along the top edge – the un-notched, concave curve – and the center front (the aforementioned square/pointed ends).

Trim, grade, and understitch the seam allowance.

You won’t be able to understitch all the way into the center front sections – that’s ok! Just understitch as far as you can :)

Open up your waistband pieces, and start pinning the main fabric side to the top of your pants, right sides together. Don’t worry about the lining at this point. Go all the way around, center front to center back (and yep, back extension is still open. We’re getting there!). Sew this seam.

Trim your seam allowances.

And press everything up toward the waistband.

Now for that pesky back extension! See my pretty, bright pattern markings? We are going to sew right over that. Pin along the marked line, all the way up through the waistband. I know, the marking doesn’t extend that far but do the best you can. The instructions indicate that you should baste first, check the fit, and then sew your permanent seam. However, if you already made a muslin, you don’t need to worry about basting first – unless you really want to fine-tune the fit. Personally, I always baste first. Even after multiple muslins :)
Be very careful to ensure that all your seams are aligned when you sew up the center back seam! If one side of your waistband is wider than the other, it will result in one side that has a little peek of lining popping out. So double-check before and after you sew!

Press open the center back extension. Those giant seam allowances are supposed to hang around – later, you can adjust the waist of your pants, making it bigger or smaller as needed :)

Sooo… pinning the waistband. Fair warning: this part is a bit fiddly and you will probably end up hating me for making you slog through it. I know, it sucks! But it’s better than unpicking a bunch of stitches, or having a janky looking waistband. Spend a little extra time up front making sure everything is lined up, and it will save you hours of banging your head against the wall when you realize that your third waistband attempt looks even worse than the first one.

Start with your lining all spread out and hogging the spotlight inside your pants.

Fold the lining under to the inside until the fold is covering the stitching underneath by about 1/8″-1/4″.

Now flip the waistband over and pin through the front, right in the middle of the ditch between your pants and your waistband.

When you flip the waistband back over to the lining side, the pin should just be catching the lining. The fold underneath the pin should be no more than 1/4″ – anything more than that will just look sloppy.

Repeat all the way around the pants, skipping the 3″ or so section of lining that covers the back extension. We aren’t going to stitch that part down, so just leave it open.

STOP PRESS. Are those chickens?? SHUT THE FUCK UP.


With your sewing machine, stitch all the way around the lining, exactly in the little waistband/pants ditch that you pinned into. This is called stitching in the ditch. Yes, I know. It’s so clever.
Again, don’t worry about the section with the back extension is. Just skip over it and continue stitching in the ditch.

Afterwards, you can tack down the lining over the extension. The instructions call for just a few stitches worth of tacks, but I like to slipstitch mine down all the way so I know it’s not going anywhere. And also, I used yellow thread, because yellow is delightful.

Give the waistband a good steam press, both inside and out.

That’s all! That wasn’t so hard, huh? :)
Expect a wrap-up post in a couple of days – belt loops, buttons, and hemming. And then PANTS PARTY 2012, YO.

Thurlow Sew-Along: Sewing the Fly Zipper

5 Nov

Today, we are inserting the zipper into our pants and making the fanciest of flys – with a facing and a fly extension! FANCY Y’ALL. This is my personal favorite part of the pants-process – when they actually turn into pants, and not just 4 giant pieces of fabric flapping around the sewing room :)

We will be sewing steps 9-13. I know it sounds like a lot of ground to cover, but this should actually go a bit faster than the welt pockets – plus, you only have to sew one zipper, not two!

Here is your background music for this task. It seems fitting, although I’m guessing Danzig’s fly isn’t exactly the same fly we are dealing with today :P

Steps 7-8 should already be completed at this point, FYI!

Take your interfaced fly facing (piece 11) and finish the curved edge.
Sidenote: The pattern placement wasn’t intentional when I cut this piece out, but HAHAHAHA dude is totally going to be lurking the inside of my pants!

Sew the facing to the right front, right sides together, stopping at the notch.

Trim & grade the seam allowances, understitch, and press the facing to the wrong side.

Get your fly extension (piece 10) and fold in half along the fold line, right sides together, and sew along the bottom. Trim seam allowances, turn right side out and press. Sew and finish the long side.

Place your zipper over the long finished edge of the fly extension, face up, with the zipper stop matching the notch. Sew. If your zipper is longer than 4″ (and really – where the hell does one find a 4″ zipper?), go ahead and match up the end with the notch and let the zipper excess hang off the top. We’ll cut it off when we get to the waistband attachment.
Sorry that the left side of my zipper tape looks all chewed up, it is. We got in a fight.

Sew the zipper to the left pants front, face down, stopping at the notch. You can sew directly over your previous stitching line, to make things a little easier!

Turn the facing to the back and edgestitch close to the zipper teeth.

Now this might be a little hard to see, so bear with me here! Zip the whole thing closed, and then pull your right front over to the left from until the fly facing seamline is matched up with the second notch on the left front. At this point, I like to pin the whole thing closed so it doesn’t try to get sneaky when I push everything under the sewing machine.

Flip your pants over; the right (un-attached) side of the zipper should be lined up with the fly facing. Pin the two of them together as shown, being careful not to catch anything else in your pins – no pants front, no fly extension. Just the facing and the zipper tape! As you can see, the zipper tape won’t go all the way to the edge – that’s ok! It’ll end up somewhere in the middle.

Go ahead and sew the zipper tape to the fly facing, using two lines of stitching.

Flip the pants back over – it’s time to draw the stitching line for your fly! Yeeeeahh!!
Keeping the pants pinned close, locate the zipper stop and mark it (I used a pin, but you can also use chalk or whatev). This isn’t totally necessary, but you do want to be careful that you don’t try to sew through the stop – it could break a needle (“Wah” you say) or throw off the timing of your machine (“FUCK” you say). So watch out!

I like to start at the top and work my way down when marking my fly line (I know Tasia’s is the opposite, so do whatever you want, yo!). Measure 1.5″ from the center in a straight line, curving the line as you reach your marking for the zipper stop. Bring the line under the zipper stop to ensure that you don’t sew over it.

Here is my fly all marked up.
Don’t you love my BRIGHT ASS NEON YELLOW marking!? Liz sent me a couple pieces of this marking wax and a brand new box of hook&eyes, after I lameted about accidentally throwing mine away right after I bought them in Chicago. It was completely unexpected and totally amazing of her to do, but what else do you expect from someone who brings macarons to a sewing meet-up? :) Thank you again, Liz!

ANYWAY, topstitch right over your markings, directly through the pants front and fly facing. Leave the fly extension out of this – you do want the zipper to actually work, no? :)

Since the poor extension feels lonely, give her a couple of tacks to the facing so they can still hang out. You can do this by hand, or the lazy way like me – with a tiny zigzag on your machine :) This picture was surprisingly hard to take; look at the diagram in the instructions if you need more elaboration on where to stitch.

And that’s it! You should have a beautiful fly zipper, with a gorgeous fly facing and an outstanding fly extension.

Doesn’t that look professional as fuck?

Go ahead and sew up your side seams as indicated in step 14. We only have a few more steps left!

Thurlow Sew-Along: Welt Pockets

2 Nov

Moving on to the next part of our sew-along – the Dreaded Double-Welt Pockets


I will admit, this part gave me some serious hair-pulling when I first attempted it because the instructions run on the sparse side. Don’t worry, though – I took LOTS of pictures and even ran a few through my beloved Microsoft Paint, so hopefully y’alls first attempts will be a much smoother process :) The procedure itself it fairly simple, it’s just very precise. If the idea of welts is still terrifying – make a test welt pocket on some of your leftover scraps! No shame!!

Today we will be sewing steps 4-6.

Before you do ANYTHING with these pieces, take a moment to ensure that you have transferred all your pattern markings and notches to the fabric pieces. Like I said, welts are very precise, so the markings for this step are pretty critical. With that being said, the slash lines for the welt pocket should be transferred to the right side of your pieces; everything else should go on the wrong side.

If you have not already done so, go ahead and sew up your back darts and press them toward the center back (or, as Tasia writes: “centre.” Ehhheheehehe how cute, I wish I was Canadian sometimes lol)

Take your back pocket facing (piece 13) and finish the long edges with your preferred method of seam finishing.

Place the facing on the back pocket lining (14), both with right sides up, matching the notches. It took me a bit of head-scratching to figure this part out – see how the notches aren’t exactly centered on the sides of the facing, but rather creep up in one direction? The notches should be closest to the top of the lining (the end with the single notch). It’s hard to explain this without the ability to flail my arms around, so hopefully this picture makes a bit of sense!
You are going to edgestitch this piece down, in the same manner that you edgestitched the front pocket facings. Again, this piece’s job is to act as a little curtain for your welt pocket windows.

Speaking of welts… take your interfaced welt pieces and fold them in half, wrong sides together. Press and baste the long edges closed.


The welts start out on the right side of your back trouser pieces (so yeah, I sure hope you transferred that marking to the right side!). The welt gets placed along the pocket line, with the raw (ie, non-folded) edge just exactly butting up against it.

Here it is with both welts pinned down. I highlighted my pocket line in pink so you can see exactly where it is.

There should be a notch at either end of both welt pieces. These indicate where you will start and stop stitching.

Stitch down the center(e) of each welt, starting at one notch and ending at the second. Don’t forget to backstitch!

Grab your pocket lining, and place it face down, upside-down over the bottom welt, matching the raw edges. Sew the lining to the welt only, being careful not to catch the pants back in your stitches.

Finish the raw edge.

Ok, time to cut into those pants and set the welts free! Cut straight down your slash line (disregard that it looks like someone chewed on mine!), stopping about 1/4″ from the end of your stitching lines. From the end of your cutting line (the marked X) to the end of your stitching line (circled), you want to cut at an angle, connecting the two.

Here is a better picture. Be careful not to cut too far, but don’t be timid and not cut deep enough – you want to end exactly at the stitching line. This would be a good time to practice on those scraps :)
Do this to both welt pockets, top and bottom, on either end.

Grab your pocket lining and pull it through the hole until it’s on the wrong side of your pants back.

I like to give my welts a quick press at this point, just to make sure I’ve clipped far enough and that everything is looking good so far.

Flip the pants back over, right side facing up. Fold over one side to expose the end of the welts. See the little triangle there? We are going to stitch that down to the welts, exactly on the indicated stitching line.

When sewing the triangle down, a few things to keep in mind: keep the welts butted together. You can hand-baste the welts closed if you are having trouble with this. Also, you want to get as close to the edge as possible, without actually catching non-triangle fabric. Use a zipper foot, and hand-baste the triangle in place before you start sewing, to ensure that it won’t move when you’re at the machine.


Now take that bad boy over to the iron & give ‘er a good press!!

See? Hard part over! Now to turn those welts into pockets and not ass-windows.

Pull the top (aka, notched end) of the lining toward the top of your pants back, folding at the fold line. All the right sides should be encased in the pocket and you should be looking at the wrong side of the fabric.

See the top welt stitching line? We are going to sew right on top of the welt only, to make sure that our pocket doesn’t have secret back fat pocket space.

Be sure to catch only the welt & the lining. Again – the pants back isn’t invited to this party! SORRY.

Now sew up the sides of your pocket, and finish the edges.

Then baste the top of the pocket lining to the pants back.

Ta da! Beautiful, functional, double-welt pockets!

Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? :)
If you’re caught up to speed, go ahead & complete steps 7 & 8. Next week: the fly & all it’s fly-glory, woohoo.

Thurlow Sew-Along: Sewing the Front Pockets

29 Oct

Ok folks! D-Day has arrived, time to get workin’ on some trousers!

A quick note: You’ll notice that I didn’t post a sew-along schedule. This is because I am not sure how frequent (or infrequent) the posts need to be! I plan on working each full step per post, with a few days thrown in between so everyone can get their pants rolling, but do let me know if you’re feeling like everything is moving too fast and you need a minute to catch your breath :) Of course, these posts will always be here for future sew-alongers! So please don’t feel like you have to rush through to appease the Thurlow Gods :)

Today we are sewing the front pockets of our trousers, sections 2-3.

We start with the pocket facing and pocket piece – 7 & 8.
Finish the curved edges of both pieces, as shown.
If you have not already decided how you would like to finish your raw edges, consider this your kick in the butt! As you can see, I serged mine (what can I say – I’m a lazy seamstress at heart), but no worries if you don’t have a serger. Sunni has a whole mess of seam finishes right here and any of these will work. Personally, I think those bound seams look super yummy. Do what you want, though!

Grab your front pocket lining – piece 9 – and lay your pocket piece & facing on top, with the right sides all facing up and the weird notches & crannies all matching.

We are going to stitch these pieces down to the pocket lining, veryyyy close to the edge, as indicated by the dashed lines. The whole point of this is so when we put the pocket lining in the pants, you will only see the facing pieces from the outside.
Also: horse butt.

Grab a trouser front and lay it out, right side facing up.

Place your pocket lining over the trouser front, right sides together, matching the diagonal line. Stitch all the way across with a regular 5/8″ seam allowance.

Trim, grade, and understitch this seam.

Flip the whole thing back and give is a good press. If you would like, you can topstitch the pocket at this point.
What we are looking at now is the WRONG side of the trouser front, with the right side of the pocket lining facing up.

Pick up the loose end of the pocket lining…

And fold it along the fold line (this should be indicated by notches), matching the edges at the opposite side.

Sew the bottom of the pocket lining only, as indicated by the red dashes. Finish this seam.


Baste pocket edges along the top and side.

If your pocket has a little bit of ~body to it, that’s ok! It’s not supposed to lie completely flat :)

You should end up with something like this.
Yay! A pocket!

Yay! A pocket facing!

Now that wasn’t so hard, eh? :)

We’ll start on the welt pockets in a few days (dun dun DUN!). If you have any questions, do let me know & I’ll do my best to answer :)

Thurlow Sew-Along: Adjusting the Pockets

23 Oct

This is gonna be short & sweet!

When I sewed up my first pair of Thurlows, the only complaint was that the back pockets weren’t deep enough to accomodate my phone or wallet. Which, I mean, back pockets pretty much ONLY exist for a phone or wallet as far as I’m concerned.

Original Thurlow pocket
Can we all just step back for a second and have a moment of silence for this tragedy that is unfolding.

Original Thurlow pocket
Measuring the pockets shows that they are only about 2.5″ deep. If this is all gravy in your world, do solider on with the unaltered pattern. If not, I hope you saved a bit of tissue because we have pattern pieces to slash and tape!

Modified Thurlow pocket
Here is my modified pattern piece. What you want to do is add length both above and below the fold line, to ensure that the pocket still folds up properly once we stick in the pants (hurr durrr). This is pretty easy – just slash a straight line above the fold line, tape in a gob of tissue paper (or you can use regular paper, IDGAF. I use tissue since I have tons on hand & it makes everything easy to fold back up!) and then repeat below the aforementioned fold line. To fit my iPhone, I added 2.5″ to each slash.

Modified Thurlow pocket
When you’re done hacking, fold the tissue on the fold line (notice that the bottom matches up to the top notch – not the top of the tissue). This is how deep your pocket will be. My phone fits, yay!

Modified Thurlow pocket
And here is an action shot, courtesy of my second pair of Thurlows.

If your muslins are ready, go ahead and cut your fabric – you did prewash… right?! ;) If you are planning on making your trousers in a plaid or striped fabric and fancy a bit of bias-cut on the welts & waistband (because YAY for not having to match those parts!), Liz has a great tutorial on altering pattern pieces for a bias grainline. For the actual matching at the side seams and everywhere else, Check out Tasia’s tutorial for matching plaids. If you are smart & opted for a solid, non-directional fabric – lucky you! You can just follow the cutting layout included in the pattern :)

We will start sewing on Monday!

Underlining: The Why & How

15 Jun

I’m currently working on the madness that is Simplicity 1803 (seriously thinking about calling this dress The Disaster Dress, if that means anything) and I thought I would share a few of my trials & tribulations with y’all. I’ve had a lot of comments requesting a tutorial for underlining (or even just asking wtf underlining is exactly), and while I haven’t been able to fulfill those requests in the past – but today is your lucky day! Underlining day, yaay!

First up, let’s talk shop. What exactly is underlining? Some people tend to confuse it with lining; this is incorrect. Lining is a duplicate garment that hangs separately inside your dress (or skirt, or pants, or whatever) that covers all seams for a nice clean finish. It is constructed separately and generally only attached by a few seams – perhaps a neckline, or the waistband of your skirt. The hem usually left free-hanging for ease for movement. Consider lining the inception of sewing – a garment within a garment (see what I did there?).

Underlining is when you sew two pieces of fabric together & treat them like a single piece – kind of like some relationships (ahhh I’m on a roll today here). Since the underlining is actually sewn to the back of your fashion fabric, the seams do show & the inside of the garment doesn’t necessarily have that clean finish.

Underlining is wonderful for a variety of reasons – you can use it to stabilize your fashion fabric to give it a bit more body (like with my Bombshell dress), to add a layer of opacity to an otherwise sheer fabric (my Swiss Dot Violet really benefited from a batiste underlining), to add a layer of warmth to a coat (the lining of my Lady Grey is underlined with cotton flannel), or even to brighten up your fashion fabric a notch (look at the difference underlining made on my Gingham Peony!) If you were concerned about the integrity of a delicate fabric – lace, or vintage, or… I dunno, vintage lace – you could underline every piece for additional strength. Underlining has lots of uses, it’s awesome!

For my dress in question, I am using this pretty black eyelet from Mood. The whole thing is quite see-through so I knew ahead of time that it would going to need some kind of backing to keep certain places under cover. I originally planned on just dropping a whole lining in the thing & calling it a day, until I realized that you would see every single seam through the eyelet – and by every single seam, I mean eyelet seams & lining seams. I’m using Bemberg Rayon here (LOVE!!!!!) and that stuff frays like nobodies business. I started imagining little shreds of turquoise popping out all over the place & it gave me the willies.

So I decided to underline instead. An added bonus is that it totally negates the two issues I was having with the individual fabrics – the Bemberg was sliding all over the place, and my sewing machine was throwing a giant fucking fit every time I tried to sew over the textured eyelet. By sewing the two fabrics together, the Bemberg stays put & provides a layer over the eyelet that keeps the needle from freaking out. Yeah!

This process is pretty easy. I’m almost embarrassed to even post this.

Cut each pattern piece from both your fashion fabric & preferred underlining fabric (as I mentioned here, I’m using Bemberg Rayon – which is traditionally a lining fabric, but it’s main job for this dress is opacity). The pieces should be mirror images of each other. I like to go ahead & snip all my notches, it makes things easier to match up. Don’t worry about your pattern markings (the kind you use chalk or tailor tacks or whatever for) just yet.

Place the underlining on the wrong side of the fashion fabric. If your underlining has a right side, make sure it is facing the wrong side of the fashion fabric (so when you flip the whole thing over, both right sides should be facing up). Pin everything together – I used these tiny silk pins because my lining shows pin holes.

Then you just sew the lining to the fabric! Here are some tips:
- Yes, you can sew it by machine. I chose to sew by hand because the rayon is super slippery & I wanted it to shift as little as possible. It also makes ripping the basting stitches out MUCH easier. If you sew by hand, you want to keep things as flat as possible – sit at a table! It’s very mindless work, so feel free to watch a movie (or two!).
- Sew giant basting stitches using one strand of thread. Pick something contrasting so it’s easier to pull out the stitches after you sew the seams. I used orange thread; I thought it was pretty haha.
- Try to stay well within your seam allowance – you can see that mine is less than 1/4″ from the edge. I think this makes it easier to pull out the stitches (it’s not anywhere near the 5/8″ SA, so I’m not actually sewing over the basting with my machine) and it hides any pin-marks that may get left behind on delicate fabrics.
- You may also notice that I did not sew along the bottom edge of the piece. Call me lazy, idgaf. The basting for underlining is really there to hold the pieces together until they are properly sewn. I’ve found that I can usually get away with omitting the bottom hem & any seams that extremely short (such as the point between the princess seam & the armscye). Play around & see what works for you!

Next project involves eyelet... And a ridic amount of underlining, ugh
(sorry about the crappy Instagram picture!)
For super precise darts, thread trace the dart legs through both layers after you have basted the pieces together. This keeps the fabrics together while you sew the dart, and eliminates any weird bubbling that may otherwise happen.

Here is the other side of my underlined piece. Cute!

Now that you’ve got your pieces all basted together, you can treat them like one piece of fabric. You can transfer your fabric markings to the underlining side of the fabric so it doesn’t show on the front. Sew as you normally would, and make sure to pull out your basting threads as you sew each seam.

Here is how my bodice is looking as of this morning
Since this is an underlining, and not a proper lining, you will still have to finish your seams & deal with facings. My seams are serged; my facing is a simple cotton broadcloth as the eyelet was too bulky.

I love the subtle peek of turquoise :D

I am including this picture because it looks like a uterus, and that is funny to me.

So that’s it! Hopefully this brings a light to some of the mystique :) As always, let me know if you have any questions!


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