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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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DIY Thanksgiving Table Spread

18 Nov

The next project for my holiday crafts personal challenge comes courtesy of Thanksgiving. I’ll be honest – I was a little terrified of this challenge. For one, I don’t host Thanksgiving dinner at my house – that’s what parents are for! Go to their house, eat all their food, leave the mess (but take some of the food home with you because, duh, poor and stuff). So table decorations just seem like a moot point in a home that won’t have dozens of people admiring my hard work (or secretly wondering if I’m as insane as I come across in my decorating scheme).

While complaining about this to my mom, she immediately started gushing about some handmade table runner she saw in a local gift shop, and saying it didn’t come in any color combinations that worked with her personal decor and that’s what she would make if she were participating in this project. So I had the brilliant idea to have her help me make this project – and then gift her the finished runner, since it’ll get more use on her dining room table (and, you know, people will actually see it ;)).

So, welcome to my second installment of Holiday Crafting, featuring supplies from JoAnn Fabric and Crafts, with special guests Mom’s Hands and Mom’s Dining Room.

Turkey Tablescapes

My mom is such a decorating whiz, isn’t she? Gah, her dining room is beautiful.

We made this table runner in a short afternoon (I think it took 2 hours, tops, and that included figuring out the construction steps and taking photographs! Honestly, decorating that tablescape took waaay longer, ha!) for a minimal cost. The best part about this project is that you can choose any fabrics and embellishments you like, to really make it your own!

To make this table runner, you will need 2 yards of burlap for the base, plus half a yard each of your contrasting ruffle fabric. We also bought 2.5 yards of 7.5″ wide ungathered lace.

You will need to prewash your fabrics and press them nice and flat before cutting. My mom used baking soda in the wash with her burlap, to make it smell less like a hippie. For a 81″x42″ dining table, we cut our pieces as follows-
Burlap (or other fabric base): Since our burlap was 50″ wide, we cut it lengthwise down the middle and sewed the two pieces together to make a finished piece that is 24″ wide by 96″ in length
Ruffles: 8.5″ tall by 45″ length, cut 2
Lace: 7.5″ tall by 45″ length, cut 2

Turkey Tablescapes

The VERY first thing you need to do is finish those edges of the burlap before they fray all over the place. We used the serger – a 4 thread overlock with a dense stitch width so the unraveling is kept to a minimum. Don’t be afraid to really cut off some width from those pieces – it’ll give the thread something to grab on so it doesn’t immediately fall off. Serge all cut edges, including the sides and the ends, as well as any piecing you may have needed to do.

Don’t have a serger? Use a narrow zigzag stitch, or even consider binding the edges with premade matching bias tape.

Turkey Tablescapes

If you had any piecing, press the seams open with a hot steam iron so they lay nice and flat. The good thing about burlap is that the seam is virtually invisible from the outside! We left the serged edges as-is – they’re not terribly noticeable, as you can see, plus they provide some additional texture to the edges – but you can turn under the edge and stitch a narrow hem if that’s your thing.

Turkey Tablescapes

Hem your ruffle pieces on both edges (at the top edge of this ruffle, we used a rolled hem – again, from the serger – and the bottom is serged and folded under and topstitched because, lazy.). You can also fray your fabric by stitching a line of small stitches about 1/2″ from the edge and using a pin to encourage the fraying.

Across the top of each ruffle piece, sew a line of long basting stitches (the longest stitch on your machine) 1/2″ from the edge and leave some looong thread tails. Do not backstitch either end of the stitching.

Turkey Tablescapes

To create a ruffle, grab one of the thread tails with one hand, and hold the fabric with the other.

Turkey Tablescapes

Holding the thread tail still, gently coax the fabric into a gather.

Turkey Tablescapes

Continue gathering until your ruffle is the desired amount of gathered goodness, then wrap the thread tails around a pin stuck in the fabric so they stay put.

Turkey Tablescapes
Turkey Tablescapes

(I just love that bunny pincushion. I have it’s twin, but you couldn’t tell by just looking at it – mine is so old and used, it’s grey and threadbare and missing some body parts, ha!)

Once you’ve made your ruffles, you can get started on the fun part! Lay your ruffles on the burlap and arrange them so they look the way you want them to.

Our ruffles ended up being placed as follows:
Bottom burlap ruffle – 1/2″ from bottom edge
Middle lace ruffle – 2″ above burlap edge
Top white ruffle – 3.5″ above lace ruffle

It is also a good idea at this point to lay the runner on your table to ensure that everything is in the right place before you start stitching.

Turkey Tablescapes
Turkey Tablescapes

Now you can sew! Just use a normal stitch length and sew straight down the basting/gathering line you created, being careful to make sure the gathers are evenly distributed. I find it helpful to set my machine to put the needle down every time I stop sewing; then I can raise the presser foot and redistribute the ruffles if needed.

Turkey Tablescapes

“God, Mom, stop taking pictures of me.”

Here’s how we sewed on the ruffles:
Turkey Tablescapes
Turkey Tablescapes

Since the two bottom ruffles are covered by ruffle hem goodness, we just laid them on top of the burlap and stitched down the middle of the gathering line.

Turkey Tablescapes
Turkey Tablescapes

The top ruffle was stitched upside down and then flipped over itself for a clean edge on top of the runner (the rolled hem was originally going to be exposed, which is why so fancy, but we decided it looked a liiiiittle too crafty, so it was moved to the underside).

Turkey Tablescapes

Once your ruffles are sewn down, give them a good steam with a hot iron. Don’t actually press them – just hover the iron a couple inches above and steam steam steam. We don’t want to flatten them, just help them stay in place.

Turkey Tablescapes

And that’s it! Pretty easy, huh? I probably spent longer writing this tutorial than it takes to actually make the table runner!

Now, I told y’all we spent foreeeeever decorating the table… and then took like 100 pictures. So now you have to look at them. Sorry, not sorry!

Turkey Tablescapes

Turkey Tablescapes
(those candlesticks are totally supposed to be waxy ears of corn. My mom does not understand why I think they are so hilarious).

Turkey Tablescapes
Turkey Tablescapes

It’s not a real #turkeytablescapes without some turky S&P shakers, yeah?
Oh, yeah, and those little red ears of corn are popcorn! My dad grew them in his garden this year, aren’t they soo cute?

Turkey Tablescapes
Turkey Tablescapes

Turkey Tablescapes

I am including this picture of the chandelier/ceiling because I want everyone to know that I helped hang that… ceiling wallpaper stuff, probably about 15 years ago. I remember being SO mad at my dad for making me help (it was rough! I had to stand on a ladder and hold things on the ceiling and ugh, it took forever), and complaining, “NO ONE IS EVEN LOOKING AT THE CEILING, WHAT IS THE POINT, WHYYYYY”. So there. Look at the ceiling. LOOK AT IT.

Turkey Tablescapes

Finally, this was our helper for the afternoon – Sweetie, my mom’s Siamese. I know Siamese cats are weird, but this cat is real weird. I love her.

So that’s it! I’m so glad I was able to incorporate one of my holiday crafts into a mother/daughter crafternoon (ha, Landon hates that word), as well as give my mom something I know that she’s thrilled to use.

Turkey Tablescapes

Want to make your own? Snag this coupon and save some dough, yo!


As always, you can see more fun #turkeytablescapes at the Celebrate the Season website.

Skully Applique Pillow

24 Oct

Halloween Project

So, I have some pretty sweet furniture, at least in my living room. I’ve got this sexi velvet couch as well as this beautiful midcentury armchair (snagged from my friend and fellow blogger Lisa, after she herself snapped up the couch of her dreams). Oh, and that ace ottoman, which I got for a DOLLAR at the Goodwill Outlet. Score of the year right there!

I’m also, like, really really bad at decorating. Once I get shit on the walls, it’s over. I don’t really decorate for holidays, other than put up a Christmas tree, and I definitely don’t do decor crafts. Whyyy suck up that time when I could be making clothes, amirite?

Halloween Project

I’m taking a step toward my inner Martha Stewart and making at least one craft for the three major upcoming holidays – starting with Halloween. Rather than decorate the front of my house (which would be too easy; we already have enough spiders that the whole front is covered in spider webs. I wish I was kidding about that. Hey, I guess we don’t have other bugs at least), I decided to give my sweet yellow chair an update with a fresh new throw pillow featuring a skull. This also meant I got to try out applique, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for, oh, like a decade. Ha!

Want to make your own – pillow or otherwise? Good, because I wrote a tutorial on that too. I’m on a roll, guys.

This is actually pretty simple, the only time-consuming part is the machine applique, which can easily be left off since the Heat’N’Bond is pretty permanent. All my supplies are from Jo-ann Fabric and Craft stores – quilting cotton (my only excuse ever to peruse those aisles. Ahh, the colors!), Heat’N’Bond, and a 14″ pillow form. Oh, and embellishments! Can’t forget those ;)

You will need to cut 3 pieces for the pillow – one for the front and two for the envelope back. For a 14″ square pillow, I cut the front at 15.5″ square and the two back pieces are 15.5″ x 12″ and 15.5″ 6.5″.

Halloween Project 1

Start by drawing (or tracing, or photocopying, or whatever) the image that you want to applique on the pillow. Try to keep it simple, with the detail impact coming from the negative space, not a bunch of lines. Do you want to sew over a bunch of lines? Neither did I. Negative space!

I sketched out my skull’n’bonez based on a few images I saw on the internet, and then traced over it with a marker.

Halloween Project 2

Cut out your design and admire. Doesn’t he look sassy!

Halloween Project 3

Before you cut your appliques, you need to fuse the heat n bond to the back of the fabric (this makes it easier, and means less goo on your ironing board after the fact). Cut a piece big enough to catch all your pieces, and follow the directions on the package for best results – mine just had me iron it face-down for 10 seconds. Easy!

Halloween Project 4
Halloween Project 5

Trace your pattern on the fabric, cut, and peel off the paper layer. Arrange it on the pillow top as you like, and fuse it down. The Heat’N’Bond keeps everything from shifting, which means a much easier time appliquing. Of course, at this point, you could leave as-is and not bother with the stitching, but whyyy? It looks so good!

Halloween Project 6

Ok, this is the fun part – applique! This is really a trial and error saga, depending on your machine, but here are a few tips:
– Test your applique stitch on a few scraps of fabric (use leftover fused pieces if you wanna be real fancy) to make sure that you like your stitch. For my machine, I used a narrow width zigzag with a slight adjustment to make it longer.
– This stuff is gonna goo up your needle. Sorry, but them’s the breaks. Make sure you remember to change it out after you are finished, otherwise you’ll end up forgetting and gooing up the next garment you sew. Not that that’s happened to me or anything…
– Try to keep the stitch within the edge of your applique pieces – it looks neater.
– For curves, just go slowly. For corners, stop the machine at the end of the line, put the needle down and pivot the fabric, and then continue stitching.

Halloween Project 8
Halloween Project 9

Before you get all flustered trying to get the ~perfect stitch, remember – this is a Halloween project! It’s supposed to be a little messed up ;)

Halloween Project 10

From here, you can leave the applique as-is or add some more embellishment. I decided to add some sequins to my skull’s eyeballs and nose because SPARKLES. I used this Aleen’s glue pen to anchor everything down.

Halloween Project 11

We are going to make an envelope back for our pillow now. Take your two back pieces and press them flat.

Halloween Project 12

Turn under one long edge of each piece and hem.

Halloween Project 13

(Ack! Sorry these photos are so blurry, hopefully you get the idea)
Take the smaller piece and lay it over the top of front piece, right sides together, matching up the edges and the corners.

Halloween Project 14

Larger piece goes on the bottom half, again, right sides together with all sides matching.

Halloween Project 15

Sew around all four edges…

Halloween Project 16

Clip your corners…

Halloween Project 17

Flip right side out and stuff your pillow inside.

Halloween Project

You’re done!!

Time for a sexy skull pillow photoshoot!

Halloween Project

Halloween Project

Halloween Project

I know this is a ~craft~ project, but this method could also be used for clothing (like we could all applique CAT SWEATERS. Oh god, guys, let’s.). I was planning on making myself a matching skull sweatshirt so I could match my living room, but time slipped out of my fingers and well, maybe later. I say this pillow is for Halloween, but let’s be real – you’ll probably see it on the couch during Christmas, and beyond. Welcome to my life.

Want to make one for your own #spookyspaces? Have a coupon! I got ya back!
Don’t say I never did anything for ya ;)

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.

Sewing the Robson Trench Coat

22 Apr

Spoiler: There are no finished projects in this post, sry2say! I’ve been working on this coat for the past week, and I thought it might be beneficial to show some progress photos as well as share some tips :)

Anyway, let’s get down to business. Have y’all seen the newest addition to Sewaholic patterns – Robson Coat?! AHHH. I’m on Tasia’s pattern tester email list, and every time she sends out an email for testing, I’m almost always too busy with current projects/too poor to buy fabric (as was this case) so I have to pass… and I always think, “Man, I’m going to regret passing on this.” Sure enough, when the official announcement came out, I considered punching myself in the face out of frustration, because, FUCK. That coat is awesome and I need one, weather be dammed.

What really sealed the deal for me was getting an eyeful of Novita’s lace version. It’s just jaw-droppingly beautiful, and I immediately wanted to be a shameless copycat and make my own version (of course I asked first ;)).

This is the lace I am using for my coat:
Robson Progress - lace fabric
It’s from Mood, of course, and I think I bought the last of the bolt in the store so you can’t have it nyah nyah nyah ;) It’s labeled an outwear fabric, and it’s nice and weighty for a trench coat. At $20 a yard, it was definitely a splurge (and remember – I had to buy underlining, bias binding, buttons, thread, interfacing, all that fun stuff!), but I recalled Novita saying she only used 4m to make hers, so I ordered 4 yards and it was just enough. Yay! The lace is underlined with navy cotton sateen, and the bias binding is made with white/navy polka dot cotton batiste.

I’m not going to sugarcoat – this jacket requires quite a bit of stamina to make, as it takes a loong time. I spent at least 8 hours just prepping the dang thing, before I even got to sewing! Cutting the fabric pieces (twice, since they are underlined), making my own bias binding (because I clearly don’t have enough to do as it is), attaching the interfacing, basting the underlined pieces together, marking the notches, etc etc. I chose to do all this before I started sewing, just to get it out of the way.

Robson Progress - fusing interfacing

My garment press made fusing interfacing fun! I just stuck the pieces in the press, sprayed them with water, and set a timer on my phone for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, I flipped the pieces, sprayed them again, and fused for another 30 seconds. Since the press doesn’t require you to stand over it and hold it down (like an iron), I could get other things done in the meantime…

Robson Progress - thread

Such as prepping my thread and winding bobbins. My bobbin winder is amazing and self-motorized (no holding down the pedal!), so I was actually winding bobbins, fusing interfacing, AND dicking around on Instagram at the same time! GLORY.

Since my coat has several different colors going on, I am using three different thread colors. Part of what is making this take so long is that I have to keep changing out the thread with practically every step!

Robson Progress

Deciding on how I would handle the underlining took a lot of thought. Since my lace is see-through and the inside of the coat is not lined, I had to take that into consideration when it came to fusing the (BRIGHT WHITE) interfacing to my pieces. Thankfully, all the interfaced pieces do require a facing on the opposite side, so I simply fused my underlining to the wrong side of my cotton sateen.

Robson Progress - underlining

Then I stacked the lace on the sateen and basted the pieces together – all 30+ of them (yeah, there are a LOT of pieces in this pattern!). THAT PART TOOK FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER. Thankfully, I was able to get them machine-basted, which definitely sped up the process – I think I would have cried if I had to hand-baste all that!

More info on underlining can be found in this blog post, fyi!

Robson Progress - test button hole

I also had to consider how my button holes would look on the lace. Fortunately, my machine makes pretty awesome button holes, so combined with my new button hole cutter, I think they look pretty profesh, yeah?

I was planning to do a whole series of posts on this coat – but honestly, once I started sewing (like, actually sewing, and not prep :B), it’s pretty fast and straight forward! There isn’t a lot to elaborate on as far as the instructions are concerned. I did want to share a how I dealt with the binding, though – the instructions just have you fold the binding in half and wrap around the edges of the seam allowance (as like this), which is fine when you’re working with a lighter weight fabric – but not two thicker fabrics sewn together! I actually tried to bind a seam as per the instructions, and then laughed for about 20 minutes when I saw how ugly and sad it turned out!

So here’s my advice to you~ for those bound seams-

Robson Progress - trimming seam allowances

First, pull your seam allowances apart (you will need to remove the basting stitches holding the layers together) and trim down the shell fabric to 1/4″. This will greatly reduce the bulk of your seams, making it easier to wrap the bias binding around the remaining seam allowances.

Robson Progress - trimmed seam allowances

Here is the seam with the shell fabric (blue lace) trimmed down. You may also want to trim down your underlining at this point – not too much, just enough to get the edges even if they aren’t already. As a sidenote, sorry about all the thread/cat hair. Apparently, cotton sateen is a magnet for EVERYTHING. Who woulda thought?

Robson Progress - bias binding

Open one side of your bias tape and pin it to the seam allowances, right sides together with raw edges matching.

Robson Progress - bias binding

Sew the bias tape to the seam allowances – try to get your stitching line right along the opened fold. I use a long basting stitch for this step; it’s really just to keep things in place while you top stitch.

Robson Progress - bias binding

When you flip the binding to the other side, it should naturally fall into place.

Robson Progress - bias binding

Top stitch with a matching thread. See how nice that looks? It’s an extra step for sure, but totally worth it in my opinion. With a thicker fabric, it can be hard to get that tiny bias tape folded around the edge with an even stitch and both sides caught in the fold. I’d rather take my time and get things done right the first time, rather than try to take short-cuts that result in a personal one-on-one with my seam ripper :)

Robson Progress - grading seams

Another tip if you’re sewing the Robson is to be sure to aggressively grade those seam allowances by the collar, because they can get real thick real fast.

Robson Progress

I have the body mostly done at this point and it’s become quite a beast to wrangle under the sewing machine. I’ve taken to pulling my top drawer out and using it as a tabletop for the bulk of the coat.

fucking cat
fucking cat

Since all the interior seams are finished with binding, I haven’t needed my serger at all for this project – so I took the opportunity to take it in for it’s yearly cleaning/maintenance. As you can see, Amelia is pissed that she has to share her ~window seat~ with that dumb ol’ machine.

Anyway, it’s look great so far-

Robson Progress
Robson Progress

I love how nicely that collar rolls! Just beautiful!

I plan to have this finished within the next week or so. Since it’s for the Mood Sewing Network, The Big Reveal won’t be until May – sorry! I’m such a tease.

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!!)


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