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Tutorial: How To Adjust the Waistband of Your Jeans

1 Apr

jeans waistabdn tutorial

Hey friends! I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy during these strange times. I think most of us are firmly in the “stay home and self isolate” camp (at least, I hope all y’all are! STAY HOME!!) (except for those who are, of course, on the front lines – thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, for your sacrifices every single day. Y’all the real MVPs <3), and while it’s a great excuse to catch up on all the projects we’ve been putting off… I know I’m not the only one who is experiencing a dip in their creative energy. It’s not surprising; stress can really do a number on your mental health and overall energy, and sometimes the first thing to go is the desire to do anything other than [barely] survive. However, for me – and I’m sure this can be said for a lot of us – being creative is what brings me joy, so it is important that I make at least a tiny effort every single day. Sometimes that means I sew, sometimes I draw, sometimes I just read. And sometimes I want to sew, but not necessarily start a new project. This is where alterations are so useful! I can get a little bit of sewing in – 20 to 60 minutes – and let my brain have a little stab at problem-solving. Plus, it feels pretty good to take something previously unwearable and make it wearable!

So with all that being said – today I want to share a tutorial on how to alter the waistband of your jeans! This is something you can do on both handmade and ready-to-wear jeans (I actually perform this alteration frequently for clients as one of my side-gigs). You can of course use these steps for any waistband adjustment – trousers or skirts for example – just be aware that some steps may differ depending on what you are working on.

I am sorry in advance for the quality of the photos. I originally shot these with the intention of posting them on Instagram, but while typing my caption i realized it was too long for the app! So I’m moving it here to a blog post (and I can’t re-shoot the steps since, well, all my pants fit now! LOL). For more mini-tutorials and pro tips, please follow and/or occasionally check in on Instagram – the hashtag is #lladybirdprotips

Some notes about this process – as I mentioned, this is not technically jeans-specific, as you can use this process to alter any waistband, including trousers and skirts. Keep in mind that anything you alter without belt loops will mean a visible waistband seam (which I personally thing is a worthwhile trade-off for having a fitted waistband, but you can be the judge of your own wardrobe!). If you don’t like the idea of a visible waistband seam, you can either re-cut a new waistband (I keep leftover fabric from projects specifically for this purpose!) or remove volume from multiple areas (which would make the adjustment appear more of a ~design element~ rather than an alteration).

Heart on Ginger Jeans

When determining the amount of take out of your waistband, you will be tempted to overfit. Don’t do this. You want to aim for snug, but not tight. It’s hard to really articulate this into specific words, but I’ll try. A waistband should not have negative ease (unless it’s super stretchy), but should be quite close to your own actual measurements, if not slightly larger (no more than 1”, but this will vary based on body shape and personal preference). For me, I like a waistband that is fitted enough to only allow a couple of fingers, but not so snug that it gives me back fat / love handles. I know with some body shapes, this can be unavoidable – so use your best judgement, and understand that it’s totally fine if you end up needing to re-adjust later down the line. It’s a learning process, after all! Better to not take out enough and need to re-do the adjustment (think of it as another chance to practice, rather than that you did it “wrong” the first time), than take out too much and render the pants unwearable. Because of this, I tend to err on the side of a looser waistband when first sewing my pants, with the understanding that I can always make adjustments later down the line. Sometimes your fabric – especially if you are working with a rigid denim – takes a bit of wearing and washing before it really settles into its shape. A LOT of my pants start out needing a belt for the first few wears, then the waistband shapes itself over time and washing. I recommend waiting a couple of months before doing this alteration!

I know a lot of people recommend adding darts to your yoke to get a better fit, or subbing a curved waistband. While these are certainly viable solutions, I personally find a curved waistband uncomfortable (and it’s something you rarely see in RTW – most waistbands are cut straight and eased in) and I think darts in a yoke look terrible (there, I said it! Fight me!). So my method is a little different, but it works! Try it!

Now, without further ado- Altering the Waistband of Your Jeans: A Lil’ Tutorial!

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
1. Try on your jeans and pinch out the center back waistband until it fits snugly. Pin this measurement (or use a binder clip), and then measure the distance from the pin to the fold. This is how much you will need to take out- in my case, 1” total. Don’t worry about doubling the measurement or anything, we aren’t mathing here! If you are fitting yourself, you may need to pinch the side seam rather than the center back.

Trying to figure out if you just need to adjust the waistband or the whole back of your pants? A good rule of thumb is if it fits everywhere *except* the waistband (like you just need a belt to snug it up, or else the waistband shelfs open when you sit down)- then you will just work on the waistband. If you’ve got quite a bit of extra space down the center back of your pants as well (like you can easily shove your whole hand down there), then you will want to also take in the center back seam in addition to the waistband. If you’ve got loads of unnecessary room everywhere in the back, you probably just cut a size too big – so take a bit out of the side seams in addition to the center back. Don’t be afraid to pin shit until you’ve got a fit that feels good!

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
2. Ok, time to start unpicking! Completely remove the center back belt loop, and remove the bottom stitching lines from both side back belt loops.

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
3. Remove the back waistband from the jeans, from side seam to side seam. Depending on how much you are taking out of the waistband, you may be able to get away with unpicking less (although I tend to err on the side of removing more than less, since you’ll be closing the whole thing up later anyway). I do not recommend unpicking far beyond the side seam!

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
4. Remove all top stitching and under stitching from all sides of the waistband, so that you can completely separate the waistband from the facing. You don’t need to unpick completely from side seam to side seam here – 3”-5” is plenty, depending on how much you are taking out. If you are removing understitching, you will need to unpick about 1” of top stitching beyond the understitching on either end. Mark the center back of the waistband (I used a pin here).

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
5. Fold the waistband at the center back together short ways, with the right sides facing, and open out all folded seam allowances so it is completely flat. Sew a new seam line from one end to the other, with the distance from the fold being whatever measurement you took in step #1. Repeat for the waistband facing.

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
6. Cut open the fold, trim seam allowances if needed (I like to trim my facing seam allowances slightly shorter so there isn’t a bunch of bulk right at the center back), and press both seams open.

7. Sew the waistband and the facing together along the top edge, and understitch.

8. Pin the center back seam of the waistband facing to the center back seam of the pants, with the right side of the facing against the wrong side of the pants, then ease the top edge of the pants to match the new length of the waistband (no photo, sorry!). You will probably need to pull the waistband quite a bit to stretch to fit (#unintentionalpoetry), but it can be done! I took out 2” total from my waistband (1” on the fold), using a very low stretch denim cut on the cross grain, and was able to ease it in with some womanpower. If your fabric is very rigid or you need to take out a lot, you may want to unpick the top stitching from the center back seam of the pants and remove some of the excess there, grading to nothing along the CB seam line. Use your best judgement here!

10. Now sew the facing to the top edge of the pants, pulling the waistband to stretch and easing the top edge of the pants to fit (pro tip – keep the facing on top and the pants against the feed dogs of your machine. This will kept ease the excess fabric, as well as give you more control over stretching the waistband). Press the seam allowances up toward the waistband, steaming out any ease wrinkles at the top edge of the pants if necessary.

Jeans Alteration: Waistband
11. Now just sew everything back together! Pin the waistband on the outside to cover the previous stitching line, then topstitch along the top edge of the pants. Topstitch the waistband to the facing along the top of the waistband. Re-attach the center belt loop (which ideally will cover your CB stitching line) and the bottom of the side back belt loops. Give everything a good press and you are done!

Claryville Jeans

And that’s it! Honestly, this is a very easy (and very emotionally fulfilling!) adjustment – I think writing this blog post might have taken longer than actually making the alteration! I encourage y’all to give this a whirl if you have a pair of jeans that’s just a little loose in the waist – even the smallest adjustment can make a huge difference!

Some notes: The jeans in this tutorial are the Claryville Jeans from Workroom Social (blog post can be found here). Also, I am still offering Virtual Private Lessons if you have an alteration need that you’d like to chat about or get a little guidance with! So far they’ve been a blast!

How is everyone holding up these days? What are you doing to bring a little creative joy to your life?

Now Offering Virtual Private Sewing Lessons!

19 Mar

cat in studio

Hey friends! As we navigate the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, I know a lot of us are encouraged if not mandated to #staythefuckhome to slow down the spread of the virus and help flatten the curve. Which means lots of time for sewing – yay, silver lining – but not a lot of options for being social or getting help in the form of classes and workshops. I know I personally have had to cancel / reschedule 2 workshops so far and anticipate many more will meet the same fate (peep my workshops page for updates), which in addition to the loss of income is just a total bummer! I’m bummed!

While it is unfortunately not possible at this time for me to offer online workshops (logistically, I just can’t swing it – although I will continue to look into it so that may change in the future!), I do think one-on-one lessons can be managed via video platform. So, starting now – I am happy to announce that I am offering Virtual Private Sewing Lessons! Yay!

All information (including a FAQ because everyone loves a good FAQ) is on the Virtual Private Sewing Lessons page of my blog, but a quick rundown of how this works:

  • You will sign up for preferred lesson via the PayPal link ($18 for 30 minutes, $30 for 60 minutes, $45 for 90 minutes).
  • After payment has been completed, click the RETURN TO MERCHANT link to be redirected to my Calendly page to select your preferred time and date (availability is from 11a – 6p CST Monday -Saturday, although I can be flexible if your time zone does not work with these. Send me an email!).
  • To complete your request, you will be asked to tell me a little bit about what you would like to cover during the lesson – this will allow me time to do any necessary prep work so that we can go straight into the good stuff during your session! You can also email me pictures / confusing instructions, ask questions – whatever gets us best prepared!
  • Lessons will be held via Google Hangouts (which is free to use on your phone, tablet, or computer.

Since this is a new technological territory for me (let’s be real, there are gonna be some hiccups!), for a limited time I am offering these lessons at a discount of 40% off my standard hourly teaching rate. I know a lot of us are looking at an uncertain future in terms of the economy + our jobs, so I hope that these lower rates will also allow more people to take advantage of this new platform and strengthen their sewing knowledge!

So what can be covered in a Virtual Private Sewing Lesson? Well – just about anything, I reckon! Here are some ideas to get the juices going:

  • Deciphering confusing sewing instructions
  • Real-time demos for specific techniques
  • Help with fitting (I’m not sure how well this will work since I tend to fit very hands-on, but I am willing to try and see what happens!)
  • Basic clothing alterations
  • Flat pattern adjustments
  • General sewing advice (such as fabric and pattern recommendations, finishing techniques for certain projects, advice for handling tricky fabrics, troubleshooting)
  • Or we can just chat because chatting is fun!

Selfishly, I am also hoping this will allow me to be more social while still maintaining my self-isolation – so perhaps that will be the same for you! Shit is stressful enough right now without having to deal with long bouts of loneliness, amirite?

I have some new projects and tutorials that I’d like to share on this blog, so stay tuned for those! In the meantime, please check out my Virtual Private Sewing Lessons page if you are interested in booking at session with me! Share it with your friends! I think we could all use a little creative distraction right now 🙂

Stay safe, stay healthy, wash your hands, and STAY THE FUCK HOME! Love y’all!

cat

OAL 2018: Quick Waistband Adjustment

12 Jul

Hello everyone! It’s been a minute since I mentioned the OAL, but we are still going strong (and it’s wrapping up in the next couple of weeks, meaning, YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO PARTICIPATE). I wanted to check in and see how everyone is doing, and also offer a little hack-y fitting tip for your Lander waistband (or any straight waistband, for that matter!).

BUT FIRST I wanted to share this – I’m on a podcast!

I was super honored to be interviewed for the Love to Sew podcast recently, and my episode just aired! I’ve been a long time fan of this series, so it was pretty flattering to get my own episode! If you are interested in checking it out, you can listen to the episode here. I hope you enjoy it!

Now, onto the rest of the blog post!

You’ll have to forgive me in advance because I don’t have photos of the progress (just the result); I was experimenting and not sure how this would pan out (story of my life). But I think this is a pretty simple and straightforward adjustment, so hopefully my words are enough to convey the information across 🙂

One of the features of the Lander Pants & Shorts is that they include a straight waistband made from a single piece of fabric. This is very simple to sew, but may not result in a perfect fit if you are especially curvy. Some people get excess fabric and gaping at the center back, since the waistband does not curve with their back. This does not indicate a bad pattern – it just indicates a draft that does not correspond with that particular body shape (there are PLENTY of bodies that fit great in a straight waistband, and PLENTY of bodies that can’t do a curved waistband, etc). This is something than can easily be adjusted by changing the waistband to a curved waistband (or, better/lazier yet – stealing a curved waistband from another pattern and using that), but you have to do it before you actually cut your fabric. If you’ve already sewn your waistband on and are experiencing this – read on!

My previous 2 pairs of Lander pants did not gape very much, and I was easily able to fix it by simply wearing a belt. Since these are shorts, and they felt like they were gaping a little more than I was comfortable with, I wanted to try to find a way to eliminate the gape without needing to wear a belt (it’s hot outside, I don’t need a layer of LEATHER around my waist amirite). Of course, one option it to unpick the waistband, pinch out the excess into a dart (creating a curved waistband, but with a seam), and then taking out the excess in the pants either at the center back or the darts (or all). I wanted my waistband to be fitted while also still being comfortable, so I thought I’d try a little bit of elastic at the back instead.

OAL 2018: Adjusting the Waistband

I cut two slits on the inside of the waistband, positioning them as best I could under the side back belt loops (to hide the topstitching I was able to do next). I only needed to take in a little bit – maybe 1/2″ at most – but in my experience it’s good to stretch this amount over a longer length than you need, which will make things less bunchy.

I fed a length of elastic that fit in my waistband (I found that 1.5″ wide elastic fit perfectly in the topstitched waistband), pinned one end down, and tried them on to determine the best length of elastic – i.e., tight enough to pull in the gape, but not so tight it was starting to gather.

OAL 2018: Adjusting the Waistband

After cutting the elastic, I secured each short end down with a zigzag stitch. Since these are under the belt loops, they aren’t visible from the outside. Then I stitched closed the holes I had made inside the waistband.

OAL 2018: Adjusting the Waistband

Here is how it looks on the inside (oops, I need to re-sew that hole closed I guess haha)

OAL 2018: Adjusting the Waistband

And the outside!

And finally – some gratuitous shots of my butt so you can see what they actually look like on:
(I am really sorry)

OAL 2018: Adjusting the Waistband

OAL 2018: Adjusting the Waistband

As you can see, it mostly flattens out so it is not super gathered. It snugs up the waistband enough so that it sits flat against my back, but the elastic will stretch if needed (i.e., tacos) so they are still comfortable.

This is a SUPER easy and quick fix if you need a minimal adjustment at the back waist – like I said, mine was no more than 1/2″. It’s also definitely a hack fix – the proper way would be to make a flat pattern adjustment to the waistband so it is curved – but sometimes I think a hack is good enough. If it’s the difference between you wearing the pants and not wearing the pants, I’d say it’s worth a try!

I also realized I never shared my yarn or stripe ideas for my Waters tee! God you guys I am awful.

OAL 2018: Sweater Progress

Here is where I’m at as of this posting. Making good progress, which wasn’t evident until I took this photo, if I’m being completely honest! I’m heading to Canada today to teach a couple of jeans workshops at Darrell Thomas Textiles (and I *think* there is still an open seat for the weekday class, ahem), and I’m hoping I can knock the rest out pretty quickly because I am dying to wear this thing!!!

My yarn is Quince & Co. Sparrow, and the colors are pigeon and lunar (I don’t know why it looks black in these photos, pigeon is actually a nice blue-grey. Oh right because I can’t take photos to save my life lololol). I changed my stripes to be a basic 4×4, and the edging will be the darker color. I need to decide which side I want to be the right side, though – because the purl side looks pretty freaking rad, too!

Ok, I think that’s all! How is everyone doing with their OAL projects? Have you finished yet?

OAL2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

18 Jun

Good morning, everyone! If you are participating in this year’s OAL, you should be rocking and rolling along with both your sewing & knitting projects. As I mentioned in the announcement, I will not be offering full tutorials for sewing the Lander Pants – there is a great sewalong available for free on the True Bias website, should you need the additional support – but I did want to pop in and share an alternate method for sewing the belt loops & attaching the waistband. Even if you are not participating in this year’s OAL, I hope you will find this useful!

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

You’ll want to make your belt loops before you attach the waistband (note that you can also attach the belt loops after the waistband if you prefer! For the sake of simplicity, I am following the pattern directions here). The pattern has you sew a tube that you turn right side out and press flat. This is a great method if you are sewing with a lightweight fabric, but it can be a nightmare to try to turn that skinny tube if you are using a heavier fabric, especially denim. Even my red linen doesn’t like being pulled like that! So here is an alternate method if you are using a thicker fabric, or just hate turning tubes 🙂

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Finish one long edge of the belt loop piece. I used a serger, but you can also sew over the edge with a zigzag stitch, or bind with fabric.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

The pattern is designed for the finished belt loops to be about 1/2″ wide. You may want to trim 1/8″ off the long (unfinished) edge of your piece if you want to maintain that measurement. Otherwise, your belt loops will end up being about 5/8″ wide.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband
OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Starting with the unfinished side, fold the belt loop into thirds with the right sides facing. You will end with the finished edge on top, hiding all raw edges. Be nitpicky here and do your best to get the finished edge right EXACTLY on top of the first fold.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Topstitch along both long sides at 1/8″. This is why it is so important to get the finished edge right on the fold – if you are too close to the center, the stitching line won’t catch it.

And that’s it! This gives the same effect as the turned-tube-belt-loop-, but I find it a lot easier to sew. From here, you can cut your belt loop into 5 pieces and attach them to the top of the pants as instructed.

Now, for the waistband!

If this tutorial seems like deja vu, it’s because I’ve showed it before on my blog! I wanted to show it again for those who missed it the first time, and also to show that it does work for one piece waistbands as well as two piece!

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

On your interfaced waistband piece, fold up one long edge a little bit less than the seam allowance (this pattern is 1/2″, so I folded up my edge at 3/8″) and press.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

This is gonna seem ass-backwards – just bear with me! Attach the waistband to the INSIDE of the pants, with the right side of the waistband facing the wrong side of the pants. Sew all the way around at your normal seam allowance, making sure to leave at least 1/2″ overhang at each end (you can always cut off any excess). You will sew all the way around, from one opening to the other. If your pants have a zipper, make sure that it is unzipped and sew right across the zipper – just go slow so you don’t break your needle on the teeth.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Now you’ll fold the waistband back on itself, with the right sides facing. The side that has been folded and pressed – i.e., the side that was not sewn to the pants) should hang below by about 1/8″-1/16″. This is to ensure that the stitching line you just did will be covered when you turn the waistband right side out.

Now, stitch along the short edge, keeping in line with the center front edge of the pants. It may be helpful to draw a guideline here first with a ruler (which is exactly what I do – no shame here!).

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Trim one of the seam allowance layers in half. Do not trim the corner, keep some seam allowance there.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Now you will turn the waistband right side out! To get a nice, crisp corner, start by sticking your thumb in the waistband up to the corner.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

While your thumb is still in that corner, use your pointer finger to push the seam allowance down to one side (doesn’t matter which side) (Sorry, I don’t have pretty hands haha)

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband
OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Keeping your fingers in that weird pinch, turn the waistband out to the right side.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

You should end up with a nice sharp corner here! You can use a point turner to really push the edge out if you need it to be even sharper 🙂 By holding the seam allowances in place when you turn right side out, this keeps the corner sharp (rather than trying to crap the seam allowances in after the fact). Keeping a bit of fabric in the seam allowances (rather than trimming down aggressively) also adds some structure to that corner, so it doesn’t collapse on itself.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Finally, you can pin the remainder of your waistband down and topstitch from the right side, making sure to cover the first stitching line. I like to start at the center back and go all the way around the long rectangle, ending where I started. You can then cover the backstitching with a belt loop 🙂

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

And that’s it! I love this method for attaching a waistband, because it ensures you get a beautiful, even topstitch on the outside without having to worry about catching the facing on the inside! It’s just EASY and basically fool-proof! You can also use this method for sewing in the round waistbands, cuffs (buttoned or in the round) and even collar stands.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Tutorial: Adjusting Crotch Depth (OAL2018)

5 Jun

Good morning, everyone!

In light of the official start to the OAL2018, I wanted to share a little tutorial for a very common pants adjustment – adjusting crotch depth. Even if you are not participating in the OAL, I hope you will find this useful! As I mentioned, this is a very common adjustment (at least half of my students in every Sew Your Own Jeans workshop that I teach ends up needing to make this adjustment!) that is a lot easier than it sounds.

This is the only pants-fitting post I’ll be doing for this OAL – most other adjustments can be done after the pants are basted at the side seams. If you have more pants-fitting needs, I absolutely recommend getting a copy of Pants for Real People (which is where the image below is from) – it is a fantastic resource that is full of valuable information and my top reference book when I’m fitting pants! Another post to check out is the Common Fitting Adjustments in the Lander Sewalong!

Common Pants Fit Adjustments – From Pants for Real People

So what does it mean to adjust crotch depth? The depth (versus the length, which runs from front waist to back waist) is the distance from your waist to the bottom of your crotch – i.e., the determining factor between a drop crotch and cameltoe. If you’ve ever had a wedgie, your depth is too short. Pants crotch hanging WAY lower than your actual crotch? Your depth is too long.

Since we are all special little sewing snowflakes (sewflakes?), all of our bodies are different – even in ways that aren’t super visible. Which means that not every single pants draft is going to fit every single person flawlessly – it’s just not possible. Personally, I have found that I have a slightly shorter crotch depth and generally need to make this adjustment with nearly every single pair of pants I sew. It’s not a hard adjustment to make, but if you’ve never seen is done before, it can be a little difficult to wrap your head around. Hopefully this tutorial will give you some insight on how to do it!

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

First, you’ll want to make a muslin of your pants (or at the very least – a shorts version of the pants). Sew the front and back as instructed. You don’t need to include the whole fly setup (unless you want to practice sewing it!) or waistband (unless you anticipate needing to change it to a curved waistband). Pin the fly shut and move around a bit. Don’t freak out over wrinkles – muslin wrinkles like crazy (mine are extra bad because I pulled these out of my rag pile, true story) and doesn’t have as much “give” as your regular fabric. Feel where the crotch is in relation to your body – is it hanging too low and causing extra folds due to excess length? Is it all up in your business and giving you cameltoe?

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

For a low-hanging crotch, pinch out the excess somewhere along the depth and pin it until it feels right. DO NOT OVERPIN – you don’t want to give yourself cameltoe (learn from my mistakes, people). Walk around, make sure you can sit, and let them settle a little. Likely, you won’t need to make a massive adjustment here – between 1/4″ – 1/2″ is most common. Little tiny fractions make a big difference when it comes to fit!

If your problem is the opposite and you need to add length, the easiest way to do this is to slice across the front of the pants and insert a strip of fabric (I just pin this, although you can sew it in, too). Pull down the bottom portion until the crotch feels like it is in the correct spot, then pin to the fabric strip.

I realize you likely cannot see a difference between those two photos (I mean… I definitely can’t haha). Like I said – it’s a small adjustment, and not always visible. But you can feel it!

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

Check the back to be sure there aren’t any depth adjustments needed. I’d say that maybe 1 out of every 15-20 students of mine need to actually adjust the back – it’s usually all in the front. If you do need to adjust the back, do so the same way you adjusted the front. Mine looks fine, so I left it as is.

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

Now take your muslin off, and measure the distance from pin to fold – or the additional length added by the strip of fabric. If you are only adjusting the front, then only measure at center front. If you are adjusting front + back, measure at the side as well as the center front and center back. This is how much you need to either add or remove from the depth.

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

Now how to translate this to your pattern? Easy! Your pattern piece should have a lengthen/shorten line that cuts across the fly (if it doesn’t – first of all, SHAME ON THAT PATTERNMAKER, but second, it’s easy to just add it somewhere in that general area nbd). If you are only shortening the front crotch, you will cut along that line from center front *just* to the side seam. Do not cut through the side seam – you want to leave a hinge. If you are also adjusting the back, cut straight across from edge to edge.

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

To lengthen, spread the pieces apart until the center front matches the measurement you took, and then fill the gap with paper and tape closed. If you are only lengthening the front, it should fade to nothing at the side seam.

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

To shorten, overlap the pieces until the center front is overlapped by the amount you measured. Again, if you are only adjusting the front, it should fade to nothing at the side seams/hinge.

If you need to adjust all the way around to the back, you’ll want to walk your pattern pieces to make sure that the side seams still match after making your adjustment.

Finally, redraw any wonky links or curves (such as the crotch curve if you overlapped – just smooth the curve) and straighten the grainline if necessary. You will also want to shorten or length your fly pieces (shield, facing, etc) the same amount so that they match up when you sew them together. I strongly advise making another muslin as this point to be sure that they changes didn’t wonk something up. You do you, though!

And that’s it! Like I said, a really easy adjustment that can make a world of difference in how your pants fit and feel. This is definitely the most common adjustment I see in my Sew Your Own Jeans workshops, so I wanted to share it here too!

Machine Review: Janome CoverPro 2000CPX

17 Jan

Good morning, everyone! As I mentioned in my year end post (as well as on Instagram a few times!) – I bought a Coverstitch machine in October! Specifically, a Janome CoverPro 2000CPX, which I purchased from Craft South here in Nashville. Now that I’ve had a couple of months to play with the machine and learn more about it, it’s time for a review post! Get a cup of tea, this one is long.

coverpro review

The Janome CoverPro 2000CPX is a 4 thread coverstitch that can accommodate up to 3 needles. It has minimal differences from the 1000CPX, which I also considered buying – basically, it’s a little easier to thread. There is also a 2 needle 2000CPX, but I wanted the 3 needle.

I chose this particular brand for 2 reasons – first of all, Janome tends to get very high praise for their coverstitch machines. This machine is pretty popular and gets great reviews across the board. It’s inexpensive (but not cheap), easy to thread, and provides a nice variety of stitches. Full disclosure for reason #2 – I work at Craft South, and I got a very generous employee discount with this machine purchase. This also swayed my decision, however, I was considering this machine before I even started working at Craft South (and I’m not gonna lie – knowing I’d get a discount on it was part of the reason why I agreed to work there, haha). While I did purchase this machine with my own money, it was discounted.

Why a coverstitch machine? Y’all. I have wanted one of these since 2007, no exaggeration. I put it on my wishlist every single year, and every year I convince myself that it’s a frivolous purchase. Since buying this machine and using it, I have learned that it does do more than just hem – however, it’s still an expensive machine that only does a few things. I ultimately decided to buy this machine because I do occasional alterations + fitting for clients, plus I got that discount, so it made sense for me to own one. However, it took me 10 years to decide to buy one. Don’t feel bad if you are still in twin needle mode when you hem your knits!

One question that I get a lot is – what is the difference between a coverstitch machine and a serger? Basically, a serger is used for creating + finishing seams – it has a knife blade that cuts the excess fabric so threads can wrap around the edge. It is great for knits as the stitches stretch with the fabric. A coverstitch does not seam, it only finishes. You can use it for hemming, attaching binding or foldover elastic, or creating decorative stitches (but not creating the actual seams). It is also ideal for knits, as the stitches stretch. If you are deciding between the 2 machines, I find a serger to be more useful for the most part. If you are debating on getting one of those 2-in-1 serger/coverstitch combos… don’t. They are a pain to use (you have to pretty much disassemble them each time you want to switch between machines) and cost the same as having 2 separate machines. Unless space is a big issue, get 2 separate machines.

All right, that all out of the way – let’s talk about the machine!

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx

Here is the machine in all it’s glory. Yay!

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - free arm

One of the features it includes is a free arm (so you can sew small things in the round, like the hem of a sleeve). This is the free arm. I don’t know why but this is very hilarious to me, it’s so tiny!

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - threading

When you open the coverstitch, it’s pretty clean and empty on the inside. There is only 1 looper to thread, and it’s very, very easy. Like, threading a sewing machine easy (not like threading a serger).

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - threading

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - threading

One of the nice features of this machine is that the looper has a tab to pull it out so you can more easily thread it (unlike some sergers where you have to use tweezers to weasel the thread in the looper hole under the needle plate, lord, I’m getting the sweats just thinking about that shit lol). This one pops out, so you can thread it and pop it back in.

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - stitch options

The inside of the machine shows all the different stitch types that are available – two and three thread overlock, and a chainstitch. Since the machine has 3 needles, it means you have more options in terms of stitch width and needle position (something I didn’t consider when I purchased the machine but I’m pretty stoked about now!).

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - threading guide

There’s also a diagram on how to thread the machine. See what I mean? Fucking easy.

Using the machine was definitely a steep learning curve for me – my serger (a Babylock Imagine) does automatic tension adjustments, so I don’t have a lot of experience with manually adjusting tension to correct my stitches (that serger is awesome btw, I’ve had it for nearly 10 years and I swear to god if it broke I would buy another one in a heartbeat haha). There are needle tension dials on this serger, plus looper tension, PLUS another switch that goes from “soft” to “tight.” The user manual is very brief, but my understanding is that soft is ideal for your lightweight fabrics and single/double layers that experience fabric curling and tunneling. The tight is for heavier fabrics, multiple layers (such as flatlocking or applying binding), especially if you are prone to skipped stitches. You can also adjust the tension on the needles for tunneling and skipped stitches.

Something else I have noticed with this machine is that it prefers a heavier needle if I am sewing through multiple layers (again, flatlocking or binding, or using a heavy fabric). It really does best with a 90/14. If you experience skipped stitches, I would recommend changing to a heavier needle and see if that helps.

One thing to keep in mind when using this machine is that you have to knot your threads or they will unravel the second you look at them. Once you are finished sewing, you pull the needle threads to the back and knot them by hand. I didn’t realize this at first and could not understand why my hems were coming unraveled so quickly haha.

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - stitches, front

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - stitches, back

Here are the stitch options, front and back. From left to right:
– Binding: 2 needles + looper. I used a binding attachment for this! There are several size options of attachments, mine is the wider one (42mm-12mm). The finished binding is roughly 3/8″ wide. You cut strips of binding (this example is a woven, but it is AWESOME for knits) or use foldover elastic, feed them into the attachment and the machine wraps it around your fabric and stitches it in one go! It’s super fast and fun, but that shit was a steep learning curve. Also, that attachment is not cheap. Again, I got mine at a discount, but it was still a bit eye-wateringly expensive, just FYI.
– Chainstitch: Single needle + looper. This can be used to baste (apparently, since it’s easy to pull out. Jury is still out on that one in my experience tho), or hem jeans (look at your RTW jeans! The hem is chainstitched!). What I use it for is single-needle topstitching on knits, like on a neckline. It looks really clean and neat – but unlike a regular sewing machine, it also stretches!
– 3 needle coverstitch: 3 needles + looper. This creates a nice, stretchy hem for knits. Another thing you can use this stitch for is a mock flatlock. Serge your seams as normal, then stitch over them with the 3 needle coverstitch, with the needles on the wrong side of your garment (so the looper side ends up on the right side). It functions just like a flatlock – reasonably flat (non-irritating), strong, stretchy, and looks cool!
– 2 needle coverstitch: 2 needles + looper. You have several options for this stitch, since there are 3 places to put your 2 needles. Narrow or wide (shown above is wide), left or right. I have found that I prefer the wide for hemming, and the narrow with both needles to the left when using my binding attachment. You can also use this to do a mock flatlock, but I think the 3 needle version looks better.

So far, I’ve used my machine to make loads of underwear and tank tops. The binding attachment is perfect for finishing all the edges very quickly (again, you can either use strips of knit fabric or foldover elastic) while still keeping them stretchy like you’d get with regular lingerie elastic. The 3 thread coverstitch is awesome for activewear and creating flatlock seams that don’t rub or chafe and also look super professional. And, of course, I love using the 2 or 3 thread coverstitch for hemming my knits!

If you’re interested in seeing how the binder on this machine works, I have made it a highlighted story on my Instagram (computer users, I think you have to be on the actual app to view it). It’s pretty awesome! I will write a more in-depth post on using the binder, stay tuned for that.

So, do you need a coverstitch machine? Honestly, I can’t answer that question for you – it depends on how much you sew, your budget, and the amount of space you have to store one. Since I do this work professionally (and also sell these machines at the shop!), it made sense for me to own one. This machine does do a great hem on knits, but there is certainly a learning curve involved and it’s pretty expensive considering it only does a handful of functions. I also really really REALLY love that binding attachment; it’s great for finishing edges on underwear and activewear. However, a regular machine can also apply binding – albeit not as quickly and not with quite the same finish.

In regards to the learning curve – well, there is one. It took me several days of playing around with the machine, testing different stitches, settings and fabrics, before I felt like I really had a good handle on how the machine works. The only way to get past the learning curve is by PRACTICE. No amount of blog posts, YouTube videos, internet research, or telling everyone how scared you are of your machine is going to magically make it suddenly easy to understand. Get a glass of wine, put on some Duran Duran, and get to know your machine. Learn what works, what doesn’t work, try different needles and tension settings, rip out your stitches, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and take a lot of notes because I guarantee you won’t remember half this shit the next day. Like parallel parking a car for the first time, yes it’s a hot mess in the beginning. But eventually you get past fear and start working in autopilot. And also, for the record, I am an excellent parallel parker (after many, many years of practice lol).

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx

If you are considering this machine, my advice NOT to buy this online (even if it’s cheaper). Your local shop will be able to show you how to use the machine and answer questions and troubleshooting you may have. I also am real big into supporting your local shop, and keeping them in business 🙂 If you don’t have a local shop that sells Janome – and this post swayed your decision to a yes – you can buy one from me at Craft South 🙂 We ship to anywhere in the US for free and offer a discount below the MSRP you see on Janome’s website. There are no affiliate links in this post, however, I do receive a commission for every machine sale I make through our shop. FYI!

Whew! Ok, I think that’s a long enough post so I’m gonna wrap this up. Did I miss anything about this machine that you still have a burning question for? Do you have a coverstitch machine? Are you gonna buy one now? 😉