Category Archives: Tutorials

Tutorial: Invisible Zipper

If you have never tried installing an invisible zipper in a garment, you might be just a wee bit intimidated.

But honestly, I think they are easier to put in than regular zippers, and they definitely elevate the “ready to wear” (RTW) look of your garments.

Invisible zips are best for garments made of light to medium-weight fabric, and should be placed into a garment seam. Nothing exposed for these babies. 😉 Because the “teeth” on invisible zips roll to the under side of your garment, once installed they really are invisible except for the small zipper pull. The zipper teeth are also a bit smaller than those on a “regular” polyester coil or metal zipper, so invisible zips are not commonly used in heavy weight fabrics or in situations that require constant opening and closing. Be sure to buy a zipper that is longer than your opening. You will not be able to stitch beyond the zipper pull, so extra length is extra insurance, and any excess is easy enough to cut off.

I like to put invisible zips into a “flat” or completely open seam, instead of partially sewing up the seam like you would do with a centered, “regular” style zipper. I also think an invisible zipper foot for your specific sewing machine model is definitely worth the investment; truly, it will make the job So.Much.Easier. Although, you rarely have to encourage me to buy specialty machine feet. The “special” engineering that enables them to perfectly perform their function makes these feet worth every penny, IMHO.

Invisible zipper tutorial by Sew Maris

So, here are a few tools/supplies that will make the invisible zipper installation job a bit easier. Of course, you will need a sewing machine + basic sewing supplies + an invisible zipper. Duh! 🙂
1. Invisible zipper foot, or (less desirable) a regular zipper foot
2. Fabric marker or chalk marker
3. Interfacing strips

Step 1. Preparing the seam allowance

Invisible zipper tutorial by Sew Maris

Finish the edges of your garment in whatever manner you choose. In my sample, I have serged the edges.

Step 2. Stabilizing

Invisible zipper tutorial by Sew Maris

Stabilize the stitching line. I keep strips of fusible interfacing handy just for this purpose. I usually cut the strips about ¾ of an inch wide on the straight grain. Make sure to fuse the interfacing over the stitching line for the full length of the zipper. In my sample, the stitching line will be 5/8 of an inch from the fabric edge, so the interfacing completely covers that area of the fabric.

Step 3. Marking

Invisible Zipper Tutorial by Sew Maris

Draw a vertical line on the right side (RS) of your garment that is 1/8 of an inch more than the seam allowance for your garment. In my sample, the seam allowance is 5/8 of an inch, so I drew a line ¾ of an inch from the fabric edge (5/8 + 1/8 = 6/8 = ¾). Do this on both sides of your garment fabric.

This “extra” 1/8 of an inch is to allow the invisible zipper teeth to “unroll” while you are stitching the zipper to the fabric.

Also draw a horizontal line 1/8 or ¼ of an inch + your seam allowance from the top edge of both sides of the  garment.

Note: Exactly where you draw this horizontal line depends on how the top edge of your garment is to be finished. If you are adding a waistband, allow only a small amount more than your seam allowance. If you will be facing the top edge and adding a hook and eye closure, add about ¼ of an inch to allow for the “turn of cloth” plus the hook and eye.

Step 4. Pinning



Lay the open (unzipped!) zipper RS down onto the RS of your fabric, aligning the edge of the zipper teeth with the vertical line and the zipper stop with the horizontal line you drew on the fabric. Pin or baste the zipper to the fabric.

Step 5. First side stitching

Invisible zipper tutorial by Sew Maris

Starting at the top edge of the zipper (above the zipper stop), stitch the  first side with a 2.5 or 3.0 straight stitch length. It doesn’t matter which side you stitch first, but since I started on the left side, I am using the left-most side of the invisible zipper foot.

Invisible zipper tutorial by Sew Maris

Stitch down as far as you can, or to the marked “zipper stop) point on your garment. To secure the bottom of the zipper edge, you can backstitch for a few stitches, or shorten your stitch length when you are about ½ inch away from the bottom of the zipper.

Note: You can see that it is impossible to stitch beyond the bottom end of an invisible zipper because of the pull size/placement, so using a “too long” zipper is always better than one that is too short. Just stitch as far as possible, or to your marked zipper stop.

Step 6. Second side stitching

Invisible Zipper Tutorial by Sew Maris

Draw a chalk line across the bottom of the zipper where you ended the first stitching line. This chalk line allows you to stop the stitching on the second side of the zipper in exactly the same place as the first side.

Invisible zipper tutorial by Sew Maris

Then just repeat steps 4 and 5 for the second side of the zipper, placing the other side of the zipper on the second side of the fabric. Be sure to stop stitching right on the chalk mark!

Step 7. Garment seam closure

Invisible zipper tutorial by Sew Maris

Using a regular zipper foot, stitch the remainder of the garment. seam closed. I find it easier to draw the stitching line on the garment first, since I am using a regular zipper foot and have adjusted the needle position accordingly. Be sure to stop your stitching at the same spot as the bottom edge of your zipper stitching, and either backstitch or reduce your stitch length near the end of the seam to secure the stitching.

Step 8. Press

Invisible zipper tutorial by Sew Maris

Press your garment! A good press and shot of steam if appropriate for your fabric makes a world of difference in the finished look. Don’t skip this step! Look how perfectly the bottom edges line up!

A few other options….

  1. If you want a more finished look on the end of your zipper, you can wrap the end of the zipper tape with matching or contrasting fabric. This is an especially good idea if you have cut off some of the zipper length.
  2. Try securing the zipper tape to the seam allowance only, either for part or the entire length of the zipper. This provides additional security, and also keeps the zipper tape from “flapping” in the seam allowance during wearing.
  3. If you do not have an invisible zipper foot for your sewing machine, it is perfectly possible to install an invisible zipper with a standard zipper foot. You may to practice just a bit to get the stitching in the correct place so the tape doesn’t show from the outside and making sure the zipper will still “zip up!”

Do you prefer invisible, or regular zippers? Which do you think are easiest to install?

Happy sewing!


Tutorial: Quick-to-make Wooly Lamb Christmas Ornament

It’s December, so it is totally OK to start talking, thinking, planning and making for the holidays! My family celebrates Christmas, so the project I am going to show you how to make today is designed for a Christmas tree. So when Deanna McCool asked me to participate in her 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour, this project jumped immediately to top of mind. But it is so cute I think it would also make a darling package topper for lots of different holidays or gift-giving occasions.

Christmas Wooly Lamb Ornament by Sew Maris

Supplies needed:

  1. Black felt
  2. White “wooly lamb” fake fur
  3. Narrow red ribbon
  4. Small bell
  5. Stuffing
  6. Gold metallic thread (optional)

Pattern: PDF download for lamb body and face

Christmas Wooly Lamb Ornament by Sew Maris

1. Using the PDF pattern download, cut 2 lamb bodies from the fake fur. Also cut 1 lamb face and 4 legs (approximately 2 inches x 1/4 inch) from the black felt.

Christmas Wooly Lamb Ornament by Sew Maris

2. Place the face on one end of the body. Don’t worry about exact placement; just get it pretty close to one end. Using a satin zig-zag stitch (my settings were SW=4.0 and SL= 1.0) and gold metallic thread, embroider 2 eyes on the felt face. If the eyes don’t line up exactly or are not the identical size, have a glass of wine and proceed to step 3. 😉

Christmas Wooly Lamb Ornament by Sew Maris

3. Arrange the felt legs across the bottom edge, and baste in place about 1/8″ from the edge of the fur. Also add a red ribbon loop at the top edge for hanging, and baste that in place as well.

Christmas Wooly Lamb Ornament by Sew Maris

4. Pin the ear and the hanging loop away from the outside edges so that these 2 items do not accidentally get caught when you stitch around the body. You will leave this pin  in place for the next step, so make sure none of the pin is close to the outer edge either!

Christmas Wooly Lamb Ornament by Sew Maris

5. Place the second lamb body on top of the “decorated” one, and stitch around the outside edge, leaving a hole to add the stuffing. Check to make sure there are no “extra” holes in your stitching; it is easy to get the alignment of the outside edges off when you are stitching on bulky fabric like fake fur. If you do have a hole, just re-stitch over that area connecting with the “good” stitching. 😉

6. Turn the lamb right side out being careful to not get poked with the pin! Remove the pin as soon as you can reach it; this might prevent a puncture wound! 😉

7. Add a bit of stuffing to round out your lamb, and stitch the hole closed by hand. (True Confessions: I often skip this step. Yep. LAZY!)

Christmas Wooly Lamb Ornament by Sew Maris

8. Cut another bit of ribbon and thread a bell on it. Tie an overhand knot and hang it around your lamb so you will hear it when it tries to sneak off.

Wooly Lamb Christmas Ornament by Sew Maris

I hope you enjoyed this quick and fun Christmas ornament project! See how cute he looks against a green tree? start to finish this project takes about 15-20 minutes, so you can make a pile of them to add to packages or give as a little gift or party favor. Be sure to check out the other bloggers on tour!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Blogger Challenge with large

Don’t forget to visit all of the bloggers who are creating tutorials for the Sew McCool 12 Days of Christmas challenge! Voting will begin on on December 13 and go through 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern time on December 20. The blogger with the most votes will win $100 – just in time for Christmas!

December 1

Ren @ The Inspired Wren * Stephanie @ Swoodson Says * Alicia @ Felt With Love Designs

December 2

Natalie @ Sew Outnumbered *Deby @ So-Sew-Easy * Ajaire @ Call Ajaire

December 3

Amy @ Friends Stitched Together * Maris @ Sew Maris * Gemia @ Phat Quarters

December 4

Amy @ How I Make Stuff * Michelle @ Falafel and the Bee

December 5

Beth @ Beth Jarrett * Jen @ Just Joshin

December 6

Lauren @ Molly and Mama * Krista @ Bee Quilted Beauties

December 7

Vicky @ Vicky Myers Creations * Deb @ Sprouting Jube Jube

December 8

Addie @ Addie K * Michelle @ Not My Tree

December 9

Ula @ Lulu & Celeste * Sara @ Made By Sara * Chelsea @ GYCT Designs

December 10

Nichole @ Bluebird & the Boy * Darcy @ Ginger House Designs * Shelly @ Coral & Co.

December 11

Amy @ Britches ‘n Bloomers * Kelly @ Kelly J Designs

December 12

Maegen @ Mae and K * Jess @ Gracious Threads * Jone @ Knot Sew Normal

Happy sewing,



Tutorial: How to Make Bias Binding

I love the look of binding, and it is definitely not just for quilts (cuz we all know I don’t quilt!).

Bias Tape Tute by Sew Maris

Making your own binding using cute prints is a snap to do, and the look of homemade binding always trumps both the look and the feel of the purchased product. The method I am going to show you today is useful for making a small amount of binding. If you need yards and yards, it is better to make continuous bias—but that is a tutorial for another day!

I like 100% cotton fabric for most of my binding needs, but any lightweight fabric that presses well will work. For most of my needs I like a finished binding width of 1/2″, which means I start with strips of fabric 2 inches wide, or 4 times whatever I want the the finished width to be.

Supplies needed:

  1. Cotton fabric, a minimum of 1/4 yard
  2. Clover 1 inch wide bias tape maker
  3. Rotary cutter
  4. Self-healing cutting mat
  5. Marking tool of your choice (I love Frixion pens)
  6. Thread
  7. Iron
  8. Sewing machine (duh!!)

How to Make 1/2 Inch (finished) Bias Binding

1.  Draw a line on your fabric at a 45 degree angle to the selvage edge, and then cut on this marked line. This 45 degree line is called the true bias.

Bias Tape Tute by Sew Maris

2.  Next, cut 2 inch wide strips from the bias edge.

Bias Tape Tute by Sew Maris
3.  Right sides together, lay 1 bias strip on top of another, and draw a line at a 45 degree angle and pin. Make sure that the direction of the line will create a long continuous strip.
4.  Continue in the same manner, adding as many strips as you need to create the amount of binding you want.

Bias Tape Tute by Sew Maris
5.  Arrange several (or all!)  “pinned junctions” on top of your sewing machine, and sew in a continuous path.

Bias Tape Tute by Sew Maris
6.  Cut the stitching apart, and trim the seam allowances to 1/4 inch.
7.  Press the seam allowances open.

Bias Tape Tute by Sew Maris

8.  Insert one end of the bias fabric strip into the Clover bias tape maker tool. You might need a wooden skewer or pin to help get the fabric moving through the tape maker.

Bias Tape Tute by Sew Maris
9. As the bias tape comes out of the narrow end of the tape maker tool, press with your iron.

Bias Tape Tute by Sew Maris

9.  Press again in half, slightly favoring one side.

You just made your very own bias tape. Congrats!

Happy sewing!


Tutorial: How to Draft a 1-Piece Collar

A 1-piece collar, you say? Why in the world would I want to make/use one of those crazy-looking things?

How to Draft a 1-Piece Collar by Sew Maris

The first few shirts I made for my husband I did not use a I-piece collar pattern. What was the point, after all? Well, in time, I realized that eliminating the seam on the front edge of the collar produces a smoother line. And the collar and the front placket is your first impression of a shirt. Uh huh. So make it count, people.

Also, my husband loves a good button-down, and eliminating some of the bulk in the collar point area enabled me to create a better-looking buttonhole.  OK, so far that’s 2 points for a 1-piece collar.

What about the downsides? Well, you have to draft it yourself, usually. I don’t believe I have ever seen a pattern with this piece included. Now, I haven’t seen every pattern produced (my husband would disagree, based on the size of my pattern stash!), but for sure it is not the norm in a shirt pattern.

Because the shape is a little wonky, a 1-piece collar requires a bit more fabric than the more typical upper collar and under collar pattern pieces. It just doesn’t fit easily into the little sections of fabric that are often “reserved” for collars, cuffs, and other fiddly little who-ha’s.

Alright. That’s 2 for, and 2 against; a wash. Let’s talk about how you can draft your own 1-piece collar, and you can decide when/where you want to use it.

How to Draft a 1-Piece Collar by Sew Maris
1.  Trace a new, full size copy of your upper collar pattern piece, and draw the stitching lines on both of the front collar edges.
2.  Trace 2 copies of the under collar pattern piece, and draw the stitching lines on both of the collar front edges.

How to Draft a 1-Piece Collar by Sew Maris

3.  Lay the under collar pieces on top of the upper collar piece, aligning the stitching lines. Make sure that the collar point end of the under collar is attached tot eh collar point end of the upper collar. Tape to secure.
4.  Trim da “wings”. 🙂

How to Draft a 1-Piece Collar by Sew Maris

In the image above, the collar pattern is folded on the front edges, and you are looking at  the under collar folded on top of the upper collar. You can see the overlap of the under collar pieces at the center back, right? Of course those 2 pieces are seamed during construction, but this shows you how the weird flying bird-shaped pattern piece actually looks like a collar when it is sewn.

That’s pretty much all there is to it.  Actually, really simple pattern drafting, right?

One more thing. I like to shave a bit off the collar edge (closest to the bottom in this image) and the center back of the under collar only. Why? Because the under collar is on the bias and will “grow” a bit. Since I want the under collar to actually be under the upper collar, it helps to reduce the dimensions of this pattern piece slightly. Only logical, right?

Oh, I guess there is another thing. It will save you time if you also draft a separate interfacing pattern piece for this collar. I like the interfacing pattern piece to cover only the upper collar section, and not extend onto the under collar at the fold. Less bulk which keeps that front edge fold smooth and perfect. Again, only logical.

For another tutorial on this subject (and a glimpse of my cute DH!), you can check out my Craftsy post on How to Make a One-Piece Shirt Collar.

Or, if you prefer, you can watch a quick, little video I made to demo this process.



Have you ever drafted/sewn a 1-piece collar? What did you like about using a single collar piece compared to a separate under and upper collar piece?

Happy sewing!



Tutorial: How to Hem Jeans (and Stop Paying For Hemming Alterations)

If you own a decent sewing machine, all you need to do is buy a couple of inexpensive tools and you will be all set to hem your own jeans and casual pants. As a matter of fact, you could quickly start charging your friends to do their hemming alterations!

Video Tutorial: How to Hem Jeans by Sew MAris

Here are the tools/supplies you will need:

  1. Size 100 Jeans needle
  2. Jean-a-majig
  3. Denim or topstitching thread to match the garment
  4. Scissors
  5. Sewing machine

Watch this video to learn just how easy it is to properly hem a pair of jeans. You’ve got this, peeps!!



Happy sewing!


Tutorial: How to Sew a Blind Hem

You love to sew, but maybe you are a little low on time to create the kind of garments you can be proud to wear. Or maybe all you need is a clear explanation and a simple, clear demonstration of the technique you have been itching to try.

Let’s start with the way ready-to-wear garments are hemmed in manufacturing. Duh! By using an invisible or blind hem on a sewing machine, that’s how. There is no time for hand hemming in a manufacturing process.

Video Tutorial: How to Blind Hem by Machine by Sew Maris


Soooo, if you  are not exactly sure how large your hem depth should be, or the proper amount of hem turn back, or how to orient your fabric under the sewing machine, this video will give you the answers you need. Give this technique a try! All you need is a blind hem stitch and a blind hem foot for your sewing machine. Oh. And a garment that needs to be hemmed.


There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Now get out there and hem like a pro! (Psssst! Practice helps tremendously, btw. ;-))

Happy sewing!


Tutorial: How to Make A Perfect Buttonhole

Buttonholes can induce a little anxiety, especially if you have to make ten or twelve of them on a shirt. But if you follow these simple steps, and practice, you will soon be making lovely buttonholes without batting an eyelash. Really!

Grainline Archer by Sew Maris

Please note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you decide to purchase. Thanks!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  1. A garment with appropriate interfacing applied to the area where buttonholes will be made
  2. Sewing machine with buttonhole foot
  3. Thread
  4. Water soluble stabilizer (like Solvy)
  5. Marking tool (I like the Frxion pens for this job)
  6. Optional: Simflex buttonhole marking tool
  7. Optional: Fray-check

How to Make a Buttonhole


How to make a perfect buttonhole tutorial by Sew Maris

1. Using the pattern guide or a Simflex marking tool, mark the placement for your buttonholes on your garment. In the example above, the buttonholes are vertical, so I marked a horizontal line where the buttonhole needs to start, and a vertical line to keep my stitching correctly centered on the shirt front.

Hint: If your sewing machine automatically stitches the correct buttonhole length like mine does, you will only have to mark the starting placement line for the buttonhole,and the machine will determine the . correct ending point.

2. Select the buttonhole stitch on your sewing machine.

Hint: If you increase the stitch length slightly your finished buttonholes will look more ready-to-wear (RTW).

3. Cut two strips or enough rectangles of Solvy to place on top and underneath each buttonhole marking. (Make a “sandwich” of Solvy-garment-Solvy.)

How to make a perfect buttonhole tutorial by Sew Maris

4. Align your garment under the buttonhole foot so the needle is at the beginning of the buttonhole mark, and stitch the buttonhole. Well, the machine does this part.;-)

How to make a perfect buttonhole tutorial by Sew Maris

5. Repeat until all your buttonholes are completed. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

6. Gently tear off the excess Solvy around the buttonholes, and place a “line” of Fray-check in between the 2 rows of zig-zag stiching of each buttonhole. Let dry.

How to Make a Perfect Buttonhole tutorial by Sew Maris

7. Cut open each buttonhole. That’s it! Not so bad, especially with today’s modern sewing machines that really help simplify this task.

Hint: My preferred method of cutting through the garment is to use a Japanese 15 mm buttonhole cutter as shown above. The knife edge is both very sharp and very thin, so you are much less likely to cut into your stitches. You can also use a seam ripper to open a little hole in the buttonhole and finish cutting with a pair of sharp scissors, or you can fold the buttonhole in half and snip a hole with sharp scissors, too. Regardless of which technique you use, BE CAREFUL! If you cut through your stitches it is possible to “re-stitch” , but your buttonhole will look a little sad. 🙁

I hope this tute helps you make purrrr-fect buttonholes on your next garment. It really is just a series of little things that add up to making a better buttonhole. Be sure to practice on scraps before you tackle the “real” garment.

Happy sewing!



Tutorial: 10 ways to finish your seams

There are loads of different ways to finish a seam allowance; in this tutorial I will just cover ten of the methods that you might like to experiment with. Maybe you have a favorite or two in this grouping, and maybe you will be encouraged to try a few other finishes in the near future.

The purpose of a seam finish can be to:

  1. prevent raveling
  2. provide a decorative detail on the inside of a garment
  3. strengthen a seam
  4. reduce bulk

Seam Finish tutorial by Sew Maris

Felled seam

A felled seam is commonly used on jeans, men’s shirts, and other garments where a flat finish is preferred next to the body and extra strength is needed in the seam itself. Start by stitching the seam with the specified seam allowance, and then trim 1 side of the seam allowance to no more than 1/4 inch. Press the remaining seam allowance over the trimmed seam allowance, turn under, and stitch close to the edge. Well, I guess I stitched sort of close to the edge in my example—could have done a little better there. Sorry!

Seam Finish tutorial by Sew Maris

French seam

French seams are often used on sheer or lightweight garments, both to eliminate raveling as well as to provide a narrow seam allowance to minimize show-through. The key point to remember with French seams is you stitch the same seam 2 times—so the sum of both seam allowances needs to equal the total seam allowance for the garment. For example, for a 5/8 inch seam allowance, place the wrong sides of the fabric together and stitch a 1/4″ seam. Trim, press, then fold along the first stitching line so the right sides are together. Stitch the second seam 3/8 of an inch from the pressed fold. Perfect! A totally enclosed seam that equals 5/8 of an inch!

Seam Finish tutorial by Sew Maris

Hand overcasting

Often used in couture sewing to “lightly” finish the  seam allowances even on a lined garment, overcast stitch by hand along all seam allowances. It is a surprising fun and relaxing way to sew!

Seam Finish tutorial by Sew Maris

Hong Kong finish

A Hong Kong finish is most often used in an unlined coat or jacket to both prevent raveling and provide a decorative finishing element. Start with bias strips of fabric (lining fabric is a good choice with wool) about 1–1/1/4 inches wide, and with right sides together stitch a strip to each side of the seam allowance using a 1/4 inch seam. Press the bias strip away toward the raw edge, and fold it around to the back side of the seam allowance. Stitch in the ditch from the top side to secure the back of the bias strip. Trim any extra fabric on the back side.

Seam Finish tutorial by Sew Maris

Overlock with serger

Overlocking with a serger is a fast and easy way to finish seam allowances. You can serge either each seam allowance individually and press the seam open and flat, or you can serge the two seam allowances together. You can use either a 3-thread or 4-thread overlock stitch for this finish.

Seam Finish tutorial by Sew Maris

Overcast with sewing machine

Most sewing machines include an overcast stitch, which is similar in function to the overlock stitch on your serger.

Seam Finish tutorial by Sew Maris


Pinking produces a very flat seam finish, and gives a vintage look to the inside of your garments. Pinking requires a wavy blade for your rotary cutter or special pinking shears.

Seam Finish tutorial by Sew Maris

Straight stitch

A line of straight stitching close to the edge of the seam allowance can be used alone or in combination with a pinked edge to reduce raveling.

Seam Finish tutorial by Sew Maris

Turn and stitch

Turn each seam allowance to the underside 1/4 of an inch, and stitch with a straight stitch close to the edge.

Seam Finish tutorial by SewMaris


Similar to the overcast stitch, a zig-zag stitch can also be applied close to the raw edge to reduce raveling.

Select the seam allowance you want to use based on your fabric, how the garment will be laundered, and the look you want for the final garment. It is a great idea to sample several seam finishes on leftover fabric to see what will work best.

Do you have a favorite seam finish you like to use? How many  of these 10 finishes have you tried in your garments?

Happy sewing!




Tutorial: How to Add Piping to a Seam

Adding a bit of piping in a seam is an easy way to give your finished garment some pizazz, and often a pop of color as well. I don’t really consider this to be a couture technique; tho some folks do. Really, it is easy. Just start by including it in a straight seam rather than something curved like a collar, and then after you get the hang of it you can go crazy.

Midriff bands or waist seams are no-brainer locations for piping. I naturally had to jazz up my DD’s Jenny Dress with some hot pink piping. The women in our family are not of the shrinking violet variety. 😉

Sisboom Jenny by Sew Maris

In this tute I am going to show you how to make only a short length of bias—using the strip piecing method. If you need yards of bias, Rachel on Coletterie has a lovely tutorial on making continuous bias tape. I want to focus here on how you add piping—either that you make yourself or purchase ready-made—into a seam for a polished, RTW detail in your garment seams!

How to add Piping to a garment seam by Sew Maris

So let’s just get down to it!


Piping Tutorial by Sew Maris


  1. 1/3 yard or more of fabric
  2. Cording of the desired circumference for your finished piping (I used the skinny 1/8″ cording not the fatty stuff in the pix above)
  3. Ruler
  4. Marking tool (Frixion pen, Chakoner, etc)

Determine Strip Width

This is your story problem for the day. See, you DO use math after you graduate. 😉

  1. Measure the width of your cording (mine was 1/8 inch).
  2. Double the width of your cording for the “wrap” circumference. (2 x 1/8 = 1/4)
  3. Double the desired seam allowance (2 x 1/2 =  1)
  4. Add the wrap circumference and the doubled seam allowance to determine the strip width. (1/4 + 1 = 1 1/4 inch strips)

Make the Piping

Piping Tutorial by Sew Maris

1. Press or mark a line at a 45° angle to the selvage edge of your fabric.
2. Cut on the marked line, being careful to cut straight and not stretch the bias edge of the fabric.
3. Cut several strips the “calculated strip width” as determined in step 4 above. (Hint: I never figure out the number of strips I need beforehand, but if you are extra math-nerdy you might want to do this. I just stitch up a few and then measure it against my seams to see it I need to add another strip or two.)

Piping Tutorial by Sew Maris
4. Right sides together, place one strip perpendicular to another. Mark a diagonal line from 1 short edge to the other short edge of your strips.
5. Stitch along the marked line, and trim the seam allowance to no more than 1/4 inch. Press open.
6. Continue as in step 5 above until your strip is at least a few inches longer than the seam the piping will be inserted into.
7. Fold the pieced bias strip over the cording, wrong sides together.

Piping Tutorial by Sew Maris
8. Using your regular presser foot, stitch with the left side of the presser foot against the cording. Do NOT worry that the stitching is not close enough to the cording; you are going to stitch this piping 2 more times before you are done, and the last stitching will be snuggied right up against the cord. Trust me!

Insert the Piping into your Garment

Piping Tutorial by Sew Maris

  1. Place your be-a-yoot-y-ful piping on the right side of whatever it is going to be stitched to. In my example, I stitched the piping to the midriff piece rather than the skirt or bodice sections. (Hint: It is not impossible to stitch piping to gathered fabric, but it is certainly harder than stitching it to a flat piece of fabric.) Pin in place, or be bold and don’t. 😉
  2. Move your needle 1 or 2 positions closer to the piping than your original stitching in step 8 above, and stitch the piping to the garment section. (Hint: Same as before—do not try to get right up against the cording. This stitching is navy in the image above, and the white thread is from step 8 in the Make the Piping section)

Now all you need to do is just finish your garment construction per your pattern instructions. In my example, the piping was stitched to the top edge and the bottom edge of the midriff section, so the next steps were to stitch the bodice and skirt pieces to the piped midriff section.

Piping Tutorial by Sew Maris

3. Right sides together, lay the remaining garment piece (skirt, in my example) on the piped piece (midriff, in my example). Pin and stitch on the piped fabric side (in my example, on the midriff) so you can see where to stitch a bit closer to the piping. In the image above my final stitching is closer to my fingertips, and the stitching that applied the piping to the midriff is closer to the raw edge.

Piping Tutorial by Sew Maris

Hint: A bulky cording foot is super helpful here if you have one, or a 3-tuck pintuck foot can work too. If you use a zipper foot you are going to have to pay attention and keep your stitching as close as possible to the piping.

4. Flip your garment to the right side, and check that your piping looks an even circumference for the entire seam length. Make any necessary adjustments—meaning, stitch a little closer or make friends with your seam ripper rip a bit and stitch again.

Sisboom Jenny by Sew Maris

Now that wasn’t so bad was it? And look at what a difference it makes in the finished product!

Happy sewing!






Tutorial: How to Iron the Collar When Making a Shirt

The collar is the main focal point of a shirt, so everything you can do to make this part of your garment as perfect as possible will help your garment achieve that “standard of excellence” we sewists all strive for with our garments.

How to iron a collar when making a shirt by Sew Maris
Ironing, or pressing, is an often overlooked or under-appreciated part of sewing. And they are different. Ironing involves sliding the iron across the fabric; pressing is lifting and setting down an iron with some pressure. If you take the time to really learn how to iron/press your garments during the construction phase, your finished garments will immediately look much more polished and professional. You can easily spend as much time ironing and pressing as sewing when making tailored clothes!!

How to iron a collar when making a shirt by Sew Maris

BTW, one of the tricks to a properly ironed shirt collar comes long before you get to the ironing board-it starts with cutting. That’s right, your  job will be much easier if you cut your under collar slightly narrower and shorter than your upper collar.

How to iron a collar when making a shirt by Sew Maris
Tools needed:

Wooden point presser

Steps to ironing a shirt collar during construction

1. Stitch the interfaced upper collar to the under collar.
2. Trim the seams to a scant 1/4”, and cut across the corners diagonally.

How to iron a collar when making a shirt by Sew Maris
3. Place one short end of the collar on the point presser, with the collar point at the tip of the presser. Iron the seam allowances open.

How to iron a collar when making a shirt by Sew Maris
4. Turn the collar so the long edge is on the point presser, and iron the seam allowance open.
5. Repeat with the other short end of the collar.

How to iron a collar when making a shirt by Sew Maris
6. Turn the collar right side out, and press the collar flat, favoring the seam edge so that the under collar is slightly to the under side of the finished collar. (See why cutting the under collar  slightly smaller is such a help??)
7. Topstitch if desired.

Now I expect all your shirt collars to look like total PERFECTION!! Let me know how that goes. 😉

Happy sewing