Category Archives: Tutorials

Tutorial: How to Set in a Sleeve Without an Easing Stitch

For some reason, learning how to set sleeves into blouses or dresses can cause some sewists to break out in hives. Part of the reason for this struggle can be poor pattern-drafting. Hear that! Not.Your.Fault! 🙂

But with a properly drafted pattern you can often set the sleeve in without adding an easing stitch to your sleeve. What I mean by a properly drafted sleeve is one with a high sleeve cap that only has about 1 inch or less of difference between the armscye stitching line and the sleeve stitching line. When the sleeve stitching line is only 1 inch longer than the armscye stitching line, you rarely need to run a gathering (easing) stitch to set in the sleeve. Don’t believe me? Here’s how to do it:

1. Start pinning sleeve to the armscye of the shirt, matching beginning, ending, front notches, back notches, and shoulder seam first. So far NO EASING. The sleeve and the shirt body should be matching at a 1:1 ratio from the edges to the notches.
NOTE: You should now see that the sleeve is slightly bigger than the armscye, and slightly more so between the shoulder and the back notches than the shoulder and the front notches.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris
2. Starting at the front notch, roll the armscye and sleeve over your finger. The armscye is next to your finger, and the sleeve on the top. Continue in this manner all the way to the shoulder, easing the sleeve to fit the armscye.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris
3. Starting at the shoulder, continue in the same manner toward the back notches. You will need to allow a little more of the sleeve to ease over your finger than you did in step 2, or instead of the “finger-rolling” you can just pin with a slight amount of ease on the sleeve side.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris

4.When you are finished pinning, all of the extra fullness in the sleeve should be distributed between the notches along the sleeve cap.

5. Place your sleeve + shirt body under your sewing machine, with the sleeve against the bed of your machine. By placing the garment “sleeve down” the feed dogs will help ease in the excess fabric.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris
6. Take a few stitches, and then stop with the needle down in the fabric. Reach between the sleeve and shirt body and smooth the sleeve before proceeding. You will need to do this multiple times when stitching the sleeve to help prevent puckers.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris
7. With your thumb underneath and remaining fingers on top, grab the shirt sleeve and roll the fabric over your hand. Continue stitching with your hand in this position,  pulling gently on the seam as you are stitching to smooth out puckers. You may also need to hold the seam behind the presser foot and pull gently from the back as you are stitching. Don’t forget to stop occasionally and smooth the fabric between the shirt body and sleeve as you are stitching.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris
8. When you are done, you should not have any puckers in the stitching, but you can see the slight extra fullness across the sleeve cap in this image above.

9. Finish the sleeve seam as desired, and press the shirt sleeve over a ham with the seam allowance toward the sleeve.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris

That’s it! If by chance you did get a pucker or two, unpick a few stitches and re-stitch. With a little practice (and a correctly drafted pattern!) setting a tailored sleeve into a shirt is definitely within your grasp. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Happy sewing!

Maris

Tutorial: How to add a vented sleeve band

Have you ever made a blouse or top and the sleeves ended up being shorted than you would have liked? C’mon, you know you have; it has happened to all of us who sew.

VentedSleeveBand_PinCover

I like to view these situations as “design opportunities” rather than disasters, and one of my favorite ways to add a little snap to an outfit with too-short sleeves is to add a vented cuff. It looks all designer-y-and-fancy, but it really is super simple. You can use the same fabric as the garment, or a contrast fabric can really add some pizazz. You can apply exactly the same technique to too-short-pants. This tutorial is a two-fer! 😉

Supplies needed:

  1. Sleeves to be lengthened
  2. Extra fabric to create a sleeve band
  3. Iron
  4. Matching thread
  5. Ruler
  6. Marking tool (tailor’s chalk, Frixion pen, Chakoner, etc)
  7. Sewing machine + basic sewing supplies

Let’s get this party started.
1. First, decide on the desired WIDTH of your sleeve band. To determine this, you need to start with the amount of LENGTH you want to add to your sleeves. You will be cutting a strip 2 x the number of inches you want to add, + 2 seam allowances. For my sleeve, I wanted to add 2 inches,  so I cut 2 strips of fabric 4.5 inches wide ((2 * 2 inches) + (2 * 1/4 inch seam allowance).
2. Now let’s figure out how long the sleeve band strips need to be. Start by measuring the circumference of your sleeve, and again you will need to add 2 seam allowances to this measurement. My sleeve measured about 11 inches, so I cut my strips 11.5 inches (11 inches + (2 * 1/4 SA)
3. Fold your sleeve band strips in half the long way, right sides together.

Vented sleeveband tutorial by Sew Maris
4. Using your marking tool, draw a line from the seam allowance at the short end of the band to the fold. I like to angle this line inwards a little as it gets closer to the fold because it creates a nice “V” on the finished band. Your choice—draw a straight line just marking the seam allowance you used in # 2, or start at the seam allowance and angle the line a bit toward the middle as you get to the fold edge. I angled my line about 1/2 inch at the fold edge. It is hard to see in the image above because of my fabric, but squint your eyes and you will see yellow lines at the short ends, and the lines angle toward the middle of the sleeve band.

Have you ever made a blouse or top and the sleeves ended up being shorted than you like? C’mon, it has happened to all of us.   I like to view these situations as “design opportunities” rather than disasters, and one of my favorite ways to add a little snap to an outfit with too-short sleeve sis to add a vented cuff. It looks all designer-y-and-fancy, but it really is super simple. You can use the same fabric as the garment, or a contrast fabric can really add some pizazz.    Supplies needed: Sleeves to be lengthened Extra fabric to create a sleeve band Iron Thread Ruler Marking tool (tailor’s chalk, Frixion pen, Chakoner, etc)  Let’s get this party started. 1. Determine the WIDTH of your sleeve band. To determine this, you need to start with the amount of LENGTH you want to add to your sleeves. You will be cutting a strip 2 x the number of inches you want to add, + 2 seam allowances. For my sleeve, I wanted to add 2 inches,  so I cut 2 strips of fabric 4.5 inches wide((2*2 inches)+ (2 * 1/4 inch seam allowance).  2. Now let’s figure out how long the sleeve bands need to be. Start by measuring the circumference of your sleeve, and again you will need to add 2 seam allowances. My sleeve measured 11 inches, so I cut my strips 11.5 inches (11 inches + (2 * 1/4 SA) 3. Fold your sleeve band strips in half, right sides together, and press with your iron. 4. Using your marking tool, draw a line from the cut edge of the stitching line at the short end of the band to the fold. I like to angle this line toward the center a little because it creates a nice “V” on the finished band. Your choice - draw a straight line marking your seam allowance you used in # 2, or angle the line at the fold edge a bit. I angled my line about 1/2 inch at the fold edge. 5. Stitch the short ends of the sleeve band. Trim seam allowances to 1/4”, turn and press. 6. Fold your sleeve in half, and place a pin at the fold line marking the outside center of the sleeve.  7. Right sides together, place one edge of the sleeve band at the bottom of the sleeve “center” pin. Continue pinning the sleeve band around the bottom edge of the sleeve, making sure the short ends of the sleeve vent meet at the center pin.  8. Stitch the sleeve band to the sleeve, using the seam allowance you determined in step #1. 9. Trim and press the seam allowance toward the sleeve, and topstitch on the sleeve side catching the seam allowance in the stitching.
5. Stitch the short ends of the sleeve band. Trim seam allowances to 1/4”, turn and press. In the image above, the fold edges are at the bottom of the picture, and the top band has been trimmed,and the bottom band has only been stitched.

Have you ever made a blouse or top and the sleeves ended up being shorted than you like? C’mon, it has happened to all of us.   I like to view these situations as “design opportunities” rather than disasters, and one of my favorite ways to add a little snap to an outfit with too-short sleeve sis to add a vented cuff. It looks all designer-y-and-fancy, but it really is super simple. You can use the same fabric as the garment, or a contrast fabric can really add some pizazz.    Supplies needed: Sleeves to be lengthened Extra fabric to create a sleeve band Iron Thread Ruler Marking tool (tailor’s chalk, Frixion pen, Chakoner, etc)  Let’s get this party started. 1. Determine the WIDTH of your sleeve band. To determine this, you need to start with the amount of LENGTH you want to add to your sleeves. You will be cutting a strip 2 x the number of inches you want to add, + 2 seam allowances. For my sleeve, I wanted to add 2 inches,  so I cut 2 strips of fabric 4.5 inches wide((2*2 inches)+ (2 * 1/4 inch seam allowance).  2. Now let’s figure out how long the sleeve bands need to be. Start by measuring the circumference of your sleeve, and again you will need to add 2 seam allowances. My sleeve measured 11 inches, so I cut my strips 11.5 inches (11 inches + (2 * 1/4 SA) 3. Fold your sleeve band strips in half, right sides together, and press with your iron. 4. Using your marking tool, draw a line from the cut edge of the stitching line at the short end of the band to the fold. I like to angle this line toward the center a little because it creates a nice “V” on the finished band. Your choice - draw a straight line marking your seam allowance you used in # 2, or angle the line at the fold edge a bit. I angled my line about 1/2 inch at the fold edge. 5. Stitch the short ends of the sleeve band. Trim seam allowances to 1/4”, turn and press. 6. Fold your sleeve in half, and place a pin at the fold line marking the outside center of the sleeve.  7. Right sides together, place one edge of the sleeve band at the bottom of the sleeve “center” pin. Continue pinning the sleeve band around the bottom edge of the sleeve, making sure the short ends of the sleeve vent meet at the center pin.  8. Stitch the sleeve band to the sleeve, using the seam allowance you determined in step #1. 9. Trim and press the seam allowance toward the sleeve, and topstitch on the sleeve side catching the seam allowance in the stitching.
6. Fold your sleeve in half, and place a pin at the fold line marking the outside center of the sleeve. Fold your band in half and also mark the center with a pin.

PinnedSleeveBand
7. Now you are ready to pin the sleeve band to the sleeve.

  • Right sides together, place the sleeve band on top of the sleeve.
  • Make sure that the two “vent” edges of the sleeve band meet at the “center” pin you marked on the sleeve, and the “center” pin marked on the sleeve band is at the at the sleeve seam.
  • The raw (cut) edges of the sleeve band are on top of the raw edge of the sleeve. This means the fold of the sleeve band should be oriented towards the shoulder seam.
  • Pin all around the sleeve circumference.
  • Make sure you do not place the vent edges of the band at the sleeve seam, or your designer detail will be under your arm and no one will see it! 🙂

8. Stitch the sleeve band to the sleeve, using the seam allowance you determined in step #1.

Vented sleeve band tutorial by Sew Maris
9. Trim and press the seam allowance toward the sleeve, and topstitch on the sleeve side. Be sure to catch the seam allowance in the stitching so they do not poke down toward the sleeve band while wearing.

You are done, and you have a snazzy looking sleeve that is actually the length you want for the garment. Win-win!

Happy sewing!

Maris

Tutorial: How to Ruche a Sleeve

A really fun (and cute!) way to shorten a sleeve or pant leg without re-hemming is to add a bit of ruching. You can do this to RTW clothes as easily as clothing you have made for yourself, and best of all—it is fast and easy!

Ruched Sleeve Tutorial by Sew MAris

The only slightly tricky part is deciding what length you want to be gathered. This is definitely a case where less is more, because the finished ruching section will be approximately half the length you initially measure. For my sweater sleeve example, I put the sweater on and marked with a pin approximately where I wanted the upper end of the ruching. Keep in mind the bottom edge of the ruching will obviously be lower—how much depends on the length you gather—but about half is in the ballpark! The good news is if you don’t ruche enough, you can just add a bit more elastic on top of the area you already completed. No need to rip anything out, just add a new section right on top of the first one.

SleeveRuching7

These supplies will be needed for this project:

  1. Garment to be ruched (knit sweater or top, or leggings are good choices)
  2. Thread
  3. Fabric marker(chalk, Frixion pen, etc)
  4. Narrow elastic (I used 1/4” clear elastic)
  5. Basic sewing supplies
  6. Sewing machine with a zig-zag stitch

OK, let’s get started with the specifics. Here’s how you ruche a sleeve:

Sleeve ruching tutorial by Sew Maris

1. Turn the garment inside-out, and fold in half. Measure the length you want to ruche on the fold (opposite the seam) and mark with a pin. In my example I put a pin 7 inches from the hem edge, which will result in approximately 3-4 inches of ruching when I am done.

Sleeve ruching tutorial by Sew Maris

2. Draw a chalk line along the fold from the hem edge to the pin. You can use any marker appropriate for your fabric; I just used chalk because it showed up the best on my cheetah print sweater knit. Not great, but better than anything else I tried!

3. Set your sewing machine to a medium-ish zig-zag stitch. I used L=3 and W=4.

Sleeve ruching tutorial by Sew Maris

4. Lay your elastic on the hem edge of the chalk line, extending it beyond the hem by an inch or more. DO NOT CUT ANY ELASTIC.

5. Secure the elastic in place by backstitching over the elastic to the hem edge, and then take 5-6 stitches forward and stop.

Sleeve ruching tutorial by Sew Maris

6. With your sewing machine needle down securing the fabric + elastic in place, pull hard on the long end of the elastic and lay it directly over the chalk line. At the same time, from the back of your machine pull on the hem edge of your garment (hem pulling not shown above since I needed one hand to shoot!).

7. Zig-zag directly on top of your super-stretched-out elastic. Go slowly, and make sure you are not catching anything but the one layer of your sleeve while stitching—things are definitely bunchy so it is easy to catch another part of the sleeve. You will only be able to stitch a few inches at a time.

Sleeve ruching tutorial by Sew Maris
8. When you get to the end of your chalk mark, backstitch or lockstitch to secure the zig-zag stitching.

Sleeve ruching tutorial by Sew Maris

9. Now you can cut the elastic. Trim threads and cut off the excess elastic at both ends, and you are done and done!

Ruched Sleeve Tutorial by Sew Maris

I hope you have fun with this technique. I have used it as a quick fix for droopy sleeves and also when I just want this detail on my garment. Try it and let me know what you think!

Happy sewing!

Maris

Tutorial: How to Stay Knit Neck Edges

A common way of finishing simple knit T-shirts is to just turn under the raw edge around the neckline and topstitch or coverstitch the edge. Fast and easy! I have done it plenty of times, and my normal method of preventing gaping around the neckline was to stabilize right up against the cut edge of the neckline with knit stay tape. Worked reasonably well, but I did occasionally need to clip into the neckline so that it would lay smoothly when I turned it under prior to topstitching. You know what I’m talking about here.

knit stay tape placement around neckline by Sew Maris

This past weekend I learned a new trick from Pamela Leggett that produces much better results. Funny how just a slight change can make a big difference sometimes, huh? Here is <almost> Pamela’s awesome method:

  1. Baste around the neck edge on the stitching line. (This is where I differ with Pamela. She staystitches instead of basting – but I like to remove this stitching after I am all done so I baste using a contrast color of thread. I also “push” the knit fabric into the presser foot a little bit to prevent stretching the neckline edge.)
    knit stay tape placement around neckline by Sew Maris
  2.  Fuse Knit Stay Tape below the basting stitch. The tape should be on the garment side of the body. closeup of knit stay tape placement around neckline by Sew Maris
  3. The next step is to topstitch or coverstitch from the right side of the garment—your choice. Knit neckline stay tutorial by Sew Maris
  4. Fold over the neck edge and topstitch or coverstitch. I can do it without pinning or basting; you will have to decide if you are comfortable doing that. Knit neckline stay tutorial by Sew Maris
  5. When you are finished topstitching, on the inside of your neckline the cut edge should cover or almost cover the knit stay tape. At this point I also remove the basting thread.
  6. The final step is to press the neckline edge by holding the steam iron over the garment and shooting steam into the knit. Use your fingers to “block”  the neckline into shape. Do not touch your iron to the fabric!

This technique often reduces the need for clipping the neck edge, and also creates a smooth, consistent surface for your topstitching. It really is often a combination of little improvements that can elevate your sewing to a higher level, and this is definitely one of those tips. Brilliant! Thank you, Pamela!

Completed sleeveless tank by Sew Maris

Pamela has a great online video tutorial where she demonstrates this technique, using her sleeveless tank pattern that is included in the New Versatile Twin Set pattern. I can highly recommend this tank pattern; it is shown above in the yummy “coffee bean” knit from EmmaOneSock. I love how it fits snugly around your arm so no arm “boob” hangs out, and using her neck stay technique the neckline really hugs against your body. Win win!

Happy sewing!

Maris

 

 

Tutorial: How to tame your gathers

Now that you know how to gather successfully, the next challenge is making sure that your gathers are straight and even when you are sewing big onto little. Easier said than done, right? How often have you ended up with a full skirt stitched to a bodice and the gathers look like Indiana Jone’s snake pit ? Don’t sweat it; I got a couple of tricks for you to tame that fabric fullness. As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to read to the end to learn my tricks. 😉

Trick # 1: Double up! Run 2 parallel rows of gathering stitches, using whatever gathering stitch method is appropriate for your application.

Trick # 2: Fractions are your friend. No worries, this math is easy and not scary at all.

OK, now that you know all my tricks, let’s walk through the steps to attach a skirt that needs to be gathered onto a bodice. I know you are going to want to know what dress I made for my DGD, so I will just come right out and tell you it is Lauren Dahl’s awesome new pattern for little girls, the Soleil dress. Too stinking cute!

1. Construct bodice and skirt per pattern directions.

Taming your gathering stitches tutorial by Sew Maris
2. Run 2 parallel rows of gathering stitches (straight stitch length as long as possible, or at least 5). One row should be less than the garment seam allowance, and the second row should be more than the garment seam allowance. At a minimum, break your threads at the side seams. If you are working with a large amount of fabric, break your threads more frequently. Be sure to leave long thread tails on both ends!

Taming your gathering stitches tutorial by Sew Maris
3. Divide both sections of the garment into at least quarters, and place a pin at each quarter mark. If you are making an adult size garment, you might divide it into eights, or or sixteenths, or whatever is manageable. What I mean by “manageable” is you can easily distribute the fullness evenly in each fourth, eighth, or whatever fraction you used. In this toddler sized garment, I divided both the bodice and the skirt into quarters because I was able to easily distribute 1/4 of the skirt fullness onto 1/4 of the bodice.

Taming your gathering stitches tutorial by Sew Maris
4. Connect each of the quarter mark pins of the skirt to the corresponding quarter mark pins of the bodice. Notice I have not pulled up my gathering stitches yet. Also, make sure you are connecting the front of the skirt to the bodice front, etc. But you know that already! 😉
5. Now pull both rows of gathering stitches at the same time. The idea is to work only on one quarter of the garment at a time, and to pull until the length of the skirt edge is the same as the length of the bodice edge. Continue until all the sections of the skirt are gathered and the skirt circumference is the same as the bodice circumference.

Taming your gathering stitches tutorial by Sew Maris
6. Take your time in this next step. Distribute the gathers evenly, and also be sure to get the gathers straight and perpendicular to the cut edge of the skirt. This is where 2 rows of gathering stitches really really helps. Pin as frequently as necessary to hold the fabric in place, and a shot of steam wouldn’t hurt either to tame those gathers into place.

Taming your gathering stitches tutorial by Sew Maris
7. Now you can serge or stitch your skirt to the bodice, but you are still going to need to “manage” those gathers as you stitch. Keep them straight and be careful the presser foot doesn’t smoosh them all out of shape and position as you sew.

Taming your gathering stitches tutorial by Sew Maris
8. Voilà! You have a nicely gathered skirt!

Happy sewing!

Maris

Tutorial: Gather successfully!

Let’s face it, gathering fabric can be a pain. Especially if the fabric you are using is a heavier weight than say, quilting cotton, or if you have yards and yards of it to be gathered for a home dec project.

Even on small projects, I have found that young sewists struggle to gather without breaking threads halfway through. This common sewing frustration led to the creation of this video. I hope you enjoy it!

 

 

Happy sewing!

Maris

Tutorial: Sew a Button FAST & Easy

Everyone should know how to sew a button onto a shirt or coat, right? It is a life skill! And like many life skills, it can be a total pain the buttrather tedious. But I bet by the time you try this method you are going to be singing a different tune, and you may even search out opportunities to sew buttons on your clothes, as well as those belonging to friends!

How to sew a button by Sew Maris

Here’s what you will need:

  1. Thread
  2. Beeswax or thread conditioner
  3. Hand sewing needle
  4. Button
  5. Small scissors
  6. Thimble (optional)

Steps to Sew a Button by hand

1. Thread your needle with a piece of thread approximately 18-24 inches long. Do not tie a knot at the end, but do double it.

Sew a button by Sew Maris

2. Run your thread over thread conditioner or beeswax to reduce twisty-tangles while sewing. (Hint: if using beeswax, be sure to press the coated thread with a warm iron onto a paper towel before sewing. Otherwise the wax will come off on your fabric!)

3. Mark the button placement on your fabric.

Sew a button by Sew Maris

4. Take 1 small horizontal stitch on the button placement mark, and pull the needle through the thread loop. This will secure the thread to the fabric without creating a lumpy thread knot. Pretty cool already, right? Repeat, this time taking a vertical stitch on the button placement mark. Congrats: your thread is now secure!

Sew a button by Sew Maris

5. Trim the short thread ends so they are not sticking out under your button.

Sew a button by Sew Maris

6. Fold the fabric at the button placement mark.

AddButton

7. Put the button on top of the fabric fold, and center the button holes over the button placement mark.

StitchButton

8. Starting on the back side, insert the needle thru a bit of fabric and then thru one of the button holes. The needle + thread is now on the front side of the button. You know the next step, right? From the front side, insert the needle thru the second button hole and also thru a bit of fabric. Now the needle + thread is again on the back side of the button.This is the “secure the button to the fabric” stitch. 😉

9. Repeat this “secure the button” stitch twice more for a total of 3 stitches. Do not pull the thread super tight, but also do not leave any loopy or dangly threads.

Sew a button by Sew Maris

10. On the back side of the button, wrap the thread around your stitches 3 times, creating a small button “shank”. This shank creates a little “breathing” space for the fabric/buttonhole to sit under the button without puckering when the garment is buttoned up.

Sew a button by Sew Maris

11. You are almost there! The last step is secure the thread, and it is nearly identical to step #4. Just insert the needle into the fabric next to the shank pulling the thread until you see a small loop, and slip the needle thru that loop and pull tight. Repeat once more, and you have a secure, neat button sewn to your garment!

FinishKnotButton

I only recently learned this technique from a very talented sewing instructor, Jacque Goldsmith. She learned this method from her high school Home Ec teacher, and demo’ed it for one of our Seattle ASG neighborhood group meetings. Despite the cumulative “sewing years” of our group, this technique was new to every one of us!

Have you ever tried sewing a button this way? What are your favorite button sewing tips and tricks? I’d love to hear what you think about this method, or about anything else!

For another great technique, be sure to read SewMcCool’s “secret” button sewing tutorial!

Happy sewing!

Maris

 

 

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Tutorial: Use a coverstitch to hem knit garments

If you sew with lots of knit fabrics, you have probably run into difficulties creating a nice hem on at least some of these fabrics. The more slippery and light-weight the knit the more challenging it is.

Hemming knits with a coverstitch tutorial by Sew Maris

My favorite method of hemming knits is to use the coverstitch function on my Bernina 1300 MDC serger.  Here is what you need to get started:

  1. Garment to be hemmed (duh)
  2. Coverstitch machine, or serger set to coverstitch function
  3. Steam iron
  4. Narrow (1/2 inch or so) strips of fusible interfacing, or purchased knit stay tapes
  5. Thread
  6. Scissors
  7. Ruler or hem template

Hemming knits with a coverstitch tutorial by Sew Maris

1. Press the hem using a the correct temperature setting for your knit. Instead of a ruler I use a tagboard template cut to the exact width hem. It is much faster and easier than a ruler and marking pen, since you can press directly on the tagboard.

Hemming knits with a coverstitch tutorial by Sew Maris

See the press line on my sample? Knits will definitely not produce the same kind of crisp line that firmly woven cotton will, but usually you can still see the line and it will help you to turn the hem evenly.

Hemming knits with a coverstitch tutorial by Sew Maris

2. Press a 1/2″ wide strip of fusible interfacing or purchased knit stay tape on the cut edge of the hem. This will help prevent “tunneling” of the fabric between the 2 rows of stitching.

Hemming knits with a coverstitch tutorial by Sew Maris

3. Hand baste the hem turnback to the garment. Now, this step is optional, but sometimes it is the only way to keep knit hems in the proper place/position when you are actually stitching. It also provides a guideline to help keep your coverstitching straight.

Hemming knits with a coverstitch tutorial by Sew Maris

4. Using a standalone coverstitch or serger set to a coverstitch function, hem your garment. See how the basting thread is visible while you stitch?

Hemming knits with a coverstitch tutorial by Sew Maris

You can see the basting stitch is (somewhat!) centered between the 2 rows of stitching on the front of the hemmed garment.

Hemming knits with a coverstitch tutorial by Sew Maris

Annnd the back side of your hem.

Hemming knits with a coverstitch tutorial by Sew Maris

5. Remove the basting thread, and you have a hemmed garment. Whew!

One final hint: if you are working with a lightweight knit it might be helpful to reduce the tension settings on your needle threads. This plus the stabilizer on the cut edge can really minimize the dreaded “tunnel” effect!

Happy sewing!

Maris

 

 

Tutorial: Easy 1-Hour Skirt

I am not kidding, you can make totally this skirt in an hour. And is it not SUPER-cute? Scale up or down to make the size you need, and have fun making loads of these easy, reversible skirts for all the little ladies in your life. Let’s get started so you can see how easy this project really is.

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

Supplies:

  1. Two pieces of coordinating fabric (see “math” too figure out how much)
  2. 1 pkg of Dritz 1″ fold-over elastic in a coordinating color
  3. 1 pkg of extra-wide double fold binding in a coordinating color
  4. Matching thread
  5. Sewing machine (duh)
  6. Basic sewing supplies

First off, let’s do a little math to determine how much fabric you need. You will need to know your child’s hip and skirt length measurement to determine the amount of fabric you need, and later you will need their waist measurement to cut the elastic.

For the width of fabric needed, multiply child’s hip measurement by 1.5, plus add 2 seam allowances (I used 1/2 ” seam allowances). For my DGD, I cut my skirt fabric sections (21 inches * 1.5) = 31.5 + (.5 * 2) = 32.5 inches wide. That means I can get my skirt pieces out of a single width of cotton fabric that is 44/45 inches wide. Great! Only 1 joining seam.( If the skirt width you need ends up more than 44/45 you might want to adjust your skirt pieces so that you have 2 equal sections, which would mean doubling the number of seam allowances in the calculation above.)

For the length of fabric needed, just use the skirt length number. No seam allowances, nada. Because this skirt has a binding at the bottom instead of a turned under/joined hem, no need for extra length. Same with waist – no casing here. So again for my skirt for DGD, I just need 9 inches for the length. Easy peasy, right?

Now that you know the dimensions of you skirt pieces, you can cut two pieces of coordinating fabrics for your skirt. My two pieces are 32.5 inches wide x 9 inches long. I bought 1/3 yard of each of these two fabrics, just to allow for crazy-crooked-cutting at the fabric store and shrinkage.

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

Next, right sides together, stitch each skirt into a tube by stitching the short ends together.

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

Turn one skirt right side out, and place the two skirts together with the WRONG SIDES touching. Now you have one tube of fabric, aka a skirt, with a “pretty side” visible on the inside and the outside. See? Weird birdy-things on one side and blue flower-y things with yellow leaves on the other side of DGD’s skirt.

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

Now the skirt hem. I always wash purchased binding to take care of any shrinkage and also to get rid of that nasty, stiff sizing. Cut a piece of binding (be sure it is extra wide double fold!!) several inches longer than the circumference of the skirt, and pin the binding in place with the skirt edges together and “sandwiched” into the center fold of the binding.

At the join, I like to put the partially open binding on top (on the right below) of the completely opened binding (on the left below), which also has the front edge folded back about 1/4 inch. Then wrap the completely open binding over the partially open binding, and sandwich the skirt edge inside the binding.

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

See how this technique results in a very neat, clean join without any little hanging bits of the “inside” binding side poking out? Tidy!

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

Stitch the binding to the skirt. You can keep the inside edge of your presser foot close to the binding, or use an edgestitch foot if you prefer. You could also use a pretty decorative stitch.

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

OK, your skirt is hemmed and now you are ready to attach the fold-over-elastic (FOE) at the waist. Run a basting stitch around the waist about 5/8″ or 3/4″ from the raw edge of the skirt waist. You do not want this basting/gathering stitch to be caught under the FOE—you want to be able to easily remove it after the elastic is completely attached – so that is why it should be more than 1/2 inch from the raw skirt edge .

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

Next, cut a length of Dritz 1″ FOE 3-4 inches SMALLER than you child’s waist measurement. Stitch the short ends of the elastic together forming a circle.

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

Pull up the gathering stitch at the skirt waist so that it is the same circumference as the elastic circle, and pin the elastic to the skirt with the elastic “fold over” line even with the skirt waist raw edges. Do not stretch the elastic to fit—you will end up with a skirt that is waa-a-a-y too big in the waist. Trust me.

Using a basting stitch, and with the elastic against your feed dogs, baste the elastic to the skirt. Be sure this basting stitch is approximately in the center of the elastic. You also are going to want to easily rip this out later.

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

Switch to a medium-long and medium-wide zig-zag stitch on your machine, and then fold the elastic over the skirt completely encasing the waist. Stitch near the bottom edge of the elastic, making sure to catch both edges of the elastic with the zig-zag. See the basting stitch? It is barely under the right side of the presser foot of my machine in the image below.  Purrr-fect!

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

After you have completed the zig-zagging around the waist, very carefully rip out the basting stitch in the center of the elastic and also the gathering stitches in the skirt fabric. Be really, really careful with your seam ripper in that FOE. It is very soft, and it is soooo easy to snag an elastic thread when you are trying to remove those basting stitches. Ask me how I know! 😉 This is how the elastic should look at the skirt waist when you are done. Zig-zag stitches close to the edge, catching both sides of the elastic on both sides of this stinkin’ cute reversible skirt.

Reversible Skirt tutorial by Sew Maris

And this is how your finished skirt will look. Now it just needs to be on a cute child!

Reversible skirt tutorial made by Sew Maris

I hope you find this tutorial helpful, and have some fun combining fabrics and trims to make a cute skirt or two for your favorite little girl. I’d love to see your pictures, and as always, LOVE to get your Comments!

Happy sewing!

Maris

Tutorial: Turn out belts and more with your Fasturn

Thanks to the lovely Carol in Denver and several of my ASG sewing sisters, I have exciting news to report about the Fasturn tube turners. You absolutely do NOT have to have both ends of the tube open to turn it. This is a major revelation to me, although it appears to be common knowledge for many of you! Next time, keep me in the loop, peeps! 😉

So just in case you were also in the dark about this mah-velous tool, here is a quickie tutorial on how to turn a tube that is CLOSED on both ends. (Really, who knew?)

1. Right sides together, sew your strip of fabric closed on the two short ends and also along the length, leaving an opening 2-3 inches someplace along the long side. You can see the open section of the tube in the frame below – it is a little to the right of center.

FasturnClosedTube

2. Insert the appropriate size of Fasturn tube into one end of the opening, push the fabric tube down as far as it will go, and next insert the wire.

OneEndinTube

3. Start pulling the wire through the Fasturn, and the fabric tube will magically start appearing at the bottom opening of the Fasturn. Keep pulling until the entire tube is outside the Fastturn. Are you getting excited yet?

HalfTurned

4. Next, insert the Fasturn tube again into the opening, but this time go into the “unturned” side of your fabric tube. In the frame below, see how the turned half of the fabric tube is above the Fasturn, and the tube is inside the the other half of the fabric tube?

  SecondEndinTube

5. Pull the wire thru the Fasturn a second time, and voila! Your belt (or whatever) is completely turned right side out! All you have left to do is press and close up the small opening in the middle section of your fabric tube. Sweet!

  CompletedTube

I thought my Fasturn was awesome before I learned this trick, now it kind of has “my new best friend” status. Thanks to Carol and others I learned a great new trick, and hope it helps you as well.

Happy sewing!

Maris