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with Di Kendall

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By Di, Jul 9 2019 12:33PM

Last year I made a silk dupion dress. The design was very simple, but it threw up a few challenges.

The whole dress is underlined with silk organza and lined with silk habotai.

I needed a row of buttons down the back purly as a design feature, however the dress needed a zip. I could have put it in the side seam, but the neck opening was only just large enough to get on without opening, so I needed to put it in the back. I worked out how to add preformed elastic bridal loops as well as the zip.


The neck band fastened with a rouleau loop, but the zip pull interferred with the next button.

Having solved the problem by hiding the zip pull inside the neck band I wrote to Threads Magazine with a proposal for an article. I received the standard automatic response thanking me and explaining it might be a while before hearing if my idea will be commissioned as it would be circulated to all their editors. Knowing the caliber of Threads contributors, Claire Shaeffer, Kathryn Brenne, Sandra Betzina, Kenneth D King, I certainly wasn't holding my breath!


Move on about 6 months and imagine opening my emails to find one from Carol Fresia, Senior Technical Editor at Threads Magazine! Could I write a 2 page spread?


My first thought was ' I can't remember how I did it'!


However; as a writer passionate about developing and passing on garment making techniques this was the opportunity I couldn't turn down.


It was an interesting experience and very different from working with UK magazines. They do all their own photography and have colour themes for each magazine. I chose a fabric and had to make 6 samples to show each stage of the process.

I received some very complimentary emails and was overwhelmed to be asked to send my bio and profile pic. I'd been chosen as one of four featured contributors for the September issue which has arrived in the UK this week.

They even included me as their Instagram story!



Now I'm going to share a different technique I developed on the sleeves of the dress.

First of all, I don't like making covered buttons and buckles. My go to solution is Harlequin They use your own fabric to create all sorts of accessories at great prices and with such professional results really quickly.


The problem I had was the shank buttons wouldn't sit flat as a decorative feature on the sleeves. Here's my soloution.

The sleeves were marked with thread tracing where I wanted the buttons to be. It's worth noting that I'd never use any colour on silk, white or other expensie fabric. Even coloured thread can leave fibres that are impossible to remove.

I worked machine made eyelets exactly where the buttons would be. I could have done them by hand, but the only peron who'd ever see them was me!

The button shanks were pushed through the eyelets and hand stitched in place using a fine John James between needle and Gutermann silk thread. The stitches were worked through the eyelet. Silk Thread is available from Sew Essential

The buttons sit really flat aginst the fabric.

By Di, Jun 11 2019 02:20PM


Have you ever wondered how a garment pattern gets to the point when we can buy it either as a paper copy or a pdf? There are many stages from a design concept through drafting, redrafting, sampling, grading, writing instructions, drawing, photographing through to merchandising.


A good company will want to involve other makers in the process to test the pattern to provide an objective view of all aspects. To do this well they need testers from a broad spectrum of society including a range of ages, sizes, heights etc.


How to get involved.

The way companies source pattern testers varies, but it’s often via their newsletter, website and frequently on social media. An internet search will throw up some interesting results. I’ve even been known to contact companies and ask.


Things to consider

There are many great quality pattern companies, however there are also some who lack the necessary experience in an important element of creating a quality pattern with easy to follow instructions.


There's often quite a fast turn around so be sure you have the time, especially if you have to order fabric and wait for it to arrive.


> You normally get a free copy of the pattern, but it might not be the finished version. As a reward some companies offer discounts on other patterns in their range.

> You usually have to use your own fabric and notions which can be expensive if you don’t like the finished garment, the pattern is badly drafted or the instructions difficult to follow ending up with an unwearable garment.

> There’s no monetary renumeration.

> You may have to give permission for the company to use photographs of your finished item and they expect you to post and tag them on your own social media accounts .

> You’re providing free advertising.

> As you’ve been gifted the pattern you legally have to say so in your social media posts.


That does all sound potentially negative, however it’s important to enter into the process with your eyes open and possibly only sign up to test patterns from trusted companies you’re prepared to promote and ones who’s style you like to wear.


One of the positives of the social media coverage is that it not only raises your own profile, perhaps more importantly if you don’t fit the usual ‘model’ profile you’ll be raising the visibility of different age groups, cultures, body types etc. Hopefully companies will see the benefit of this diversity and be encouraged to widen their horizons in their marketing strategy. I'm involved with SewOver50 and we're working to see greater representation of garment makers in this age group used in pattern merchandising.


I’ve enjoyed pattern testing as it uses my dressmaking and professional skills. It helps to slow down my sewing output which is a positive thing as I’m determined to only make things that I’m going to wear often, otherwise I’m just contributing to the over production of clothing.


What will you be expected to do?

What's expected will vary between companies, some provide a questionnaire to help you focus on specific issues.


Here's a list of things to consider to help to make pattern testing a positive experience.


Make notes as you go along and take pictures of things you want to remember or you think might help the company.


If you've been sent the illustrations that will advertise the pattern consider if they're appealing, will they encourage you to buy the pattern? Are they accurate, are all the features obvious? Is there an accurate description of the garment including terms to describe the fit, length and all of the design features?


I have a particular interest in ensuring text and garment patterns are accessible to all, taking into account the different ways people learn, the need for them to be dyslexia friendly and considering the needs of those with English as a second language. Which means I look carefully at whether the font is easy to read and if it prints at an accessible size.

Some fonts are easier to read than others.
Some fonts are easier to read than others.

I like to print the instructions because some people will prefer a paper copy, so it’s important to see if they’re formatted correctly. Do the instructions display on screen accurately? I like to read the instructions at this point to get an overview of what I'm making.


Are the instructions easy to understand?

> The introductory instructions, are they clear and in a logical order?

> Do the technical drawings show the design features like darts, gathers etc clear, especially if there is more than one version of the garment, are the differences clear?.

> Size charts and any additional sizing information, are there finished measurements?

> Meterage and other items you need to buy.

> Is the size of the seam allowances clear. I like to know the seam allowance early on as I don’t often follow instructions! It’s important to find the info quickly if I’m teaching and I’m presented with the pattern.

> Instructions for printing the pattern, are there options for different print formats?


It’s at this stage I print the pattern and check it thoroughly before buying fabric.

> Is there a test square?

> How easy is it to match the pages, what points of reference are there?

> Have all the pieces printed?

> Are any of the pieces printed so they overlap? If so this is a good thing to photo as it explains the problem easily.

> Does the position of the pieces make the best use of the paper, could slight repositioning eliminate a complete row of A4 sheets?

> Is each size clearly identified either by colour or different line styles?

> Does each piece have a grain line or fold line marked?

> Is each piece cleary labelled, does it tell you how many pieces to cut?


You can either cut out your size or cut round the individual pieces. This might depend on how confident you are about the sizing. Like any pattern you might need to merge sizes and make basic alterations like body length. I’d want to check hem lengths to be sure I end up with a wearable item.


I like to check the pattern carefully.

> I measure the finished measurements.

> Make sure seams are the same length

> Are the facings the same shape as the area they’ll be stitched to.

> This will help avoiding a potential disaster and provide essential feedback to the company.


Next I follow the cutting layout on my table without fabric.

> Does the layout work? Is the layout easy to understand?

> How much fabric does it require?

> Are the fabric requirements in the instructions accurate? If you can make better use of the fabric take a picture of how you achieved it.


I’m now ready to select my fabric and cut it out as I’m sure I have the right amount.


Be sure to mark all notches, dots, triangles etc so you can comment on whether they match up as you sew.


Follow the step by step instructions carefully.

> Do they make sense?

> Are they easy to follow?

> Is there anything missing?

> Are there any terms you don't understand?

> Is there a glossary of terms?

> Are any pictures or diagrams easy to understand?

> Are the illustrations in the right place to go with the written instructions?

> If you printed the instructions is an illustration and its instruction all on one side of the paper or do you have to turn over to find more information? This is really important in helping people understand what to do, it's much easier to understand if all the information is visible at the same time.

> Check for spelling mistakes.

> Did you have to buy anything else to complete the garment?


Most important is do you end up with a wearable garment if you follow the instructions?


Giving feedback

Try to respond to any questions the company has asked about.

You might not want to respond to all the things I've listed. If you choose to focus on a specific issue make it clear that's what you've done.

If you find a problem try to explain what you've discovered rather than just stating it doesn't work.

If possible offer a solution.

Be kind even if something isn't accurate or you don't like the pattern. Someone has put a lot of work into the project.



By Di, May 19 2019 03:58PM

Have you ever wondered if you can make your own Pilates, yoga, running, cycle and swimwear? I started making aerobics wear in the days when Olivia Newton-John wowed the world in her black Lycra one piece in Grease! I began making leaotards, tights and costumes for out dance troupe.


The only pic I have from that time is this one taken in about 1984 at Derby Carnival.

Making clothes for exercising in needs fabric and techniques that are going to be put under much more stress than most casualwear. However, it's much easier than many people think. An overlocker is useful, but not essential and a coverstitch machine might be considered an expensive luxury.


I'm going to explain techniques that can be achieved using any machine with a zig zag stitch, plus those with built in stretch stitches and an overlocker.

Let's discuss fabric

As I'm focussing on clothing for cycling, Pilates, Yoga, dance, swimming, running and similar activities, you'll need a fabric with at least 60% stretch both horizontally and vertically. 10 cm of folded fabric needs to stretch to at least 16cm and return to it's original size.

In the UK this type of knit fabric is referred to as 4 way stretch. The density of the fabric is important as you don't want an embarrassing experience when the fabric is stretched. For swimwear light colours aren't as opaque as stronger colours and for dry clothing white underwear can show through some plain dark colours. It can be difficult to work all this out if you're buying online, so purchasing samples is a good idea.

Most 4 way stretch fabric is knitted nylon, polyester or cotton blended with Lycra™, Spandex™ or elastane. Elastane is the generic term whilst Lycra and Spandex are UK and US trade names. Elastane can stretch to 7 times its length and immediately return to it's original length, a small amount when blended with other fibres means a knitted fabric will keep it's shape during exercise and let garments stretch when bending.

Technical/performance textiles that actively keep us cool, protect from UV rays etc are a major area of development, but mainly restricted to the major sports brands who have their own trademarked fabrics. If you're lucky you can find fabrics left over from manufacturing, but they're unlikely to be labelled.

Although many people will feel cotton/elastane to be superior to synthetic blends it's really only suitable for short periods of indoor exercise. Cotton is naturally absorbent, meaning it holds onto moisture and doesn't dry quickly. This makes it very heavy, causing chaffing and it can also cause the body can cool down too much in cold weather, ultimately contributing to hypothermia.

Supplex® is quite easy to find in the UK, but in a limited range of colours. It's a nylon Lycra® that has a soft 'cotton feel', it wicks moisture and dries quickly, is fully breathable keeping you cool and dry. Supplex® also offers excellent protection from UVA and UVB rays. Easy care Supplex® maintains its properties wash after wash. Tia Knight have one of the best colour ranges at the best price I'm aware of.


Considerably easier to find in a wide range of weights, colours and designs is nylon/lycra The down side is that it doesn't breathe, but is widely used in a whole host of garments. Contrado and Funki Fabrics can print fabric especially for you. If you're close to south Yorkshire Walton's in Goldthorpe have a great selection of Lycra fabrics and power net. Tia Knight has a great selection as well.

Power net is available in different colours, weights and stability. It's widely used in bra making and dancewear. Its has great stretch characteristics and is great for ventilation in active wear like behind the knees in leggings.

Fleece backed nylon Lycra is great if you want a warmer fabric for leggings. It's available as the Thermo range from Funki Fabrics

My local pool is selling swimwear made from recycled ocean plastics. The fibre is produced by Econyl. Let's hope this is something that makes it way into our fabric shops.The closest I've found is this recycled cloth from Funki Fabrics

Patterns for Activewear

For menswear patterns take a look in the Pattern Finder section of Bartack where you'll find a Sportswear category with plenty of choice. Jalie have a good range of patterns as well as Sew Direct Garments are often quite simple shapes with only a few seams. Different sports have different needs making the positioning of seams an important factor in your choice. 4 way stretch fabric is really forgiving so if you make a garment and decide you need to move a seam it's really quite easy as the fabric is going to stretch to your body shape.

Sewing 4 Way Stretch Fabric.

For years I made and sold dancewear using an overlocker and a zig zag industrial machine. However, domestic machines have moved on and offer a range of stitches you can use, but you can still make your own work out gear if you only have straight stitch and zig zag. Nylon fabrics can slip on each other, you can use pins or wonder clips to hold the fabric together at regular intervals. Wonder clips are good when overlocking, it's too easy to damage the cutting blade by letting a pin get under it!

Use any offcuts to experiment with, give them a really good pull in both directions to make sure the seams aren't going to pop.


Which Stitches to Use

Stitching Seams

Overlocking is my preferred method. You need a balanced stitch, with the widest seam width. It's the needle threads that are most likely to snap so it's important to do a sample on the same number of layers of your fabric. I sometimes have to adjust the right needle tension when I move on to stitching a single layer before hemming.


Domestic Machine Seams.

Your options will depend on the make and model of your machine. I can make almost anything with the stitches on this key pad. The one useful exception is a lightning stitch.

All my suggested settings can be adjusted to get the effect you prefer.


Numbers in brackets will refer to this picture.
Numbers in brackets will refer to this picture.

1.A small zig zag stitch(05), width 1 length 2. Top seam in the picture.


2. Lightning stitch I use the default setting.

The stitch goes backwards on alternate stitches creating slightly more stretch than zig zag and I find it lies flatter. Bottom seam in picture.

3. I like to add strength by using either a bigger zig zag or a 3 step zig zag(06) next to the first line of machining. Stitch through both layers parallel to the seam and trim off the excess fabric close to the stitching.

that helps to stop the fabric scrunching up. On soft fabrics, including 4 way stretch, I prefer to stitch the seam and then trim off the excess fabric as it makes a much flatter finish.


4. Many machines have an overcast stitch(07) and a foot that helps to stop the fabric scrunching up. On soft fabrics, including 4 way stretch, I prefer to stitch the seam and then trim off the excess fabric as it makes a much flatter finish.

Flat Finishes


1. Flat locking using an overlocker is the closest stitch to one made by a coverstitchmachine, however it only uses one needle thread, so isn't as strong. I've used it on seams that don't take excessive strain. Check out the tutorial on my website.


2. Mock coverstitch has to be my favourite flat seam.

Stitch an overlocked seam with wrong sides together. Lay the seam flat and topstitch with a twin needle. This is really strong for seams that take a lot of strain like the centre back body seam on swimwear and leggings.


3. There a couple of options using a domestic machine.

Stitch the seam with either a small zig zag or lightning stitch. Topstitch from the right side through the body fabric and the seam allowances.

3a 3 step zig zag

3b Twin needle

On the wrong side you can trim the seam allowances close to the stitching.

Finishing waists and edges

I use elastic to stop the edges from over stretching. There are 4 main types of elastic:

Braided is probably the most common where the ribs run along the length of the elastic. It gets narrower when stretched and can roll inside casings. However it's strong and has good recoil.

Knitted is softer and smoother and stretches more than braided elastic making it best on lightweight fabrics. It doesn’t get narrower when stretched and stands up to being stitched through. It has to be cut considerably shorter than finished size to its high stretch.


Woven is a much thicker elastic with much less stretch and is good for waists as it doesn’t roll, but tends to be bulky.


Solid this is either rubber or clear. Both are advertised as swimwear elastic, but I find the clear perishes and is too stretchy. Also stitching through this solid elastic perforates it. If you have to undo stitching you need to use new elastic. It's available from English Couture

I prefer braided elastic for active wear as it holds edges and waist lines in shape and leggings feel safe without too much bulk.


Neck and armholes

The elastic is going to be stitched onto the edge of the fabric so it's important to trim the seam allowances to the width of your elastic, I use 8mm wide braid elastic.

The elastic needs to be stretched slightly as you stitch it onto the wrong side of the fabric. It’s important to keep the fabric moving smoothly through your machine otherwise just pulling the elastic will break the needle.

Hold the fabric behind the foot and with your other hand stretch about 10cm of elastic to approx 12cm, I like to tension it around my fingers, see picture. Keep your hands an even distance apart as you sew, this means the fabric and elastic move through the machine at the same speed. Rather like having your fabric in an embroidery hoop.

With an overlocker keep the edge of the fabric and elastic level with the edge of the plate, you might want to disengage the knife to avoid cutting the edge off the elastic.

Using a sewing machine select either a zig zag or 3 step zig zag to stitch the elastic to the fabric.

Turn the elastic over so the fabric wraps tightly round the edge.

Topstitch from the right side. I use a twin needle, but a zig zag or 3 step zig zag works really well.


Fold Over Elastic FOE

This gives a decorative edge, but some FOE can be a bit rough against the skin especially ones with metallic threads in them.

Trim the seam allowance off the edge of the garment as the folded edge of the elastic makes the finished edge so should line up with the original stitching line.

Put the wrong side of the fabric against the wrong side of the elastic with the cut edge against the inside fold of the elastic. Don't fold the elastic over. Stretch the elastic slightly, use a small zig zag stitch to machine the edge of the elastic to the wrong side of the fabric.

Fold the elastic over to the right side and machine from the right side. Use either a small zig zag or twin needle.


Finishing the tops of Leggings.

One of the easiest and best finishes is to use a wider braid elastic and attach it in the same way as I neaten armholes. I use approximately 2.5cm/1" wide elastic.

One commercial pattern I've used relied on a very tight fitting band of fabric at the top. This does work, but probably relies on the wearer's waist being considerably smaller than their hips!

If you prefer a deep band this method uses a separate band with a wide braid elastic inside.

I use 7.5cm/3" wide elastic. Cut the band twice the width of the elastic plus seam allowances (18cm) and the length of the top of the leggings.


Cut the elastic so it fits snuggly round the waist.

To join the elastic bring the cut edges together on top of a piece of tape. Use a 3 step zig zag to stitch the elastic to the tape. This makes a strong and flat join.

Divide the elastic into 4 equal parts and do the same with the band, match these points to evenly distribute the elastic. Put one edge of the elastic onto the wrong side of the band lined up with the middle.

To stop the elastic rolling inside the casing stretch the elastic and stitch both edges to the fabric with a very small zig zag stitch. This stitching will be on the inside when wearing.

Fold the band in half over the elastic and machine baste the edges together.

Put the right side of the band against the right side of the leggings, matching back seams and centre fronts. Stitch together with a stretch stitch and overlock or zig zag in the seam allowances.

If you want to add a cord for extra security make two buttonholes just either side of the centre front before stitching in the elastic.

I like to reinforce the buttonholes with a piece of woven fabric. This will be inside the casing so won't show. To make a small buttonhole measure between the two plastic pieces on the side of your automatic buttonhole foot. The distance needs to be the size you want the buttonhole to be. You don't need a button, but you do still need to pull down the buttonhole sensor lever on your machine.


Hems

You can make a flatlock hem if you have an overlocker, I explain how to do that here


I think a twin needle hem looks professional, however a zig zag or overcast stitch is just as good.

Use your sewing machine to create a hem using either a twin needle, zig zag or overcast stitch. I like to overlock the edge first, but check your tension to make sure the fabric stretches enough.


Its always easier to stitch a deep hem on knitted fabric, at least 2.5cm/1" and pin at right angles to the edge. Machine from the right side stitching on top of the neatened edge as the bulk helps to stop tunnelling.


Always do a sample, especially using a twin needle to check the tension allows the fabric to stretch.

By Di, May 10 2019 10:23AM

First of all I must apologise for not blogging much recently. There's a really good reason for this as I've been writing for other national and international magazines! I feel priviledged to be asked.


So here's a run down of a few things I've been doing.

My first article for Sew Today, the magazine for the major pattern brands, features my Missoni type knit fabric for McCall's 7692 where I altered the top to be more functional.

I might make these trousers again with a self drafted top to make a jumpsuit......


Watch out for future issues as I have a lingerie article already written and been asked what I would like to make next.


I've been pattern testing a Mary Quant inspired dress for Alice and Co to coincide with the Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A.

This simple shift dress has an option for sleeves as well as neckline and pocket variations. It's FREE to download from the V&A website.


My Fibres and Fabrics glossary is beginning to take shape, although it does need formatting and pictures adding. You can see what I'm working on HERE where you'll find a chart identifying how different fibres fall into specific categories, plus a link to an article about cotton and different fabrics made from it (This is defintely a work in progress...)!.


My sewing time has been taken up working on a prom outfit for a relative, I'll look forward to getting pictures of it at the prom. Here it is at the final fitting.... made from shot taffeta and it even has pockets!

The jacket is based on McCall's 7513

I altered the shape of the peplum as well as changing the angle of the roll line so it only has a single rouleau button fastening.


Finally I was extremely excited to have an article commissioned for Threads magazine that should see me being a featured contributor in the August/September issue!


Now to get back to working on my fibres and fabrics glossary ....it's going to take some time, but I'll keep you informed as I add to it.

By Di, Feb 22 2019 05:29PM

I've not updated my blog for ages, but I have been busy writing. I can now tell you about two exciting developments!



Sew Over 50 in Love Sewing Magazine

On a rainy November day I met up with nine other wonderful makers who are part of an Instagram group @sewover50 After a great chat over lunch we headed to the studios of Love Sewing mag where we had our make up done by their professional artists and talked a lot more whilst we had our photos taken. I'd love you to follow me @sewitwithdi

Here we are with Amy, editor of Love Sewing, @almondrock_sews
Here we are with Amy, editor of Love Sewing, @almondrock_sews

Sew Over 50 is all about celebrating that turning a milestone birthday doesn't mean we can't be stylish and derserve to be featured more in publications and on pattern covers! Principally, we into sharing ideas, tips and generally to support each other. We'd love to see more men in the group as well.

Here I am with @sarahguthrie_stitches and @jeanettesewcycle
Here I am with @sarahguthrie_stitches and @jeanettesewcycle

We all turned up with clothes we've made and were proud to wear. I love my Butterick 5891 shirt, it's so different, Katherine and Marcy Tilton create some amazing designs that offer comfort as well as style..


Thanks to everyone who made the day possible and we're all sharing happy memories now the article is in Issue 64, in the shops now and online from the 28th Feb. If you buy Love Sewing from Sainsbury's this month you even get an extra free pattern!


Read My Articles In Bartack Magazine

Issue 2 of the online magazine Bartack is available from 24th Feb. I was really proud to be asked to contribute to the first issue and I have two articles in Issue 2, which I'm hoping will be the start of a series!


The magazine is filling a gap in the market by focussing on men's fashion, men who sew and sewing for them. However many of the magazine's articles are really about sewing clothing and the information and techniques are great advice whoever you sew for.


Fibres and Fabrics - Cotton

Knowing about the many different fabrics and what to use them for is one of the hardest parts of making clothes, epecially with the decline in face to face shoppping.

I'm creating a fabric glossary with plenty of close up pictures to help you. In the first part of this series I'm explaining all about cotton, it's origins, production, properties and characteristics. Read about more than 30 fabrics made from cotton from voile to canvas.

Ever Wanted to Make Your own Active Wear, even if you don't own an overlocker or coverstitch machine?

Many years ago I made and sold leotards to my local aerobics group. Now I make all my own exercise wear, including swimwear.

The first part of this series of articles takes you through different fabrics to use and how to stitch 4 way stretch fabric. Although I use an overlocker for my gear I've included detailed guidance about using your domestic sewing machine.

I've already written a blog about creating flatlock seams on the over locker and this article includes a cheats method for coverstitch seams using an overlocker and a twin needle in your machine.

Look out for finishing armholes, necklines and waists in Issue 3!


By Di, Dec 21 2018 03:09PM

I really don't like trying to stitch both sides of a bound edge at the same time, equally I'm not a fan of preparing the folded and pressed binding either! If I want an edge where you see the binding on both sides I do it in two processes, opening out one edge of the binding, stitching in the crease, then folding the binding and either machining or slip stitching the second edge..


Another problem with applying bias binding is making sure the finished edge is actually on the stitching line. You need to cut off the seam allowance before stitching the bias strip or the armhole or neck edge will be too small.

I'm going to show you the method I prefer for binding an edge on both woven and knit fabrics.


Cut bias strips twice the width of the finished binding plus seam allowances. For knit fabrics cut the strip from across the width of the fabric.


Click HERE to see how to join bias strips together.


Fold the binding in half with the long cut edges together. Press the folded edge.


Machine through both layers of the binding 1mm inside the seam allowance. I use the machine foot to help, keeping the edge an even distance from the fold. If you prefer, you can place the folded edge against the edge of the foot and adjust the needle position.


Place the binding onto the right side of the garment. The line of machining should be about on the stitching line of the garment. Pin in place and tack if you prefer.

Machine through all 3 layers with the needle position immediately to the left of the stay stitching on the binding. Trim the seam to 5mm.

Press the binding and the seam allowance away from the garment. Understitch through the binding and the allowances, very close to the seam.

Press the binding to the inside and stitch close to the folded ede.

This gives a line of top stitching on the right side.

If you want the binding to show on the right side.

Put the binding against the wrong side of the garment. I prefer not to understitch so there's only one line of stitching visible on the binding.

By Di, Dec 10 2018 05:11PM

Today I took the plung into motion capture, donning my ZOZO suit to allow my mobile phone to take my measurements!


I'm going to preface this review. ZOZO is a company primarily selling custom fit clothing, they're not a home garment making service. In order to offer their clothing range they need a consistent method of collecting their customers measurements.


https://zozo.com/gb/en


I decided to try out their measurement system to see if it will help me in choosing pattern sizes and making adjustments to make my own well fitting clothes. I'm already fairly well aware of my measurements and tend to use them to map my changing body shape more acuuratly than just weighing myself. For example; I already know that my right thigh is 1" bigger than my left.


It's really easy to get your free ZOZO suit by setting up an account and giving weight, height and gender information. Mine arrived in a couple of days in an interesting envelope that had my husband intreged as to what I was up to now!

The package contained the 2 piece body suit, more on that later, a dinky phone stand that I'm keeping for when I want to take a quick selfie

Also a basic guide about what to do next.

Once you have your suit you need to install the app on your phone. It costs£4.53 which didn't seem too much for this experiment into using technology.


You need a well lit, unclutterd space which took a bit of organising!.


The suit is a 2 piece made in a fine and very stretchy 68%polyester 32%spandex with white dots that need to be horizontal when worn.

I'd have liked more information about the measuring process before launching the app, however the app was really easy to use. I'm never sure with technology about whats going to happen when I press NEXT! In fact the app takes you through how to position your phone, the correct way to wear the suit, how to stand and uses a clock face to help you understand how to rotate whilst the app takes 12 pictures.


Your phone needs to be about 6' away and approx 30" off the floor, which is the height of most tables. The app actually tells you what to do and there's a simple volume test which asks you to type a number that you hear. This was my first problem as I'd linked my bluetooth shutter and I couldn't type the number. Once I realised the bluetooth wasn't necessary the app's own keyboard popped up.


You're instructed to put your phone on the stand. This took a few attempts as the screen kept minimising so I didn't get the instructions! It took a few attempts to get this to work, but once we got going it was really simple. The instructions tell you if you're the right distance from the camera and gives instructions to move forwards or backwards. There's audible bleeps at each stage and instructions to tell you when to turn to each point on an imaginary clock. The measurements are calculated really quickly and you've already agreed for the company to store your data.

This is my own picture, not something generated in the app. I find it interesting as it clearly shows that my right shoulder drops slightly causing bunching between my armhole and waist, also my right thigh near the hip is more rounded than the left. These were things I was already aware of, but for many people this image of their own might prove really useful. You can take this pic with just the suit that's free....


How Accurate are the Measurements?

I took a screen capture of my measurements as I wasn't sure if this was something I'd find in my account. Actually it's really easy to find your stored measurements as a picture and in a chart.


The thing that jumps out at me is the differrences between right and left sides. I already knew about my right thigh being significantly larger than my left, it's really important when I make trousers. However there's a difference for all my horizontal measurements. I'm right side dominant so perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise, but important to know which side is largest. It doesn't mean I need to make sleeves different sizes, but they must be made to fit the largest measurement with enough ease to fit comfortably..


Once I compared the measurements against the ones I take there isn't a significant difference in most of them, especially as i've always been taught a tape measure shouldn't be pulled tight..


However:

There are 2 waist measurements, upper and lower, neither have any similarity to my waist measurement. The upper waist is accurate for my bra band measurement, just below my bust. The lower waist is accurate for my high hip, level with the top of the hip bones, Neither are much use for clothes I want to fit my waist!

The outer arm length is a bit unclear as one side shows a line to the neck and the other to the shoulder. Once I checked my arm length I suggest this measuremeant is from the shoulder point to the wrist, but for me they come out a bit too long.

The inside leg measurement is also really short, for me it could be 2"!

Conclusion

Can you tell I was a teacher..... conclusion is such a tell tale sign!


I have one major misgiving about this app and the information it provides. There are no vertical measurements that tell us the distance between bust, waist and hips. It presumes we are all the same height and proportion. Many women need to alter the bust height on patterns so the fullest area falls in the right place.

When altering patterns the first thing to do is to get the back neck, waist and hip levels the correct distance apart. Then making sure the bust point is the correct distance from the neck/shoulder point. Once these are accurate it's time to alter the wdith measurements as now they're going to be the right distance apart to match your body.


It's been an interesting exercise, but not sure it's told me anything I didn't already know. However; for those newer to making your own clothes it could be a really useful tool as long as you accept the importance of getting your vertical measurements right first.

By Di, Jul 17 2018 04:58PM

It's never too late to have a new favourite method for doing something!


I always thought invisible zips were my super power. However getting them to join smoothly with the seam at the bottom is always a challenge.


This method stitches the seam first.


The top of the zip pull needs to sit about 2-3mm below the stitching line at the top.

The opening for the zip needs to be long enough to get the garment on and off, but always shorter than the zip. In my experience there's usually only short or long zips, however they're longer than necessary.


Mark a line across the zip tape about 2cm above the bottom stop.

With the top of the zip pull just below the top stitching line use the zip to work out where the zip opening should end. The line you marked is the length of the opening in the seam.

Stitch the seam below this point, reinforcing the stitching at the end of the opening. Then use your longest stitch to close the opening 15mm from the edge.

Press the seam open and draw a line across the seam allowances where the bottom of the opening will be.

With the zip pull down against the wrong side of the garment match the lines you've drawn on the zip tape and the seam.

Sorry I forgot this pic until later, so ignore the machining!
Sorry I forgot this pic until later, so ignore the machining!

Carefully match the centre of the zip to the seam

Pin the zip tape to both seam allowances, but not the main fabric. If you prefer you can use Wonder Tape. This is a double sided tape that eventually washes away.

Machine through the zip tape and the seam allowance. You might need to move the needle position so you can get past the zip pull. Stop level with the line you drew on the zip tape, it makes things easier later.

After stitching both sides of the zip you remove the basting from the zip opening. I prefer to pull this stitching out from one side, if you use an unpicker the cut threads can get caught in the zip.

Open the zip right down to the bottom stop.

Change to your invisible zip foot.


I like to use a pin, but you could tack if you want. Roll the zip teeth open and carefully pin very close to the teeth so the pin matches with the stitching at the top of the seam on the other side.

Use the zip foot stitch from the bottom of the zip towards the top. Note which side of the foot the teeth are under.

Start stitching exactly at the line you marked on the zip tape. You can use a lock stitch or fasten off securely later. Use a finger to roll the teeth open and stitch really close to the teeth.

Repeat with the other side of the zip, starting at the bottom of the zip stitching to the top.

To fasten the zip for the first time you need to push the zip pull between the zip tape and the fabric. I find it best to have the garment with the wrong side on top.

Grab the zip pull in one hand and the bottom of the zip tape with the other. Pull to close the zip.



By Di, May 31 2018 01:55PM

It's easy to make some small adjustments to your overlocker to achieve a flatlock stitch.

2 or 3 Thread Seam?

As far as I know you need a special attachment to only use 2 threads, also the seam won't be as strong. I'm making active wear so need a seam that's both strong and stretchy.

Setting Up Your Machine

I unthreaded the right needle. For a narrower finish you could remove the left needle.

You'll need to experiment with the settings for your machine, this is how I set the tension on my Elna. (the right needle has no thread, so won't affect the stitch). The needle thread needs to be loose as it creates a ladder stitch on the back. This can also be an effect on the right side,

The top looper is the one that shows on the surface, so adjust the tension slightly to get a good effect. The lower tension needs to be tight as it helps create the stitch but hardly shows.


All the threads will be on the surface, so choosing colours that work with your fabric is important. I've use three slightly different colours that blend together.

Stitching the seam

I've experimented with different ways to prepare the fabric.


1. Use a rotary cutter to cut on the stitching line.

Place fabric wrong sides together.

Line up the cut edge with the right needle.

Stitch.

Pull the fabric flat.

This is fine for a decorative seam, but because the cut edges lie in the centre of the seam I wouldn't want this to happen to my yoga pants!


2. This method does make a thicker seam, but it's perfect for my exercise wear.

Make sure you know how wide your seam allowance is.

Put fabric wrong sides together.

To be sure your garment comes out the right size, the fabric is placed so the stitching line is about 5mm to the right of the left needle. That's just a bit to the right of the right needle position that's marked on my overlocker foot.

Stitch the seam.

Pull each piece of fabric really firmly to get the seam to lie flat.

Press.

Flatlock Hem

This is a really stretchy decorative hem.

Fold the hem along the finished hem line. Pin at right angles to the edge, with the points just on the edge of the fabric. This helps with the next stage.

Fold up the hem again with the points of the pins exactly at the foldline. This helps keep the cut edge in exactly the right position.

Move the pins to the otherside of the fabric so you can see them ready for stitching.

With the right side of the fabric on top stitch along the fold without trimming the fabric.

This is the right side and below is the wrong side.

Turn the hem down and pull really hard so it lies flat.

Press.

Ladder Stitch

You can use the same techniques to make a ladder stitch on the right side.

For a seam you place the fabric right sides together.

However; for the hem - fold the hem to the wrong side along the hem line. Fold again right sides together, so the fold is a bit wider than the cut edge.

Stitch along the fold without cutting the fabric. Make sure the left needle is stitching to the left of the cut edge.

Turn down the hem, pull frimly and press.


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