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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.


By Di, Mar 13 2018 01:27PM

Read my guest post on Jamie Kemp's blog. Jamie shares my passion for tailoring and hand crafted garments. He first came to my attention in January 2016 when he invited fellow makers to create a jacket, just as I was completing The Savile Row Coat. Quickly followed by him taking part in the 2016 series of TheGreat British Sewing Bee.


Male Devon Sewing

By Di, Mar 8 2018 01:47PM

McCall's 7357 is a free pattern with Love Sewing magazine. It has a range of sleeve variations and the free copy is size 6-22. One of it's positive features is that it has differnt cup sizes, making the largest finished bust size 52"

I'm a 40" bust and made size 14, 2 sizes smaller than the measurement chart suggests. It's described as Loose fitting, The ease chart shows that a loose fitting top will have 5 1/2 and 8" of additional design ease added to standard wearing ease.

Courtesy of Vogue Patterns and McCalls Pattern Company
Courtesy of Vogue Patterns and McCalls Pattern Company

This is an easy pattern to make except for the front bands.

It's really quite tricky to fold the edge of the inside band to match the outer one and then slip stitch.


I have a quicker and easier way to achieve a great finish.

Start by preparing the front and neck bands. Interface one layer, stitch the shoulder seams. Place the bands right side together, stitch round the neck edge. Trim the seam allowance to 7mm, snip the shorter curves and cut notches out of the longer curves.

Press the seam allowances towards the under band(I've used white for my inside layer so the design doesn't show through the top layer).

Edge stitch close to the seam through the band and the seam allowances.

Fold the band so that the seam is just to the wrong side. Press and machine baste the cut edges together with a long stitch. Snip the curved edges.

Stay stitch the neck edge of the garment. This should be a short stitch very close to the stitching line.

Cut diagonally into the corners, really close to the stay stitching.

Put the band RS to RS of the garment. Keep the cut edges together, match the shoulder seams and notches.

At the bottom the bands should end 3cm lower than the cut edge.

Machine all round the neck edge. Start at the bottom of the opening, roll the garment fabric out of the way so that the stitching is right at the corner formed by the stay stitching.

Neaten the seam. I've overlocked the edge, but you can zig zag. Keep the left edge of the foot against the straight stitch. Zig zag through both layers and trim off the extra fabric very close to the stitching.

Fold the garment exactly at the bottom of the opening, along the stay stitching. Bring the bands to lie flat on each other(They should be edge to edge, but I made mine slightly wider).

The narrow piece at the bottom of the opening needs to lie flat against the bands. Machine across all the layers exactly 15mm from the edge. Don't catch in the folded fabric at either end. Neaten the edges with an overlocker or zig zag/trim.

Fold down the garment front and press.

The opening is very low for me, so I've stitched the two layers together, otherwise I'd need to wear a tank underneath it.



By Di, Mar 2 2018 05:38PM

Have you ever struggled to get a professional finish at the top of a zip?


I have two methods that work well for both linings and facings. One for a standard zip and the other for an invisible zip. I've used marker pens for the samples, but always check it can be removed before marking the RS of your fabric!


Standard zip


This method works for both a lapped and centred zip. I'm going to show the centred zip, however for the lapped zip you only need to prepare the side of the zip that overlaps, usually the front of a skirt or the left back for a centre back opening

Fold the seam allowance to the right side exactly on the fold line. Mark 15mm from the top edge and also a line where you will be stitching in the zip, usually about 7mm from the fold (10mm for a lapped zip).


Machine from the fold to the vertical line, securing both ends.

Cut down the vertical line exactly to the end of the machine stitch. Trim the fabric to reduce the bulk.

Turn the seam allowance to the wrong side and push out the corner.

Press the fold of the zip opening.


For the centred zip prepare the other side of the opening in the same way.

I've used Wonder Tape to temporarily hold the zip, the top of the zip pull needs to be 3mm below the prepared edge.

Machine the zip.


Interface and neaten the outer edge of the facing.

Open the zip. Put the facing RS against the RS of the garment. Match the top edges, the facing should extend 15mm past the zip.

Machine the the facing to the garment along the top edge. Starting and finishing in the right angle at the top of the zip.

Trim the seam , snip across the corner of the zip. Press the facing away from the garment.

Edge stitch by machining close to the seam through the facing and the seam allowances.

Fold the short edge of the facing to the wrong side exactly level with the right angle made earlier. Press the fold, open up and trim the corner.


Fold the facing to the inside of the garment. Fold the edge of the facing under and slip stitch to the machine stitch that holds in the zip.


Invisible Zip


Stitch in the zip.

Put the facing wrong side down against the garment, matchng the top edge, side seams and notches.

Fold under the short edge of the facing, pin or finger press the crease.

Try to hold the seam allowances together, flip the facing over so that it's right sides togther.

Machine through the zip seam allowance and the facing about 5mm from the edge of the seam allowance.

Fold back WS together to check the facing is the correct length.

Trim off the extra fabric next to the zip tape.

Turn the facing RS together with the zip teeth on the fold.

Machine the facing to the garment along the top edge. Check both sides of the zip are level.

Snip across the corner and trim the seam.

Turn the facing to the inside of the garment, push out the corners. Edge stitch through the facing and seam allowances as close as possible to the zip. Press.


By Di, Feb 27 2018 05:20PM

Zips are such an important way of fastening our clothes, however they are often feared by the home garment maker and frequently the thing that lets them down, making the garment look 'home made' rather than 'handmade'.


I have a few tips to help you towards a well sewn zip.


I already have a tutorial for invisible zips on the Minerva Crafts website. www.minervacrafts.com


I really don't like the clip on foot that comes as standard with most sewing machines.It's too wide at the back and means you can't stitch past the zip pull.

For standard zips I always use an adjustable, narrow toed foot, available for most machines. It's also great for all widths of piping.

A few places sell an adjustable foot that also doubles up as an invisible zipper foot.

There are many ways to stitch a zip, I'm going to concenrate on ones for clothes rather than exposed zips.


The Semi Concealed or Centred Zip

Traditionally this is the zip to use at the centre back of a dress or top when you don't want to use an invisible zip.

I prefer to use the narrow toed foot, but I'm going to show you a way to use the foot that comes with your machine. However the zip needs to be longer than the opening.

Stitch the seam below the zip. Then machine tack the opening 15mm from the edge using the longest stitch on your machine. Press the seam open.

There are different ways to prepare the zip for sewing. You can pin, tack or use sticky tape. I've decided to us Wonder Tape. It's a double sided tape that washes away. Put a strip on both seam allowances about 5mm from the stitching or onto the right side of the zip tape. Remove the backing paper from the tape. Put the right side of the zip onto the wrong side of the seam with the teeth on the stitching line. The zip pull needs to be just above the edge of the fabric.

The top stitching needs to be about 7mm either side of the seam. You can mark this in different ways:

> If you tack, machine just to the side of the tacking so that it's easy to remove.

> You can draw a line to follow, but it must be easy to remove from the fabric, always test before drawing on the right side of your fabric.

> In this example I've used low tack Washi tape, sewing next to it. Any low tack tape will work, but never leave on your fabric as it might leave a sticky residue.

Stitch down one side of the zip, at the bottom, leave the needle in the fabric, turn the fabric and stitch straight across. Leave the needle down and turn the fabric again, ready to stitch up the other side.

When both sides are stitched, remove the basting stitch from the opening. You might just be able to pull on one thread.

Remember to open the zip before adding a waistband or facing.


It's a good idea to open the zip, then stitch across the top on both sides, so when you cut across the top the slider won't come off if you close the zip!


This method can be a bit bulky if you're adding a facing because you have to fold the zip teeth.




Concealed or Lapped Zip


The lapped zip is perfect for skirts and trousers. When finished only one line of stitching can be seen on the right side.

I'm going to use the narrow toed foot for this example, however if you don't have one, buy a longer zip and have the zip pull above the cut edge of the fabric as in the Centred Zip.


Stitch the seam below the zip opening.

Press the seam open below the opening.

Press the 15mm seam allowance to the wrong side on the front garment piece(or the left back for a centre back zip).

Press 12mm to the wrong side on the other seam allowance. This means the two pieces overlap.


If you want you can use Wonder Tape to temporarily stick the zip to the fabric.

Place the zip under the back so the fold is very close to the zip teeth. The top of the zip pull needs to be 3mm below the horizontal stitching line.


Using the narrow toed foot, stitch very close to the folded edge.

The stitching should be close to the zip tape, further in than the garment seam. Secure the stitching at the bottom.

Pin the other side of the zip opening so that it just covers the stitching.


Machine 1cm from the folded edge. You can use low tack tape as a guide or a line of tacking stitches. It's important that the stitching goes through the zip tape, top fabric and the seam allowance.

Take out the top pin to the right of the zip pull before you machine, but leave the others in place.

At the bottom of the zip, leave the needle in the fabric, turn and stitch towards the seam, either horizontally or on an angle. Make sure you are below the level of the stopper on the zip!


The waistband should finish level with the overlapped side of the zip. The other end of the waistband should be 2.5cm longer on the underneath.

By Di, Feb 14 2018 04:13PM


I decided to adapt McCall's 7512 so it fastens with a chunky industrial zip! Hence adding metal zips to the in-seam pockets seemed the right thing to do.

It's really easy alteration.

Use your preferred method to mark the position of the pocket. Do the same to the pocket bags.Place the right side of the pocket bag to the right side of the garmant, careully matching the pocket opening.

It's important that the opening is wide enough for the width of the zip teeth you are using. Mark the fabric where you need to stitch. I'm using a 1cm wide opening. Mark 1cm away from the stitching line, level with the top and bottom of the pocket opening.

Machine from the cut edge, leave the needle in the fabric to turn a right angle. Stitch down the marked line, then turn to stitch back to the edge.

Trim the seam allowance to 5mm.

Snip diagonally into the corner, very close to the machine stitch.

Turn the pocket bag to the inside of the garment. and press. If you're using a fabric that's difficult to press like the one I used in my coat, understitch the opening, stitching through the pocket bag and the seam allowances.

If you want to top stitch the zip, place it behind the fabric, pin carefully and stitch, using a zipper foot, across the top, down the side and across the bottom.

If you don't want the stitching to show.


With the wrong side on top, open the pocket bag. Carefully pin the fabric to the zip tape, just onto the main fabric. Check the zip is nice and straight when you fold the pocket back over the fabric.

Open the pocket pag, use a zipper foot to stitch where you have pinned. Just the length of the pocket opening.

It'll look like this on the inside.

This is the right side.

Place the second pocket bag exactly on top of the first, right sides together. Pin through both pockets, but not the body fabric.

Machine the pocket bags together. This is all you need to do if you're going to line the garment. If the inside will show, use your favoured method to neaten the edges.

It's now time to join the two main body pieces together. On my coat that was the front panel to the side front.


Match the two pieces right sides together. Pin the whole seam. Use a zipper foot to stitch the seam along the length of the pocket, keeping the edge of the fabric against the 15mm line.

Use your preferred machine foot, stitch the seam above and below the pocket, carefully overlapping the machining. Neaten the seam in an appropriate way for your fabric.. However, remember that when finished the seam will press away from the pocket.


By Di, Oct 3 2017 02:09PM

During a recent trip to France I visited a Puce De Coutouries, rather like a craft fair, where the vendors sold fabric and other sewing related items rather than finished products. I bought quite a few pieces of fabric at 3 or 4 Euro a metre, even with the poor exchange rate they were still bargains.

I very nearly bought this miniture sewing machine to add to my collection, but I couldn't find a price! I was also neary tempted at a stall selling antique sewing tools!

The outside stalls included my favourite 'fabric man' who stands on a couple of our local markets. In addition to his stall his van is always packed with fabric which he's happy for me to root through. My sort of fabric shoppping!


I bought the end of a bolt of reversible wool for 12 Euro. I was reassured that this is ex Lacoste. It's two layers of knitted fabric bonded together, with a bit of stretch, but not enough to make comfortable day wear. I initially thought about a completely reversible garment where the seams allowances are hidden by pulling the two layers apart before stitching one layer, pressing and hand stitching the other layer closed. However I couldn't seperate the layers!


I hadn't intended to make a coat for this winter, but couldn't resist pulling out a favourite pattern I've made a few times before.

McCalls 5062 has set in sleeves and quite curved princess seams that I didn't feel would work well with my idea for exposed seams. I searched through my patterns and found Butterick 6030 that had been free with Make it Today Dressmaker magazine. This had a shallower princess seam and raglan sleeves. I knew the McCall's pattern fitted well, so I used that for the basis of the design and altered the upper body and sleeves using the Butterick pattern.


This fabric doesn't fray so pressing the seams open and top stitching them was quite straight forward. The first problem I had to work out was the underarm seam. I'd already stitched the raglan sleeve to the bodice and to expose the sleeve seams I would have needed to stitch inside the tube, but the fabric isn't flexible enough for that. I stitched the seams traditionally, securing the end of the stitching. The bodice side seam was also stitched up to the underarm, exposing the seam allowances. To stengthen the underarm seam I added seam tape, before herringbone stitching the sleeve seam allowances.

I decided the fronts would be finished with raw edges. As the fabric had some stretch it needed two layers for stability. I machining round the edge and trimmed.

The sleeves are finished with mock cuffs.

The pockets are only a single layer with the flap secured by a button. I thought about using bound buttonholes, but felt they would be too bulky, so used corded buttonholes.

I have a feeling this coat is going to get loads of wear this winter and will work well with my self designed jeans.

I'll be posting some pictures on Instagram when I start to wear it!



By Di, Sep 13 2017 04:00AM

I was really pleased to see there was a category for men's sewing in this years Simplicity Sewing Challenge. There are so many talented male garment makers and I'm always ready to champion their cause, equally I have two adult males that I love to make clothes for.


This is where I start to get controversial! I'd love to know the criteria for judging competitions, Is it the ability to find an appealing fabric for a pattern or is it genuine ability at all stages of the sewing process? I think the choice of this pattern is an insult to talented garment makers, especially men! It's essentially a blouse that I was taught to make when I was 12! If a competition is a true reflection of talent, why does the shirt not have a yoke, collar band and a proper sleeve placket (rather than a continuous strip opening)?


Rant over!


My husband and son only ever wear shirts with a collar band, my husband prefers grandad collars for casual shirts. I also have some great quality 100% cotton shirting samples aquired from a well know designer so If I was going to use them I needed to make a shirt that would get worn.


I also believe that a garment making pattern is only a starting point for the maker to create something truly original. I had three fabrics that I knew would work together, so I had to find a way to adapt the pattern to use them effectively and showcase what I could achieve.


I started by drafting a collar band for the pattern, followed by a new collar. Not only was this more appealing it would give me chance to use one of my contrasting fabrics. I also wanted a proper sleeve placket, can't say I've ever bought a man's shirt with a women's blouse opening.......! I gave some thought to fabric placement, I had 2 different width striped fabrics to compliment the plain one. I knew I wanted to use them inside the collar band, cuffs, placket, front band and the pocket.


This pattern has front facings rather than a button band, so i decided to make a new piece from the narrow striped cloth that the buttons would be stitched on to. It was so important to stitch straight lines as any divergence would be obvious.


Next was the pocket. I thought about adding a contrast band to the top of the patch pocket. However; decided to create a welt pocket using the narrow striped cloth, with a rouleau loop fastening made from the wider stripe.

I was really pleased with the result, you can't beat matching stripes, even on the bais!


I love the technical challenge of shirt making and I've tried many different ways of making collars. I only ever use woven interfacings, cut them to the finished size as well as trimming off the corners. This makes really sharp edges and collar points. I also use a technique never found in commercial patterns. I attach both collar bands to the neck edge first and stitch the front curves before attaching the collar.

I've realised that high quality shirts use a very short stitch length, so I replicate that throughout..Topstitching the band after the completed collar has been attached.

Both the collar and collar band are backed with the wide striped cloth.


All the seams are machine felled, creating a flat, strong seam.


As I already mentioned, I wanted a traditional placket and took the opportunity to use the striped fabric for the narrow welt.

My cuff making technique is similar to making the collar band. It can be quite tricky to get a neat, flat join at the end of the placket, loats of trimming being required. However if you try mu way it is so much easier and neater.

Interface one piece with the interfacing cut to the finished size. Also trim off the corners. This reduces the bulk when turning the corners.

Sandwich the sleeve between both layers of the cuff. Machine 15mm from the edge and trim the seam allowances.

Roll the sleeve out of the way so you can stitch the short edge of the cuff and part of the other seam. Do this at both ends of the cuff.

Trim the seams and cut diagonally across the corners. Turn the cuff out to the right side. Press.

Turn in one edge of the cuff and press. Do the same with the other edge so that the outer cuff is very slightly wider than the inside.. Edge stitch. I like to do two rows at the edge nearest the sleeve.

Next came the hem. I really don't like rolled hem feet and they're not great on curved hems. So I set about making a narrow hem by hand rolling as I machined.

This picture reminds me that when I made the facing I used a lightweight woven interfacing, neatening the outer edge by puttng it right sides together against the facing, I stitched a 5mm seam along the outer edge, turned the interfacing over then fusing to the wrong side of the facing.


When spacing and making buttonholes I aleays use my SIMplex Buttonhole Guage and cut with my Buttonhole chisel.


I just have to convince my husband that red buttons look fine!


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Use your overlocker to make buttonhole loops

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The Savile Row Coat