Aug 272013
 

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Since our patterns are meant to be made as professional wear as well as casual wear, a blind hem is nearly always a valid hemming technique. It is professional, doesn’t show on the right side, and can be done by machine. Because the blind hem will be a common occurrence in our patterns, we thought posting a tutorial on how to sew a blind hem by machine would be helpful. We are always trying to finish all our garments without using any hand sewing, just like in ready to wear. In fact, the only hand sewing I do is shank buttons…but only because I have not figured out how to sew them on by machine! I sew the two and four hole buttons on by machine every time. But that is besides the point. Here is how to do a beautiful, invisible, blind hem with your machine. This is a great finish for all hems where you want an invisible finish.

Marking

First, figure out your hem allowance. On this garment, a Sugar Plum (to be debuted on the blog soon!), the hem allowance is 1 1/4″. So I set my seam gauge for double that at 2.5 inches and marked all along the wrong side of the hem. Also, if you have a fabric that frays, you might want to serge or finish the bottom edge prior to marking and sewing your blind hem. Because this is a knit, I have not finished the bottom edge since it will not fray.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Press

Next fold up the hem to the line you marked.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Press your hem in place. You can use pins as long as you use them vertically and closer to the fold of the hem as shown in the picture below.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Fold

Next we are going to fold the hem backwards. This is the part where it gets tricky and confuses everyone so just follow the photos closely. After you do it a few times, you will never forget it. Look at the prior picture and how it is folded. Then look at how this picture is being folded backwards. This is an in progress picture of me folding the hem back under.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Here is a picture of the hem completely folded backwards.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

And here is another view of the same picture so you can see the layers of the fold.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

And here is one more picture. Here I added pins to show how you would pin if you like to use pins. I only use pins on a blind hem if I cannot get the hem pressed well enough in place.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Sew

Now we are ready to sew. Your machine probably came with a blind hem foot and has a  blind hem stitch (assuming it is not a straight stitch machine.) The blind hem foot has a blade in the center. I have used it in many other tutorials as I use it for topstitching accurately as well as blind hemming. Here is a picture of the foot.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Then choose the blind hem stitch setting on your machine. This stitch will do several straight stitches and then one zig to catch the edge of the fold. Here are the settings I use on my machine.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Next set up your fabric on the machine. You want the fold of the fabric to be running along the blade of the foot. The picture below illustrates this.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

The blade goes along the fold of the fabric. The straight stitches will stitch on the part of the fabric against the machine. This part will never show and will be inside the garment. The zig zag catches a tiny part on the fold and that is what holds the hem in place. Here is the same picture from another angle so you can see how your hem should be placed on your machine.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Now stitch around the entire hem making sure to run the fold of the fabric along the blade of the foot. The rest of the work is done for you! Your hem is nearly finished! It only needs a press.

Here is a picture of the finished hem from the right side of the garment. The stitches are so small that they should disappear as long as your thread matches your fabric well.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

And here is what the hem looks like from the wrong side. You can see the straight stitches and the zig zag here on the inside.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

That is all there is to it!  I find this hem much easier than a traditional hem since you don’t have to fold up twice and pin as much. It goes much quicker and is my preferred method of hemming. I only use other methods when the fabrics warrant it such as a tailored shirt or t-shirt or a really slippery fabric. You all know our hemming method for slippery fabrics don’t you?!?  It is one of our most popular posts! Definitely the most pinned of all our tutorials. If you missed the tutorial on how to hem slippery fabrics, you can find it by clicking the link. You can also find any of our previous tutorials by clicking on the tutorial page on the main menu.

I hope this helps and that you can refer to this for any pattern when you need to sew a blind hem. We are all about finishing garments completely by machine and this tutorial should get you one step closer!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

Aug 102013
 

We wanted to update you on the status of Sugar Plum and its release date. We were hoping it would be ready by now but it is not quite there yet and we want to explain why. The physical patterns are here! The physical instructions are here! Everything should be ready to go right?  Not quite. We hit a snafu in our packaging. We have been working with a special packaging company since January to produce the exact perfect packaging for our patterns. Extremely durable yet cute and cost effective. We can’t wait to share it with you! Unfortunately, we have hit some scheduling delays with the packaging company that is preventing us from being able to ship out the pattern and instructions that are sitting in boxes waiting!  As soon as the packaging issue works itself out, we will definitely be putting the physical pattern up for sale.

In the meantime, we were wondering, would you all prefer to have the PDF pattern for sale until the paper pattern is fully ready? If you all are interested in getting the PDF or print shop version of the pattern now, we could certainly put it up for sale. Our original intent was to put them all up at once. What do you all think?

Lolita Patterns | PDF Pattern

pdf pattern sneak peek

Rest assured, we have so many exciting things in the works! Nhi and I spent an entire day running all over the hot garment district carrying humongous bolts of fabric and supplies so we could put together the cutest kits for Sugar Plum for you all. You should have seen us wandering around carrying bolts of fabric. Both Nhi and I are very tiny! All these chivalrous men kept offering us help. How sweet! Also coming up— we have already got three more patterns in the works!

Lolita Patterns | Fabric Swatches

sample fabric swatches

The good news is that we won’t have this packaging snafu ever again in the future. The set up and sample parts are all behind us so in the future, we won’t have this delay. So I hope this update helps explain a little more about what it is like to start an independent sewing pattern company. We will be doing a post specifically on the packaging where we can explain how we went about finding a packaging company, designing it, working with manufacturers and printers and the final outcome.

Please let us know what you think about offering PDF and print shop versions before the paper patterns. We are always interested in hearing what you think! If you think it is a good idea, we do too!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

 

Aug 092013
 

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

This is the first of a series of tutorial on how to make factory tools for the home sewing environment; hence, the post title “faux factory” tools.  Factory tools are usually single purposed and made to endure; therefore, they can be expensive or difficult to obtain.  Because of these reasons it makes sense to make your own version.  First up is the pattern hook.

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

I know your first thought is… do I really need pattern hooks when I only work on one pattern at a time?  The answer is, “yes”.  Pattern hooks will save precious table space, help prevent patterns from going AWOL and keep your patterns easily accessible.  See my table without pattern hooks?  What a mess.  I sort of have different patterns in different stacks but it becomes a patternado when I’m trying to find an elusive pattern piece.

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

pattern + tornado = patternado

Let’s start with the supplies:

  • 20 gauge wire or thicker.  You can purchase this at craft or bead stores.  Tip:  The smaller the gauge number the thicker the wire.
  • Cording or similar.  I used DMC floss but any cording, yarn, ribbon will work.  Since these won’t get as heavily used as the industry ones we don’t have to worry as much about durability.  Anything that doesn’t catch or fray easily will work.
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers.  I use round nose pliers to make a smooth loop but regular needle nose pliers are fine.

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Supplies are leftovers from my other craft addictions.

T-bar:

  1. To make the t-bar end of the pattern hook, you need to cut a 4” length of wire.  Create a small loop in the center.  The loop should only be large enough to thread the cording.  Too large and you’ll need to punch a large hole in the pattern pieces.
  2. Fold the ends in half and twist to the ends.

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

T-bar Center Loop

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Come on baby let’s do the twist!

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Oooh-yeah just like this!

 

Hook:

  1. To make the hook end, cut 10” length of wire.  Fold it in half and twist to add strength.
  2. Shape the twisted wire into a hook shape.  You can use a hanger as a guide.
  3. Clip one of the ends and create a loop with the remaining end.  Again the loop should be only large enough to thread the cording.

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Cording:

  1. Cut a 14” length of cording.  Fold the cord in half, put the cord loop through the loop in t-bar.  Thread the cording ends through the cord loop to secure it onto the t-bar.
  2. Thread the cording ends through the loop in the hook end and knot to secure.  The knot should be towards the hook so that it doesn’t get in the way of the pattern pieces.   You should have about 4” of cording between the t-bar and the hook end.

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

 

Pattern piece holes

  1. The last step is to punch holes into the pattern pieces for hanging.  Professional pattern makers use oaktag which is pretty sturdy.  Unfortunately in the world of home sewing we usually work with filmsy tissue paper.  I have not tried hanging tissue paper.  Try this at your own risk. Using paper reinforcement stickers from the office supply store might help any holes in the tissue remain sturdy. I usually trace my patterns onto tracing paper or use bond paper for PDF prints so I have a sturdy material to work with.
  2. I use a ¼” hole punch from the scrapbooking section of my craft store.  You want to put your punch at the top edge of the pattern.
  • Tip 1:  If the pattern piece can’t be easily punched at the top, you can punch a hole further down the pattern piece.  To do this you can use a screw punch.  But if you don’t have one, you can fold the pattern and punch a half circle.
  • Tip 2:  If the pattern piece is long you can fold the pattern in half and punch at the top edge.

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Hole punch reminiscence of even more crafty addictions.

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Voila! 

My patterns are now neat and tidy.  They take up very little space are easy to find.

14 After

These 4 patterns hardly take up any space. :O

15 After close up

I find the pattern hook an invaluable tool in the sewing room.  I hope you give one a try.  Either this DIY version or a purchased one, it’s a tool I think everyone should have.

Nhi Signature

 

 

Aug 012013
 

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Today we are sharing a great tutorial on all things having to do with darts! This method that I use makes marking super easy (no tracing wheel and tracing paper!), and does not require tying of threads. Best of all? There are never any puckers!  I have seen so many dart tutorials around the web and wouldn’t be writing one if I did not have something to add. None of these tutorials use this method and I don’t know why…it is so easy! So I hope you try this…you might even like sewing darts after this :)

One word of caution when using this method: If you are unsure of the fit at all, baste your dart first. It is incredibly difficult to remove the stitching when using this method so be sure of your fit by basting or making a muslin first.

Marking:

First step is to clip into the legs of the dart while the pattern is still on top of your fabric.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Here is how the fabric will look with the dart legs clipped.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Next, stick a pin through the tip of the dart so it goes all the way through all layers of paper and fabric.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Then you can lightly lift the paper and separate the layers so the pin is still holding the place to be marked.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Then mark where the pin is inserted on the top layer of fabric, and then turn all the way over to mark the other layer of fabric.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Now you can remove the pattern and the pin. Use a ruler to connect from the snip to the marked point and chalk a line.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Repeat for the other dart leg.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Stitching:

Now your dart is all marked! Super easy. Now we pin the dart. I fold it and pin directly through the chalked lines. I pin so I can remove the pins as I stitch. I also put a horizontal pin just beyond the dart tip so I know where my stitching should end/go off the edge of the fabric.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

right side

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

underside

See how the pins go directly through the chalked lines? This ensures my stitching will go exactly where it is supposed to. Now it is time to stitch the dart. The photos show me using a walking foot just because I almost always stitch with one. But it is not necessary. A regular foot will work just as well. When you begin stitching at the wide end of the dart, use your normal stitch settings that you use for the rest of the garment.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

stitch settings

Continue sewing the dart directly on your chalked lines, pulling pins as you sew. As you get towards the last third of the dart, that is when I begin changing the stitch settings. In the picture below, the horizontal pin shows where the tip of the dart is. I explain this so you have a frame of reference for how close to the tip of the dart I am in this picture. Starting at the point in the picture below, I change my stitch settings.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

These stitch settings aren’t set in stone. I just sort of start making the stitches smaller as I go. I stitch for a bit on that stitch setting and as I get closer to the dart tip, I make the stitching smaller. Below you can see that I am getting closer to the tip.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

As I get to the very tip, I always go below a 1.0 stitch length. I also sew directly over the tip and continue a few stitches past so I am literally stitching off the end.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

When you continue stitching off the end, it will look like this as you pull it out of the machine. If you look closely, you can see a few stitches hanging off the edge. This is good…you want these.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Here is what we just did: We lowered the stitches to be so small that they won’t unravel. This means we do not need to backstitch nor do we have to manually tie off the ends of the thread. Yay! What a time saver! Also, by making the stitches this small, there will not be any puckers near the tip where the angle gets sharp when the stitches are larger. Double yay!

Here is the finished stitching.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Pressing:

Next we need to press. First press the dart flat as it was sewn.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Then use a pressing ham to press the dart in the direction specified in your sewing instructions.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

pressing ham

I use my pressing ham on its side to get a nice curve when pressing a dart. First lay your dart over the ham and make sure the underside is pressed in the direction you want. I put a dotted line right underneath where the dart is since it is a little difficult to see. For this dart, I will be pressing the dart to the upper direction in the picture.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Next I press towards the upper direction using steam.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

 Here is the final dart! (I added the green dotted line again)

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

What do you think?  Will you use this method in the future? It truly makes sewing darts far less tedious, which makes your sewing go faster and easier!

We hope you get some great use out of this tutorial!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns