May 282014

If you haven’t bought your copy of Olive, head on over to our shop where you can place your order! Also, you can visit the Olive page where you can see all the tutorials as they go live as well as download the cutting labels to keep your pieces organized, get inspired via our Pinterest and Flickr pages, whichever you prefer. And go ahead and tag your work with #lolitapatterns so we can find it and admire, like, share and basically swoon!

Today, I’ll show you how to cut the back on the fold and how to face the waistband, both things that testers opted to do and we thought them smart ideas. First, let me show you how to cut the back on the fold. Just note: You will need extra fabric to cut on the fold so plan accordingly!

You can do this with any pattern that doesn’t require a back zipper or even if you want to move the zipper to the side, like Olive, you just need to fold down or cut off the seam allowance on the back and mark your pattern so you don’t forget. I’m notorious for making tons of notes on my patterns. A lot of times it’s the fitting changes I’ve made that I want to keep track of. It’s a good habit to get into so that you always know where your pattern notes are…unless you have a notebook and you always keep notes there.

IMG_20140520_131825064_HDR   IMG_20140520_131929257

I folded my back piece down rather than cut it, as a personal preference. Feel free to trim the seam allowance off and mark your pattern piece as CUT ON FOLD. The back waistband piece is already in one piece so you don’t have to alter that at all.

Next, I’ll show you how to face your waistband.

If you haven’t cut your fabric out yet you’ll need to cut two front waistband pieces and 2 back waistband pieces. Cut only one interfacing piece out of each front and back, as per the pattern instructions. IMG_20140528_104533378_HDR

When you get to Step 20, you’ll have your bodice and facing sewn up around the neck and basted around the arms and sides. At this point, you’ll want to sandwich the back (or front, start with which ever piece you’d like) bodice with the waistband pieces. Place the right sides of the waistband facing each other so to encase the bodice.

IMG_20140528_105603400   IMG_20140528_105718164  

Stitch with 3/8″ seam allowance and then press the waistband pieces away from the bodice.

There are a couple of ways you can attach the peplum. The Olive instructions call for attaching the peplum to the waistband, then turning the blouse inside out, folding the waistband facing under and topstitching it in place. That’s how I attached my waistband facing on my first Olive. You can topstitch the top of the facing, too, if you like.


Another way I was playing around with was to place the peplum, right sides together with the waistband and waistband facing together and stitch. Finish your raw edges with a narrow zig zag or serger and press the edge toward the peplum. You can also press toward the waistband and topstitch if you like.

IMG_20140528_110025836   IMG_20140528_111231091


Now that your waistband is faced, continue to follow the Olive instructions to finish your blouse! Share your Olive on social media and make sure to tag it with #lolitapatterns or get our attention so we can see your work!

leila signature


May 232014

Hi fit nerds! Today we’re going to talk about fit around the bust. When I made my first Olive, I made zero changes. I cut the size 8 and just stitched it up. Do you know how exciting that is for me?? It’s very exciting when normally I fiddle with patterns a lot.

The Olive blouse has princess seams. On view A, you have a neckline and an armhole princess seam to alter, as well as adjusting the sheer overlay and making sure your facings true up. View B only has the armhole princess seams. It isn’t hard but it’ll take a little more time than just cutting and sewing one size.

olive line drawing

I didn’t call this tutorial an FBA/SBA tutorial because we’re doing a different kind of adjustment. We’ll be lengthening and shortening the princess seams to give you the fit your body needs. If you need to add bust room in the width but would like to keep the high bust, shoulders and waist as per another size, you can draw a line on the side front pieces that go from one size to another.

For instance, you can draw a side line from the size 8 waist to the 10 bust on the sides as well as add length. Play around, muslin and take notes of the changes you make each time. Once you have the fit you like, you can make this one blouse over and over again- as View A or View B.

To mark your pieces, start by marking the side front pieces 1″ down from the armhole and draw a line across the pieces.

IMG_20140522_134202648 IMG_20140522_134223372

Line up your matching points and draw a line across the front bodice pieces.

IMG_20140522_134242756 IMG_20140522_134316768

Mark across all front pieces- whether you’re doing View A or View B.

IMG_20140522_134517833 IMG_20140522_134553166

Once your pieces are marked, you will want to measure to see how much length you need to add or subtract. I added a 1.25″ to the length. You can measure your front to your waist and compare to the pattern pieces or you can put the pattern pieces up to your body and see what you need to alter.

If you’re adding length, you’ll need to put tissue paper behind your pattern pieces and tape the open pieces to the tissue. Once you’ve added length to one piece, go around to the other pieces and make sure they all match up and have the same amount of length.

IMG_20140522_135123274 IMG_20140522_135517960 IMG_20140522_135732723

If you need to take out some of the room in the bust but find you only need to decrease some in the side, you can take piece 3 and pinch out less than an inch, depending on your needs. Once you’ve pinched out the side, you can trim the side armhole. 
IMG_20140522_212901475 IMG_20140522_212916889 IMG_20140522_212927989 IMG_20140522_212946619

If you need to decrease the length in the bust area, take that same line we drew across the front pieces and fold the pattern piece up. Then, clean up the side by smoothing out your side lines.

IMG_20140522_213011351 IMG_20140522_213020328

Once you’ve shortened the front length, you’ll need to shorten the side front piece and the overlay, if you’re doing View A. All lengths need to match up.


Last but not least, you’ll want to make sure your facing pieces match your altered front pieces. You shouldn’t have to change your facing pieces unless you added to the shoulder with of neck. If all you’ve done is change the bust length, you can just cut the facings according to the original size you started altering.

I made a wearable muslin of View B with the added length and starting with one size smaller than my first Olive. I’m finding that the neck, both front and back, are closer to my body and don’t gape as much. Granted, the gaping isn’t awful in my first version. That said, I do like how the Olive fits this time around. I didn’t add the peplum or the sleeves but you most certainly can if you want to complete yours.


Any questions?

Next time, I’ll have a tutorial for you on how to cut the back on the fold along with how to face the waistband. Hope this has been helpful!

leila signature

May 212014

Hello lovelies! While Amity is in New York, I’m here sneaking around Lolita virtual headquarters getting some tutorials ready for you Olive lovers. If you haven’t bought your copy of Olive, head on over to our shop where, day or night, you can place your order! Also, you can visit the Olive page where you can see all the tutorials as they go live as well as download the cutting labels to keep your pieces organized, get inspired via our Pinterest and Flickr pages, whichever is your poison.


I’m starting with tips on working with lightweight fabrics and mastering your serger skills first so you will see that you can do it.

First of all, cutting these gorgeous fabrics! Some people prefer to use a rotary cutter and healing mat while others use spray on stabilizer or a gelatin rinse (I’ve used this method and it’s excellent) to beef up their fabric, keeping them from being so shifty. You can also cut shifty fabrics by sandwiching your fabric between two sheets of paper. Once your pieces are cut, you just need to keep them from pulling and distorting.

Use needles that match the weight of your fabric and, if need be, switch to a lightweight thread on your sewing machine.

The biggest tip I can give you for getting your serger to produce a lovely rolled hem is to test, test, test. Use scraps every time. I know my serger will make a sweet rolled hem and I still always test it.

If you’re having trouble getting a nice rolled hem on your serger (though these tips also apply to working on a sewing machine), I recommend you:

1. Change your needle. A fresh needle with a sharp tip can make all the difference.

2. Re-thread your machine…and while there isn’t any thread, take a second and clean out the lint. Add a dab of oil and then re-thread.

3. Set your stitch length to 2 or shorter. When you test it on a scrap, you can set it shorter if you prefer.

4. Differential feed is at 1-1.5.

5. Move the stitch finger slider back (on some machines you might have an R for the rolled hem position). You basically don’t want the stitch finger sticking out- you want it back so that the rolled hem is possible.

6. The settings for the needle and the loopers will vary with each machine and how moody your serger is that day. I have mine set to 4 across the board and I don’t move them all that much.

Here are some tests I did on scraps of both my fabrics for my first Olive. I wanted to test both the regular serged hem as well as the rolled hem. My poly chiffon overlay did just fine under the serger but if your overlay is lighter weight or has a looser weave you might need to stabilize it before you do the rolled hem on it.

You can stabilize it with a very narrow piece of like-colored ribbon, by using spray on stabilizer or even by folding the cut edge in and doing your rolled hem over the two layers. If you have bits on the wrong side peeking out, you can trim those off.

IMG_20140415_113401 IMG_20140415_114025197

As you go around the ruffles, hold your overlay fabric firmly in place so you don’t skip any part of your fabric. If it ripples, it’s okay. Remember, it’s a ruffle. :)



To get that rolled hem all the way to the end of your curved pieces, just use a pin to hold your fabric in place as you slowly feed it through the serger.

IMG_20140415_114332701   IMG_20140415_114541099_HDR

When doing the rolled hem on the straight pieces, you can feed them in sequence and then trim them in between.  IMG_20140415_114701421_HDR IMG_20140415_115057473_HDR  

Before you apply the interfacing to the facing pieces, make sure that your fabric didn’t shift. I double checked my facing pieces by placing the pattern piece over the cut fabric just to be sure. Then, I felt okay ironing on the interfacing.

IMG_20140415_095454465_HDR IMG_20140415_095758574

Serging the bottom of the facings shouldn’t give you any trouble because the pieces are interfaced and therefore more stable. Just remember to change your serger settings before you get started on the facings.  IMG_20140415_113827248_HDR

As you put your overlay ruffle pieces together, you can use your serger threads to keep the very ends together. When in doubt, just go slow and you’ll be fine.



Pin, pin, pin!

IMG_20140415_120856438_HDR IMG_20140415_121008553_HDR

Marking your back darts can be easy with pins.



You can either stitch and then serge your Olive together or, making sure you stick to the 3/8″ seam allowance, just serge it all. Here’s the inside of the top of my blue Olive.



Any questions about working with lightweight and shifty fabrics? Friday, I’ll be back with FBA and SBA alterations. See you then! Let’s hope Amity is having a blast in the big apple!!

leila signature



Mar 032014

Today is our last sew-along day! It’s a pretty big day. We’ve put our coats together and now all we have left are the finishing touches. I say that’s “all” we have to do but this is the point where we shape out flounce collars and give our coats the final pressing. I have a video for you today, too, to show you how to get the collar to look the way it does in the illustration. 

If you’re just starting to follow the sew-along, feel free to visit the Lolita shop– it’s open whenever you need it! There you can get a PDF version, a paper copy and you can also pick up hair canvas for the flounce collar at a very reasonable price! We are always available to help you along your Spearmint coat sewing venture so please feel free to ask questions, leave us comments and share your work in progress and your finished coats! Let’s get started.

Sleeves – Bonus Video

If there was any confusion regarding the instructions on how to sew the hem of the sleeves by machine, there is a video up on Three Dresses to show you exactly how to do it!

Finish Flounce collar

Turn your coat right side out and start pressing. You might need to use a pressing cloth so that you don’t shine your wool. Press with steam and a lot of pressure to get the coat to behave, especially the collar. Take your time pressing.


Pin where the flounce collar meets the coat so you can stitch in the ditch. You want to make sure that you pin the collar seams so that your stitching stays in the ditch on both sides.


Pressing video

shaping and pressing flounce

And some images from Amity’s white Spearmint construction to further illustrate.




Finishing touches

Go to the hem of your coat and stitch in the ditch for 1.5″ within the hem to keep the fabric from shifting. Do the same on the sleeves.

Sew on your button and slip stitch your bound button hole shut. Remember these images from the Lolita Patterns bound button hole tutorial?

DSCN6881 DSCN6882

If you’re finishing up with us today, head on over to your social media site of choice- whether you prefer Flickr, tag us onFacebook or use #lolitapatterns on Twitter and Instagram so it’ll pop up on our Showcase page! We love showing off your work and work in progress!

Thank you for joining the sew-along whether you joined at the time of posting or in the future!

Enjoy your coat!

leila signature

Feb 282014

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

At Lolita Patterns we are truly Sew Grateful! We have a giveaway going on so please, if you haven’t entered, check it out. As Amity was talking about in her Sew Grateful post, we’ve seen a wonderful response to the release of our Spearmint coat pattern. I do go on about how straightforward the construction is on this coat. Today I’m going to show you how to bag the lining and what I’m going to do is make it so you can apply it to bagging any coat lining. There will be a couple of things you have to mark on your pattern that are already marked on the Spearmint pattern but don’t worry, we’ll try to make it as clear as possible.

If you’d like to buy the Spearmint coat, feel free to visit the Lolita shop– it’s open whenever you need it! There you can get a PDF version, a paper copy and you can also pick up hair canvas for the flounce collar at a very reasonable price!

A couple of things to keep in mind are that the Spearmint coat lining is cut from different lining pieces. So, if your coat doesn’t have separate lining pieces, you’ll need to alter your pattern for this tutorial to work for your coat. You’ll need it to be several inches shorter than the fashion layer, for starters. That said, the facings of both layers will match so already you can see that the changes aren’t that many.

If you are not using the Spearmint pattern, make sure you stop sewing about 3″ from the bottom where your lining matches your front facing. Leave this open. You will also want to leave about a 10 inch opening in the sleeve seam of your lining for turning later- already explained in the Spearmint instructions.

You will also need to mark your pattern pieces with the all important star/dot that will show you where to start and stop your stitching. To mark your pattern pieces, you will need both the front coat piece and the front facing piece.


– On the facing pattern piece, make sure to mark the star 3/8″ (or 5/8″ if your pattern uses 5/8″ seam allowances) from the edge and 3/8″ (or 5/8″) from the bottom.

– Layer the facing piece on top of the coat front piece, aligning them as shown in the drawing, and transfer the star marking from the facing piece to the coat front exactly where it lines up.

– Mark this star on each fabric respective fabric piece when cutting out.

Now begin sewing!

Put your coat and lining right sides together, matching facing edges and collar edges. On your Spearmint coat, you’ll stitch from the star to the edge, up the side, around the entire collar, and down the other side to the star.

If you are using another pattern, start stitching at your star/dot, along the bottom edge, up the outside edge of facing, around the top and down the other side and bottom finishing at the other star/dot. You can see the stitching line drawn in the photo below.

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

You should have part of your lining hanging free. This is where you did not stitch all the way down when you stitched the lining to the front facing. This is part of what helps bag your lining completely by machine.

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

Next, you’ll mark double the hem allowance all around your fashion fabric so you can press up the hem.

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

Fold up a your  hem ( 2″ if using Spearmint) to create the press line. Trim seams within the hem allowance to prevent bulk. Take care to measure very carefully. Once you’ve turned your coat right side out and stitched it closed, there’s no way to even out the hem.

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns  

At this point, if you are not using Spearmint, check to see how long your lining pieces are. The perfect length would be if the lining pieces fell exactly at the fold line of the hem. If they are longer, you can trim them now. If you are using the Spearmint pattern, this has already been taken into account and the lining will fit perfectly.

Unfold the hem now and match the lining bottom to the bottom of the coat with right sides together, stitch the length of them hem with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

There will be a little gap. We’ll address that in a minute.

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns    

Clip the fashion fabric ONLY (not facing) diagonally from the edge to the star/dot as shown in the photo below.

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

Fold up the coat hem. Press lining down into the folded hem. You’ll want to find where the lining wants to fold naturally. Make sure you get a nice crease.

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

Fold the facing back under the garment so it’s out of the way and stitch from the dot down through the star, all the way to the edge and backstitch. The next three photos show you how to grab the fabric to do this step.

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns  Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns  Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

The biggest thing about this step is making sure you get all the thicknesses into your stitching. You also want to make sure that you don’t get a pucker in your fashion fabric. All you have to make sure to do is keep everything as flat as you can. To make this next part simpler, you can mark the stitching line as shown in the photo and then just sew on your marked line.

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns  Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

Below you can see how the lining is tucked into the fashion fabric. This is correct. Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

Here we illustrate the way to line up the fabric to stitch from the dot down through the star and to the edge. Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns  

Stitch from where you stopped stitching the facing and lining together, all the way to the bottom on the stitching line you marked. This will complete the gap you left open at the bottom when stitching the lining and facing together.

Trim your corners. Seam allowances on the edge of the facing should be pressed toward the lining.

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

Turn the coat right side out, slowly, through the opening you left in the sleeve lining. Go slow and you’ll be fine. Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

And there you can see a perfect jump hem sewn completely by machine!!

Bagging a Lining Tutorial | Lolita Patterns

Complete the lining instructions for closing up the sleeves as described in the Spearmint instructions. Because this part is slightly confusing, we will be posting a video showing exactly how to hem your sleeves by machine as well! Yay for no slipstitching!

Edited to update: The video on how to hem your sleeves by machine can be found over on the Three Dresses blog now!

Thank you for joining us as we say thank you in our special way with this bagged lining tutorial! Have a great day and let us know if this has helped you!

leila signature


amity bow | Lolita Patterns

Feb 172014

Believe it or not, we’re closing in on the end of our sew-along. The longest part about this coat is choosing the perfect fabric and lining, and then doing any alterations and cutting. You just have to commit to something and run with it! There’s always more fabric. Always! And once you know how fast this coat sews up, you might not mind spending more time on the pre-sewing steps.

If you’re just starting to follow the sew-along, feel free to visit the Lolita shop– it’s open whenever you need it! There you can get a PDF version, a paper copy and you can also pick up hair canvas for the flounce collar at a very reasonable price!

As we go along, upload your progress to one of our social media sites whether you prefer Flickr, tag us onFacebook or use #lolitapatterns on Twitter and Instagram so it’ll pop up on our Showcase page! We love showing off your work and work in progress!


Stitch the dart  in the side of your front lining. End at the dot. To get a smooth dart, you need to get really close to the edge of your dart and think of getting as close to the edge as possible for about 3 stitches, then let your stitches come off the fabric. Pressing also make a big difference in how clean your dart turns out. Press over a ham or a rolled up towel. Use steam and take care not to stretch your fabric.

DSC00686   DSC00687 DSC00688

Sew the side front lining to the front facing (the fashion fabric piece). Stop stitching at the dot. This will leave the bottom few inches open above the hem- which is what you want.

Amity’s note: Match up your seam starting from the top since the bottom will not match up.

When we go to bag the lining, the shorter lining pieces will pull the fashion layer up, creating a professional finish.

Sew the center back linings together, basting as you see in your pattern instruction diagram. You’ll take out your basting later, giving you a relaxed fit in the back but for now basting that area will give you a nice pressed edge. Press and take out basting stitches.

Coat Hook

I’m going to show you two ways you can do a coat hook. The differences are the material I used and the placement of the hook itself.

For the first one, I used a 5″ piece of bias binding in pink to match with my lining. A lot of the length will hang while you’re basting it so you could cut a shorter piece if you want. Have fun choosing what to use for your coat hook. Pin and baste your coat hook to your un-interfaced flounce collar.

2014-02-17 12.54.21 2014-02-17 12.58.21

Stitch the flounce collar to the neck seam with right sides together, matching your notches. Press using a press cloth. Press a little more. Understitch. You can trim and grade your seam allowances before or after you understitch. So long as you grade them.

The other way is to attach the coat hook to the lining before you attach the neck facing. For this one, I went ahead and made a coat hook out of my blue wool.

Cut a piece of your fashion fabric 6″ long by 1.5″. Fold it in half with right sides together and stitch at 3/8″. Trim down to 1/4″.

2014-02-18 16.36.22 2014-02-18 16.41.39

Turn your tube right side out. You can see with mine that I have fraying bits. This is why I cut the length so long. Trim down the frayed bits and pin to your lining with a loop pointing down toward the body of the lining. Baste in place.

2014-02-18 16.46.21 2014-02-18 16.52.35

Pin your neck facing to your lining. Stitch in place and trim off the excess loop pieces. Press.

2014-02-18 16.56.41 2014-02-18 17.00.20


If you went with the first approach to the coat hook, it’s now time to stitch the back neck facing to the center back lining. Start pining at the center.


Pin, curving your pieces together. Smooth them as you sew so you don’t end up with puckers. Press with your press cloth.

DSC00690   DSC00691

Stitch your side back lining to the center back lining on both sides. Your seam allowances are already pretty small so you can use your judgement on whether your fabric needs clipping around the curves. One place that might need a clip is at the waist. Press seams toward the back or open.

Then, stitch the side back of the lining to the side front lining on both sides. Your lining is starting to really take shape now!

Stitch shoulder seams, adding a strip of stay tape. Press shoulder seams open. Using pressing tools will help your pressing.

DSC00693   DSC00694 DSC00695      

Set in sleeves

Pin your under and upper sleeve linings. Baste for 10 inches in the middle of one of the sleeve seams. It doesn’t matter which sleeve but just make sure you back stitch before and after the basting . The basting will let you get a nice pressed seam, like with the back lining pieces. You can mark where to start and finish your basting stitches by putting two pins in so you don’t forget the basting.

DSC00697   DSC00698

Press. There isn’t much excess in the sleeve head so you shouldn’t have a problem setting in your sleeve. Line up your notches and stitch in your sleeve. Take care to use your notches so you don’t set in the wrong sleeve.


Attach second flounce collar

Stitch remaining flounce collar (the un-interfaced one with the coat hook loop) to the neck seam with right sides together. Make sure you match your notches. Press and understitch. Trim your seams.

Next time we’ll be bagging the lining! Several of our testers have used this technique for bagging other coat linings so it should prove to be lots of fun to learn! Feel free to visit the Spearmint Sew-Along page to see what we’ll be doing next after that. Thanks for joining us!

leila signature

Feb 142014

Hiya sew-alongers! If you’re just starting to follow the sew-along, feel free to visit the Lolita shop– it’s open whenever you need it! There you can get a PDF version, a paper copy and you can also pick up hair canvas for the flounce collar at a very reasonable price!

As we go along, upload your progress to one of our social media sites whether you prefer Flickr, tag us onFacebook or use #lolitapatterns on Twitter and Instagram so it’ll pop up on our Showcase page! We love showing off your work and work in progress!

Coat Back

Stitch center backs together of your fashion fabric. Press seams open. We suggest you use a press cloth so you avoid shining your wool. Then, stitch up the center back to side back for both sides.


To get the curved side pieces to lay flat, use a pressing tool like a ham or point presser to press around your curved seam. You will definitely want to use a pressing tool for the front bust curve.

DSC00677 DSC00680

At this point, if you’re planning on adding a back stay, check out the Lolita tutorial on how to do that. 

Lolita Patterns | Back Stay Tutorial

Side Seams

Stitch your whole back piece to the whole front piece at the side seams. Make sure that when you’re stitching the side seams you stitch them in the same direction for both sides, whether you go from hem to underarm or vice versa.

Shoulder Seams

Cut a piece of stay tape the length of your shoulder seam. Place it on your seam and stitch your shoulders with right sides together, and the stay tape on top. Repeat for the other shoulder.



Stitch underarm sleeve to the upper sleeve. Ease where needed and repeat for the other sleeve.

Press using pressing tools to get a clean, open seam allowance. Below you can see how Amity used her clapper to press the seams on her sleeve lining piece.



Amity’s tip: To know which is the front and which is the back of the sleeve, fold your sleeve in half and locate the seam that’s closer to the top of the sleeve. That’s the back of the sleeve.

Set in sleeves using our tie interfacing tutorial to add support, shape and gently gather the sleeve head before stitching it in.

Flounce Collars

With the right sides together, sew your flounce collars together at the back seam. One interfaced collar with one non interfaced collar. Press your collar seams open.

With right sides together, stitch the flounce collar with the hair canvas interfacing to the neck seam. Press. Understitch. Trim and grade your seam allowances.

Next time you’ll be ready to start stitching up the lining! Feel free to visit the Spearmint Sew-Along page to see what we’ll be doing next after that. Thanks for joining us!

leila signature


Feb 112014

Lolita Patterns | Back Stay Tutorial

A back stay serves the purpose of lending stability to the back of a coat, right at the upper back. It’ll also help keep the shape of your coat while you wear it and while it’s hanging on a coat hanger. You will want to add a back stay even if you’re underlining your coat.

Materials needed

Coat pattern pieces

Firmly woven sew-in interfacing, though you can also use a quilting cotton or muslin

Tracing paper or something equally suitable

Draft the back stay

Since the Spearmint coat has a side back panel, you will want to overlap your pieces before you start creating your back stay pattern piece.

2014-02-11 00.51.02

Make a mark 7-8″ down from the neck along the back seam.

2014-02-11 00.52.19

Make another mark 3″ down from the armhole.

2014-02-11 00.53.05

Connect your two mark with a gently sloping curve.

2014-02-11 00.54.26

Trace your back stay pattern.

2014-02-11 00.56.11

Since the back is seamed, you want to cut off the seam allowance and mark your pattern to be cut on the fold.

2014-02-11 01.00.00 2014-02-11 01.01.01

Cut out your back stay in a suitable fabric/interfacing. Use pinking shears, pink the bottom curved edge so you don’t have a hard edge along the back.

2014-02-11 01.05.17

Attach the back stay

Stitch up your back fashion pieces, right sides together. Press seams open.

2014-02-11 01.21.32

Place your back stay on the wrong side of the back seamed pieces. Smooth out your back stay and machine baste around the side, armhole, shoulders and neck, leaving bottom curve free. You can also use glue and glue baste your back stay in just don’t glue the bottom edge. Let it dry and continue with construction.

2014-02-11 01.28.40

leila signature

Feb 102014

Welcome back! I hope you all had a great weekend.

If you’re just starting to follow the sew-along, feel free to visit the Lolita shop– it’s open whenever you need it! There you can get a PDF version, a paper copy and you can also pick up hair canvas for the flounce collar at a very reasonable price!

As we go along, upload your progress to one of our social media sites whether you prefer Flickr, tag us onFacebook or use #lolitapatterns on Twitter and Instagram so it’ll pop up on our Showcase page! We love showing off your work and work in progress!

Fuse hair canvas/interfacing

We highly advise using the hair canvas on your flounce collar. I did use crinoline on my zebra print Spearmint but the hair canvas will give you the best effect.

Fuse your hair canvas to two of the flounce collars and fuse your interfacing to the front facing and back neck facing pieces. Leave them to cool, then set aside.


Sew the bottom pocket facing to the bottom pocket with right sides together. Press the stitches, then open the pocket and press flat, like so:

DSC00659   DSC00660


Apply your stay tape to the wrong side of the side fronts and center fronts where the pocket will be attached. You’re looking for notches C and F. You want your stay tape to be longer than the pocket opening by about an inch. The extra length will go beyond the notches.

DSC00655 DSC00657


Place the bottom pocket combo to the side front with your right sides together, matching the notches and stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance through your stay tape. Repeat for the other side.

DSC00658     DSC00661 DSC00662


Press your pockets out and understitch. Understitching the pocket to the seam allowance will keep the pocket tidy inside your coat. I like to topstitch with a longer stitch than my normal stitching. If, say, I’m stitching everything with the length set to 2, I’ll topstitch at a 3. Press your topstitching.

DSC00663   DSC00665 DSC00664    DSC00666

Stitch center front to side front along the edge and around the pocket  back stitching on either side of pocket. Clip at the base of the pocket.

DSC00668 DSC00670

Topstitch your pocket opening from the right side of your fabric and press your topstitching. DSC00672

Bound Buttonholes

Visit our bound buttonhole tutorial for detailed pictures and tips!

You’re all set!

Feb 062014

Another day of prep! Once we get through these few steps and are ready to cut, the sewing will go by really fast- especially in comparison to the stages of decision making, fitting and cutting. If you want to check to see how we’ve grouped the posts of the sew-along, go to the Spearmint sew-along page.

You still have time to pick up your pattern, especially if you’re in the U.S. The Lolita shop is open whenever you need it! There you can get a PDF version, a paper copy and you can also pick up hair canvas for the flounce collar at a very reasonable price!

As we go along, upload your progress to one of our social media sites whether you prefer Flickr, tag us onFacebook or use #lolitapatterns on Twitter and Instagram so it’ll pop up on our Showcase page! We love showing off your work and work in progress!

Prepping fabric

To prep your wool, you’ll want to take one of these steps to pre-shrink it before you cut. If you’re really nervous about any of these suggestions, you can always cut a swatch and try the treatment to see how the coating comes out.

  • If you’re using a poly blend wool you can throw it in the wash- as long as that’s going to be the way your wash your coat once you’re done with it.
  • My favorite way of pre-treating wool is to put it in the dryer with warm wet towels. Put it to dry until the towels are dry.
  • You can also steam your fabric using your iron. Just hover your iron over your fabric and go over every inch.
  • Take your wool to the dry cleaners.

You will want to pre-wash your lining fabric according to the type of fabric you are using. I’m a fan of hand washing silk but if you’re going to be taking your finished Spearmint to the dry cleaners, you might want to take your silk to be pre-treated there, too. For polys, you can throw those in the wash at home.

Fabric layout

Layout all of your pattern pieces on your pre-treated wool before you start cutting so you can make the best use of the fabric you have. You’ll want to make sure you can use your fabric in the most economic way. For the plus size block, you’ll want to cut on the single layer to economize your fabric. So long as your fabric doesn’t have a pile, you can flip your pattern pieces to make them fit best.

Mark all your notches with either a clip with your shears or a mark with an erasable marker. You can keep your pattern pieces in case you need to refer to them throughout construction or mark the letters on your fabric. Just make sure to test your erasable marker on the fabric before you work with your cut fabric.

Use the grainline marks on the pattern pieces to line them up with the selvage. If you’re in doubt, you can use a ruler to line up your grainline with the edge of your fabric. Trace your pattern or pin down so you can cut the pieces out.

DSC00273 DSC00274 DSC00275

You’ll also want to make sure that you cut your interfacing. You’ll want a little scrap of silk organza for the bound buttonhole. You only need a small amount so you’ll be able to use any other yardage for other projects. You’ll also want to cut out your flounce collar interfacing at this point.

We suggest using hair canvas to get a beautifully draped lettuce collar. That said, I used crinoline for my Zebra print Spearmint and I got a great flounced collar. I’ll be showing you in a video how to get the lovely collar to behave.

Flat lining/Fusing fashion fabric

If your fabric isn’t as thick as you had hoped, you can always flat line it or fuse it with an interfacing to beef it up. To do this, you will want to get enough interfacing to cover your whole coat. The type of interfacing will depend on the type of fabric you’re using but you’ll want something that is the same or even lighter than the fabric you have on hand. We still recommend using the hair canvas for the flounce collar. It sounds like a lot but you’ll be happy with the results.

Here’s Amity’s White coat in the fusing phase.


Monday we’ll pick up where we left off! Please don’t hesitate to leave any comments or questions.

Happy Sewing!!

leila signature

Feb 032014

Welcome to the Lolita Patterns Spearmint Sew-Along! I’ve posted the whole schedule on the main sew-along page for the coat so you know what to expect from our time together. The speed of construction might just shock you but we’re sewing everything by machine except for attaching the button and slip stitching the bound buttonhole. No, really. That’s it. Choosing your fabric, alterations and cutting are really the ones that will take the longest. We’re going to try to keep this sew-along neither too slow nor too fast. That’s the hope, at least!

If you still need to get your pattern, hop on over to the Lolita shop where you can purchase a PDF version, a paper copy and you can also pick up hair canvas for the flounce collar at a very reasonable price!

As we go along, upload your progress to one of our social media sites whether you prefer Flickr, tag us on Facebook or use #lolitapatterns on Twitter and Instagram so it’ll pop up on our Showcase page! We love showing off your amazing work!

Choosing a size

Before we get started talking about fitting, let’s talk about this coat and how to choose your size. Spearmint is meant to be worn as a topcoat, aka a fashion coat. It’s drafted for minimal layering so if you want to wear it over thick sweaters for a colder climate, I suggest you go up a size. I’ll be showing you how to get that flounce collar to ripple over the center front so you will get some coverage but it might not be enough for a super cold winter. Remember also that Lolita Patterns are drafted with a lot less ease than most patterns so keep that in mind. It’s also the big reason why we offer final measurements. You should check those to make sure you get the coat you want! I also highly recommend you make a muslin. When I made my zebra print Spearmint, I went up one size. While I love it and it works great for Fall in the sateen I used, I could’ve just gone with my regular Lolita Patterns size. For my next Spearmint, I’m going to make it without going up a size. It’s really up to you and you should make sure you know what  you want out of your coat.

Again, check the finished garment measurements. You can measure a coat in your closet to see what you tend to wear and go from there.

Fitting/What to muslin

When you’re looking at the size chart and the final measurement chart, you might need to use different sizes. You can easily trace the pattern using different sizes, say for a size 10 bust, gently curving to a 12 waist and then a 14 hip or so. Since you have both blocks in your pattern, you can mix the two sizes, so long as you true your seams and do a muslin. I know our Lolita Patterns packaging doesn’t talk about grading between the two blocks but some of our testers have done it and have had great results so feel free to do it but just make sure you do a muslin.

Some of our testers felt the sleeves were a big snug while others found them to fit perfectly. You will want to either muslin the sleeves with your coat or do flat measurements and compare them to the measurement of your upper arm while wearing the layers you plan on wearing under your coat. Heather used a size up on the sleeves and had great results. Lady Katza did a full arm adjustment. Read about their experiences.

You might have noticed that there a separate pattern pieces for the lining. To muslin, you’ll want to use the fashion pieces (not the lining pieces). Once you’re done with your fitting adjustments, you’ll want to make sure you copy any changes to the necessary lining pieces. So, to start, you can trace out the Center front (1), Side front (3), Center back (5), Side back (7). And then your two piece sleeves; the upper sleeve (9) and the Under sleeve (11).

Lowering the bust apex

First off, you’ll want to lower the bust apex before doing any addition to the bust area.

The bust apex can be found on a princess seam by looking for the part of the “bust bump” where it starts to curve down. If I’m not going to do a muslin in fabric, I will at least tissue fit. So, I’m going to show you how to figure out how to lower the bust apex. I’m covering lowering the bust apex because, in testing, we found several testers needed to lower it. Again, muslin the outer coat pattern pieces to see if you need to lower the apex. On my zebra Spearmint, I didn’t lower the apex which doesn’t show too much because of the print and because of the flounce collar but I will be lowering the apex on my next coat because I can tell from close up. It’s your choice. If you’re getting bunching just above the fullest part of your bust, you might to lower the bust apex.

DSCN7151   DSCN7152

Here you can see my tissue fitting session. I put a pin where the extra tissue is on the pattern and where my bust apex is- that’s how far down I need to move the apex.

First, you want to draw a box around the apex and I’ve drawn it above and below my pins- which will help me with my adjustment.



Cut it out and then slide it down so that the pin on the cut box now lines up with the bottom pin on the center front piece.

DSCN7158   DSCN7159


Place more tissue paper behind the hole you created and tape or glue it to your pattern piece.

DSCN7160   DSCN7161


Draw either with a ruler or a gentle curve (eyeballed) to smooth out and complete your new piece. Next you need to lower the bust apex on the center front piece. This one is less noticeable but I still recommend you do it.

DSCN7162   DSCN7163


Create the box, cut it out, slide it down, put down tissue paper and then draw your line again. You’ll basically be making the slight curve (for the bust curve on your side front piece) a little bit deeper toward the bottom of the bust apex.

DSCN7164   DSCN7165

Last, you will want to adjust your side front lining piece. Below you can see how the change in minimal but I went ahead and redrew the bottom part of the bust dart, making it a little bit deeper of a dart. You can also see where I added a 1/4″ to the center front of the lining piece. I’ll be addressing that next.


Adding to the bust

When I was testing Spearmint, I considered doing an FBA but then when I saw the lining pieces would need an FBA as well I started to think creatively on how to add to the bust without having to go through the trouble. I also started to think about how the flounce collar would fall and how the center front doesn’t close all the way at the center. I did want the princess seams to hit over my bust apex so when I was tissue fitting, I saw that all I really needed was to add to the side front pieces (fashion and lining). I added a quarter inch to both side seams just at the fullest part of the bust on the pattern and then added the same quarter inch to the lining pieces. For the side front lining, I lessened the front curve when I added the quarter inch. That’s the picture above I was talking about.

Basically, I added to the area where I have more breast tissue. It’ll be different for everyone but I added to just the side front piece. As you can see below, you just add tissue behind your pattern, add the amount you need (based on your tissue fitting) and then trim the excess and you’re ready to go! Don’t forget the lining piece.

DSCN7169 DSCN7170

One other alteration I like to do when I don’t do an FBA is to raise the armhole. It’s another option but it might give you a more snug fit so if you like it, add 1/4-1/2″ to the armholes both front and back as well as the lining pieces.

Fabric Choices

We recommend wool, wool blend coatings, flannels, tweeds and velvets for the fashion (outer) layer. For the lining, we recommend silk, polyester and rayon lining fabrics. If your fashion layer is a bit on the lighter weight side, you could also underline it with a thin flannel layer or even a muslin. You can really underline with anything you want! It just depends what end result you want.

You can always take your fashion layer and put it next to the lining and see what they look like draped over a shoulder. Then, add in a layer of muslin or thin flannel. Again, play around until you get the look you want! Have fun!

Next time, we’ll be talking about prepping your fabric, I’ll show you the fabric layout and we’ll get into flatlining or block fusing your fashion layer.

Let me know if you have any questions! Welcome to the Spearmint Sew-Along!

leila signature

Jan 132014

Did this sew-along feel quick to you? We’re only on day 4 and we’re finishing up today! I love a quick make that has some detail to it!

To see all of the sew-along post links together, go to the Gunmetal Sew-Along page to see all the posts. If you still need to buy your Gunmetal pattern, click here to go to the Lolita Patterns shop. You have the option to buy the paper copy, a PDF copy or a paper copy with D-rings.

Stitch and attach skirt/peplum

Baste around the bottom of your bodice and lining with 1/4″ seam allowance to hold them in place,and treat as one, while you attach your skirt or peplum. Stitch front skirt overlay to the back skirt overlay- the front is a little wider than the back- just in case you lose track of which is which. Repeat for fashion fabric.


Put your fashion fabric skirt inside the overlay skirt and match wrong sides together and stitch with 1/4″ seam allowance to hold them together.


Stitch your skirt combo to the bottom of your bodice, with right sides together. Make sure you catch the ruffles, lining and top- stitched ribbon in this seam.

DSCN7027   DSCN7012


I attached long sleeves to my burgundy Gunmetal so I’m going to show you how to finish the sleeves on my red version.


First take your sleeve cap and gather between the notches. Then, sew underarm seam.

Set in the sleeve. you might have to do some smoothing of the gathers at this point. Pin and stitch in place. Sometimes I like to baste a sleeve in, check to see that the gathers look good on the right side, then restitch them. You can also baste and then use your serger. If you don’t have a serger, you can always use a zig zag stitch but you can also use an overlock stitch on your basic machine, too.


Pinned sleeve to the armhole.


To add elastic on View B, cut a piece that is the length of your arm circumference. Stitch the ends together to make a loop. You want the elastic to be just a bit smaller than your sleeve opening. Fold in half and mark. You can also fold in quarters and mark again, if you’d like. 

2014-01-13 09.46.08

Match your seam and the half mark on your elastic to the underarm seam and half mark on the sleeve. As you zig zag your elastic in place, hold your elastic from the front and the back, stretching it as you go. When you need to stop to readjust or take out pins, make sure you end with your needle down so your elastic has less ability to move around.

2014-01-13 09.48.13

Here’s the clear elastic zig zagged in place.

2014-01-13 09.53.26

Fold up your hem over the elastic and stitch your hem. You can also, stitch up your hem and, leaving an opening, thread your straight piece of elastic and then stitch it into a loop.

2014-01-13 10.13.48

For View A, your sleeves get turned up 3/8″ and hemmed without elastic, as you can see below. I’ve sergerd the raw edges of my netting before turning it up and stitching in place. A straight stitch is just fine.

2014-01-13 10.14.58

Lace D-rings/attach buttons

You can now lace the ribbon through your D-rings, starting at the bottom so you can have a nice bow at the top. Or lace it from top to bottom. Your choice! If you’re doing View A, you’ll want to sew on your buttons.


Hem your peplum/skirt and you’re done!

Congratulations! You’re the proud owner of a Gunmetal! We’d love to see what you just made! Visit the Lolita Patterns Gunmetal Flickr Group and add your photos! Thank you for joining us on this sew-along.

***We’ll be starting the Spearmint Sew-Along on February 3rd! Hop on over to the Lolita shop to get your copy of Spearmint. You can get a PDF or paper copy as well as pick up some hair canvas at a really great price for the neck flounce. ***

leila signature

Jan 102014

Welcome back sew-alonger! How is your Gunmetal coming along? Did you opt for the D-rings or the buttons? I can’t wait to see your finished makes…which brings us to today!

If you’re just joining us, feel free to go to the Gunmetal Sew-Along page to see all the posts in one spot. If you still need to buy your Gunmetal pattern, click here to go to the Lolita Patterns shop. You have the option to buy the paper copy, a PDF copy or a paper copy with D-rings.

Side front overlays

Sew with a long stitch along the length of both sides, arm and neck of side front overlay (7). Pull the threads to gather. Leave the marked part of the side front ungathered. That way, you won’t have gathers across the bust, but you will have gathers along your waist and shoulder.

Matching notches, layer the overlay onto the right side of the side front and stitch each edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance to hold in place. Repeat for the other side. You will work these two pieces as one from here on out.

DSCN6966 DSCN6969 DSCN6992

Sewing bodice together

Stitch the side front combo to the side center (5) with your right sides together.


Sew center front lining (10) piece to side front lining (6) pieces. Then, stitch side back combo (overlay plus knit-9) to center back (8) with your right sides together. Repeat for the back lining pieces. (Sorry the color changes so much. I started taking pictures for the sew-along in Indiana and finished up in California.)

Apply stay tape to the wrong side of the neckline on your fashion pieces. Below you can see the back and the stay tape. Do the same for the front.


Stitch front to back at the shoulders and side seams. Repeat for the lining.

Neck ruffle

Stitch long ends of neck ruffle (15) with the right sides together to make a loop. Matching notches, place your ruffle right sides together along the neck edge and stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Make sure you catch the ruffles and ribbon on the front of your bodice.


Attaching lining

Layer and line up the edge of the lining to the neck edge of the your garment and with right sides together, match notches. Stitch all around your neck edge. You can easily use a straight stitch since the neck is open enough to go around your head. You can also use a serger for any and all of these steps.

Turn your lining to the inside of your bodice. You might notice that my lining has different colored side pieces. You are correct! I ran out of fabric and have a lace print knit on the lining. Make sure your ruffles are lying as flat as can be so you don’t twist it and stitch a pretty ruffle into the seam. This happened to me but it’s easy to pick out if you’re using a straight stitch.

DSCN7003     DSCN7001 DSCN7000

Give your bodice a nice press. You might want to use a press cloth so you don’t shine up your knit or melt your ruffles.

One more session and you’ll have your own Gunmetal!

Any questions so far? Have you been to the Lolita Patterns Flickr group yet? Go check it out!

leila signature

Jan 082014

Today we begin prepping pieces so that we can get all our ruffles ruffled and D-rings placed and so on. This is a fairly quick make once all the pretty pre-work is done. So, let’s get to it. Lots of tips today!

If you’re just joining us, feel free to go to the Gunmetal Sew-Along page to see all the posts. If you still need to buy your Gunmetal pattern, click here to go to the Lolita Patterns shop. You have the option to buy the paper copy, a PDF copy or a paper copy with D-rings.

Prepare the pieces

I cut my overlay a little bit longer just because the length gets eaten up a bit when you baste it. As you can see in the second photo, the basting stitch on my sewing machine made the fabric and overlay gather. I left long tails so that I could un-gather the fabric and then it was laying flat just fine. You can also baste the overlay with your fabric on a serger. I recommend putting the overlay face down so that the feed dogs can grip it better.

DSCN6931 DSCN6935 DSCN6937

Both approaches to basting the overlay work just fine. It just depends on what machines you have.

Baste the accompanying overlays (I used my serger but you can use a long straight stitch on your sewing machine), wrong side to right sides of the side backs (9) and center back (8) pieces. Now you’ll treat them as one piece. Like this:



Below you can see that I have finished the edges of the burgundy upper ruffle (12) but I haven’t finished the lower ruffle (11) and because it’s a knit you can choose what look you want. You can serge them or do a zig zag on your machine. If you have an overlock stitch, you can use that, too. Or you can leave the edges raw. I cut the neck ruffle (15) along the selvage and therefore didn’t do any finishing.

Note: If you bought ruffle trim, this is where you would use it!

Once your ruffles are prepped, gather them with a long basting stitch. Your overlay ruffle pieces will gather mostly as you feed them through the machine so you will probably need to un-gather them a bit so they match the side center piece.


Layer and adjust the lower and upper ruffles so they match the raw edges of piece 5.


Stitch using a 1/4″ seam to hold the ruffles in place on both sides.


D-rings (View B only)

Cut your ribbon into 20 pieces, each 1 and 1/8″ long. I used a novelty glitter ribbon but the pattern calls for a regular ribbon. That said, the sky is the limit. Once cut, thread each piece of ribbon through your D-rings and secure with a 1/4″ seam to hold in place.

DSCN6947    DSCN6948

To save time, you can stitch the ribbon in a continuous row as you can see below, left. When you’re done, you’ll have a chain of D-rings as seen bottom, right. Just snip in between each D-ring/ribbon pair and you’re ready for the next step.

DSCN6952    DSCN6953    

If you haven’t marked your center front (4), place your D-ring placement pattern piece and pin each D-ring/ribbon pair on to the center front. Make sure the D-rings match up on both sides. When stitching my glitter ribbon to the center front piece I found that I had to adjust the fabric because of the height difference. With a satin ribbon, you shouldn’t have any problem but keep an eye on your knit.

DSCN6949   DSCN6956                  

Sew front bodice pieces

With right sides together, and making sure you don’t catch the ruffles, stitch center front (4) and side center (5) together. Repeat for the other side. For View B, you also want to topstitch the length of ribbon over both seam joins.

DSCN6961   DSCN6964   DSCN6963

Take a break! You’re half way through construction! See you next time! And don’t forget to share photos on our Lolita Patterns Flickr Pool and use the #lolitapatterns tag when you’re on social media! Have a great day!

leila signature

Jan 062014

Welcome everyone to the Gunmetal Sew-Along! This is a two skull (out of five) level of difficulty so we are only taking 4 sessions, including this one. Feel free to leave us any questions you may have throughout the sew-along.

To see all of the sew-along post links together, go to the Gunmetal Sew-Along page to see all the posts. If you still need to buy your Gunmetal pattern, click here to go to the Lolita Patterns shop. You have the option to buy the paper copy, a PDF copy or a paper copy with D-rings.


Part of the fun of the Gunmetal top/dress is reaching for the overlay fabrics. You want there to be stretch in the overlay fabric. Two way stretch on both the knit and the overlay is enough but you can also choose 4 way stretch materials. We recommend you find a knit with a bit of spandex/lycra in it for good recovery.

You’ll also need

Stay tape

Six 3/8″ buttons for View A

Two yards of ruffle trim (optional if you don’t want to make your own trim)

1 yd 1/4″ clear elastic for View B

Twenty 3/8″ D-rings for View B

Three yards of 3/8″ ribbon for View B

Choosing a size and fitting

When you look at the finished measurements chart, you’ll notice there is quite a bit of negative ease. You’re working with stretchy fabrics so you want your finished garment to be smaller than your own measurements. If you want to do a quick muslin, you can omit the ruched pieces and make just one layer. You can also measure a finished garment in your closet. You might be surprised to see how much negative ease your clothes actually have. All in all, it’s safe to go with the size that corresponds to your body measurements. I made the size 10 and the negative ease was quite comfortable. With Lolita Patterns, you don’t have to size down to get a snug fit- we’ve done that work for you! Just pick your size and cut it out!

With knit tops and dresses, I tend to cheat and skip the full bust adjustment. I don’t want a dart in my knits (personal preference) so what I did with my Gunmetal was to add one size to the side seams which gave me ample room.

Layout and cutting out your pattern pieces

I’ve laid out the peplum top. You’ll need a bit more fabric for the dress.

DSCN6925 DSCN6929

You can use a rotary cutter for cutting out your overlay pieces. I use my scissors for almost everything and had no problem with the overlay. If your overlay isn’t as stretchy as your knit, you might consider adding a bit of width to the peplum/skirt  pieces, but it’s not necessary.

That’s all we have for today! Join us next time as we get started with all the beautiful details that make Gunmetal such a fun make!

leila signature


Dec 182013

Lolita Patterns | How To Easily Set In Sleeves Using Tie Interfacing

Have you ever had a hard time setting in a sleeve? You get puckers no matter what you do? I’m going to show you how to ease your sleeve head before you even set it into your sleeve, giving you more control and a smoother fit, even on hard to ease fabrics.


Tie interfacing- Take your pic of any of the materials below to ease your sleeve head. Just make sure you match the weight of your fabric to the material you want to use to ease. All are cut on the bias.

  • Go to a thrift or vintage shop and get an old tie.
  • Ask your brother/husband/boyfriend for an old tie.
  • You can also use self fabric
  • Bias strip of lambswool
  • 100 weight polar fleece
  • Armo Rite (aka tie interfacing) or Armo Weft
  • Bias strip of linen
  • Weft interfacing
  • Bias cut lightweight gabardine (100% wool)

The sleeves you’re inserting

The coat/jacket you’re making


First, I’m going to show you how easy it is to pull the interfacing out of an old tie. There will be a running stitch down the middle of the tie interfacing. Pull that out and your interfacing will be free to use. You’ll get several strips out of one tie so keep the left overs for your next jacket or coat project!

Lolita Patterns | How To Easily Set In Sleeves Using Tie Interfacing Lolita Patterns | How To Easily Set In Sleeves Using Tie Interfacing Lolita Patterns | How To Easily Set In Sleeves Using Tie Interfacing  Lolita Patterns | How To Easily Set In Sleeves Using Tie Interfacing    

Cut two pieces that measure 1″ by 12″.

Starting at the first easing marking, (or seam if using a two-piece sleeve) place your bias strip down on the wrong side and stitch. There is no need to back stitch.

Lolita Patterns | How To Easily Set In Sleeves Using Tie Interfacing

Start to pull your bias strip as you sew with a long stitch just inside your stitching line.

Lolita Patterns | How To Easily Set In Sleeves Using Tie Interfacing

Your bias strip will get narrower. This is exactly what should happen.

Lolita Patterns | How To Easily Set In Sleeves Using Tie Interfacing

The strip will gather your sleeve head once you’re done. You can now steam press your sleeve head with the heat/steam necessary for your fabric. Only press the seam allowances. Now you should have a slight lift in the sleeve head that will allow you to insert the sleeve into the armhole with ease.

This is what my zebra print sateen coat looks like mid construction. I used a bias cut strip of linen in my coat.

Lolita Patterns | How To Easily Set In Sleeves Using Tie Interfacing

From this side of the sleeve, you can see how the bias strip will plump up the sleeve head.

Lolita Patterns | How To Easily Set In Sleeves Using Tie Interfacing

Insert your sleeve and flip over to see your smooth results!

Lolita Patterns | How To Easily Set In Sleeves Using Tie Interfacing


leila signature

Nov 302013

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Bound buttonholes are a beautiful touch for coats and below we have for you a step by step with tips on how to get a lovely one made. We recommend doing a trial run if this is your first time doing a bound buttonhole. That way you can practice and perfect your skills before you start on your final garment.


Bound buttonhole pattern piece – I am using the piece from Spearmint

Fabric- I’m using a medium wool coating.

Silk organza (I’m using black organza for this tutorial)

scrap of lightweight fusible interfacing

Buttonhole cutter or scissors to cut open the buttonhole

Chalk or other erasable marker or pencil


I’m showing you on a scrap piece of wool coating. Below you can see the larger piece which is meant to be the coat itself.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Cut piece 18 (the bound buttonhole piece)

2 fashion and 2 organza

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Mark the buttonhole line and rectangle around the line. The line is where you’ll be cutting the buttonhole open. You’ll want to mark the buttonhole line and rectangle on all your pieces.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Place rectangle of organza right side down on right side of center front, centering over buttonhole placement line.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Starting at one of the long ends, as you can see below, stitch all the way around your marked rectangle.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Either with buttonhole cutters or scissors, cut open your buttonhole.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

You want to cut from your center line to each corner, as close as you can get.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Fold your organza to the center and press, in preparation for turning it to the wrong side of your fabric. Pull the organza to the wrong side and press again. Keep pressing until you get all of your organza out of sight, or as much as you can see from the front.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

You can use a clapper to get the organza and the fabric to press nicely.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Now, you will have an open “window”, ready to stitch on the “lips” aka the opening of your buttonhole.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole  

The next big rectangle would be the facing of your coat, seen on the right below. You can see I started marking my line and then you mark the rectangle all around, according to your pattern piece.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Line up your coat facing with the bound buttonhole window you already created to make sure everything line up. It’ll be clear if it line up with your actual coat pieces. If they don’t, redraw your facing buttonhole line.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Place scrap of fusible interfacing right side (the non-fusible side) down on the right side of facing, centering over your placement line.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Mark your cutting line and the rectangle around it.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Once again, starting the the center of one of the long sides of your rectangle, stitch all the way around.  Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Cut your buttonhole facing open. Push the interfacing to the wrong side with your fingers. You will press the piece of interfacing once it’s in place because you don’t want the glue to start sticking to your iron.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Now you have two windows- one on the front of your coat and one on the facing. Topstitch around edge of the facing window.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

With your two buttonhole pieces right sides together, baste down the center. I like to use a contrasting thread so that I can see it easily when I’m ready to pull out the basting.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Fold pieces out and press open to create buttonhole lips.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Below you can see the two pieces, folded.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Now we’re ready to attach the new “lips” to the window.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Center lips under the window you created for the outer part of your coat.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Fold back center front to show one of the long edges you cut open when you were creating your buttonhole. Stitch right on the edge being careful not to catch any other piece of your work.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

You can pin it if you want.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Use a short stitch since this buttonhole will get used every time you use you coat.  Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Fold back center front to show the short edge of your rectangle. This will look like a small triangle. Stitch right along the base of the triangle. Again, make sure you use a short stitch and avoid stitching any other part of your coat front so you don’t end up with puckers.

Backstitch. Repeat for other side.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

There you have the front of your bound buttonhole!

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

You’ll take out your basting stitches once your coat is complete but I wanted to show you what it would look like so here it is, open!

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Now, after the coat is finished, you will want to attach the facing to the center front where the buttonhole is.

Lolita Patterns | Easy Bound Buttonhole

Since I want to make sure any bits of interfacing I used on my facing will be invisible, I’m going to slip stitch the front of my bound buttonhole to the facing by using my needle to pick fabric from the front and going over or just beyond the interfacing on the facing to catch fabric that will essentially close the gap and hide any interfacing that might be showing.


The more you whipstitch, the more the interfacing gets hidden and sandwiched between your fabric. Go all the way around and secure your thread well.


Now, you’ll be proud to show off the inside of your bound buttonholes!


Let us know if you have any question or need any clarifications. We’re here to help!

leila signature

Nov 062013

Today we’ll be finishing up our Sugar Plums by setting the sleeves, attaching the buttons and hemming the skirt. We’re so close!


Place your sleeves, fashion and lining together for both sides, together, and stitch across the bottom of the sleeve.


Turn your seam allowance toward the lining and press. Stitch at about 1/8″ to the seam, on the lining side. This will ensure that your lining doesn’t roll toward the outside of your sleeve and show while you’re wearing your Sugar Plum.


Put wrong sides together and press. Then, stitch at the gathering markings at the end of your sleeves with long stitches so you can gather them. Pull the long tails you’ve left. Secure them on the wrong side of your sleeve. You can also leave your sleeves without this gather. Both ways look quite nice.

IMG_3745   IMG_3749

Stitch at the underarm seam.

IMG_3747  IMG_3746

Turn your sleeve right sides out and press. The underarm seam will be completely enclosed.


At this point, and to make sure your sleeve and lining are lined up and ready to set in, you can baste the fashion and lining together. You can also opt to serge your sleeve now although you can also serge/finish it after your sleeve is set.

Baste the fashion and lining fabrics together with a long stitch. I like to do two rows of basting stitches. I find I get a more balanced gather that way. Gather cap sleeve between notches B and H.


 Matching notches, pin your sleeve to your bodice with right sides together. (I wanted to add a couple more pictures so I made up a muslin to illustrate setting the sleeve.) Even out your gathers. 


Stitch around your sleeve and take out your basting stitches.


Finish your sleeve seam with a serger, zig zag, pinking shears or binding. Press the finished seam allowance toward the sleeve.

DSCN6814 DSCN6815

Press from the right side careful not to crush your gathers.


Waistband finishing

With your dress wrong side out, fold under the raw edge of the waistband at 1/4″ and pin in place. Turn your dress right side out and edgestitch at the top and bottom edge of the waistband, removing the pins as you go. Make sure your edge-stitching catches the inner waistband.

In the case of my leopard print Sugar Plum, I stitched on the inside waistband …

2013-11-02 10.06.45

…and on the right side I got an invisible stitch in the ditch. Either over both layers of the waistband or in the ditch work.

2013-11-02 10.07.14

Hook & Eye/Buttons

Attach hook and eye above zipper.

Sew on buttons.


Fold your skirt hem under 1 1/4″. I like to mark it on my fabric so that it’s even all the way around. If you’re new to doing a blind hem or would like a refresher, check out our tutorial.

Below you can barely see my blind hem stitching from the right side. I’m pointing out one of the more noticeable stitches.

2013-11-02 10.07.48

Congratulations! Your Sugar Plum is done! No hand stitching and an all enclosed bodice.

We’d love to see your finished dress. Head on over to Flickr or Facebook and post pictures proudly!

leila signature

Nov 042013

We only have one more sew-along post, after this one, we’re all done. Today we’ll be applying the zipper, sewing the lining and the neck seam. Let’s get started


If you haven’t done so already, fuse a strip of interfacing or stay tape to the center back edges for the zipper. Applying interfacing helps stabilize the area so you don’t have any puckering.



Turn the dress right sides out. Use your invisible zipper foot to attach your zipper to your fashion fabric only. Unroll the coil as the zipper and fabric feed through your sewing machine. For more details on inserting an invisible zipper, visit our tutorial. You can always baste your zipper in first. I tend to baste the second side since that’s the one that has to line up with the first. Remember that pulling out basting stitches takes less time than pulling out a smaller stitch. Baste first if you’re aiming for perfection. To get a perfectly lined up waistband (below in the leopard print dress) I basted the second side and had to redo it. It doesn’t take that much time to redo it and you’ll be happier with the results.

IMG_3731    DSCN6707

Sewing your lining

Turn your dress inside out and sew up the center back seam from the hem to the end of the zipper stitching. Next, fold up the bottom of the inner waistband (pictured below, left) and placing bodice and waistband right sides together, sew lining along edge of zipper with your zipper foot. This will enclose your zipper, giving you a clean inside to your dress without any hand-stitching.

IMG_3734 IMG_3735

Neck Seam

Pin your neck seam, right sides together, making sure your neck ruffle doesn’t get caught in your stitching. Turn your zipper toward the neck edge so that when you turn your bodice right side out, it will lay flat.

Repeat for the other side of your bodice.

IMG_3736 IMG_3737 IMG_3738

Turn your bodice right sides out.

IMG_3739 IMG_3740 IMG_3741 IMG_3742

Your bodice is now fully lined and enclosed! Congratulations.

Next up will be the sleeves. Again, leave any questions or concerns you may have in the comments. Amity and I are checking as we want to make sure you have all the help you can get.

leila signature

Nov 022013

We’re about halfway done! How does it feel? I hope you’re all having as much fun as I am. As most of you know, it’s my first time running one of Lolita’s sew-alongs. I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to chime in down in the comments.

On we go to attach the skirt pieces and begin the process of attaching the skirt to the bodice.

If you missed a step or want to review any of the sew-along posts, you can find them all on the Sugar Plum Sew-Along page.

Skirt and pockets

Sew side front skirt to center front skirt (13 to 15) and side back to center back (14 to 16). You can topstitch your skirt panels either with a straight stitch or a stretch stitch. The stretch of the fabric won’t be affected by your topstitching. You can choose thread that matches or contrasts.

IMG_3694 IMG_3695

Next, sew your pockets to the side front of your skirt with right sides together at 1/4″ seam allowance. Repeat on the side back of the skirt. In the pictures, there is a white pocket lining. You can definitely do that, too. Attach the pocket linings to the front skirt pieces so they don’t show when wearing your Sugar Plum.

IMG_3698 IMG_3697

Sew down side seams, around your pockets and down the rest of the side seam. It doesn’t matter which direction you go in. Just make sure you stitch both sides of your skirt in the same direction.

If you’re making the skirt with negative ease, you will want to leave off the pockets as they will gape. However, if you’re adding more wearing ease to your dress, your pockets will lay flat just fine.

Waistband and (optional) bias binding

Sew back of your waistband to the front waistband at the side seams for both the front and facing of the waistband. (Different fabric in these pictures, don’t be alarmed!)


Take your bias binding that you’ve purchased or made at home and attach it to your waist band a little beyond 3/8″ from the top and bottom raw edges. When you stitch your waistband to the bodice and the skirt, your binding will be flush against the rest of your dress in a seamless fashion.


Now you’re ready to attach your waistband to your skirt. Match up the bottom of the band to the top of the skirt, lining up the seams.  When I used a smaller size for my waistband, it still fit the skirt at one size up but just a little bit stretched. If you’re worried about the fabric bubbling you can baste it in place. At this point, you can also baste in your zipper to test the fit. Once you’re happy with the fit, take out the zipper and return to the waistband step by pressing your seams toward the waistband. Press your waistband up.



Attach skirt to bodice

Sew right back bodice and right front bodice to the waistband. Make sure the bottom flounces are out of the way when doing this step.

IMG_3717   IMG_3317

Backstitch at center front to secure stitching. Repeat for left back and front bodice. Make sure you don’t catch the lining or the shield. The image below shows the backstitched bodice. (different fabric again- these are of View B without the flounces)


Fold bodice lining pieces over. Right sides of lining pieces should be facing you. Sew bodice piece with shield to the waistband facing, sandwiching it between the bodice fabric and the waistband facing. Stitch to the center front and backstitch to secure it.



Inside of dress, with waistband facing pressed down.


Tip: To make sure your shield will lay flat, you can flip the dress over and lay the pieces straight, pinch or pin, flip it over again and stitch in place.



The stitched bodice (View A) from the right side. Lower flounces are left free.


Inside lining and the stitched shield.



From the outside of View A with flounces.


We’re done for the day! Your bodice is attached and we’ll be ready to insert the zipper.

leila signature