Spearmint Sew-Along #7: Finish flounce collar, Pressing video, Finishing touches

 Sew-Along, Tutorials  Comments Off on Spearmint Sew-Along #7: Finish flounce collar, Pressing video, Finishing touches
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?

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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

Spearmint Sew-Along #5: Lining, Coat hook, Set in sleeves, Attach second flounce collar

 Sew-Along  Comments Off on Spearmint Sew-Along #5: Lining, Coat hook, Set in sleeves, Attach second flounce collar
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.

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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.

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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″.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Spearmint Sew-Along #4: Coat back, side seams, shoulder seams, sleeves, flounce collars

 Sew-Along  Comments Off on Spearmint Sew-Along #4: Coat back, side seams, shoulder seams, sleeves, flounce collars
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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Spearmint Sew-Along #2: Prepping fabric, Fabric layout, Flat lining/Fusing fashion fabric

 Sew-Along  Comments Off on Spearmint Sew-Along #2: Prepping fabric, Fabric layout, Flat lining/Fusing fashion fabric
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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Here’s the clear elastic zig zagged in place.

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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.

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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.

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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. ***

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Gunmetal Sew-Along #2: Prepare the pieces, ruffles, D-rings, sew front bodice pieces

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Sugar Plum Sew-Along #7: Sleeves, waistband finishing, hook & eye, buttons and hemming

 Sew-Along  Comments Off on Sugar Plum Sew-Along #7: Sleeves, waistband finishing, hook & eye, buttons and hemming
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.

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Stitch at the underarm seam.

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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.

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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 …

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…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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Turn your bodice right sides out.

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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.

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Sugar Plum Sew-Along #5: Skirt, pockets, waistband and attaching bodice to skirt

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Oct 312013

Are you ready to roll some hems? Today we’re going to finish the rounded edges on the flounces and neck ruffle as well as sew on the flounces, the I recommend you cut 3-5 extra flounces so you can play with your serger or sewing machine without worrying about wasting the ones you need for your Sugar Plum.

If you missed any of the previous sew-along posts, you can find them all on the Sugar Plum Sew-Along page. If you still need to pick up your copy of Sugar Plum, you can grab it here in the shop!

View A: Rolled hem flounces

On your serger, you want to set your machine to a rolled hem. Check your owners manual for the way to set yours. On mine, I just pull back the white slide you see toward the bottom of the image. It pulls a metallic piece from where your loopers wind thread around the fabric


I’m using lightweight scraps to test out the rolled hem before I roll my flounces. (In other words, you’ll see several different fabrics through today’s post.) My differential feed is set to N- which is between .7 and 1.5. A lower differential feed will create a lettuce leaf edge. Setting your differential feed higher will feed the fabric at a faster rate and it won’t ruffle as much. You can play with the feed to get the edge you like. 


Below is the test with the serger. 


Below is the test with my sewing machine set to 3 width and 1 length. You can also go over your zig zagged edge twice if you like. Likewise, you can make your stitch longer to approximate the serger threads. I personally like how it looks with a narrower stitch but it’s your choice. When you use your sewing machine, make sure that your zig zag goes over the edge of your fabric, which will cause the raw edge to roll.


When going around the curve of your flounces, gently hold the front part of the flounce as it gets fed into your serger but don’t be afraid to stop with the needle down, lift the foot and pivot your flounce.

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Once you get the hang of finishing your flounces you don’t have to stop and cut the flounces off the chain of the serger. You can just keep feeding flounce after flounce.


View A: Sewing on flounces

Mark where you flounces should be keeping in mind that you might have to adjust some of them if you did an FBA or SBA. Pin your upper flounces at the placement lines.

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Stitch a straight line down all your flounces to hold them in place with a 1/4″ seam allowance. You will want to pull the flounces out of the way so they don’t get stitched into the seam. Next, starting from the bottom most flounces, pull and stretch the flounce so they line up with the placement line and with a narrow zig zag stitch the flounce down.

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You can do the rolled hem on your neck ruffles now or in a couple of steps.

Both Views: Button loops

Take the button loops that you have prepared and pin them according to the placement template on the right front bodice. Stitch them down with a 1/4″ seam allowance, taking care not to stitch any of the lower flounces.



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Both Views: Front shield

Fold your front shield in half lengthwise. Sew across the top with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Turn right side out and press well. Line up the top of the shield with the notch on your left front bodice and with raw edges together stitch in place with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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At this point, if you haven’t already, you can stitch the bodices to the backs. The instructions call for you to stitch them in an earlier step. Both ways are fine. Showing the application of the flounces, button loops and shield is easier without the back bodice in the way of the photos.

Both Views: Neck Ruffles

Once you’ve done all your flounces, you’ll add a rolled hem on your neck ruffles. Again, when going around the curve of the ruffle, gently hold your fabric as it goes into your machine. You might want to do a practice ruffle before you make the ones for your Sugar Plum.


Stitch a basting row at 1/4″ from the raw edge. Gather your neck ruffles to fit the neckline and match notches. Stitch down to bodice neckline with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Notice that the ends of the ruffles must stop at the dots.


Attach front lining

Lay lining bodices right sides together with fashion fabric bodices. Stitch down center front with 3/8″ seam allowance. Tuck away the flounces so they don’t get caught in the stitching.

Understitch the lining to the seam allowance.

Press without flattening the flounces.

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Bodice side seams

With right sides of the bodice together, sew up the side seams of the bodice front and back. Repeat with your lining pieces.

How are you all doing? Let me know if you have any questions. Next time we meet, we’ll attach the skirt and waistband.

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Oct 282013

Today we have a very special treat! The lovely Trice from Sew Tell is here to show us how an FBA changed the fit on her Sugar Plum bodice. She’ll show you how to get a much more tailored fit along the bust. I appreciate the extra tailoring but you can see that Trice gets a great fit out of both of her approaches with Sugar Plum. Read her post and see what you think. If you’re on Twitter, you can find her here, too! Thanks Trice for coming over to share what you’ve learned.


Remember this Lolita Pattern Sugar Plum? This was the Sugar Plum that I made as a pattern tester. After making it up, I realized that I wanted to make some changes to the dress. I did not think it fitted as good as it should. This was a size 14 with only an added 5/8″ to the side seams.


Fresh off the sewing table is my latest Sugar Plum. The bodice fabric is one of the items I picked up in NYC, but forgot to share on the blog. The skirt is the same fabric from the last Sugar Plum. I still have several yards left of this fabric.

Okay now down to business of this version, which has a better fit. This time I used my high bust measurements to get a size 10. I only cut out a size 10 for the front bodice, sleeves, neck ruffle, front shield, and  button loop placement. Everything else I keep a size 14, yes even the back. The back fit perfectly before, so I just trued the front and back bodice so they were balanced.

I did a tissue fitting to check the amount I would need to make the bodice adjustment. I ended up needing 3 inches. When you need more than 1.5 inches you have to do a Y-FBA. In the picture below you can see the Y-FBA that I made. Also note that I had to make adjustments to the Front Shield and Button Loop Placement pieces. If you do the flounces, you will need to add length to the Flounce Placement piece as well. The added length is to make these piece match the adjusted Front Bodice piece, because when you do FBAs, you tend to end up with a longer bodice to accompany the roundness of your bust. I also re-did the markings for the buttons starting at the fullest part of my bust.


Because of the Y-FBA, I end up having extra fabric on the sides and this did not work with the waistband piece. I ended up eyeballing adding two more pleats. I think the added pleats creates nice look around the bust area.


So you can see that this dress fits better on me by doing the FBA. There is no drag lines in my shoulders. Also and most importantly, no crazy fabric in the armhole. Even my sleeves look better because of this adjustment. These things might not bother you, so you can see if you want to do the extra work or not.

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Another thing I did for this pattern was shorten the skirt about 5 inches. I took it off from the lengthen and shorten line but added 1.25 inches for the hem.



Some things I would change about my next Sugar Plum would be, to take out the back darts, because I like my clothes with a little less fit and I would also skip the pockets. As much as I love pockets, they are just not working for me for this dress. This version is more obvious because I used the lining for the pockets and not the knit used for the skirt.

So have you made a Sugar Plum yet? Will you do a FBA for it? Or have you?

Oct 272013

It’s time to get started sewing!

We’ve got a couple of things to set up and we’ll be ready to start putting the bodice together.

Want to catch up?  The rest of the sew-along posts can be found at the Sugar Plum Sew-Along page!

Interfacing the bodice, lining and front shield

Using lots of steam and a pressing cloth, apply interfacing to the wrong sides of the neck edges  and the back seam (to stabilize for the zipper) of the bodice and lining. Turn your bodice and lining pieces over to the right side and press the interfacing again. This will help secure the strips of interfacing.

Apply interfacing to the wrong side of the front shield. Press again from the right side.

You can also stay-stitch the neckline instead of interfacing it.


Stitching up darts

If you haven’t already, mark the darts on your back bodice and back lining by tracing the pattern onto the wrong side of the fabric with a tracing wheel and tracing paper. You can either baste the pleats on the front pieces or you can make them into darts as well. Either way, you’ll also want to mark the pleats/front bust darts onto the wrong side of you pieces and stitch them in place.

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Making button loops

Fold the button loop piece in half lengthwise and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance. The allowance, when turned, will fill up the tube you’re creating and give you really nice loops.


To turn your tube, take a threaded sewing needle, tie a knot and secure the thread at one end of your tube. Allow the eye of the needle to go into the tube and pull it out the other end. Gently, pull the needle and wiggle the fabric around a bit so that your tube inverts on itself. I find pulling on the seam allowance a little helps feed it through.


Cut your tube into six 1.75″ pieces. Set aside for now.


Optional bias tape for the waistband

If you’d like to add bias tape to your waistband like Amity did on her pink Sugar Plum, you can either make your own bias tape out of the same fabric you’re using for your bodice or out of a contrasting material.  We’ll apply it to the waistband once we put those pieces together in a later step.

We’re done for today. I skipped doing the rolled hem on the flounces but, don’t worry, we’ll get to them next time.

Still need to grab your Sugar Plum for the sew-along?  It is available here in the shop!

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Sugar Plum Sew-Along #2: Fitting, FBA and SBA

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Oct 252013

Today is a fitting chat day. There are several common alterations like the Full Bust and Small Bust adjustments and the forward shoulder. I’ve posted a forward shoulder tutorial on my own blog if you’re interested. Now, I’ll show you how I adjust the bust line.

Just joining us? All the sew-along posts can be found on the Sugar Plum Sew-Along page!

Adjusting for the bustline

Start by measuring your high bust. Measuring your high bust and starting with the size that corresponds to that size helps with better fitting back and shoulders. To decide how much you need to add to your front bodice, measure both the front length and width and compare to your own measurements. You’ll need to also add to that the measurement of the back but subtract all seam allowances. I prefer 1-2 inches of bust ease but you’ll want to make sure you have the ease you like. 

Compare the difference between the final bust measurement of the size you’ve chosen with your own bust measurement. The difference needs to be divided in half and added to your pattern.

First you need to identify the point of the bust apex. Darts are drafted from the apex so you can draw a line up from the middle of your dart or in this case the pleat. The apex will usually be about an inch above the tip of the dart. For those of us with larger busts, you want the dart to end further than an inch. The larger the bust, the further away the tip of the dart should be from the apex. I often will put the pattern up to my body and see where my apex is compared to the pattern.

If your apex is much lower or much higher than where it lands after the FBA, you’ll want to adjust that, too but after you do your bust adjustment as it’ll get moved when you add or remove bust room.

Draw a line from the apex down to the middle of your bust pleat and across to the side seam.

Draw another line from the armscye (about 1/3 of the way from the side seam) and connect to the apex point.


Continue drawing the line that came up from the bust pleat all the way to the shoulder.


Cut from the bottom of the bodice up to the apex and over to the armscye. Don’t cut through the armscye. You want to be able to swing the piece, not remove it entirely.


Continue cutting all the way up to the shoulder, again leaving some of the tissue intact so you can swing it open (or in the case of an SBA, closed)


From the side of the bodice, cut along the line you created, leaving the point at the apex uncut.


Draw a horizontal line on the center front piece- this you will use to lengthen or shorten your bodice to match the work you did to adjust for your bust.


Using a ruler or a tape measure, mark the amount of the FBA/SBA. For my FBA, I slide the pieces apart until I get to the width I need. You can do the same for an SBA. You can also start with a sheet of tissue paper underneath so you can just tape your opened up bodice piece down right away. I’ve also put down a piece of muslin and traced the new adjusted bodice to it and have a muslin ready to stitch up. Then, I use the muslin as my pattern.


now specifically….

Full Bust Adjustment

Once you’ve opened up your bodice, measuring to make sure you have enough room for your bust plus 1-2″ of ease, place tissue paper underneath your pattern and secure with tape. Then, swing the side piece so that it’s parallel to rest of the pattern. When you do that, you’ll have created your side bust dart. You can either stitch up the dart or pivot it to the under bust pleat. It’s your choice. Don’t worry, when you stitch up the side bust dart you just created, your front and back bodices will still match up.


You’ll need to make one more cut along the center front part of the bodice so that you can slide it down to match up with the rest of your adjusted bodice.



I’ll come back to correcting the length in the shield in a minute… for now, add tissue behind the space.

Small Bust Adjustment

For the SBA, we’re going to rewind and go back to where we had all the lines drawn and had cut the bodice apart.

Bust adjustments


You’ll want to measure your pattern flat and compare to your own bust measurement.


Compare the difference between your bust measurement and the pattern’s. You’ll want to overlap the bodice pieces until it measures what your body measures. Again, personal ease is, well, personal. You might want more or less ease.

If your altered bodice is shorter than the back bodice you can add or subtract length. Which one you do depends on whether you are short waisted or long waisted. You might need more or less length.

Adjusting the shield and button loop placement


Take out your shield pattern piece.


Fold down the 3/8″ seam allowance at the top.


Place the top of the folded down shield next to your bodice notch.


Note what size shield you need to cut so that it will match your altered bodice and cut that size.


For the buttonhole loops, look to see what size markings would best suit your newly altered bodice. You might just need to add a loop or use a larger or smaller size markings than you had before.

Okay, we’re all done. Let me know if you have any questions.

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Sugar Plum Sew-Along #1: Picking your size, printing your pattern and cutting fabric

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Oct 232013

Welcome to the Sugar Plum Sew-Along! I’m very excited to be a part of the sew-along. Today we’ll do some prep work so we can get sewing on October 27th. There are several details on this dress that I highly recommend you make for your Sugar Plum. You might be surprised by how quickly they all come together. I’ll be checking in with comments throughout the sew-along so feel free to leave any questions you may have along the way. You can also upload your progress and finished garment pictures to the Sugar Plum Flickr Group.

Picking Your Size

As noted on the pattern, Sugar Plum has less design ease than most patterns on the market and is more close-fitting for a tailored look. If you’re between sizes or like more ease, go up a size and you can always take some in. Below are the finished garment measurements. You can compare the body measurements (imperial and metric) chart to the finished garment chart to see the exact ease.

I do also recommend you make a muslin before you cut your fashion fabric. For both of my Sugar Plums, I used my high bust measurement to decide which bodice size to cut.

Printing Your Pattern


If you’ve purchased the PDF version of Sugar Plum, you’ll need to either print it at home or have it printed out at a copy shop. I’ve printed at copy shops and the result is quite nice but printing and taping/gluing also works great. Once I print all the pages of a pattern, I like to line them up to make sure everything printed and that I know where everything goes. You can either fold over or trim off at the side line and tape or glue the pages together along one row. Once you have all rows taped or glued, go back and trim or fold down the bottom and line up the skulls and you’ll have your pattern ready to work with.



I do recommend tracing your size, whether you blend sizes or use one straight size. I highly recommend tracing if you’ll be doing any alterations to the bodice in either FBA or SBA.

Cutting Your Fabric

While I will talk about cutting layouts today, I want to remind you that I’ll be talking more about fitting your Sugar Plum in posts to come so if you have questions about that, hold off on cutting. Just keep the information handy for when you’re ready.

The best option for your bodice pieces is going to be lightweight fabrics. The lining should be the same weight as your fashion fabric. You could even cut the ruffles out of a different fabric to add contrast. The skirt fabric should be a mid weight knit although I just made a Sugar Plum using a stretch denim and it worked out really well so you could also use any stretch suitings. You could even line the suiting with a stretch lining if you wanted to but that’s the beauty of using a ponte- no need for a lining.

The skirt can be cut out frugally and there are only a couple of pieces for the whole dress that need to be cut on the bias so this can be a stash-busting project.  Lay your skirt pieces so that the stretch goes around your body. It might be selvage to selvage but it might not be so you want to take fabric in hand and stretch it to see which way you should line up your skirt and waistband pieces.

Once you know which way your fabric stretches the most, you can fold your skirt fabric in half and cut the center piece and front waistband pieces on the fold and the remaining panel and back waistband pieces two at a time, as long as the stretch of the fabric will wrap around your body. I recommend using the cutting labels since the panels start to all look the same. Marking your fabric on the wrong side is also advisable so you can keep straight which sides get sewn together.



Sugar Plum skirt layout

Cut out your fashion layer of the bodice, shield, two ruffle collar pieces, sleeves, ruffles (optional) and button loops piece.

Sugar Plum fashion cutting layout

Cut out your bodice lining pieces and pocket lining if you’re doing pockets. You might want to skip the pockets if you’re going for a very fitted skirt as they might gape. If you’re adding more ease to your skirt, you should be fine with the pockets.

Sugar Plum lining

Cut out your sleeve lining. 

Sugar Plum sleeve lining

Last, you’ll want to cut out strips of interfacing or use stay tape for the fashion and lining necklines, the back to stabilize for your zipper and the front shield, though you can also stay-stitch at the neck if you choose. I used Sheer Pro Sheer from Fashion Sewing Supply.  It needs no pre-treating and fuses beautifully.  Sugar Plum interfacing   

As I mentioned above, next post will be about fitting. Let us know if you have any questions about choosing your size or your fabric. Is everyone ready to get sewing?

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Mar 022013

Here is the last sew-along post! In this post we will finish the waistband facing to the zipper completely by machine with a beautiful finish, understitch the facing, stitch in the ditch, and add a hook and eye. Then we get to have a parade of all the beautiful finished Fuchsia’s! I will plan on posting the finished garments on Monday, March 11, 2011. Please leave a comment or send us an email with your finished pictures or links to your blog post or pattern review so we can make sure and feature yours!

Still need to get your Fuchsia? You can grab it in the shop for free! Need to go back and see the other steps? All of the sew-along links are posted here.

Finishing the Waistband Facing

Let’s first sew together one side seam of the waistband facing pieces. These are the waistband pieces that are interfaced. You want to make sure you stitch the correct side together. Try to follow the picture as below. Or if you have trouble figuring out which side, lay it right sides together on the current waistband so you can see which side to stitch. The only tricky thing is you will stitch the opposite side together than you did on the original waistband because this one will be turned the opposite side out. Press the seam open.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_1

Measure 3/8″ in on each side and trim it off. So now each facing piece is 3/8″ smaller on the end. Now match and pin the side seam together.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_2

Now pin the facings over the zipper.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_3

And stitch down both sides next to the zipper using your regular zipper foot.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_5

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_4

Now we are going to fold back the zipper and stitch all the way around the top of the waistband pieces. Watch the pictures closely to make sure you are turning the pieces the correct way and pin to hold it in place.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_6

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When you have turned the pieces correctly and pinned all the way around the top, it should look like this.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_11

Next you will stitch all the way around the top using a 3/8″ seam.

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Here is a closeup of the edge after stitching around the top.

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 Trim off the corners on both sides.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_14

Turn right side out. Look how pretty it looks!

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Next we want to understitch the facing to keep it from rolling out to the right side. Because of our neat waistband finishing method, we won’t be able to understitch the entire way…only most  of the way. So just understitch as much as you can.

When understitching, you want to make sure you push the seam allowance to the side you want it to roll. For this, we want the facing to roll to the inside of the skirt so we will understitch the seam allowance to the facing piece–the interfaced waistband. When you understitch, you stitch as close to the seam as possible while catching the underlying seam allowance.

The picture below shows the seam allowance being pulled to the facing side of the waistband.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_18

And stitch as close to the seam as possible while catching the seam allowance underneath.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_19

Stitch as far along as you can. Then turn completely to the inside and press well.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_19

completed understitching

Stitch in the Ditch

The last piece of major sewing is to stitch in the ditch from the right side of the waistband to take down the facing inside. Many people like to slip stitch the facing to the inside, but I prefer to do as little hand sewing as possible…..none!

When I stitch in the ditch, I like to use my blind hem foot, or edgestitching foot. It has a blade in the center that you run along the seam line and the needle stitches directly  behind it. This keeps the stitching exactly in the ditch and invisible from the right side.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_20

Pin the facing down over the inside seam allowance and stitch in the ditch from the right side.

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Last thing?? Attach a hook and eye above the zipper and you are all done!!!

Here is my completed Fuchsia.

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_22

Lolita Patterns | Fuchsia Sew-Along 6_23

I will be featuring my completed Fuchsia and another Fuchsia that Nhi made during this week while you all finish up yours. Don’t forget to send us pics of yours and/or links to your blog post or review so we can feature them here!

Also coming up in the next few weeks we will be showing sneak previews of our next pattern, Sugar Plum. It’s so cute! The pattern, the packaging, all of it! We know you will love it!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns