Olive Tutorials: Cutting the back on the fold and Facing the waistband

 Tips and Tricks, Tutorials, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Olive Tutorials: Cutting the back on the fold and Facing the waistband
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.

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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.

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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


Olive Tutorial: Working with lightweight fabrics plus serger tips

 Tips and Tricks, Tutorials  Comments Off on Olive Tutorial: Working with lightweight fabrics plus serger tips
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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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



May 142013

Lolita Patterns | Tips for Efficient Sewing


My mom was a factory sewer.  I don’t remember how many dresses she would sew a day but she only got paid $2/dress so it had to be a lot of dresses.  Keep in mind this was the 80’s so wages were different and she only did a portion of the sewing.  Another person did the cutting, another person did the serging, another clipped thread, etc.  Regardless, she cranked out lots of dresses in a day.  In factory sewing they did things that minimized waste in terms of time and material.  The following are a few tricks that I picked up from factory sewing that I apply to home sewing.

No Pins

Lolita Patterns | Tips for Efficient Sewing

As I mentioned in my previous post on Dual Duty Tools my mom doesn’t own pins.  At the speed of which she sewed she didn’t have the time stop and take out pins.  Her machines can sew a yard in a split second, so pins would be very dangerous if her needle hit it.   She used clip marks to match up the pieces.  This can be done with home sewing patterns also if they have proper notches, which ours do.

Also with matching prints, pins work against you because of the uneven feeding to the top and bottom layer of fabrics with many home sewing machines.  I sewed this striped fabric as the machine feeds it.  Notice how at the top the stripes match perfectly.

Lolita Patterns | Tips for Efficient Sewing

Towards the bottom the stripes are off.

Lolita Patterns | Tips for Efficient Sewing

The bottom layer feeds faster than the top on my machine because the dog feed.  To get the stripes to match, I put a little tension on the bottom layer so that it’s a bit more forward/towards you.  When it gets to the needle it hits right on.

Lolita Patterns | Tips for Efficient Sewing

Lolita Patterns | Tips for Efficient Sewing

How much more the bottom layer needs to be forward depends on the fabric and the machine.  It takes a little testing to figure it out but it’s much faster than all that pinning, basting and unpicking.

Continuous Sewing

Not sure what the exact term is but I call this continuous sewing.  What I mean is that in factory sewing you end one seam and start another with the other previous pieces is still attached to the thread.

Lolita Patterns | Tips for Efficient Sewing

Here you’re getting a sneak peak of our upcoming pattern release.  In the pic, see how I’m ending one flounce and then starting another.  Many sewers stop at each piece, pull the piece off and cut the thread.  This wastes a lot of time and thread.  You can’t always do this in home sewing because you’re not sewing a lot of the same seam but there are still plenty of opportunities to utilize this tip.

Sewing corners

In sewing corners like collar points, cuffs, plackets etc crossing the seams instead of pivoting is more efficient and accurate.  Here is the pivot scenario.  You sew down one side.  You get slow down as you get to the turn.  You put your needle down, lift your pressure foot, rotate the piece.  If you’re past the pivot point you have to unpick a bit and start again.  If you’re not quite there, you sew another stitch, ½ stitch or whatever random amount you need.  Put your needle down, lift your pressure foot, rotate.  Rinse, repeat.  If you sew straight across and then sew the other way your corners are always in the right spot.

Lolita Patterns | Tips for Efficient Sewing


Sewing multiples

No one need to produce quantities like a factory, but there are times that sewing multiples make sense.   When I’m sewing pants I’ll sew the same pair in 2 different leg lengths at a time.  Like long pants and capris or shorts.  The cutting, thread color, machine settings and construction order are the same.  You can then use your continuous sewing and sew pockets, pockets, pockets, pockets then inseam, inseam.  You get the idea.  It’s not glamorous but it’s fast.


I hope you enjoyed the efficient sewing tips and get more done in less time.  Who couldn’t use some more time in their day?

Nhi Signature

Apr 082013

As many of you may have figured out Amity and I are very different in many respects.  As you can tell from her post on sewing tools she loves having the perfect tool for each situation.  Me, I like to use what I have around; hence the post title “Dual Duty Tools.”

Dual duty tool #1:  Sewing machine seam measure guides.

My 2 sewing machines don’t have usable seam markings on it.  My Elna Grasshopper has no seam markings.

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools

My Elna Carina has metric measurement.

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools

To create my own seam measure guide I position the 3/8” mark at the needle.  Our patterns will use mainly 3/8” seam allowance but more on this in a later post.  I lower the foot to hold the ruler and put a piece of blue tape or a post it note to mark 3/8”.

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools


Dual duty tool #2:  Straight stitch throat plate

Another use for blue painter tape is to create a straight stitch throat plate.  Straight stitch throat plates are extremely useful for troublesome or thin fabrics. Many times, when starting stitching lightweight fabrics, the larger throat plate sucks the fabric down the hole. With the smaller opening of a straight stitch only needle plate, the fabric does not have any room to be pulled under and you get a much better quality stitch without the headache!

Some sewing machines have a throat plate designed for straight stitching.  I’m not sure if the Elna Carina does or not but I don’t really care.  I make my own with a little bit of blue painter’s tape.  Cut a small piece, small enough to cover the hole without covering the feed dogs.

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools

Lower your needle to puncture a little hole.

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools

Presto you have your own straight stitch throat plate.

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools


Dual duty tool #3:  Thread spool holder

The thread I use to sew with is serger thread that comes on a cardboard tube.

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools

Yes, I use this for all my garment sewing.  No, my clothing is not falling apart.  I use an industrial serger thread that is strong, light weight and has very little lint.  This is not the junk I dub “crappy-lok” that you can buy at a nameless fabric store.  Since this tube has a big hole and wobbles around while I sew.  To stop this I stuff a hair curler foam into it.  The curler has a little hole in it, perfect for the spool holder.

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools


Dual duty tool #4:  Clapper

When I was sewing my fuchsia Fuchsia skirt, I was struggling to get the scallop hem to hold a press.  The fabric was 110% polyester.  The extra 10% was there to drive me extra crazy.  Amity suggested I put a clapper on it to hold the press while it cooled.  Great idea except I didn’t have a clapper.  I ended up making one out of a sleeve board, a heavy flashlight and some pattern weights.

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools

At first I had used a wide ruler instead of the sleeve board but it kept the moisture in and it wouldn’t dry even after many, many hours.  The sleeve board was perfect because it was breathable, covered a large area.


Dual duty tool #5:  Standing height table

Amity loves doing everything lying down.  I love standing. I told you we are opposites. I stand cutting, sewing, serging and even eating at the kitchen counter.  My sewing table is a piece of plywood we found on the side of our house one day.  It’s a great width and length without breaking the bank even if it wasn’t mysteriously donated to us.  To get it to standing height I used these adjustable saw horse like things from IKEA.  I also found some mystery furniture parts for the support across the 2 saw horse in IKEA’s as-is section.  I wrapped the top with a faux leather fabric to snazzy it up.

  Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools


Dual duty tool #6:  Chalk line eraser

I learned this trick from my mom who drafts her patterns with a piece of chalk right on the fabric.  She was a factory sewer and didn’t own any gizmos and gadgets.  She didn’t own pins, had one presser foot and her straight ruler was a piece of scrap metal that my dad scored a few marks with a razor blade.  When she made a mistake in her drafting, she got rid of it my slapping it with her metal ruler.


Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools

Now you see it

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools

 Now you don’t.

Lolita Patterns | Dual Duty Tools

 OK you can still see it a little but after handling it while sewing it eventually disappeared.  This is much faster and efficient than that itty brush.  Bonus:  she also used her metal ruler to flatten seams.


Dual duty tool #7:  Tube turner

My mom was a factory sewer in the 80s.  I remember her sewing a lot of waist ties.  I assume these were in fashion at the time.  To turn the tubes, I used chopsticks.  Shhh! No one report her to child protective services because I was only 8 at the time.  Chopsticks are inexpensive and readily available.

What do you think? Can you incorporate some of these everyday tools into our sewing room? Do you have any other tips to share?

Nhi Signature


Mar 272013

I thought I would share with you some of the tools I use most when sewing as well as various items that I have found very helpful in my sewing room. To be clear, this is not a sponsored post. I am not providing links to buy these items and I am not receiving any compensation for writing this post or if you buy anything as a result. I just love these tools and want to share how to make your sewing experience easier!

First off is my clear ruler–so very helpful for so many things! Oona already wrote about how this one tool is crucial for any sewist. It has marks down to 1/16″ of an inch and does both metric and imperial measurements.

Lolita Patterns | Helpful Sewing Tools

I love my Nancy Zieman seam gauge. It does a bunch of different things and locks in place so my seam allowances remain accurate. You can watch a video on the give things this tool is designed to do here.

This wooden wine rack holds all my stabilizers and tracing paper. It is an amazing deal and holds far more than other “stabilizer holders” on the market. Plus it is less expensive and you can add more as you need. I have added onto mine twice. You can also build it into any configuration you need so it fits the space you have. It is very handy.

Lolita Patterns | Helpful Sewing Tools

Steam a Seam 2 Lite on the roll– Cannot live without! I use this stuff for everything…everything. When I need to hold something in place before stitching, if I need to sew something difficult and don’t want to use pins, when inserting zippers, bound buttonholes, basting, hemming, holding down seam allowances, making piping, and I am sure many other things that escape me right now. This stuff is a lightweight fusible web tape that comes in 1/4″ and 1/2″ widths and is sticky on both sides so it holds  even before pressing.

Lolita Patterns | Helpful Sewing Tools

Ez-Off Iron Cleaner-This iron cleaner works really well and buying it from Wawak gets you a much larger tube at a much lower price than buying a similar product at Joann’s or Walmart. You put some on a towel and then rub it on a hot iron without steam. It cleans of all that fusible or burn marks that get stuck to the bottom of your iron.

Lolita Patterns | Helpful Sewing Tools

Hugo’s Amazing Tape-I wrap this around thread to hold thread tails in because many threads do not have a place to store the end. I also use this on my stabilizer and tracing paper rolls to keep them neat and tidy. Another recent use is to keep our master patterns in tact. This “tape” sticks only to itself and can hold a lot of weight. I also use it to bundle things together to keep them organized. There are so many uses for this. It also comes in a variety of different widths depending on the need.

Lolita Patterns | Helpful Sewing Tools

Dritz French Curve/Styling Design Ruler-This is the french curve I use almost 100% of the time. I have a set of professional french curves but I find this one works for nearly every curve I need. It is also handy that it has a straight edge on it that I can use without having to switch to an entirely different ruler when I am drafting. This one is also relatively inexpensive and widely available.

Lolita Patterns | Helpful Sewing Tools

Another tool is the marking tool that I discussed in this post. The Frixion pens are wonderful. I wrote a review on patternreview here about how they work.

Lolita Patterns | Helpful Sewing Tools

I also use the Olfa seam allowance gauge a LOT. I wrote a review on patternreview on this gadget as well because I find it so helpful and many people do not know about it. It is just like the seam allowance guide that has been popular for scissors for adding seam allowances only it works with a rotary cutter. I cut almost exclusively with a rotary cutter because it is significantly easier to cut on slippery fabrics that way and I love chiffon and charmeuse! This guide is adjustable so you can use it so cut out with seam allowances or cut off excess seam allowance before cutting. Let’s say you are working with a 5/8″ seam allowance pattern. You can use this gauge to easily cut off the excess 1/4″ to make it a 3/8″ seam allowance. In any case this is wonderful for not having to go around and add seam allowances on each seam with a pencil before cutting out. I can use the original seam allowance free pattern and cut directly into my fabric because this guide does all the work!

Lolita Patterns | Helpful Sewing Tools

I also love the clapper pressing tool. I use it so often because I work with a lot of slippery fabrics and some polyester fabrics that do not like to press well. Pressing with the ironing and then immediately pressing over it with the clapper and holding it until the seam cools works wonders. It is also great for thick seams in thick fabric like coating or denim for hammering them down. They also make clappers with tailor points on top which are great for pressing our corners and collars and for pressing seams open without getting show through on the right side.

Lolita Patterns | Helpful Sewing Tools


These are just a few essentials I use often. Trust me, I have tons more! But these seem to be the ones I use nearly every time I set foot in my sewing room.

What is your favorite sewing tool?

 I discovered most of my tools through recommendations from fellow sewists so I would love to see what you use and recommend! Please tell us!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns