SIM: An Interview with Mari from Seamster Patterns

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Sep 182015
 

I’m honored to share with you this interview with Mari from Seamster Patterns, the brains behind the entire Sew Indie Month! Today we get into the nitty gritty and find out what makes Seamster Patterns tick.

(To see other SIM posts from this year, check out Kate & Rose’s tutorial on turning Olive into a folkswear inspired top with a front zip, or my tutorial on Fehr Trade’s site on turning her PB&Jam Leggings into a yoga style pant with wider legs and a wide waistband.)

Don’t forget that all PDF patterns are 40% off in celebration of SIM. Take advantage of this sale by using code SIM40OFF.

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1. Sewing Indie Month is an amazing event for the online sewing world. What inspired you to create the event?

The first Sewing Indie Month started around when my company turned 1yr old. I started it because I felt like such a tiny, unknown fish in a larger pond. I wanted to get to know and become friends with my fellow designers; sometimes it can get lonely working away at home without anyone to talk to who has done exactly what you’re trying to do. And I was bored with the traditional methods of marketing that were being used online. While there’s not necessarily anything inherently wrong with those methods (I use some of them myself), I wanted to see if there was another way that could feel genuine and not only help my company grow, but would be fun for my customers while thanking them for their support. As someone who has never been big into certain kinds of competition, the idea of working with the competition to celebrate each others patterns and the people who sew them seemed like an exciting experiment.

2. How do you balance your time between organizing SIM and creating new patterns?
Honestly, I don’t. The Sorrel Dress & Top that finally came out with the 1st SIM Bundle that launched in August was meant to be launched before last year’s SIM. There is such a huge amount of work that goes into organizing SIM that I have to put all my own patterns on hold as the month gets closer. And with all the extra work that has gone into hosting the bundle sales while dealing with some family medical issues this year, I still haven’t gotten the Sorrel into the Seamster store!

3. What helped you decide to start your own pattern company…what was your “aha” moment?
There were a lot of things that lead up to deciding to start my own pattern company, like graduating during the recession and seeing that my only “career” options included working for a decade at soul crushing office jobs until I could finally hope to get the smallest of promotions. But if we’re talking about a single moment, it would have to be when I decided to not live as if I was horribly depressed. Three people I cared about died in less than a year. Once the third one passed I realized that if I stayed mourning I would end up looking at my life in ten years and have only those horrible office jobs to show for it. That didn’t seem like a fulfilling or enjoyable way to live. Obviously you can’t turn depression on and off like a light switch, but giving my life purpose, working for something for myself instead of for some uncaring company, helped me become happier and more fulfilled in the long run.

4. How has your company changed since it began? What have you learned that you can share with newer designers?
I would say I’ve changed more than Seamster has. I’ve gotten better at using various software programs so that’s helped speed up certain parts of the pattern making process. And I’ve become more committed to taking a bit of time out for myself, mainly with getting back to reading. Right now I’m on a 19th c. binge, only reading books written during or about the 19th c, which means a lot of Jane Austen. So to newer designers I’d say make sure you take a bit of time each week to do something that makes you happy, but doesn’t in any way feel like work. Not surprisingly, you may find you’re more refreshed and ready for work when you get back to it. But when you’re in the thick of an exciting project, like your first pattern launch, or are racing against a deadline, it can be hard to remind or give yourself permission to do such things.

5. What types of designs are your primary focus? Are your designs influenced by your style and fashion sense?
I focus on creating interesting basics for which you can’t already find a ton of, or hopefully any other, patterns. For me a basic is a pattern with uncommon style lines or a pattern puzzle that I can wear in a number of ways. It’s basic because it’s versatile. That’s because dressing in clothing with unique details makes me happier than wearing what are more traditionally thought of as plain basics. I design with my lifestyle in mind, which means I design with young, urban, public transit commuters in mind. So my skirts tend to be longer (to avoid legs sticking to train seats) and more contemporary in style. Since I don’t just want 20-to-30-something women who live in big cities to sew my patterns, I add options to the patterns that look good on different body types and suit people with very different lifestyles. For instance, when making the Honeycrisp Mittens I couldn’t see myself ever sewing them without conductive finger tips, but not everyone needs that option, so I made one that does not use conductive fabric. And on the Sorrel there’s an option for a straight skirt on the dress, which looks horribly unflattering on me, but looked great on all the ladies who were fit models for me. So when making a pattern I start with a specific idea, then branch out to a design that can suit a range of people with the addition of a few options and with a simple change of fabric.
6. What are you finding is the hardest part of having your own business?
Finding the time to get everything done and learning to not beat myself up when I don’t make my self-imposed deadlines. I recently had to take about a year off from Seamster to take care of and then mourn my grandma. Truthfully, it’s been very hard to see all the patterns I had planned for that year not get made or worse, to see other designers come out with similar ideas. So resigning myself to the fact that I’m late to the game and may need to shelve some things and that that’s OK is the hardest part right now.

7. What is your favorite part of having your own business?
Having a larger budget for fabric 😉

8. How do you bring your sewing/pattern/designing day to an end…or do you?
If I have a deadline, then the day doesn’t really end until after midnight when I’m too tired to keep working effectively. If I don’t have a deadline then I’ll try to stop sometime in the evening, usually when my partner Quincy gets home from work.

9. Do you still have time to sew patterns from other designers?
Lately I’ve been trying to make more time for sewing other designers’ patterns. While I love my own patterns (you have to to spend months churning out muslins to develop a single one), it can be a lot of fun sewing someone else’s pattern. And since I tend to feel guilty when not doing something productive, I can tell myself I’m doing market research, it’s just market research that ends with me getting a pretty new garment :)

10. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’ve started listening to more podcasts and I think anyone interested in food or science ought to try at least one episode of the Gastropod podcast. It’s really great to sew while listening to it!

 Thank you for sharing Mari! There is still one more post from us to go up for SIM month so stay tuned…

Sep 042015
 

Today we have a special treat from Sew Indie Month. Kati from Kate & Rose is here to show a tutorial on how she made this amazing folkswear inspired Olive that goes perfectly with her new Kinga skirt pattern. Kate & Rose patterns are folkwear inspired and she has several garment patterns along with many embroidery patterns. The patterns go well together and create a very cohesive look. Her style is incredible! You can check out all the Kate & Rose patterns here.

The Kinga skirt pattern is brand new and you can only get this pattern in the second huge bundle sale we have going on right now! Check out her amazing Kinga and Olive and then run over and buy your bundle! Remember 20% of proceeds go to Women for Women charity. Check out www.sewindependent.com for all the information. Without anymore delay, here she is with this great tutorial:

olive top with kinga skirt

The inspiration for the new Kinga skirt came from one of my favorite styles of Hungarian folk wear: from the North-Eastern part of Hungary, like the Cabbage Rose Fancy and Faraway Garden embroidery pattern sets. The most common outfit has a skirt with tons and tons of ribbons and flowers, and a fitted top with a pouf sleeve and a wide, colorful ribbon around the waist:

hungarian folk costume

(Source: Folk Costumes and Embroidery)

For this tutorial, I want to show you how to hack Lolita Patterns’ Olive blouse pattern to create a contemporary version of this look along with the Kinga skirt.

Ribbons are an obsession of Central European folk wear, you can even see it in contemporary fashion design like Lena Hoschek’s ribbon skirt. The Olive pattern has a great shape through which to combine the most important elements of both: princess seams, a sweet peplum, and a distinctive straight waistband piece which is perfect for displaying a wide floral ribbon. A lovely pattern all around.


RibbonZipperOlive4

To do this, I replaced the side zip with a front zipper opening, for which I used a metal separating zipper. Then, I covered the waistband with folkwear ribbon. I used a vintage ribbon I found in a thrift shop a couple years ago, but you can find beautiful folk art ribbons at M & J Trimmings or Etsy. The width of the ribbon is the same as the width of the waistband of the Olive. The separating zipper I chose is also in a contrasting color with my blouse fabric (I used a simple black cotton broadcloth), it matches the ribbon. The zipper is one of those stunning, way-too-expensive Riri zippers one gets seduced into buying when going to Pacific Trimmings. I got it cut to the exact length I needed, which I will tell you how to figure out.

1_ribbon_zipper

1. Pattern work

To create the front zip opening, we have to adjust the pattern pieces a tiny bit, then change the front facing to accommodate the zipper.

The front facing of the Olive is made of one piece and extends to the sleeves and side seams. This kind of facing supports the finished blouse across the shoulders and around the sleeves, is easy to finish and stays put nicely. All we need to do is re-create it as a two-piece facing, and extend it to the bottom of the blouse.

We’ll work with the front of the blouse from View B. I created a handy series of diagrams to walk you through the workflow – nothing very complicated.

FolksyOliveLolitaPatternsTutorial

We’ll need pattern pieces 6 (front facing), 8 (front waistband), 10 (front peplum), and 18 (front center bodice) (diagram 1). Cut the front waistband piece (8) and the front peplum piece (10) in half, as if they needed to be cut on the fold line (diagram 2). To find where the bodice center will actually be, measure the width of your zipper teeth – they can vary a bit.

2_zippers

Add about 2 mm (1/8”) to this measurement to give the opening a bit of space, then mark and cut off the same amount at the center fold line on all front pattern pieces, including the facing (diagram 3).

Now subtract the seam allowance (3/8” or 1 cm), marking the seamlines around the waistband on the front center bodice, the waistband, and the front peplum (diagram 4). Next, lay the outer front pattern pieces together so that the seam allowance is removed, measure, and extend the center front seamline of the front facing (piece 6) by this amount (diagram 5). This is also the length of the zipper you’ll need, though make sure you remove the neckline seam allowance and the hem allowance from your final zipper length measurement.

Finally, tape a long piece of paper to the facing, and extend the inner edge of the front facing down to its new bottom, creating a strip of about 2.5” or 6 cm, and draw a nice smooth curve to join the strip to the original facing (diagram 6). Tape some more paper to the center edge of the front center piece, the waistband piece, and the peplum, and add a seam allowance of 3/8” or 1cm (diagram 7). Cut off the excess paper (diagram 8) and your new front pieces are now ready.

2. Sewing the top

To sew the new top, we’ll change up the order of sewing from the instructions just a tiny bit. First, sew the entire bodice, minus the facings – just the front and back bodice, waistbands, peplum. At this point (and here we deviate from the original instructions), also sew the side seams. We’re doing this so that the ribbon can be attached in a continuous piece in just a little bit.

3_blouse_outer

Then, add a thin strip of interfacing to the center front opening on both sides (you can see that I used leftover pretty fabric as a kind of interlining for pattern pieces that otherwise needed interfacing).

4_interfacing_strips

Next, attach the ribbon to the waistband. Sew a line of topstitching using a thread that matches the color of the zipper. To be on the safe side, make sure the ribbon has extra seam allowance at either edge, and finish its edges before attaching to the waistband.

5_ribbon_bodice

Sew carefully along both edges of the ribbon. Change the thread to a color that matches the ribbon.

6_sewing_ribbon

Now it’s time to attach the zipper. To make sure the zipper is in the right position, line up the bottom end of the zipper teeth is with the edge of the hemline allowance first.

7_zipper_position_bottom

This way, in case the zipper is slightly too long, you can shorten it at the top. The correct length of the zipper should put the top of the zipper teeth right at the edge of the neckline seam allowance.

8_zipper_position_top

Start sewing a bit below the top of the zipper opening, to avoid the zipper pull, and attach zipper to both sides.

9_zipper_attached1

Finish by opening the zipper pull and stitch the top of the zipper the rest of the way to the bodice.

10_zipper_attached2

Next, stitch the shoulder and side seams of the front and back facings, and finish the outer edge of the facing. To attach the bodice to the facing along the zipper, first open the zipper all the way. Then, with the zipper teeth facing inward, match up the shoulder seams, corners, and so on, and sandwich the zipper between the facing and the bodice.

11_zipper_sandwiched

Stitch facing to bodice. I like to begin stitching at the center neckline, and along one side, then go back to the center neckline and stitch down along the other side. Make sure to avoid the top zipper opening and the metallic bits, stopping your stitching right before you get to that area, and either leaving it open for later handstitching or handcranking the sewing machine carefully over it to avoid breaking your needle.

12_zipper_top_facing1

Carefully position the needle on the edge of the zipper and stitch along the edge.

13_zipper_top_facing2

When sewing the side with the zipper pull, position the zipper pull all the way to the bottom to make sure you don’t accidentally stitch over it.

14_zipper_bottom_facing1

Then pull the zipper pull past where you’re stitching, and stitch all the way down the edge. 15_zipper_bottom_facing2 Stitch the bottom edge of the facing to the hem, stopping your stitching before you get to the zipper teeth.

16_zipper_bottom_facing3

Repeat with the other side of the zipper, lining up the waistband carefully. When done, clip corners of facing.

17_facing_corners

Handstitch corners closed that we left open to avoid breaking the sewing machine needle.

18_facing_corners_stitching

Turn facing to the inside and blouse right side out, and press. The zipper is done!

19_zipper_finished

All you’ve got left to do is attach and finish the sleeves, hem the blouse, and you’ve got yourself a folksy-yet-zippy little top!

20_finished_blouse

I bet you’ll get tons of compliments on it. Just that fancy ribbon alone!

RibbonZipperOlive1

What do you think? I’m definitely putting a zipper down the front in my next Olive. I never even though of it but it looks awesome! I’m so glad Kati did this tutorial and put the idea in my head. More SIM posts are on their way this month so keep watching. Also, don’t forget, for the month of September, all PDF patterns are 40% off with the code SIM40OFF! This way you can grab a pattern and sew it up to enter the SIM contests and win prizes. I can’t wait to see what you all make!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

Sewing Indie-A Tutorial on Shirring with Elastic Thread Using Your Serger on Sewn Square One

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May 202014
 

Wow that title was a mouthful!  Sewing Indie continues with a tutorial I wrote up to share over on Sewn Square One’s blog. This tutorial shows you how to shirr fabric using elastic thread but by using your serger that has chainstitch capability. It is a wonderful time saving technique that keeps you from having to hand wind bobbins.

sneak peek photo from tutorial

For those of you that don’t know Sewn Square One, they are known for their modern and streamlined designs. I am currently crushing on this Skirt Smarts pattern! The ruching on the side is right up my alley!

click for source

Another awesome pattern I’m eyeing is the Go Anywhere dress. It looks extremely practical and cute for every day.

click for source

So go ahead and check out the tutorial and hopefully learn a new technique and a new pattern company at the same time!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

 

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.

g18067

– 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

and

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

Aug 272013
 

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

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

Marking

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

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Press

Next fold up the hem to the line you marked.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Fold

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

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Here is a picture of the hem completely folded backwards.

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

Sew

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

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

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

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

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Blind Hem Tutorial

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

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

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

Aug 092013
 

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

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

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

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

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

pattern + tornado = patternado

Let’s start with the supplies:

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

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Supplies are leftovers from my other craft addictions.

T-bar:

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

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

T-bar Center Loop

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Come on baby let’s do the twist!

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Oooh-yeah just like this!

 

Hook:

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

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Cording:

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

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

 

Pattern piece holes

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

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Hole punch reminiscence of even more crafty addictions.

Lolita Patterns | Faux Factory Tools

Voila! 

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

14 After

These 4 patterns hardly take up any space. :O

15 After close up

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

Nhi Signature

 

 

Aug 012013
 

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

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

Marking:

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Repeat for the other dart leg.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Stitching:

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

right side

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

underside

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

stitch settings

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

Here is the finished stitching.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Pressing:

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

pressing ham

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Next I press towards the upper direction using steam.

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

Lolita Patterns | Dart Tutorial

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

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

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

 

Feb 262013
 

Lolita Patterns | Invisible Zipper  Tutorial

How is everyone’s Fuchsia coming along? There is only one more step after we insert this zipper! I tried to be as inclusive as possible with this tutorial so you can refer to it any time you need to insert an invisible zipper in any project. Ready? Let’s go!

First thing I like to do is press the zipper. This is a totally OPTIONAL step, and you can pull it open as you stitch if you do not want to press it. If you do want to press it first, put it on a polyester (low heat) setting and do not press over the coils. You want to press the coils open to create the “ditch” the stitching should go in.

Lolita Patterns | Invisible Zipper Tutorial 1

The next picture shows the zipper with one side pressed so you can see the difference the pressing makes.

Lolita Patterns | Invisible Zipper Tutorial 2

Since we finished all our seam allowances in the last step, we can start right in on the zipper. Measure down 1/8″ more than the seam allowance from the top of the waistband. Our seam allowance is 3/8″ so I measured down 1/2″ and marked a line. (with a Frixion pen!) Make this mark on both sides. This mark shows us where to place the top stop of the zipper. Not the top of the tape, the zipper stop will go right below this mark.

Lolita Patterns | Invisible Zipper Tutorial 3

Lolita Patterns | Invisible Zipper Tutorial 4

I use pins to place my zipper, but a great alternative is to use Wonder Tape. It is sticky and holds the zipper in place exactly where you need it, yet washes away with water after you have completed your stitching.

If this is your first time inserting an invisible zipper, watch the pictures closely to make sure you are placing it correctly. While inserting it, it may look a little twisted, but if you follow the pictures, it will come out great.

Pin (or wonder tape) the right side of the zipper tape to the right side of the project.

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 6

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 5It is best to sew an invisible zipper with an invisible zipper foot. These feet are not very expensive and definitely help get in the groove next to the coils to make sure the zipper is truly “invisible” when it is finished. However, you can use your regular zipper foot and we will discuss both ways.

While sewing, be sure to peel back the coils to make sure the needle can get as close to them as possible without actually stitching through any coils. Stitch as far down as you can–the zipper pull will eventually stop you.

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 7

This picture shows the zipper being inserted on the left hand side, but make sure to pull the coils back as you sew on both sides

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 8

Using a regular zipper foot and pulling back the coils

After sewing the first side, go ahead and zip up the zipper so we can make a marking where the zipper needs to match up seams.

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 8

Now we want to mark the match points. (I only had a 9 inch zipper so mine does not go into the scallops, but if yours does, do this same marking where you want the scallops to match.) Draw a line exactly where the waistband seam is on the opposite side of the zipper. (and the scallops if necessary)

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 9

Now unzip the zipper, and use those placement lines to match the seams while pinning (or wonder taping) the zipper to the other side.

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 10

matching the mark to the waistband seam

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 11

Look closely at the above picture to orient the zipper correctly. The right side of the zipper goes to the right side of the fabric and the coils face away from the opening. Where the zipper pull is at the bottom will look all twisted and weird. This is okay.

Go ahead and sew down this side as far as you can while again pulling the coils out of the way of your stitching. Here is a picture of what the zipper will look like after stitching. The seam below the zipper is still not yet sewn.

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 12

Go ahead and test the zipper to make sure it has been sewn up the right way and that the seams match where you want them to.

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 13

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 13

close up of seam below zipper that is not yet sewn

If you are pleased with how invisible the zipper is and all your match points line up, then go ahead and fold the right sides of the fabric together so we can sew the lower part of the seam.

I sew from the bottom of the seam up to about 1/2″ from where the zipper stitching stops and I use my regular foot. Make sure to pull the bottom of the zipper tape out of the way so you do not sew it in the seam.

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 14

close up of zipper stitching and seam stitching from bottom of garment

Lastly, put on your regular zipper foot and attach the stitching together while holding the bottom of the zipper tape out of the way.

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 15

see how I am pulling the bottom of the zipper tape to the side so it is not caught in the stitching?

All done! The more you do these zippers, the more they are easier than regular zippers. I love invisible zippers!

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 16

All done! oops, I forgot to press…ignore the wrinkles please

Lolita Patterns | How To Insert an Invisible Zipper 17

completed inside of invisible zipper with seam allowances finished with seam binding

How did it go???

If you do regularly insert invisible zippers and they are not truly “invisible” when finished, try pressing the coils before beginning as written above, and also using an invisible zipper foot and pull the coils back while sewing. The easiest way to make an invisible zipper not invisible is not sewing close enough to the coils. But sew too close, and you might sew into the coils and you won’t be able to do the zipper at all! It is a fine balance, but after a couple time, you figure it out and then it works every time!

Only one more step to finish our Fuchsia! We will attach the waistband facings and have a beautifully clean finish, all attached to the zipper, and done completely by machine!! No hand slip stitching required. Then I want to see everyone’s finished Fuchsia!

Still need to get your Fuchsia? It is free in the shop! Missed any of the other sew-along posts? They are all compiled right here!

 Any questions? Leave us a comment here or email us!  Also, check out our new Pinterest board on tutorials. I am pinning all sewing tutorials and projects that look helpful. It is a great resource to find the help you need when you need it. I refer to it all the time!

Post your Fuchsia pictures to the Fuchsia Flickr Group and when the sew-along is finished, I will do a round up of all the beautiful finished garments–a Parade of Fuchsia’s!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns