Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Session 3- Lesson 2 Pressing Tools and Tips for Working with Knits

Session 3 - Lesson 2

So Sorry! I disappeared for a while there! I wrote this weeks ago and didn't have it quite finished so here it is at last.

These  past weeks, I talked about pressing tools and how to use  them. Needless to say, a good steam iron is the most important pressing tool you can own. Mine is the Olysso Pro and gives off lots of steam. I love it. An iron cleaner is a necessity as well. I use Rowenta      and it works great for me.

PRESS CLOTHS...I try never to press directly on the right side of fabrics unless I test for  results first. I use silk organza because you can see right through to your seams. They work great.

THE CLAPPER...This tool is almost always on my ironing board. It's used to get a nice crisp seam and is usually used in conjunction with steam, The idea is to steam the seam ,them clap down on it holding  the clapper down firmly for a few seconds before moving on.

THE TAYLOR BOARD... is a tool I use especially when pressing the seams of collars, lapels, or for any seam that might show an imprint on the right side if pressed flat against the ironing board. I also have a homemade SEAM BOARD for the latter that is especially useful for pant leg seams.

PRESSING or TAILOR`S used to shape collars, to press curved seams such as at the hip area, bust darts, princess seams, etc. I have a FOOTBALL STAND to hold my ham up when I need  it  to stand upright.

SLEEVE BOARD...This is probably the most used of my pressing tools besides my iron . I use it to press sleeve caps ,underarm seams , pant  and sleeve hems, cuffs , curved waistbands, and any number of other things. I could not do without this one.

SLEEVE ROLL...Can be used like a sleeve board but not as easily. It`s good for sleeve seams . I have one but admit it is not used often.

SEAM ROLL... Mine is a homemade tool used to iron seams in pant legs or sleeves. It's rounded so the imprint of the seam won't show on the right side. ( My husband used two lengths of rounded trim which he glued together and I covered in layers of cotton flannel. )

And finally my HAMMER used mostly for denim but it's also handy for bulky collar points . or any bulky areas . I do suggest you use a cloth to cover more delicate fabrics.

Working With Knits...Part 1

 When you want to sew a garment using a knit fabric, here are some  of the guidelines I use:

1. Choose a pattern that is especially for knits. That info will be on the back of the pattern

2. Also on the back of the pattern ,you will see a gauge which will tell you to use  a 4 inch double layer piece of your knit fabric. If it is suitable, you should be able to stretch it at least to the end of the gauge . If not , your garment will probably end up being too snug. You can try using a larger size  but a muslin is a good idea in this situation.

3. As usual, prewash your fabric. If you're going to put your finished garment in the dryer, then you must dry the fabric in the same way. I never put made-by-me garments in the dryer so I hang my fabrics to dry.

4. Polyester thread is strong and a good choice for knit garments.

5. As for sewing machine needles, it may be necessary to try different types on a particular knit fabric. I start with  Universal 70/10 or 80/12. If that doesn't work, I try Ball point, Stretch or Jersey needles.

6. What type of stitch to use ! A good question and you may want to experiment according to the knit fabric you are using.
    I've gone from using a small  zig zag stitch  of 1.5 width and 2.5 length as suggested by Sandra Betzina to a 2.8 length straight stitch ,as suggested by Peggy Sagers.
   The reason for this is that a zig zag stitch is so hard to unpick if I make a mistake.
Peggy worked in Ready To Wear and a straight stitch is what is used there . I don't experience "popped " stitches with a straight stitch so that's what I've settled on.

7. BUT, for hems, to be sure not to get those popped stitches I use a twin needle. For tips on using a twin needle, please click here as I've covered that topic before.

8. ALWAYS  baste your side seams   rather  than using a regular stitch , try your garment on and tweak the fit . This will save you a lot of grief!

9. If your fabric is very stretchy, you may want to stabilize your shoulder seams. to do this, I use clear elastic. Click here for a brief lesson on using clear elastic.

That's all I can think of for now. If anyone out there can add to these, please leave me a comment  and I'll be happy to edit this post. I would be most grateful.

Happy Sewing from

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sewing Lessons Session 3... Rounded Upper Back Adjustment and Top Stitching Tips.

The third session of my sewing class is well under way. I've decided to teach less new material this time and put into practice what we covered last session. I will from time to time add new material and will continue to give my take on different sewing techniques.

 I've added a new section to the right sidebar called  Diana's Easy Fitting Solutions.. I 've listed the various fit topics  covered last time and will add new topics as they are covered. I've also updated Diana's Tutorials to include new techniques

Session 3, Lesson 1.... Rounded Upper Back Adjustment

1. Draw a perpendicular line from center back to the armhole (AB) and about 1.5`` down from neckline.

2. Cut from center back  (A) to but not through the armhole (B).

3. Spread  apart about 1/2" to begin with ( It`s hard to know exactly how much extra to add so this adjustment  will be on a trial and error basis).

4 Draw a perpendicular line at about 3`` from center (CD). ( I forgot the D but I think you know what I mean )  Cut along this line.

5. Align this piece along center back. This will result in a small dart.

You can do one of two things in this dart or what I do is I smooth out the neckline with my French curve and I ease in the tiny bit of fullness .

And that`s all there is to it. Except! If there is a facing to your garment , you make the same adjustment to it.

This easy alteration makes a big difference  to how a garment fits and feels and I'm happy to have learned it from Kathleen Cheetham in her Craftsy course.

This Week`s Sewing Technique:   Top Stitching Tips.

In my opinion, nothing takes a garment  to the next level better  than great top stitching, Here are the things I`ve learned through the years.

......Use top stitching thread or Gutterman`s Extra Strong Thread which is what is available to me
      and works great. You will need to remember that there is a lot less thread on these spools so be   sure to buy enough.. [ if you don't have this thread, you can thread two spools together in the same needle to get similar results. The two should unwind from the spools in opposite directions, though for best results. ]

......Use a top stitching needle or a jeans needle because both of these have bigger eyes to      accommodate the thicker thread. The size of the needle will depend on the thickness of your fabric.

.....For top stitching that is 1/4" from the edge, use your presser foot as your guide or the 1/4"foot that may or may not have come with your machine. To top stitch close to the edge of your garment use the over edge  foot  or the blind hem foot

......And sew slowly!

I also reviewed  Buttonholes with the ladies this week. So Karen, Donna, and Dorothy don`t forget to review the tips by clicking on the word if you want to make your buttonholes before next class!.

More later from,

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

S.Betzina V 1101: Preparing Bodice for Chenille Effect

So sorry to have been away so long. With family (and two  sweet little girls ) staying for two weeks, I was feeling a little burned out but I`m back, so here goes.

The next thing to do on the dress tunic is to prep it for the rows of stitching that will produce the chenille effect.

*** The facings have been turned to the inside and now, you will carefully pin the dress and the facing together. Take a lot of care doing this and be sure the two layers lay smoothly together because they must be like one layer before you proceed to the next step.

***Now, starting with the center front line , hand baste  the two layers together including the darts, the neckline,  armholes,  sides and along the bottom of the facings.

*** Next from the facings side ,because that's where your markings are, stitch along each marked line. ( I used a 28 stitch length and regular polyester thread ). I started at the top and sewed toward center front  for each row of stitching.. I stopped there rather than turning and going from center toward  the other side  thus completing each V  shape because that was less shuffling of the fabric and seemed easier to me . However you may want to sew the V`s. Up to you.  ( Sorry, I forgot to take a oic of the finished stitching )

Note. You may want to make a sample of the chenille on scraps of your fabrics, just to get an idea of what you`ll end up with and to practice the cutting step.

***Now you are ready to cut between each row of stitching on the right side of the garment.
Warning !!!! be very careful . It is quite easy to cut right through the two layers. I did that while cutting my sample piece. These Fiskars  scissors (can't think what they're called ) are especially for cutting this type of project and they worked really well for me.

***So you've finished cutting between all your stitched lines and you think you're almost done don't you! Not so. Now comes the messy and quite time consuming part....the fraying of each row. So grab a beverage, sit in your favorite easy chair,. turn on Netflix, and start pulling. I wish I had taken a pic of my mess. It was quite something to see.

About the photo above. My fabric is a two tone linen with the warp thread blue and the waft thread white. That's why my chevron is in two colours. Cool isn't it!

So now you've finished all the creative and time consuming steps in the making of Sandra Betzina's V1101. Next time, I'll show how to finish the armholes and the rest of the garment.

Please let me know if any of this didn't make sense or wasn't clear.

Enjoy this part of the process.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

S. Betzina V1101 Sew Along Part 4 ( Shoulders and Neckline )

Next step is to join the shoulder seams and the neckline seams on the tunic and the tunic facings.   

For Tunic  With right sides together and using twill tape or ,as I did, the selvedge of a light fabric to stabilize the seam, sew  a 5/8" seam. Press open or  toward the back.  Note:I put the tape on the back side.

For Facings The side on which you drew the lines is the right side. Join the shoulder seams . No stabilizer this time. Pres open the seam.

You are now going to join the tunic and facing together at the neckline only. The armholes will be joined using a bias band of your fabric much later.. Mark you 5/8" seam allowance all the way around the neckline on one side (either facing or garment side). Pay particular attention to the corners where the small circles were on the pattern piece.

 Again you must stabilize the neckline using a light weight selvedge or twill tape. On the tunic side  (or side not marked with the stitching line because you don't want to cover up your stitching line), pin the stabilizer all the way around the neckline.over the stitching line.


Sew the neckline seam following the line you drew, being very careful to honour the 5/8" seam allowance. Clip at corners to but not through  the stitching.

Trim your seam to 1/4" but leaving the tunic side slightly wider than the facing side. To do this, cut from the facing side and hold your scissors at an angle leaning toward the facing.

Press the seam allowance toward the facing side

From the right side of the garment , understitch on the facing side . ( Click on understitch for a review if you don't remember how)

Press neckline seam which will want to favour the facing side because of the understitching.

At shoulder joint, if you have bulk, pound with a hammer gently to flatten out the seam.

Top stitch around the neckline if you wish but I chose not to.

Next time, I'll show you how to prepare for the sewing of the lines for chenilling.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

S, Betzina ( V1101 ) Sew-Along Session 3

Pocket Facings and Pockets

The very first thing you sew on this dress is the pocket facings. I omitted the zipper closures on the pocket welt openings. Refer to the instruction sheet if you are using zippers.

...With your tracing wheel and tracing paper, trace the welt  opening onto the fabric facings. You will already have traced the welt openings on wrong side of the tunic  front.

...With contrasting thread in your bobbin, stay stitch around the welt openings being sure to start on one of the long sides well below the corner. When sewing around the corners, with needle down pivot, and count the number of stitches you sew on the first end and copy that for the other end.

...Pin the pocket facings to pocket interfacing with right sides together  ... (The glue side of the interfacing is the wrong side )

...Sew around the two long sides and the rounded end of the facings but not the notched end.

...Turn to right sides and press carefully so that the glue side adheres to the fabric side of the facings. The facings now have a nice neat finish. Apply Steam-a-Seam around the edges of the facings. Leave the paper on.

...Position the facings to the outside of the front matching the notch on the facings to the notch on each side front.( Sorry, I forgot to take a photo )

...Pin carefully aligning the welt opening of the facings to the welt opening of the dress front.

...Sew around the welt opening from the wrong side of the tunic front being sure to start on one of the long sides and at the  corners, with needle down pivot, and count the number of stitches you sew on the first end and copy that for the other end.

With sharp scissors, cut through all thicknesses of the welt opening , leaving long V's when cutting to but not through each corner.

Turn facings to inside of tunic front and press carefully. Remove paper from Steam-a-Seam  and press to hold  the facings in place.

...From the right side,topstitch 1/4" from the opening and then run a second line of stitching 1/4" away.

You are now ready to add the pockets.

...First finish the edges  (except the notched edge ) with a Hong Kong finish.

...Apply Steam-a-Seam around the pocket edges.

...Position the pocket on the wrong side of the front  so the notch on the pocket side aligns with the notch on the side of the tunic front. (I accidentally cut size small for the pocket but C for the dress so my notches didn't match up. ) Be sure that everything is nice and flat. Press in place.

...If you get a nice stitch on the bobbin side,  stitch the pocket from the wrong side. If you don't ,hand baste the pocket in place with a contrasting thread and stitch from the right side. Otherwise from the wrong side of the tunic, top stitch around the pocket.
Sew a second row of top stitching 1/4" to the inside of the first row.

And that's it. You are ready for the next step which I'll post soon.

Good luck and Happy Sewing from