Inspiration No. 23: Swoon-Worthy Chiffon

Swoon-Worthy Chiffon:  A Special Occasion Dress

by Malia Janveaux


New York Designer Silk Chiffon Panel Print – 4 Panels

Lining – 2yds of silk double georgette in color #102 Porcelain


Lune Dress – by French Poetry

Whenever I’m invited to a special event, I get very excited because it means I have an excuse to sew myself something fancy! My friend’s wedding is coming up later this summer, and this dress will be just right for the occasion. This wonderful pattern could work with so many fabrics and look really beautiful in a more muted print or a solid color as well.

Silk often intimidates sewers, especially silk chiffon, but with patience and a couple clever techniques, silk is really rewarding to work with.


Planning how you will cut and sew a garment is a crucial step, especially with panel prints. The first step is to adjust the pattern with any changes you would usually make (in my case, I graded out the waist and hip because I am between sizes). Next, trace the pattern onto tissue paper so it will be easier to pin through and also so that you can see the pattern through the paper. Trace the seam lines onto the paper pattern.

The next step is to make a muslin to access fit and visualize how the pattern will play out on the final garment. I drew lines on my muslin along the grain of the fabric so I could get an idea of how the stripes would lay out. The neckline gaped a bit on me so I shaved 1/8″ off the bottom of the neckline as a personal alteration. Next, I pinched in approx. 1/2″ along the neckline at the hollow part of my chest. Then, I transferred theses marks to my pattern, along with notches 1 1/2″ on either side of the pinched mark. The idea is to tighten up that section by easing 1/2″ out over 3″ when we stay the neckline. I also cut a total of 3″ off the hem of the skirt to fit within the fabric panels.

Thread Tracing/Cutting

First, to prepare your fabrics, steam both the silk and the silk lining before cutting because it will shrink just a bit. The ‘silk’ setting on most irons should do the job but always iron a corner first just to make sure. A grid cutting mat like the one in the pictures is super useful for cutting slinky fabric like silk, since the fabric needs to be lined up on grain. But any type of grid will work, I even use my basement flooring seams to line up fabric on the grain if I am cutting something on the bias, since my table isn’t big enough. You just want something with 2 right angles to use as guides.

I tried many layouts before I decided on this one. This particular fabric is not symmetrical so the layout takes some thought. If you find the perfect layout for half the dress, and then go to flip it, its not going to work (a mistake I almost made). Each panel is identical, so I started by cutting the 4 panels apart. That way I could drape them up on my stand to figure out what I liked best. I decided to line up the center front of the skirt with the longest printed stripe, since I could see that it had a similar long stripe on the other side of the fabric (not a mirror image, but close).

For the bodice, I wanted it to be all pink, and that fit easily beside the skirt on the upper half of the panel. Pin along seam lines. Roughly trace lines on the paper pattern where the different colors join, as we will be matching them on the other half of the skirt.

Rough cut around the skirt leaving generous seam allowances. Try to keep the selvedges intact around the bodice piece as it will make lining it up on the lining so much easier. Flip both pieces over and thread trace along the line of pins.

The skirt pattern can be removed from the fabric, but keep the bodice pattern pinned on.

The skirt will be sewn separately from the skirt lining, but for the bodice we will be stab stitching the outer fabric to the lining and treating the two layers as if they are one.

The double georgette won’t tear along the grain as some fabrics do, so instead clip into the fabric and pull a few threads. This will create a line perfectly on grain that you can trim along. Place the bodice pattern onto silk georgette lining fabric, lining up the selvages to make sure everything is on grain. Remove the pattern carefully and pin the printed silk to lining, with pins running across the thread traced lines. Stab-stitch along the thread traced lines to hold both layers of fabric together as if they were one.

Repeat all of the steps for the other half of the front, as well as for both sides of the back. I lined them up the same way, with the center backs running along the longest stripe. Use the lines we marked earlier on the patterns for lining up the horizontal color changes. This part doesn’t have to be exact, but I found that as long as the pattern ran horizontally across the front and the back it looked much cleaner.

Right front layout
Left Front Layout

For the skirt lining, I thread traced only the waistlines and cheated on the long seams by tracing the seam line with a heat erase marker.

Staying the Neckline and Armholes

Staying the neck is crucial, since the seam is on the bias it would otherwise stretch endlessly. Cut the selvedge off the leftover silk, along the white parts of the print. I cut mine 3/8″. Now take the front and back bodice pattern pieces and pin them together at the should. Lay the selvedge tapes along the seam lines of the pattern, marking notches, shoulder seam and beginning/end of seam. Do this for the armholes as well. Next, pin the stay tape to the inside of the bodice along the seam line, then flip over bodice and stab-stitch in place.

When you get to the portion of the center front we marked for ease, just follow the notches and ease in the extra amount (should be very easy in this silk).

Seam Finishings

I chose to do all french seams, apart from the seam joining the bodice to the skirt. To do a french seam, first baste the seam along the seam line, with wrong sides together. Machine stitch 1/4″ out from the basting. Remove the basting holding both layers together (yellow), but try to leave the white thread tracing in. Trim seam allowance down to a scant 1/4″, press seam open (I recommend doing each seam from start to finish separately because they can get fraying quite a bit otherwise). Press the seam now with right sides facing. Baste once more along seam line. Remove thread tracing and machine sew along basting line. Alternatively, you can skip the second basting, and just sew the seam at 1/4″, which I mostly did on the lining, but for some seams basting it again just makes things easier.

The side seams of the skirt are partially on the bias, so they will stretch quite a bit. Clip the thread tracing so that it doesn’t prevent it from stretching. When basting the seam together, do so in 3-4 lengths of thread rather than one continuous thread, overlapping the lengths about an inch and leaving long thread tails. This allows the seam to stretch without losing your basting. Hold some tension on the fabric while sewing the side seams, otherwise the seams will pucker rather than lay flat.

For finishing the armholes and neckline, I decided to use a doubled over bias tape, since I didn’t want any of the seams showing through the chiffon. I cut bias strips 1 3/4″ wide of the georgette lining, and pressed them in half lengthwise. Once I did that, they were roughly 1/2″ wide, but do a sample since all fabric will stretch differently. I then chalked 1/4″ away from the thread traced line, and lined up the cut edge of the bias tape with the chalk line. Baste in place. Remove original thread tracing and machine sew along basting. Trim the seam allowance to a skinny 3/16″, press over to inside and cross-stitch in place. Make sure to only pick up the lining layer when cross-stitching. A handy trick for doing this is to pick up both layers on your needle on purpose, then drop the outer layer. It sounds counterintuitive but it is much easier to feel the second layer drop than it is to notice you’ve picked up a single thread of that layer by accident.

Do all the same steps for the armholes, but stop about 1″ short of both ends. It’s easiest to do the bulk of it out flat (before sewing the side seams), but we will want to do a seamless finish on the underarm after the side seams are sewn.

Once the CF, CB and right side seam are sewn in both the silk and the lining, Stitch the tiny seam at the top of the point, right sides together. Trim down and baste the two skirt layers together along the waist seam. Stitch the bodice to the skirt. Using the same bias tape we made earlier, press one edge into the fold. Then pin this tape along previous stitching. Stitch in place, ideally stitching it just a hair away from the first seam. Trim all layers of the seam allowance down and wrap the bias tape around. Slip-stitch in place.


The original pattern calls for a zipper down the center back, but for this delicate and sheer fabric I chose to replace it with a side seam zipper to be more discreet. Using your muslin dress, see how much space you need to get into the dress if the armhole is sewn up. Mark on dress, both lining and silk. Start a french seam from about 3″ down from the marking, down to the hem. Finish it as normal on the outer silk, but for the lining, stitch wrong sides together, trim and press, but stop before sewing final row. Place the finished french seam between layers of lining seam, gradually slanting out until they are separate again. Do a final row of stitching on lining.

Now, stitch using a regular seam, from the armhole down 2″, and from the end of the french seam up the 3″ we added. Insert an invisible zipper between these two points. Flip to the right side to check that everything looks smooth. Then trim the seam allowance to equal the zipper tape width. Bind the edges, going right up to the armhole and all the way down to where the french seam starts. To reduce bulk while binding the zipper, I sewed the binding on at 1/4″, flipped it around the zipper, and stitched in the ditch from the folded side, then trimmed the raw edge down.

I chose an off white zipper, and it was hidden well with the lining, but I didn’t like the zipper pull, so I got out some nail polish and chose the best color to hide it. I then added a topcoat to seal it all in. Be careful not to go too wild with the nail polish on this part because it can easily get on the silk and too much will make a sticky zipper, so I really just painted the pull and left the rest.


This hemming technique is new to me and rather game changing! I am demonstrating it on the shoulder ties, but I also used this method to hem the dress and lining. I cut my shoulder ties bigger since it would just be one layer: 19″ long by 8.5″ wide.

First, you will need a length of Ban-Roll waistband interfacing, sometimes referred to as just ‘belting’. This can be re-used over and over so have a longer than needed length going. Pull out a few of the lengthwise threads until you have a wide 1/8″.  At your sewing machine, line up the edge of the belting with the raw edge of the fabric on the right side. Stitch along the belting, just under 1/8″. Then flip the belting over to the wrong side of the garment, and stitch once more. Carefully pull the belting out from the seam. It’s as easy as that! It’s great because it stabilizes the fabric under the foot as you sew along, and its great for making sharp corners on the shoulder ties. It would also work wonderfully if you were hemming a silk scarf.

Inspiration No. 22: A Zero Waste Topper

A Zero Waste Topper for All Seasons

by Kathryn Brenne

Fabric: Italian silvery gray floral motif cloque’ woven

Pattern: Self-Drafted Design

fullsizeoutput_63e5When Linda asked me to design something using a piece of polyester heat embossed cloque’ from a designer who I’ve admired for years, I knew the fabric would be special.  A simple design that let the beauty and texture of the fabric shine was all that was needed. I came up with this design, which gives the illusion of a lot of fabric when in reality I only ordered 50″ (1.375 yards). I draped the design on the bias for a very soft fluid look. The result is a beautiful year round garment that can be worn as a bathing suit cover up or as a topper over slim pants and a turtleneck.fullsizeoutput_63ec

Fabric Tips & Process

I used a heat set embossed textured cloque’ fabric that was lightweight and sheer.  The embossing added some crispness to the fabric.  This design would also work well in a silk organza,  satin face organza, silk/cotton voile or any fabric that is light and crisp, in a solid color, a print or with a surface texture.

The fabric I used was 49″ wide.  The fabric requirement for this project is a square.  Fifty inches of fabric gave me a generous square.

Fit and Details

This design will fit a lot of figure types.  There is minimal waste and no alteration for narrower fabrics.  The garment is cut on the bias and provides a loose, forgiving fit.  The design or square can be made shorter by taking a bit of length off at center back. The garment fastens with narrow rouleau ties.  The edges of the garment drape loosely.  The ties could be adjusted for larger figures with a narrower overlap.

The position of the armholes helps to hold the garment in place. Below is a close up  photo taken on my 1″ grid mat.  You can print out the photo and enlarge it to equal 1″ squares and use this as a template to mark your armholes.  The armholes can be positioned closer or further apart depending on your size. The top of the armhole to the finished edge of the collar measures 10″.



Draping the Design

I have done the work of creating the design and pattern for you to use.  With the photos taken on my grid mat as a reference you should be able to copy my pattern.  I would suggest cutting out a trial garment first to ensure you have the armholes in the correct position.

For those who would like to try their hand at draping, here is how I created the design:

  1. Begin with a square of fabric.  Fold the square diagonally in half and lightly crease.  Open up the square and draw the crease in pencil using a yardstick. Fold the square diagonally again and pin the edges together creating a cone shape.
  2. Drop the cone onto a dress stand aligning the pencil line with the centre back of the stand.  Pull down slightly on the fabric as the actual fabric will be softer and stretch more than muslin. Pin the cone in place along CB. Place a pencil mark across the shoulder blade area of the back for the edge of the armhole.  On my size 10 dress stand the markings were 11″ apart.  Smaller sizes will be closer together while larger sizes will be further apart.p1060687
  3. Cut a straight 9″ vertical opening in the centre of each armhole.  This will allow you try the test garment on.  Using the shoulder as a guide, pin out an armhole shape.  The shape should be egg shaped. When laid on a table, the armholes should angle inward at the shoulder.
  4. Remove the fabric from the stand and use a curved ruler to smooth out the shape of the armhole. Trim out the center leaving a good ⅜” seam allowance. Fold the garment along the pencilled CB line to make sure that both armholes are the same size and in the same position.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  5. Try the garment on.  Fold under and pin the square edges creating a rounded hemline and smooth curved collar. Check the depth and position of the armholes. If you find that they are a bit too far apart as I did, pin a ½” tuck down centre back. If needed, reshape the armholes or add a scrap of fabric in.
  6. Use curved rulers to smooth out the edges of the design. Trim away excess fabric.
  7. Trim away any extra fabric from the armholes leaving the cut edge as the finished edge with no seam allowance. I have included photos on my mat grid to give you an idea of how much I trimmed away. Please note that although the photos show a pencil line, which appears to be a seam allowance the cut edge is actually the finished edge.armhole2armhole3armhole4armhole5

Layout and Cutting

pattern1Lay out the pattern on a square piece of fabric with the front edges aligned along the selvedge and the weft.  I moved my pattern back about ½” to avoid the unattractive selvedge.

P1060714Pin around the armholes. Thread trace around the armholes.  Cut out armholes leaving a generous ¾” seam allowance. Trim excess fabric from the outer edges. Keep excess fabric to make armhole binding and rouleau ties.

Stitching and Finishing the Edges

P1060720I used a quarter inch foot and a straight stitch throat plate with a size 60 Universal needle to sew a ¼” around the outer edge of the garment.  My machine has a built in dual feed but alternatively you could use a walking foot if needed. As you are stitching try not to stretch out the fabric when you come to the sections that are on the bias.


Turn the ¼” edge under and press.  ☀︎A word of caution about pressing this fabric!  The texture of this fabric has been heat set.  Polyester takes and will hold the texture very well, however over pressing will flatten and remove the texture.  When turning the edge under press only the stitched edge and do not move the iron beyond the stitching.

fullsizeoutput_63b7Use a pair of duckbill appliqué scissors to carefully trim the ¼” seam allowance to a scant ⅟16″.

Beginning at the center of the hem on the Back, use a zigzag 2mm Roll and Shell Hemmer to turn the edge.  On my Bernina I used foot #68. Switch back to an all purpose throat plate. I used a stitch width of 2.5mm and a stitch length of 1mm.  The straight stitch that was just done will hold the edge as the foot rolls it under.  Take your time working around the curves.  You do not want to over stretch them.  You may find that some of the curves seem to be too tight with the straight stitching and start to pull.  In this case I stopped and with the fabric still in the foot, I snipped a few of the straight stitches to release the stitching.  I did not back stitch at the beginning or end.  Instead I pulled the threads to the wrong side, knotted them and buried the tails in the roll.

FE8E3IbwSBeaVb2qvaJUXADo not press the finished edge.  Instead, lightly steam it coaxing it into gentle waves.

An alternative option for finishing the edge could be a rolled edge on your serger.  If you do not have a rolled hem foot for your machine, you can try to zig zag over the trimmed raw edge using the same machine settings.  I tried this technique but found the narrow edge difficult to control on this fabric without a rolled hem foot.

Armhole Binding

After cutting out the fabric I used the scraps to create binding for the armhole and rouleau ties.  You will have a few triangular shaped scraps that have one edge on the bias.  Press the fabric out flat to remove the texture.

CloqueCuttingWheelFor the armhole binding, I cut my bias strips ¾” wide.  

Double StringsI found the thin fabric stretched out and narrowed slightly as I fed it through a ¼” bias binding tool.  Although you don’t have many scraps, test a sample first to check the cut width.  Depending on your fabric a width of ½” to ¾” should work.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Beginning at the underarm, open up the binding and pin the fold to the tacked armhole.  Tack in place.  Fold the beginning of the binding up at a 45° angle.  As you come around to the end, overlap the end onto the beginning. Machine stitch. Trim all layers to a scant ¼” seam allowance. Roll the binding to the inside of the garment.  Pin and then baste to hold. Use a slipstitch to sew the edge of the binding to the garment.  Use small, short stitches and pick up a single thread from the garment to prevent the stitching from showing on the right side.

Steam lightly and finger press to finish.

Rouleau Ties

CuttingTieFor the rouleau ties I cut ¾” strips.  I cheated a bit as the strips were slightly off the true bias but they worked out fine. I was able to cut them approximately 15″ long.

Tie2Using the ¼” foot and straight stitch throat plate I folded the strips in half and sewed a wide ⅛” away from the folded edge. Leave long thread tails.  

NeedleThread a bodkin with the thread tails and feed the needle eye first through the folded edge to turn the tie through.  

tiesPin the ends of the ties to the ironing board and steam lightly.  I tied a knot in the one end and sewed the other end to the garment.  Try the garment on to decide where to position the ties.tie

Zero Waste

zerowasteNot only is this a versatile, very wearable garment, it produces almost zero waste! After making the binding and ties, only a small handful of scraps were all that was leftover. 



Inspiration No. 21: Tangerine Dream

Tangerine Dream: My New Summer Uniform

by Malia Janveaux

Linda’s note: Malia actually submitted this tutorial to me last spring! Before I had a chance to post it, it seemed like similar orange jumpsuits were showing up on various blogs, so we decided to hold off for a while! Malia brings her couture training into the mix, guiding us through some techniques that will bring your finished product up a notch! Please be sure to click through the process photos for visuals: Instructions are given first, and then a series of process photos follow for each step. –Linda

Fabric: Modal/Bamboo/Tencel Woven Twill in the Bittersweet colorway

Pattern: Zadie Jumpsuit by Paper Theory

This jumpsuit, I am never taking it off! It is so comfortable yet at the same time looks really put together. I’ve styled it to be a bit more dressy for a friend’s wedding, but will also wear it more casually all summer. The Zadie jumpsuit is such a versatile style and the Modal/Bamboo/Tencel Woven Twill fabric skims the body in a soft and flattering way. With the added touch of french seams, it is a pure pleasure to wear.

Check it out, I even match my car! HAHA I’m hiding from the paparazzi !! JK

Up Close Details Gallery

Fabric Tips & Process

First let’s talk about the fabric. This fabric is wonderful to wear, feels very cool to the touch and is available in a number of colors. The color I chose is this beautiful muted tangerine. With a pattern like this one, sleek and simple with the interesting wrap feature, I find a solid fabric really shows it off best. The only thing you have to watch out for while working with this fabric is the iron: it does not like high heat. I pre-washed my fabric on delicate/cold cycle and put it in the dryer on low for only about 10 minutes and let the fabric air dry after that. Always try washing a scrap of fabric first, especially if you are washing in a different manner than recommended. The manufacturer recommends hand washing and line drying, but I find it really difficult to hand wash and line dry a full length of fabric, and often there are other options! Be sure to test a sample as different detergents and washing machines can have varying results.

Pressing: Use very low heat while ironing. Cover your ironing board with flannel, this will help to prevent making your seams shiny with the iron. Try to press from the wrong side as much as possible, and always use a press cloth on the right side. I found a scrap of the actual fabric worked best.

Alterations: I lengthened the pant by 1.5″ at the hem (I am 5 ft. 5″ and I wanted a slightly longer pant). I shortened the front and back bodice by 1/4″ on shorten lines. I shortened the pant crotch front and back by 1/4″ on shorten lines. And finally, most importantly, I added 1/4″ to all seam allowances. Why? Because this particular pattern has 3/8″ seam allowances but 5/8″ is needed for the french seams.

Layout and Cutting: I found that the pattern fabric requirements were pretty tight, and I know that they were meant to prevent waste, but for me it was really not enough fabric to cut out my size, especially with the extra 1/4″ seam allowance I added. Therefore, if you are doing french seams, you may want more fabric than suggested. I chose to swap the fabric waist ties for grosgrain ribbon. I couldn’t find a good color match, so I dyed it myself! If you choose to use ribbon as I have, remember to cut the ends at the angle the pattern indicates. I like to use trace tacks instead of cutting notches, especially when I am doing french seams, since I don’t want a notch to be cut out of my seam on the inside of the garment. Don’t forget to stay stitch neck edges, as this will save you so much trouble!

Tip: Tear a straight edge along cut edge of fabric, this will help to line up fabric perfectly on grain. Since we don’t want to tear a straight line through the fabric every time we need to rearrange or pull more fabric onto the cutting table, I use my gridded cutting mat, pick a line and line up my yard stick to create a straight line. Pop in a few pins along the line and you now have a straight edge to line up the grain again for the next layout of pattern pieces.

French Seams: I chose to substitute the overlocked seams with french seams, for a cleaner finish. If you choose to do so, don’t forget to add 1/4″ to all your seam allowances! The pattern only includes 3/8″ seam allowances, and it is much easier to do french seams with a wider seam allowance. Start by placing your pieces wrong sides together. Stitch at 3/8″. Press flat. Trim to scant 1/4″. Press the seam open (remember to use a press cloth since you are technically pressing on the right side, even though it doesn’t seem like it yet). Now fold at the seam so that right sides are together, and press. Stitch the seam at 1/4″. I find that a presser foot with a guide makes this process super easy, but it is not necessary. Press flat once more. Now from the right side of the garment, press the seam in one direction, again using your press cloth, and being extra careful not to press the seam through because that is when you will get shine. Work each seam separately from start to finish of the french seam, otherwise the fabric will start to fray and all the little threads will get stuck in the seam and will be a nightmare to pick out.

Pocket: Start by fusing the pocket opening on the wrong side, as this prevents the pocket opening from stretching. I used a lightweight fusible interfacing: I cut it 3/4″ wide, then pinked the edge. Stitch the pocket to the front pant. Trim both layers of the seam to 3/8″, then grade down the pocket seam allowance only. Press and edge-stitch (I chose to edge-stitch the pocket opening, rather than do an under-stitch as the pattern suggests. I found that it created a more crisp edge with this drapey fabric). Now finish the bottom of your pocket with a french seam. Match markings at the waist to create a pleat, pin the pocket in place, and baste. Baste the pocket down on side seam as well.

Bodice Side Seams: This seam has to be done quite differently than the pattern suggests, if you are choosing to do french seams as I did. It just requires a few more steps than a regular french seam because of the opening for the waist tie. The first thing to do is check that your waist tie will fit the opening. Since I was using ribbon that wasn’t the exact width of the pattern piece, I moved my marking up a bit. Next, chalk a line where the opening will start (at the thread marking), mark the seam allowance (5/8″) and finally draw a diagonal line that will be clipped. Stitch the first pass of the french seam on side seam, ending your stitching just above the diagonal mark. Clip in to the corner. At the underarm, the seam will not want to lie flat because of the curve. So after the 3/8″ seam is sewn and trimmed to scant 1/4″ for french seam, clip into the seam allowance along curve. Continue the french seam in the normal manner, ending your stitching exactly where your chalk mark is (at the point that was clipped). Chalk the seam allowance (5/8″) on the side seam opening. Press along the chalk line. Turn the pointed ends in, and press the seam under one more time. Add some fray check to the clipped point, being careful not to get any on the rest of the garment. Once dry, edge-stitch the opening.

Front Wrap: Mark where the stitching will end on the front crotch seam (marking on the pattern). Start the french seam in the normal way, starting from the back, but only stitch to about 1.5″ below marking on the front. Then, only trim the seam to an inch below that stitching. Press open and right sides together in the normal way, but again stop stitching the final 1/4″ about 3″ below the marking this time. Now apply the binding to the neckline (see notes on binding below), running it right off the edge at marking. Once the binding is complete, go back and finish the french seam on the front crotch, stitching it right through the bindings.

Binding: Don’t forget to attach your waist ties before this step! I always test a few bias strips in different widths before I cut my long binding pieces. Some fabrics will stretch out thinner than others and it may be necessary to cut it slightly wider or slightly narrower. For this fabric the width the pattern suggests is just perfect for the 3/4″ bias binding ironing tip. Once the bias is made, press it in half, making sure one side is longer than the other, this edge will get caught on the inside when the binding is topstitched. If necessary, seam two pieces of binding together and line up at CB. Lay the binding on the pattern and mark the right length for each section. Pin the binding right sides together with bodice neckline. I even checked with the pattern again after I pinned my binding on. Ease in a little extra binding around the sharp curve at the waistline, it will need it to make it around smoothly once the binding is folded to the right side. Stitch binding just a hair to the outside of the fold line. Fold over the binding and pin. Edge-stitch the binding, making sure to flip your waist ties out so they get stitched down in the right direction.

And finally I gave it a good steam, put it on and never took it off!

Inspiration No. 20: A Transitional Topper

Between Seasons; A Transitional Topper

By Kathryn Brenne

Pattern: Vogue 1590 Modified

Fabric: Viscose/wool blend boucle’ knit suiting- bright moss

**Editor’s note: To see all of our viscose/wool boucle’ colors, click here!

In that time of year between seasons, when the weather is still fluctuating between chilly and mild, it’s great to have a lightweight topper that still provides some warmth! While navigating around town, doing errands, getting your kids (or grandkids) to soccer practice, etc. this viscose/wool boucle’ suiting fabric is the perfect choice. Made from a knit construction with a low pile, it does not ravel, and because it is blended with viscose the fabric has a lovely drape.
I chose the bright moss color and combined it with purple stitching to make an unlined mid-thigh length coat with pockets and a statement collar. The loose fit allows me to layer it over sweaters for added warmth, or I can easily wear it on its own on warmer days.

Fabric Prep

I ordered 3.5 yards of fabric. I wanted to experiment with the fabric by felting it slightly, so I cut a 6 inch square swatch and tossed into the washing machine and dryer with a load of towels. I was very happy with the results! My 6 inch square felted slightly and measured 5.5 inches in width and 4.5 inches in length once it dried, and the finished texture was very pleasing. Although the fabric shrank in both length and width I still had enough to make a 31.5 inches finished length coat. Using my sample as a guideline I would recommend purchasing an extra yard of fabric if you intend to felt your fabric.

Pattern Prep

I liked the simple lines of Vogue 1590 . The original pattern includes a hem allowance, but I left the hem as a raw edge, which you can do with this boucle’. I lengthened the pattern pieces by 4.5 inches. With the 1.5 inch hem allowance that was included on the pattern, this lengthened my finished garment by 6 inches, bringing it to mid thigh length.
I omitted the belt, instead opting for a loose silhouette with a one button closure.
I reshaped the very full sleeves by straightening out the underarm seam and omitting the dart at the sleeve hem (details below).
I lengthened piece #3 the side Front by 1.5 inches bringing it to the same length as the other body pieces before adding the same 4.5 inches to the new length. NOTE: After completing the pocket, I saw that I could have lengthened piece #3 1.5 inches and left it at that length. At the time I was unsure of how deep I was going to make the pockets so it was better to be safe than sorry!
I cut my garment as a size D. I am 5’9” tall.

Layout and Cutting

If possible I would recommend using a nap layout. Once my fabric shrunk I had to turn piece #3 against the nap. It did not show as different but when possible I prefer to cut all pieces running in the same direction.
I cut the collars on the lengthwise grain and put a seam at center back. These would work equally well on the crosswise grain if your layout permits.
I used pattern weights and a rotary cutter to cut out the pattern pieces. The rotary cutter gave a nice even edge to the unfinished raw edge hems.
Mark notches and circles with tailor’s tacks.

Needles, Thread and Notions

I used the following:

-Universal size 80 needle throughout.
-Guttermann 100% polyester all purpose thread for the garment construction in a slightly darker shade of green.
-One spool of wooly nylon serging thread and 2 spools of Gutermann all purpose thread to create the lettuce edge on the collars with my serger. All serger threads were purple.
-One large button and 1 small anchor button for the inside of the coat.
-Two strips of woven featherweight woven interfacing cut on the lengthwise grain, one inch wide by the width of the top edge of the pocket.
-Two strips of woven featherweight interfacing cut 3/8 inch wide by the length of the shoulder.
-One roll of 1/4 inch wide water soluble double sided transparent wash away tape.
-Chalk marker.
-Sharpie permanent marker in a color to match your serger thread.

Lapped Seam Construction

Non-raveling boiled wool is the perfect fabric for lapped seams. With lapped seams, one seam allowance is removed from the seam before it is lapped over the under layer and stitched. This technique creates a very flat seam. The raw edges give definition to the lines of the garment.
To complement the lapped seam construction I used raw edges along the neck, front and hem edges.
I cut all of the pattern pieces with 5/8 inch seam allowances. As I constructed the garment, I removed seam allowances as needed. When planning a lapped seam garment, generally the seams lap from the front towards the back. This means that the seam allowance would be removed from the front as it laps over the side front. Usually the side front would overlap the back, but in this pattern, the side front of the garment included a pocket detail with several layers. It was easier and smoother, in this case, to construct the pocket first and then lap both the front and the back over the side front. All of the other seams were done in the usual way: The front overlaps the back at the shoulder, the front sleeve seam overlaps the back, and the body overlaps the sleeve.

Sewing Machine Settings

I used the utility triple straight stitch that is a standard stitch on most machines. The machine stitches forwards and backwards and has a two-stitch repetition This stitch is often used to reinforce the crotch seams on pants. I lengthened the stitch to 5 mm. The triple stitch provides extra strength as well as stitch definition. The longer length highlights the stitching. But please note: this stitch is best suited to long straight seams. It does not work well around tight curves.
I used an edge stitching or edge joining foot and moved the needle to the left when stitching the seams.

Serger Settings

I created the lettuce edge stitching around the collars by setting my serger as a 3-thread rolled hem. The settings on my Bernina serger were: right needle 3.5, upper looper 3.5, lower looper 7.5, differential feed 1, cutting width as narrow as it will go, and the stitch length .8. The rolled hem lever was pulled forward. Test out your settings on both lengthwise and crosswise scraps of fabric and adjust as needed.
The wooly nylon thread in the upper looper puffs up and helps to fill the stitch. It is the upper looper thread that wraps around the cut edge filling it in. The tight tension on the lower looper pulls the upper looper thread over the edge to the underside. Regular all purpose thread in the needle and lower looper are barely visible.
I used purple threads to create a contrasting lettuce edge. Although the wooly nylon covered well, there were a few places where a bit of the green fabric showed through my stitching. I used a purple Sharpie marker to color the green that showed through. This was a personal choice. My husband thought a bit of show through was fine!

Construction Techniques


  1. Chalk the pocket fold line on the right side of the fabric pattern piece #2 pocket. Press under.
  2. Fuse a strip of interfacing to the pocket hem allowance.
  3. Chalk a 1” topstitching line. Stitch to hold hem allowance in place.

4. Lay pocket piece #2 over side front piece #3 side front. Chalk a line parallel with the top edge of the pocket 10” down. Pin and stitch the two layers together.

5. Turn pocket/side front over and trim the lower edge of side front 1/2” away from stitching. Pin layers together along side seams.

Stitching Lapped Seams

  1. Chalk 5/8” stitching line on each edge of the side front/pocket sandwich.

2. Chalk 5/8” seam allowance onto the inside edge of the front. Use a rotary cutter and ruler to remove the seam allowance from this edge.

3. Apply double sided tape in the seam allowance of the underlap layer (side front in this photo).

4. Align the raw edge of the overlap to the chalk line of the underlap. Press firmly on tape to hold. Pin. Use the triple stitch to sew in place leaving long thread tails at the hem.

Stabilizing the Shoulder Seams

1. Cut two lengthwise strips of wool boucle 5/8” wide by the length of the shoulder seam. Fuse with a piece of featherweight interfacing.

2. Pin the shoulder stay tape to the underside of the back piece #4. Set up and stitch a lapped shoulder seam catching in the stay tape with the stitching.


  1. Lap the center back collar seam and stitch. (I cut each collar with a seam to make better use of my fabric layout, but you may be able just cut it on the fold.) On the underlap, trim the seam allowance close to the stitching using duck billed appliqué scissors.

2. Stitch the lettuce edge on the serger. I stitched the long edges of each collar first. Pull on the fabric slightly to stretch it as it feeds into the machine. Too much stretching creates too much green showing through. Practice first to obtain the best results. After stitching the length of the collar, stitch the ends beginning at the neck edge and working out towards the already stitched outer edge. This will mean that one end is stitched from the wrong side but it does not show as different and the control offered by beginning at the neck edge is better than starting at the outer edge. Leave long thread tails. Thread the tails into a tapestry needle and weave through 1/2” of stitching to bury the tail. Trim excess tail.

Neck and Front Edges

  1. Chalk neck edge seam allowance on front and back. Trim away the seam allowance along neck edge. Trim away the seam allowance on the front edges of the front and front facing.

2. Baste the two collars together along the neck edge. Chalk 5/8” on both the right and wrong side of the collars.

3. Align front and back garment neck edges to the chalk line on the wrong side of the widest collar. Hand baste layers together.

4. Apply tape to the wrong side of the front edges. Align the edge of the front facing with the raw edges of the front.

5. Place the garment on the stand to ensure that the length of the front facing works with the shoulder seam of the back neck facing.

6. Join the front facing to the back neck facing with lapped seams.

7. Pin the front facing in place along the neck edge. The edge of the front facing should be sitting 5/8” above the chalk line on the collar.

8. Hand baste the collars to the seam allowance of the front facing. (shown in yellow basting thread)

9. Machine stitch up the front, around the neck edge and down the other front from the good side of the fabric.

10. Trim the excess seam allowance away from the front facing around the neck edge.


  1. I removed the sleeve dart from the bottom of the sleeve. Straighten out the under arm sleeve seam.

2. Set up lapped seam. Use lots of pins to hold the edge in place. Alternatively the seam could be basted by hand. Turn sleeve inside out. One sleeve will be sewn from the underarm down towards the cuff while the other will be stitched from the cuff up. The sleeve is wide enough and the fabric stretchy enough to stitch into this tunnel, but take your time and sew slowly.

3. Set up the armhole to overlap the sleeve. Pin the sleeve into position. Hand baste very close to the edge. Machine stitch beginning at the underarm.


These will be the easiest buttonholes you will ever make! I always do a sample first to test size.
1. Measure the length of your button and add a bit to allow the button to slide through easily. For my almost 1 1/4” button I chalked a 1 3/8” buttonhole.

The buttonhole opening should sit half the width of the button away from the front edge. As buttons get bigger, this spacing can decrease slightly.

2. Chalk two lines 1/8” apart. Chalk the beginning and end of the buttonhole.

3. Stitch around the buttonhole opening. I used the triple stitch but once I turned the corner I hit the pattern begin button on my machine. If your machine doesn’t have this feature try stitching around the buttonhole twice to reinforce it. I shortened the length of the triple stitch to 4 mm. Stitch again 1/4” away from previous row of stitching. Knot and bury thread tails.

4. Cut down the center of the buttonhole. If the sample is suitable repeat the technique on the garment. I added a smaller button to the opposite inside front and stitched a smaller buttonhole to the left front. This second button helps to anchor the front and prevents the hem from dropping.


  1. Knot off thread tails along the hem edges. Use a self threading needle to bury the thread tails into the seam allowances.

2. Pin the facing in place.

3. Use a loose hem stitch to hold the facing in place.

Inspiration No. 19: Plaid: A Perfect Match

Plaid: A Perfect Match

by Malia Janveaux

Patterns: Butterick 6563 & Arielle Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons

Fabric: Fine merino wool plaid **

**Editor’s note: To see all of our plaids, click here!

As sad as I am to see summer go, fall and winter are my favorite seasons to dress for. That may be because most of my wardrobe is made up of warmer clothing, since so much of the year is freezing up here in North Bay! Plaid is a classic staple in my wardrobe, both in garments I've bought as well as several I've made. I really enjoy working with plaid because it is so satisfying to see all of your careful and thoughtful planning and cutting match up just right!

As sad as I am to see summer go, fall and winter are my favorite seasons to dress for. That may be because most of my wardrobe is made up of warmer clothing, since so much of the year is freezing up here in North Bay! Plaid is a classic staple in my wardrobe, both in garments I’ve bought as well as several I’ve made. I really enjoy working with plaid because it is so satisfying to see all of your careful and thoughtful planning and cutting match up just right!

Inspiration: Baum und Pferdgarten

I fell in love with this plaid ensemble as soon as I saw it, from the exaggerated pointed collar to the button up fly front on the skirt. I thought this would be such a great outfit to mix plaids, but it is equally fabulous all in one matching plaid. I also love how with all of the details like the yoke, collar and pockets one can play with the direction of the plaid.


Pattern Search and Alterations

When I look for a sewing pattern to make something similar to a RTW garment, I look for a pattern that has the most in common with my inspiration picture. You may be surprised to learn that the most important features to look for in your pattern are not the RTW design details; instead try to match the basic shape, cut and fit. The sewing pattern sometimes won’t look much like what you are trying to make, because things like collar, sleeves or closures are much easier to change than the basic garment shape. Also, pay close attention to seam lines and decide if you are okay with it differing somewhat from the inspiration garment.

Small changes can make a huge difference when it comes to fit. I recommend making a muslin, especially if you will be using a plaid. We will spend so much time matching the plaid that it would be a shame to have to let out or take in a seam significantly and have all that matching work go to waste.

SKIRT: Arielle Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons

I chose this pattern because it was the exact cut and fit I was looking for: ultra high waist, fitted, faced waist. Although it may not seem to be the case at first glance, changing this pattern from an asymmetrical design to a center front fly closure is quite easy!

  1. Start by cutting out the right front and back pattern pieces for the short skirt version. We will be altering the right skirt pattern piece and using that for both front pieces, so we do not need the left front skirt. Just add a 5/8″ seam allowance to the center front line on the right front skirt (and either cut off, trace off or fold under the rest of the pattern piece). As simple as that, you now have a symmetrical skirt with a center front seam!
  2. Optional: I added 1/2″ to the hem allowance, and turned up a 2″ hem when sewing.
  3. Optional: I wanted a more A-line skirt silhouette, so starting from nothing at the hip, I flared out to 1″ at the hem on both front and back side seams. This gave the hem an extra 4″ in total. You can leave your pattern as it is, or flare out the amount that suits you.
  4. At this point, I made a muslin. For such a simple yet fitted skirt, a perfect fit is essential. I tweaked the fit on myself a bit on the side seams, and I also marked where my fly would end, as well as the welt pocket placements. Keep in mind that your fly front has to be long enough so that you are able to get into the skirt. If you do not like the look of the fly being too long, you could add an invisible zipper on the side seam.
  5. Now that you have your fly length determined, draft a fly facing and fly shield. I’ve attached a pattern that can be altered for button size and fly length (at the bottom of the article).
  6. I chose not to use the pattern’s waist facing; instead I traced off my own from my now altered skirt pattern. I like to cut my two front waist facings long, since I am dyslexic and no matter how many times I check that I’m cutting it correctly I seem to end up with them backwards! 😂 Your left front waist facing will be the length of the skirt front waist, but the right front waist facing will be different. It will need to be the length of the waist minus the width of the fly shield, plus 1/4″ seam allowance to attach it to the fly facing later on.
  7. Tweak the welt pocket placement from your muslin and trace a 1/2″ by 5.5″ rectangle. For the welt lips, just cut strips of bias 1.5″ wide. Check out Kathryn Brenne’s fabulous EOS article on how to sew the perfect pocket. You could also swap the flap welt pocket for any pocket you’d like!

SHIRT: Butterick 6563

As you can see, this pattern has the perfect style lines for my shirt, but since it does not have a yoke, long sleeves, or the exaggerated point collar, it requires a bit of pattern drafting to add in those details. This is not nearly as scary as you may be thinking! Also, you may own, or find another pattern that already has a yoke and long sleeves, so if you do, you can skip or simplify these steps.

  1. YOKE: First decide where you want the yoke lines to be on the front and the back and draw them in. The back shoulder has a bit of ease, but since we are adding a yoke we can remove the excess ease from the armhole edge of the back shoulder. Trace off new pattern pieces for the front and back yoke, and the lower front and back, adding seam allowances
  2. SLEEVE: Trace the stitching lines around the full upper half of the bodice patterns, front and back. This is always helpful when we will be playing around with the sleeve and collar. Measure the neck and armholes along the traced sewing lines and keep a note of these measurements. Starting with the puff sleeve pattern, measure around the sleeve cap and compare the measurement to the armhole measurement. This will determine how much ease is built into the sleeve. Since we don’t want a puff sleeve, remove most of the ease by folding in equal amounts in 4 places on the sleeve. You want to leave about 3/4″-1″ ease in the sleeve cap for a regular sleeve. Now re-draw the cap into a smooth line. (Alternatively, you can pull out a regular sleeve from another pattern and compare the measurements, and just use it as your base instead). Now that we have a basic sleeve to work from, add 12″ to the sleeve length and flare out the underarm seams about 1″. I found this wasn’t quite enough fullness for the look I wanted, so I slashed and spread, starting from nothing at the sleeve cap to 5/8″ (measuring from lower edge of the original pattern) at the center slash. Then again either side of center but only 3/8″. Muslin your sleeve before cutting into the fashion fabric, and try sewing it into your armhole. Sleeves are finicky and take some tweaking to get just right. Mark 1/2″ on either side of the underarm seam at the lower edge, this will indicate where to start and stop gathering stitches, so that 1″ is flat at the underarm going into the cuff.
  3. CUFF: You can still use the same cuff pattern from the envelope.
  4. COLLAR: The original pattern is drafted for a convertible collar, but I wanted something with a more tailored look, so I opted for a collar and stand. I’ve attached a copy of the pattern (at the bottom of the article). Collars are so hard to get just right, I often pull out my favorite one and use it on multiple patterns. If you choose to use this collar, lower the CF neck by 3/8″ to make room for the collar stand. Now measure around the neck on the pattern and adjust the collar and stand pattern to fit, adding or subtracting from the center back. Since we are doing a collar and stand, we don’t need the center front facing going all the way to the shoulder; just go straight up instead.
  5. BUTTON STAND: I never follow the button and buttonhole placement from patterns. It is much easier to do this step when the shirt is otherwise finished. Try it on and place a pin at the level of your bust point. This is your starting point. We also want to have a button on the collar stand. Now you can space your other buttons above and below these established points. They should be somewhere around 3″ apart in distance, but the second button is usually a bit closer to the collar (this allows you to play around with the button placement and find a measurement that looks best).


Preshrink fabric before cutting by steaming it with a damp piece of muslin. Wool will shrink significantly, so it is a very important step. It is one of the many great qualities of wool and a reason I love to work with it. You can shrink in wool easily for sleeve caps or bust ease and create really beautiful shapes in your garments, but this also means that if you don’t preshrink it, every time you steam a seam it could shrink up. Even if you don’t plan to wash your garment it is still important to preshrink it so that it doesn’t shrink during construction. Preshrink from the wrong side of the fabric. Hang fabric to dry completely, and if necessary re-press before cutting. 

Cutting plaid can be intimidating at first! Just be patient and definitely measure twice, cut once! First look at your plaid, note if it is symmetrical or not, and where the repeat is. Sometimes it is not obvious until you start cutting and realize it’s too late (I have made this mistake on more than one occasion 😣). This particular plaid is symmetrical and very consistently woven, which makes cutting much easier. Start by laying out your fabric in a single layer. All pattern pieces will be cut in single. Start with your main pieces; in this case it is front and back bodice. First, choose a line for center back and pin in place. Next, choose a line for center front. I chose the pale yellow line since this will be helpful when doing my buttonholes. Before pinning the front on, you will also want to line up the plaid stripes horizontally. I don’t worry so much about vertical lines at the side seams but keeping the whole shirt on the same level horizontally is very important. Using a tissue paper pattern makes it easy to line up plaids since you can see through them. Mark dart points with tailor tacks. Before removing the pattern piece, trace on a few of the intersecting plaid lines, as that way you can line it up exactly for your second mirrored piece. Make sure to flip your pattern pieces since we are cutting in a single layer.

Sleeves will not match everywhere so concentrate on matching them with the horizontal plaid stripe. Look for points on your pattern, such as the front notch on the sleeve, as a guide for where to match the plaid.

The collar will not match either, you can play around with the placement of this piece, choose what looks the most pleasing at the front, and if the center back matches a stripe, then consider it a bonus. You should be able to have both fronts of the collar match as I have, but some plaids that are less symmetrical may not allow that.

Yokes are cut on the bias as a design detail, so no matching! Yay!


If you’ve done all the planning correctly while cutting your plaid, sewing will be a breeze!

The only advice I have is to use a ton of pins. I like to pin in every plaid line, and pinning at the edge of each line is even more accurate. If it’s a particularly difficult area to match, try basting the seam first by hand before sewing it on the machine. Sew right up to your pin before removing it to avoid the fabric shifting.


For the skirt I would recommend interfacing the waist facings, the fly components as shown below, as well as the area around where the welt pocket will go and the pocket flaps. I used a medium/lightweight tricot interfacing for all these areas.

For the shirt, I would recommend interfacing one half of the cuff and the center front facings with medium/lightweight tricot. I chose a heavier woven interfacing for the collar and collar stand. Just interface one collar and one stand, the other half will not be interfaced.

Button Fly Front & Faced Waist

Start by interfacing half of the fly shield, the fly facing interfacing to right skirt, and a strip of 3/4″ interfacing to left front. Fold the fly shield with right sides together and stitch top and bottom, trim and turn to right side. Stitch the skirt from the hem, up to point where the fly will end. Stitch the fly facing to right front. Stitch fly shield to left side using a 3/8″ seam allowance, just like you would with a zipper fly; we want the fly shield to sit back from center front so that it doesn’t peek out from under the fly. Additionally, the fly shield should be sewn on 5/8″ down from the top edge of the skirt, since we’ve already sewn the top of the fly shield. Rather than clipping the seam allowance below the fly, I like to just press it gradually back into one side.

Stitch the waist facing piece to the right side of skirt fly facing, using about 1/4″ seam allowance (if you’ve done like I did and cut your front waist facings extra long, measure them now and trim down before sewing this first seam). Fold the waist facing back over the fly facing, and stitch the top of the skirt. On left side of skirt, stitch the waist facing to the skirt up to fly shield point. Press in the seam allowance on the edge of the waist facing and fold it down over the fly shield seam allowance. Slip stitch in place by hand.

Mark your button holes, stitch and slash through (your button and buttonhole placement will likely be different than mine, depending on the size of button you choose as well as the fly length you need to get into the skirt). Attach the buttons by hand. They should sit on the fly shield near to the seam attaching it to the skirt. Tack the fly shield to fly either invisibly by hand or by topstitching just the bottom of the fly as I have.


I find that shirt hems can be a finicky task, but with seam tape (Steam a Seam) they are so easy. I wouldn’t use this technique on a super delicate fabric since it adds glue into the seam, but otherwise its a great alternative. Iron on 1/4″ wide tape, and with the paper still on press the 1/4″ up and in again. The paper helps create an edge to use as a guide while pressing. Now peel the paper out and press one last time. Stitch hem.

I wanted the skirt hem to be invisible, and with wool it is simple to do and totally invisible! I used a hem-stitch. Take a stitch through the hem, but just a tiny thread from the skirt before coming back up through the hem. Pull the stitch through, but not all the way–leave a small loop. Once you have made it around the whole hem, pull the hem out a bit, sinking the loops into the fabric. As you can see it creates a sort of cross stitch inside the hem that floats slightly away from the skirt.

Shirt Yoke & Collar

Trace your seam allowances on the lower edges of the yokes and press along the lines. Trim to 1/4″. Pin in place on the front and back, and edge stitch along bottom edges. Baste along shoulders, neck and armhole edges.

Trim 1/16″-1/8″ off outer edges of under collar (this will be the un-interfaced one). This will allow the collar to fold over nicely. Trace your sewing line on with chalk; I find this helps to get sharper corners. Another tip for achieving sharper corners is to take a single stitch diagonally across the point. It seems like it would do the opposite, but this one stitch gives the seam allowance room to fold into a point, rather than stretching and making a rounder point. I also trace my seam allowance onto the collar stand, especially at the center front marking. Match the collar edge up with the center front marking exactly.

Inspiration No. 18: Pocket Primer

Pocket Primer: The Ins and Outs of Pockets

by Kathryn Brenne


To see a list of all sewing tutorials, click here!


A well turned out pocket is a useful detail that can add both function and beauty to your garment. It can be hidden or make a statement. It can hold small items or give your hands a place to rest.

Pockets can be divided into the following types: patch, inseam and welt. Our pocket primer covers a variety of techniques to help you obtain professional results for every style as well as suggestions for drafting your own pockets.

Inseam Pockets

Side Seam Pocket

inseampocketThis nearly invisible pocket is often used in the side seam of skirts, pants and coats.

1. Fuse a 1” strip of lightweight fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the garment in the pocket opening area. Pink outer edge of interfacing strips to prevent show through.


2. Cut a set of 2 pocket bags. Trim 3/8” away from the Front pocket bag.


3. Attach the Front pocket bag to the Front garment piece with a 1/4” seam allowance.


Press the seam towards the pocket bag. Edge stitch.


4. Attach the Back pocket bag to the Back garment piece only in the pocket opening area using a 5/8” seam allowance.


5. Join the Front and Back garment pieces together along the side seam above and below the pocket opening using a 5/8” seam allowance. Keep the top and bottom of the Back pocket bag out of the way by folding back on itself.


6. Press the seam open. The Front pocket bag will fold towards the Front.  Press the Back pocket bag and the Back open first before pressing it towards the Front.


This photo shows the wrong side

7. With the pocket open, edge stitch the Front pocket opening. Leave long thread tails and then use them to square off the end of the stitching.  Take them between the layers and knot them off.


8. Pin pocket bags together. Don’t worry if the edges do not line up. It is more important that the pocket opening is laying flat. Stitch pocket bags together.


9. The inside of the Front pocket opening with seam is flat and hidden inside of the pocket.


The folded edge of the Front should sit nicely into the well of the seam.


10. Trim away any excess seam allowance from the pocket bag. Finish stitching the Back pocket bag for the short bit above and below the pocket opening to the seam allowance.


Invisible Zippered Inseam Pocket


Vogue 1564 modified with an inseam invisible zipper pocket.

This useful and attractive secure pocket that can be added to ready to wear as well as to garments you are constructing. By adding an invisible zipper after the seam is sewn you avoid the lumpy bit at the end of the zipper, which is always difficult to sew when closing the seam after inserting the zipper.

1. Fuse a 1” strip of lightweight fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the garment. Pink outer edge of interfacing strips to prevent show through.P1040891b

2. Sew the Front and Back garment sections together along the side seams with a 5/8” seam allowance above and below the pocket opening.


Press the seam open.


3. Attach one side of the invisible zipper to the seam allowance. Position the coil teeth along the pressed fold line. The zipper tape that extends above and below the pocket opening should be positioned just to the outside edge of the seam.


Stitch using an invisible zipper foot.


As you come to the end of the zipper, which has now extended beyond the pocket opening, make sure the coil sits towards the outside of the seam allowance.


Align the second side of the zipper and stitch in the same manner. As you near the end, position the coil towards the outside of the seam allowance.


4. Pull up the zipper pull. This can take a bit of patience the first time to get it up into the pocket opening but you will never have to work at it again. The invisible zipper will open and close in the pocket opening only.


The wrong side of the zipper lays nice and flat.


5. Sew the Back pocket bag to the seam allowance only catching in the invisible zipper tape. It is helpful to use a zipper foot to do this.


Trim 3/8” off of the Front pocket bag.


Attach the Front pocket bag to the seam allowance.


Press the pocket bags towards the Front. Pin the pocket bags together ensuring they lay flat.



6. The finished pocket has a secure invisible zipper.


Front and back Western Pockets


For instructions for this type of pocket, suitable for denim jeans, see our Perfect Jeans article.

Patch Pockets

Couture Patch Pocket


Design by British couturier Jon Moore. Sewn by Kathryn Brenne. Couture patch pocket.

This patch pocket is often found on jackets. It has a curved lower edge, which can be difficult to turn under. Follow these tips to achieve perfectly matched curved corners. If you are having difficulty turning under the edges of a square corner pocket or a back jean pocket try using this template technique. A Couture Patch Pocket should look like it is floating. It should not look ‘nailed down’.

1. Cut 1 patch pocket in wool, 1 hair canvas, 1 square of lining and 1 piece of lining selvedge 3/8” wide by the width of the pocket, to be used as a thin stay tape.

2. Thread trace wool pocket.


3. Place hair canvas on wrong side of wool. Stab-stitch along basting lines from right side of the fabric.


Pin stay tape (lining selvage) along facing fold line. Stab-stitch in place working from the right side of fabric.


shown on wrong side

4. Use a cardboard template to press in pocket edges. To create a template photocopy pocket pattern piece. Glue the copy to a thin (cereal box) piece of cardboard. Cut out the template with no seam allowances. Place the template on the prepared fabric. Use the tip of the iron to fold the seam allowances over the template. Fold in the edges first before turning down the facing. Press lightly, then remove the template and press again.


5. Trim the seam allowances to 1/2”. Use pinking shears to trim the curved corners slightly narrower.

6. Working from the right side of the pocket, baste close to the edge to hold seam allowances in place.



7. Loosely catch stitch seam allowance around pocket, making sure to only catch the hair canvas.


8. Baste pocket facing in place. Tuck in sides of pocket facing so they will not show.


9. Slip-stitch sides of pocket facing just back from the edge of pocket.


10. Hem-stitch the facing to the hair canvas only.


11. Create a template for the lining that is 1/8” smaller around the outer edges than the pocket. Press in lining seam allowances using the cardboard template. Trim seam allowances to 1/2”. Pink around the curves.

12. Baste lining seam allowances.


13. Pin in place on wrong side of pocket.


Slip stitch lining to pocket.IMG_4116b

14. Pin pocket in place on garment. Slip-stitch pocket to the garment, starting 1/4” in along the top edge. These few extra stitches along the top edge of the pocket add reinforcement. Position stitching just to the underside of the pocket edge so it appears to be floating on the garment.IMG_4120bIMG_4119b

Other options:

Option 1: Fusible interfacing could be used instead of hair canvas for a ready to wear finish.

Option 2: The pocket can be basted in place and working from the wrong side of the garment use a small catch stitch to sew the pocket to the garment.


Option 3: If desired, the pocket could be topstitched at 1/4 – 1/2” after step 14. The topstitching is only for decoration. Once complete the pocket can still be hand stitched to the garment.


Option 4: Instead of hand stitching the pocket to the garment, the pocket could be machine edge stitched.


Bellows Pocket


Coat with bellows pocket, flap and snap closure purchased in Paris 15 years ago.

The bellows pocket is perfect for activewear. It gives depth to a patch pocket allowing you to stash more items. The silhouette can be used as a fashion statement too. For drafting instructions see directions at the end of the article.

1. Chalk the fold lines and seam allowances onto pocket.P1040850b

2. Press along the chalked lines, turning seam allowances under.


3. Fold the bottom corners and stitch with a 3/8” seam allowance. Press the seam allowance to one side.


4. Turn under a 1/4” seam allowance along top edge of pocket. Pin the facing in place and top stitch. Fold the sides of the facing in forming a little pleat. Press.


5. Chalk the pocket placement on garment. The size of the pocket is the front of the pocket without the side or bottom extensions.


6. Pin the sides of the pocket to the chalked lines.


Edge stitch.P1040861b

Pin the bottom edge in place and edge stitch.


7. Take 3 stitches across the top of the pocket and with the pleat from step 4 pinned in place, edge stitch the pocket through all layers ending stitching at the facing.


Finished pocket.  (White thread used just for clarity in tutorial.)



Depending on the type of fabric used, you may want to edge stitch the folded lines of the bellows. This can be done after step 3.

Welt Pockets

Simple Single Welt Pocket

singleweltexampleThis classic pocket is suitable for pants and jackets.

1. Fuse a rectangle of lightweight fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric where you want your pocket to be. Cut the pocket bag extra long from self fabric. Fuse a strip of 4” x 8” interfacing to the upper part of the pocket bag. This will become the welt.

2. Place pocket bag over welt area right sides together. Chalk the welt outline 6 1/4” long x 1/2” wide. Stitch around the outline, decreasing the stitch length to 1.5 in the corners to prevent fraying. Be precise with your stitching as this will determine the success of the finished welt pocket.


3. Cut through the center of the welt and V into the corners.


4. Turn through and press the upper edge and sides. Fold up the lining to form a welt. Take care to ensure that the width of the welt is uniform and fills the opening.


5. Stitch the corner triangles from the wrong side.


6. Working from the right side, stitch in the ditch along the bottom edge of the welt. (Contrast thread for demonstration purposes only!)IMG_4174b

7. Fold the pocket bag up and stitch the sides, catching in the welt and triangles.



Inside of pocket before pocket bag is finished.

Fold pocket bag up.


Pin pocket bag in place.


Stitch in the well of the upper seam allowance.


Once the top of the pocket bag has been secured stitch the sides and trim any excess from the top of the pocket bag.



Finished single welt.


Double Welt Pocket

doubleweltDouble Welt Pockets are suitable for back pockets and jackets. They have a reputation for being one of the most difficult pockets to sew. Take your time, mark and stitch accurately.

1. Fuse a rectangle of lightweight fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric. Cut 2 lengthwise strips 1” x 8” of self fabric and fuse with interfacing. Be precise cutting the welts.

2. Chalk a rectangle 6 1/4” x 1/2” onto the garment. Stitch around outline, decreasing stitch length to 1.5 mm around the corners to prevent fraying. Be very precise as this will determine the size and shape of the finished pocket. I like to begin stitching in the center of one of the long sides rather than at a corner.


3. Press welts in half, wrong sides together. Pin in place against the right side of the fabric. Line up raw edges with the center of the welt outline. Stitch in place, ending exactly at corners. Do not stitch across the short ends.


4. Cut welt opening down the center and V into the corners.


5. Turn through and press.

6. Stitch across short ends of welt from the wrong side, catching in the triangles.


7. Attach pocket bag to lower welt first, within the seam allowance. Fold pocket bag up and stitch to upper welt in same manner.


8. Stitch sides of pocket bag, catching in welts and triangles again.


Finished double welt.


9. To keep everything in place while the remainder of the garment is sewn, catch stitch the opening closed.


Other Options: Suit jackets often have a flap inserted into a double welt pocket. To create the flap follow these directions:

1. Trim 1/16” off of the outer edges of the flap lining.P1040832b

2. Sew the flap and lining together, easing in the flap to meet up with the slightly trimmed lining. Use pinking shears to pink the corners.


Turn right side out. Use a pressing template to press corners.


3. Baste upper edge of flap and lining together.


4. Chalk a placement line along the top edge of the flap. Insert flap into double welt pocket opening.


Pin to hold.


Sew flap to the seam allowance of the welt.


Return to step 7 of double welt instructions to attach the pocket bag.

Finished double welt with flap.


Exposed Zipper Pocket

P1040975bThis is a useful zipper for keeping items secure. It is a flat pocket whose set up similar to a double welt pocket. Rather than attaching welts a zipper is inserted.

1. Fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the garment fabric in the pocket area.


2. Cut a facing 2” wide by 8” long. Pin to the pocket area. Chalk an opening 3/8” wide by 7” or the length of the zipper.


3. Stitch around the chalk line. I like to begin on a side rather than in a corner. Instead of backstitching, I overlap a few stitches once I have come to the beginning.


4. Cut down the center and V into the ends.


5. To help with pressing, I like to use the edge of the iron to press the edges of the facing towards the center.


Turn facing through to the wrong side and press. The rectangular shaped opening should be perfectly shaped.


6. Apply double sided Wonder Tape to each edge of the zipper tape.


Position the zipper in the opening taking care to ensure it is straight.


7. Edge stitch around the opening. As you approach the zipper pull, stop with the needle in the down position, raise the presser foot and open the zipper.


Once the end of the opening has been stitched, stop again and close the zipper.


Do not back stitch. Instead leave long thread tails, pull them between the layers and knot off.


The zipper is now attached to the opening.


8. Attach pocket bag right sides together with lower edge of facing.


This is like the photo above, with the pocket bag laying on top of the zipper area.

Keeping the garment out of the way, stitch in the well of the seam.


Press pocket bag downward.


Bring other side of pocket bag up to meet the top of the facing.


Stitch across the triangular ends of the pocket.


Finished pocket bag


Finished zippered pocket.


Double Cloth Reversible Patch/Welt Pocket


Double cloth coat with patch and double welt pocket. This fabric was bonded together so I trimmed all raw edges with self made bias binding.

This pocket is suitable for a reversible garment made with a double cloth fabric. The technique used to create the welt portion of this pocket is the piped welt.  The seam allowance fills the welts in this pocket style.

1. Cut a patch pocket with a 3/8” seam allowance. Thread trace the seam allowance catching only one layer of the double-faced wool.  Thread trace a second line another 3/8” in from first line of basting. This time going through both layers.


2. Tear the layers apart stopping at the second line of basting. Gently pull on the layers and carefully clip threads holding the two layers together. Press the pocket flat.


3. Tuck the seam allowance in on one layer of wool. Pin back the second layer of wool to match first. Baste it in place.


4. Slip-stitch around the pocket. Machine topstitch the patch pocket opening edge only.


5. Trace a welt window on the garment 1.5” wide by 6 1/4” long. Stitch around the marked opening.


6. Cut down the center of the opening and V into the corners. Trim to 1/2” seam allowance.


7. Cut two strips 3” wide by 8” long. Chalk 1/2” along one edge of the welts. Fold the welt to that line. Press the fold line. Baste.


8. Stitch the welts to patch side of garment, lining up the shorter edge of the welt with the raw edge of the window. Turn the welts through and stitch across the ends catching in the triangles.


9. Separate the layers of the welt seam allowance up until the stitching. Trim the under layer to a scant 1/4”. Turn the outer edges in, tucking them under the trimmed seam allowance. Edge stitch around welt.


10. Cross-stitch the welts together. From the wrong side of the welt, pin the patch pocket onto the garment, covering welt entirely.


Either slip stitch the patch in place for an invisible look, or edge-stitch (this will show on

the other side of garment).



Reversible Bias Bound Welt/Patch Pocket
The fabric used in my reversible coat was a double cloth with the layers fused together rather than woven together so they did not peel apart as easily. For this sample I used the same technique as described but rather than peeling the layers
apart, I used bias binding to bind the edges of the patch pocket and the seam allowances of the welt. The rounded corners of the patch pocket were easy to bind. I overlapped the binding at the inside corner. To bind the welt seam allowances I mitered the corners. After the binding was attached to the welt seam allowances I edge stitched the outer edge of the binding to the garment. Once the patch pocket was bound it too was edge stitched to the garment.

Shaped Welt Pocket

A shaped welt pocket can add an element of fun to a garment. Triangles, circles, odd shaped rectangles are all possibilities for a shaped welt pocket. This technique is called the organza patch technique for making welt pockets. I have used this technique to create an odd shaped pocket, but the same technique could be used to make a double welt pocket.

1. Fuse a rectangle of lightweight fusible interfacing onto the wrong side of the fabric, a little larger than the opening.


2. Chalk the pocket shape onto the right side of the fabric.


3. Lay a piece of silk organza over the chalked shape.


Stitch around the chalked shape, which is visible through the organza.


Trim close to the stitching and clip into the corners.


Press the edges of the silk organza in towards the center of the shape.


Turn the organza through the opening and press, rolling the organza slightly towards the wrong side.


4. Interface two welts. Cut the welts big enough for the irregular shaped opening.


Press in half. Align the welts in the pocket opening. Catch stitch the two welts

together. Pin in place.


Edge stitch around the opening.


5. Attach the pocket bag to the edge of the lower welt.


Fold the pocket bag up and attach it to edge of the upper welt. Stitch the sides of pocket bag.


Finished pocket.


Drafting Your Own Pockets

Most pocket openings need to be 6-7” to accommodate the hand, but some pockets are smaller and shallower, allowing only a couple of fingers enough space to retrieve an item. My shaped welt pocket had a 6” opening from the tip of the triangle across to the center of the wide edge.

Pockets can be added to ready to wear garments. For instance, you can unpick a seam and use the invisible zipper inseam technique.  Draft a pocket bag pattern and use a coordinating fabric to finish your pocket.

To draft the bellows pocket:

1. Begin with a rectangle 6 1/2” x 8”.


2. Determine how deep you want the bellows to be. For this sample I added 1” to the edges of the rectangle along the sides and bottom. I added a 1” hem allowance to the top edge. Whatever dimensions you choose, add a 1/2” seam allowance to the outer three edges and a 1/4” seam allowance to the hem facing.

3. In the two bottom corners, square off a 3/8” seam allowance.


4. Finished pocket pattern


To draft a pocket flap:


1. Draft a rectangle the length of the welt opening by the desired width. My sample was a finished width of 1 3/4”.

2. Use a template to draw curves on the lower corners of the flap. I used a metal pocket template.

3. Add a 3/8” seam allowance to the outer edges. This makes it easier to keep a nice curve around the corners as you sew. Add a 1/2” seam allowance to the top edge, which leaves some room for adjustment when placing the flap in the welts.

Cool Cable Cardigan

By Kathryn Brenne

To see a list of all sewing tutorials, click here!

On a recent trip to London I fell in love with a high couture knit jacket. When I came across this beautiful quilted cable knit fabric I decided to make my own variation using the jacket I had seen as inspiration.


inspo 3

Inspiration garment

It is perfect for crisp spring or fall days but also works well in air-conditioned rooms during the summer. A perfect weight to layer easily over other garments, it looks great with jeans, trousers, skirts or as a topper over a dress. I have teamed it up with a matching T-shirt and have been wearing it casually with jeans. I can see that this jacket is going to see a lot of wear!

(For more photos, scroll down to the bottom of the article!)


I used 1 1/2 yards of the quilted cable matelasse’ knit in the denim color. (It also comes in seagrass and black. Creamy white and light gray heather will be available soon as well.)  I cut the pattern crosswise to allow the cables on the fabric to run lengthwise. The fabric has enough stretch and seaming so that it is not a problem to use the fabric on the cross grain.


Fabric #66437#66436, #66435

For the contrasting sections I used 11 oz. rayon jersey in slate blue (now sold out, no longer available—see special note at the bottom of this section), which matched so well that I made a coordinating T-shirt to wear underneath the jacket. In total I used 2.5 yards of the 11 oz. jersey, to complete all the contrast sections plus the T-shirt. If you use a thicker knit for contrast (a ponte for instance), you can skip some of the doubling and interfacing steps described below. You can also make the entire jacket from the cable knit.

Front, upper back, mid back and upper sleeves were cut from the cable knit fabric.  All other pieces were cut from a double layer of rayon jersey. All of the contrast pieces were cut double and interfaced with a bias knit interfacing in black. **Make sure
to choose an interfacing that will not fray as this garment is constructed with all raw edges.** The interfacing added a bit of structure to the thinner 11 oz.
rayon jersey making it more compatible with the thicker cable knit fabric.

SPECIAL NOTE: Please contact us for more information regarding coordinating fabrics for these cable knits. Fabrics are sometimes discontinued but there’s always another option!


Steffi pattern

Style Arc Steffi Jacket

I chose a pattern that was similar to my inspiration garment. The Steffi Jacket from StyleArc was the perfect choice as it had similar seaming and required only a few changes:

1. I redrew the CF into a curved hem and omitted the zipper.

2. I wanted to add a band around the neckline instead of the collar. To do this I cut the jacket using the original pattern. Once the jacket was assembled I draped the
garment on my dress form and marked a new finished neckline. From the finished
neckline, I drafted a 1 1/4” wide band and added seam allowances.

3. I also added a band 1 1/4″ wide to CF. There is no overlap; the bands are intended to just meet at CF. I extended the bands to end at the bottom of the back flounce.

4. I straightened the sleeve hem and add a 1 1/4″ band to match the neck and CF bands.

5. I replaced the lower back panel with a long rectangle that was slashed and spread along the bottom edge to create a more flared back panel. To create the lower back panel I measured the length of the seam and cut a rectangle pattern piece 6” wide. I slashed the
rectangle at CB and then again 5” either side of CB. I spread these three slashes 3” each, which turned my rectangle into more of a U shape. When the U shape is sewn to the lower back edge it creates a flounce.

6. I also added a flat separate band (also 1 1/4″ wide) between the upper and mid back panels. This band was sewn into the seam and left loose. It helps to break up the pattern between the upper and middle back panels.

[Photos of pattern pieces coming soon.]

Layout and Cutting

The pattern was cut on the crosswise grain so the cables would run vertically. Most pieces didn’t require matching since they were separated by a contrast panel. The only pieces that were matched were the upper back, mid back and upper sleeve. I also made sure that both front panels were mirror images of each other. To do so I had to cut them in opposite directions:

Needles, Thread and Notions

3 x polyester Guttermann thread in color 239
1 x Aurifil Cotton Mako 12 weight top stitching thread in Color 1248
Cotton basting thread
5 x Elan silver hook sets approximately 1 1/2” across by 1/2” wide
Ballpoint size 70 machine needles were used in the coverstitch machine
Buttonhole spacing gauge



Elna press

Since there was so much fusing for this project, I fused everything using an Elna Press, which gives a very strong bond and covers more area at once, making the job quicker.
Alternatively, an iron can be used.

To create a good bond follow these steps:
1.  Warm the fabric first with the iron.
2.  Position the fusing. Use a lift and press motion rather than a gliding motion to fuse the
interfacing. Holding the iron in one place for approximately 15-18 seconds should create a good bond.
3.  Turn the fabric over to the right side and press again. This will draw the glue into the fabric creating a permanent bond.


I used a coverstitch machine to sew all the seams on this garment, but if you don’t have one, this project would be a great opportunity to experiment with decorative stitches in your sewing machine library.
To achieve this seam, I used all 3 needles on the coverstitch machine, and a fancy thread in the looper. The heavier thread in the looper created a stitch that matched the cables of the fabric very well.

The stitching is all done from the wrong side of the garment, so it is essential to baste all seams accurately. The basting is used as a guideline on the wrong side of the garment to help keep stitching straight when you cannot see what is happening on the right side of the garment. Practice the technique first.

I used a maximum stitch length of 4mm and pulled on the fabric slightly as I fed it into the coverstitch machine. The longer stitch length and technique of pulling on the fabric slightly built more give into the stitch, which gave it greater stretch. This was particularly critical in areas that required a lot of stretch such as the neckline and hems of the Tshirt as well as the sleeves of the jacket.

Experiment with decorative stitches in your stitch library using a heavier thread. Depending on the thickness of the thread used, you may need a top stitching needle. Try lengthening stitches to accommodate the thicker thread. Choose stitches which are not too dense.


Thread trace stitching lines on all pieces cut from cable knit fabric, as well as inside layer of the contrast pieces.


Lay inner contrast piece over wrong side of cable knit piece, lining up seam lines. Baste 1/8” away (in yellow).

Cut seam allowance off vertical seam of outer contrast layer and lay on top of right side of cable knit, lining up raw edge with original seam line of basting. Baste in place close to raw edge, being very accurate as this will become your sewing guideline. Remove all other basting.


On wrong side, coverstitch seam following the basting thread by positioning it between the first and second needle. This worked well on my coverstitch machine. Practice a sample first on your machine to determine spacing. Remove basting and press.

Wrong side up when coverstitching:

Right side:


On wrong side trim away seam allowance of contrast using applique scissors.


Open up layers of contrast panels and carefully trim away cable knit as close to stitching as possible to reduce bulk.


Most seams are done using this method, exclusive of shoulder seams on neck band and upper and lower under sleeve panel seams, which are lapped separately.

Cut seam allowance off along lower edge of upper under sleeve panel. Lap over lower under sleeve panel. Baste close to raw edge. Coverstitch from wrong side. Do this to both inner and outer contrast under sleeve sections separately.



Baste both layers of upper back band wrong sides together, along lower seam line. From
wrong side, coverstitch. Trim close to stitching.


Lay underside of upper back band behind upper back panel. Baste. Lay mid back panel along same seam and baste. Serge or zig zag seam down to 1/4” wide.


Trim off seam allowance on upper edge of upper back band.


Trim cable knit seam allowance. Baste band down along seam line. Coverstitch from wrong side, through all layers.



Finished upper back band

Attach front bands using seaming technique described above. Chalk exactly 1 1/8” away from raw edge. Baste along chalk line. Turn to wrong side and coverstitch. From right side trim close to stitching. Be extra careful to cut smoothly since this will remain a raw edge and will be the CF of the jacket.



Lap shoulder seams on neck band. Coverstitch seam. Chalk seam allowance on neck band, and remove coverstitching to within chalk marks. Tie off threads. Attach neck bands using the same technique as the front bands.



The sleeve can be tricky as it has to be turned through a skinny panel in order to achieve this type of seaming. The sleeve is wide enough to accomplish this technique. The stretchy fabric also helps.
One seam on the sleeve is done exactly as all the other seams, but the second seam has to
turn through the contrast panel in order to access the seam and trim the cable knit seam
allowance down. This is done after the second seam of the sleeve has been sewn. The seam can be accessed through the underarm area.


Construction Sequence

1. Assemble body and attach sleeves
2. Attach lower back flounce
3. Attach front bands
4. Attach neck band


Try on the garment and mark bust on the front band. One closure should sit at the bust to prevent the garment from gaping. Mark the center of the neckband.

Use a metal buttonhole spacing guide to mark 5 closure placements. The spacing guide should align with the neck and bust markings with one more marking between these two and two below the bust.

The closures should be positioned so that the edges of the front band meet but do not overlap when closed.

Chalk the position of each closure.


Use a buttonhole stitch and the same Aurifil thread to attach the closures to the front band. I used 10 buttonhole stitches per closure.

IMG_8898IMG_8898 2P1030705



I used my favorite basic T-shirt pattern, Ce Podolak’s Material Things Fearless T-shirt #109 to create a coordinate to wear with the jacket.


I sewed the shoulder seams first and then tried the T-shirt on with the jacket to see how the two necklines would sit. I wanted the T-shirt to be exposed and sit slightly higher than the jacket neckline.

To create the same raw edge style that was used on the jacket, cut the neckband with no seam allowance 1 1/8” wide. Lap the raw edges of the neckband over the raw edge of the neckline. Baste close to the raw edges of the band. Coverstitch from the wrong side pulling on the neckband as you stitch.

Attach the sleeves.

Try the garment on and pin the side seams and sleeves to fit. I found the rayon jersey was quite stretchy. Pinning the side seams after the neck and sleeves were finished allowed me to pin the fabric in slightly from the regular stitching line for a closer fit.

Fold the hems of the T-shirt and sleeves to the outside of the garment. By doing so, this
creates a raw edge to match the raw edge finish of the jacket. I left a 1 1/4” hem allowance on the hem of the T-shirt and a 3/4” hem allowance on the sleeve. Baste. Position the basting 1/8” back from the raw edge and aligned this with the first needle on the coverstitch machine.




Inspiration No. 16: Linen Love

Linen Love

by Kathryn Brenne

To see a list of all sewing tutorials, click here!

Linen is a wonderful fiber to wear in the summer months. It is cool, absorbent and breathable, and has a casual, breezy look.  I wanted to make a linen dress for myself, using the medium weight cross dyed driftwood/tan linen , and to add interest I decided to create my own eyelet lace border. Using tone on tone embroidery thread, and a new technique, I was able to create a border design that gave this simple linen dress a sophisticated appeal, and was a lot of fun to do!






Vogue V8970

Simple lines and an easy fit are best when working with linen. In general linen tends to be a looser weave, which can cause the fibers to separate under stress. I chose Vogue V8970, a simple raglan sleeve dress with front pleats, back darts, side seam pockets, collar and button front closing. It has a loose, roomy fit.


I lengthened view A, which has double pleats in the front and a fuller skirt, by 8”.  This worked well for my frame since I am 5’9” tall.  I wanted a below knee length dress with the eyelet border positioned above a narrow hem. The hem allowance was reduced to 5/8”, which made the hem on a full slightly circular skirt easier to manage.

Instead of creating box pleats for the front of the dress, I pressed the pleats flat and then
towards the side seams. This created pleats with tucks pointing inward giving a more slimming look. No pattern alteration was needed for this — it is merely a pressing technique.boxpleats
I waited to finish the inner edge of the front facing until the embroidery was complete. I didn’t want the facing to show through the embroidery eyelets. Depending on the embroidery placement and the size of garment being made, the facing could be finished narrower tapering back up to the pattern width through the waist area.


linenfabricOne of the features of linen is its tendency to wrinkle. Pressing linen when it is wet can help to keep it crisp but this feature is definitely part of the distinctive look of linen. Linen is a plant based fiber, and since it is a brittle fiber it is best stored rolled or hung.  Garments made from linen can develop permanent creases and actually wear out along the creases if they are stored folded.

I purchased 3 yards of linen, which was enough to cut a longer version of view A in size 12 and do a few test embroidery samples. I chose not to preshrink the linen but did press it.  You can prewash the linen as an alternative, to preshrink and soften it.  A web search will show just how much advice there is out there for pretreating linen, and I suggest that you study some of these suggestions and decide what works best for you.

I used a lightweight woven fusible interfacing #16510 for the collar and front facings.

Needles and Thread

For general construction I used a Universal size 70 needle.
For the machine embroidery I used a sharp size 75 needle.
Gutermann 100% polyester all purpose thread was used for construction.
Isacord 100% polyester embroidery thread in color 0874 was used for the machine embroidery.  It is important that the thread used for embroidery be 100% polyester.


Linen stretches when wet. It is best to press the garment with a hot iron while slightly damp.  After completing the embroidery I washed the dress on a gentle machine wash. I put it in the dryer for a few minutes to take some of the moisture and wrinkles away and then pressed it dry with the iron.

Linen takes a press very well.  But because it is a brittle fiber, marks from alterations to parts of the garment that have been pressed maybe difficult to remove, so be sure to perfect your muslin before working with your linen, and check your work as you go to avoid mistakes that may leave marks on your fabric.

Finishing Seams

Since linen ravels easily, serged seams or French seams are perfect options. This medium weight linen would have been too thick for French seams, so serging was a quick and easy choice. It is easy to press the serged seams after the garment is complete and also after laundering.


Linen machine washes very well. Tumble dry for a few minutes, hang for a short amount of time and then press while still damp.

Construction Tips and Techniques

For the most part I followed the pattern directions. The dress was completed other than
hemming before the embroidery was stitched.  Following is a description of the  techniques that were done differently than the pattern guide sheet.


Trim a scant 1/8” off of the under collar before beginning the collar.

Interfacing was fused to the upper collar.
To stitch the corners perfectly, use a ruler to lightly pencil the stitching line onto the
interfacing at the corners.

Stitch on the penciled line.

Trim seam allowances to 1/4”.

Turn the collar right side out and press, rolling the seam slightly towards the underside.
To edge stitch perfect corners, use an edge stitching foot and move the needle two
positions to the left. Stitch to the corner and remove the collar from the machine leaving long thread tails. Leave long thread tails at the beginning as you start stitching in the opposite direction. This prevents the corner stitch from looking slightly off or crooked. Take all thread tails through the corner stitch, unpicking one stitch if necessary. Tie off the four thread tails on the under collar. Thread the ends through a self threading needle. Feed the needle through a stitch. Pull ends tightly and the knot will disappear into the stitch. Clip thread tails.

Once complete, the corner stitching should be perfectly sharp and square.

After the front facing is attached, edge stitch the front and notch ending one stitch into the edge of the collar.
The best stitch quality is always with the good side facing up. Stop and start your edge
stitching making sure the good side is facing up. Leave long thread tails and pull them to the wrong side. Knot off, thread into a self threading needle and bury the thread tails.
At the notch of the facing and collar, finish the last stitch by hand. One stitch can join the two rows of edge stitching together.



Fuse a strip of interfacing 1” wide by the length of the pocket opening to the front and back pocket openings before beginning the pocket construction. After attaching the pocket bags, edge-stitch the front to keep it in place.




I had been wanting to try Fiber Etch® for a while. Linen was the perfect choice to try this fiber remover. The product works best on linen or cotton. It must be used with 100% polyester or synthetic thread to prevent the sodium bisulfate from eating away other areas of the garment. Test this technique on a sample first.

I purchased a cutwork embroidery design from The design I
purchased was a cutwork diamond FL749. I used tear away Floriani Wet N Gone water soluble stabilizer.


I tested out different colored threads before deciding on the sophisticated look of tone on tone embroidery.
From one of my test samples I learned that although the embroidery could stitch through two layers, the Fiber Etch® would not work on the synthetic fusible interfacing I had applied to the front facing.

After stitching out two designs side by side, I worked out the placement along the bottom of the skirt. I used pins to mark the placement area.

Attach the water soluble stabilizer to the back of the fabric to be embroidered using a
temporary spray adhesive. I hooped the fabric and the stabilizer using the grid that came with my hoop to center up my pin markings. I stitched out two motifs at a time before repositioning the hoop. After the embroidery was complete I carefully removed most of the water soluble stabilizer.


Use an eye dropper to paint the eyelets of the cutwork embroidery being careful not to
accidentally drop any Fiber Etch® onto other areas of the garment.

Use a hair dryer to dry the Fiber Etch® .


Use the iron to press the motifs. Apply heat until the eyelets turn dark brown.


The brown areas become brittle and are easily removed with an awl.


On the seams, apply a bit of the Fiber Etch® to the wrong side of the embroidery.
After removing most of the stabilizer machine wash the garment on a gentle cycle with detergent to get rid of the remaining stabilizer. This also will clean up the eyelets nicely.



The front skirt is full and ends up being on the bias by the time it gets to the side seam. Rather than easing linen into a 1 1/2” hem, which would be difficult to do, I chose to make a narrow hem, the same as for the sleeves.

To make a narrow hem, chalk a 5/8” hem allowance. Press up hem. Fold edge of hem allowance down to the fold and crease.
Pin hem in place easing in fullness if needed.

Baste narrow hem in place. Edge stitch close to the folded edge.



I enjoy making handworked buttonholes. There were nine buttonholes down the front of this dress.

Chalk the center of each horizontal buttonhole. If you were careful cutting out the fronts, the center of the buttonholes should lay perfectly on grain.


I used the rectangle bound buttonhole stitch on my machine to outline a narrow square ended buttonhole.  Reduce the stitch length to .6 mm and the width, which reduces the width of the rectangle,to 2 mm.  Apply a small bead of Fray Check down the center of the stitching. Let dry and then cut down the center.


Work a buttonhole stitch using a double strand of Gutermann 100% polyester all purpose
sewing thread. I take three stitches across each end to create a square buttonhole.


Good side of the buttonhole


Wrong side of the buttonhole


I found that the front of the dress pulled open a little bit due to the weight of the pleats. To keep it closed I made a self covered snap. This is a techniques I learned from British couturier Jon Moore.

Use an awl to put a small hole in a scrap of fabric.


Position the male portion of the snap through the hole.


Close the snap with the female portion. Trim the scrap to a circle.


With the snap still closed, sew a gathering stitch around the perimeter of the circle.


Pull up the gathering thread and oversew the back of the snap with a few stitches before
ending off.


Repeat the process, this time using the finished side of the snap to close the other half of the snap.


Pull up the gathering thread.


Finished snap.


Give the finished snap a press to flatten the back.


Sew the finished snap between the two waist buttons on the dress.


I used a very small catch stitch to sew the facing to the waist of the dress. Be careful to only pick up the tiniest thread; otherwise stitches will show through on the good side of the garment.


Inspiration No. 15: Silk Velvet Luxury

Silk Velvet Luxury

by Kathryn Brenne

To see a list of all sewing tutorials, click here!

img_3990bSilk velvet has a wonderful hand and drape. Previously thought of as an eveningwear fabric, velvet is now used by designers in daytime wear as well. It is perfect for soft trousers, drapey jackets, skirts, tunic tops, bias cut slip dresses and accessories. With its reputation for being slippery and difficult to handle, sew and press, velvet sends some home sewists running in the opposite direction! But here we will explore a few techniques to help you control this luxurious fabric.  Additionally, you’ll learn how to use one of the perceived negative qualities of velvet–its ability to crush easily or mar when pressed–to create unique garment details and textures.



For this tutorial I chose Vogue v9153 view B, a tunic top pattern, to create a soft jacket with an asymmetrical hem.  I made some alterations to the pattern and construction techniques which work better for the velvet:
1. I joined the Front Facing to the Front along the stitching line. This eliminated a seam down the front edge of the garment.
2. I drew on all stitching lines and hem fold lines. The garment was thread traced leaving very wide seam allowances around all pieces. This was helpful when joining the slippery seams together.
3. The Collar was cut on the bias.
4.  A hem allowance of 2” was added to the Fronts and Lower Right Front.  A 2” wide hem
allowance was drafted and cut as a separate pattern piece for the Back. A separate hem
facing was the easiest way to handle the curved shaping of the Back.
5. The pleat in the hem of the Sleeve was omitted.
6. The garment was lined. I used the same pattern pieces to cut the lining.
7. Interfacing was omitted. Instead the garment was backed with silk organza, which added body to the soft velvet and allowed me to invisibly hem the garment without any stitches showing through on the garment.
8. The buttonholes were converted to covered snaps and fabric covered buttons.


fabricI purchased 3 yards of velvet in color heliotrope, 3.5 yards of silk organza in color 196 and 3.5 yards of silk habotai in color 157. The silk organza was used to back the velvet and the silk habotai, a nice lightweight silk, was perfect for the lining, since the jacket has an easy, loose fit. The silk habotai helps the garment to stay in place when worn whereas a smooth, slippery silk lining such as charmeuse would have allowed the garment to shift around too much. I also used a French Collar Canvas from my stash to support the collar.





Velvet can be crushed very easily. Care must be taken when pressing. To preshrink the fabric and remove any wrinkles from shipping, I carefully pinned the edge of the fabric to my shower rod. Using a garment steamer I carefully steamed the wrong side of
the fabric, holding the steamer a few inches away. I allowed the fabric to hang to dry and then pinned the opposite end to the rod to finish steaming the other end. Test this
technique on a corner first to ensure that you do not leave any marks or streaks on the right side of the fabric. If you do not have a fabric steamer, alternatively you could try steaming the fabric with steam from an electric kettle. Be careful that water does not land on the fabric.

To preshrink the organza and silk lining I steam pressed the fabrics.

French Collar Canvas is very stiff. To soften it I washed a strip of it with towels and dried in the dryer. Some sizing will remain. When it is just damp, press flat to finish drying. Be careful not to distort the grain, which is easily visible, when pressing.


–A size 70 Universal sewing machine needle, suitable for all fabrics.
–A size 9 long darner for thread tracing.
–Cotton basting thread for thread tracing and basting seams. (Two colors: white for thread tracing and yellow to baste the garment seams together.)
–100% kimono silk thread 100 weight for stab stitching.
–Gutermann 100% polyester all purpose thread for machine sewing.
–A walking foot to help the fabric feed evenly when machine stitching.
–4 x 1 1/4” metal covered button forms
–4 x 15mm black metal snaps

Layout, Cutting and Preparation

Velvet has a nap. Brush your hand over the fabric. It will feel smooth in one direction and rough in the other. The garment will appear darker and richer with the nap running upward and shiny with the nap running downward. I chose to lay out the pattern pieces with the nap running up.

Velvet must be cut as a single layer with the wrong side facing up. Lay out the pattern pieces with all of them running in the same direction and leaving large spaces
between each pattern piece. Note: Be sure to layout pattern pieces with the wrong side of the tissue paper facing up; otherwise the asymmetrical garment will be cut in reverse as the fabric has been laid out wrong side up.

It is helpful to leave a selvedge edge near all main pattern pieces. This easily shows the grain line, which is useful later when the sections are underlined.

1. Pin the tissue paper in place placing pins approximately 4” apart just to hold the pattern in place. Pins can leave marks in the velvet so be careful not to extend the tip of the pin beyond the stitching line.

2. Rough cut around the pattern pieces leaving a generous one to two inches beyond the
tissue paper pattern. As mentioned, try to keep the selvedge along one edge if possible. Do not forget to allow a generous 2” hem allowance beyond the hem fold line.

p1030246b.jpg3. Working from the wrong side of the fabric place pins directly along the stitching lines leaving about 1 1/2” between each pin. Place pins at 90º to the stitching lines when marking circles and notches. Place a row of pins along the new center front fold line and hem lines. The right Front and Back dart can be pinned along the stitching line.

p10302484. Turn the sections over. The pins, which were placed along the stitching and hem fold lines will outline the garment pieces. Using a long darner and white cotton basting thread, thread trace the garment with the tissue paper pattern still in place. Pick up a few stitches at a time using a running stitch to go from pin to pin. Once the thread tracing is complete, the garment has been outlined on the right side of the fabric. Remove the tissue paper pattern.


To cut the silk organza underlining, lay the silk organza out in a single layer. Lay the rough cut garment sections on top of the silk organza. If you were able to keep a selvedge when rough cutting the garment sections, this can now be used to align the grainline of the velvet with the grainline of the organza. If you do not have a selvedge, use the
tissue paper pattern as a guideline by laying it over the velvet to align the grain lines.
1. Pin the velvet to the organza being careful not to pin beyond the stitching lines or the hem fold line. Pin the dart in place along the stitching line. Pin center Front.
2. Rough cut the organza around the velvet sections.
3. Working with the velvet facing up, use fine kimono silk thread to stab stitch the velvet to the organza along the stitching lines, hem line, center Front and darts. Click here for stab stitch instructions. Stitches will disappear into the pile of the fabric on the right side but will hold the two layers of fabric together. The velvet is now underlined and can be treated as one layer.

Stay Tape

The Front and Back neck edges, Front shoulder and Center Front fold lines are all stayed with a tape, and the selvedges of the silk lining work perfectly for this use since it is a thin and tightly woven fabric. Cut strips 1/2″ wide from your silk habotai lining fabric.

Place the woven edge of the tape in towards the body of the garment and the cut edge facing out. Center the stay tape over the thread tracing and stab stitching. Pin to hold.
Working from the right side of the velvet, stab stitch the stay tapes in place. Position the stab stitching just to the outside of the thread tracing, inside the seam allowances.  The Front fold line, neck and shoulder as well as the Back neck should all be stay taped.

Pressing Tips

Extreme caution must be exercised when pressing velvet. It can be marked so easily and once marked, it cannot be removed. Practice pressing on scraps first. I covered my ironing board with a length of velveteen to protect the pile of the velvet. I experimented with a needle board but was not happy with the results. Needle boards tend to be small. Mine is 4” x 10”. Although I was careful, when testing a sample seam, the finished corners of the needle board ended up leaving an impression in the velvet. I also experimented with a Velva Board. Although the Velva Board did not crush the pile, it did leave spotty marks on the velvet.

In the end I found it best to cover any pressing aids such as my ham and seam roll with scraps of the velvet, positioning the section to be pressed over the scrap and lightly steaming, holding the iron a good 10” back from the fabric. Be sure to practice this technique as a shot of steam directly on or too close to the velvet can permanently mark the fabric. With a bit of moisture from the steam in the fabric, I used my fingers to gently finger press the seams.


I decided to try my hand at embossing velvet. Test this technique out on a sample first before beginning on yardage.
p1030438.jpgI used a wood and rubber stamp block, which I purchased at a local craft store. My stamp was 5 3/4” x 4 1/2” by HERO ARTS® RUBBER STAMP and called FABULOUS FLOURISH.
Lay the stamp with the rubber facing up on your ironing board. Place the velvet face down over the stamp. Lightly mist the back of the velvet with water. Place the iron directly down over the velvet and rubber stamp. Do not move the iron around. It needs to sit on top of the velvet until the velvet is dry, which took approximately 18 seconds. Lift the velvet up. You will be left with the design embossed into the velvet.
I worked out a motif repeat where I flipped the stamp to mirror image the design across a row. I then did subsequent rows on top of the previous row but staggered the repeat by half of a design.
The Lower Right Front panel and Collar were cut from embossed velvet. Embossed scraps were used to cover the buttons. I chose a section of the stamp that I wanted to use for the buttons and
used only that portion for embossing the button scraps.
The embossing is semi-permanent. If steam is applied to the embossing the crushed nap, which created the embossed design, will lift and become a little less crisp.

General Construction

dressform5I followed the pattern guide instructions for most of the general construction. I omitted any directions that created the tie and gathering on the right Front. The velvet was too bulky to pull up nicely and after playing with the garment I decided to omit the tie, which gave me several options for positioning the Lower Right Front when I wore the garment.


The darts were sewn in the Front and Back before the side seam was joined together. Leave long thread tails and pull them through to the wrong side to knot off.


Place the dart over a ham, which has been covered with a scrap of velvet. Steam and finger press the dart toward the hem.


Use an awl or the tip of a seam ripper to coax the nap of the pile out of the stitching.



Seams were basted together to prevent them from shifting. I engaged the dual feed foot on my Bernina sewing machine but a walking foot would also work as well when stitching the seams together. Use a stitch length of 2.5mm to sew the seams.
Lightly steam seams open and finger press using techniques described above.
Chalk a 5/8” seam allowance onto the velvet and use pinking shears to trim away excess
fabric. Both the velvet and the underlining silk organza are trimmed at the same time.



The Collar technique I used is one I learned from British couturier Jon Moore. It is a traditional couture Collar technique and works extremely well in velvet.

1. Trace out the Under Collar with no seam allowances on a piece of bias cut collar canvas. Rough cut the collar canvas with approximately 3/4” seam allowance around all sides.

2. Place the bias cut collar canvas onto the thread traced Under Collar, which has also been cut on the bias. Baste around the three outer edges and pin the neck edge.



3. Pad stitch the Under Collar beginning at the outer edge working your way towards the neck edge. Move pins if necessary to build roll into the collar. The pad stitching will be hidden in the nap of the velvet on the Under Collar.


4. Press the collar canvas and Under Collar flat. Don’t worry, shape has been built into the collar with the pad stitching! Do not use steam as it may affect the embossing.


5. Pin the original pattern back onto the prepared Under Collar redrawing any pencil lines, which have shifted.


6. Trim the outer 3 edges of the Under Collar along the pencil line. This should be a smooth, even and neat cut as it will become the edge that shapes the Upper Collar. These 3 outer edges have no seam allowance and are cut on the stitching line.


7. Lay the prepared Under Collar onto a piece of bias cut fabric, which will be used for the Upper Collar. Wrap the Upper Collar over the outer edge of the Under Collar. Baste in place.


8. Chalk an even 1/2” along the outer edge of the Collar. Trim excess fabric away.


9. Catch stitch over the cut outer edge of the Upper Collar sewing it to the Under Collar.


10. Clip a small V out of the corners of the Upper Collar to reduce bulk.


11. Fold the outer edge of the Upper Collar down on a slight angle.


12. Fold the edges of the Upper Collar over the Under Collar and pin. Baste. Trim to an even 1/2” and catch stitch to under Under Collar.

Using this technique the Upper Collar will have perfectly sharp corners.


Finished Under Collar with catch stitching

11. Wrap finished Collar around a ham, pin and leave to set until ready to insert into the


Attaching the Collar to the Garment

Fold the new Front Facing, which was cut as one with the Front of the garment back on itself along the foldline. Stitch an “L” from the folded edge to center front and then up at a 90º angle.


Clip into the corner of the L, which will allow you to turn it right side out.
Attach the prepared Collar to the neck edge of the prepared garment. The edges of the Collar will fit into the sewn L at center front. I hand stitched the Collar to the garment but this step can be machine sewn if you wish. Bring the Facing up over the edge of the Collar and slip stitch in place.



I like to set my sleeves by hand. To begin I run two rows of basting around the sleeve cap and pull them up slightly.
Pin the sleeve into the armsyce, working on a dress form. On the velvet I used very sharp, fine pins so that they would not mark the velvet. Watch to see that the sleeve is hanging properly. Rotate the notch at the top of the sleeve slightly if needed to make the sleeve hang straight. If the seam at the underarm does not match up perfectly with the garment, this is not critical. It is more important that the sleeve hang properly.
Baste the sleeve in place. Backstitch the sleeve to the garment.

Shoulder Pads and Sleeve Heads

A small shoulder pad and sleeve head were inserted into the garment.  Reference this article to see how the shoulder pad was basted to the shoulder seam allowances. I made a small sleeve head from an oval shaped piece of lambswool. Alternatively Warm and Natural quilt batting could work.


For the Back hem, I chose to cut a Hem Facing out of velvet. The Hem Facing was backed to silk organza, basted to the lower edge of the Back before the side seams were sewn.
Once the side seams were sewn, the hem was turned up and pinned in place from the outside of the garment.


Working on a dress stand adjust the hem line as needed. I found that it was best to go with my eye because some of the marked hemlines appeared uneven on the asymmetrical hem line. Fold miters into the hem allowance of the front points.
Trim hem allowance to an even 2” and pink the edge.
Hem stitch to the organza. By hem stitching to the organza there is no risk of stitches showing through to the right side of the velvet. Slip stitch the miters in place.
I omitted the tuck detail in the sleeve hem. Instead I turned up a 2” hem allowance and hem-stitched in place.



Closures on velvet can be tricky! For this jacket I used 1 1/4” metal button forms covered with embossed velvet. Behind the buttons I used snaps covered with silk lining.
I embossed small scraps of velvet to cut the circles to cover the metal button forms. I tried to place the same motif on each button so all of the buttons would match.
The male portion of the snap was sewn to the right Front Facing and the female side to the left Front.




As mentioned, I used silk Habotai for the lining. The garment has a loose, easy fit and I wanted a lining with a bit of grip to it. A charmeuse lining would have been too slippery.
Use the same pattern to cut and sew the lining together. Working on a dress stand with the garment turned inside out, use the technique outlined in this article to pin the lining in place and set it in by hand. Attach the lining to the hem allowance at the bottom of the garment with a catch stitch.

Other Techniques for Working with Velvet

I did not use these techniques for this project but have included them as they will be helpful when making other garments.

Under stitching

Because it is difficult to press velvet flat, under stitching can be used to hold edges in place. This technique could be used along a neckline or facing.
Sew seam, steam seam open and then finger press to one side.



Use a tiny prick stitch to hold seam allowances in place on the one side. A prick stitch is a tiny back stitch. Stitches should be placed approximately 3/16” apart.



Cover the buttonhole area with a single layer of Aqua Film stabilizer.


Machine stitch a buttonhole through the Aqua Film and fabric.


Gently tear away the stabilizer.


Use a button hole chisel to cut open the buttonhole.


Scarf and Texture

Using one of velvet’s potentially negative characteristics, it’s ability to crush easily, I created this crinkled, textured scarf from just 1/4 yard of velvet. The scarf is cut across the width of the fabric.

Working with the velvet nap side down against the ironing board, hand pleat the fabric. I left a few inches flat on either side for seaming.


Use the iron to press the pleats flat.


Pleats are very random and irregular.



Fold the fabric in half right sides together and pin. Baste.


Sew the seam using a walking foot. Leave an opening in the seam to turn the scarf right side out.



Center the seam down the middle of the scarf. Press the seam allowance open.


Baste across the end of the scarf, flattening out the previously pressed pleats. Stitch. Turn the scarf right side out through the opening in the long seam. Slip stitch the opening closed. Arrange the area around the seam into pleats and press flat. Pleat the ends of the scarf and press.


Care and Cleaning

All of the fabrics used in this project require dry cleaning. Velvet is easily marked so I will wear this garment with care. It is best to avoid having to clean it for as long as possible by wearing something underneath, either a dress or camisole.


Inspiration No. 14: Mud Silk Adventures

Mud Silk Adventures

by Kathryn Brenne

To see a list of all sewing tutorials, click here!

p1030222aMud Silk has been produced in the Guangdong Province of China since the Ming Dynasty. Using natural resources of sun, water and silt from the river, the Chinese have perfected a technique for creating a fabric that is very comfortable to wear. It repels water, is breathable, anti-bacterial, quick drying and offers some UV protection making it particularly suitable for hot, humid climates.

The process involves dying a base fabric. Originally the color was obtained from a yam-like vegetable only found in this area of China. It produced an orange, umber color.  Today other tannin-rich vegetable dyes are used to give a wide range of color variations. The fabric can be dyed several times depending on the intensity of color desired. After dying, the fabric is laid out in fields to dry. One side mudsilk_026G004wineof the fabric is coated with silt from the nearby Pearl River delta. It is left to bake in the sun for up to a week.  Through a combination of heat from the sun, moisture from the dew, silt found in this portion of the river and tannins in the dye, a chemical reaction is created in which the silt binds itself to the fabric. These conditions are only found during a few months of the year so production is limited. After baking in the sun, the fabric is washed in the nearby river and then given a finish, which contains anthracite coal.

The finished fabric is two toned. One side usually has a black, glossy finish while the other side is colored. The coloring can be streaky, adding to its beauty. As the fabric is used, worn and washed it takes on a crinkly appearance. This characteristic is quite attractive as it allows the undertone or opposite side of the fabric to show through. Mud Silk lends itself well to reversible garments.

The process of making the fabric creates a crisp fabric with a slightly papery hand. It is suitable for jackets, pants, and loose fitting tops. Single layer and reversible garments are ideal. Bias bindings, Hong Kong and flat felled seam finishes allow the garment to be reversible.

The process of making Mud Silk had almost become obsolete during the Cultural Revolution, but luckily several designers with Asian roots have revived the fabric and its production continues. I designed Vogue V9217 with Mud Silk in mind. The sample garments for the pattern envelope were all sewn from Mud Silk.


Although most Mud Silk is lightweight and crisp, a thin layer of silt fills the weave of the fabric making it a challenge to sew at times. A very sharp Jeans needle in a size 70 is the best choice.  The shaft of a Jeans needle is strong and the size 70 leaves the smallest hole possible in the fabric.