Inspiration No. 9 Diving into Scuba

Diving into Scuba

by Kathryn Brenne


Scuba/neoprene knit fabrics have become very popular in the past few years. Available in different weights and fiber contents, scuba/neoprene fabrics typically have a spongy feel similar to lightweight neoprene found in wetsuits but they are specifically made for womenswear. Most scuba/neoprene fabrics have a high content of polyester or nylon, but others can include rayon, cotton, wool, and almost all have lycra or spandex. Scuba has a doubleknit construction with varying amounts of stretch in both width and/or length but they are all quite stable. Because of its characteristics, it is best suited for simple, structured designs including dresses, jackets, skirts, leggings and jackets.

Linda was very excited when she found this Car0lina Herrera neoprene beauty and we felt is was perfect for this inspiration article. With several wedding-related events coming up, I chose to make a simple Ralph Rucci dress, V1404, which was perfectly suited to this beautiful fabric.

I chose V1404 because of its shape. The design is suitable for a fabric with some substance in order to maintain the shape of the skirt, and this scuba knit was the perfect choice. The finished garment has a smooth appearance and the skirt stands away nicely from the body. Scuba knit can be warm to wear but the short sleeve design has been quite comfortable in the heat of summer weather.

There are so many fun and interesting details in this dress pattern — pockets, tie belt and quilted hem band, and the combination of the fabric, print and design have created a winner. I can’t count the number of compliments I have received, and this has become my go-to summer dress!

[Linda’s note: scroll down past the photos for all the tips and techniques!]


Fabric Prep

Whenever working with a new fabric I always test a 6” swatch before deciding how to care for the fabric. I found that scuba knit is very easy to care for; simply toss it in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. I put it in the dryer for a couple of minutes to remove a few wrinkles and then hung it to dry. A light pressing and it was ready to go. There was no shrinkage or change to the fabric.

Layout and Cutting

This particular scuba knit had a large floral print concentrated down the center of the fabric. The edges of the fabric were mostly off white and since stretch of the fabric was very stable, it allowed me to cut it on the crosswise grain and position the flowers through the waist and skirt of the dress. I used the plain edges of the fabric to cut the upper body and hem band pattern pieces which made very good use of the fabric. I cut the entire dress in a size 12 from two yards of fabric.


I used a single layer layout for cutting. After cutting one pattern piece the pattern was flipped over to cut the other piece. The print was large and varied so no matching was necessary. I made sure that no spot or leaf was placed directly over the bust point, to avoid a bulls eye effect. I used a rotary cutter with a new blade and weights to cut the fabric.


Notions, Thread and Needles

I had a pretty closed end white invisible zipper with lacy tape in my stash, which I used for the back closure. The pattern calls for a 22” zipper.

100% Polyester all purpose sewing thread is suitable for all construction. I used yellow thread, which matched the print but contrasted with the off white, to highlight all of the stitching and make it stand out.

A microtex size 70 needle was used throughout.

I used a hook and eye to close the top of the zipper.


No interfacing was used in this garment. The fabric is substantial on its own with limited stretch so no interfacing was required. All edges at the neck, sleeve and hem, which may have required interfacing, are finished with binding instead.

Machine Set Up

Straight stitching was used throughout for all of the construction. To obtain the best quality straight stitch, a straight stitch throat plate was used along with a 1/4” foot.


The needle can only be used in the center position but my foot has markings, which allow it to be matched up to edges as I am stitching. A stitch length of 3 mm highlights the stitching.


Scuba knit can be pressed with an iron on a nylon setting. It the heat is too high, it may damage the fabric, so please test a sample to avoid problems. Steam can be used.


Lapped Seams

Lapped seam construction is perfect for scuba knit and other non-raveling fabrics. Raw edges are exposed on the right side of the garment. I positioned the pattern pieces so that right Front overlapped left, left Back overlapped right, Side panel overlapped Front and Back, dress overlapped Hem Band and bodice overlapped sleeve.

To make a lapped seam remove the seam allowance from the overlapping garment piece. Chalk the 5/8” stitching line on the underlapping garment piece.


Pin the overlapping edge to the chalked stitching line of the underlapped section.


Baste the layers together.


Edge stitch and then topstitch the layers together. Topstitching is placed 1/4” away from edge stitching.


After lapped seams have been edge stitched and topstitched, use a pair of appliqué scissors to trim the underlap close to the stitching line (on the wrong side).



To sew a dart using lapped seam construction remove the seam allowance from the upper leg of the dart. Use a rotary cutter to get a nice straight, clean cut edge.


Then use a small, sharp scissors to cut all of the way to the tip of the dart.


Overlap and pin the upper edge of the dart to the stitching line of the underlap.


Stitch the dart all of the way to the tip.


Leave long thread tails, which can then be pulled to the inside of the garment and knotted off.


Weave the thread tails back into the stitching on the inside of the garment.


A small dab of Fray Check on the ends of the cut tails will prevent them from working their way out.


Trim the underlap to 1/4”.


Special note: The Front side seam of the bodice overlaps the Back bodice. The seam allowance on the Front at the side seam is removed. For this reason, stop stitching the dart a wide 5/8” back from the side seam. If you stitch to the end, the stitches will be cut when preparing the overlapping edge for the side seam.


Use a coordinating colored thread to hand sew the tip of the dart invisibly to the wrong side of the dress Front. The tip of the dart could be a weak point and this bit of extra stitching will reinforce the machine stitching.



To bind the neck, pocket, sleeve and hem bands, cut lengthwise strips of scuba knit 1 1/4” wide.  Cut these close to the selvedge, not on it, as sometimes the selvedge can be a bit distorted.  Using the pattern pieces as a guideline, cut lengths of binding for each edge allowing a little extra at the ends ‘just in case.’

Pin one edge of the binding  3/8” in from the raw edge of the fabric piece to be bound.  Baste.  Wrap the binding around the edge snuggly and pin to hold.

The binding should lay flat on the garment.  Around the neck edge it should pull in just a bit to form a smooth round curve.

Edge stitch.

Use a pair of appliqué scissors to trim the back of the binding close to the stitching.

Side Panel and Pocket

Prepare the Side panel by attaching the waistband using lapped seam construction. Pin and baste the Side panel to the Front and Back of the garment.


Edge stitch and topstitch the Side panel.


Prepare the upper edge of the Pocket by attaching the Pocket binding. Wrap the binding around the top edge of the Pocket and edge stitch. Use appliqué scissors to trim the back of the binding close to the stitching.


Position Pocket onto Side panel at markings. Baste. Edge stitch and top stitch.


When beginning to stitch on a thick area of the garment, the machine will sometimes take several small stitches. To prevent this from happening use a height compensator. The height compensator can be placed behind the foot to bring it to the same level as the thick area. Once the machine begins stitching and is over the thick part, the height compensator can be removed.


Neck Edge and Zipper

Remove the seam allowance from the neck edge after the shoulders have been sewn.


Stay stitch the neck edge 1/8” away from the cut edge.


Remove the seam allowance from the left Back garment.


Mark 21” down from the neck and remove an extra 1/4” from the left Back for the zipper. Remove the seam allowance from the right Back only in the zipper area.


As per previous instructions, lap the lower part of the Back seam.


My zipper had quite a bit of extra length beyond the zipper stop. I trimmed the excess away in a rounded shape, which matched the scalloped edge of the zipper tape.


Pin the zipper tape to the left Back opening, positioning the top of the zipper 3/8” from the cut neck edge.


On the inside of the garment the cut edge of the zipper opening will be positioned close to the zipper coil. Baste.


Pin and baste the other side of the zipper tape to the right Back paying particular attention when matching up the waistband from both sides of the Back.


Once the zipper has been basted in place, close the zipper and check the position of the waistband to ensure that everything looks straight.


Attach the zipper to the garment with two rows of stitching. Where you position the rows of stitching will depend on the design of your zipper tape. Two rows of stitching side by side are stronger and more secure than two rows on top of each other. Try and position stitching on a solid portion of the lacy tape.


Neck Binding

Pin one edge of the neck binding to the neck edge. Leave 1/2” extending beyond the zipper. Fold this back on itself to give a nice clean finish to the ends of the neck binding. Wrap the binding around the edge. Baste. Edge stitch the binding. Trim the inside of the binding close to the stitching.


There is a small opening on each end of the neck binding where it folds in on itself. Insert a hook into the left opening and an eye into the other. Take a few stitches by hand to sew the hook and eye to the binding. With the hook and eye sitting inside the binding, the metal closure does not dig into your neck when worn.



Prepare the sleeve by lapping the underarm seam and attaching the sleeve hem binding to the lower edge. Hand baste the stitching line along the upper edge of the sleeve.


Remove the seam allowance from the armsyce of the garment. Pin the sleeve into the armsyce aligning notches. The cut edge of the garment will sit on the line of hand basting. Edge stitch and top stitch.


Quilted Hem Band

Prepare the Hem Band for quilting by lapping seams to make one continuous long band. Baste the two layers of the Band together along the upper and lower edges. Thread trace the side seam markings.


Using the 1/4” foot as a guide randomly stitch rows of quilting at different angles covering the entire Band. I used the securing stitch feature on my machine, which anchors the stitch at the beginning and end of each row with a knot. If I was ending along the bottom edge of the Band, which is finished with binding, I didn’t bother knotting off the threads.

The process of quilting the Hem Band does take some time to do but it is fun and definitely becomes a feature of the dress. The quilting stiffens the Hem Band, giving it some weight and helping the hemline to stand away from the dress.


To make binding for the bottom of the dress, I cut strips of fabric 1 1/4” wide. Pin binding to lower edge of Hem Band.


When strips have to be pieced, cut the overlapping strip at a 45 degree angle and lap it over the under layer. Baste the binding to the bottom edge of the Hem Band. Wrap the binding around the edge, baste through all layers. Edge stitch. Trim the back of the binding close to the stitching.


Overlap the dress onto the prepared Hem Band. Baste. Edge stitch and top stitch.



The ties for the dress were made from two layers of fabric. Remove all seam allowances from the ties and baste the two layers together.

Pin the ties to the waistband stopping 3” back from either side of the zipper. Edge stitch the loose ends of the ties.


Edge stitch the ties to the waistband.


Having stopped the edge stitching of the ties to the waistband 3” back on either side of the zipper allows them to be tied in a bow at the back of the dress.


Inspiration No. 8 Falling for Faux

Falling for Faux

by Kathryn Brenne


To read more about Kathryn’s handbag, see our leather tutorial! This version is made with stingray embossed cowhide, and has a bit more hardware and a side zip.

With my reputation as a leather expert, I was a little hesitant when Linda asked if I would consider writing an article about working with faux leather. I am guessing she was probably a bit reluctant to ask me but suggested she would put some samples in the mail to see what I thought. The samples arrived and they were wonderful! I fell in love with the white/gold faux leather. The color is beautiful, the fabric is very soft, and it has a slight texture to give it a ‘leather’ look. While working on the project, each of my three daughters admired the jacket and were surprised to find out that it wasn’t leather.


Thinking back to a pair of pleather jeans my oldest daughter wore to a high school dance many years ago, I remembered one of the drawbacks of some faux leather is that it does not breathe like real leather. I decided to combine the faux leather with a nubby textured sweater knit, which allows the jacket to breathe. Also, the combination of fabric and faux leather makes the faux seem more ‘real’.





Many of the techniques I use for sewing with leather also apply to vinyl or faux leather fabrics. Working with faux leather allows you the opportunity to try these techniques at a fraction of the cost. Once you gain confidence in working with faux, perhaps you will want to try your hand at sewing with real leather.


The Fabric

Faux leather is ideal for accessories and trims as well as garments. Because it can be
purchased by the yard rather than by the skin, it is possible to cut large or long pieces from a length of fabric. Consider using faux for the front of pants or leggings, the front or panels of a sweater or top, a straight skirt, handbags or for accents for a fabric project. It combines beautifully with sweater and ponte knits. It is also the perfect solution for people who do not wear leather. Faux leather will not wear quite as well as real leather and like real leather it scratches easily, so you might want to consider this before placing it in areas of high stress such as elbows or the seat of pants.

The Pattern

I chose Butterick B6169 because its smaller pattern pieces allowed me to replace some of the garment sections with faux leather to give it the look of a real leather garment.
For my jacket I cut the Front, Front Facing, Side Front, Back Neck Facing, Welt Pocket and
Upper Sleeve from the faux leather. The remainder of the garment sections were cut from the sweater knit. The pocket bags and lining were cut from stretch silk charmeuse in EOS fabric #41032 color # 127. The stretch silk charmeuse added a touch of
luxury and was the perfect complement to the sweater knit, which has some stretch.

Fabric Prep

Faux leather can be carefully pressed from the wrong side with a warm iron. Always test on a scrap first. Too much heat can damage the synthetic fiber. To remove any creases or wrinkles from the fabric press the wrong side of the fabric or put the fabric in the dryer for a few minutes with some damp towels to soften. Remove from the dryer and hang. You will be surprised at how quickly the wrinkles disappear!

To preshrink the sweater knit I steamed it with a damp press cloth and hung it to dry.

Layout and Cutting

The sweater knit had a predominant crosswise stripe, which appeared to be crooked and angled down off grain. This can happen with some knits, which are knit in a tube and then cut to create a selvedge edge. Instead of aligning the pattern pieces with the lengthwise grain, I added a crosswise grain line at 90 degrees to the marked grain line and used this to place the pattern pieces on the crosswise stripe. Once assembled the stripes appeared to be straight across the garment.
Always cut faux leather with the right side facing up, and as a single layer. Instead of using pins, which leave holes or marks in the faux leather, use weights. To cut both fabrics use a rotary cutter for more accurate results.


A beautiful Riri satin tape separating zipper was the perfect complement to the white/gold faux leather.

Wonder Clips are used instead of pins to hold layers together.

Double sided Wonder Tape is used to hold seam allowances flat.

100% Polyester all purpose sewing thread is suitable for both the knit and faux leather fabrics.

A Universal size 70 needle was used for all machine stitching. It left the smallest hole possible in this weight of faux leather.


A fusible interfacing can be used with faux leather but be careful to use one that fuses quickly and at a lower temperature. We used a featherweight fusible EOS #16512  which added a bit of stability to the faux leather and prevented the seam allowances from showing through. Interfacing was use on the Fronts, Front Facings, Back Neck Facing, pocket Welts and hem allowances. Cut 2″ wide strips on the cross grain to use for the hem interfacings.

Machine Set Up

Use the smallest Universal needle possible for sewing the faux leather. A Universal needle will pierce the vinyl without making a large hole. As mentioned, I used a size 70 needle for all of the construction.
A Teflon presser foot was used to prevent the faux leather from sticking to the presser foot. I used a machine that has a built in walking foot. This helps the fabric to feed evenly.


For sewing knit pieces to knit pieces I used a slight zig zag with a stitch width of .5 mm and a stitch length of 2.5 mm. A straight stitch with a stitch length of 3 mm was used to sew the faux leather to other faux leather or knit pieces. Too short a stitch length creates too many holes close together, which could weaken the faux leather. For topstitching I used a straight stitch with a length of 3.5 mm.

Zipper insertion

The zipper was too long so I shortened it myself using a pair of side cutters and pliers.
To shorten a zipper, mark the correct length with chalk on the zipper tape.

Cut off the excess length 1 1/4″ above the chalk mark.
Use the side cutters to carefully open up the zipper stoppers at the end of the original zipper. Be careful not to open them up too much or they will break in half. Open each stopper just enough to remove it from the zipper tape.
Practice removing zipper teeth from the excess tape. Grab a tooth with the pliers and using a twist and pull motion remove the teeth one at a time. If the teeth are difficult to remove or the zipper tape is becoming damaged, use the side cutters to cut the teeth away, avoiding the zipper tape.

Once the teeth have been removed from the zipper tape, position the zipper stoppers close to the last teeth. Use the pliers to tighten the stoppers.
Pink the end of the tape to prevent it from fraying.
Instead of using pins, which would leave holes in the faux leather I used double sided Wonder Tape and Wonder Clips. These handy clips held layers together in place of pins.
Tape the zipper to the middle Front.
Fold in the top corners of the zipper tape to conceal the raw edge. Machine baste to hold the zipper in place.
The Side Front panel is clipped to the Front panel, sandwiching the zipper between the two.
The other side of the zipper is sandwiched between the opposite Front and Front Facing panels.



Leave enough room between the seam and the zipper teeth to allow the zipper pull to move smoothly up and down.

Welt Pockets

The welt pockets were inserted as per the pattern instructions. After sewing the ends of the welts, I used Wonder Tape to hold the edges together while I machine basted them.
I pinked the edges of the pocket bags to soften them.
The welts were inserted into the middle Front seam allowance. I left long threads from the topstitching, pulled these through and tied them off underneath to avoid too much backstitching in the faux leather.


Finishing the Neck and Front Edges

After attaching the Front and Back Neck Facings to the jacket, clip into the neck edge seam allowance about 3/8”. Clipping on an angle and not all the way to the stitching line will help to create a smooth neckline.
Clip corners on an angle.
Use a point turner to poke out corners and smooth seam allowances in the corner area.
Corners can be lightly hammered with a rubber mallet.

Find where the break point is on the front edge of the jacket. If the jacket were to be worn open the break point is where the collar begins to roll. Trim seam allowances along the Front edges, grading seams and reversing the grade at the break point. On a graded seam allowance, the longer trimmed seam allowance edge is always against the public side of the garment. Along the Front edge of the jacket the longest edge will change right at the break point. In other words, below the break point the Facing side of the garment will be the shorter seam allowance, while above the break point the Facing side of the garment will be the longer seam allowance.



Topstitching will help keep all seams laying flat. Tape the seams with Wonder Tape to prevent the top layer from shifting.

The faux leather may drag a bit under the sewing foot. To prevent this from happening, stop periodically, lift the presser foot and smooth the work out.

After topstitching a seam, grade the seam by trimming back the knit seam allowance close to the stitching and trimming the faux leather seam allowance to just a touch longer than the knit.
Topstitch Front edges and around the Back neck.
Stop at the corners and leave long thread tails. Tie off threads and pull them between the layers. This creates very clean, square corners in the topstitching.
The best stitch quality always occurs with the right side of the fabric facing up. At the break point the right side of the garment changes from being the Jacket Front to being the Front Facing, so stitch up to the break point, leave long thread tails, flip the
garment over and stitch from the break point to the shoulder. Then turn the garment back over and stitch around the back of the neck to the other shoulder. The long thread tails are knotted off and buried between the layers of fabric.



Press with a dry iron and press cloth to protect the faux leather. If the faux leather is pressed too much it can start to lose its textured surface. Taping the seams (as mentioned above) to help keep them laying flat minimized the amount of pressing needed. Corners can be lightly hammered flat with a rubber mallet. Position
the corner to be hammered on a wooden board covered with a piece of flannelette. The
flannelette will protect the faux leather. Place a press cloth over the fabric before hammering.

Setting in the Sleeve

Leather and faux leather do not ease well. It maybe necessary to either reduce the amount of ease in the sleeve cap or distribute some of the ease lower on the cap. B6169 did not have an excessive amount of ease so this adjustment was unnecessary, but be mindful of this in choosing a pattern.

Place two rows of basting stitches around the sleeve cap from notch to notch. The stitch length for the basting can be 3.8 mm. Pull up the basting and distribute some of the fullness into the fabric portion of the sleeve if needed. The wool sweater knit will
absorb the ease without a problem. Use Wonder Clips to ‘pin’ the sleeve into the armhole.

Baste the sleeve in using a 1/2″ seam allowance. By using a narrower seam allowance, you will have the opportunity to see how the sleeve fits into the armhole and adjust it if necessary without leaving holes.

Once the sleeve has been set into position and you are happy with the results, sew using a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Adding Shoulder Pads and Sleeve Heads

Sleeve heads will help to fill out the faux leather and prevent it from dimpling along the sleeve cap. Position the sleeve heads along the stitching line and hand sew in place as described here.

The shoulder pads can be sewn to the shoulder seam allowances with a running stitch.img_7673a

Inserting the Lining

Assemble the body of the lining. Once the jacket is complete, the lining can be sewn to the Front and Back Neck Facings. Put the garment on a dress stand inside out. Pin the lining to the armhole.

Use a long running stitch to baste the layers together around the armhole. I like to hand sew the sleeve lining to the armhole, which holds it securely in place.  For more complete instructions regarding sleeve insertion, click here.


One of the bonuses of working with faux leather is it is easier to hand sew as compared with real leather, due to its knit backing. To hem the jacket and sleeves I used a hem
stitch. Sew through the hem allowance and pick up just a bit of the knit backing. Be careful not to go too deep or the stitches will show on the right side of the fabric.




I styled the jacket with another pair of my favorite jeans. To add a bit of glitz to coordinate with the white/gold faux leather I added heat set crystals to the back pockets. The crystals came as a strip, which I cut apart and applied with the iron.

Faux Leather Belt


From some of the leftover faux leather I made a belt to wear with the jeans. Cut a piece of belting slightly narrower than the finished width of the belt. The belting needs to
be narrower to comfortably accommodate the thickness of the faux leather once the belting is covered. Try a sample first to determine how wide the belting needs to be and how wide to cut the faux leather in order to wrap it completely around the belting and meet in the center on the wrong side of the belt. Round one end of the belting. Apply rubber cement to the wrong side of the faux leather.
Position the belting down the center of the faux leather. Neatly fold the faux leather over the rounded end of the belt.
Fold the long edges of the belt in towards the center.
Miter the corners of the faux leather were they meet the rounded edge of the belt.
Cut a piece of faux leather wider than the finished belt. Use rubber cement to glue this to the wrong side of the belt.
Topstitch around the belt. Trim away the excess fabric from the back of the belt using appliqué scissors.

Use a hole punch to make a hole for the belt buckle. Mark your waist measurement plus 1” of wearing ease as the center hole for the belt. Mark a hole on either side of the center hole. Punch these holes with a hole punch.
Combined with a white T-shirt this outfit can take me from lunch to an evening out in comfort and style!

Inspiration No. 7 Jeans, revisited

Jeans, revisited

by Kathryn Brenne


I have always loved the color red. It makes people happy. It is the color of energy, passion, love and joy.  I also love the red stretch denim carried by and I especially love my new jeans! They are absolutely perfect. They make me smile, brighten up a cold winter day and are sooooo comfortable to wear.

Inspired by Yohji Yamamoto, I added a few funky details to my jeans but kept the standard jean pockets, fly zipper and gold topstitching. Whether you wish to recreate the jeans shown here, or if you just wish to learn some techniques that will assure professional results using your TNT jeans pattern, the tips outlined below will apply to sewing up any version of the American classic jean.



 Pattern and Alterations

To create these designer-inspired jeans, you’ll have to make a few alterations to a classic jeans pattern. Start with your favorite high-waisted jeans pattern as a base. My favorites include McCalls 6610, 5894 and OOP Jalie 966. You’ll need to omit the yoke and convert the yoke seam into a dart/tuck at center back.


To do this, draw the stitching line onto both the Back and the Yoke pattern pieces. Pin the stitching lines together at the side seam. You may find that the yoke is shaped and the two pieces will not lay flat and pin together smoothly. Don’t worry about this as it is going to be opened up into a dart. To create a dart/tuck at center back, keep the yoke pinned to the Back at the side seam stitching line and pivot the Yoke open at center back creating a 1/2″ dart shape (the size of the dart may vary, depending on your size and the shape of your yoke). The side seam remains the same length allowing the Back to sew to the Front without the length of the side seam changing. The opening at center back will be sewn as a tuck and become a design feature. Keep the original grain line from the Back. The Yoke will swing up placing this area of the pant Back on more of a bias grain, which actually helps with fitting.
img_7378I wanted a loose fitting leg, with a wide hem circumference cropped to ankle length. My jeans fit loosely through the hips, widen out at the knee and then taper back in toward the hem. The circumference at the knee is 26 3/4” and 21” at the hem. To make these changes to the pattern, determine the desired length as well as the circumference at the knee and hem. Mark the new hemline onto the pattern. Measure the hem circumference of the original pattern and calculate the amount to be increased or decreased. Add or subtract equal amounts to the inseam and side seam to create the new hem circumference. Altering only the side seam will not allow the leg to sit properly.
Locate your knee position on the pattern. From the hip, widen the side seam out towards the knee and then back into the hem to create a new relaxed shape. Round this new seam slightly. It should not come to a point at the knee. The inseam can be straightened or widened slightly at the knee. The seam from the crotch to the knee should have a curve to it but it can be fairly straight from the knee to the hem.

kneetuckcloseupThe design tuck at the knee did not involve any pattern drafting. It was merely a tuck that was topstitched after the inseams were sewn together to give the leg a different shape.
I always recommend sewing a test fitting muslin before starting a new pattern. This allows you to perfect the fit before cutting into fabric.


Denim is a twill weave fabric usually made from cotton. It is available in a variety of weights, colors and finishes. Today, many denim fabrics have the addition of spandex for comfort. Pretreat fabric by washing in the washing machine. If the fabric has spandex, do not dry in a hot dryer. Heat deteriorates spandex. Instead tumble in a cool dryer for a few minutes to remove wrinkles and then hang to dry. For 100% cotton denim, dry thoroughly in the dryer.

Needles and Thread

A Jeans sewing machine needle with a sharp tip and sturdy shaft is the best choice for sewing denim. Needles are available in size 75 for lighter weight fabrics and size 90 for most medium to heavy weight fabrics. For topstitching a Cordonnet needle 130 H-N, which has a larger eye to accommodate heavier threads, works well. Try using a size 90 or 100.
For straight stitching and topstitching I like to use a denim or 1/4” foot with a small needle hole and a straight stitch throat plate. This combination will give a perfect straight stitch, whereas an all purpose foot and throat plate leave some play in the fabric as it is stitched, resulting in the odd stitch that may appear to be a bit crooked.
For regular sewing 100% polyester all purpose Gutermann thread is a good choice. Most
domestic sewing machines do not respond well to using 100% polyester topstitching or
buttonhole twist for topstitching. Instead I like to use 12 weight 100% cotton Mako by Aurifil topstitching thread. Aurifil has a couple of gold colors that work particularly well with denim. I use the heavier 12 weight in the upper threading of the machine and a matching color of 100% polyester Gutermann all purpose thread in the bobbin.


A great pair of jeans revolves around the details. For the most professional look, use Western style front pockets, a fly front metal toothed zipper, belt loops, rivets, a Bachelor button at the waist, interesting back pockets and contrasting topstitching.

Fly Front Zipper

I like to insert a true fly front zipper with a separate fly guard as opposed to a fly zipper with a cut on fly extension. For this fly zipper you will need a fly facing and a fly guard cut from self fabric, and a fly facing and 1” strip cut from fusible all bias interfacing. The length of these pieces will depend on the length of zipper being used. All pieces should be 1” longer than the length of the zipper plus a seam allowance at the top. The fly guard also needs a 1/2” seam allowance at the bottom.
Fuse the fly facing interfacing directly to the left Front and the 1” strip to the right Front.
Press 1/2” up along the bottom edge of the fly guard. Press the fly guard in half wrong sides together.


Serge the edges of the Front crotch seams, the fly guard and the fly facing.
Apply double sided tape to the zipper positioning it close to the outer edge.
Align the zipper face down against the right Front pant. Machine stitch 3/8” in from edge.
Press seam toward pant.
Pin Fly Facing to left pant Front. Stitch using a 5/8” seam allowance.
Sew the crotch seam for approximately 1 1/2” from the bottom of the zipper, keeping the fly facing out of the way.
Press the seam of the fly facing open and then press the fly facing towards the pant.
Apply double sided tape the wrong side of the zipper.
Adhere the Fly Guard to the tape.
Edge Stitch through all layers. Because this side of the zipper was initially sewn to the pant with a 3/8” seam, it sits inside the edge of the left Front, which is what you want.
Edge stitch the left front pant from the end of the crotch stitching to the waist.
Apply double sided tape to the left side of the zipper.
Position the left Front pant by pressing in place with the zipper closed. The right zipper should be sitting 1/4” in from the edge of the right Front.

Sew the left side of the zipper to the fly facing with two rows of stitching, one placed close to the edge and the other about 1/4” in. These rows of stitching are only through the zipper tape and the fly facing.

I photocopy my favourite RTW jean fly to make a topstitching template for the final row of topstitching. Cut the template from thin cardboard. Position the template along the center front edge. Chalk around the template.

Topstitch along chalked line being careful to keep the Fly Guard out of the way. Do not hit the metal stopper at the bottom of the zipper. Leave thread tails long, pull through to the inside and knot off.
Add a second row of topstitching 1/4” away from the first row.
Add bar tacks to the end of the zipper using a zig zag stitch with a stitch width of 1.7mm and a stitch length of .25mm. All purpose Gutermann thread was used for bar tacking. Place a second bar tack approximately 3/4” up from the bottom along the side of the topstitching. This stitching goes through all layers and will hold the fly guard in place.

Front Western Pockets

Apply a 1” strip of fusible interfacing to the front pocket edges. Pink the outer edge.
I like to use fun quilting cottons for the pocket bags. Sew the pocket bag to the Front pant. Trim seam allowance to a narrow 1/4”.

Press to the inside and finish with a row of edge stitching and a second row of top stitching 1/4” away from first row.
Finish the edge of the self fabric pocket Facing. Sew to pocket bag with a row of stitching close to the edge.

French seam pocket bags together by sewing the raw edges of the two pocket bags wrong
sides together with a 1/4” seam allowance. Trim seam allowance to a narrow 1/8”. Turn and press right sides together. Stitch a second time using a 1/4” seam allowance.

To add a coin pocket to the right front pocket, turn under the edges. Topstitch the upper edge of the coin pocket. Topstitch the coin pocket to the pocket facing before finishing the pocket.
Finish the upper corner of the coin pocket with a rivet. See instructions below for setting rivets.

Back Pockets

As a design feature I drafted large rectangular back pockets.
Apply a strip of fusible interfacing along the folded edge of the Back Pocket to prevent the pocket from stretching.
I added a piece of lining fabric to the inside of the Back Pocket to add a bit of color if the pockets opened up and to help stabilize them and prevent them from stretching. The lining does not need to extend all the way to the top edge. It will be caught in place with the topstitching.
Fold the edges of the Back Pocket in and press. Topstitch the folded edge. Position Back
Pockets by pinning in place during a fitting. Finish by topstitching to the pants. Bar tack the upper corners to reinforce.

Topstitching hints

A longer stitch length will highlight topstitched details. Try using a stitch length of 3-3.5mm depending on the thickness of your denim. Use a straight stitch throat plate. Caution: When using a straight stitch needle plate do not adjust the center needle position, otherwise the needle will break. When starting or stitching over thick areas or seams, a height compensator is useful. It can be used behind, beside or in front of the foot to help level it to the same height at which the machine is sewing. This prevents the stitches from bunching up when edge stitching or topstitching. The height compensator also comes in handy when sewing over thick seams while hemming the pants.

More custom design details

Fold the center back tucks in place and edge stitch before sewing the remainder of the crotch and center back seam.
Finish the center back seam. Edge stitch from the base of the zipper around the seam to the waist at center back.
As a design detail I placed a second row of topstitching from the waist at center back down to mid way between the pockets. The end of this topstitching was finished with a bar tack.

Pin the tucks into the inside knee area. Baste and edge stitch.


kneetucksSew the side seams together. Apply the waistband.

Belt Loops

Cut a long strip of fabric 1” wide. Serge or finish one long edge. Press the strip by folding in the raw edge and then folding the serged edge over it. Edge stitch both sides of the strip, catching in the serging along the one edge.
Test the belt loops over the width of belt you might wear with the jeans allowing a small amount of ease. Cut the belt loops into lengths and attach to the jeans with bar tacks. I like to place my belt loops just front of the pockets, just behind the side seams and center back.

Flat Felled Seams

Flat felled seams are often found on the inseam of jeans. They can be sewn on the side seams as well but the bulk of the pockets make this finish difficult to execute. On my jeans I edge stitched the inseam rather than flat felling it because of the bulk of the knee tuck. I edge stitched the side seams as well, from the waist down towards the hip for 6” to keep the pocket area flat.


If you do wish to make a flat felled seams, here’s how:

Sew seam with 5/8” seam allowance. Press the seam open. Trim one seam allowance to 1/4”.

Press the longer seam allowance over the shorter seam allowance. Pin to hold in place. Baste in place.

Sew two rows of stitching to hold the seam in place. If using top stitching thread this is done from the right side of the fabric using the basting as a guide line. The underside has 2 rows of all purpose sewing thread, which was used in the bobbin.


Rivets and Bachelor Buttons

Rivets add the finishing professional touch to jeans. I added them to the pockets where they meet the waistband and side seam to offer reinforcement. To install rivets position the rivet in the desired position and push down on the cap to leave an impression on the fabric.
Use a hole punch fit with a very small hole to punch a hole in the center of the impression.
Insert the back of the rivet through the hole.
Place the cap over the back of the rivet.
Using the rivet setting tool, hammer the cap in place.

The Bachelor buttons I like to use on jeans hammer in place. (They are called Bachelor
buttons because no sewing is required!)

Using the same hole cutter that was used for the rivets, punch a small hole through the waistband. Insert the back of the Batchelor button, place the button over the backing and tap with a hammer to hold in place. I found some Batchelor buttons that swivel, making them very easy to button and unbutton.
Finish the waistband with a keyhole buttonhole.


Inspiration No. 6 Show some legging!

From Linda:  Kathryn has been choosing projects for us that she enjoys wearing, such as this fabulous oversized tunic dress and legging combo that was inspired by her trip to Paris last year.  She saw the Etro print in a shop window and was excited to see that EOS carried the same print in a brushed wool knit (sold out, sorry!).  Fashion seems to be all about the oversized, roomy cocoon shape right now, and Kathryn brings this high fashion to North Bay!   Here’s her review and tutorial.  Enjoy!

Emma One Sock has so many beautiful colors of 11 oz jersey and 14 oz jersey to choose from, making it easy to construct your own leggings to coordinate with any outfit. I wanted to sew up a cozy dress and leggings to wear during the cold days of winter. V1401, a Koos van den Akker pattern, was the perfect silhouette to wrap up in when the temperature drops. For the leggings I used independent pattern company Jalie 2920.


Kathryn rockin’ her look in North Bay!



Showing some legging!

Jalie patterns are known for their full range of sizes. The pattern comes with 27 sizes, ranging from US 4-22, included in one envelope. The pattern is printed on heavy white paper with all of the sizes graded on top of each other. Place tissue paper under the master pattern and use a
spiked tracing wheel to trace off your size.

The 11oz jersey is quite stretchy so although I am 5’9” tall I didn’t need to make any alterations or lengthen the pattern. The leggings fit perfectly! With only an inside leg and crotch seam, they sewed together quickly.

Here are a few tips to give you a high end professional finish:

Needle and Thread

Use a ballpoint needle in a fine size 70 and 100% polyester all purpose thread for stitching.


Start with the hem! Although the hem is usually done last, beginning with the hem allows you to turn up the hem allowance of the very narrow width ankle opening and sew it flat (much easier!) before the inseam is sewn.

Press up the hem allowance and and baste to hold.
Stitch 1/2” in from the edge. Set the stitch length at 4mm. I finished the hem with a wide cover stitch, but a twin needle could be used as well.
As you stitch, pull on the fabric to really stretch it out before it enters the machine. If the fabric isn’t stretched out, the circumference at the hem will be limited by the amount of the thread sewn into the hem and you will not be able to fit your foot through the narrow opening.

Sew the seams with a very narrow zigzag with a stitch width of .5mm and stitch length of 2.5mm, which will allow the seams to stretch.

Jalie includes 1/4” seam allowances on this pattern, which keeps the seam allowances narrow, flat and prevents them from rubbing when worn. Again, pull on the fabric slightly in front and behind the needle as you sew. This will build extra stretch into the seam.

When you sew your first pair of leggings, sew the seam as shown, on the sewing machine first, which allows you to try the leggings on for a fitting before finishing the seam. Once you know that the fit is good, finish with a 3-thread overcast stitch on the serger.


For your next pair, you can skip the sewing machine, and use just a 4-thread security stitch on the serger. If you don’t own a serger, the seam allowance can be finished with a wide zig zag set at a stitch width of 4.5mm and a stitch length of 2.5mm.

To reinforce the crotch seam add a second row of stitching. Two rows of stitching side by side are stronger than two rows of stitching on top of each other!

Use non roll 1” elastic for the waistband. Rather than overlapping the ends of the elastic, butt the ends together and place a scrap of muslin underneath. Use a wide zig zag to catch both edges of the elastic and stitch them to the muslin. This gives a very flat finish. Trim the muslin
close to the stitching.

Divide the elastic into quarters by folding it in half, marking each half with a pin and then folding it in the opposite direction, which can be marked with pins as well. Bring the CF and CB crotch seam together and mark the sides of the leggings with pins. Pin the quartered elastic to the quarter markings on the leggings.

Machine baste the elastic to the garment aligning the edge of the elastic to the edge of the garment.

Fold the elastic down into the garment and hand baste to hold.IMG_6069a

A second row of hand basting is useful when cover stitching. By centering the cover stitch over the second row of basting it was easy to know that the raw edge of the fabric is being caught in
with the stitching when sewn from the right side.
Again, pull on the fabric and elastic as the final row of stitching is sewn to build in stretch. Alternatively a twin needle can be used to finish the waistband elastic.

Koos van den Akker Dress


For the dress I chose an Etro inspired wool blend fabric accented with a Liberty cotton print. The bodice is lined with a coordinating 11 oz rayon jersey so it is soft and comfortable next to your skin. I used a purchased thick/thin knitting yarn for some of the crazy stitching. The dress was VERY fun to make!

The center of the dress is covered with a Liberty cotton print, cut on the bias to prevent it from fraying. It is then embellished with crazy stitching.


Koos van den Akker, who was a good friend of mine, was extremely creative and nothing was ever planned. Keeping him as my muse when creating this garment, the crazy stitching is very random.

I did do a bit of matching when I laid out the main pattern pieces. In particular I tried to avoid creating a large diamond shape on the backside of the dress. The pattern has horizontal and vertical seams throughout  the skirt portion of the dress, set at an angle to create the shape of the dress. This could potentially create a bullseye effect depending on the motif of your fabric, so careful pattern placement is key.


Crazy Stitching

Following the pattern instructions I prepared the upper and middle front sections and stitched the bias cut Liberty print in place. For the crazy stitching I cut narrow crosswise strips of the blue boiled wool 1/4” wide and then pulled on them slightly to stretch them out. Using Bernina
foot #12, the Piping/Braiding 9mm foot, lengths of the boiled wool were fed into the opening of the foot and then stitched over using a zig zag stitch. The width and length of the zig zag stitch were determined by the thickness of the yarn I used.  If you try this technique, try a sample first,  setting the stitch width at 3.5mm and the stitch length at 3mm. Holding the yarn straight in front of the foot at your desired angle, stitch straight down to the end of your desired length, stop with the needle in the down position, lift the presser foot, move the fabric around and begin stitching in the opposite direction to create the zigzag affect. After stitching down the blue ‘yarn’ the technique was repeated using gold colored thick and thin yarn.


Welt Pockets

Welt pockets are sometimes considered one of the most difficult pockets to sew, but they are relatively easy to put together when using a thicker wool knit fabric. I fused a 2” strip of bias knit fusible interfacing down the center of the pocket bag and a 1” strip onto the wrong side of the dress directly underneath the pocket placement. The edges of the interfacing were pinked before fusing. Using chalk, I carefully marked the rectangular shaped stitching line onto the wrong side of the
pocket bag. I stitched around the marking using a straight stitch to join the pocket bag to the dress. I slashed down the center and V-ed into the ends.
Turn the pocket bag through the opening. The pocket bag wraps around the narrow 1/4” seam allowances, which were left when the pocket was slashed open. These wrapped seam allowances become the welts. After wrapping the seam allowances tightly, baste the welts in the well of the seam to hold in place.
Lift up the dress and stitch across the triangle at each end of the pocket.
Use a catch stitch to close the welts.
Edge stitch around the outside edge of the pocket. At this point the pocket bag should be laying flat.
On the wrong side of the garment, fold the pocket bags in towards the center of the garment. Stitch around the pocket bag, joining the two layers together. Hand baste the upper edge of the pocket to the dress. Catch the upper edge of the pocket to the backside of the crazy stitching with a few hand stitches to prevent it from flopping around inside of the dress.

Bodice Lining


The pattern did call for a partial bodice lining. I extended the length of the lining to the waist seam. The lining was cut from 11oz jersey which  was perfect because it had stretch just like the knit dress. Interface the neck of the dress with a 1 1/2” band of fusible interfacing. After sewing the lining to the neckline, trimming it and turning it through to the inside, baste the edge before topstitching.


Baste the lining to the armhole edges and then treat the seam as one layer when inserting the sleeves. The lining will be sewn in with the seam, holding it in place.


Button Tabs

To create the button tabs, four strips of boiled wool were cut approximately 1 1/2” wide. Baste down the center joining two strips together.
Use a rotary cutter to accurately cut the strips to 1” wide.
Trim the ends into a curved shape
Use a zigzag with a stitch width of 4mm and a stitch length of 2.5mm to overcast the edge and sew the layers together.
Stitch a buttonhole outline, often built into machines to be used as a bound buttonhole, onto one end of each strip. Carefully cut the buttonhole open. There is no need to overcast the edge as the boiled wool will not ravel.

Attach the button bands to the dress with a square of stitching. Use a zig zag stitch to hem the sleeves.
IMG_6348 (1)IMG_6346 (1)












Sew the button to the square of stitching.
IMG_6349 (1)
The sleeve will pull up and gather into the button band
IMG_6350 (1)


Hand sew the lining to the waist seam with a slip stitch.
A narrow hem allowance was turned up as per pattern instructions and sewn in place with a slight zigzag with a stitch width of .5mm and a stitch length of 2.5mm.

Inspiration No. 5 Sewing Heaven

Sewing Heaven in North Bay, Ontario (August 2015)

By Linda Podietz

Kathryn Brenne

Kathryn Brenne

As many of you know, Kathryn Brenne has been writing sewing tutorials for EOS for several years now. She is a master sewist (and knitter) and a virtual unending fountain of sewing expertise! Over the years, due in large part to her writing work for Vogue Patterns Magazine, Threads and other publications, she has made the most exquisitely-crafted garments of all types. I had of course heard about her sewing school in North Bay, Ontario, and had always dreamed of going there — how wonderful it would be to pick her brain and ask ALL of my sewing questions in person!

This year I decided it was time to get myself up there and signed up for her 4-day open workshop that took place this past August (um… I’m just a wee bit late in getting this review posted!). For the whole summer I obsessed over what garments I would choose to work on, searching for the right patterns and figuring out what I could do on my own ahead of time so as not to waste a precious moment during the class.

I was just discovering Burda pattern downloads, and settled on making a winter coat (Burda 10/2014 #125), a leather jacket (Burda 02/2010 #115), a leather vest for Eric (Burda 12/2010 #123), and was also hoping to get to some tips for copying a favorite leather handbag as well. Needless to say, when I told Kathryn what I had planned for the class, she said I was “very ambitious” (translation: you are crazy!) and that it usually takes her a full week just to make a coat.

Undeterred by common sense, I began making my muslins, adjusting my patterns, and before I left for the workshop I had cut out my coat, my leather jacket, and Eric’s vest, and was ready to roll! I tossed everything, including the leather handbag that I wanted to copy, into my suitcase, and off I went.

Kathryn’s school, which is attached to her home in a beautiful wooded area of North Bay, was just minutes from my hotel. I arrived with suitcase full of projects in hand, and stepped into her two level studio, which can only be described as SEWING HEAVEN! It is equipped with everything you could possibly want in your sewing studio. Each student was given a Bernina sewing machine, a color-coded caddy with all necessary tools and notions, and access to numerous cutting tables and work surfaces perfectly designed for sewing work. After meeting the other participants and Kathryn’s trusted assistant, Malia, I showed Kathryn my winter coat, and got started.

First lesson was to thread trace all notches, markings, seam lines, etc. … something I had never taken the time to do, but it made all the difference, especially with my fabric which was quite textured and “fuzzy”.

What amazed me about Kathryn was how she was instantly able to jump from one student to another, know exactly what their next step needed to be, so that each person felt they had her complete attention. All this while working with Malia on her own assignments and new patterns for Vogue and for EOS, providing amazing food for us (which I totally didn’t expect!), and all with that laid back Canadian no-nonsense calmness and straight-forwardness. How she managed to serve home-baked goodies at every morning coffee break, a fresh and beautiful home-cooked lunch every day (Kathryn is a fabulous cook, and very sensitive to the dietary needs of the participants), complete with dessert, was like a magic trick. Voila!

I was surprised by the amount of hand-stitching required to make a beautifully-tailored jacket, so determined not to take up precious class time with those hours of hand-stitching, I would go back to my hotel each evening and do about three hours of hand work!



By the fourth day, I had the coat pretty much put together, and we figured that I could construct and install the lining at home. We finally could move on to my leather jacket!

coming together]almostdone


Finished product! It is SO warm and cozy… I really love it.

On the last afternoon of the workshop Kathryn showed me everything I needed to know about constructing my leather jacket, and helped me to put together one of the pockets so that I could do the other at home. The Burda pattern I chose was for a more bohemian style (raw edges, lapped seams) but Kathryn suggested a more professional finish so I re-cut, reworked and lined the pockets for a more finished look.


Then she showed me how to do the seaming and top-stitching, and pretty much everything I needed to know to finish the jacket on my own, so I left in good shape, with tons of new information.


This is how far I got during that last afternoon of class.

This is how far I got during that last afternoon of class.

I did most of the work at home, and did run into a few issues that could have been avoided had Kathryn been there to guide me, but it all worked out, and I am quite happy with the result! I’ve worn this jacket a ton already.


Each day Kathryn would bring out some of her amazing garments from her “archive” for us to see up close, and I have to say that her skills are super human! Every stitch was perfect, every hand-sewn buttonhole flawless, and even on the sheerest silk garment, everything was absolutely perfect. It was quite inspirational.

It was also fun to see what Kathryn would wear each day— her distinctive style is so natural to her — it’s a lesson in personal style!

The only thing I regret is that I didn’t take more photos… I do hope to go back next August and will be sure to do a better job recording the experience.

Finally, I want to say that this review is not influenced by our working relationship. I paid full price for the workshop and it was worth every penny!

LindaKBcoat1  LindaKBjacket1

Inspiration No. 4 Botanical Linen

Vogue 9114 in Botanical Linen

by Kathryn Brenne

With botanical prints being so popular this season, it is easy to see why this EOS linen print is a best seller! This beautiful watercolor floral print was perfect for Vogue 9114. Linen has the right amount of crispness to hold its shape but falls easily into the draped folds of the skirt which are created with ties underneath the skirt.
linenskirt4  skirt2



Kathryn Brenne strolling through her garden


Kathryn Brenne pattern Vogue 9114

The skirt pattern as I developed it has a minimal amount of ease in the elastic waist, to avoid excess bulk at the top of the skirt. The waistband is just large enough to fit over the hips, but for those who prefer more of an opening, I include here a technique for adding an invisible zipper to the side seam which does not interfere with the elastic running through the waistband. Also for this version I have added a side seam pocket, using a technique that is easy adaptable to any pattern or ready to wear garment. A narrow seam allowance is all that is required! No pocket extension is needed, and the finished pocket is flat and invisible.


Linen is a great warm weather fabric. It is cool to the touch and breathes. Dry cleaning is often recommended but I tested a large sample by putting it in the washing machine and dryer. It came out perfectly, softened slightly and did not lose any of its color. If you wish to machine wash and dry your garment test a large sample first to be sure you like the results.

Kathryn again!

The flower print on this fabric is such that it can be oriented in either direction, making it perfect for Vogue 9114, which is cut with the lengthwise grain running horizontally across the finished skirt. When laying out the pattern I tried to avoid placing a large round motif on the center of the bum or in the middle of the crotch area.

Skirt untied and the print running across the garment

Seams and Finishing

To create a nice, neat finish, this linen can be serged or zig-zagged around the cut edges of each pattern piece, before you begin assembling your garment. Please note though, that when preparing the edges and also when sewing your skirt together, you should use directional stitching, meaning that you should sew from the widest to the narrowest point of each pattern piece. In other words, sew from the hem towards the waist for the skirt side seams. This prevents the fabric from being stretched as you sew on the slightly bias edge.

Adding a Pocket to any Seam Allowance

Vogue 9114 comes with a pocket pattern for the pants, but this pattern can be used in the skirt as well. This handy technique requires no extra seam allowance or extension to add a pocket bag to any garment. The Back pocket bag has a 5/8” seam allowance on the side seam. Cut the Back Pocket Bag from self fabric. The front pocket back has a 1/4″ seam allowance on the side seam. Cut the Front Pocket Bag from lining. If you wish to draft your own pocket pattern to use this technique on another garment, the important thing to remember is make the Back Pocket seam allowance 3/8″ wider than the Front Pocket seam allowance.
Fuse a 1” strip of featherweight fusible interfacing to the skirt Front and Back pocket area. Pink the edge of the interfacing that sits into the garment. The interfacing should extend 1” beyond the end of the pocket.
Stitch the Back Pocket Bag to the garment with a 5/8” seam allowance. The stitching should be positioned at the pocket opening, which is approximately 5 1/2 – 6” long.
Stitch the Front Pocket Bag to the garment with a 1/4” seam allowance.
Press Front Pocket Bag away from the garment and edgestitch.
Join the Front and Back garment sections together above and below the pocket opening.
Press seam open and edge stitch front pocket opening.
Sew around the pocket bag.
Baste top of pocket bag to skirt Front.

Adding an Invisible Zipper and Waistband with Elastic

Apply a 1” strip of lightweight fusible interfacing to the upper 9” of the left skirt Front and Back side seam. Pink the edge of the interfacing, which sits into the garment.
When sewing the left side seam of the skirt stop stitching 8 5/8” from the waist. Insert an 8” invisible zipper into the opening, placing the top stopper of the zipper 3/4” down from the waist edge.By placing the stopper slightly below the 5/8” seam allowance, there is enough space for the slider to close fully. The slider sits slightly above the stopper when closed. The waistband needs a small extension added to one end to accommodate a skirt/pant hook and bar, which is sewn to the finished left back waistband. The seam for the original waistband, which was placed at center back will now be at the side seam. Add 1 1/2” to the left back waistband.
Press the waistband in half wrong sides together. Attach one edge of the waistband to the skirt, leaving the extension on the skirt left Back. Press seam towards the waistband. Cut two lengths of 1/2” wide elastic to fit your personal waist measurement. Place the ends of the elastic in the seam allowance of the skirt Front waistband.
Sew across and then zig zag the ends of the elastic to the seam allowance of the waistband.
Now that the elastic is attached to the seam allowance, move it out of the way by folding it away from the skirt. Turn under the 5/8” on the unnotched edge of the waistband. Trim pressed edge to 3/8” to reduce bulk. Turn waistband to inside along pressed fold line. Baste pressed under edge of waistband to the seam of the skirt. Edge stitch close to the seam from the right side of the skirt. Stop edge stitching 1” short of the skirt Front zipper area. Leave long thread tails, pull through to the wrong side of the garment, tie off and bury inside of the waistband.
To form the casing, stitch waistband along stitching line. Stitching will begin above the Back zipper and stop 1”short of skirt Front zipper. Tie off thread tails as before.
Thread the two pieces of elastic through the casing. They have already been anchored to the Front seam allowance. Since the edge stitching and casing stitching stopped 1” short of the Front  zipper, it is easy to thread the elastic back into the casing and have the 5/8” seam allowance fold  back into the casing. To secure the elastic, stitch across ends on the waistband Back. The  stitching will come straight up from the Back zipper.
Pull the elastic tight after the ends have been stitched and cut. The cut ends will disappear inside the waistband. Fold the raw edges of the skirt Back waistband to the inside and edge stitch the  opening closed.
Finish stitching the open 1” which was left on the skirt Front waistband. Complete the edge stitching and topstitching leaving long thread tails, which can be finished as before. Edge stitch the open ends of the casing closed.
Finish the waistband with a skirt/pant hook and bar. I use 3 strands of embroidery floss and a buttonhole stitch to sew on the hook and bar.

Bias Ties to Tie up Draped Skirt

The ties for the skirt are cut on the bias and sewn right sides together with 1/4”seam allowance.
Lightly press the seam allowance open.
Sew across one end of the tie.
Use a chopstick or other such tool to turn the tie right side out.
Tie turned right side out with seam running down the center:

Note from Linda: To see more linen prints that would work for this beautiful skirt, click here!

Inspiration No. 3 Guipure Lace

A note from Linda before we get started: In this inspiration tutorial by EOS sewing expert Kathryn Brenne, she takes us through the steps to creating a simple and beautiful lace skirt that can be dressed up or down and adapted to any type of lace.  In the midst of creating this article Kathryn’s computer crashed, and all of her photos were lost.  (Oh no!)  After much “ado” she managed to retrieved some of the photos but they are slightly distorted.  We think that they are still clear enough for you to see, but there are not as many detail photos as usual, and the photos are not as clear as they would normally be.


by Kathryn Brenne

Since lace has been such a huge trend this year, I chose this stunning Guipure lace to make a skirt to wear for a casual evening out with my husband. Teamed with a sporty collared Tee made from a lightweight rayon jersey and suede lace-up menswear inspired shoes, the outfit had just the right style for dinner at a trendy converted train station in Kingsville, Ontario.

kbld_dkb_57734_1   kbld_dkb00001_1

No Pattern Required!

dkb00004Taking inspiration from the ’70’s, when I would make up long gathered dirndl skirts without a pattern, I decided to update and shorten that silhouette and make pleats rather than the gathers I used to make. From 1 yard of lace, I turned the 46″-wide fabric sideways and cut it down the center length. This gave me two pieces that were 36″ wide x 23″ long. I allowed for a 1/2″ seam allowance on either side. The two scalloped selvedges of the lace became the hem.

Here are my calculations, which you can alter to suit your measurements and desired fullness: Total circumference of 70″ minus the waist measurement and seam allowances = the amount of fabric to be divided into your desired number of pleats (I made 10 pleats for my skirt).

Recording your calculations for later, plan for one pleat at center front and one at center back. Avoid putting pleats over the hip area, which creates extra fullness. Plan to distribute the pleats a few inches apart. I calculated approximately 2 3/4″ between each pleat for my skirt, but this will depend upon your measurements and the number of pleats desired.

Sewing Techniques

This lace has large open areas, which need to be considered when seaming the pieces together. I found that the easiest method with the best results was to sew the seams on the sewing machine with white thread and then to do a narrow serge to finish the edges. There were many little bits that wanted to poke out if you were to do french seams. Serging tamed these little pieces. Serge off the end of the seam, leaving a tail, and used a large needle to thread the serging threads back into the seam to hide them.


On the left side of the garment, where the 8 1/2″ zipper opening is, press the serged seam allowances toward the back of the skirt. Make a small clip into the top of the seam at the point you’ve left open for the zipper. Press the seam allowances for the zipper area open.



To add a touch of luxury to the skirt I used a silk charmeuse lining in color #102 (natural white). When cutting out the lining use the width of the lace skirt front and back as a guide with these changes: Allow for a 5/8” seam allowance along the closed side seam and a 3/4” seam allowance along the zippered seam. IMPORTANT: When you cut out the silk lining, include the selvedges, which will become the seam allowance on the zippered side.

Keeping in mind that the satin side should face out so that it shows under the lace, seam the raw edges of the front and back lining together with a french seam on the closed side (the side with the 5/8″ seam allowance) and seam the finished selvedge edges together as a regular seam (3/4″ seam allowance) on the zipper side, leaving an 8 1/2” opening in the selvedge seam to insert the zipper, as done with the lace.

Invisible Zipper

Once the lace and the lining are seamed, place the lining inside the lace skirt. On the side where the zipper will lay, place the silk selvedge opening under the pressed seam allowances of the lace.


Baste the two layers together along the fold of the seam allowance and then stitch the two layers together along the serged edge of the lace. The silk seam allowance, being wider, will extend out beyond the lace seam allowance.

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Prepare your zipper length before installation: If your zipper is too long (as invisible zippers often only come in a few lengths) sew across the end, cut away the excess and then use a piece of the nylon zipper tape to cover the plastic coil on the cut end.

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Apply double sided Wonder Tape to the edge of the invisible zipper.

Position the zipper into the opening and stitch in place using an invisible zipper foot.


When your zipper is fully installed, fold the excess selvedge over the edge of the zipper tape, baste to hold and then edge stitch to create a binding, which finishes the edges of the zipper nicely.



Hand-baste the lining to the lace along the top edge of the skirt. When pleating the waist, the two layers are treated as one. Using the calculation arrived at previously, begin forming the pleats at center front. Place a pin at center front. Divide the amount to be put into each pleat in half. Mark this amount with a pin on either side of center front. Bring the two outer pins together placing the folds over the center pin and pin in place. Continue pinning the pleats in place across the front and back of the skirt. Avoid placing pleats too close to the side seams, which will create extra fullness over the hips. Baste across the top of pleats to hold them in place.



After some experimentation, I found that the best choice to finish the top of the skirt was to use a piece of white Petersham, which created a smooth, flat waistband. The length should be double your waist measurement plus 4″. Petersham is stiffer than grosgrain ribbon, and can be shaped with the iron.

Use firm pressure and shape the petersham into a curve. After shaping fold the petersham in half so that one half becomes the waistband facing:

Use firm pressure and shape the petersham into a curve. After shaping fold the petersham in half so that one half becomes the waistband facing.

Pin the top edge of the skirt to the lower edge of the petersham with wrong sides facing each other. Machine baste. Press the petersham in half (back on itself) at the Front zipper opening:

Pin the second layer of Petersham to the outside of the skirt, aligning the top edges of the waistband:

Pin the second layer of Petersham to the outside of the skirt, aligning the top edges of the waistband.

Fold the ends of the Petersham in together leaving a 1 1/2″ extension on the skirt Back:

Fold the ends of the Petersham in together leaving a 1 1/2

Edge stitch the lower edges of the Petersham through all layers:

Edge stitch the lower edges of the Petersham through all layers.

Trim away the seam allowance between the layers of Petersham, leaving about 1/4″:

Trim away the seam allowance between the layers of Petersham, leaving about 1/4

Use an awl to pull apart the loops of a corset hook:

Use an awl to pull apart the loops of a corset hook.

Use the tip of the awl to make two holes in the petersham. Wiggle the loops of the corset hook through the Petersham:

Use the tip of the awl to make two holes in the petersham. Wiggle the loops of the corset hook through the Petersham.

Once the loops of the corset hook are through the Petersham, carefully hand sew them to the wrong side of the band with small stitches that will not show through to the right side.


Finish the top edge of the waistband with edge stitching.



Fold up the silk lining twice at 1 1/4″ to create a double fold hem which will give it more weight and keep it in place. I hemmed the lining a bit shorter than the skirt to allow the pretty edge of the lace to show. Use a hemstitch to hem the lining.


Note from Linda: To see more beautiful laces that would work for this beautiful skirt, click here!

Tee shirt

I added a collar to a basic raglan Tee shirt by cutting a rectangle of fabric 20 1/2″ long by 6 1/2″ wide (you will have to adjust this length to your own Tee pattern neckline measurements). I used a lightweight fusible interfacing to give the collar some stability. Fuse the interfacing to half of the collar, which will become the top collar. Sew 1/4″ seams on the ends of the collar. Turn right sides out and press. Baste the open edges of the collar together. Aligning the center back of the collar to the center back of the Tee shirt, pin the collar to the seam allowance of the Tee shirt and its original neckband (the original neckband will add support and shape to the collar). The collar will roll out from the inside of the neckband. Stitch using a slight zig zag of .5mm. Serge the neck edge to finish.

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