Monthly Archives: November 2015

Inspiration No. 5 Sewing Heaven

Sewing Heaven in North Bay, Ontario (August 2015)

By Linda Podietz, owner of

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


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!

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Inspiration No. 4 Botanical Linen

Vogue 9114 in Botanical Linen

by Kathryn Brenne

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

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.
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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 Bag 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

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

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.

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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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