Estimating extra fabric for pattern matching (and giveaway)

How to work out exactly how much extra fabric you'll need to buy to match a pattern.

So you’ve got the perfect pattern and you’ve seen the perfect fabric.  Except the envelope says that you need 3.5 yards to make this dress.  THEN its says ‘extra will be needed for pattern matching’.  Your fabric has a print you’ll want to match.  So exactly how much extra fabric will you need.  Half a yard, a yard, 2 yards?  I know exactly the lady who knows – introducing Gwen who knows everything there is to know about matching fabric to patterns. How Much Do You Want? We all know that feeling…  Maybe you’re shopping for a particular project or maybe you are just window shopping – but all of a sudden, out of the blue, a piece of fabric catches your eye and you just can’t look away… The color, the texture, the design – it connects with something … Continue reading

How to add a zipper pocket to any purse pattern

Tips and video on how to add a zipper pocket to the inside or outside of a bag pattern.

So you have a basic purse pattern, or have a pattern that includes a basic slip pocket and you would like a zipper pocket.  Not a problem – this sort of thing can usually be added to any bag.  You can add them on the outside like in the Nautical Expanding Tote Bag, or on the inside of the bag in the lining like this example from the Carry All Bag.  Or both if you want lots of pockets and storage.  The exposed zipper can really add a nice pop of color and an interesting design feature to any bag. Here are a few of my tips and tricks to help you insert your first zipper pocket, as part of the My First Bag series of patterns and tutorials. Watch the video Here is an extract from the Nautical Tote … Continue reading

How to make and use piping

How to make your own basic piping and attach it to a pillow or cushion cover

When I sewed my Woven Fabric Pillow, I wanted to make a nice edge to the woven front panel, where it joined to the plain back.  Adding in some piping also helped to give the cover a nice shape and definition.  But the focus of my project was really the woven fabric strips and I rushed the piping, not making a perfect job.  Well, I’m working on another cover this week and want to make some perfect piping.  Let’s see how I get on. Making basic piping How to make and use piping.  Piping can be made ahead of time and stored, just the same way you make bias tape from fabric left-overs and save it for the perfect project.  In fact, piping needs to be made with bias tape, because it needs the fabric to be cut on the … Continue reading

How to print and assemble a PDF Pattern

Tips on how to print and assemble PDF sewing patterns. Good info here.

One of the comments/questions from the recent survey was about PDF patterns.  I forget of course that there are a lot of people out there who haven’t used many PDF’s – since I only started sewing recently PDF patterns were already common and I’ve used far more home-print patterns than tissue paper ones.  I very much prefer them, but understand they can be confusing. There are a lot of things you have to get right, and in the right order, for your pattern to be correct.  Let’s have a look at all the steps and I’ll try to answer all of your questions I’ve had. What’s so good about PDF print-at-home patterns? Usually all the sizes come in the same file to make grading easier If you tear it, cut the wrong size, the dog eats it, or you spill … Continue reading

Sewing the perfect narrow hemline

How to sew the perfect narrow hemline - two options

Most garments you sew are going to need some kind of hemline, and there are lots of options to choose from on how to achieve that.  Many of them depend on the type of fabric you are sewing.  A knit fabric would require a different approach than a wool or a chiffon for example.  Often the type of hemline is dictated by the weight of the fabric. In today’s example, we are looking at the narrow hem.  This would be more suitable for light weight fabrics with no stretch and can often be found on gathered skirts, circle skirts and anything where a stiff or wide hem would interfere with the hang of the skirt. How narrow is narrow? This depends again on the weight and fluidity of your fabric, as well as your own sewing skills.  When a pattern … Continue reading

How to Sew on Buttons with a Sewing Machine

I was always worried I'd break the needle or the button, but not now I've seen this. I can do it!

I’m such a lazy sewer that I feel almost embarrassed to share what I did last week.  I had to sew on a couple of buttons and rather than get out a needle and thread and hand-sew them, I actually took the time to look at my machine manual and learn how to sew them by machine instead. In the end, I’m glad I did.  They took almost no time at all, looked much neater than I could have sewn by hand, and are probably much stronger too. I can tell you this is easy, because I did this video of me sewing on the very first ever machine sewn button.  Both the first one and the second one came out perfectly!  I was so worried I was either going to break the needle or break the button, but I … Continue reading

How to use the overcasting stitches

How, where and when to use an overcasting stitch for a neat seam finish. Perfect for sewing knit fabrics too.

We’ve been looking at seams and seam finishes in order to get a good looking result on our seams both inside and out.  Today, one of my favorites – the overcasting stitch. Where to use Overcasting stitches The overcasting stitch is one of the most versatile on your machine.  My machine has 3 options, stitches 6, 7 and 8, for thin to medium weight fabrics, heavy fabrics and stretch fabrics.  That pretty much has everything covered. The overcasting stitch can be used to finish the edge of your fabric rather like the zig-zag stitch we looked at before, but often gives a much neater finish.  My machine came with an overcasting foot as standard and if you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one.  You’ll find that you will use it a lot. The overcasting foot has an edge … Continue reading

How to sew a lettuce edge hem

Get a pretty hemline with this quick method to sew a lettuce edge hem

Do you own anything with a lettuce edge hem?  Typically seen on little girls clothes, but often in women’s clothing too, on the hemline of casuals and maxi dresses. This curly-wurly hemline looks pretty and is practical too, adding no bulk to the hemline and no fabric is turned up so if you are short on length, this is a good way to finish without making your project shorter. How to sew a lettuce edge hem Some knit fabrics stretch just in one direction, others stretch in both directions.  To sew the lettuce edge hem you’ll need to sew with the stretch.  This is because the fabric needs to stretch as you sew and then relax back again to create the wavy finish. You’ll probably also notice that thinner knit fabrics have a tendency to curl on the edges.  In … Continue reading

Quick and easy gathering with Dental Floss!

At last! A quick and easy way to gather long pieces of fabric with out breaking the gathering threads, ever. The secret is in the dental floss!

I nearly went crazy today.  I’m working on a new pattern and it requires gathering a longer fabric into the shorter piece of fabric.  Lots of it, lots of times in very long lengths.  The end result is going to be very pretty I know, but I wasn’t sure I would get there. No matter how careful I was, how slowly I did it, I kept on breaking my gathering threads.  Over and over again.  And I’d have to unpick and start again.  And again.  My fabric was starting to fray and really suffer and I was getting no where.  That’s when I threw it all the floor in disgust and took a break for coffee and a Creme Egg.  I like to brush after eating sugary snacks, and when I opened the bathroom cabinet to get my toothbrush I … Continue reading

Sewing machine practice sheets

Learn to sew and use your sewing machine with these Sewing Machine Practice Sheets.

I get a lot of visits from search engines from people who are looking to learn to sew, or looking for sewing tutorials and easy patterns.  If you are one of them – Welcome!  You’ve come to the right place. (I think…) Sewing is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, fueled by shows like Project Runway, the UK’s Great British Sewing Bee and a similar show being filmed right now in the US by Love Productions.  So if you want to learn to sew, or want to help someone learn to sew, a child, grandchild, friend, then learning to use a sewing machine is one of the very first steps. How can you learn? Get the Sewing Machine Practice Sheets If you’ve not used a sewing machine or are a bit rusty, then you’ll want to practice your stitches before tackling … Continue reading

Use bias tape for a neckline or arm hole facing

  Do you have garments you’ve either made or bought that have facings?  How do you like them?  Some of mine seem to work well, others are too big, floppy, irritating, show through to the right side, or just keep getting in the way somehow.    So how do you finish the edge of a neckline or armhole without facings or doing a full lining? Have you come across sewing patterns that tell you to simply fold over the raw edge to the inside and stitch in place, either on the neckline or armhole?  That’s fine with knit fabrics that stretch, but on wovens – really!  How is that going to work then, when you have to turn the shorter edge in and make it lie flat against a longer edge? Well, I can tell you that it just doesn’t … Continue reading