Readers Questions – 6


Welcome to another Readers Questions.  This is going to be the last in the present format of readers questions for a while because I'm working on something new.  It's not yet fully ready to be revealed, but I'm hoping it will work better for you all to be able to post your questions more easily and get quicker answers instead of having to wait for this monthly feature.

Providing you all participate of course.  🙂

So please be generous with your time and advice and help out the So Sew Easy readers with their sewing questions below.

Judi asks:

My sewing is technically good but my clothes still often look “homemade”. How do I improve the look?  Part of my problem is the fitting because I live alone; I have had to put side zips in dresses because I can no longer zip them up. I found some good sites on Google which have given me some hints but would welcome yours as well.

Sandy asks:

I have a question that may sound dumb to most sewers, but, since I have recently got back into the swing of things, I have a notions and I don't know how to use it. A “crotch” tape measure. It came as an extra with an order and I have no idea how it works. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Here's a photo of the tape measure I was sent.


Rene asks:

I have recently been diagnosed with a polyurethane allergy.  This means no latex, spandex, nylon and elastane.  I find it very hard to buy underwear.  Where can I find comfortable fabric to sew panties.  Cotton would be the best and available everywhere, but what can I use instead of the elastic ?  Do you have patterns for boy short style panties? I am thinking to use a draw string instead of elastic for the panties.  Any suggestions for bra?

I will greatly appreciate any suggestions, patterns or information on where to get hold of the correct fabric to make my own underwear.  I am sure the panties will not be to much of an issue to make, but I have never tried my hand at a bra.  I am not an expert sewer either, but are willing to learn anything.

Lily asks:

I'm looking to sew a poncho type of coat for a teen, so it has to be modern.  Something that's warm but still easy to make because I'm new at sewing.  Can anyone suggest a pattern I could use?

Claire asks:

I have a dress I would like my mom to make for my bridesmaids for my wedding. Here is the dress.  Does anyone know of a pattern I could buy to make something similar?  Any advice on fabrics please?


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23 Responses to Readers Questions – 6

  1. Lyn says:

    have a question, but could not figure out where and how to ask my sewing question…..I did learn a lot about making my own pattern for a maxi skirt that will fit thank you….. Please advise as to where to ask a sewing question.

  2. Shelley says:

    I just stumbled on this site and love it. Where do you get such great fabric for your wrap dresses? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hello Shelley, At your local fabric store ask for double knit. It is the recommended fabric for this type of pattern because the drape of the fabric will flatter the figure. If you prefer to buy online, here is a link to the online fabric store where you can find, more than one hundred different prints and I am sure you will find something to match your taste. Hope this help.

  3. Rosemary Huggins says:

    Hi1 I have frozen shoulders and find a back zip impossible to do up or pull down. Can you advise if the shift dress would look and make up well with a front zipper.

    • I don’t think it would work with just a short zipper, you’d need it to come down to below the waist to give you enough room to get the dress on and off. But one of my pattern testers just made it in a jersey without a zipper and it slips on just fine without any size alteration. Maybe that would be an option?

  4. Hilary says:

    There are several tutorials online about how to make your own dress form for much less than you can purchase one for, and the bonus is that it’s exactly fitted to your shape and size. I haven’t made one yet so I can’t recommend a specific site, but I’ve seen lots of info about it.

  5. Karen says:

    Claire, since the dresses will most likely only be worn one time, might I suggest that you check retail websites such as Penney’s or Davids Bridal shop for your dresses. It is very stressful and can get expensive sewing for a wedding and it just might be something you can find ready-made and avoid the hassle of sewing and fitting.

  6. Karen Falzon says:

    Hi Judi,
    I am only new at this sewing for myself, but if you can afford one, how about a sewing dummy. You can get then in different sizes and change the settings into your sizes. if you have a wire coat hanger(that’s what we call them in Australia) you could unravel it and make a large hook so you can hook the top of the zip and pull it up. Hope this has helped.

  7. Diane says:

    Judy, make sure you press seams open and then to the side (if called for). Also, get yourself some pressing hams so that you can help the fabric form the proper curves. Something to help turn collar points is very handy also. Lastly, make sure that you use steam when pressing (after virtually every step) and that you are actually pressing, not ironing. This helps to meld the stitches into the fabric. Good luck!

  8. Diya says:

    Hi Clarie:) The pattern here matches the pattern you requested for. Check it out. sans the strap. The skirt can easily be converted to the one in the picture.(Link –
    For fabric choices satin or silk will be great. But they require a lot of patience and expertise. I made some bridesmaid dresses last year with satin. It took me a lot of effort with the satin silk I chose. Just for your info I am a beginner in sewing 🙂 Hope this helps.

  9. patei says:

    when my husband was in the army I had this problem when he was gone.
    my mom told me about this being a problem during WW ll, the ladies would take a chain like a long necklace
    put clam claws on one end or both. attach the claw to the hole in the pull of the zipper head, you pull
    straight up, the trick is to have it long enough to catch the chain up and over your shoulder then you can either remove it or tuck it inside your dress for later pulling the zipper down. for invisible zippers you might
    try front openings, or no zippers at all.

  10. Daryl says:

    Rene I found a few of sites that sell bras and panties if you don’t want to make them.~
    These are just a few sites I found. There are more if you do a Google search.

    If you buy cotton to make your own bras and panties, make sure you buy organic cotton that doesn’t have other allergens in them.
    Here is a site that shows how to make a bra:

  11. Margaret says:

    Pressing and ironing seams as you sew, this will keep your projects from looking homemade instead of handmade. Judi, also watch and make sure are on the straight of grain, being off grain will make your projects pull in the wrong directions.

  12. Cathee says:

    Judy, I had stopped sewing for a long time, then got interested in it again. My biggest improvement was to sign up for Craftsy classes. I learned so many better ways to do things. My most inspiring class was to make a jacket using no pins! I hated interfacing until this class. I was doing it wrong and didn’t know it. As Deby has said, you don’t always have to do it the way the pattern suggests. Link through Sew So Easy for a class list. They are on sale starting at $19.99.

  13. Carla Shugrue says:

    Hi Rene
    Craftsy has a class called Sewing Bras Construction and Fit
    It is on sale right now for 19.99 (They are having a huge Black Friday Sale)
    I have just started watching the class (I’m just starting lesson 3) and already I have already learned quit a bit

  14. Deborah says:

    @Judy, To give it a more professional look and since I don’t own a serger, I fold over my seams. I just leave an extra 1/2″ at the end and then fold it over to hide the seam. If you’d like a photo, let me know and I’ll email it to you.

  15. Vicki says:

    Sandy, the reason they call it a crotch tape measure is, you tuck the little attached rectangular piece into your back waist band and bring it forward to measure the crotch measurement in menswear (or womenswear).

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