THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

July 29, 2008

Pants pattern alteration

Filed under: Fit/Pattern Alterations,Tutorials — Els @ 1:22 pm

Alterations pants pattern for athletic or full ( aka heavy) thighs front side only.

Since a lot of women develop heavy front thighs due to sport activities like swimming, running etc. which cause the front pants legs to be too snug at the upper thighs.

 Adding wide to the front pants pattern can help to achieve a better fit.

 Measure your thighs at 2 inches below the crotch, next measure the pants pattern front and back at the same height 2 inches below the crotch the total width of your pattern must be your thighs width + 2-3 inches ( 5-7,5 cm)

For example, if your patternwidth is 1 inch short in width you can add that amount at the front pattern.
If your pants pattern has a crease line you can start from there , if your pattern doesn’t  have a crease line, draw one see step 1 at the diagram.



Draw a horizontal line at the front pattern, 1 inch below the crotch line from side seam to inner leg seam.
Measure the space between this new line till knee height and divide this in 2 and draw a horizontal line halfway.

Cut the front crease line from the waistline towards the knee and cut open the 3 new horizontal lines. See step 2

Add a piece of paper under the slashed pattern and spread the pattern parts like the example diagram see Step 3
Draw a new crease line from the knee up to the waist, add at both sides of the new crease line ½ inch at upper thigh .The side seams inner and outer leg are now spread for about 1/8 -1/4 inch. You can ease in those inches (1/8 till ¼ inch) so the front side seam fits the backside seam again.

If your front pattern needs more than 1 inch then I would suggest to use a larger size pattern because otherwise the space at inseam and side seam lines are increasing too much and easing in will not be possible anymore.

July 25, 2008

New Look 6648 neckline

Filed under: Gigi,Tutorials — Gigi @ 4:38 pm

Jan was wondering how to narrow the neckline of this (or any) top so I thought I’d just post a quick photo showing how it’s done. The heavy green line is the original neckline. I do not recommend using markers for your pattern work (messy and the lines are too fat) but the pencil lines wouldn’t show up. It’s a little wonky because I traced over the original line freehand just so you could see it. You can see from my notes on the pattern that I brought the neckline in 1″ at the shoulders and raised it 1/2″ at the center front (I had previously lowered it 1.5″ at the center front). The other line you see on the pattern is my facing line. If I plan on using this pattern often I will retrace it onto manila paper. Whenever I retrace or transfer a pattern I always make a note of all adjustments made to the pattern for future reference – usually just numbers and arrows.


Then I used my mini French curve to redraw the neckline and repeat the process on the back. I do have the regular Fairgate French curve but the mini curve is so handy for necklines. I have no idea where to buy these, my friend Cynthia bought this one for me in NYC.


I hope that helps, Jan!

July 22, 2008

Exposed Facings & Sleeve Bands

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Fabric,Gigi,Patterns,Tutorials — Gigi @ 2:34 pm

I recently saw this See by Chloe top at Saks.Com and fell in love with it. I searched The Stash and sadly didn’t have any silk print with the same type of design but I did find a beautiful jersey that I bought from Gorgeous Fabrics recently (sadly, it’s sold out)!



Then I found this pattern (New Look 6648 ) and it all came together:


I actually like the pattern a little more than the designer original because it’s not as voluminous – important when you are only 5’3″ tall!

To give it the same feeling as the See blouse I decided to add an exposed facing and sleeve bands. This takes a little more time but is well worth the effort. Notice that I used a round neck instead of a square one – just my personal preference. It’s just as easy to make a square neck if you prefer. I also lowered the neckline 1″ because it was a little high on me. Next time I will definitely narrow the neckline at the shoulders – it is a lot wider than it appears. I’ll be needing some lingerie guards! That is the only alteration I made to the pattern. I cut my usual size 8 but, depending on the fabric, I could go down to a 6 next time. It’s cut very generously so no FBA was needed.

Before I show the facing I want to mention that I sewed the shoulder/sleeve seam conventionally and pressed the seam open. I find that this type of seam often draws up and doesn’t hang nicely when sewn on the serger. You can see that my seam has retained it’s drape.


To draft your facing it’s a good idea to first trim down your neckline seam allowance to 1/4″. I always use 1/4″ on all enclosed seams. It’s easier to sew accurately and saves the extra step of trimming later. Next, using a small ruler or gauge, mark your facing line directly onto the pattern. I made mine 1.75″ wide for a finished width of 1.25″. You can make yours as wide or as narrow as you like. Then simply trace this off to make your facing pattern pieces.

I then block fused my fabric and cut out my facings. Notice that I cut the facings on the opposite grain so that they would show up better. If you are going to do the work it’s nice for it to show!

Now for the tedious part: After you sew the facing shoulder seams, you’ll need to turn in 1/4″ on the outside edge. To make this easy and accurate I sewed 1/4″ from the edge and then used the stitching as a guide to turn the edge in. As you can see, I turned the edge in just past the stitching so that I wouldn’t have to remove any of it later.


Give the edge a good press and flatten well with your clapper or a seam roll:


Then it’s time to attach the facing right side to the garment wrong side and stitch.


Next, clip your seam and press it open. Notice that I alternate clips on the garment and facing. I think this makes for a much nicer finish especially in heavier fabrics because you won’t get those little indentations from the clips showing through.


Understitch attaching both seam allowances to the body of the garment. I always allow the garment to lay in it’s finished position so that the clips are allowed to spread open and conform to that shape. You want this:


Not this:


Lastly, press the neckline edge allowing the facing to peek out a bit


then topstitch the facing in place. Some sort of topstitching or edge foot is really helpful here.


The sleeve bands were merely sewn into a circle, folded in half and serged on in the round. Then I edgestitched the seam to give the appearance of a binding. Easy! My bands are 2.75″ wide. I cut them 6″ wide to start. I wanted them a little wider but that’s all the fabric I had left after a stupid cutting error. Since I liked the original length of the sleeves I trimmed the garment sleeves 2.5″ so that I would retain that length (2.75″ band width minus 1/4″ seam allowance).



Because there is so much volume on the top I wanted the fit around my waist and hip to be as trim as possible so I needed to eliminate the ruching on the band. This is a super-easy fix here as only the outer band is ruched, the inner band is flat. Simply measure the width of the inner band from the cut edge to the foldline marked on the pattern. Then draw a new line at the same width on the ruched section and fold (or cut) away the unwanted tissue.

Note the fold line towards the bottom of the pattern piece:


I drew a 2nd line the same distance away on the ruched side of the foldline:


New pattern piece:


The finished garment:


July 14, 2008

Double-fold knit binding

Filed under: Tutorials — Gigi @ 2:52 pm

Many of us have these binding plates for our machines. I have two for my Bernina and quite a few for my coverstitch machine and industrial zigzag (which also fit the Bernina) and two for my walking-foot machine. When I bought my first binder I was terrified to use it but, like the narrow-hem foot, once you get the hang of it they are so easy to use and give great results! Before we get started, please note that your machine must have attachment holes on the bed in order for you to use industrial-style binding plates. I can use these on my Bernina but not on my Pfaff so check your particular machine. Some machines use a special foot instead.

Yes, you can bind in the round but it can be pretty fiddly when using a knit – it’s not bad on placemats with cotton fabrics. You’ll need to insert the fabric before taking any stitches and then stop before you reach where you started so that you can join the ends and fold the edges under and stitch. This method has been filed in my Life’s Too Short folder. This is the type of thing I would do on a fine garment where I wouldn’t be using a binding plate in the first place.

On a surplice neckline you’ll sew the shoulder seams and then just bind from one edge to the other. On other necklines you will sew one shoulder seam only, bind the edge, then sew the remaining shoulder seam closed. This is how it’s done in RTW and it is perfectly acceptable.


There are basically three types of binders:

Double-Fold: Raw edges are folded under on the top and the bottom. The binding looks the same from both sides.

Single-Fold: The raw edge is folded under on top only. This is the type of binder used most often with a coverstitch machine as the bottom raw edge is encased by the looper threads.

Raw Edge: A raw edge binder is generally used to bind edges with a tape or other non-ravelling binding such as leather or ribbon. However, it can also be used with pre-folded bias tape.

The binder on the left is made for my Bernina along with the binding foot. Like all things Bernina I had to pay the big bucks for it – I think it was around $80 ten years ago. Then I discovered the wonderful world of Industrial Attachments! I purchased the binder on the right from my local industrial machine shop for under $20 and it works just as well as the Bernina binder and is available in many different widths. If a binding foot is not available for your machine you can have one made by your local mechanic or make your own! This involves buying an extra zigzag or open-toe foot and having the right toe cut off and then buffed smooth.


The binder used on my top makes a 1/4″ finished double-fold binding. This is the same binder I use on placemats. It works beautifully with knits especially if you cut them a smidgen wider than what the binder calls for. This causes the fabric to stretch a little as it passes through and allows the neckline to hug your body quite nicely.

The fabric I used is a polyester ribbed sweater knit from Glick Textiles. I save scraps of knits I think I might want to use as bindings (and they are the ONLY scraps I save!) because they can add such an interesting touch to a garment – that little extra something that can give you that expensive RTW look. As long as it’s an 1/8 yard or more it goes into the scrap bin.

Step 1: Cut your knit binding on the crossgrain (or direction of greatest stretch) to the width needed for your particular binder. My binder takes strips 1 1/8″ wide. If you buy an industrial binding plate the width will be stamped on the plate itself. That being said I often cut binding wider – for knits and bias wovens – as the width tends to decrease as it’s pulled through the attachment. You’ll need to experiment a little bit with scraps to find the right width for your particular fabric and project. I cut my knit 1 3/8″ wide on the crossgrain for this project. A rotary cutter and quilting ruler is perfect for this job!

Step 2: Angle cut one end of your strip and feed it into the binder before you attach it to your machine. You can use a pin or seam ripper to gently move it along.




Step 3: Attach binding plate and pull the folded binding under the presser foot. Change your needle position as desired and take a few stitches to secure the end. Here is where you want to make sure everything is even and folded properly before you stitch. A bad start will result in a poorly sewn binding.


Then feed your garment into the binder and watch your beautiful finished edge emerge!


With a double-fold binder your edge will look the same on both sides.


I’m going to be a copycat and insert my parting shot here! I could not resist because Ricki looks so cute here vying for my attention as I type. She is such a honey.


July 4, 2008

Fine Men’s Tailoring: Pants Hemming

 Do you recognise a European tailor made or High End RTW men’s pants or trousers by the way it is hemmed?



 Since I never found any information about this way of hemming outside Europe I thought it would be interesting to show you.


 The hem has a tape sewed on at the hem allowance partly covering the hem fold by 1 mm or 1/24 inch to protect the hem from wearing out, and for reinforcement.


 Grey pants example detail  : which shows the 1 mm ridge which is peeking out but is hardly noticeable by others , or you must be lying on the ground so your eyes are on the same level as the pants hem. 














 Detail outside view black pants















 Inside view black pants















This tape is sewn by 2 stitching lines after the hem fold is steam pressed and the ridge should peep out  for 1 mm ( 1/24 inch) 

 I used a non matching thread for better view.





 This polyester or cotton tape is 15,5 mm wide (5/8 inch) and has a small ridge at one long end.


 The tape which is called “Stootband” in Dutch, “Trouser Kick Tape” in English, “Hosenstossband” in German,  “Talonnette” in French, “Slidbånd” in Denmark, “Cinta Talonera” in Spain.
























Visible ridge 1 mm, 1/28 inch






















This way of protecting a hem from wearing out is mainly used in men’s pants/trousers but I also heard that in theater clothing it is used for floor-length gowns or skirts to protect the hem from wearing out.


 I have sewn this tape too in a pair of wide legged pants for myself.


 This tape is available in several colors like dark blue, black, beige, grey and brown and can be purchased at European well stocked notion stores, it is sold per meter or at prepacked cards which consist of 2 meters (2.18 yards)
















 I bought a few cards from a store who was selling out their inventory

(1 grey, 2 1 beige, 5 3 black and 5 3 dark blue) which I can part off if anybody wants to try them out.


 The price per card is Euro €1,25 plus shipping.

 If you are interested in a card contact me at diva-els  hotmail dot com








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