Some Wonderful Sewing Books

As visitors to my studio will attest, I love books!  Over the years I have accumulated a wide variety of books relating to dressmaking, pattern making, fitting and alterations, fashion styling and assorted fabric and embroidery techniques.  I have always enjoyed reading and, whenever I find an intriguing technique, I love to make a sample and think about how I can work my new skill into the next project.

I am often asked about the best book for beginning sewers.  A couple of reasonably priced and very good selections are “Teach Yourself to Sew” and “Easy Guide to Sewing” – both published by Taunton Press.

Teach Yourself to Sew

Teach Yourself to Sew

Easy Guide to Sewing

Easy Guide to Sewing

They are both well illustrated comprehensive and with easy to understand information about basic sewing techniques.  “Teach Yourself to Sew” comes with an instructional DVD as well.  They are also both available as E-books.

For those interested in assessing fit and making alterations, there are many books on the market.  All of them offer great information and illustrations and will most certainly guide you to a good result.  I have been using the following publications with great success over a number of years – “Fit for Real People” by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto and “Fast Fit” by Sandra Betzina.

Fit for Real People

Fit for Real People

Fast Fit

Fast Fit

When it comes to information about fabric, my go to books have been Claire Shaeffer’s “Fabric Sewing Guide” and “More Fabric Savvy” by Sandra Betzina.

Claire Shaeffer's "Fabric Sewing Guide"

Claire Shaeffer’s “Fabric Sewing Guide”

More Fabric Savvy

More Fabric Savvy

Both of these books contain descriptions of many different fabrics with suggestions for their use and what equipment and techniques will work best when using them.

My newest acquisition is “The Mood Guide To Fabric and Fashion”.

The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion

The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion

which has been published by Mood Fabrics in New York.  This store came to prominence as the supplier of fabrics for Project Runway in New York.

At first glance I believe it will be another excellent reference book.  It has lots of information to consider when buying fabric and deals with a lot of the newer textiles which are rapidly coming on to the market.

Another recent new addition to my library has been “Knits for Real People” by Sue Neall and Pati Palmer

Knits for Real People

Knits for Real People

– I believe this is the definitive book for working with knit fabrics and a must for all sewers.

In recent years, there have been several books published which as well as providing excellent, well presented information also include patterns which can be traced off to make a selection of garments featuring different technique elements.  These are well priced and have a lot of appeal to younger sewers.

“Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing” and “Gertie Sews Vintage Casual” by Gretchen Hersch include excellent technique instruction based on tried and true techniques which focus on accuracy and quality results.

Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing

Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

She has also recently published “Gertie’s New Fashion Sketchbook” which is great for budding designers as it contains 300 figure templates which are proportionally true to the female form and adaptable to different body types.

Gertie's New Fashion Sketchbook

Gertie’s New Fashion Sketchbook

When it comes to good reference books that I could not do without, this would be my selection:

 

Vogue Sewing Revised and Updated

Vogue Sewing Revised and Updated

Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer

Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer

Couture Sewing Tailoring Techniques by Claire Shaeffer

Couture Sewing Tailoring Techniques by Claire Shaeffer

Shirtmaking - Developing Skills for Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin

Shirtmaking – Developing Skills for Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin

Threads Sewing Guide

Threads Sewing Guide

Cool Couture - Construction Secrets for Runway Style by Kenneth D King

Cool Couture – Construction Secrets for Runway Style by Kenneth D King

as well as my old favourite, very first sewing reference books:

Commonsense Dresscutting and Drafting for Adults; Simplicity Sewing Book; The Vogue Sewing Book

Commonsense Dresscutting and Drafting for Adults; Simplicity Sewing Book; The Vogue Sewing Book

I hope you will also enjoy some of these books – perhaps Santa might like a clue or two!

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Some Thoughts On Fabric Layout and Construction Order

Do we really need to follow the fabric layout and construction order in the pattern guide sheet?

All patterns (except for Marfy designs) come with a guide sheet offering a suggested fabric layout and instructions to guide sewers through the construction process.   While it is wise to study the information to identify all the pattern pieces and how they fit together, the layout and order of construction can often be changed for more efficient use of your sewing time and easier handling of your fabric.

Fabric Layout:

Before deciding what fabric layout will work best for your project, consideration of a number of aspects the fabric being used is vital:

  • Do you have sufficient yardage and is the fabric wide enough? This is especially important if the pattern has been altered for fit.  The fabric yardage required can also be affected if wider seam allowances and hem allowances are needed.  Wider seam allowances can be required if fabric is likely to fray easily.
  • Does the fabric have a nap or one way pattern? If not, the layout may be changed so less fabric is needed.  Facings and bindings may be able to be cut from a similar weight but different fabric as they will be on the inside of the garment.
  • Similarly, does the fabric have a pattern or weave which needs to be matched? Many patterns state that they are not suitable for one-way designs; however, it can still possible to use such a fabric provided extra yardage is available.  Using a single layer layout is really the best way to maximise success when matching prints and patterns.

Preparation of Garment Sections and Interfacing:

  • Will the fabric be easy to work with? If it is likely to fray easily, fusing the edges of each piece with a thin strip of fusible interfacing may be necessary so this does not occur.  With very loose weave fabrics, overlocking the edges is often insufficient and the stitching can actually fray away with the fabric.
  • Does the fabric have enough body to support various elements? Different areas of the garment will often need different types of interfacing and the instructions suggest the very bare minimum of interfacing as a guide only.

Construction Issues:  

  • Does the garment contain construction elements which you have not attempted before? Even if you have had experience with the included techniques on other garments, it is really worthwhile to practice on scraps of the fabric before tackling the actual garment.
  • Is the fabric easy to press? If not, pressing each seam/detail as you go is doubly important so that when the garment is finished, a light steam may be all that is necessary.
  • Does the fabric mark easily when being pressed? Testing how the fabric behaves when seams, hems, etc are pressed is important so that a more appropriate technique can be chosen if any problems are highlighted.
  • When sewing garments in smaller sizes, it is often much easier to change the order of assembly to minimise the wear on the fabric if it has to be manipulated in a small space. For a waisted dress, or a garment with a band joining separate pieces, these elements should be constructed for the front and back and the zipper installed before side seams are joined.  Simply leave the last 5cm/2″ of each horizontal seam unstitched until the zipper is in place.  Vertical seams can be sewn and pressed and the remaining horizontal seams finished as mentioned in the guide sheet.
  • If any elements are repeated or mirror imaged, complete them in tandem. This is particularly important with welt pockets, bound buttonholes, patch pockets, etc. so that they will be the same size and be positioned properly.
  • Check that buttonhole positions are going to suit the body of the wearer and change them as needed.

Regardless of whether changes are made, I find I get the best results if I always:

  • endeavour to be as accurate as I can at each step of the process
  • read the guidelines a couple of times before making any changes to be sure I am making good decisions
  • use a ruler during the layout phase and be doubly sure that all grain lines are accurate along the whole length of every pattern piece
  • transfer all pattern markings, not forgetting centre front and centre back
  • stay stitch outer edges
  • stitch and press directionally
  • use a press cloth
  • press every seam as sewn, open and to suit my seaming method prior to any piece being joined to another
  • work on like tasks in batches – sew all the darts, stitch all easing lines, press as required
  • complete at the same time all elements which must match.

I hope this information is helpful as you start your summer projects.

The Importance of Inner Structure Part 2

As mentioned in Part 1, the fabric used in a garment will always need underpinnings to support its structure.  This blog covers which are mostly used in more complex, structured garments such as very fitted and/or strapless bodices, low or wide necklines, the hem on full skirts as well as in tailored jackets and coat.

Boning:

  • Boning is used to support sections of the garment that cannot be held in place from above
  • This includes bustiers for strapless and off the shoulder garments, but can include close fitting bodices as well
  • Boning can also be used to support raised waistlines on skirts and pants and to keep waist details close to the body
  • Boning comes in covered and uncovered form – the ends of uncovered boning need to be covered (grosgrain ribbon is a good choice) so that the small tubes of polyester will not scratch the wearer or work through the fabric and make a hole

    Ends of boning are covered for the comfort of the wearer.

    Ends of boning are covered for the comfort of the wearer.

  • Spiral steel boning, which moves with the body, is the most comfortable to wear with a very close fitting garment – cotton tubing is sewn to a foundation with capped steel pieces slid into place before the tubing is stitched closed.

    Spiral boning with capped ends; insertion tape.

    Spiral boning with capped ends; insertion tape.

  • Polyester boning can be stitched to a foundation which is incorporated into the garment or applied to seam allowances, or slid inside a fabric tube which is stitched in place first.
    Polyester boning 12mm wide.

    Polyester boning 12mm wide.

    Smooth side lies against fabric; machine stitch in narrow lip on either side.

    Smooth side lies against fabric; machine stitch in narrow lip on either side.

Horsehair Braid:

Made from polyester webbing, horsehair braid is a flexible tape which comes in various widths.  It is used to stiffen and support hem edges on full skirts, helping them to stand away from the body.

Polyester horsehair braid in various widths will support hem of full skirt. 5cm width can also be used to support top of strapless bodice.

Polyester horsehair braid in various widths will support hem of full skirt. 5cm width can also be used to support top of strapless bodice.

It is quite malleable and soft and can also provide additional support at the top of strapless bodices.

Basic instructions for its insertion follow; however, I  prefer to use an additional piece of lining or garment fabric to cover the braid so that it is not able to be seen once the garment is completed.  The top of this additional fabric can be handstitched in place to the underlining.

Basic instructions for using horesehair braid.

Basic instructions for using horesehair braid.

Staying Edges:

Garment edges need to be supported to prevent them from stretching out of shape during wear, for example necklines and armholes; jacket fronts and rolled lapels; at zipper openings.  There are various methods to accomplish this:

  • Directional stay stitching – using a small straight stitch and widest to narrowest (see blog post 27th April “Staystitching and Understitching”):
    • towards centre front and centre back for curved necklines
    • from V to shoulder with V necklines
    • from neck to shoulder
    • on armholes from shoulder to armhole
  • Application of a fusible tape – cut on the straight grain – on the wrong side of the garment directly over the seam line
  • Lightweight fabric selvage – silk organza is excellent – or narrow, soft grosgrain ribbon or cotton tape can be machine stitched just inside the seam line
  • To prevent gaping in deep or wide necklines, an elastic stay using 3mm elastic can be applied to the seam allowance between the garment and the facing – simply attach the elastic at one end and catchstitch over the elastic to form a casing; tighten the elastic without drawing up the neckline and finish the remaining elastic end with back stitches.

    Neckline/shoulder stays hold the shoulder and sleeves in place with a wide deep neckline in the front and back. They are made from narrow braided elastic couched in place with catch stitch and fastened at each end.

    Neckline/shoulder stays hold the shoulder and sleeves in place with a wide deep neckline in the front and back. They are made from narrow braided elastic couched in place with catch stitch and fastened at each end.

  • Stay tape can also be used to shrink and stabilise gaping areas, for example deep and V necklines, roll lines on lapels and the front edges of an unlined cardigan style jacket.

Waistline Stays:

  • If a garment has no defined waistline seam, a grosgrain ribbon waistline stay can be applied to keep the garment in place during wear
  • A grosgrain ribbon stay is also added to the lower edge of an inserted foundation
  • The stay is hand stitched in place at seam allowances or along the bottom of a foundation and hooks and eyes are applied to each end (they should be positioned towards the garment and not the wearer)

    Rayon Petersham waist stay fastens around the waist to keep the skirt in place and take the strain of the zipper when it is being opened and closed.

    Rayon Petersham waist stay fastens around the waist to keep the skirt in place and take the strain of the zipper when it is being opened and closed.

  • When fastening the garment, the stay hooks are fastened followed by the zipper or buttons

Shoulder Pads and Sleeve Heads:

Shoulder pads are used to support the shoulder area of garments – they are a must in jackets and coats

Shoulder pad styles

Shoulder pad styles:
Top left: straight shoulder edge
Top right: raglan shoulder with attachment tab
Bottom right: moulded raglan
Bottom left: moulded raglan

Straight shoulder edge pads - long end goes towards the front of the garment.

Straight shoulder edge pads – long end goes towards the front of the garment.

  • Take note of the size pad that the pattern specifies and if using a smaller or larger shoulder pad, the garment shoulder seam will need to be altered
  • If a pad is too long for the shoulder seam, it should be trimmed at the neckline edge so that it finishes 1cm from the neckline seam
  • Pads are made mainly from polyester wadding or needle felted cotton and can contain a foam inner core – the foam will deteriorate with dry cleaning and pads will need to be replaced
  • Pad shapes vary according to current fashion and can be shaped at the shoulder line over top of the arm or be straight cut at the armhole edge
  • The shoulder point on the shoulder pad should extend 15mm into the sleeve and is attached along the shoulder seam
  • Pads in unlined garments need to be covered using soft fabric with the bias grain running at right angles to the shoulder edge of the pad and the underside darted/tucked to accommodate the under curve of the pad

Sleeve heads prevent the top of the sleeve collapsing against the arm and give a smoother line

  • Sleeve heads can be made either from a strip of wadding cut on the bias (2 inches by 7 inches) or to the shape of the garment sleeve – they are usually made from cotton or wool quilter’s wadding and are stitched into the sleeve by machine after the sleeve is inserted into the garment

    Custom fitting sleeve head with shoulder position marked with a snip and corners rounded.

    Custom fitting sleeve head with shoulder position marked with a snip and corners rounded.

  • In evening or daywear dresses or tops with full gathered top sleeves, sleeve heads are often made from silk organza or tulle

Linings:

  • The purpose of using a lining to conceal the inner construction of the garment and allow it to glide over other garments without catching
  • For this reason it is best to use a slippery fabric for jackets and coats
  • Soft cotton lawn or batiste can be used for summer dresses but would catch on hosiery with winter garments when a slippery lining is needed
  • Linings are cut to the finished length of the garment
  • Jacket linings are attached to the garment at the hem – an exception to this is where the jacket has a pleat in the back or a pronounced swing back and the lining may impede the drape of this detail
  • Linings in dresses, pants, skirts and coats are hemmed separately
  • In dresses and coats a wider hem on the lining (at least 5-6cm) gives a better drape to the lining
  • Small weights can be added within the hem allowance on linings which are left loose at the bottom of a garment
  • French tacks can be used to attach the lining to the top of the hem of the garment
  • If a garment is made in a heavy or very textured fabric, cut a strip of lining the depth of the desired hem (usually 5cm) plus seam allowances and apply this to the bottom of the garment to act as the hem
  • If making an unlined jacket or coat, consider inserting lining into the sleeves and upper back to make it easier to wear over other garments

The Importance of Inner Structure Part 1

Fabric is a fluid medium.  It will move and drape according to its thickness and weight.

The outer appearance of any garment is greatly affected by the care taken to provide the correct inner structure for the fabric and style of the garment.

There are many choices to be made.  Hopefully, this information will help in evaluating the desired effect for each garment and in making your decision on what will work best for your project.

Interfacing:

  • Interfacing is the most commonly used method of providing support to the outer edges of a garment
  • The purpose of interfacing to support the style and enable the garment to keep its shape during wear, increasing its longevity and resilience during and after wear
  • Always found in applied neckline and armhole facings and as otherwise indicated in the guide sheet but its use can be extended to other areas of the garment
  • Interfacing fall into two groups – fusible and non-fusible
  • Both groups also can also be either woven or knit fabric types and both types have fabric grain which needs to be used in a similar way to the fashion fabric
  • Most commonly, fusible interfacings are used and they come in different weights to suit different fabrics and garment styles
  • If a fabric is not suitable for fusible interfacing, the sew-in variety is used instead – cotton, organza, hair canvas – all of which can be either on the straight of grain or bias which results in a more fluid drape
  • Either type of interfacing is cut from the appropriate pattern pieces and either fused to the wrong side of the fabric or hand tacked to the wrong side of the fabric
  • When using sew in interfacing:
    • Cut interfacing on the same grain as the fashion fabric and slightly smaller than each pattern piece being used
    • Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the fashion fabric and hand tack close to the seam line, just within the seam allowance
    • Once seams are sewn or edges taped, cut excess interfacing away from within the seam allowance
    • Cut out shape of darts to avoid build up of excess in the dart stitching line – darts are usually slashed open and attached to the interfacing by hand using a catch stitch
    • Pad stitch to attach the interfacing to the fabric – heavier padstitching can be used to add extra stiffness where required (see blog post 21st June, 2015)
  • To achieve the correct adhesion of fusible interfacing, you need to:
    • Warm up the fabric by ironing the wrong side of the garment piece to be interfaced
    • Place the glue (rough) side of the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric
    • Cover with a press cloth
    • Using a steam iron and a lift and press motion, move over the piece leaving the iron in place for 10 seconds each time – also press firmly on the iron to ensure it fuses properlyIf you do not have a good steam iron, use a spray bottle to moisten (not wet) the press cloth and press until the cloth is dry
    • Turn the piece over, cover with cloth, and press again from the right side of the fabric
    • Once the piece is fused, allow it to lie flat to cool and then trim away any little pieces of interfacing that extend beyond the fabric edge
    • Whichever type of interfacing is used, replace the pattern tissue on the garment piece to check that it has not distorted;  trim any excess interfacing
    • Marking is done on the interfacing
  • Fusible interfacing can also be used to support a fabric which on its own would not have enough body for the chosen style
  • Extra fusible interfacing can be applied in areas of the garment which may need extra support, for example a lapel collar or unusually shaped collar, hem or sleeve hem
  • If a more subtle and soft drape is desired, interfacing can be cut on the bias grain
  • Calico is often used in top areas of heavy jackets and coats for sleeve cap and underarm supports, chest pieces and saddle backs because that is the area of the garment which takes the whole weight of the garment during both wear and storage

Machine Stitching:

  • Rows of machine stitching will also stiffen fabric and can be used on under collars in place of hand pad stitching sew in interfacing.

Underlining:

  • The purpose of underlining is:
    • to provide shape and strength for the outer fabric where the fabric is delicate or unable to be fused, for example fine silks, satin, velvet, bouclé and fabrics with an embossed surface
    • to hide any trace of inner construction details on white or light coloured and shiny surface garments
    • to make an unlined garment more comfortable to wear
  • Fabrics which can be used for underlining include:
    • soft cotton flannelette (to create a little bit of loft and/or to add warmth) – be sure to prewash as flannelette shrinks considerably
    • silk organza
    • cotton batiste or lawn
    • cotton muslin
  • Underlining pieces are cut the same as the garment pieces and hand basted together just inside the seam line – they are then sewn as if they were one layer
  • Seam allowances, hems and other inner details can be stitched by hand to the underlining to keep them flat and in place

Interlining:

  • The purpose of interlining is:
    • to provide extra warmth to a garment, or
    • to add loft to otherwise flat surface/thin fabrics
  • Fabrics which work well include:
    • thin quilt wadding(batting) in either wool, cotton or bamboo, and
    • flanelette (be sure to wash it first in hot water to deal with initial shrinkage).

Inserting Zippers Part 4 – Fly Zipper

In this blog I will share the methods that I find work best for me.  I most commonly use the cut on fly to achieve a flatter finish over the tummy.

Fly zipper with cut on facing gives a flat finish with minimal bulk.

Fly zipper with cut on facing gives a flat finish with minimal bulk.

If I am making jeans, I use a much softer fabric for the fly and zipper shield.

Soft cotton used for fly facing.

Soft cotton used for fly facing.

Some of this information is contained in the guide sheet of patterns; however, to make installation easier and flow better, I have changed the order of some steps.

A fly zipper can be inserted to be opened from either the right hand or left hand side.  Traditionally women’s pants the zipper fly is placed on the right hand side and for men’s, on the left.

Ready-to-wear women’s jeans often have the zipper on the left hand side.

None of this really matters when we can sew our own clothes because we can choose whatever side we like!

Except for jeans, most commercial patterns for women’s pants are designed with a cut on fly and use a regular dress zip.  This technique minimises bulk on the front of the garment.

Many ready-to-wear garments are designed with a traditional separate fly facing which can be either made from lining or, in lightweight fabrics, from the same fabric as the pants.  Tailored pants usually have a regular dress zip.  Jeans most often have a metal zipper and zipper shield.

If you would like closer fit or wear your pants below the natural waist, the traditional fly with separate facing may give a closer fit – necessary with a lower waist position.

Pattern Work:

Add width to the centre front seam allowance where the zipper will be set.  I usually use 2cm/ ¾”.

To convert a commercial pattern with a cut on fly to a separate fly, changes will need to be made to the commercial pattern with the addition of a fly facing, zipper shield and extended waistband.

The centre front can be either of the straight of grain or slanted inward slightly.  The former allows for a little more tummy room.

If you would like to slant the seam, draw a line from the top of the seam (waist area) to the dot marking the lower end of the zipper.

To alter a pattern to accommodate cut on  fly, trace centre front and mark bottom of zipper.  Trace the  topstitching line and add a line ¼” beyond.   Flip this pattern piece over and align the centre front lines.  Mark the centre front fold line.

Draw desired width of fly extension and line up CF markings when adding this to the front of the pattern.

Draw desired width of fly extension and line up CF markings when adding this to the front of the pattern.

Use fly extension to make a pattern for separate fly facing which will be sewn at CF.

Use fly extension to make a pattern for separate fly facing which will be sewn at CF.

Interfacing:

Interface the fly facing and finish the outside edge.

Interface cut on fly facing and over CF on opposite side.

Interface cut on fly facing and over CF on opposite side.

For pants with a cut on facing, interface the underlap with the interfacing extending over the centre front seam on the side of the pants where the visible fly stitching will lie.

Preparing the Zipper:

Shorten the zipper if necessary.  For dress zips, use a longer zipper than the pattern requires.  Metal zippers should be as close to the correct length as possible.

If it is necessary to shorten a metal zip, do so by marking the desired length at the top of the zipper.  Carefully remove the metal stops (pointy pliers are good for this) and pull the unwanted teeth away from the tape.  When the required length is correct, replace the metal stops and pinch them firmly in place.

Make a template to assist with final topstitching of the zipper.

Zipper template is useful to accurately mark topstitching position.

Zipper template is useful to accurately mark topstitching position.

Insertion Technique – Cut on Fly:

Sew approximately 2”/5cm of crotch seam first – be sure to end exactly at the dot which marks the beginning of the zipper opening and back stitch to secure.

Stitch approximately 5cm (2

Stitch approximately 5cm (2″) of crotch seam, finishing at mark indicating bottom of the zipper – back stitch to secure.
Lengthen stitch to 4.0 and machine baste the remainder of CF seam.

Machine baste centre fronts together (SL4.0-5.0) in the area of the zipper opening;  press seam flat and then open.

Then press a fold on the underside seam allowance so the fold is flush with the cut edge of the fabric.

Press seam flat and open. Press a fold on the underside 15mm (5/8

Press seam flat and open. Press a fold on the underside 15mm (5/8″) from CF

Open the zipper and position the teeth of the zipper along this fold with the zipper stop at the bottom of the opening.

Position zip (coils up) under the folded back seam allowance - align the stop to the marked position.

Position zip (coils up) under the folded back seam allowance – align the stop to the marked position.

Using a zipper foot, edge stitch the zipper tape in place.

Using zipper foot, stitch on the seam allowance close to the zipper teeth and along the length of the zipper.

Using zipper foot, stitch on the seam allowance close to the zipper teeth and along the length of the zipper.

Close the zipper and place the garment right side down on a flat surface.  Allow the zipper to sit flat against the garment (right side down) and pin the other side of the tape to the cut on facing.  Stitch in place with the regular sewing foot.

Lay the work flat with wrong side of zipper uppermost.

Lay the work flat with wrong side of zipper uppermost.

Pin and stitch the other side of the zipper tape to the opposite seam allowance.

Pin and stitch the other side of the zipper tape to the opposite seam allowance.

Using a sliver of white soap or chalk marker and your template, mark stitching line on right hand side of front and topstitch from bottom of zip to top – bed the needle into the centre front seam line and walk the needle until past the metal stopper.

Turn work right side up and use template to chalk mark stitching line on front of garment.

Turn work right side up and use template to chalk mark stitching line on front of garment.

Stitch bar tack at bottom edge of zipper opening – bar tack is stitched with regular zigzag SW2.0, SL0.5 for about 1cm and centred over the zipper stitching.

Use a small zigzag to make a small bartack at CF at the base of the topstitching.

Use a small zigzag to make a small bartack at CF at the base of the topstitching.

Finished zipper installation with zipper hidden.

Finished zipper installation with zipper hidden.

Fly Zipper:

Press under 1cm/ ½” on the underside seam allowance.

Press under 1cm(1/2

Press under 1cm(1/2″) seam allowance above point where bottom of zipper will sit.

Make the fly protector by folding wrong sides together and overlocking the edges to close.

Stitch fly to centre front seam – working from bottom up – press seam flat, trim back by half and press seam open.

Fly stitched along CF seam - stop at mark indicating bottom of zipper.

Fly stitched along CF seam – stop at mark indicating bottom of zipper.

Fold fly to wrong side and edgestitch if desired.

Press fly to wrong side and understitch above marked point for bottom of zipper.

Press fly to wrong side and understitch above marked point for bottom of zipper.

Starting exactly at the dot which marks the beginning of the zipper opening sew approximately 5cm of crotch seam and back stitch to secure.

Stitch approximately 5cm(2

Stitch approximately 5cm(2″) of crotch seam – start exactly at bottom of fly seam.

Working with zipper teeth closed, place zipper tape under the fold and fly protector underneath –  using zipper foot stitch close to the zipper teeth from bottom to top through all layers.

Place right side of zipper against underlap fold - keep teeth close to zipper.

Place right side of zipper against underlap fold – keep teeth close to zipper.

Pin underlap on underside of zipper tape

Pin underlap on underside of zipper tape

Stitch in place from right side.

Stitch in place from right side.

Place garment on flat surface, wrong side up and fold the zipper shield out of the way.  Pin other side of the zip to the right hand side fly facing and stitch in place.

Position edge of fly with CF together over underlap.

Position edge of fly with CF together over underlap.

Pin underlap out of the way.

Pin underlap out of the way.

Stitch other side of zipper to fly facing.

Stitch other side of zipper to fly facing.

Using a sliver of plain soap or chalk marker, mark stitching line on right hand side of front.

Start fly stitching with small stitches (1.5) to add extra security.

Start fly stitching with small stitches (1.5) to add extra security.

Chalk marks can be easily removed using a clean eraser.

Chalk marks can be easily removed using a clean eraser.

Position the zipper shield in place.  Topstitch from bottom of zip to top through all layers – a cardboard template can be used to mark the stitching line.

Stitch bar tack at bottom edge of zipper opening– bar tack is stitched with regular zigzag (SW2.0, SL0.5) for about 1cm and centred over the zipper stitching.  Add an additional bartack to ensure zipper shield stays in place.

With fly facing in place underneath, stitch bar tack at bottom of zipper at CF and on curve of topstitching - to catch fly facing and keep in in place.

With fly facing in place underneath, stitch bar tack at bottom of zipper at CF and on curve of topstitching – to catch fly facing and keep in in place.

Underside showing secured fly facing.

Underside showing secured fly facing.

Finished zipper.

Finished zipper.

 

Waistband with Fly Zippers:

With a cut on fly, the waistband will extend from the centre front on the fly side to the edge of 3cm/1 ½” beyond the zipper teeth on the underside.IMG_2772

With a traditional fly, the waistband will extend on the left hand side so that it finishes flush with the zipper fly extension.  Pin in place and stitch using your desired method.IMG_2775

IMG_2782IMG_2774I usually either press under one side of the waistband or overlock/bind one long edge and stitch the garment side in place with the band on top so the action of the feed dogs will  ease the waist of the garment to the band.

Fold the waistband wrong sides together.  On either end stitch from the waist seam line towards the fold – do not stitch over folded fabric.

There is no need to clip across the corner of this seam unless you have a waistband with a seam on both sides.

Turn to right side, pin waistband in place and baste before stitching in the ditch or topstitching from the right side.IMG_2783IMG_2784

I hope you have found this blog helpful and would love to hear your feedback.

Next time I will cover exposed and separating zips.

Photos have been restored!

My apologies to any readers who have been unable to see the photos with my blogs.  It was my error – I am still on L plates with this blogging caper!

I have restored the photos and in the process I discovered that I had inadvertently deleted “Inserting Zippers Part 4  – Fly Zippers”.  It has now been uploaded again.

I hope the blogs are helpful and would love to hear feedback.

Thank you for your interest.

A Great Method for Adding a Shirt Collar and Stand

I first used this method quite a few years ago after reading “Shirtmaking – Developing Skills for Fine Sewing”
by David Page Coffin Published The Taunton Press, Inc. 1998.   A variation of the method has also been featured a number of times in Australian Dressmaking with Stitches.

Collar on stand with neckline worn open.

Collar on stand with neckline worn open.

Previously I had used the methods shown in the pattern guidelines,  often with disappointing results – I could never seem to get the rounded ends of the collar stand exactly the same on both sides without lots of unpicking and resewing.

This method works very well with lightweight shirting fabrics and I have also used it on heavier jacket weight fabrics with good results.

To achieve a great shirt collar, there are a few things to consider:

  • Would you like a crisp or softer collar?
  • Will the collar band be worn mostly open or closed?
  • Do you want to wear the collar standing up at the back?
  • Is the fabric opaque or sheer/semi-sheer?
  • Does the fabric print need to be highlighted by using contrast details?

Preparation:

Working with smaller seam allowances makes the attachment of the collar stand and collar a lot easier to handle.  I normally use a seam allowance of 6mm to 1cm / ¼”- ½”.   After removing any excess seam allowance width from the collar, collar stand and neckline seams,  I cut out the upper and under collar and collar stand pieces.

So that the upper collar will roll out of the stand without showing any of the under collar, it is important that the upper and under collar are separate and different pattern pieces.  I have read many times that approximately 3mm / 1/8″ should be removed from the neck edge and ends of the under collar.  This can cause problems if the ends of the collar do not meet exactly where they are joined to the stand.

The pattern I have used is a KwikSew shirt pattern which uses 6mm/1/4″ seam allowances and provides separate pieces for the upper and under collar.  It is interesting to compare the two and see exactly where to remove the excess from a pattern that is the same for upper and under collar.  The corner edges of the collar which will be joined to the stand are not trimmed.

Under collar pattern has been placed on top of upper collar, matching CB position. Front edges of collar remain in the same position on both pieces. Narrow wedge trimmed from front edge.

Under collar pattern has been placed on top of upper collar, matching CB position. Front edges of collar remain in the same position on both pieces. Narrow wedge trimmed from front edge.

Under collar is approximately 3mm/1/8" narrower in CB and tapers towards front edge at neckline.

Under collar is approximately 3mm/1/8″ narrower in CB and tapers towards front edge at neckline.

The collar and stand pieces can be cut on either lengthwise or crosswise grain to use the fabric pattern to best effect.

They can also be cut using bias grain with the addition of a centre back seam – the interfacing can be cut on a more stable grain to keep the pieces in shape during the life of the garment.

Fuse the interfacing to each collar piece and both of the stands.  I prefer to use a woven fusible lawn which is lightweight but can be layered if extra stiffness or support is needed.

After fusing, reposition pattern piece and trim accurately. Fabric can stretch or distort during the fusing process.

After fusing, reposition pattern piece and trim accurately. Fabric can stretch or distort during the fusing process.

Tip:  Always test interfacing on a large scrap of fashion fabric to test stiffness and reaction of adhesive to the chosen fabric.

Tip:   To make a shirt collar stand up at the back, use extra interfacing in the back of the collar.  Cut and fuse an extra layer of interfacing to do this.  This piece of interfacing should be narrower at the outer edge of the collar then at the neck edge.

Additional interfacing to support collar if it is to be worn up. Draw position marks on pattern. Cut interfacing and fuse to under collar on top of original interfacing.

Additional interfacing to support collar if it is to be worn up. Draw position marks on pattern. Cut interfacing and fuse to under collar on top of original interfacing.

Transfer all pattern markings to the wrong side of the collar, stand and shirt neck.  For further accuracy lightly mark the collar attachment points, the curve of the seam at the ends of the collar stand and the seam allowances.

Tip: Make a cardboard or plastic template for the curved at the edges of the stand to ensure that they will be the same shape.

Collar Stays:

If your fabric is very soft, collar stays can be helpful in keeping the collar points sharp.

Mark the position and width of the stays on the pattern for the under collar.  Also mark the position of a buttonhole to allow insertion of the stay.

Mark position of collar stay and buttonhole on pattern and transfer stitching lines to right side of interfaced under collar.

Mark position of collar stay and buttonhole on pattern and transfer stitching lines to right side of interfaced under collar.

Stitch the buttonhole on right side of under collar and cut.  Place a piece of scrap fabric against the wrong side of the under collar and stitch the pocket for the stay.

Collar stay pocket on under collar.

Collar stay pocket on under collar.

The collar is then constructed as detailed below.

Construction Method:

Construct the collar, stitching from centre to each collar end and press (seams open first) with the upper side down. Edge stitch the outer edge of the collar if desired.  Carefully roll and mould it around a tailor’s ham.  Pin the collar to the ham, steam and set aside to cool.  See blog post  5th July, 2015 “Collars – Tips and Techniques”.

Before collar is inserted into the stand, stitch the neck edges together within the seam allowance.

Collar pressed in place and, with under collar uppermost, a small strip of upper collar is visible.

Collar pressed in place and, with under collar uppermost, a small strip of upper collar is visible.

To maintain correct placement when collar is attached to stand, place two bottom edges exactly together and stitch within seam allowance.

To maintain correct placement when collar is attached to stand, place two bottom edges exactly together and stitch within seam allowance.

When collar is placed on a flat surface, the roll of the upper collar becomes obvious.

When collar is placed on a flat surface, the roll of the upper collar becomes obvious.

Side view with upper collar on top.

Side view with upper collar on top.

Sandwich the shirt neck between both collar stand pieces – the collar stand pieces will be right sides together.  Pin along neck edge through all layers and stitch along the neck edge from end to the other.

If using a double yoke, tack both pieces together at neckline (on the garment side so tacking will not be caught in stitching). This will keep neckline edges together and minimise problems when attaching the stand.

If using a double yoke, tack both pieces together at neckline (on the garment side so tacking will not be caught in stitching). This will keep neckline edges together and minimise problems when attaching the stand.

Neckline edge sandwiched between the collar stand pieces and pinned in place. Pinning at right angles to the seam keeps everything in place well when stitching curves.

Neckline edge sandwiched between the collar stand pieces and pinned in place. Pinning at right angles to the seam keeps everything in place well when stitching curves.

Tip:  Use your left hand to smooth the shirt fabric under the collar stand as it comes up to the needle – be sure not to pull the fabric – the cut edges must all remain together.

When stitching, keep fingers under stand and smooth fabric at right angles to seam line as you proceed around the neckline curve.

When stitching, keep fingers under stand and smooth fabric at right angles to seam line as you proceed around the neckline curve.

Mark the centre front on both ends of stand.

Both ends of stand have CF and stitching lines marked.

Both ends of stand have CF and stitching lines marked.

Tightly roll the shirt front out of the way.

Roll the shirt tab edge tightly between the stand pieces.

Roll the shirt tab edge tightly between the stand pieces.

Pin the rounded edges together – place a pin right beside the tab at the front edge of the bodice to guide the position of the machine needle.  It is important not to stitch through the tab.

Wrap stand pieces over the rolled section and pin together at CF.

Wrap stand pieces over the rolled section and pin together at CF.

Fold back upper seam allowance and position a pin so that it lies right against, but not through, tap. This pin will help with positioning the machine needle to commence stitching.

Fold back upper seam allowance and position a pin so that it lies right against, but not through, tap. This pin will help with positioning the machine needle to commence stitching.

Both ends stitched from neckline to CF. Check the curves match.

Both ends stitched from neckline to CF. Check the curves match.

Using small stitches,  sew around the marked curve to the collar attachment point.  Repeat at the other end.  Grade the inside neck stand turnings to collar attachment point. Trim to 3mm (1/8”); clip the curves as needed and trim across the corners.

Trim the folded or pieced tab section between the stand seam allowances; clip across turn from neckline into stand.

Trim the folded or pieced tab section between the stand seam allowances; clip across turn from neckline into stand.

Clip the curved section quite close to stitching - this section may also be notched on thicker fabric. Do not clip the top of the band to CF as this can cause stress of that point when collar is attached.

Clip the curved section quite close to stitching – this section may also be notched on thicker fabric. Do not clip the top of the band to CF as this can cause stress of that point when collar is attached.

Tip: Do not clip to the end of the stitching.

Turn the work right side out and press, taking care not to stretch the unfinished edge of the stand.

Finished collar stand ends.

Finished collar stand ends.

Lay the shirt on a flat surface, with back closest.  Place the collar as it will ultimately sit, with upper collar on top and against the collar stand.  Flip the collar towards the inside section of the stand and pin the upper collar to  the inside neck of collar stand.  Match the centre back, shoulders and front edge with the collar attachment points.  Pin to the inside of the stand, leaving the outside stand free.

Shirt RS up on flat surface and collar in place as it will be worn.

Shirt RS up on flat surface and collar in place as it will be worn.

Collar flipped to inside neck edge and pinned with upper collar to inside of collar stand.

Collar flipped to inside neck edge and pinned with upper collar to inside of collar stand.

Machine stitch through all pinned layers, commencing and finishing exactly on the marked points.

 Tip: To avoid stretching the collar stand, I find it helpful to start stitching approximately 25mm /1” from the end of the collar to the opposite end.  I then reverse the work and stitch back to the original end.  Overlap the stitches rather than backstitching.

Start stitching with collar stand on top and approximately 3-4cm/1 1/2" from edge. Stitch to opposite end of collar. Turn work and stitch the remainder of seam towards the other end of the collar. This avoids the possibility of stretching the end of the stand when positioning the machine foot.

Start stitching with collar stand on top and approximately 3-4cm/1 1/2″ from edge. Stitch to opposite end of collar. Turn work and stitch the remainder of seam towards the other end of the collar. This avoids the possibility of stretching the end of the stand when positioning the machine foot.

Turn under the edge of outside collar stand 6mm (1/4”) and carefully press with the tip of the iron.

Turn in this edge and place the fold on the row of machine stitching.  Pin in place and slip-stitch or tack in place before top stitching the stand.

When making buttonholes, stitch buttonhole on inside of collar stand so that right side of buttonhole is showing when garment is worn open at the neck.

Cllosed at neck

Cllosed at neck

Back - collar stand rolls nicely with no hint of under collar showing.

Back – collar stand rolls nicely with no hint of under collar showing.

Collar turned up at the back

Collar turned up at the back

Side view with collar turned up at the back

Side view with collar turned up at the back