Monthly Archives: September 2006

One last time – McCall’s 5137

I hadn’t planned on making this dress yet again but when I tore the hemline of my magenta dress, I decided to whip another one up yesterday. You see, I’m headed to the beach today for a couple of days and these little rayon dresses are so nice to toss on. The fabric is a rayon challis with a hand-painted look that I purchased from Elia’s Fabrics in Miami a few years ago. Oh yes, I’ve heard the rumors that this style is going out fast but am blissfully unconcerned! This is, after all, a summer dress with a short lifespan. Be back in a few days – I hope to return refreshed and rarin’ to go. Stay tuned for the Hot Patterns Sunshine Top!

PS: My email box is jam-packed! If you’ve recently sent me an email, I am going to try to get through all of my mail this week. No emails about Project Runway, please! I won’t get to see this week’s episode until Friday. Auf Wiedersehen!


Filed under McCall's

Tutorial: Convertible Collar with Yoke

A few days ago I was asked to republish the convertible collar tutorial that I had on my now-defunct site – here it is! As always, it’s so much easier to use 1/4″ seam allowances in this area. Your stitching will be easier, more accurate and you won’t have to trim. Here, I am using Kwik-Sew 2935 which includes 1/4″ seam allowances throughout.

I’ve increased the seam allowances in some areas (the side seams and sometimes the armscye) to give me the option of using flat-felled seams or even plain seams, depending on the project. There’s nothing wrong with using a 1/4″ throughout but I think that larger seam allowances and other seam finishes add more perceived value to the garment. Still, all of your enclosed seams should be 1/4″ – always, IMO.

With the exception of the collar, do not press anything until the end.

Step 1: Construct the collar. I always put a large X with chalk on the undercollar so as not to mix them up.

Step 2: Construct the inner yoke/front facing unit. The inner edges of your facings should be finished in some manner. Here, I’ve simply turned in 1/4″ and edgestitched.

Step 3: Attach the outer yoke to the front and back sections.

Step 4: Sew the collar into the neckline with a 1/8″ seam (so that you won’t have to remove any stitching later). Once you get the hang of this you may be able to skip this step. I still do it because I’m not a big fan of pinning. Having the collar sewn into position gives me one less piece to keep an eye on. Make sure the under collar is next to the outer yoke before sewing.

Step 5: Attach the inner yoke/front facing unit to the shirt/collar unit. I often sew this in two steps, first stitching across the neckline/collar and then down the facings/front edges.

Step 6: Now you’ll need to sew the front yoke seam. Many pattern directions will tell you to slipstitch or topstitch this seam. I sew it by machine from the inside. Hold the raw edges together as they should be sewn and fold the shirt inside. The outer edges will be easy, it gets trickier as you get close to the neckline. You only need to concern yourself with stitching just past the facing edge – don’t worry about getting right up to the neckline because you won’t be able to.

Step 7: I’m sorry (again) for the blurriness of this photo. This is the front yoke seam pinned and ready to sew.

Step 8: Once this seam is sewn you will have a small unsewn area next to the collar. I just leave it as is. If it bothers you, you can certainly sew it up by hand – if you’ll be edgestitching the yoke that will take care of it as well.

Step 9: Lay the shirt out flat, right side up, with the front facing you. Roll the back of the shirt up into the outer yoke area.

Step 10: Pull the fronts off to the side and bring the inner yoke around to meet the outer yoke.

Step 11: Here’s what it will look like – ready to be sewn.

Step 12: Turn everything right side out. Now you can press!

Finished! A nice, neat collar/yoke area completely finished by machine.

Notice that the design matches across the button opening. I always think that’s a nice touch – and it’s so very easy. Material for a future tutorial?


Filed under Tutorials

Where the action is

Some of you have never seen my sewing room and here it is. I know I’m not the only sewer who enjoys looking at everyone’s sewing spaces – or am I? The bones of this room have been about the same for ten years but it received a facelift last year in the way of new paint, new hardware, a new floor and wonderful water hyacinth baskets for organizing. It’s so nice not to lose pins in carpeting!

Here’s the view from the door. That wonderful little Bernette 334DS serger you see in the foreground has been sold since I took these pictures. I was feeling guilty that such a great machine had been sitting idle since the day I bought my industrial serger. I firmly believe that machines need to be used and loved.

The shelves above the industrial serger didn’t always hang so high. I moved them up in order to fit my industrial embroidery machine underneath back in 1999. That machine is now housed in my converted garage with my 6-head and the rest of my industrials. Just a quick walk to the other side of the house. I never bothered to lower the shelves back down. It doesn’t bother me and gives me more room for my thread racks.

Here’s the view to the right – pressing surface, small cutting area (which is usually just piled with fabric) and my Horn thread cabinet. I sure wish the thread cabinet had only deep drawers so that I could fit all of my serger thread in it. I have way too much regular sewing thread to fit so those shallow drawers on top are kind of useless. They hold tools and my knitting needles (I’ve been learning to knit for several years but haven’t progressed past garter stitch).

Here’s a little peek into my shop. The 6-head embroidery machine takes center stage, of course. She’s about 13 feet long. We actually built the room around her. We layed the carpet, painted, had air conditioning installed and then brought the machine in with a forklift (well, WE didn’t, the rigging company did it) and had the fourth wall put up. I usually stay out of here on the weekends – I have to go “home” sometime – but I am swamped with work so the machines are running as I sit here and type.

Okay, I’ve shown you mine – now show me yours!


Filed under Embroidery Shop, Sewing Studio

Hot Patterns Sunshine Tops – Part 3

Well, my plan to move some of the gathers further up over the bust didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. You can see from the Very Bad Bathroom Mirror Photo (I’m sorry, I know it’s blurry) that it causes weird wrinkles/folds above the bust. I should have been able to anticipate that. Plan B: I’ve marked a new gathering area on the neckband and will need to rotate the FBA to a vertical dart and rotate that out at the side seam. I really want to get this just right because I know I will be making this top again and again – it’s really pretty.


Filed under Alterations, Hot Patterns

Hot Patterns Sunshine Tops – Part 2

I had all but forgotten about these really cute heat transfers I purchased a few months ago from Shop Onion. This silver Blomster print is perfect for adding a little embellishment to the neckband of my Sunshine Top.

I decided to use a partial motif on the side of the band. I placed a Teflon sheet underneath so that the excess wouldn’t fuse to my press’ silicone pad. If you don’t have a Teflon sheet you can put a piece of scrap paper or fabric underneath so that the transfer won’t stick to your pressing surface.

Applying the motif is easy! Just fuse at 300F for 10-12 seconds. I’m using a commercial heat press but it’s just as easy to apply these transfers with a dry iron set just above wool.

I’m very happy with the placement of this little detail. This pattern is great! It’s such a pretty top. I thought I could get away without a full bust adjustment because of all the gathers but I was W R O N G. In fact, if you are full-busted I would recommend starting the gathers further up the neckband to fill in the hollow above the bust a little. I am going to make my FBA and then transfer the dart to that area. Oh well, that’s why it’s necessary to make a test garment in knit. My final version will be in a rayon/lycra knit. I think I’ll cut out and fuse the neck band now and get started on my beading. Woohoo!


Filed under Embellishments, Hot Patterns, Onion Patterns