Cat-Dog method to reduce bulk.

Modified Resolution sports bra

After learning to make my own sports bras, I tried all the patterns. I like the Resolution for its simplicity. I modified this one to have about a 1 inch lower back neck and the back arms to be cut about 1 inch less deep. It works great under the tops that need this cut. The pattern calls for a single layer to be finished with binding, and an elastic under bust that is folded up and top stitched. It might have been the Agility that I made in a heavier weight fabric, and self lined. With 4 layers of thick fabric plus elastic things got pretty bulky. Not what I wanted in summer, so I made some changes.

I folded my fabric vertically and horizontally, so that there were four layers. Then placed the pattern on the vertical fold and one inch higher than the normal cut line on the horizontal fold. Hang tight, it will become more clear in the next photo. ** Alternatively, you could cut a new pattern piece on both folds which may make things easier.

Note the cut line of the pattern extends 1 inch longer that the fold line of the fabric. The dotted line is where the elastic would normally be folded up and top stitched. On the flip side of the pattern is the date, name of the person, name of the pattern and size. Band measurements would be handy too.

This method of cutting results in this shape. My husband laughed when he walked by and asked if I was making a shirt for CatDog. Repeat the same for the back piece.

With right sides facing, stitch the shoulder seams and side seams of the front and back together. Very often the front may be longer than the back piece, just ease that extra amount in. If needed, pin two underarms and center to get the easing to be more even.

Bring bottom up to meet the top at the shoulder seams.

Flip one layer, just the very top layer over to the back side, and your cat-dog bra will start to take shape.

Using a stretch stitch, baste your neck opening and most of the arm openings. I used a 2.5 x 2.5 zig zag on the very edge of this sample.

Be sure to leave about an inch of either side of a side seam not basted. This is how we will get the under bust elastic in.

You can tell by the easing that the left side is the front. It is subtle shaping that acts like a dart.

After you have pre stretched and exercised your elastic, wrap it around your body, and see how long it will be to be snug and supportive. Cut your elastic 1/2 inch bigger than that, and attach a large safety pin to one end and snake it into the opening of your cat-dog bra. Non roll, braided, what ever you prefer best in a 3/4 to 1 inch size. For larger busted folk, a wider elastic, and longer cut front may add more support.

Once you are 100 percent sure you have the elastic all the way through without twisting, bring the ends together, overlap that 1/2 inch and stitch securely.

Hang your bra on a hanger or just hold by the straps, to be sure the elastic is not twisted. Then let gravity help that elastic fall to the lowest point (remember the horizontal fold). Distribute any fullness, and pin at the sides and centers to hold the elastic in place.

Stitch that elastic into place. Non roll elastic will work well with a lightening stitch. An elastic that rolls may work better with a serpentine stitch to hold the majority of it in place. Just be sure that the stitch is sufficiently stretchy.

Cut your binding strips as the pattern directs. and bind the openings. There are lots of binding options. This is a 1 inch wide fold over elastic. I really like the elastic from here.

You can apply a decorative elastic like this scalloped elastic, which is sadly out of stock.

Then flip and top stitch the elastic for a picot edge.

This is picot elastic on a breathe mesh from Discovery Fabrics that is not super supportive but enough and very lightweight for a summer bra. this is a Cecilia that is modified the same way.

And here is a fun binding tutorial. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdWgntXEmTY

** Alternatively, you could fold tracing paper in half vertically and horizontally to create your pattern pieces. Important is to keep the fold line of the pattern the same as the fold line for the elastic, not the cut line, or your bra will be too long.

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase with those links I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. I appreciate your support!

Happy sewing! Joan

Molly with double fold neck binding, a double sewn curved hem, and a splash of color.

In December, I made a Molly PJ top as part of a promotion for 5 out of 4 patterns. I used some very thin cotton jersey from Kathy’s Lace and Elastic, and ended up dyeing the fabric. It started out in a sweet baby pink. I like purchasing deadstock fabric (or using from my stash) something that I would not be heartbroken if the pattern did not fit. Since this was my first attempt at this pattern, I would call it a wearable muslin.

There is no lycra in this fabric, and being thin, I found that holding the threads when sewing the short band seams was critical. Also not cutting the thread in between sewing the pieces helped to keep the fabric from meandering its way down below the feed dogs. This is called chain stitching. It is often used in quilting small pieces together. Saves thread and frustration in garment sewing too. Just leave 1/8 to 1/4 inch between pieces and clip them apart later.

Short band seams being chain stitched.

I lengthened the top. The lower edge of the ruler shows where the pattern stops. I had planned for a solid tunic length top that I could wear over my crazy patterned leggings. This ended up being 8 inches longer in the center and curved up to where the original hem line ended. At first I thought it was too long, but this has quickly become one of my favorite tops. I added this length to the front and the back.

Used differential feed. As part of hemming, I serged around the hemline. By using this setting, I slightly gathered one curved edge of my hem. I switched the differential feed to neutral for all the other parts.

The portion of the hem that was serged with the differential feed naturally wants to roll up into position.

This makes hemming so much easier. If your fabric has lycra or a greater stretch, I would recommend testing your stitches on scraps, till you are comfortable that you have a good match. Pin, clip, press or use the guides on your machine to make this hem as even as you possibly can (or wish to) sew. Since this fabric has little stretch, a slight zig zag worked well.

The thing about curved hems is that they want to twist like the photo below. I solved this by edge stitching with a teflon coated open toed embroidery foot, and edge stitching the front side of the hem. The teflon was not necessary, but this is my favorite type of foot. Other machines call it an open toe embroidery foot. It was easier than I expected to manipulate the fabric by finger pressing from left to right just before the foot to eliminate this wrinkle that wants to form. The edge stitching keeps everything in place. You may have another foot with a guide that will help sew a straighter seam.

This is fast and easy and flat. A cover stitch machine or double needle could be fun to try too.

What about the other openings? The pattern calls for a neck band, which normally I love, but this fabric did not have the recovery that I like in a band, so I used a double fold binding. Cut the band length along the stretch, at 1.75 inch wide. You saw that I chain stitched the ends earlier. I may have needed to piece this one, as I see seams on either side of the neck. Double fold bindings work nicely with thinner fabrics. I like that you can see where you are sewing and make sure your edges are covered. Pins, clips or wonder tape can help tame fabrics that tend to slide.

  1. To double fold band, sew right side of the band to the wrong side of the neck opening. If you need to baste first on a sewing machine that is great, you will ultimately want a serged edge here.

2. Double fold part two. Wrap the binding up and around that firm serged edge. Have the raw edge of the binding meet the finished edge of the serging and fold over the binding to fully cover the serged seam. In this photo, I moved the needle to the left and top stitched with a slight zig zag. This is a good time to start in the back and test the first few inches for stretch. Widen or shorten the stitch for more stretch. I finished the sleeves this way too.

Did you notice my fatal error yet? Ouch! I realized that I had sewn the front on inside out. Hard to tell. Solved this by adding a little color.

And done. Up close you can tell that this is a tiny zig zag. A cover stitch might be fun here.

First time ice dyeing. In this batch are some Penny PJ’s for my grand child too!

This post contains affiliate links that cost you nothing, but may net me a small commission from the pattern designer if you purchase their pattern with my link. I thank you if you do!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing! Joan

A twist on the racerback.

Note: This post is only for those adventurous or curious sewists who are adept at making this kind of bra. If you are new to sewing please, just look away, or skip to the bottom for links to other bra posts. This one gets complex. No whining allowed. Alternatively, you can follow to step #2 and add binding.

It all started with some Rambouillet wool a friend found on line. I bought all three colors, cause 92 percent wool and 8 percent lycra should be washable, and it is and very very comfortable. I also found some ready to dye white cotton ribbing fabric. I cut out my favorite Raglan and favorite Tank, which happen to both be in the same pattern. Spent a good deal of a morning cutting out 8 tops for me. The wool was to keep me warm or cool, wool is awesome that way. The white was to dye later, but that is totally another rabbit hole to fall into. When I tried on the white ribbing tank, I realized that since the back has a slight racer back cut, I needed some skin toned racerback bras to go under. So I hopped into my fabric stash, and pulled out some of this that I bought for the higher Lycra content.

I had made the Resolution bra and tank from 5 out of 4 patterns before as a reversible bra in a Nylon Spandex Tricot to go with the reversible Ultimate Bikini Bottoms . So I knew where I was in the fit.

  1. I started by printing and gluing the pattern. Scotch quick drying glue is really a special glue. Use what makes you happy. Then traced it onto a larger page of news print, so that I could get a full pattern piece without the vertical fold. The next step was to locate the normal cut line for me. There are several cup sizes, each with different cut lines. Then I backed that up to 3/4 inch shorter. Since there is no extra to turn under -being two layers. Made that my new horizontal fold line. And cut these crazy cat dog tee shirt pieces of bra parts. Below the back is on top of the front with all four shoulder seams sewn, one side seam sewn, and the other side seam sewn only for one inch at the arm pits. leaving a huge opening on that side to manipulate this while sewing. Use a stretch stitch. I used a triple stitch here. Pro Tip: Make a notch in the center front and center back of your neckline. And if you are cooler than me, you will make a notch or marking on the edge of somewhere center on those arm openings too.

2. Reconfigure your bra so it is wrong sides together. At this point, you could finish that side seam, pop a you sized under bust elastic band in there, top stitch that, bind away and be quite happy with your bra. Did I do that? Hardly. I had this idea in my head that needed to be executed. So I started with the neckline. At the center back take both pieces and flip them so that just they are Right sides facing. . A twist of each piece away from each other, then back together RSF. clip that. Imagine couples dancing in the Regency era. He turns left, she turns right, and they are facing each other again. However we are only doing a half turn here. We start with backs facing. He turns left a half turn, she turns right half turn and suddenly they are right sides facing. There will be a clear direction to sew, and one that looks like an up hill battle. Take the easy road.

3. Apologies that I was more into sewing than taking photos here. With the majority of the bra wrong sides together and just the center back, zig zag baste the edges of the two right sides together. Sew a few inches, then re-arrange the piece, then sew a few more inches, then re-arrange. you will end up meeting yourself back at the start, and turning the bra completely inside out again. That is how it works. If you followed my direction and marked centers, then you have nice road signs to tell you that you are on the right track!

Then take this to your serger and add some clear elastic to that seam. Since you have already zig zag basted it in place, this part is fairly easy. Keep your elastic firm, but not too stretched. You just want to firm up the edges. Go all the way round. Push any fabric inside the bra away from the seam. Pull this right sides out.

4 Align arm holes wrong sides together. Flip at the arm pit, so that right sides are facing. Zig zag baste from arm pit to shoulder seam. Due to the narrowness of the shoulder seam, you will not be able to go all the way round. So get that far, then cut threads and start the process and go from the arm pit to the other side, to meet previous stitches at the top of the shoulder seam. Then pull this out. In the photo above one arm seam had been zig zag basted. The neck has the elastic serged.

To finish the arm opening, start at the top of the shoulder and serge clear elastic on top of that basting seam all the way round till you meet or come really close to the top of the shoulder from the other side. Repeat for the other arm.

I generally cut my sports bra fronts 3/4 inch to an inch longer in front than back, and ease the difference in the side seam. Giving me more bust room.

5. Mark the center of the side seams that were left open. Sew that side seam closed from the center up to one side, easing as you go, then from the other side as far as you can get to the center also easing as you go. This can be done by hand too. Cut your you sized elastic band. 3/4 inch is what the pattern uses. Snake it through the bra and stitch it closed. Arrange it so that it is fitting snugly into the bottom of the bra. Clip in a few places, then top stitch.

6. I used a wide serpentine stitch on my 9 mm Bernina and hardly needed to stretch as I stitched. With a #20 coded foot, and my needle halfway to the left I triple stitched the open arm and neck edges.

And done. Halfway through I thought it would be easier to just do bands. but this worked out nicely. My first attempt was a hot mess and I had to cut the shoulder seams more than once. This one fits better. Although I am not sure how “invisible” it worked out to be. It will be great under all the Taylors I made in testing.

After being diagnosed with Costrochondritis, many years ago, I resolved to making my own bra and swim tops. I write about my journey in these other posts.

This post includes affiliate links. By using those links, when purchasing the seller (at no cost to you) may compensate me with a very small commission. These add up, and I appreciate any support you show.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Sewing! Joan

Mini Merryweather Modification

I tried out a new to me pattern last year. It has been in my collection for a while. The cover photo is super cute, and I decided to style it a tad differently. I modified it in a couple places for a better fit, and an easier to sew neckline. What I loved was the option to color block. It is fun to make a statement top with two different prints. One print may be overwhelming. Tone it down with some stripes. Or you may love a certain print, but that print, or the colors in it may not love you back as much. Easy, color block the part closest to your face in a color that suits, and pick up that color in the print. Also a great use for scraps. I ended up making three modified Merryweathers for me and wear them often.

A recent photo of me and my grand daughter wearing pants from the same fabric provided me some inspiration. I was wearing the Merryweather made with a Bicycle print from Art Gallery, and she was wearing her Piscean pants made from scraps of my Sculthorpe pants. It was when she noticed the print and said the word bicycle, grandma mode took over. That is three syllables! I checked to see if there was more of that fabric. Sadly that one was gone, but this one is still available. Love the weight and wearability of these fabrics. While I am waiting for the bicycle, taco and tiger fabric, I put together a top with cars.

Mini Merryweather top

I projected the size 3 Neverland tee onto my pattern paper and traced. Picked a spot about 3/4 inch below the arm pit and made that my seam line. The cut line is 1/2 inch above that as marked with the dashes and scissor icon. Pro tip: Write the measurements of your bands on the pattern pieces. You will thank yourself later. I had previously made the Neverland tee in scraps from a white shirt for her uncle. Love how it fits.

Mini Merryweather top from Neverland.

To get the top yoke of the Mini Merryweather, I traced the top of the Neverland Tee down to my seam line or stitch line, then added half an inch for the seam allowance. Easy Peasy! On the photo below, I added a notch to the center front of the top, and the center of the sleeve and I should have added one to the center back, for ease in stitching. This fabric is an interlock and worked really well. I planned this top to use the cotton lycra print for the bands, so these pieces worked fine in interlock.

Yoke and sleeve cut from Interlock fabric

Yokes made from stripes. I cut the stripes by hand with scissors so the bottom of the stripe would be perfectly even.

Note for adult sizes. This color blocking is an awesome spot to add some shaping. Add a slight downward curve on the yoke front and a slight upward curve on the body front, ending up with 1/2 to 3/4 more at the center to create a subtle dart like seam, that no one will notice, but you when you try it on and it fits great, and doesn’t pull up in the front!

The toile I made before Christmas used a cotton lycra doodles from Joann, and a cotton interlock from Kathy’s Lace and Elastic. I like to use dead stock and deep stash/destash fabric for my first try.

Do all the sewing, just as the Merryweather pattern instructs. Topstitching adds a professional touch, keeps the serged seams flat, and makes for a sturdier garment. It is fun to play with colorblock options. I often let the type and amount of fabric I have available determine what goes where. Just use the fabric with best recovery and lycra content in bands.

Mini Merryweather toile

And here is the same photo with the wonderful Art Gallery fabric, and stripes from the SUAT site. Have fun playing with different prints in the sleeves/yoke/body/bands.

Mini Merryweather with stripes and cars.

I chose to make cuffs from the stripes to help push up too long sleeves that will grow with the baby. When I cut the stripe to straighten the fabric along the stripe, I cut close to the previously cut spot, which rolled a bit. To solve that, I could have cut off an additional couple of stripes, but I am too frugal to waste fabric. I used an overcast foot here to pre baste with a wide zig zag, which will seal the edges of the cuff together, and make for an easier time attaching the cuff to the sleeve. This basting if close enough to the edge will not need to be removed later and will stretch beautifully.

Control the roll by basting.

Clips can help get started and are useful if the roll is particularly strong. Pro tip: When using a foot like this that has a finger to keep the stitch from tunneling, walk the first stitches by hand to be sure the needle easily clears all metal parts of the foot.

clips can help to control the roll during basting

The question is to stitch with the bands up, or with the bands down. Here is one way. I clip the seam line and the opposite point around the circle and start in the middle of the clips. Serge or use a stretch stitch. Wow, you can see the tiny clip in the band in this photo.

Attaching a cuff with the band up.

This illustrates the waistband of the matching joggers, which is made quite stable by zig zag basting first, can be stitched on the bottom. A stabilized band can be sewn on the bottom since it will behave itself a bit better. Place the main fabric, which may still want to roll, on the top where it can be seen and controlled. Clip in several places and start stitching in the middle of a pair of clips. Bands can be attached either way. Try both and see what works best for you.

Bands up/Bands down, try both and see what works best for you.

Two finished Mini Merryweathers with different color block options, and either cuffed or hemmed sleeves. Both were made with pants to match/coordinate. More on those later.

This post is filled to the brim with affiliate links. If you purchase a pattern or fabric with these links, it will cost you nothing extra, and the seller of those items may pay me a small commission, which is greatly appreciated. Thank you, and Happy sewing! – Joan

Zipless Pullover modification

At a request for zoom friendly tops that feel like sweatshirts, and have pockets, I experimented with the Leslie from 5 out of 4 patterns. The pattern is fabulous as is. My husband found this textured fleece in my stash and suggested our daughter would love it. A lighter weight fleece is a great way to start with this pattern due to the square neckline, corners and lots of layers. I skipped the zip for two reasons. 1. She is a fiddler. The last thing she needs to be doing is fiddling with the zipper on her collar during a work meeting, and 2. Despite the massive amount of zippers I have in my stash, there were none this color. Turns out that made things even more simple to put together. This is a great way to try out the pattern for fit and style before attempting a zipper. A confidence builder.

  1. Print and cut your size. Read through the tutorial that comes with the pattern. There are some really nice videos that are super helpful.

Cut out the following:

Front, back, sleeves, pocket, hood center back, and most critically, two mirror image side A hood pieces. The side B was designed to use the additional width that the zipper supplies to fit within the neckline. Don’t use that one for this project. Mark the center back neckline, and center back of the hood piece to help align them when sewing.

2. Sew the three piece hood together. Topstitch if you like, makes the inside a bit cleaner. Finish the edge with binding. I used fold over elastic.

3. Sew shoulder seams.

4. Prep the neckline. Staystitch the lower square neckline of the front piece. Use matching thread and with a shorter stitch length of 2, stitch from an inch above the inside corner of the neckline across the bottom and back up an inch. If you look closely, you can see my stay stitching on the wrong side of the front. It is sewn at a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance, so I do not have to remove it later.

Front neckline staystitched.

5. Clip corners of the stay stitched neckline. Use your sharpest scissors to clip diagonally into the corners.

6. Pin the collar overlap. Baste the three lower edges together from pin to pin in the photo below at a scant 1/4 inch seam.

7. Attach the hood/collar to the body. Pin the right side of the lower edge of the hood/collar to the right side of the open neck edge. I pinned just outside the diagonal cuts. Double check to be sure you have the 1/4 inch of the hood/collar free on either edge, outside of the pin. With your work placed so that the hood collar is underneath, and the body is on top, we can begin sewing. the designer recommends basting this in place with a longer stitch. A stitch length of 3 is good, as it can be fairly easily removed, but will still hold and with this much loft you would want a longer stitch. Place the needle down at one corner, just inside the pin, and right on top of your stay stitching or basting stitches. Sew at this precise corner spot with a zero stitch length for a few stitches. Then stitch across the straight portion to the next corner, as pictured below. Stop precisely at the corner and make one or two stitches in place.

Sewing to the second pin across the bottom of the placket.

8. Stopped at the corner. Since I pinned just outside the corners. I could sew right up to my pin. Once I had made a few stitches in place, I removed the pin, and with the needle still firmly sunk into my fabric, I lifted the presser foot to pivot. There is a lot of excess fabric in the foreground of the below photo. We will deal with it in the next photos.

9 Sink that needle. All the way down.

10. Time to Twist and Shout! Needle still firmly sunk, lift your presser foot. Leave the bottom layers of the hood/collar as they are, arrange the top layers of the body of your sweatshirt, so that they are now swung around to the left and behind the presser foot. You can see a tiny bit of the staystitching in the photo below. Align the raw edges here, lower the presser foot, and stitch to the next spot where the notch in the hood/collar meets up with the shoulder seam. Next stop center backs, and after that the other shoulder seam and notch. You may want to switch to a stitch with more stretch to to around the sides and back of the neckline.

11. Almost there! In the photo below, we are getting back to where we started. You can see the initial stay stitches in the photo below. There will be excess fabric here just like there was at the first corner. Just manipulate it out of the way, so that you can minimize any puckering or tucks. When you get to that precise corner spot where you started, you can back tack or make a few stitches in place. Cut your threads and inspect your work! If you see puckers or tucks, now would be the time to correct them.

12. Neaten your stitches. The photo below is the inside of the neckline after serging around the sides and back only. It is optional. I left the straight part of the neckline without serging, because it was already pretty bulky with those layers. To tame the layers, you could stitch across that straight edge a second time.

13. Topstitch the neckline. This is optional. From the right side of the garment, I started at the back of the neck in the photo below. You can see the seams of my center hood on the left side of the photo, and a shoulder seam in the foreground. The seam is pressed towards the body and I am sewing just to the right of my seam, using the inside of my foot as a guide to keep my stitches even.

Close up of neckline finished and top stitched. I am happy with the outcome!

Add the pocket, sleeves, and finish the rest the sweatshirt. Now that you have conquered the zipless version, go forth and be the boss of the zipper! And then maybe the welt pockets.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission from the pattern designer if you choose to purchase the pattern with this link. I certainly appreciate it if you do.

Here is my affiliate link. https://5outof4.com/product/leslie-top-tunic-and-dress/?affiliates=162

Wishing you happy sewing! Joan

PJ pants – a slow and sustainable process

Eternally grateful for the opportunity to teach sewing. One of the interesting parts of that is how much I learn from my students. A year ago, I met a woman who was instrumental in getting the ban on plastic bags in our city. That has all taken a big back seat since the pandemic, but it really made me think about what is truly important. And what kind of a footprint I want to leave behind. I love to sew, truly, I do, but how many garments do I really need? Luckily, I have a grand child, who is growing and actually needs clothing, so I am having fun with sewing kids clothing. Another student, introduced me to dyeing fabric. She is a proficient seamstress, and really wanted to learn better finishing techniques. We were able to (pre pandemic) meet for sewing get togethers, which was great therapy for all who attended. Everyone worked on their own project and were inspired by each other to learn more and become better, both as people and as sewists. So this is some of the reasoning behind why I spent a lot of time stitching up a pair of PJ pants from a cotton LLBean sheet that I rescued from my parents linen closet. Plus, I have a newly refurbished treadle and wanted to practice.

If you have left this to the 11th hour,are making a bunch in a hurry, are impatient to get this done, or ended up using a scrap that does not leave room for pockets, skip to this method.

The sheet – wow, they still make them, and they are nice with a high thread count and pretty pricey. This one had lived a long and happy life. The center parts were tissue thin, but the edges, were still solid, with more wear to give. I washed it and set it in the bottom of this tub, where I ice dyed some rescued rayon gauze that I recently found. She sheet, old, and torn in a spot, just caught the drippings of the dye intended for the newer focus fabric in this ice dye experiment. Double left overs happening here.

Ice dyeing. Fabric is treated with soda ash and water solution, then covered with ice. Powdered dyes are sprinkled over the ice and as it melts, the fiber reactive dyes, meld with the chemically treated fabric to make permanent color. A seriously fun rabbit hole. #pandemicproject

You can see below the rack, said sheet, which surprisingly picked up mostly the blue, maybe turquoise. This is my second try at ice dyeing. Fun to experiment. I purchased a small amount from my local fabric shop, then went on to Dharma to purchase larger quantities. I have had the dye materials since summer, and was worried about doing it “correctly” so put it off. Then I remembered a lesson I learned in learning to teach art. Sometimes it is more about the “process than the project”. A valuable lesson that enabled me to experiment with things that may “fail” but are worthwhile in doing for the learning opportunity. A recent snow inspired me to give it a try. This is what it looks like after the ice melts.

The pattern calls for a 3/8 inch seam on woven, quilting cotton or flannel. After serging around a garment my daughter made in flannel, in which the edges frayed so badly, she was going to pitch it, I decided that this one was going to get a clean finish. Here is an extreme close up of the beginning of a flat felled seam. Normally, one would stitch at 1/2 inch seam allowance, then trim off 1/4 inch of one side. I offset the two pieces by 1/4 inch. and sewed a seam 1/2 inch on the back piece, and 1/4 inch away from the edge of the front piece. The 1/2 and 1/4 total the same amount of fabric in the seam allowance as both pieces being 3/8. If you are more about cutting quickly than perfectly smooth, you can cut a generous 1/8 inch bigger and trim later.

Stitch both front and back crotch curves.

Fell that seam. What I love about a flat felled seam is that it is finished on either side. One side will have the double rows of stitching, the other will have a single row. On fabric that is a looser weave, and may stretch more on the bias, like crotch curves for me, I will not sew with a straight stitch but a very slight zig zag, .5 wide. Not noticeably zig zag, but with enough give that your seams do not pop. See more about seam finishing here. If you want to go for really slow sewing, you can press that larger seam allowance first. These pants were sewn in the wee hours of a December morning, so I was trying to sew quietly – on the treadle. The crisp sheeting finger pressed really nicely.

Finished flat felled back crotch curve. It is not completely perfect, so I decided that this could go on the inside. Perfection takes loads of practice, and I am really enjoying re-learning to sew on the treadle.

The other side will do nicely, thank you! Since there is no right or wrong side to this hand dyed sheeting, it will work either way.

Pockets. I firmly believe they are worth the effort. You can see that I traced out the pocket a tad bigger than the pattern. I had plans for that little #extra. Matched up the notches and stitched the pockets right sides together. One thing. Since this machine, a 1920 Singer Red Eye has no reverse stitch, I have been playing around with how to nicely end my stitching so that it stays put. While sewing on what was once a sheet that my mother slept on, I could hear her stories about how they would leave tails and pull the threads to one side to tie square knots to finish each seam. Well, I was slow sewing, but maybe not that slow.

This is Betty, a 1920 Singer Red Eye I found on eBay to fit into the treadle table that came from our neighbor Betty’s estate sale. I always enjoyed visiting with Betty, and wish we would have chatted about sewing while she was still with us. I am having a lot of fun refurbishing and bringing Betty and her table back to life, as well as listening to all the lessons my mother taught me when I was first learning on a Singer Spartan. Learning a new skill is really good for brain elasticity. I have been sewing for many decades, so it is fun to relearn it from a new vantage point. #pandemicproject

Under stitch the pocket. So after I under stitched a pocket or two. I realized something.

You don’t have to cut every thread. Sewing a single layer made this bunch up a tad – on the dark blue piece. It smoothed out easily, since the threads were not secured. If you look closely, you can see the initial seam where I attached the pocket bag, continued stitching 2-3 stitches, then turned the work around to go back and under stitch. The extra stitches will remain in the seam allowance, so that works. I realized I could do this on my electric machines too. Slow sewing time saver, yay! I love learning.

French seam the pockets. After I flat felled the inside leg, and created a narrow hem at the bottom of each leg – who wants a smoother inside leg in their pants, right? But did not get photos, I opted to French seam the side seams. With wrong sides together, sew the side legs and around that pocket bag with an 1/8 inch seam. With the pockets cut a little larger, I had more wiggle room to line them up. This may have been sewn with a generous 1/8 inch seam then trimmed.

Clip diagonally into the top and bottom of the pockets, where marked below. Do not clip your seam.

Sew each side. Pants with side seams sewn and ready to trim. Notice that a narrow hem is already done, and the top edge was basted 1/4 inch to the wrong side. I used to shun basting as a waste of my precious sewing time. After teaching new students, I am now a basting fan. I would much prefer to spend 2 minutes basting than 10 ripping. Basting is also faster than waiting for the iron to heat up. And another chance to practice sewing a straight seam.

Flip the pants wrong side out, and sew a slightly deeper seam. If you trimmed to 1/8 inch, then a 1/4 inch seam will do nicely here. I was able to get my hand in the pocket to smooth out the edges before sewing. The clipped tops and bottoms of the pocket bag make it easy to get around those areas, and keep them smooth.

With side seams pressed towards the front, make a casing, and insert your elastic. Try on the pants and hem to the length you need now. For kids being able to let this hem out in 6 months will allow these pants to be worn longer.

Here are my affiliate links to both the kids and adults patterns which are currently free. With an affiliate link, I could get a small commission on the price of the pattern if you choose to purchase with my link. It costs you nothing extra and is much appreciated.

Adult pants.

Kids pants.

Oh, if you are wondering what I plan to to with the rest of that king sized sheet? Reusable gift bags, of course! I hope my kids get as much of a kick out of receiving and reusing these as I did making them. It will allow a “presence” of great grand parents at the celebration too.

Happy sustainable sewing! Joan

PJ pants PDQ

Another round of testing a new pattern at 5oo4.
I love the drafting of the adult version of the free PJ pants. My younger students have loved and learned loads from making the smallest sizes of the adult version. So I jumped onto the test for the kids version. There is always so much interesting insight to be gained in pattern testing if you pay attention. Recently, I found out that I would be keeping my grand daughter an extra day early, and wanted to get photos of her in these, but had limited time. So I made this pair in about 45 minutes. You can make them up quickly too. Here are some tips!

1. Skip the pockets. If you are making these for photos or for small children who have not yet discovered the joy that pockets bring, or are inclined to leave messy things in them, just skip them. Don’t get me wrong. I am 100 percent a pocket fan, but we are in a hurry here. This remnant was only 23 inches long, and there would not have been room for pockets on the fabric.
2. Skip the side seams. The side seams of these pants are fairly straight. Mark the seam lines on the outside leg (the longer side) with a highlighter, crayon, or whatever is at hand. Line them up so that the seamlines are on top of each other, and, with your fabric folded, cut around the perimeter of this new shape.

3. Serge the single layer of the top waist band edge and the bottom hem edge to give them a clean finish. Chain serge to save thread.

4. Sew the inseams. Fold each individual leg right sides together and serge the inside leg seam. In the photo below, I serged and top stitched the inside leg…. And also hemmed. I was in a hurry and forgot to take shots of that.

5. Hem the pants. I know my models inseam, and found it simple to hem each leg before sewing them together. The inseam before hemming measured at 16 inches. I folded the pant leg up 2 inches and hemmed, then another 2 inches, and this time hemmed with the longest stitch, and just enough back tacking to hold this together. This gave me a 12 inch finished inseam. While hemming twice seems like it takes more time, and seems a little bulky, it will allow us to remove that long stitch hem and give the wearer another year to wear these pants. I like the idea of a more sustainable, grow with me wardrobe. Pants can also be finished, tried on and then hemmed for a more accurate hem.

In the interest of a grow with me option, the same can be done with the waist band. It can be cut one inch taller front and back and elastic applied then folded down once more and basted, so that when the model grows taller, the waist and or hem could be let out to wear for another season. The flip side of this is it will take longer for these to dry with the extra bulk. You choose what works best for you.

6. Sew the crotch curve. Turn one leg inside out and place the right side leg into the inside out leg, so that right sides are facing, then serge the curve, matching up the seams at the inside leg. Below is a photo of me top stitching that seam to one side. Since the crotch curve has some bias and stretch to it, a bit of a stretchy seam will last longer than a plain straight stitch. .5 wide zig zag is sufficient.

7. Add elastic. The fastest way for me to add elastic is to quarter mark my elastic and quarter mark the pants. The seams are half of that, so just mark where the side seams would go. Then starting in the center front, and the center mark of the elastic. Stretch the elastic as you sew from matched up mark to matched up mark. The first one is easy.

8. Overlap ends when you get to the back of the pants, add a tag here if desired, sew to the end of the elastic, then back up half an inch, and without twisting, place the other end of the elastic on top of this, stitch without stretching for 1/2 inch, and keep sewing that elastic from mark to mark.

9. Secure the elastic ends. Go back to where the elastic ends are overlapped and sew down the center of the elastic. For me this is enough to mark the back of the garment. Since a little one or her parents will be helping with this garment, I added a strip of knit fabric just to denote the back.

10. Fold elastic to the wrong side and top stitch. And just like that, you are done. One more gift on the “finished” list!

I sized these according to a hip measurement wearing a cloth diaper. Lots of room for play in these fun and quick pants!

This post contains affiliate links to free patterns which may generate a small commission to me from the pattern designer if you purchase the patterns using those links. Much gratitude from me if you do!

I made a pair of these pants – slow sewing style – with pockets, flat felled and French seams on the treadle. Watch for that post, it may be a while.

Wishing you happy sewing! Joan

Open front Leslie

It was a joy to test the newest sweatshirt pattern from 5 out of 4 patterns. Jessica really knows her sweatshirts, and we are at the beginning of cold weather here, so the timing could not have been better. This my version of Leslie. I have a preference for a cardigan style, so I can put on or remove my outer layer without messing up my hair. It also works for when you just want to cool off a little bit, and open the cardigan without completely removing it. Folks with limited mobility, or nursing mommas might appreciate it as well.

To begin, I altered two pattern pieces. Both the front, and the shawl collar. For the front, I simply folded back the few inches of the center front. I marked where the seam lines of the bottom of the placket and the top of the shirt would normally meet, and created a new “notch” or marking both there and on the other side of my shawl.

For the shawl collar, I just extended the shawl side B to almost match the full length of the front piece. I left the front piece to be about 3/4 inch longer. I opted to use the fuller shawl piece. Cut four shawl pieces (mirror images), and two fronts (not on the fold).

Optional pocket. Cut a strip as wide as the lower edge of this front piece and about 2 inches deeper than your desired pocket. I cut this from scraps.

Note my sharpie curve of the point of the shawl collar. I did not cut this here, but will stitch this later, and trim it off.

First things first, pockets. One simply needs a pocket in everything, and this Leslie Cardigan is no exception. I finished the top of my pocket strip, then placed my front right side down on my table, then the pocket also right side down on top of that and stitched across the bottom with a slight zig zag. 1 wide 3 long.

Under stitch. In my book, under stitching is like permanent ironing. With the seam towards the body of your front piece, stitch 1/4 inch from the seam line with the seam securing the main fabric and seam allowance. This will roll the seam to the back of your garment and make the next steps easier. It also reinforces the bottom seam of your pocket.

Flip and staystitch. Flip the pocket back round to the front, make sure the bottom seams are where you want them and stay stitch either side. Repeat for the other side of your front. *Note for the adventurous here. Ignore the adventurous tips for your first version please.

Shawl collar, Sew the center seams as directed, then place the two shawl collars right sides together. Stitch all the way round the outside edges only. In the photo below, your can see where I curved the point a tad. Do this for both sides and trim the seam allowance. Speaking of trimming the seam allowance. If you are sewing especially thick fleece, or do not want your collar to roll out, trim 1/4 inch off the outer edge of this curve from point to point on the collar that will be your under collar before sewing them together. **Adventurous sewist tip here.

Sew the bottom hem of your shawl collar. Each side please.

Turn your shawl right side out, and top stitch the outer edge and hem. I am a top stitching fan for the same reason I like under stitching. It is optional. What is not optional in my sewing teacher’s opinion is basting. Please take the few minutes to baste the inner curve of your shawl pieces together. It will save you more than a few minutes of ripping later.

In the photo below, I added a pin to my “outer ” collar. It is just a smidgen bigger than the inner one and gives just a hint of puffiness.

Inside collar view.

Pin the collar to the body. With the inner collar facing the right side of the body of the garment, pin along the edges, matching the front bottom edges, notches, center back, then add more pins in between as needed. Stitch all the way round. I used a 4 length with a slight .5-1 zig zag for stretch. After you decide you like it, you may clean finish the edge if desired. I used the overcast stitch on my sewing machine for two reasons. Matching thread, and it can handle the multiple layers of fleece more happily than my serger can. ***Adventurous tip here.

Top stitch this seam towards the body of the garment. Go slowly over the pocket area since it has many layers. Take care when you start and end, and use an awl or other tool to squish the seam allowances into the underneath part, so the stitches catch them and hold them securely out of sight.

Clip your threads, so that they don’t show up on a super close up. Then go ahead and serge the hem edges of your back pieces and sleeves. If you flat sew your sleeves, now is the time, otherwise you will be sewing them later, in the round.

Pin and sew your side seams. If the universe is happy with you, your back piece will be about an inch longer than your front pieces. Use this to roll round the edge of your nicely finished front piece. Snug is key here. Make your side seam. Repeat for the other side.

Notice the tidy stitching. Now you can serge if you would like to.

Flip the seam open, and surprise! Ready to hem the back side.

Hem the back. I used a wider zig zag 2 wide 4 long to account for the horizontal stretch. Add and hem your sleeves if you haven’t already, and you are done!

This would make a lovely long robe.

A note about shawl collars. This one could be cut on the fold. Just fold back the seam allowance and go for it. I did that for another version where I had a lot of fleece in that particular color. This one was cut side by side, so I have enough fabric to make a pair of Susie pants to coordinate.

This post contains affiliate links, wherein I may receive a small commission from the pattern designer if you use my link to purchase their pattern. It is no additional cost to you and I really appreciate the support.

Happy sewing! Joan

For adventurous sewists only. You will need a separating zipper that is the length of the spot where the seam allowance at the tip of the shawl collar starts, down to your hem. It can be shorter if you want to leave a few inches at the bottom of yours without a zip. It is up to you to choose on this adventure. This will vary per size, and per length option chosen.

  • For a zip on the left side of your front, install one side of your zipper here from your hem line to about 5 inches above the notch we made in the second photo. *
  • It will later be enclosed in the seam where the shawl collar is attached here. ***
  • The other side of the zip will be installed here. ** You are responsible for determining which side of the shawl collar it goes on and which side faces up. On the version I made, this is where the zipper pull side of the zip was sewn. Perhaps a reversible separating zip might make the whole process easier, as it would be hard to get the zip in “backwards”.
  • The version I made for me with the full zip did not have pockets, although I installed invisible zips on the side seams where a pocket might go. I hope to install pocket bags at some time in the future. I wore it over a sweater that did have pockets, and was able to get to them , so it may be a while.
  • Happy Adventurous sewing! Joan

A different twist on an Ally Protohaven mask

Earlier this year, I popped over to my local hardware store to pick up some widgets.  It is walking distance and they have everything I really need from seeds to manure, to canning jars, and pvc parts.  Well they do not have fabric, but that is ok.  Some of the employees were wearing masks, others were not.  Many of they folks that work there sport beards.  From goatee to full on mountain man.  I had been mask making, and wondered how one masks up with a beard, and googled when I got home.  I actually made some for them.   The pattern has multiple sizes of regular masks as well as the beard option and has become one of my favorites.  It pops out from my mouth, so I can talk with it on, without mask climbing into my mouth.   Straight lines and simple, interesting construction?  Yes please!  

A dozen Ally Protohaven masks finished and waiting for ties or elastic!

I found the pattern here and printed it. Then I traced it on to some news print folding it at the seam line, so I could eliminate the long top seam, since I wanted to make these up quickly. The crease of the paper is where the seamline would be on the printed pattern. A friend liquidated her quilting stash, and these fit on fat halves I got from her quite nicely. I then stacked the fabrics, wrong side up, lightest color on top. I traced around the paper pattern with a yellow sharpie. There was enough fabric left to squeeze some pieces of this mask from Tie Dye Diva as well. It has smaller pieces, and I like to conserve fabric. Cut the outer edges with ruler and rotary and inner angles with scissors.

Fold each piece in half along the seam line, or fold line above, and make the first seam. I call this and L seam, as that is its shape. I do not see it often, but use it all the time. It really helps the opening from popping stitches when the mask is turned right side out. It is worth making that 90 degree turn and stitching into the seam allowance. Leave about an inch and a half open for turning later. In the past, I have sewn the long seam then turned just before the space for the opening, but you can see that I missed that step on the second one. In my most recent batch, I started with the short 1/4 inch seam an inch and a half from the folded edge, then turned to make the longer seam. It worked in helping me to remember.

“L” seam made in the first side.

The second side is simple and fast. Just chain piece from seam/fold line to the end. Chain piecing helps to save thread and keep tiny pieces from falling down the needle plate. The one on the bottom in this photo has the L seam.

Second seam sewn.

Next, open the mask and match up the seams you just made, so they nest against each other, and sew across them. I used pins to keep the seam allowances pointing away from each other in the photo.

Squash folded and sewn seam.

Next, to free up the seam that will eventually be at your chin, clip either side of the center, just about 1/2 inch from the center seam. Careful not to clip your stitches!

Clip about 75% into the seam allowance on either side of the crossed seams.

This part can be simple or tricky. The simplest next step is to sew the right and left remaining seams together. Just do that! Everything will be fine.

Brain teaser option: If you want to be complicated, like me, and save a fraction of a second of sewing, tuck the solid seam made into step one, inside the “L” seam made in step two, and align all four edges together like in the photo below. Stitch from folded edge on the top middle of the photo past the previously sewn seam. Simply folding them in half and sewing will not work. Just ask my seam ripper.

The resulting Polygon has five sides as shown above.

Once you have the mask turned right side out, it will look like the photo below. Press the edges of the opening under, press the mask, and top stitch all round, 1/8 inch from the edge. An edge stitching foot is helpful here.

Freshly turned mask.

We are getting there! Fold the corners of the mask in towards (but not all the way to) the center to form the casing. The pattern has you double fold this, but I like the triangles. I normally sew one, using a 5/8 inch guide from the edge to form the casing, then sew over previous top stitching to form the triangle. Fold the mask in half, and fold the other side so that they are symmetrical before stitching that triangle. Thread a single tie or elastic through the openings, strap on and go! I use about 50-60 inches of twill tape.

Finished mask.

If you want to get really fancy, make a reversible mask with this method. Below, I cut 5.5 inch wide strips, serged either side, and alternated the direction of the masks when cutting. This is a stack of six pairs of strips. “Mass Production” and “Reversible” are both vying to be my middle name. For your first time, you may want to try a single layer at a time.

Hope you have fun and stay safe with this. There might be an affiliate link in this post. This means that I may receive a small commission if your purchase a pattern using my link.

Happy Sewing! Joan

Flat method Bands side seam tip

8A391C54-1FEE-4372-8EBC-F788F7407F08I love saving time with sewing, and flat methods of construction are great when you need to stitch something up quickly. Or are making tiny bands for a baby.

My youngest asked for sleeveless tees that he could wear walking or as PJ tops.   I cut out three.  One from a Jersey sheet, and two from Rayon Spandex.  Ran a little short on time, so hopped on getting these done in a hurry.

As much as I like sewing on bindings in the round, they look better inside and out.  The neckbands are sewn in the round, and arms in the flat.  Under the arms is less conspicuous.  I figured out that it is easier to top stitch the band in the flat.

B4FC408E-F502-4A70-9A19-AC9999AC0ECB Then align the side seams and pin where the seam between the band and shirt meet.

BEAF1AB1-F513-4476-9476-8E1AED0517F0Notice that on the edges the top of the bands do not meet.  They do match up at the point where the 1/2 inch seam allowance will be.  That is key.

Here we will start the seam halfway between the top edges of the bands and the pin.  Leave the pin in for now and start sewing in reverse.  This allows those bands to stay together.  If you start sewing at the very top of the seam. The feed dogs will often pull the seams unevenly. They grab the bottom layer, and pull it through, while the top layer, being held firmly by the pressure foot (which is pointing uphill)  doesn’t budge.  Resulting in an uneven edge.

0002B6B8-4979-486B-A123-6FB80B17120FBack stitch to the top edge of the band.  You can remove the pin now, since the stitches will hold things together.  Then sew forward to complete the seam using your favorite stretch stitch.  If you plan to serge the seams, then you may make this machine seam just a few inches long.  Then serge as desired, making sure the serged seam meets where the machine sewn seam is, so it appears “seamless” from the outside.

5A475F46-472A-4BDE-8F25-AA8D7D81881EI have used this technique for a multitude of tank patterns.  Affiliate links for some of my favorites are below.

This is the Charming tank.

You can see more of what I sew here: https://www.facebook.com/JoaninStitches/

Happy Sewing!  Joan