Wednesday, July 23, 2014

S. Betzina V1101 Sew Along Part 4 ( Shoulders and Neckline )

Next step is to join the shoulder seams and the neckline seams on the tunic and the tunic facings.   

For Tunic  With right sides together and using twill tape or ,as I did, the selvedge of a light fabric to stabilize the seam, sew  a 5/8" seam. Press open or  toward the back.  Note:I put the tape on the back side.

For Facings The side on which you drew the lines is the right side. Join the shoulder seams . No stabilizer this time. Pres open the seam.

You are now going to join the tunic and facing together at the neckline only. The armholes will be joined using a bias band of your fabric much later.. Mark you 5/8" seam allowance all the way around the neckline on one side (either facing or garment side). Pay particular attention to the corners where the small circles were on the pattern piece.

 Again you must stabilize the neckline using a light weight selvedge or twill tape. On the right side  (or side not marked with the stitching line ), pin the stabilizer all the way around the neckline.over the stitching line.


Sew the neckline seam following the line you drew, being very careful to honour the 5/8" seam allowance. Clip at corners to but not through  the stitching.

Trim your seam to 1/4" but leaving the tunic side slightly wider than the facing side. To do this, cut from the facing side and hold your scissors at an angle leaning toward the facing.

Press the seam allowance toward the facing side

From the right side of the garment , understitch on the facing side . ( Click on understitch for a review if you don't remember how)

Press neckline seam which will want to favour the facing side because of the understitching.

At shoulder joint, if you have bulk, pound with a hammer gently to flatten out the seam.

Top stitch around the neckline if you wish but I chose not to.

Next time, I'll show you how to prepare for the sewing of the lines for chenilling.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

S, Betzina ( V1101 ) Sew-Along Session 3

Pocket Facings and Pockets

The very first thing you sew on this dress is the pocket facings. I omitted the zipper closures on the pocket welt openings. Refer to the instruction sheet if you are using zippers.

...With your tracing wheel and tracing paper, trace the welt  opening onto the fabric facings. You will already have traced the welt openings on wrong side of the tunic  front.

...With contrasting thread in your bobbin, stay stitch around the welt openings being sure to start on one of the long sides well below the corner. When sewing around the corners, with needle down pivot, and count the number of stitches you sew on the first end and copy that for the other end.

...Pin the pocket facings to pocket interfacing with right sides together  ... (The glue side of the interfacing is the wrong side )

...Sew around the two long sides and the rounded end of the facings but not the notched end.

...Turn to right sides and press carefully so that the glue side adheres to the fabric side of the facings. The facings now have a nice neat finish. Apply Steam-a-Seam around the edges of the facings. Leave the paper on.

...Position the facings to the outside of the front matching the notch on the facings to the notch on each side front.( Sorry, I forgot to take a photo )

...Pin carefully aligning the welt opening of the facings to the welt opening of the dress front.

...Sew around the welt opening from the wrong side of the tunic front being sure to start on one of the long sides and at the  corners, with needle down pivot, and count the number of stitches you sew on the first end and copy that for the other end.

With sharp scissors, cut through all thicknesses of the welt opening , leaving long V's when cutting to but not through each corner.

Turn facings to inside of tunic front and press carefully. Remove paper from Steam-a-Seam  and press to hold  the facings in place.

...From the right side,topstitch 1/4" from the opening and then run a second line of stitching 1/4" away.

You are now ready to add the pockets.

...First finish the edges  (except the notched edge ) with a Hong Kong finish.

...Apply Steam-a-Seam around the pocket edges.

...Position the pocket on the wrong side of the front  so the notch on the pocket side aligns with the notch on the side of the tunic front. (I accidentally cut size small for the pocket but C for the dress so my notches didn't match up. ) Be sure that everything is nice and flat. Press in place.

...If you get a nice stitch on the bobbin side,  stitch the pocket from the wrong side. If you don't ,hand baste the pocket in place with a contrasting thread and stitch from the right side. Otherwise from the wrong side of the tunic, top stitch around the pocket.
Sew a second row of top stitching 1/4" to the inside of the first row.

And that's it. You are ready for the next step which I'll post soon.

Good luck and Happy Sewing from


Friday, July 18, 2014

Sanfdra Betzina Sew-Along Session 2

Ok, so you've read the post on Bias Garments and have washed and prepared your fabric. now for the cutting out.

My best advice is to follow the layout plan included in the pattern instructions.

You do not need to cut out interfacing for the bodice front and back facings if you plan to do the chenille effect. The only piece that needs fusible  interfacing is the pocket facing. Do not apply interfacing until I explain what to do with it.

NOTE : The side of the facing that you want to peak through after cutting between the stitching lines should not be the side that lays against the marking paper. So if you want the right side of the facing to show through, the wrong side should be against the marking paper.

I used a large piece of waxed marking paper cause I love it and laid the facings with pattern still pinned over the paper and used a tracing  wheel.

Now it's time to draw the lines for the chenille effect. On both the front and back facing pieces, you will see a line to use as a starting point. In the second photo below, I made a second line 4" away because I had planned to stop there but later changed my mind. Then draw lines 1/2 " apart as far up and as far down as you want with your tracing wheel.

As well mark the darts. I did a slight FBA on mine so you see the side bust dart as well as the armhole one.
Oh and by the way, don't sew in the darts yet .They are only sewn after all the stitching for the chenilling is complete.

I decided to only do five lines on the back of my dress but you could leave it out completely or do the whole thing.

After marking everything, set this aside. You are now ready to start sewing the dress the first thing to do is the pocket facings. Remember. Don't apply the interfacing yet!

I'll do my best to post the pockets step by late afternoon, Donna and Karen!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sandra Betzina Bias Dress Sew-Along ( V1101 )

This is the first in a series of posts to accomodate my sewing ladies. They wanted to make this pattern ,V1101, as a tunic for  a summer project.

 The pattern is Out of Print and is not available on the BMV website. But if you are interested,and own the pattern,  please join us and at the end I'll post all finished pieces at Sew Passionista by DIANA.
I made it up as a dress, took many photos along the way and will attempt to guide you on this bias garment journey. Here is my sleeveless version.


First let's decide on suitable fabric. On the pattern envelope , the list of suitable fabrics includes linen, silk, rayon crepe and lightweight denim. I'd like to add that this pattern will work best with a fabric with plenty of drape. My linen was medium weight and it hangs really well. You will need a contrasting colour for the facing pieces which show through when you do the chenille effect on the bodice.

Wash your fabric and for some pointers on bias garments, look here at my post based on techniques learned from Sandra Betzina herself. It includes how to iron your fabric to prepare it for your bias cut garment. 

You will be cutting this garment on one layer of fabric so don't fold it. If you are unsure about placing the pattern pieces on the fabric, each piece has a grainline drawn on it so use that as your guide and not the center front and center back lines. You will thus be cutting the pieces on the bias. ( So to clarify, the grainline on the pattern pieces will be parrallel to the selvedge, thus the center front and back will be on the bias. )

This will get you started on your way to making your bias tunic/dress. Leave the facing pattern pieces on the fabric because next time , I'll explain how to draw the chenille lines. Check back in a few days and I'll have the second post ready.

Have Fun!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Our Last Sewing Class and A Sewing Quiz

Note: I wrote this post two weeks ago but events in my life caused me to forget to publish.

I'm a retired teacher as many of you know and once a teacher , always a teacher I guess because I couldn't end this session of lessons without testing my ladies! I surprised them with this little quiz/review of the sewing techniques we covered in the last two months. I didn't include any of the fitting/alteration points  that we covered . I feel it takes a lot of trial and error before we can master those techniques.

Here is a list of sewing terms. Please choose from this list to fill in the blanks of the following statements. . You may need to use an answer more than once.

               basting stitches                                   stabilizer
               stay stitching                                       interfacing
               under stitching                                     down                                
               bias                                                      narrow                                                 
               5/8"                                                     shoulder 
               1/2"                                                     tear away stabilizer
               3/8"                                                      center
               one inch                                               stitch crowding
               fusible                                                  vertical
               Wonder Tape                                      Fray Check
               horizontal                                             underarm 
               Steam-a-Seam                                     stitch in the ditch

      1. For most pattern companies the traditional seam width is                               .
      2. To sew a Hong Kong finish to the inside seams of a garment use                          strips of a light                       weight fabric.

      3. The stitching that is sewn on the facing of a garment and through all thicknesses of the seams
 and just  beside the "ditch ' of the seam to help the facing turn to the inside of the garment is called

      4. To shorten the seam of an armhole or neckline it is helpful to sew with your finger
at the back of the presser foot to form little puckers. This  is called                                   .

      5.When inserting a zipper, always stabilize the back of the area with                     

      6.Stitching sewn at 1/2" along the seam allowance to stabilize an area  is called

      7.When inserting a sleeve,you should sew two rows of                           
                              between the  front and back  notches.

     8. The two spots that must be matched on a sleeve and bodice are the                            seam and the

     9. It is important to finish a dart with a very                             point.

    10.Bust darts are pressed                               and waist darts in both front and back are pressed                     toward  the                            .

    11.Buttonholes are sewn                            inch from the edge of your garment. They are                       
         for shirts and blouses, and                              for jackets and coats .

    12. The technique where you sew  between the two sides of a seam and from the outside of your garment
         is called                                  .

    13. Two products helpful when sewing buttonholes are                                and                               ..

    14. A product that is helpful when applying a zipper is                            .

    15. A product useful when finishing a hem, cuffs, or positioning a pocket when you are sure you won't want to move it is                                    .

       Click here for the answers.

And finally, a couple of pics of my students with their made by them garments. I had intended to take more pics featuring all their finished garments, but left it too late . Darn!

             From left to right, Karen and Donna wearing their Sandra Betzina fluted blouse/jackets ( V1385) and Dorothy wearing her New Look 6762     knit top and her Silhouette Patterns yoga pants # 3400. Donna is also wearing a slim version which we developed of the yoga pants pattern.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lesson 6...My Techniques to Sew Darts, Buttonholes, and Gaping Armholes

We're nearing the end of he sewing classes until the fall. For the past two weeks, I've shared techniques that are useful to a sewist and am combining them in this week's post.

Techniques for Successful Darts

1. Mark the dart clearly with chalk or some other type of marker. For bust darts mark the beginning of the dart by making little clips in the side seam.

2. To pin, place your pin in one side and come out  the other side.Don't close the dart yet.Go on to the next pin and so on  until you get to the point. The photos should help illustrate what I'm trying to say.

3.  Bring the dart together at each pin by pinching the sides together .

  I begin to sew at the wide side of the dart. Some prefer to start at the point.
  It's important to aim toward the point of the dart as soon as you begin the sewing process. 
  and that the last little bit before the end of the point is very narrow. Sew slowly!

4. Sew along the legs of the dart until you have about an inch left before the point. Reduce the stitch length  to a very small stitch. I use 1.5 stitch length. Finish the dart making sure the last half inch is very narrow. Sew off the fabric. Don't back stitch. The small stitch length makes it so you don't have to knot your threads.

   When sewing "fish eye" darts ( the kind that has a point at each end usually  used to define the  waist in both the front and back of a bodice) , it's best to start in the middle of the dart and sew to each end. This takes two steps but is worth it to get a nice skinny point at each end. 

 Waist darts  are pressed toward the center front or back and  bust darts are pressed downward.

 Here is an example of one dart sewn correctly and another that has too wide a point at the end. Notice the difference after they are pressed.

For those of you  (Dorothy) who prefer to learn through video, I found this one on line by Sure Fit Designs on darts.

My Techniques for Sewing Buttonholes.

It is very important to make a sample buttonhole or two on scrap fabric that has the same finish as your garment. If your garment has a facing ,your sample should also have a facing and the seam which joins the facing to the garment should be trimmed.
The rule of thumb is to make vertical buttonholes for shirts and blouses. and horizontal buttonholes for jackets and coats.

1. Apply fusible or sew-in interfacing behind the area where your buttonholes will be sewn.

2. Use a new needle on your machine. A  Sharp needle #70/10 is a good choice. You could go smaller for lightweight fabric.

3. Mark the placement of your buttonholes with a pin to begin with

4. Wrap and pin  pieces of tear away stabilizer over the area of each buttonhole.

5. Mark  each buttonhole 3/8" to 1/2" from the outside of the garment as in the photo below. The long line does not indicate the length of the buttonhole unless you don't have an automatic buttonhole feature on your machine. The line is to keep you stitching straight once you start sewing.

     The automatic buttonhole foot will make your buttonhole to the size of your button which is placed in the back of the foot. ( I find it will make it a little too long so I take the button out and lessen the length by pushing in a little)

     If you do not have an automatic buttonhole foot, the buttonhole should be the width of your button plus 1/8" or the thickness of the button.

As much as possible, let your machine do it's job without touching the garment too much. Sometimes you might have to gently straighten it but the electronic mechanism does not like to be tampered with!

6.After your buttonholes are sewn , tear away the stabilizer and run a line of Fray Check along the opening. Allow this to dry before cutting open.

Place a pin at the end of the buttonhole so you don't inadvertently cut past it. Cut the opening.Trim away stray garment threads being very careful not to cut the buttonhole thread. (Ask me how I know this!)

Sorry Dorothy. No video for this one.

A Fix for Gaping Armholes or Necklines.

I alreadyh ave covered this topic in another post so please click here for that information.

Again I do hope this has helped someone to improve their sewing skills. I would really appreciate some comments so that I know if it is worthwhile to continue with these lessons as they can be quite time consuming.

Hoping to hear from you,