Monthly Archives: December 2012

Coat Making – Pocket Perfection



Lining Your Pocket And Creating A Flap! 

Patch pockets are quite simple in their basic design and should be constructed in such a way as to provide subtle functionality. A well executed pocket will draw little attention to itself and instead act as a support to overall feeling of a couture quality garment.    I will be sharing a few simple construction tips that commercial patterns guides don’t generally explain that will hopefully help you achieve pocket perfect.

making patch pockets
                               Trim away a scant 5/8″ from the interfacing to eliminate additional bulk in the seam line and apply to face fabric.  

making patch pockets

Trim away a scant portion from all edges of the lining.  This is cause the lining to roll under the face fabric reducing visibility on surface
making patch pockets
Stitch face fabric and lining together.  Lining, being slightly smaller than the face fabric will pull slightly.  Leave an opening on the side large enough to turn fabric right side out.
making patch pockets
Trim away excess seam allowance.  When grading the seam allowance, be sure that the face fabric is graded slightly wider than the lining.  This will create a smoother surface on the turned surface. Clip edges and  remover corners by cutting straight across above the point to reduce bulk.
making patch pockets
After grading and clipping, turn pocket right side out and using a point turner work the corners out to a nice clean point.  
making patch pockets
Apply steam while rolling the edged between your fingers to work the seam line out.  Be mindful to roll the lining behind so that it does not peek out from behind the face fabric.
                                      Once patch is shaped and pressed out, run a basting stitch to hold layers into position.
making patch pockets
                                                                                               Slip stitch the side open together.
making patch pockets
Apply desired top stitching, either by machine or by hand.  I have chosen to use a charcoal embroidery floss for a hand pickstitched finish.  Note:  For best results, patch pockets should be hand-stitched directly to the garment.  Machine top stitching is applied before the pocket is hand-sewn onto the coat.
pickstitch on patch pocket
Next, cut pocket flap and interface on the side that will present on the coat.  I like to cut the interfacing on the bias to assist the flap in  curving against the contours of the body. 
making a pocket flap
                                      Turn and press the seam allowance on the edge without interfacing and stitch the side seams.
                                                                    Align flap according to pattern markings and stitch into place.
                     After stitching flap into position, trim off excess seam allowance an steam edge upward toward the inside of flap.
                                                                     Hand stitch flap closed being careful to encase seam edges.
Once hand stitching is completed, lightly press flap into position over the patch pocket for a beautifully completed patch pocket and flap.                       
completed patch pocket andflap

Merry Woof-Woof – fabric art


Project Pooch


WoofWorks Fabric Mosaics

Merry Woof Woof

Having just finished an extremely intensive sewing marathon this past week, I was feeling the need to de-stress a little.

After having so much fun making  Little Frank, I’d been thinking about starting another pooch project.  Here is what I’ve come up with.  With the help of PicMonkey, I added a few seasonal snowflakes  and voila, Merry Woof-Woof  came into being.  🙂

Merry Christmas To All!

Merry Woof-Woof  framed print

Merry Woof-Woof framed print

Coat Making – Anatomy of a tailor tack


Long and Short of Pattern Marking

“So, what exactly is a tailor tack?” you may ask.  There are different kinds of temporary stitches that tailors use, but the kind of tack I will demonstrate in this tutorial is a loopy stitch used in marking darts and other key points in garment construction.  With advances in technology tailor tacks have somewhat fallen out of fashion in favor of easier marking methods, such as washable markers and those that disappear with heat.   These are great for most fabrics, but for woolens and the some of the more delicate materials that may not tolerate chemical markers, making hand applied tailor tacks provides a sound option.

A tailor tack is made while the tissue pattern in still pinned to the face fabric.  Begin by locating the circles marking the dart.  Take a stitch through all three layers bringing the needle back up through to the surface leaving a 1 1/2″ – 2″ tail.

tailor tack

Repeat this step creating a large loop of thread of thread.  Snip off to create another tail.

making a tailor tack

Snip loop in center.

tailor tacks

Completed tailor tack.

creating a tailor tack

Repeat this process for each circle marking in the dart.

Imaking a tailor tack

Once darts and other desired marking are completed carefully remove tissue pattern piece.

making tailor tacks

The remaining two pieces of face fabric are joined by the tailor tack.  Gently lift the top piece from the bottom piece and clip the threads to release the two pieces being careful not to dislodge the marking threads.

making tailor tacks

With tailor tacks completed, I am now ready to apply interfacing to the face fabric.

Until next time, happy sewing!

Coat Making – Fabric Preparation


Full Steam Ahead

When working with wool coating it is important to give the fabric a deep-steam treatment before beginning your pattern layout and cutting.  This can be done in several ways.  Before I had a steamer unit, I used a damp towel and iron which works fine, too.    Or, you can take it to the cleaners for steaming and pressing.

The main reason for applying steam is to reduce overall shrinkage that will occur during the heavy application of steam during the tailoring process.  Steam also makes the wool easier to manipulate into position when lining up plaids or stripes.applying steam to wool coating

After steaming I determine if the fabric has a direction or nap.   Rule number one when working with nap is whatever direction you choose to use, you must remain consistent cutting all pieces in the same direction.

Determining nap is much like petting a cat; it is more pleasing to stroke a kitty in the right direction.   I run my hand lightly along the surface feeling the direction of the fibers; one direction is soft and smooth while the opposite direction it feels like you’re petting a cat backwards.

find the fabric nap

I imagine myself smoothing out my coat in the back as I am about to sit down; I will want the fibers of my coat to smooth out in the “right” direction, too.  This tells me that to get the desired softness/smooth nap, I must lay my pattern pieces out with the nap going toward the hemline.

With steaming done and direction of the nap determined, I am ready for careful laying out of patterns, cutting and marking  notches.

pattern layout, measuring grain lines

careful cutting out

marking notches

Until next time… happy sewing!

Sewing – A New Coat By Christmas


The Race Is On

Coat Making Under Pressure

There’s nothing like a deadline to help me get going on a project.  After re-working my red melton coat a few weeks ago, I thought it would be nice to have another one over the same pattern to wear for Christmas.  I’ve been procrastinating both because I’ve been busy, but also because I feel a little daunted at the prospect of ironing on all that interfacing, making patch pockets and flaps, doing a set of bound buttonholes not to mention all the other little details that a well-tailored garment require. I began by going through my fabric stash; there I had a nice piece of charcoal coating perfect for what I needed.  Next step was to find buttons, coat lining and something interesting for the collar.  So far so good.

Charcoal coat supplies

I have already started and hope to add mini-tutorials and tips for those of you who may have never made a coat before and would like to.  I am still learning to navigate my way through the maze of widgets, categories and the like; if I can figure all that out, I will be posting them under “Tricks of the Trade” so that they are easily accessible… but you may have to bear with me on that for a bit.   🙂

Fabric Art Tutorial – Hello Little Frank


Glad to See You!

white background

Sometimes when I’m in the middle of an art project, my studio looks like a tornado passed through.

Drawers and cupboards fall open, materials and tools are scattered all about the room and I groan thinking about having to put it all away at some point.

creative chaos


Today, quite unplanned, I decided to make a wall hanging for one of my boys as a Christmas gift (hopefully, he won’t be reading this blog entry).  He had a little dog named Frank who was very sweet.  I wanted to make a reminder of Frank for his wall.  Using what I had on hand, I sorted through the scraps of brown fabric from past projects.  I selected five basic colors and began snipping and fusing.

brown scraps

snips of brown fabric

It didn’t take long and I had enough to cut out the body.   I made a little flap for the ear and outlined it in black for definition, added a little red color, a little eye peeking out from under the ear flap and a little black tip for the nose.   Once that was done, I was ready to try different backgrounds.  My preference was for the green background, but one of my boys thought his brother would like the white better, so I followed his advice.


green background

white background

Next I cut out the pooch’s name in my very best cursive writing… cutting letter is a little tedious, but the result is usually worth the time and care it takes.

cursive letter cutouts

I then found a piece of leftover batting I had used on a long ago quilt project and used that to add some loft in between the front and back pieces.  As luck would have it, I found a cute piece for the backing from my fabric stash that coordinated nicely with the front design.  I sandwiched the three pieces together leaving an extra one inch border of the back fabric to fold up around the outside to finish the edges.  The I stitched around the dog and on the name for a little added definition.

Here is my finished piece… I hope he likes it.  I do!  It looks especially good sitting on my red table runner.  Hmm…

Merry Christmas Evan!

Black Magic… Sewing on Velvet


a crushed velvet skinny skirt

crushed velvet skinny skirt

I’m going out to lunch tomorrow and I decided I needed one of those skinny skirts to go over my leggings.

I used Burda 8344  for my pattern and made it up in about an hour.

Burda Skirt Pattern 8344

I love it!  It’s cute, fashionable, simple to make and most importantly I feel like I can go out in my leggings without feeling like I woke up in one of those bad dreams where you find yourself in a public place with a major item of clothing missing.  🙂

Velvet Skinny Skirt

I would definitely consider making this skirt again… bright red would be fun.

A Christmas Gift


National Recognition of Fabric Mosaic Marian Art

Recently, I responded to a national Call For Art sponsored by the Episcopal Church, USA.  I presented a submission of fabric mosaic art to ECVA, an organization within the national Episcopal Church,  dedicated to the acknowledgement and support of sacred visual arts.   To my delight, I received notice this afternoon that my work had been accepted for inclusion in the exhibition, Mary, Mother Of Our Tribe.

Below is a screen shot of the beautiful mosaic of images produced by artists from around the country.  My fabric mosaic, Golden Intercessor, is in first position on the second row. She is created in a Byzantine style often association with Orthodox traditions.   With Advent upon us and Mary’s central role in the Christmas story, it is impossible to view this exhibit without contemplating the power of faith in the world.

National Juried Exhibit,Episcopal Church, Visual Arts

National Juried Exhibit,
Episcopal Church, Visual Arts

Sewing Remake – Coming Out of the Closet


Breathing New Life Into An Old Garment

Red Melton CoatI recently re-worked a bright red melton coat I made in 2002.  (When I started writing this entry I thought it was maybe five years ago.  A trip to my pre-digital photo album took me back to 2002… yikes how time flies)  This coat was made from a great pattern, now discontinued,Vogue 1853.  It has wonderful back detailing including an inverted back pleat with hand embroidered chevrons at either end.

red melton, back detail

Making this coat was a couture experience from start to finish and I was very happy with the results when I first completed it.  Even so, I didn’t wear it all that much; looking back I think it was because that back pleat wasn’t easy to wear… I was constantly fussing with when sitting down.

Vogue 1853

The last time I took it out to wear, I noticed it had become ultra-fitted in the waist.  (oh, what could it be?)   All that wonderful back pleating wasn’t hanging as it should and instead was poking out in an unflattering way, because of my increasing girth… and since then,  I more or less stopped wearing it.  I decided this was the year to take it out of the closet and see what I could do to make it more wearable.

I set out analyzing what exactly wasn’t working for me and how I might be able to alter it to improve the fit.  I began by removing the back darts to give a bit of breathing space… this is tricky, because darts have a way of leaving marks.  To my surprise, they steamed out beautifully.  Even though I loved the detail and remember having put tremendous effort into it, the only option was to eliminate the pleat and that meant the chevrons I had labored over had to go, too… ouch!   I took out the entire back seam and trimmed excess to make 5/8 inch seam allowances.  To do this, I had to open up the seam where the collar attached to the body of the coat.

opening collar seam

Once the collar seam was opened, I then stitched up the back seam.   I still had some of the original embroidery floss used for the pickstitches and added that to the back seam line.  This is time-consuming, but I like the understated look of it.

back seam with pickstitch

With the leftover excess fabric trimmed from the back, I created a back belt and inserted that into the two back seams at the waistline.  It was also embellished with pickstitching for accent.

back belt with pickstitch accent

Here is the result.  No more hiding in the closet… this cheerful wrap is on its way to becoming my new favorite, wear anywhere, coat.  Red is such a nice color for the gray days of winter.

red melton, back view

red melton coat