Tutorial: How to Sew a Shirttail Hem Without Ripples

Yeah, sorry – my bad in the last post. I was writing late, after a long day, and DS and DH decided to stream “Stranger Things” on Netflix. Oooooh, shiny! I got distracted. BTW, that show is really creepy good. I love Winona Rider, and the soundtrack brings me back to my youth. But I digress.

Rippled shirttails make my eye twitch, whether it’s in RTW (which is inexcusable) or in something I’ve sewn (which is only slightly less so). The key to a professional, unrippled look is patience, grasshoppers. Here’s how I make a shirttail hem that doesn’t ripple. I did a mockup of half of the Simplicity 8166 hem for this demonstration.

1 – Sew your side seams and any other vertical seams as you normally would.

2 – Run a row of basting stitches along the hemline

I used white thread for contrast

3 – Fold the hem along the hemline and fold it again to form a narrow hem. Pin the bejeebers out of it. Seriously, I pin about every quarter inch, sometimes closer. Make sure you pin down the “stress points” – areas of sharp curves.

It’s a lot of pins, but it is worth the effort.

4  – And this is REALLY important. Before moving to the sewing machine, gently press or steam along the hem. I don’t even let the iron touch the fabric, I hover it about 1/16 of an inch above it and use light steam. But you can apply very light pressure if you wish.

Don’t worry about pin marks. They will come out. I’ve done this with everything from charmeuse to silk to wool and cotton, and I’ve never had an issue.

Post-pressing, the curve has “calmed”

5 – Sew your hem.

IRL I would remove the pins just before the needle reaches them, but here for speed’s sake I sewed over them.

6 – Remove the basting, press, and you are ready to go!

Look ma, no ripples!

It takes a little bit of time. Surprisingly not that much, and the results are SO worth it.

HTH and Happy Sewing!

Posted in Tutorials | 11 Comments

Pattern Review: Simplicity 8166 Tunic

Despite the drought and oppressive heat here in Boston, my sewing mojo has been in full bloom!

Pattern Description: From Simplicity’s website – “Misses’ peasant style blouse and dress features a shirring or bow tie neckline to create a chic look. Pattern also includes skirt and pant”

I made the bow-blouse/tunic, view D

Sizing: 8-22. I made a 12.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Easy Care Paisley Charmeuse from Gorgeous Fabrics. That fabric is, alas, long since sold out, but Here’s a Page with similar fabrics that would work well for this top (or the dress).

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, sleeve board, Clover Hold It Stiletto.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Superior So-Fine #50 Thread (more on that later), Maxi Lock Thread (in the serger). Clear snaps, 1/4 inch elastic, Interfacing from stash.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Quick Tip – Using Pins to Mark Start/Stop Points, Setting a Sleeve into an Armhole

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? More or less (more on that in the Construction Notes section)

How were the instructions? Hmmm. I’ll give you an anecdote. About a dozen years ago, when I toured Simplicity’s then-headquarters on Park Avenue, I asked one of their folks about their instructions and why they were… less than I would like. Her response was, “We will never put more than 2 double-sided pages of instructions in an envelope.” When I pressed her, using Claire Shaeffer’s instructions as a counterpoint, her expression hardened and she said again, “We will NEVER put more than 2 double-sided pages of instructions in an envelope.”


Moving right along,

Construction Notes: I made an FBA
8166 FBA
I did NOT like their method for inserting the placket. The elastic was too long, and it just looked Becky-Home-Ecky to me. I applied interfacing to the plackets and sewed them into the CF opening as you would a sleeve placket, with the plackets overlapping. Instead of elastic/button closures, I used clear snaps as closures. I thought about using decorative snaps, but the ones I have in stash are just a skoosh too big, so I went with these.

Here you can see the snaps

I also found, with this method of placket construction, that I needed only 5 snaps, instead of 8 buttons.

I used my favorite way of setting a sleeve, and if I do say, it works great!

That’s a nice shoulder line!

One note: the sleeve elastic guide is WAY too big. You can see it in the pattern picture – the sleeve gapes away from the model’s wrist. The guide for a size 12 is 9 inches. I only needed 7 1/4 inches. My advice is measure your wrist and add about a half inch to 3/4 of an inch. That’s more than enough and it won’t cut off circulation.

Likes/Dislikes: I like the look of this pattern. It’s got a vaguely 70s vibe. I really dislike the way they have you construct the front closure, and I’m not crazy about the instructions in general.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I probably won’t do it again. I only need one of these blouses. Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Conclusion: Despite my reservations, I do like the way it turned out. If the weather ever cools here in Boston I’ll try to get a picture of me in it. In the meantime, here it is on Shelley.

About the thread. I was contacted by a very nice man from Superior Threads earlier this year. He wanted to know if I would be interested in carrying their thread, and sent me several samples. This one just happened to match my fabric well, so I used it for this project. I was suitably impressed! It is quite fine, as the name implies. They recommend using an 80/12 topstitch needle with it, but I think they target a quilting market, rather than a garment sewing market. It worked fine with a Universal 70/10 needle. I like it because it doesn’t shred. I’ve had a real problem recently with some Gutterman thread shredding as it feeds through my machine. I know it’s not the Pfaff, since other threads don’t have that problem. This thread seems to be strong enough to stand up to regular wear and tear. I’ll let you know as time goes. I’m the first to admit I’m not a thread expert, but this one seems like a winner. I haven’t decided if I’m going to carry it, but you can link to the manufacturer above. I receive no compensation for any links, and I am not affiliated with Superior Threads, so click through with impunity!

Not sure what I’m going to make next, but I’m hoping inspiration comes soon, since my mojo is going gangbusters.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Gorgeous Fabrics, Sewing, Simplicity | 8 Comments

Poppy Zip Top on the Hoof!

I wore my Poppy Zip Top yesterday. I paired it with linen pants (purchased from Loft) and espadrilles. I had to go to Logan to pick up DH, who had gone to his high school reunion in Washington, DC. I was easy to find in the crowd! 🙂

Sucky selfie, but you get an idea of the fit

Sucky selfie, but you get an idea of the fit

Happy sewing!

Posted in Gorgeous Fabrics, StyleArc | 5 Comments

Pattern Review: StyleArc Poppy Zip Top

Pattern Description:  “This will become a wardrobe favourite. The slightly raised neckline, zip front and pleated back gives this style an elegant look that is both timeless and on trend. The design lines create a flattering shape. Make it with the new short elbow length sleeve or leave it sleeveless”

I made the sleeveless version

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Embroidered Cotton Eyelet – Grenadine, from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!) And OMG, can you believe it? It’s still available on the site. What a treat! Silk organza in bright red (waiting to get more for the site).

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, shoulder stand, ham.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10. Thread.

I used a Riri zipper that my friend Rosie sent to me from New York. Thanks Rosie!!!

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew From Wide to Narrow.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Bare bones, typical of StyleArc. They give you the basic order of construction. Fortunately, this top is very well drafted and goes together readily.

Construction Notes: First up, I made a muslin to test this out. I took some excess ease out of the upper chest at the princess seam lines. If you follow me on Instagram (GorgeousFabrics) you can see the steps I took. Once I did that, I took the muslin apart, pressed the adjusted muslin pieces flat and used them as my pattern pieces.

To minimize show-through, I used the silk organza as interfacing instead of fusible interfacing, as recommended in the pattern. The organza blends better. The eyelet has solid borders along both selvages, and I used those as the front facings, to give more support to the zipper.

I think it gives more support and a cleaner finish.

I sewed it together per the instructions. I finished the raw edges of the facing using a zigzag stitch. I under stitched the facing at the neckline

And at the hem:

Likes/Dislikes: I love this pattern! I think it looks great on. The pleats give it a peplum-y style without a peplum. It goes together beautifully. There is one error in the pattern to be aware of. The notches on the Center Back Under-Pleat don’t match the notches on the Center Back.

The pattern pieces match otherwise, so ignore the notches and just sew them together.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Absolutely, and yes! This top went together beautifully. I love the lines, and I think it’s really fun. I’ll try to get a picture of me in it this weekend. In the meantime, here are a couple of shots on Shelley.


and Back

Conclusion: Another win from StyleArc!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Gorgeous Fabrics, Reviews, StyleArc | 20 Comments

Clothes Make the Mom?

Bippety Boppety Boo

But, what if Cinderella preferred her “rags”? After all, she didn’t have to wear corsets or panniers, and her hair was definitely prettier.

Lately, a tempest in a teacup has erupted on the Boston Globe’s website. Last week, a blogger wrote an article titled, It’s Time to Reinvent the Suburban Mom. The author laments, “How did fleece and Lycra become the staples of the suburban mommy uniform? And why is it acceptable to wear leggings outside of the gym, or worse, when you don’t ever go to the gym? When did showering become optional? The suburban mommy needs a new uniform, pronto.”

She then goes on to list 6 items of clothing that every ‘suburban mommy’ should have in her closet. They include

  • “A pair of jeans that flatter you”
  • T-shirts
  • A “great silk shirt”
  • Leggings (Uh, lady, you just said they belonged only in the gym)
  • A Dress
  • A Blazer

All of these are accompanied by a paragraph explaining why people must adhere to this 6-piece capsule collection. Worse than that, the author insinuates that if you don’t stock your closet with these pieces, you are, in the parlance of our political times, a loser.

As you can imagine, this article elicited an… energetic response from readers, one of whom wrote a Counterpoint Article decrying the fact that women pronounce these judgements in a public arena (like the largest newspaper in Boston), while men get a free pass. She makes a bunch of other points, but that’s the one I agree with most.

I know it’s human nature to judge people by their looks, and I’m sure if I walk into a coffee shop with full frizz and no makeup, in shorts and a “Mother of Dragons” tee shirt, someone might think I’m a slob. Conversely, if someone sees me in fahncy jeans and a cashmere sweater with full warpaint, they might think I’m pulled together. But the fact is, I am pulled together, regardless of what I’m wearing. And I try really hard not to judge anyone else by what they are wearing, or how their hair/makeup looks. After all, I don’t know what their life is like, so why get all judge-y about it? I have other things to worry about.

Here’s my advice. Wear what makes you feel good. If that’s leggings, fine. If that’s a designer cashmere sweater over a silk blouse, fine. If you feel good, you will walk taller and have more confidence. It’s about you, not ‘them’.

In sewing news, the organza arrived for my StyleArc Poppy top, so I’ll resume working on that. While I waited for it, I also cut out a blouse using a new Simplicity pattern. This weekend I get to sew, lots, so there will be much to blog about. Until then,

Happy sewing!

Posted in Commentary, Fashion | 26 Comments

When Life Gets Ugly, Focus on the Pretty

Jesus, this month. How much heartbreak can we take?

To lighten the mood a bit, last week I met my friend Angela in New York and spent a delightful day with her. We walked from Battery Park to Chinatown, where we feasted at Nom Wah (Thanks to Rosie for sending us there. Best. Dim Sum. Ever!), then we caught the train uptown to see the “Manus Ex Machina” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So here are some pictures to remind us that when the world gets ugly, and God knows it’s been one ugly-ass summer so far, there is still beauty all around us.


Neoprene couture wedding gown by Chanel opens the exhibit


But what’s with the drag lines?


McQueen metal dresses


Can’t sit in this one


Hussein Chalayan




Crappy cell phone detail of the embroidery on the Dior dress


Dior’s Petale




Dior by Yves Saint Laurent


This is made of plastic drinking straws


Clear sequins over printed ombré silk jersey




Dior side by side with McQueen


70s Givenchy, IIRC


Iris van Herpen is one crazy lady!


For those days you just want to look like a wooly bear caterpillar


Valentino and Gres on the left, Iris van Herpen on the right


Mummy couture


Classic Chanel? Kinda sorta. That “tweed” is plastic


Here you can see the “weave” of the Chanel tweed


Cool idea for a shirt dress from Prada: zipper instead of button placket

IMG_4590 (1)

Only a sewing nerd would stick her camera under the dress to see the innards


Hand crocheted lace


Chanel fron the 30s




The exhibit has been extended into September. If you have the chance, do go see it.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Couture, Fashion, Museums | 19 Comments

Pattern Review: Butterick 5466 Skirt

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted, straight skirts A, B, C, D, E, above mid-knee, have back zipper closure. A, B, C, E: Darts. B, C: Waistband. C: Self-belt. D: Front and back princess seams. D, E: Raised waist.
I made View D.

Sizing: 8-24. I made a 14

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Swiss cotton from my friend Alice at Mendel Goldberg. Yeah, I know, but even I like to shop at places where I can’t get the same things :). White silk habotai lining from Gorgeous Fabrics (natch).

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Naomi the Naomoto, Ironing board, ham.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro Sheer Elegance interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, invisible zipper from stash, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Sew from Wide to Narrow, Make the Lining First, Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sewing Invisible Zipper by Els from The Sewing Divas.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Didn’t use them. This pattern is well drafted and super easy, and I made some changes (see below)

Construction Notes: I added a silk habotai lining to the pattern. To make the lining, I used the skirt pieces and took off one inch at the hem and 1 3/4 inches at the top. I attached the lining to the facings, and I made a machine hem at the bottom of the lining. I used an invisible zipper and I hand-hemmed the outer shell.

Lining inserted in the skirt

Machine sewn hem on the lining and hand sewn hem on the skirt

Likes/Dislikes: This is a super easy pattern that goes together quickly. I started cutting out the lining at 1 this afternoon, and I finished hemming it at 5, in time to wear it to DS the Elder’s 21st birthday dinner. I love this skirt!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Gosh yes. If you want a skirt that is easy to make and is well drafted, this is one.

Conclusion: Love love love! I will apologize in advance because I didn’t take many pictures until after we had gone to dinner, so it’s kind of wrinkled. But you can get an idea.


Back (after dinner/wearing)

As I said, I wore it to dinner tonight (with a purchased tank top in a complementary orange) to celebrate DS the Elder’s 21st. Wow, where has the time gone?

Eddie Day 2

The day we came home from the hospital, it was hot!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Butterick, Sewing | 4 Comments

Les Petites Mains Get Their Day in the Sun!

Photo credit: Chanel.com

In the latest Chanel Couture show, Karl Lagerfeld shone the spotlight on les petites mains who make the clothes that inspire us all. To all our Gorgeous Peeps, this is inspiration and acknowledgement of the work that goes into these amazing garments. Anyone who sews, knows this. Merci, Monsieur Lagerfeld, for showing the women and men behind that curtain!

The link to the full Reuters Story is Here

PS, the fashion world is abuzz with the rumor that Lagerfeld, who is 82 years old, is going to retire soon. We’ll see…

Happy sewing!

Posted in Couture, Fashion | 1 Comment

Pattern Review: Butterick 6061 Shorts

Pattern Description: From Butterick’s website, “Semi-fitted shorts and tapered pants (below waist) have bias, front button, contour waistband, carriers, side-front pockets, mock-fly zipper and stitched hems.”

Sizing: 6-22. I made a 14

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: A Ralph Lauren pinstriped denim from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). That’s been sold out for a couple of years, but we have other suitable denims Here.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, sleeve board, Clover Hold It Stiletto, silk organza press cloth.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Japanese hand-sewing needle, Pro Weft Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, zipper from stash, “couture” waistband closures, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: “J” or “L”?, Anything by The Pressinatrix

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? They were fine. This is a very (very) easy pattern to sew.

Construction Notes: I made a 14, and it runs big. I could definitely go to a 12 with no ill effects. I made the shortest view (A), which comes to about mid-thigh. The fabric I’m using is a regular stripe, to to get things to match up I cut one front and back, then used that piece as the template for the other side.

Likewise for the pockets, I laid the fronts on the fabric, lining up the stripes, placed the pocket pattern piece over the front piece, lining up the markings. Then I pulled the front piece from under the pocket pattern piece and cut it out.

Anchor the pattern piece once you’ve got the layout you want, then pull the front out from under it.

I also made an effort to line up the stripes at the center front. Here, though, I made a minor boo boo. I ended up reversing the left and right waistbands, and I didn’t realize it until after I had installed the waistband closures. Doh! Oh well. It’s not that noticeable, and since I usually wear my shirts untucked unless I’ve belted the shorts, no one will see it.

Here you can see the waistband “oops”

Speaking of the waistband closure, I bought waistband hooks and eyes that you install with pliers, rather than by sewing them in. I’ve heard them called “couture closures” though I prefer the term “industrial strength.” I did a practice run with one to make sure I installed it correctly. I didn’t worry too much in the test run about placement on the stripe, obviously.

L: the components. R: installed test run

After the test I decided to add a bit of interfacing to the CF waistband on the otherwise-uninterfaced side.

Just a small square, to lend more support.

That gives the fabric a bit more support. You need to be attuned to the order of construction with these. You don’t install them at the very end like you would a regular hook/eye or a button. You have to install them before you finish sewing the waistband facing. I like them a lot. They are quite sturdy, and since one of my least favorite sewing activities is attaching hooks and eyes, the fact that these go in with just a needle nosed pliers is a big plus.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a very easy, well drafted shorts pattern. It runs big, so do be sure to check the fit. I’ll go down a size next time. The one negative thing is this pattern doesn’t include a back pocket piece. It’s a minor nit, but I like to keep my phone in my back pocket, so I’ll probably add pockets to these.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes, with that one caveat about the sizing. My husband commented yesterday when I finished, “Boy, you’ve been on a shorts jag this year.” I guess it’s true. I am contemplating another pair, maybe capri-length.

Conclusion: An easy pattern that gives good results! Here they are on Shelley:



I finished these in time for July 4th dinner with friends and family. I’ll leave you with a parting shot of the cocktail we had before dinner, The Cherry Bomb (thanks to Epicurious).

Love the color!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Butterick, Gorgeous Fabrics, Patterns, Reviews | Leave a comment

Double Header Pattern Review: McCalls 7412 Top and McCalls 6930 Shorts

McCalls 7412 Top

Let’s start at the top. I saw this pattern when it first came out, and I thought it was just adorable. It’s WAAAAAAY out of my wheelhouse, but I’ve seen women my age (and some older) wearing this kind of open shoulder top beautifully. I had some Milly fabric left over from my StyleArc Artist Tunic, so I decided to take a gamble.

Pattern Description: From McCalls website, “Loose-fitting, pullover tops and tunic have scoop neckline, cold shoulder detail, and sleeve/hemline variations. A, C, D: Flared sleeves. B: Purchased scalloped lace trim and bishop sleeves. C: Hemline ruffle. D: Layered sleeves”

I made View B, omitting the lace trim.

Sizing: 4-26. I made a size 12.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: A remnant of the Milly voile that I used for my StyleArc Artist Tunic.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, sleeve board, shoulder stand, Clover Hold It Stiletto, silk organza press cloth.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, 1/4 inch elastic from stash, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, more or less. I screwed up a little bit on the shoulder band so it ended up wider than the picture, but it’s not terrible and I’m not going to go back and pull it out.

How were the instructions? They were fine. This is very straightforward to make. The only slightly tricky part is making sure you line up the openings for the cold-shoulders properly.

Close up of the cold-shoulder

Construction Notes: Nothing unusual. I sewed the seams with my Pfaff, and serged the seam allowances together, rather than sewing a double seam. This pattern would work quite well with French seams.

Likes/Dislikes: You know how I said this is WAAAAAAY out of my wheelhouse? Well there’s a reason I don’t stray too far from my wheelhouse. I finished it, tried it on…

And I hate it.

It makes me look like a mile-wide stump, and a pregnant stump to boot. It even makes Shelley look fat.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? No, I will not make this again. This was a fail for me. The word “blowsy” came immediately to mind when I looked in the mirror. Though I still think it’s cute and I think on the right person it can look great. I’m just not that person.

Conclusion: Win some, lose some, learn something. I’ll donate this to Sister Thrift near where I live so hopefully someone will love it and it will benefit the dogs and cats at the local Humane Society.

McCalls 6930 Shorts

These, on the other hand, are right in the middle of my wheelhouse!

Pattern Description: “Fitted shorts or tapered pants (below waist) have shaped waistband, side-front pockets and back zipper. A, B: Back patch pockets. B: Scalloped hem. C: Carriers and stitched hems.”

I made view A, the short-shorts.

Sizing: 6-22. I started with a 14, but backed it down at the waist significantly.

Available as a PDF? Yes!

Fabric Used: A heathered dark wash denim from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). That fabric is sold out, but you can see similar Here.

Machines and Tools Used: The usual suspects (see above)

Needle/Notions Used: The usual suspects (see above) as well as stash interfacing, a zipper from stash and two trouser hook/eyes.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? They’re fine. Again, this is a straightforward pattern and goes together readily.

Construction Notes: I started with a 14. I’ve noticed in previous McCalls shorts and pants that I end up with a lot of gapping at the back waist, so I tried them on before applying the back zipper and sure enough… I took about an inch out at the CB. That did the trick without distorting the side seams. I sewed all the seams on the Pfaff and finished the raw edges on the serger.

Likes/Dislikes: Love these! They went together readily, and they are really cute. I’ll probably make the longer versions as well.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes.

Here are shots on Shelley. I won’t subject you to my Mary Melanoma pasty white legs again. 🙂


The side pocket detail

And the Back, slightly overexposed to show the pockets

Conclusion: These are a winner – this weekend I was batting .500 – ah well. This happens sometimes.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Gorgeous Fabrics, McCalls, Reviews | 13 Comments