Tip for Working with Tricky Knit Fabrics, and Simplicity 8265 Skirt

Hey there! Did I tell you I can’t drive? Double vision will do that. It is slowly getting better and I expect I’ll be back on the Boston roads terrorizing other drivers soon enough. But for now that leaves me in the house most days, which means I have time on my hands and no place to go, so I’m just a sewing ‘machine’ recently. That’s a good thing – my energy is up, my sewing mojo is up, and my blogging/teaching mojo is up. So today’s lesson is about…

Working with tricksy knits!

Have you ever run into a fabric that you absolutely adore, but like an operatic diva is impossible to work with? Not that I would know about that sort of thing personally. 🙄😆

Well, I have. The fabric for my Simplicity 8265, that luscious, beefy rayon double knit, LOVES my serger, but hates my sewing machine. Actually it hates both of my sewing machines (my trusty Pfaff and my Skippy-the-Emergency-Backup-Bernina). It makes them skip stitches like crazy, which they don’t normally do. Let me show you what I mean. I ran a line of stitches on my Pfaff. Settings for all the samples you will see in this post are straight stitch, 3mm long, Schmetz Jersey/Ballpoint needle size 80/12. Now mind you, this is the needle that gives the best result in my machines, and I tried all of them, but there are still problems. Here you can see the result:

I used white thread in the needle so you can see it clearly

In cases like this I’ve found, through experimentation and comparing results with folks who know more than me (yes – there are one or two…) that there is an easy, inexpensive and consistent answer – pattern paper!

A strip of excess paper from your pattern can work wonders…

Just put it under your stitching line, between the fabric and the feed dogs, run your stitches, and to quote BravoTV, “watch what happens!”

On the right is the first stitching line. On the left is the stitching line sewn over the pattern paper

Nice results, wouldn’t you say? Here’s the back side of the stitching

All you need to do is tear the paper away and ta daa!

Pattern Review-ish of Simplicity 8265 View B Skirt

This doesn’t really warrant a full review because I used the same fabric, machines and settings as my review of the Duster from This Same Pattern. But I’ll note a couple of things. First, this pattern is really easy! I started cutting it out at 2 and I was finished by 5, and that was with some time off to give my back a break (can I tell you how much I hate being afflicted with Miller-Fisher?). I made a size 12.

Second, it is very well drafted and goes together beautifully. I pegged it a bit, though the photos look a little like it flares out at the bottom. Not sure why. I haven’t tried it on to check it. I’ll do that later. The front is flat, the back has two small darts. Here are pictures:

Back. The darts are kind of hard to see

Third it takes little fabric, so it’s a great way to use up extra (like mine). Here’s a side view

I used my new coverstitch machine to hem it

I LOVE this machine, and the man who gave it to me – after I showed him where to buy it. Still, love him!

So, another garment complete! I know it is simple, but it’s progress, and I’m so happy to be sewing again!!!

Does Happy Sewing sound redundant? Because I am!

Battle of the Seams – Sleeve Edition!

(In my best WWF announcer voice)

That’s rrrrright, ladies and gentlemen! Tonight’s matchup is a battle for dominance of the sleeve seam! Will champion ready-to-wear method Flat Set come out on top, or will challenger In The Round win the big one? Staaaaay tuned and find out!

And now a message from our sponsor –


My Review of Simplicity 8265 (and my grousing about the order of sleeve construction) elicited much commentary, both in favor of flat-set sleeve construction and of in-the-round construction. Well, I’m perfectly happy to be converted, so I decided to try it out myself!

Here are the ground rules I followed. I made a very simple mockup of a tee shirt using 4-way stretch knit in nude from Gorgeous Fabrics (I was originally going to do a full garment with some fabric I picked up from the red tag section at JoAnn, but it was so crappy I couldn’t deal and put it in the recycle bin). I used my Juki 4-thread MO-654DE serger on all seams, using a ¼ inch seam allowance. I pressed all seams flat and then towards the sleeve, and I was agnostic about each side – I didn’t try to make any side look better or worse. I used the same temperature, pressure, and steam on both sides. So here are the results:

First up, let’s look at the basic construction. The flat-set sleeve is sewn into the armscye before sewing the side seam/underarm seam.

This is looking at the flat-set sleeve in progress.

Now here is the in-the-round sleeve. The side and underarm seams are both sewn before inserting the sleeve into the resulting armhole.

Ready to sew the sleeve into the armhole

Here’s the front view of the finished mockup.

Honestly, can you see a difference? I can’t

After sewing the side/arm continuous seam, here’s a picture of the flat-set sleeve on Shelley.

Flat set sleeve: the top does not fit Shelley, so ignore any bustline wrinkles

The other side is the in-the-round construction


One Big Gotcha (for me, not you):

After reviewing these two pictures, I ran upstairs to check the right-side/wrong-side. I had used a symmetrical sleeve pattern, and guess what, they are opposite on each sleeve. In other words, one sleeve has the right side of the fabric facing out, the other has the right side facing in. It’s a stupid mistake that I shouldn’t have made, but in my defense, this is one of those knits that is the same on both sides and I promised this post yesterday so I was rushing – sorry. So if the draping of the sleeve at the shoulder looks reversed, that’s why. In point of fact, the drape is exactly the same, just inside-out.

Here are views of the seams from the inside.

Flat-set sleeve from the inside – notice it looks exactly like the in-the round from the outside.
Same sleeve looking at the underarm seam (nice matching, if I do say so!)
In-the-round view of the inside
And the underarm seam. Not quite as perfect, sorry…

Here are back views of each side on Shelley.

Flat-set sleeve from the back
In-the-round back


So, is flat-set better, or is in-the-round construction better? My opinion, for what it’s worth, is there isn’t a significant difference when you are working with a jersey or lightweight knit fabric. I’m not sure there’s a difference when working with a mid-weight knit like a double knit. But I think there may be a difference with a heavy knit fabric, and I definitely use in-the-round construction on most wovens. But hey – try it for yourself and see which you prefer. After all – a big part of sewing is deciding which methods work best for each of us!

And in Non-Sewing News…

I went to the neurologist yesterday, and I got some good news! I still have double vision, but I am cleared to start working and, even better, working out again. I also put on full makeup today for the first time since I got sick. Yah!!!!

Every little bit helps! #smallvictories

Happy sewing!

Tick tock tick tock tick tock

Kittens, time is running out. You have 8 days left to indulge in Gorgeous Fabrics. At 6:00PM Eastern on November 6, 2017, your Fabric Godmother (that would be me) will flick her magic wand and you’ll have to find your Gorgeousness elsewhere, with none of my words of wisdom, Pantone pearls and pattern matching to which you have become accustomed.

But before then, you can shop! Given the quantity of orders (thank you!) that we have been receiving, we are still a ways behind, and we will work tirelessly to get your orders to you as quickly as possible. We really appreciate your patience. For the remainder of our time together, there are a few other things you should keep in mind:

  1. Fabrics may sell out before we can ship yours. We’re really sorry about that, but it happens occasionally, especially with some of the older fabrics and some of the really hot fabrics.
  2. If we do sell out of a fabric that you ordered, we’ll refund it to you and adjust the shipping cost if it’s appropriate – IOW if it bumps your order to a lower shipping level. See the Policies Page for the shipping rates.
  3. No other discounts apply during the sale. Gorgeous Points, for example, no longer accrue, nor can they be redeemed. The good news is that you’re getting a MUCH bigger discount off full price fabrics (35% vs 15%).
  4. During the Farewell Sale, we can’t make any substitutions.
  5. Because of the volume of orders, getting hold of us by phone is nearly impossible. Your best bet is email.
  6. Swatches are no longer available.
  7. All sales during our Farewell Sale are final.

Enough of that, Let’s Shop!

But wait, there’s more…
Another thing I want to address is the rumors running around that Gorgeous Fabrics is going away. It’s not; it’s evolving. 2018 is going to be a very exciting year, and I can’t wait to show you and share with you what I have planned. The changes have been a long time coming, and I’m thrilled with what will be happening in 2018!

This blog will continue, and you’ll find me posting here with pattern reviews, tutorials and lots of other great stuff. I’ll also continue to post on Facebook and Instagram, so follow those to keep up with what’s going on with the site and more. There are also some really exciting things happening, and I’ll be able to talk about them here in a few weeks.

I’m going to be doing more teaching, and if you want to be apprised of where and when I’ll be teaching, Click here to sign up for the mailing list. As always, I NEVER share your information with ANYONE.

I know that change is hard, and it certainly is scary, but it’s also good, and it’s exciting! Have fun shopping the Farewell Sale, and keep an eye here for more Gorgeous Things, Gorgeous Fabrics, and general all-around fabulousness!



So, You Think All Interfacing is the Same?

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Hey, I’ll just use whatever interfacing is on sale, or cheapest. It doesn’t matter, right?”


Here’s a graphic example. For a super-triple-secret project I’m working on, I needed to apply interfacing to the back of a pattern piece. My thought process was, “I need to apply it to a paper piece, so a non-woven interfacing should do the trick.” I went to the local JoAnn and picked up a yard and a half of Pellon non-woven interfacing and applied it to my pattern piece.

To say it was a disaster would be kind. The Pellon wrinkled immediately, even though I had the heat set properly and I didn’t over-fuse. I pulled a piece of Fashion Sewing Supply’s Pro-Sheer Elegance Interfacing out of my stash, and applied it to another pattern piece (I had two copies of the pattern just in case, thank goodness!). I used the Exact Same (correct) Settings for both interfacings.

The wrinkled mess on top is Pellon. The smooth piece on the bottom is Fashion Sewing Supply.

The difference between the cheap Pellon and the professional grade Fashion Sewing Supply is stark. Imagine, if cheap interfacing gives you that kind of result on paper, what will it do to your garment? Kittens, you deserve better than a wrinkly mess. Make sure you use good interfacings. You’re worth it!

I was not solicited, paid for or compensated in any way for this post. I was just appalled at the results I got from the Pellon, and pleased with those from Fashion Sewing Supply.

Happy sewing!

The Vagaries of Fit: Shoulders

This week, the sewing interwebs have exploded over a recently-released pattern. I won’t name names, but it’s easy enough to find. Said pattern is giving people fits (pardon the pun) over the fit of the bodice. I don’t own the pattern so I can’t comment on it, but the brouhaha did get me thinking (uh oh, she’s thinking again).

Let’s talk about fit. This can be a very long subject, with lots of subtopics, and I’m certainly not going to cover all of them here. But there’s one area that I’ve found is critical to the success of almost any garment: the shoulder. When I was actively singing, a voice teacher said to me in reference to how to hold the body, “Everything hangs from the shoulders.” Boy oh boy, that resonates for sewing enthusiasts, doesn’t it? You can play with ease and adjust things on other parts of the body to make your garment tighter or looser, but the shoulders  are the area that need to fit properly for the rest of the garment to work.

Continue reading The Vagaries of Fit: Shoulders

Sewing – The Next Generation…

We’re fortunate in our town to have sewing/cooking/shop classes in the middle school. They start out with woodshop, then move on to cooking, then sewing at the end of the year. In school, DS the Younger has been learning to make a fleece hat. Earlier this week he came home and asked if I could teach him sewing. Well, who am I to say no to that, right? So to start off, we decided to make a pillowcase. I figured that was a good way to get him used to my Pfaff. So we got some blue cotton and went to town. I showed him how to measure and cut the fabric using the rotary cutter and a ruler. We hemmed the top of the case first, then sewed the seams. He took to it like a duck to water – of course! Here are some pictures of him working on it:

 Pinning the hem
Sewing away!

And, here he is with the finished product.
He did all the work. I did the pressing for him, since he’s a little nervous about using my gravity feed iron, and I don’t entirely blame him. But other than that, he did the rest of it. I’m so proud of him! My little swatch off the old fabric bolt. He said he’d like to make pajama bottoms next, so that will be our next project.
Happy sewing!

Fit Class Started Tonight!

I’m so happy. My “Fit a Skirt Pattern” started tonight. I have a group of (all returning) students. Tonight’s class was all about explaining pattern sizing vs. RTW, and getting their measurements. It was hilarious and gratifying. We’re going to work from the skirt in Simplicity 5311:
It’s a multi-sized pattern that includes both misses and women’s sizes. The roughest part so far (and I knew this would be the case) is trying to convince students that the size on the pattern just doesn’t matter. They took their measurments and were practically screaming, “What do you mean, I’m a size 16!?!” My assurances that especially in patterns, size is just a number, fell on deaf ears for about 15 minutes. I’m hoping they come back. I’ll let you know.

Happy fitting!

I just love my students! – Part 1

I teach adult ed sewing classes for the local recreation department. Most of the classes are beginner to advanced beginner, but I’m starting to add some more advanced techniques. Next fall I’m going to do only intermediate and higher level sewing classes. I started teaching on a lark. I was lamenting the fact that the only sewing classes locally were geared toward quilting, and a friend suggested I contact the recreation department. I did, and before I could finish describing what I wanted to teach, they said “yes!” So my teaching career was born.

Well, not quite born. Way back when I was a sales support rep for BBN Software, I used to teach a startup class on our flagship product called “Crash and Burn with RS/1”. Customers loved the name, BBN management hated it; all was good.

Back to sewing, I started teaching classes 3 years ago. Since then, many of the students have continued on with me, and have also gone on to make projects outside of the realm of the classes. Many of them have also become my friends and have forged lasting friendships with other students, which is a really nice fringe benefit. We get together on occasion for Stitch & Bitch sewing sessions around my dining room table, and we have a ball.

Recently I asked my students to send me pictures of their work for me to post here. The only payment is my undying gratitude and an open invitation for the Stitch & Bitch sessions. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be putting pictures of their work up. Here are some from Linda and Marion, two of my first students:

Linda’s first class was a pillow class. It was meant to get people comfortable with their sewing machines, and to get them sewing more-or-less straight seams. Here is one of Linda’s pillows from that class:

Later that year, Linda came back and took a class on making pajama bottoms, and this was an adorable pair she made for her daughter:

Marion is another student who started early with me. She’s taken a whole lotta classes with me (Marion may be a glutton for punishment!), and does lovely work. Here are some nice examples:

A pair of tote bags that she made special by finishing the edges with the fringed selvedges of her fabric:

And a pair of curtains that she made for a current class.

And last but not least, after taking a knits class, she made this lovely top from a Simplicity pattern:

Yes, I know I sound like a proud mom. In a way I am. Teaching inspires me to strive for better quality in my own sewing techniques, and to try to pass along my passion to my students. Oh believe me, I’ve had my share of those students best described to me by my voice teacher, who said, “Honey, every once in a while you have to teach a couch.” But those students are a story for another day.

Happy sewing!