Perfect Fit: Bonus Info with Joi Mahon

T6854 227x300 Perfect Fit: Bonus Info with Joi MahonNot everyone encounters a gapping neckline, but when you have one, you know it. In my February/March 2017 Sew News column I addressed why this occurs and how easy it is to fix. Read on to learn how I discovered this solution when I was 16 years old.

For any garment, you should always make a fitting sample so you can pin out any fit issues prior to sewing in the fashion fabric. Fit issues can only be eliminated in the fitting stage. Once a garment is sewn, you can address fit issues from a garment alteration approach like you would if you had purchased it off the rack, but you can’t eliminate them since you are past the pattern-making and pattern-fitting stages. The joy of sewing for yourself or others is that you can prevent having to settle for alterations and make things correctly from the beginning.

knit neckline 700 Perfect Fit: Bonus Info with Joi MahonI actually taught myself how to make the gapping neckline adjustment over 25 years ago, while I was working in a tailor’s shop during high school. When you’re altering a ready-to-wear garment with a gapping neckline, the goal is to pull the neckline closer to the body. Since you are not sewing the garment from the beginning, you need to rely on alterations. Some alterations may look seamless and conceal what was done — which was always our goal in the shop — but alterations cannot always completely eliminate a fit issue, since you are fitting a standard-sized ready-to-wear garment to a unique body shape. Some alteration options for a gapping neckline include making a dart, tuck or seam line down the CF in order to remove the excess; making multiple creative darts to absorb the excess and hug the neckline; or sewing elastic to the underside, causing the fabric to hug the body.

While working in this shop, I had an ah-ha moment. I discovered that when you place a garment on the torso and pin out fabric down the center front, it does not affect anything else. Try it and you’ll see. Watch the garment on the body as you pin, and you’ll notice that the only area that moves or changes is the gapping neckline being removed by the pinning. No other area on the garment is affected, shifted or anything. This proved to me that the grain of the overall garment does not change when you modify the center front — you still have a straight line down the center front. I have done this thousands of times now and it has never failed. It has also given me a greater understanding and realistic view of grain and working with patterns on the body.

knit necklines wf Perfect Fit: Bonus Info with Joi MahonIn alterations your solutions are limited because the garment is already sewn, but when sewing and designing for yourself, you can remove the gapping neckline prior to sewing your fashion fabric and still have a seamless custom look.

Voila the Joy of Sewing!

—Designer Joi

To learn the details of Joi’s gapping-neckline fitting solution, check out her “Joi of Fitting” column in the February/March 2017 issue of Sew News, available on newsstands now through March 13, 2017, and at indefinitely.

For more from Joi, visit or find her book Designer Joi’s Fashion Sewing Workshop and Create the Perfect Fit in

*** Read here for making a wrap dress neckline lay nice and flat, from Jenny Rushmore of Cashmerette Patterns.

Long read: What Makes Sewing Joyous For You?

Read: 7 Reasons To Try Fashion Sewing

Read more on fitting here!

 Perfect Fit: Bonus Info with Joi Mahon
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Clare Coat Sew Along, Week 3: Bagging a Jacket Lining

Sew Along 2017 web image 300x193 Clare Coat Sew Along, Week 3: Bagging a Jacket LiningOnce again, we welcome Heather Lou of Closet Case Files to the Sew News blog for the Clare Coat sew along! We’ve learned so much in the past three weeks: how to choose wool coating, how to sew welt pockets and, now, how to bag a lining. Let’s get started!

(Quick note: If you’re late to the party but still want the pattern, you can find it, and Heather’s other amazing patterns, at the Closet Case Files pattern shop. )

Traditionally, tailored coats are lined using a lot of hand stitching but who has time for that? Today we’ll be bagging the lining, a commercial technique which lets us machine stitch almost the entire thing. Bagging a lining feels like magic the first time you do it; it almost doesn’t make sense that it will work, but I promise you, it does!

You should have your coat shell and lining/facing completely assembled and ready to go. Before we sew anything together, fold up your coat hem up 2″ and press (there are notches along the hem indicating the fold line). You will notice that part of the hem is a little bit narrower; this is to reduce bulk. The hem at this narrower part should be 5/8″/16mm wide.

Clare Coat How to bag a lining 300x184 Clare Coat Sew Along, Week 3: Bagging a Jacket Lining

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 Clare Coat Sew Along, Week 3: Bagging a Jacket Lining
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Raglan Sweatshirt: Dress Hack

Screen Shot 2017 01 27 at 1.33.57 PM Raglan Sweatshirt: Dress Hack As I’ve shared in the past, I prefer to buy a pattern that I know I’ll sew at least three times. The Linden Sweatshirt from Grainline Studio has been on my list for years. I bought the pattern over holiday break and purchased fabric for four hack versions (I’m a planner!), since I’m not keen on the hemband: a curved hem, high-low, peplum and a dress. I sewed a curved hem in striped french terry earlier this month to test the fit and was ready to tackle the dress version! Here are the basic steps for that process, which will work with any raglan pattern.

Working on the front pattern pieces, mark your natural waist.  You can also use another top you like to find the right placement for the ruffled skirt. For my dress, I measured down from the center front upper edge 12″. Cut or fold the pattern along the line.

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 Raglan Sweatshirt: Dress Hack
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Clare Coat Sew Along, Week 2: How to Sew Welt Pockets

Sew Along 2017 web image 300x193 Clare Coat Sew Along, Week 2: How to Sew Welt PocketsOnce again, we welcome Heather Lou of Closet Case Files to the Sew News blog for the Clare Coat sew along! Love them or hate them, welt pockets give the Clare Coat a sleek and professional finish. Today we learn some pro tips for mastering welt pockets. Let’t get started.

View A of the Clare Coat has welt pockets, which can be a little intimidating if you’ve never sewn them before. Welt pockets are not hard, but do require a bit of precision and thoughtful prep work.

If you haven’t already, carefully mark the location of your welts by drawing a rectangle around the circle markings indicated on your pattern piece. Then draw a line down the centre of the rectangle. Each corner should end in a little triangle wedge around 3/4″ long. These center lines will be cut later to make room for our pocket opening. If you have some chalk carbon paper, the easiest way to transfer the markings is with a tracing wheel.

Time to assemble your pocket welts. They should both be interfaced. Fold them wrong sides together and then sew each short end at 5/8″/19mm.

HOW TO SEW WELT POCKETS1 Clare Coat Sew Along, Week 2: How to Sew Welt Pockets

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 Clare Coat Sew Along, Week 2: How to Sew Welt Pockets
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BIG News for Readers of Sew News!

Every Day We’re Hustling
Things are really bustling in the Sew News editorial offices. If you’re a long-time subscriber of Sew News you’ll have noticed that over the years we’ve gone up and down in page count. It’s just part of the business of running a magazine. It’s been a few years since our magazine has moved much past 70 pages, so I’m beyond thrilled to announce that our next issue of Sew News (April/May) will have 16 more pages of content!

magazine stack FS BIG News for Readers of Sew News!That means more articles from your favorite sewing talent, more beautiful photos, more tips and techniques. This will be the standard page count for the rest of the year. What can you look forward to the Apr/May issue? Let’s have a look!

  • Eight garment projects!
  • Master Class featuring Linda Reynolds who walks you through Set-In Sleeves
  • Plus size sewing column featuring Jenny Rushmore of Cashmerette & The Curvy Collective
  • Mimi G!
  • Brand new Pattern Play featuring Meg Healy of BurdaStyle
  • Beautiful home decor and fashion columns
  • Get Sewcial a new back page highlighting inspiration found online
  • Learn about favorite talent in Meet the Maker
  • Two sew alongs in each and every issue!

We will continue to have our Basics Skills column, which is perfect for beginners or those coming back to sewing and Joi Mahon joins us again dispensing her top advice for all your fitting woes. You’ll also find all your favorites like Staff Picks, Hide & Seek, Reader Tips and Off The Shelf.

Needless to say we are super busy. But, I would love to hear from you. What past columns and articles did you enjoy seeing from years past? If you’re new to Sew News what would you like to see? Are you looking forward to the next issue? Leave me a comment on the Sew News blog!

head+shot200 BIG News for Readers of Sew News!

Jill Case
Online Editor, Sew News

clare coat 150 BIG News for Readers of Sew News!
Clare Coat

Clare Coat Sew Along

There’s still time to join the Clare Coat Sew Along! Bop on over to the Sew News blog and you’ll find the first two installments of the sew along. This coat is a great start to coat and outer wear sewing. It’s not only easier to sew than most coats, it is easier to fit.

The Clare Coat is from Closet Case Files patterns, a indie pattern company owned and operated by Heather Lou. The Clare Coat is a fan favorite for its easy style and modern silhouette. Sew yourself a great coat this year with Sew News and Closet Case Patterns!

appleton model 150 BIG News for Readers of Sew News!
Appleton Wrap Dress

Appleton Wrap Dress & Sew Along

Ah, the wrap dress. One of the seasons must-have wardrobe staples. What, you don’t have one? You say you haven’t found the right pattern for your curvy self? No more worries! Jenny Rushmore founder of Cashmerette and The Curvy Sewing Collective has the pattern for you.

The classic wrap dress is designed to play up your curves with a crossover front, a built-in waist tie, and a not-to-deep V-neck. Designed by and for curvy and plus size women, the design’s innovative neckband construction prevents gaps. Bonus: Join our sew along in February for more tips and tricks. All on the Sew News blog starting February 7th!

 BIG News for Readers of Sew News!
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Circle Skirt Styling: How to Wear a Full Circle Skirt

Screen Shot 2017 01 11 at 1.07.49 PM Circle Skirt Styling: How to Wear a Full Circle Skirt

(Pinterest styling inspiration – full links below!)

I spent a good bit of time last year making wardrobe basics, particularly tees and tanks. However, I managed to sneak in a few skirts, including an Anya Skirt in yarn-dyed linen. If you’re looking for a great basic circle skirt pattern, I can’t recommend this one enough. Out of the box (i.e. no fit adjustments), the waistband was a perfect fit. The fabric is lovely, too: it’s a thick linen that can take on the look of denim or wool, depending on what you pair it with – and you can literally pair it with anything. And it was an easy sew. I skipped turning that long curved edge by binding the edge with pre-made bias tape, the perfect stash buster!  Continue reading

 Circle Skirt Styling: How to Wear a Full Circle Skirt
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Masterclass Mini-Tutorial: Draft Your Own Fly-Front Zipper

Have you seen our new February/March 2017 issue yet? We’re really excited about our new Masterclass column. In it, Linda Reynolds goes over in detail how to tackle some of Fly front image 250x300 Masterclass Mini Tutorial: Draft Your Own Fly Front Zipperthe more intimidating sewing tasks that a sewist might run into, and she makes them seem much less scary — at least, I feel more confident after diving into this column!

The February/March column is about fly-front zippers. If you want to try out the technique but don’t have a fly-front pattern, never fear! You don’t have to go buy a new pattern (unless you want to, of course — who doesn’t love an excuse to get a new pattern?). Turns out that while it’s always best to use a pattern designed for a fly-front zipper, adding one to a pant pattern that has not been designed for one is easy. To do so, follow the steps below.


  • Pants pattern without a fly-front zipper
  • Pattern or tracing paper
  • Curved ruler

Tape tissue or craft paper to the pattern center front.

MasterFly A 185x300 Masterclass Mini Tutorial: Draft Your Own Fly Front ZipperDetermine the zipper base point. This will vary based on one’s size, personal fitting adjustments to the front and the style of the pants. Typically, the base point is located anywhere from 2” to 4” from the crotch inseam intersection. There should be enough space to accommodate a 7” or 9” zipper. Once determined, mark the point on the center-front line with a square dot.

Add the flap to the tracing paper by drawing a line 1 3/4” from the center-front seamline that curves to the zipper base point, using the curved ruler to ensure a smooth curve. This becomes the new cutting line for the fly front.

Cut out the new pattern piece and construct the fly front.

Wasn’t that easy? For detailed instructions on how to sew up your newly-drafted fly-front, check out the February/March 2017 issue of Sew News, available on newsstands now through March 13, 2017, and at indefinitely. And if you love learning about fly-front zippers, keep your eyes open for more great Masterclass techniques throughout the year. Next up: Set-in Sleeves! (I’ve already edited this column, and trust me, it’s chock-full of fantastic information.)

Screen Shot 2016 08 16 at 3.36.45 PM Masterclass Mini Tutorial: Draft Your Own Fly Front Zipper


 Masterclass Mini Tutorial: Draft Your Own Fly Front Zipper
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