Sewing Solutions

Sandra Betzina
Sewing Solutions

Waistline Wonders

Many of today's skirt and pant patterns have a wide contoured waistband. If the seam allowance is turned under to finish the band on the inside, it can create bulk over the tummy. Instead of turning under the facing seam allowance, trim 1/4* from the facing lower edge. Use a bias strip of lightweight fabric to create a Hong Kong along the long edge. Press the facing seam allowance down toward the pant body. From the pant front, anchor the facing in place by stitching in the seam well. If the seam is too bulky, topstitch 1/4* from the seam to flatten.

Washable Wool

Wool gabardine can be washed by machine in cold water on the gentle cycle. Toss the washed fabric in the dryer with low or no heat, just long enough to spin the water out of it. Air dry and press using steam.

Stretchy Stripes

Striped knit fabrics are great for creating fun and unique garments--especially when you shift fabric to the bias or change the strip direction on a particular portion of the garment, such as the sleeves or collar. Choose a striped fabric with four-way stretch for this technique. Otherwise, the greatest stretch of the fabric won't be around the body and the garment will feel too tight.

Hem it Up

Sometimes it's difficult to prevent the hand stitching on hems from showing on the fabric right side. For a truly invisible hem, cut a bias strip of lightweight interfacing that's 1/2* wider than the hem allowance. If you're making a jacket, narrow pant or straight skirt, use a strip of fusible wiggam or a mediumweight bias interfacing. Fuse the interfacing above the hem allowance, with one edge on the hem crease. Attach hand stitches to the interfacing instead of the fashion fabric.

Pressing Matters

It's easy to burn, spot or discolor fabric when pressing. To avoid these problems, make a habit of always using a press cloth when pressing the fabric right side. This protects the fabric from an iron that spits. The press cloth also prevents the fabric from burning or melting when the iron temperature is set too high.

Back to Back

There are many reasons why your clothing might be too tight across the back. Maybe you've started an exercise program and are building new muscles or maybe you've gained weight and it's settling in the back. Perhaps you spend a lot of time hovering over a desk, computer or sewing machine. You probably don't need to change the size of the pattern you're using, but you do need to make the back wider. On the back pattern piece, draw a line from the shoulder to the lower edge. Cut the pattern apart and add 1/4* to 3/8* along each cut edge (1). Reattach the two pieces. Since the back shoulder is now wider than the front, add a dart or an easeline on the back shoulder. If the pattern has back princess seams, add 1/4* to 3/8* to each princess seam side, beginning 1* down from the shoulder.

Woven to Knit

If you have a great woven pattern that you want to make work for knits, stitch the side seams 1/2* deeper. Machine baste them at 1 1/8* instead of 5/8*. If you're making a pair of pants, try placing the waistband 1/2* lower. Often the zipper can be eliminated from knit pants if the fabric has enough stretch to fit over the hips.

Take a Tab

A side zipper is much easier to use if there's an inside button and tab at the waistband upper edge. Rather than making a fabric tab, reduce bulk by creating the tab from a 4*-long piece of strong ribbon, such as petersham. Fold the ribbon at one end, and stitch a buttonhole about 3/4* from the end fold. Attach the tab ends to the seam allowance behind the zipper.

Shoulder Show

If you prefer to show less skin at the shoulder of open neck garments, first make the bodice in a scrap fabric. Staystitch the neckline at 3/4* and trim away the 5/8* seam allowance for an accurate picture of the finished neckline. Try on the test garment. If the neckline is too wide, extend the front shoulder seam toward the neck. Extend the back shoulder seam the same amount and raise the back neckline as desired.


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