Friday, July 1, 2016

How to sew a sleeveless top with facings

How lovely to read the nice comments on my jacket. Grumpy without coffee commented that the original artist for the cartoon (which apparently was for books) was Sarah Andersen. Thank you for mentioning it.

Beckster asked about the way I closed the center back seam of the lining. I did it by machine. She also said “Although I have not tried it, I have been told that the lining can be made by using the pattern minus the seam allowance and facings.” Well, certainly not without seam allowances, it should be without hem and without the facings. Important is that you have about 5 cm hem in the jacket for this to work. And I would always make a center back pleat. It gives you space to move without the lining pulling on the fabric.

Next time I make a jacket I will try to make photos of the process of bagging the lining (Patsijean said she would have liked to see them and probably more would be interested). Might take a while though, see the end of this post.


I made two cowl neck tops as I liked to have a few new ones to replace worn out ones. I like to make them with a facing for both the front and the back. In this way no special finishing of the arm holes is needed. This method is based on Carolyn’s way of making a top with all seams enclosed.




Let me show you how to do this. It’s a good reminder for myself too, I forget when I haven’t done it in a while.

First you need a pattern that has a facing for the back that extends below the armhole. Also the front facing has to extend below the armhole. Easy enough to adapt a pattern, just trace a line about 5 cm (2 inches) below the armhole. The photo below shows you the facing of the back


Step 1: stabilize the back neckline of the back pattern piece


Step 2: with right sides together, sew the neckline of the back and the back facing, press but do not topstitch


Step 3: With right sides together, sew the armhole of the front to the armhole of the front facing.


Step 4: Turn and press


Step 5: with right sides together, pin the front shoulder to the back shoulder. The edge of the neckline should be exactly match the stitch line of the back neckline.


Step 6: Fold the back facing over the shoulder seam and stich the seam




Step 7: Stitch the armhole of the back and back facing. Be careful not to catch the front in the seam and the stitchline at the shoulder must exactly match the edge of the front inside. I started with a regular machine and only then serged the seam.


Opened up it looks like this


Step 9: Stich the side seam and the side seam of the facings in one pass


Step 10: turn and hem



That’s it from me for the moment. We have found a new home and I will be concentrating on packing, painting and decorating for a while. I have a nice, spacious sewing room to look forward to and should start thinking about how to organize it all. I’ll be back in August.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The finished jacket

Exactly two weeks after I bought the fabric for the jacket, it’s finished. Probably a record for me. It was sort of typical story buying the fabric too. I went to a plant/gardening market with a friend, we both had seen a stall where we wanted to buy something for our respective gardens. In the same village, even the same street, where the market was, is also a fabric store. What does a sewing girl do? Of course, visit the fabric store (the friend is a non sewing friend, she remained outsideWinking smile. The shop is one of those very rare shops that don’t accept payment by card, only cash. I confess paying mostly by card, so my cash was limited and I had just enough to buy this fabric. The cash points at the bank were empty too, probably because of the market, so much more people than normally in that village. I ended the day with fabric and not the garden ornament I was planning to buy, as the stall owner also only accepted cash. Well, what’s more important? A picture that a friend sent last week says it all (she found it on Instagram, I don’t know the origin):

fabric shopping (1)






To conclude the posts on this jacket a few pictures on cutting the lining. I did not make seperate pattern pieces for the lining, but made a few adaptions. This is a way of working that is explained in many books. The book High fashion sewing secrets by Claire Shaeffer describes this very well.



The lining is cut the same length as the jacket without seam allowance. Quite a bit of space is added to center back, to create a pleat that will give you moving space.

A little extra is added at the upper part of the side seam and the bottom of the armhole. Also the sleeves get a little extra at the bottom. Do you notice the pins sticking out? That’s to alert myself that I must not cut at the edge of the pattern piece.

I removed the area of the back facing from the lining after tracing the line.
Because I added shoulder pads I removed a bit (half the shoulder pad height) from the shoulder seam, I folded that away, tapering to nothing Of course it would be good to make separate pattern pieces, but for a jacket that’s just for me and I’m making it this works.

I bagged the lining (completely stitched in by machine) and left an opening center back to be able to turn the jacket. After I found this method  when I returned to sewing for myself about 10 years ago I was surprised how easy that method is. I might take photos of that process next time.

That’s it for this jacket, quite a few steps, a lot of photos to share. Thank you for reading, the kind comments and have a very nice weekendSmile.

Friday, June 24, 2016


I had high hopes of finishing my jacket before Thursday, so that I could wear it to my sons' presentation on his bachelor thesis. It did not work out that way. But my son did fine and I’m a proud mum. It’s on such days that you realize time flies by so very, very fast.
It was not a good day to wear a jacket anyway. Warm and very high humidity after days of exceptional rain.
Where am I then with the jacket? The sleeves are inserted and it’s down to sewing the lining. 
The picture below shows the interfacing of the sleeves. At the upper part the pattern pieces are interfaced with a light weight fusible, the hem with a heavy weight fusible. I already did this when interfacing the body part, to do all the interfacing in one go. If you look closely you can see that I traced the essential points again (top of sleeve, end of seam) with carbon tracing paper.
After stitching I made long straight stitches to gather the top of the sleeve a bit.
The sleevecap I made as I did before, using a method that is described by Ann Rowley. This time I made some photos myself too.
A strip of batting fabric is used, about 20 centimeters long (8 inch) and 3.5 cm wide and pinned to the inside of the sleeve, with the edge of the batting to the edge of the seam allowance of the sleeve. For this jacket I used a thin batting, for a winter coat I would have used a bit thicker fabric.
The strip is stitched from the jacket side, just beside the existing stitch.
The batting is then folded over the seam and stitched in the ditch.

The protruding batting is cut away after this stitching.
I used thin, felt shoulderpads (the classic tailoring type) that I attached to the batting and at the end at the shoulder seam. In the photos below you can see the difference a shoulder pad makes. The effect differs with different fabrics. I’m not after the 80’s look with wide shoulders, but I like the look after adding a small shoulder pad
It might all be a bit much tailoring for a summer jacket, but it looks so much better. And it will wrinkle less too. I made a jacket years ago using quite a few of these techniques on a linen fabric. It’s been a much worn item in my closet, hardly wrinkles despite being linen and not showing any signs of wear either.

Browsing through my pictures to find this one was fun. So many clothes I had forgotten about (blush). This was from 2010! Yes, time flies….

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Center front zipper installed

I can’t show you pictures of the zipper insertion at center front. It was difficult to make clear photos because the zipper is in between two layers of fabric and I stopped making them. Only the result to show:


As you will have seen the center front of the jacket was interfaced with an extra strip of interfacing. When installing a zipper this is extra important, when your fabric stretches you will get ripples or a “wavy” zipper.

For this jacket the front and back facing was sewn together. The zipper was basted to the front exactly between the marks for it. I had adjusted the pattern to the closest default zipper length available so that I didn’t have to shorten or order a special length.

Then the facing and jacket were pinned, right sides together. For the zipper part I used the zipper foot as you’ve seen in the installing of the pockets. For the remaining parts of the seams I used my normal foot. The facing of the side panel hem still has to be attached and for that reason I left a few centimeters open at the hem.

Vicky asked “When you say you do both at the same time - do you do one step on one pocket and then the same step on the other pocket? Or do one full pocket and then the other, but in the same sewing session?”  The answer is the first option: in this case one step on one pocket and then on the other pocket. It helps to do exactly the same on both sides of a garment, but also reduces changes in a foot on your machine, different thread if needed and I don’t have to remember a stitch length setting (for topstitching).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Zipper and pocket insertion

The next step is inserting the zipper and the pocket. There are other ways of doing this, but this is what works for me. I did not make pattern pieces for the pocket, I seldom do for jacket pockets and go with pieces of fabric that are large enough and cut them in shape during the process.

First step was basting the zipper into the window and stitch at the edges to sew the zipper in.



The zipper after stitching and removing the basting threads.


How it looks on the inside.


For the part of the pocket that is attached to the lower zipper tape (never visible) I chose a cotton fabric that I sewed onto the zipper tape.



Pressed downward


The fabric that is attached to the top zipper tape is the fashion fabric, it will be visible when opening the zipper.


Now I pinned the pocket lines to the two rectangles of fabric


Stitched, cut in shape and the edges zigzagged


A peek into the pocket. The fabric of the inner pocket is nog on the same grain as the jacket itself. To me that is of no importance, the pocket will not be open normally and it only serves the impression you get of the same fabric when you do open the pocket. For once I just don’t mind.


With so many pictures this might look as a lot of work, but actually it isn’t complicated and it took me 45 minutes (looking at the time of the first photo and the last).

One tip if you do this: work both pockets at the same time. Don’t do the first one and then the other. It will make sure both pockets/zippers are as identical as they can be. I always try to do that when there’s more than one of the same thing to sew (sleeves, cups for a bra, shoulder straps etc.)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pocket window

The other night I looked at the front panels that were pinned to the dressform and thought something is not quite right with the pocket placement. I had traced a line on a diagonal but when I saw the basting lines I decided I wanted them to be higher center front and lower at the side. Luckily it was not too late to change it. I removed the extra layer of interfacing for the pocket carefully and added a new piece.

I’m using a technique that makes a ‘window’ for the zipper. The perfect fabric to use for the window is silk organza, as it’s thin but sturdy and super bonus is that you can see through it. I couldn’t live without a silk organza press cloth any more for that reason.

A rectangle sufficiently wide and long is cut and placed on the right side of the fabric. As I want this to look very good (it’s an eyecatcher of this jacket) I baste a lot at this stage. The outer basting stitches are not the stitch lines, just basting lines to keep the organza in place while stitching.


I stitched on both sides of the center basting line (above picture), making very short stitches at the corner. The center basting line was already removed in the picture below and you can see the remnants of the interfacing for the first pocket placement.



With sharp scissors the opening is cut, with long triangles at the end. Cutting exactly to the corner, but not in the stitchline!
Perhaps you can see the pink chalk mark that I made for the stitching line. The width was not decided by eyeballing it but by measuring and making a sample.



The silk organza is folded to the inside, favouring the jacket fabric a little so that the organza is not visible from the right side.


And again: pressed and basted in place.


Ready for zipper and pocket insertion.