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p. 74

Play with Ease for a Custom Fit Design Your

Ideal Collar Sew Welt Pockets the Smart Way INDUSTRY METHOD:

Add a Working Sleeve Vent


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Photos: Jack Deutsch.


Learn to create a functional opening on a lined sleeve in “Add a Sleeve Vent.” Jump to page 68 to

Photo: Mike Crane

find out how.

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74 sewing gifts

DEC. 2015/JAN. 2016



Design a Rolled Collar

have fun with ease


Make a basic pattern, then revise it for new styles

44 Pleat to Measure Ingenious ways to calculate yardage and folds BY LI N DA BAKER

50 The Ease Effect Put space where you need—and want—it most BY JUDITH NEUKAM AND CAROL J. FRESIA

56 Faux Fur Collar & Cuffs Direct the nap with darts for polished results BY KEN N ETH D. KI NG

62 Make It With Wool Winning garments display creativity and craftsmanship BY STEPHAN I L. MI LLER

68 Add a Sleeve Vent Create a functional opening on a lined sleeve BY JACQUE GOLDSMITH

Great Gifts


A wish list from our editors and authors BY STEPHAN I L. MI LLER

F O R P E O P L E W H O L OV E TO S E W threads

p. 74


Play with Ease for a Custom Fit Design Your

Ideal Collar Sew Welt Pockets the Smart Way INDUSTRY METHOD:

Add a Working Sleeve Vent

ON THE COVER: Design, draft, or adapt a rolled collar to fit and look wonderful on you. Learn the technique with step-by-step instructions from Sarah Veblen. See page 38.


Cover photo: Jack Deutsch.

Your feedback is valuable to us.






faux fur finesse

CONTRIBUTORS 6 LETTERS 8 TIPS 12 Machine-stitch skinny fabric strips, where to add stretch with elastic, how to store selvage strips

SEWING SAVES 14 Neck darts to the rescue

HOW DID THEY SEW THAT? 18 Embellishments in harmony

ESSENTIAL TECHNIQUES 20 Professional welt pocket



hand-stitched decorations



Q&A 86

68 working sleeve vent

Cures for puckered stitches


TABLET EDITIONS FREE TO SUBSCRIBERS Threads’ digital editions are searchable and full of interactive extras. Download the app at Threads Access is free with a print subscription or Threads Insider online membership.


Describe a garment you would like to sew for the holiday season.



(“Pattern Review,” page 32) says

a skirt is on the agenda. “I’m using goatskin leather in shades of marsala and distressed chocolate brown,” Anna

Art Director Special Projects Editor Technical Editor

Jeannine Clegg

reversible with a detachable lining suspended by tiny


Judith Neukam

regular seams.”

Contributing Editors


Anna loves adding touches



of leather and unconventional

(“Essential Techniques: Profes-

materials to anything she

sional welt pocket,” page 20)

creates. She writes the Pattern

plans silk shantung slacks and

Review column and is the

a matching sleeveless blouse in

author of Handbag Workshop

lightweight silk for the holidays

(The Taunton Press, 2014).


“The large paisley border print

“This holiday season I will be sewing something light,

was a surprise when I unrolled

cool, and swishy, as there are so many great outdoor

the remnant piece,” Mary says.

music and dance events this time of the year. My stash

“I’ll cut a mirror image of the

has some gorgeous poinsettia print cotton, just waiting

motifs at the center-front

to be made into a halter-

opening and back yoke. The

neck dress for me and a

top will be perfect for warm,

matching shirt for hubby.”

(“Pleat to Measure,” page 44) says:

Linda loves the music, 1920s through the 1950s. She lives in Chain Valley

other interests include garment

Bay, Australia, and says

fitting and alterations. See more

her passion is re-creating


vintage clothing.


(“Add a Sleeve Vent,” page

68) wants to create a look with nostalgic glamour. “I am intrigued by Hollywood fashions of the 1940s and ’50s,” Jacque says. “I discovered a photo of Lauren Bacall in 1958, wearing a camel’s-hair coat with a sequined lining and matching sheath dress, all designed by Norman Norell. This holiday season, I’ll make a coat with some sparkle inside.” Jacque teaches home sewers ready-to-wear construction methods in Seattle and beyond, through her articles and class. THREADS

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Brown College in Orlando. Her

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ents an interesting challenge.

couture sewing at Sanford

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this year. The blouse fabric pres-


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and sew slot seams instead of

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says. “Both sides are amazing, so I will make the skirt hooks and thread eyes. I’ll remove the seam allowances

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How a little girl who couldn’t swim became a mermaid Paula loves the richness of her daughter Lily’s imagination and how she spends hours pretending she’s a beautiful, magical mermaid. As a special surprise, she used her Skyline S5 to craft a sparkly costume that Lily wears not just on Halloween, but any day she wants to transform into a princess of the sea. To locate the dealer nearest you, please visit Or visit for friends, projects, and prizes.


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In our next issue: An expert shares her list of key pressing tools for better sewing results; learn simple, e≤cient methods for finishing knit garments; discover fun ways to sew and embellish with twin needles. Plus, learn to make your own smoothing shapewear, and how to plan a stunning and functional travel wardrobe for any destination.

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Photo: Jack Deutsch. Stylist: Jessica Saal.

ight now, I am focused on one project: a Chanelstyle jacket, to be finished in time for the holidays. A designer cardigan jacket has been at the top of my sewing bucket list for years, but when I am busy, I am likely to stick to safe and easy projects. And when are any of us not busy? Hoping that a little camaraderie would push the project forward, I started a “jacket club” at Threads. We meet every other week to go over our progress and share advice. We have a timetable, which we haven’t stuck to exactly, but I’m further along in the process on this garment than I’ve ever been before. I made it past the planning stage of choosing fabric, trims, pattern, and lining. I’m close to finishing my second muslin, and there are still about eight weeks until holiday parties get into full swing. I promise an update on our progress in the next issue. However you plan to welcome the new year, this issue will help you do it in style. Within these pages, you’ll find lovely transitional garments to sew and wear to keep out the cold. Contributing editor Kenneth D. King’s “Faux Fur Collar & Cuffs,” page 56, is a great place to start, with Kenneth’s expert take on working with luxurious fake fur. You’ll find more seasonal sewing inspiration in our annual feature on the Make it With Wool competition. Teenage and adult winners always surprise our editorial staff with their innovative work for this national contest. Introduce a high-end detail to any lined jacket or coat by following Jacque Goldsmith’s technique in “Add a Sleeve Vent,” page 68, to create a functional sleeve closure. Find an engaging wish list in “Great Gifts,” page 74, with notions, fabrics, books, and other goodies sought after by our staff and authors. You’ll discover some brilliant additions for your sewing kit. I have not covered all there is to see in this issue, but I leave it to you to discover the rest. Enjoy!

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I would just like to thank April Mohr and Threads for the thoughtful online remembrance of Ann Person, the founder of the Stretch & Sew franchise. I was a teenager in the 1970s, and Ann Person’s stores and books were like a breath of fresh air to a young sewer. Her books, patterns, and instructions were all about simplification of technique at a time when sewing and fitting information was far less available than today. She was a phenomenal entrepreneur, tapping into the fashion trends of the day (remember the polyester leisure suit and Qiana nylon knit fabric?), making them accessible to the home sewer. These are fond memories for me. —Joan Weakland, Ames, Indiana Ann Person passed away August 10, 2015 at age 90. April Mohr, formerly Threads administrative assistant, wrote an August 20, 2015 blog post at ThreadsMagazine .com about Ann’s influence on her sewing and on the sewing community in general. MO R E O N M A P P I N G TH E B O DY

Hurray for your article, “Essential Measuring Points” in no. 181 (Oct./Nov. 2015). It’s the first article on the topic that doesn’t simplify the process so much that the garment fits poorly. Along that line, one needs to know how much ease is added to each measurement and which measurements need to be taken on each side of the body to take differences into account. The point I want to stress, however, is for pants. Besides all the measuring points that you show, a very important measurement is hip slant. We are not all


Véronik Avery wrote “Japanese Patterns,” in Threads no. 181 (Oct./ Nov. 2015). Her name was misspelled on page 4 of the issue.



built straight up and down. Most of us have torsos that slant and the only way to catch that is to measure front and back from the center of the crotch to the top of the side seam and then transfer that to the pattern. Another biggie is to know which order the measurements are made in because one change will affect another. Usually, the length measurements are done before the width, but not in all cases. I teach order, ease, and accurate measuring. I’ve been sewing professionally for 35 years and fill in with home décor sewing when new garment orders slow down, but I still love sharing what I have learned. —Pam Keller Hare, via email I saw the article, “Essential Measuring Points,” and have a question regarding where the bust point should fall when the garment is worn. I have yet to see, and it is a real problem for me, what to do when your bustline is asymmetrical, with one breast a good inch or more lower than the other, and also one to two cup sizes bigger. I refuse to deal with this by wearing a torturous underwire bra, or to try to pad out the difference, since my bust apex will still be different on each side. I can’t be alone in this. I know most of us are asymmetrical, but not to such a degree as this. —G. Rodgers, via email Technical editor Carol J. Fresia replies: Your bust-point question is very interesting. There is not space to cover the topic here, but as editor of the Q&A department, I’m looking into the topic for a future issue. CO PY J EANS

I have always had problems finding a pair of jeans that would fit me properly. I have extralong legs and a robust set of hips. I always wound up adding strips at the jean cuffs. Now things are different, thanks to your article “Duplicate Your Favorite Jeans” in no. 180 (Aug./Sept. 2015). I had no idea how simple it was to make a pattern of the jeans I had modified, and make a new pair in the material and color I love.

What a timely article. This will make me a loyal reader from now on. —Lukas Snart, via email B OB B I N B EN EFIT

I look forward to each new issue of Threads. I would like to say a thank you for the tip, “Don’t run out of thread,” submitted by Risa Blundell in no. 180. What a great tip. I never thought of using a bobbin in the top spool spindle. It’s a great way to keep track of whether the bobbin thread is running out. —S. Willis, via email FAB R IC S I N TH E T WI N C ITI ES

I am sure that Threads has published an article about the fabric suppliers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. I have tried many search terms in the magazine index with no success. I am pretty sure the article was within the last five years. If you can find the particulars, please let me know. Many thanks. —Mary Pfauth, via email We did publish an article about shopping in Minneapolis and St. Paul. It was “Sewing Destination: Twin Cities,” by Paula DeGrand, in no. 171 (Feb./March 2014). I regret that you had difficulty finding it; it does come up in a full-text search for Minneapolis on our archive DVD, or review our 2014 online index PDF.—SMc PROJ ECTS NA M E C H ANGE

I look forward to seeing Quick to Make projects in each issue. I like to give unique gifts, and the project instructions are easy and I can make one in 30 days or less. It is a great idea for Christmas gifts that you can make all year. —Juanita Dean, via email Juanita, we changed the name of the Quick to Make department to DIY Project. We wanted to make it clear that there is a project in every issue, and to broaden the concept. It’s our goal to make the department a source of fun, distinctive ideas. —SMc

To contact us: Threads The Taunton Press 63 South Main Street PO Box 5506 Newtown, CT 06470-5506 Tel: 203-426-8171

We’re thrilled to announce the release of the second video in our library, “The Classic French Jacket”, a full list of 2015 courses and some new products to our store. Sign up now on For news and updates, visit

Send an email: Visit: To submit an article proposal: Write to Threads at the address above or Call: 800-309-9262 Fax: 203-426-3434 Email: To subscribe or place an order: Visit or call: 800-888-8286 9am-9pm ET Mon-Fri 9am-5pm ET Sat To find out about Threads products: Visit

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Use code THM2015 for 15% off your first order Canadian company shipping worldwide

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To get help with online member services: Visit To find answers to frequently asked questions: Visit To contact Threads customer service: Email us at To speak directly to a customer service professional: Call 800-477-8727 9am-5pm ET Mon-Fri To sell Threads in your store: Call us toll-free at 866-452-5179, or email us at To advertise in Threads: Call 800-309-0383, or email us at Mailing list: We make a portion of our mailing list available to reputable firms. If you would prefer that we not include your name, please visit: or call: 800-477-8727 9am-5pm ET Mon-Fri For employment information: Visit The Taunton guarantee: If at any time you’re not completely satisfied with Threads, you can cancel your subscription and receive a full and immediate refund of the entire subscription price. No questions asked.

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Copyright 2015 by The Taunton Press, Inc. No reproduction without permission of The Taunton Press, Inc.

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BEST TIP Iron-on topstitching template


A bag project I’ve been working on calls for narrow fabric strips to be made into zipper pulls. The fabric strips are cut 1 inch wide and pressed in half lengthwise. The long edges are pressed in toward the center fold, resulting in finished folded strips that are ¼ inch wide. These strips are then topstitched. The ¼-inch strip width is narrower than the space between the feed dogs on my machine, so there is nothing for the feed dogs to grab in order to pull the fabric along under the presser foot. I solved the problem by laying each fabric strip on a piece of tissue paper. The feed dogs move the tissue paper and the fabric strip together, and it is easy to topstitch the fabric strip. After stitching, I folded

send usyour tips 12


When you sew a garment with a fly zipper, the instructions call for careful topstitching, often including two parallel rows of stitching. Try as I might, I could never produce a clean traced line to follow on the fabric. Recently, I was making a pair of white wool slacks, which I did not want to mark. I traced the topstitching template onto freezer

the tissue paper along the stitching line and scored it with my fingernail so it was quick and simple to tear it away. —Mary Waechter, Trier, Germany PUT STRETCH WHERE YOU NEED IT

Thank you for the timely instructions for sewing custom panties (Threads no. 178, April/May 2014). The poor-quality elastic in recently purchased underwear has me brushing up on nearly forgotten skills. Here’s a tip that I think will improve the fit and feel of custom-made undergarments. When sewing on the leg-band elastic, do not stretch the elastic on the front of the leg very much. It should be nearly a 1 to 1 ratio of elastic to fabric. Save the stretch for the back portion of the leg opening. The panties won’t have that “baby

paper, cut it out, and ironed the freezerpaper template, shiny side down, directly over the fly. It was flat and easy to stitch around and peel o≠, and I didn’t have to worry about removing marks from the fabric. I was able to topstitch the fly easily and accurately. —Ruthe Ploskunyak, Fairfield,Connecticut

bloomer” look that results when you evenly divide the elastic, and the back of the leg fits more closely under the derriere. This also works for swimsuit leg openings. —Anna Z. Gunza, Wilmington, North Carolina STORING SELVAGE LENGTHS

I just read “Salvage Your Selvages” in Threads no. 174, Aug./Sept. 2014. I frequently save the selvages for stabilizing and only recently used them decoratively. Storing and organizing the selvages is easy if you save empty thread spools. I use a piece of paper tape to attach one end of the selvage to the spool and wrap the selvage around the spool, layering multiple lengths. I use another piece of paper tape or painter’s tape to secure the end. —Maureen Taye, New Carlisle, Ohio

We pay for the tips we publish. The best-tip winner receives a gift of Taunton Press products. Threads Tips • PO Box 5506 • Newtown, CT 06470-5506 • or via email:

Photo: Mike Yamin.


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Save a stretched-out neckline with a few well-placed darts. Fabric: Gertie Collection cherry-print rayon challis, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

nce upon a time, Threads’ technical editor Carol Fresia cut out a jewel-neck top in woven rayon. She conscientiously interfaced the neck facing and staystitched the neckline. Imagine her dismay when she tried to attach the facing and discovered that the staystitched neckline had still managed to stretch. It was 1 inch too long for the facing. Did she try to draft and cut a new facing to match the longer neckline? Did she ball the whole thing up and toss it out? No. The solution was simple. Two small darts in the back neckline fixed the problem by eliminating the excess circumference. If your garment’s neckline has stretched more dramatically, it’s a good idea to distribute the excess evenly into several darts around the neckline to ensure that the facing’s shoulder seams match those on the garment shell. Here’s how to do it.

Neck darts O to the rescue Correct a neckline that stretched during sewing

Stephani L. Miller is special projects editor. continued



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Pin the assembled facing to the neckline. Match the facing and neckline at center front, shoulder seams, and center back. Note the amount of excess between the pinned points. Play with the excess to find the best location for darts. You may need to distribute the excess into several darts, or make fewer darts in the front than in the back (or vice versa).


Pinch the excess neckline into tucks. Start by pinning the excess on each side of center front and center back into two tucks. Distribute the excess neckline fabric as evenly as possible. Shallow take-ups are best to avoid long darts; break the two tucks into additional tucks if necessary. Pin the tucked neckline to the facing, adjusting as necessary to fit.


After distributing the excess neckline length into tucks, pin securely to the facing. Tucks Pin.



Try on the top to test the fit. While the top is on the body, fold the tucks into darts and pin-mark the desired dart points. With the top flat on a worksurface, pin-mark the dart legs. Turn the top wrong side out and chalk-mark the dart legs and points.


Chalk-mark the dart point and legs at each tuck.

Sew each dart, starting at the neckline edge and stitching to the tip. Try on the top again to make sure the darts are placed correctly. Attach the neckline facing, and finish the top as the pattern directs.


Sew the darts, and finish the neckline.

Chalk markings





Photos: Mike Yamin.

Sewn darts

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Embellishments in harmony Needlework techniques play an exquisite chord n the 1910s, garment embellishment was a favorite way to reflect a woman’s social standing. The decorations didn’t need pearls and stones; a harmonious combination of softer ornament worked just as well. This tea dress is bedecked with embroidery, lace, and layers of sheer fabric in various hues for color play. Let’s explore three techniques from the inspiration garment. I made a sample with modern trims to show how this look can be emulated.


Judith Neukam is editor-at-large.



Sew a narrow hem, then attach the trim.

Lace edging Lace edging

A substantial lace trim embellishes the original dress’s neckline. To replicate this effect, first hem the neckline. Turn the edge to the garment’s right side and sew a narrow hem. Align the trim with the edge and machine-sew with a narrow zigzag stitch. Use thread that matches the lace.

Appliquéd trim A lighter-weight, flat lace with straight sides trims the seam that joins the tucked sheer yoke and sleeve to the embroidered organza bodice. The zigzag arrangement of the lace mirrors the zigzag finish near the dress’s hem (see Up Close on the back cover). Determine the lace path, and baste the trim in position along its center. Attach it permanently with a fine machine zigzag stitch from the right side, sewing along both edges. Remove the basting stitches. Tucked organza Appliquéd lace trim

Appliquéd lace motif

Photos: (p. 18) Jack Deutsch; (p. 19) Mike Yamin.

Satin-stitched oval

Embroidered lace motifs The inspiration dress’s organza fabric is embroidered with a delicate foliage spray. You can purchase fabric like this, or embellish it by hand or machine. Cut the bodice body from this fabric, and plan to add a lining. From another piece of embroidered fabric, trim, or lace, harvest an assortment of flowers. Position the flowers as desired on the embroidered organza base, and use a satin-stitched oval or dot sewn at each flower’s center to appliqué the blooms. If desired, you can satin-stitch around the flowers’ edges to secure them.

w w w. t h r e a d s m a g a z i n e . c o m

Embroidered organza

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 /J A N UA RY 2 0 1 6




Professional welt pocket Sew a classic detail accurately and with less stress elt pockets are a wonderful addition to any well-made garment, but inexperienced sewers can find them intimidating. In the past I struggled to cut welt strips that matched, make accurate stitches, and overcome my nervousness about cutting a pocket opening through the garment. Now, however, I sew welt pockets stress-free, thanks to a method I developed while working with fashion design students to create a more logical, step-by-step process. This method is adapted from an industry technique and requires just two measurements and five basting lines for perfectly folded and sized welts. It can be used in place of any welt-pocket process given in pattern instructions.


Mary McCarthy teaches tailoring and couture at Sanford Brown College in Orlando, Florida.



Precise basting yields perfectly even welts and a straight opening for a professional-quality welt pocket. Pattern: Butterick 6103 (modified). Fabric: wool crepe, The Sewing Studio, Maitland, Florida.

Prepare the pieces


For success, the welt pocket pieces must be cut precisely on-grain and stabilized. You’ll need: a clear ruler; a thin, sharp marking tool; 1⁄4 yard lining fabric for the pocket bags; 1⁄8 yard fashion fabric for the welt pieces; 1⁄8 yard fusible interfacing; and fine-point, sharp scissors.



Cut the pieces. For each welt pocket, cut three 3-inch-by-7-inch fashion fabric rectangles for the welts; three 3-inch-by-7-inch interfacing pieces; and one 7-inch-by-11-inch lining fabric rectangle for the pocket bag. POCKET BAG


Stabilize the pieces. Fuse an interfacing piece to the wrong side of two fashion fabric rectangles. Fuse the third interfacing rectangle to the garment’s wrong side over the pocket opening area (unless the garment piece is already interfaced).


Position the uninterfaced fabric rectangle, right side up, atop the pocket bag. Align the fabric rectangle’s long edge with the pocket bag’s top short edge, lapping the rest of the fabric rectangle over the pocket bag. Stitch around all four sides of the fabric rectangle to secure it to the pocket bag.



Mark the pocket opening. On the garment’s wrong side, chalk-mark the pocket opening with a 5-inch-long horizontal line bracketed by two 3-inch-long perpendicular lines. Machine-baste along the lines in contrasting thread.


On the garment’s right side, center and pin the welt pieces wrong side up along the basted 5-inch line. The welt edges should touch, but not overlap, the basted line. continued


▸ ▸ ▸


WELT (WS) 3 inches

5 inches

Pocket opening

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Pocket opening

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From the garment wrong side (with basted lines visible), sew the welts in place. Stitch 1⁄4 inch from the basted line. Start at one end with a 1.0-mm-long stitch, increase it gradually to 2.5 mm long at the welt’s center, and gradually reduce the stitch length again to 1.0 mm at the opposite end. Start and stop exactly on the perpendicular basted lines. Take one stitch in place to secure the stitching; don’t backstitch.


Baste two more rows, one on each welt piece, 1⁄4 inch from the previously stitched lines. Use a 4.0-mmlong stitch. There should be five rows of stitching on the garment’s wrong side, 1⁄4 inch apart and alternating between stitch lengths of 4.0 and 2.5. Precision is key; make any adjustments necessary now.




Pocket opening

Welt stitching WELT (WS)


⁄4 inch

Welt stitching Basted rows

Assemble the pocket Now you’ll create the welts and attach the pocket bag. It’s critical to space, start, and end stitching lines precisely for accurate, even welts and crisp folds. The process isn’t difficult, but it requires careful attention. Be sure to measure twice and sew slowly for high-quality results.

FORM THE WELTS Fold each welt piece over the basted opening and press flat. From the garment’s wrong side, stitch 1⁄4 inch from each fold, following the welt stitching line. Begin at one end with 1.0 mm stitch length, gradually increase it to 2.5 mm long at the welt’s center, and gradually decrease it again. Start and end precisely on the basted perpendicular lines and secure at each end with one stitch in place; don’t backstitch. Keep each welt clear of the other as you sew. Double-check that all rows are evenly spaced at 1⁄4 inch and are exactly the same length.







Fold the welt over the basted opening and press.

GARMENT (RS) Stitch 1⁄4 inch from the welt’s folded edge.

Cut along the pocket opening between the welt pieces. Start at the center, stop 1 inch from each end, pivot the scissors slightly, and cut into each corner to form a Y.


Snip a Y at each opening end.

Remove the basting stitches at the welt folds. Turn the welts to the garment’s wrong side through the pocket opening. Tug gently on the triangles at the welt ends to encourage the welt ends to the garment’s inside. Lay the pocket flat on a pressing ham and secure it with a pin at each corner. Press and let cool. Baste the welt edges together with whipstitches.


Pressing ham



WELT (WS) GARMENT (WS) Cut the pocket opening along the basted line.

Baste the welt edges together.

Secure the welt opening ends. Stitch the triangles at each end to the welt pieces on the garment’s wrong side, making sure not to stitch through the garment.


▸ ▸ ▸

Secure the welt opening’s triangles by stitching them to the welt pieces only.

Photos: MIke Yamin.


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Stitch the pocket bag to the upper welt.


Upper welt

Attach the bag to the upper welt. On the garment’s wrong side, stitch the pocket bag’s upper edge (with the fabric rectangle facing down and centered over the pocket opening) to the upper welt’s seam allowance. Take care not to stitch through the garment.

Attach the bag to the lower welt. Stitch the pocket bag’s other end to the lower welt’s edge, right sides together.





Stitch to the lower welt edge.

Trim the upper welt. Trim off all but 1 inch of the upper welt and pocket bag seam allowances. Press the pocket bag flat. Stitch around the sides of the pocket bag with a 1⁄2-inch-wide seam allowance; keep the pocket bag free of the garment.




Pin the pocket bag edges together and stitch them closed.




Turn the garment right side out, and admire your perfectly stitched welt pocket(s).


E x c lu s iv e ly by

Connie Crawford

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Expert Techniques and Creative Projects Learn to plan knife and box pleats with a Threads Essential Techniques video, a web extra from “Pleat to Measure,” page 44. It’s simple to make accurate pleats when you use a folding template.

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Photos: (top left) Evamarie Gomez; (top right) Mike Yamin; all other photos, Gary Junken. Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter Inc.; Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook; Pinterest logo was designed by Michael Deal and Juan Carlos Pagan.

Many fabrics work for this scarf, from drapey rayon (left) to crisp silk organza (right).

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Give a tiny taste of hand embroidery to everyone on your list. Once you’ve made one felt cookie, you won’t want to stop.



Felt ornaments


Cheerful “cookies” satisfy your appetite for fun

• Embroidery floss

hese charming decorations last for generations and are good for any holiday you choose. Hang them on your door, run them down a banister, or dangle them wherever you want. You can make them on the go and in your lap, so they are perfect take-with-you projects for waiting in the doctor’s office, watching TV, or relaxing with a cup of tea. A few simple embroidery stitches are all you need to create almost any image you like.

Optional • Ribbons

• Colored felt pieces • Stuffing material


• Hatpin or doll-making


Judith Neukam is Threads’ editor-at-large.

Start with a shape

Photos: Mike Yamin. Styling credits: (p. 30) tree—Product Works 18-inch Charlie Brown Christmas Tree (

Simple cookie-cutter shapes are ideal. We used squares, hearts, circles, and stars. Cut two identical felt shapes for each ornament. Decide on a color scheme for the felt background and embroidery stitches. It could be suggested by a holiday, the motif you’re stitching, your home’s décor, the season, or just what you like.

Embellish with thread Choose various stitches, or invent your own, and use them in combinations on each ornament. We used basic embroidery stitches and grouped a few. Embroider the face side of the cookie first. Sew a batch of cookies for a harmonious grouping. These cookies are shown stitched and stuffed. You’ll embroider, then blanket-stitch around the edge and stuff them before they look like those shown.

Twigs Branches Line stitches

French knots

Blanket stitches

Join a front to a back Stack an embroidered side with a plain side of the same shape, wrong sides together, and sew a blanket stitch around the edge, leaving enough of the seam open so you can stuff the ornament.

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▸ ▸ ▸


DIY PROJECT continued UICK TO MAKE continued

Have fun linking the felt ornaments with ribbon ties or sewing them together into new shapes. Create a garland of ornaments to decorate your home, office, or wrapped gifts.

Stuff the cookies Pad the felt pieces to give them dimension and make better ornaments. Depending on what you stuff the shapes with, they can serve different purposes. Stuff one with lavender instead of polyester fiber for use as a sachet. Use ground walnut shells to make pin-sharpening pincushions. Tuck the filler deep inside, then finish sewing around the edge with the blanket stitch. Slide a long hatpin or doll-making needle between the felt layers to distribute any soft, fluffy filler evenly.



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All-business dress Vogue 1431 ( This semifitted, lined dress was designed by Tom and Linda Platt. It has a shallow V-neck, a lapped and topstitched bodice, three-quarter-length sleeves, an invisible zipper at center back, and a self-faced center-back hemline slit with mitered corners. The hemline falls just above the knees. The raised bodice front gives the dress an Empire look, while the back, which dips to a point, creates the illusion of a slimmer waist. All the bodice edges are interfaced. The dress’s exposed corners are mitered, seams are lapped, and topstitching is placed 1 inch from edges, including linen, wool crepe, wool double knit, silk shantung, brocade, and lace as an overlay. (Sized Misses’ 8–24 for busts 31.5–46 in. and hips 33.5–48 in.) —Tested by Johanna Mramor, Surrey, British Columbia

SEWING TIP: Mark the topstitching lines on the right side with ink that disappears when pressed.

European coat Marfy 3770 ( This knee-length coat is fitted at the bodice and flares to the hem. It has a front inset yoke, sleeves with overarm seams cut in one with the front and back yokes, side panels, and fur cuff bands. Optional details include a rolled collar, flaps Tom and Linda Platt dress, Vogue 1431: main and contrast fabrics are linen/ polyester blends from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

for mock chest pockets, and side-front inseam pockets. Marfy patterns do not include instructions or seam or hem allowances. The hand-cut tissue has grainline notations and match points. Our tester notes that knowledge of coat tailoring is imperative for success. Select wool crepe, lambswool, or merino wool. In warmer climates, choose linen, broadcloth, or cotton. Lining options include silk charmeuse or rayon.


(Sized European 42–50 for busts 34.5–41 in. and hips 34.6–42.5 in.) ▲ —Tested by Gayle Moline, Manson, Iowa

Take a 360degree view of the all-business dress designed by Tom and Linda Platt.



STYLE TIP: Use solid fabric and add hand topstitching and fabulous buttons.

Photos: Jack Deutsch. Illustrations: Steven Fleck. Stylist: Jessica Saal. Styling credits: (p. 32) earrings—One Wink (, handbag—Lulu Townsend (, shoes—Jimmy Choo (Nordstrom Rack); (p. 33) bracelets—stylist’s own, backpack—Cole Haan (, sneakers—Adidas (

the sleeve and dress hems. Fabric suggestions include ponte knit, crepe-back satin,

LOOK FOR THESE ICONS ON THE PATTERN REVIEWS ■ Petite options ✚ Includes sizes 24 and up ● Fast and easy

★ For knits

▲ Challenging techniques

Every pattern shown has been sewn and evaluated. We keep a close watch on fashion trends and select patterns that reflect the latest looks. Each one is then sent to a talented tester, who sews it in muslin to evaluate the proportions, style, and pattern instructions. —Compiled by Anna Mazur

Downloadable pattern

Fluid shirt or dress Maker’s Atelier: Drawstring-Neck Dress and Top ( The just-below-the-knee dress is smart and practical. The neckline is finished with a narrow bias facing, which forms an elastic casing. The gathered sleeves have turned-and-stitched hems that also form casings. Seam allowances are 1 cm (about 3

⁄8 inch) and are indicated on the tissue as notches. For a smooth sleeve casing, our

tester recommends cutting a slightly wider underarm seam allowance in the casing area. The top version is cut at hip level. The pattern is ideal for drapey woven or knit fabrics, such as silk jersey, viscose jersey, silk charmeuse, rayon, and crepe. (Sized 4–14 for busts 32–42 in. and hips 35–45 in.) ● —Tested by Karen Konicki, New York, New York

STYLE TIP: Split the dress pattern at the cutting line for the top version, then cut and sew the dress in two fabrics.

Weekend pants Style Arc: Jamie Pant ( This slim pant has a contoured waistband that sits 1 inch below the waist. The waistband has a center-back seam and an optional drawstring. The pants also feature a fly front, optional cargo pockets, leg openings with a cuff in front and elastic in back, back darts, and double-welt back pockets. Optional knee panels are seamed single layer into the pant-leg fronts. The pocket facing and drawstring pattern pieces are both labeled no. 13. Our tester believes the drawstring should be piece no. 14. The schematic drawing shows a button on the waistband. However, the instructions show a hook and eye with a security button at the waistband’s inner edge. Try rayon, crepe-back silk satin, four-ply silk charmeuse, or any lightweight, drapey woven fabric. (Sized 6–30 for hips 34.6–61 in.) ✚ ● —Tested by Tomasa Jimenez, Lyndhurst, New Jersey

Maker’s Atelier Drawstring-Neck Dress and Top: slubbed rayon jersey. Style Arc Jamie Pants: matte four-ply silk. Both fabrics are from

SEWING TIP: Sew the back darts before marking the welt pocket placement lines. Otherwise, the lines take on a curved appearance once the darts are sewn.

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pattern review c o n t i n u e d

Clever coat Waffle Patterns: Pepernoot Hooded Coat ( This lined A-line coat has a raised waistline; fitted bodice shaped with darts; contoured, high-neck, three-piece hood; curved front and back yokes; a center-front zipper with a shield; two-piece sleeves with buttoned tabs; and zippered patch pockets. The PDF pattern file is layered, meaning it is possible to print only the size needed. There are some unconventional notations on the pattern pieces, explained in a guide that is printed with the pattern pieces. The 12 pages of instructions are colorful, accurate, and contain more than 75 illustrations. Our tester noticed that the yoke needs to be flipped in illustration no. 10. Place the shorter side next to the neckline edge. Our staff seamstress found the marked pleat in the lower back lining too small. She made it twice as big so that the lower back lining fit the back bodice lining. Select wool or wool-blend coatings.

(Sized European 34–48 for busts 31.5-43.3 in. and hips 33.8-45.6 in.) —Tested by Carla Boissonault, Morris Plains, New Jersey

SEWING TIP: Keep scissors

Convertible tote C&T Publishing: The 3-in-1 Betsy Bag Pattern ( This adaptable bag converts into three versions with varying capacity. The shoulder straps clip into D-rings at two levels. Attach the straps at the bag’s top edge to form a roomy tote, or clip them midway up the bag’s sides, to form a smaller tote or drawstring bag. There are no pattern pieces; the design is made from squares, rectangles, and strips detailed in the thorough instructions. Our tester would have liked more clarification, perhaps the addition of a legend, to distinguish the fabric’s right and wrong sides in the illustrations. The instructions were written assuming use of Kraft-Tex, a durable paperlike textile, for the base and strap edges. Alternative all-fabric instructions are included. Select heavier fabrics for the base, such as faux leather, canvas, or upholstery or other home-décor materials. The middle and top portions work well in medium-weight cottons. (Sized 12 in. wide x 17 in. high x 5 in. deep) —Tested by Karen Sehl, Salem, Massachusetts Waffle Patterns Pepernoot Hooded Coat: Alpaca coating and silk taffeta lining from Betsy 3-in-1 Bag: black Kraft-Tex from C&T Publishing; printed canvas from Chintz-n-Prints, Newtown, Connecticut.

SEWING TIP: This design has 1⁄4-inch-wide seam allowances. To work with a wider seam allowance, adjust the measurements before cutting. continued



▸ ▸ ▸

Photos: Jack Deutsch. Illustrations: Steven Fleck. Stylist: Jessica Saal. Styling credits: booties—Cynthia Vincent (Nordstrom Rack), pants—Discover Something Novel 12110 pattern from Cutting Line Designs.

and pressing tools handy, as there are many curved seams to grade, clip, and press.



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Find out more at or any Authorized Dealer in your area.



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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 /J A N UA RY 2 0 1 6


pattern review c o n t i n u e d

Updated shirts Grainline Studio: Archer Button Up Shirt 11004 ( These shirts display elements of men’s shirts, plus feminine details. Both views have a two-piece, bias-cut undercollar, collar stand, lined yoke, separate placket, breast pockets, and set-in sleeves. The sleeves have continuous-lap plackets and two pleats going into a button cuff. One view has cuffs with cutaway corners and a center-back inverted pleat into the yoke seam. The other view has cuffs with 90-degree corners and a high-low hemline, created by a gathered peplum added to the back. The instructions include links to online tutorials. Our tester recommends inserting the sleeve in the round as it will hang better. Our staff seamstress recommends interfacing the undercollars. Make this shirt in cotton shirting, linen, voile, batiste, or a silk for evening. (Sized 0–18 for busts 32–44 in.) —Tested by Patty Robison, Bellingham, Washington


Simple skirts Petite Plus Patterns: Straight Skirts 501 ( These straight skirts have generous ease, elastic waists, and front variations. One view has a front slit, and the other view is a mock-wrap style that features a curved-edge front overlay. Both variations have topstitched hems and are described as tea length on the envelope, though the pattern pieces are labeled “ankle length.” On the pattern pieces, the location of anchoring points to secure the elastic at the front waist differs from the location on instruction illustrations. Our tester found that under step 2 for the mock-wrap view, the right hip notch on the front skirt panel needs to be clipped 3⁄4 inch and not the specified 3⁄8 inch, otherwise the hemmed opening will be in the way when sewing the right side seam. Choose four-ply silk, crepe, or wovens created with rayon or bamboo. (Sized 14–24 for hips 42–52 in.) ✚ ● —Tested by Eve Kovacs, Woodridge, Illinois

STYLE TIP: This Grainline Studios Archer Button Up Shirt: view A in Liberty cotton voile. Petite Plus no. 501 Pull-on Straight Skirts: view A in hammered four-ply silk. Both fabrics are from



style is a cinch to shorten, so show o≠ your gams.

Photos: Jack Deutsch. Illustrations: Steven Fleck. Stylist: Jessica Saal. Styling credits: bracelets and belt—stylist’s own, handbag—Chloe (Nordstrom Rack), shoes.—

Seam allowances vary on the details, so pay attention.

Improve your sewing skills.


            

 

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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 /J A N UA RY 2 0 1 6


Design a Rolled Collar Make a basic pattern, then revise it for new styles ❘ B Y rolled collar is a simple but endlessly versatile neckline detail. Unlike a man’s shirt collar, which uses a separate stand piece to hold the collar up at the neckline, a rolled collar requires no more than an upper collar and an undercollar. It’s the shaping of the pattern pieces that creates the collar’s lift and roll at the neckline—so the collar forms a self-stand. A new collar is a great way to transform a favorite, well-fitting garment pattern. By changing the shape and size of the collar’s perimeter, you can vary the height of the self-stand, as well as the width and silhouette of the collar. Sewing a rolled collar is quicker than sewing a collar with a separate stand, and the results are perfect for garment styles ranging from casual camp



shirts to softly tailored ladies’ jackets. You can achieve a wide range of looks, from blouses with dainty little collars to jackets with broad, dramatic, face-framing collars. I’ll show you how to draft and then adapt a rolled collar to the size and shape you want. Once you understand the principles involved, you can design new collar styles for a neckline of any shape or with any opening location. The drafting and draping skills I demonstrate are easy to master and will give you confidence to test your creativity. Sarah Veblen’s fitting and design video series is available at Visit Sarah at

Collar anatomy Neck seamline

A rolled collar includes a self-stand that rises vertically from the neckline seam. The collar then folds, or rolls, down to meet the garment’s upper bodice. The smaller the collar’s outer edge is, the higher the self-stand is. If the collar’s outer edge has a larger circumference, it lies flatter on the garment.


Upper collar Undercollar

Outer edge



The classic white shirt is a fashion staple you can adapt and modify with the addition of a custom rolled collar. Pattern: Vogue 8772 (modified). Fabric: pima cotton broadcloth,

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Rotate the back pattern over the front and adjust the overlap.

Draft a pattern The collar pattern is traced from the bodice pattern’s neckline; draw the seamlines on the back and front patterns. You’ll start by overlapping the pattern pieces following a simple ratio, then adjust your design on a muslin test collar. Align the bodice front and back patterns. With right sides up, lap the back pattern over the front pattern, and match the shoulder seamlines. Place a pin vertically at the intersection of the shoulder and neck seamlines.


2 3

Pin here.


3 inches

Rotate the back pattern over the front. Swing the outer end of the shoulder seam over the front pattern.

Adjust the overlap. The ratio of overlap to stand height is 4 to 1: a 4-inch overlap produces about 1 inch of stand height. Here, a 3-inch overlap yields a stand height of about 3⁄4 inch. You get to fine-tune the stand height at the muslin stage. Trace the collar neckline. Place a sheet of paper you can see through over the neckline. Trace the neck cutting and seamlines from the bodice patterns. Because of the overlap, there is a peak at the shoulder/neckline intersection. Use a fashion ruler as a guide to blend the front and back necklines smoothly and remove the peak.



Center back

Trace the neckline seams and blend.


Draft the outer edge. Any width or shape works, as long as the collar is wide enough so that when it folds, its outer edge covers the neckline seam. Start with a wider collar, as you can always trim the edge in the test garment. Mark the shoulder match point, write “Cut one on fold” at center back, and cut off the excess paper.



Center back

Draw the outer edge; make it any shape you like.

Shoulder point


Outer edge TISSUE

Center front

Center front




Assess the muslin A muslin test collar is a means for experimenting freely with design. You can change the stand height almost anywhere on the neckline and consider different outer edge shapes.

A high back stand and soft V-neckline frame the face elegantly.

Cut a muslin collar. Make it a single layer, Including a seam allowance at the neckline edge, but not at the outer edge.


Pin the collar to the bodice. Match the shoulder mark to the shoulder seams, as well as centers front and back. See “Precise Pinning,” below right.


Pinch for a higher stand. Pin small darts (closed wedges) at the collar’s outer edge. Experiment with the wedge placements, and note that a few small wedges create a more attractive collar than one or two larger ones.


Slash where you want a lower stand. Cut from the collar outer edge to the seamline, and let the collar spread along the cuts (open wedges). The stand decreases as the outer edge opens. Pin fabric into the open wedges to maintain the desired spread amount.


PRECISE PINNING Choose one of these methods to attach the sample collar to the garment neckline. For accurate matching, mark the neck seamline on each piece.

Overlap Press under the garment neckline seam allowance and pin the collar seamline to the neck seamline, as shown below.

Fold under Lay the collar on the garment with its wrong side on the garment’s right side, and raw edges aligned. Fold under both seam allowances along the marked seamlines and pin, as shown below.

Open wedge Pinch or spread to change the collar’s shape.

WS Closed wedge


Fold under. RS

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Finalize the pattern Transfer the closed and/or open wedges, as well as any outer-edge changes, from the collar muslin to the paper pattern.

MUSLIN Closed wedge, pinned

CLOSED WEDGES Mark the pin locations on the muslin, and remove the pins. Then draw lines from the outer edge to the neck seamline.

Closed wedge, marked


Revised outer edge

Place the pattern on top of the marked muslin. Align the edges. With dashed lines, trace the lines from the muslin onto the pattern paper.


Pivot points

Close the wedges. On the pattern, cut along the center of each wedge to, but not through, the neck seamline. Cut through the seam allowance to, but not through, this same pivot point. Overlap the pattern paper, aligning the marked sides of the wedges. Tape to secure. Add seam allowances to the outer edges.


Closed wedges overlapped and taped

Seam allowance

OPEN WEDGES Lay the pattern over the muslin, and mark the location of the open wedges. Cut the pattern as described in step 3, above.


Open the wedges. On the muslin, measure the width of each wedge, and spread the paper pattern this amount. Tape tissue into the opening. Add seam allowances to the outer edges.


Open wedges MUSLIN

Pivot points


Seam allowance Open wedges, spread and filled



A collar that doesn’t extend to center front is a graceful, open neckline option.


COMPLETE THE PATTERN Fine-tune the shape of the outer edge, if you changed it. Then reblend the seamlines, using a fashion ruler as a guide. Seam allowance

Draft a bias undercollar pattern. Trace the upper collar pattern, but shave 1⁄8 inch off the outer and the front edges. Add a seam allowance to the centerback edge, and mark “Cut 2.” Draw a grainline at 45 degrees to the center-back seamline.


Photos: (p. 39; p. 41, top right; p. 42, bottom right) Jack Deutsch; all others, Mike Yamin. Illustration: Rosann Berry. Stylist: Jessica Saal. Hair and makeup: Nancy Cialdella. Styling credits: earrings—Natasha (Nordstrom Rack), skirt—Wolven (, belt—

Upper collar

Gra inli ne

1 2

Center back

The undercollar pattern is shown on top of the upper collar pattern.

Design variations By changing the neckline shape, stand height, and outer edge contour, you can make an unlimited range of new collars. Curves, angles, and even double collars are just a few of the versions to try.

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⁄2-inch stand

2-inch stand

11⁄4-inch stand

1-inch stand

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 /J A N UA RY 2 0 1 6


Replace a pattern’s straight skirt with a full, pleated one, and turn a classic dress into a party frock. Pattern: Style Arc Layla Dress (modified). Fabric: stretch cotton sateen,



Pleat to

Measure Ingenious ways to calculate yardage and folds ❘ y husband and I love rock-and-roll dancing, a style of dance related to the Lindy Hop or swing. That means I need lots of full, swishy skirts, and I like to make them myself. I’ve often found a piece of fabric that would be perfect for a pleated skirt and wanted to make use of the entire length for maximum twirl potential. With the help of my math-whiz spouse, I worked out a formula that tells me what knife-pleat width and spacing I need in order to use every inch of fabric. The formula gives me the numbers, and I make a template to use for marking the pleats on my fabric.



For box or inverted pleats, I’ll show you a different formula: In this case, you decide how many pleats you want in your skirt, and the formula tells you how much fabric you need. Again, you’ll make a template as a guide for marking the pleat foldlines. Both processes are easy, especially if you work in metric units rather than inches. Grab your calculator and a pencil—you’re just steps away from a party-ready dress or skirt. Linda Baker sews and dances in Chain Valley Bay, Australia. She travels the world in perfectly pleated dresses.

Factors to consider A number of considerations come into play when you’re making pleats, including the size of the base garment, the amount of fabric available, and the style of pleat. Think these through before starting. First, choose a pleat type, then do the math.

PLEAT TYPES Knife pleats generally all face the same direction around a garment. Box and inverted pleats consist of two knife pleats. In a box pleat, they face away from each other; in an inverted pleat they face toward each other, with their folded edges meeting. An inverted pleat is, essentially, a box pleat from the wrong side. Knife pleats

Box pleat

Inverted pleat




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▸ ▸ ▸


LET’S GO METRIC I’m Australian, so I use the metric system of measurement. Even if you don’t typically prefer centimeters to inches, I encourage you to use them for the formulas explained. When you perform the arithmetic, you will get the most accurate results using decimals rather than fractions. Converting fractions of an inch into decimals for the calculations, then

converting those decimals back to fractions of an inch, introduces opportunities for inaccuracy. When you’re planning many pleats, a millimeter off in each one quickly adds up to a big discrepancy in the size of the final pleated piece. So turn your measuring tape over and use the side marked with centimeters—you’ll be glad you did.

SEAM PLACEMENT If the fabric to be pleated has joining seams, you have two options. You can decide simply not to worry about whether the seams are visible on the outside of a pleat, or whether they align with bodice seams. This works well on a patterned or textured fabric. Or, you can plan to pleat each panel separately to match the bodice section to which it’s being joined, to ensure that the vertical seams align.

TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL PLEATING Test before sewing. Always pin pleats in place and measure the fabric to be sure it’s the correct length for the garment.

Fine-tune at the seam. The seam allowances are added so you have sufficient fabric to finesse the last pleat and sew the final seam.

Adjust the waistline.

ALLOWANCES Seam allowances are necessary at the beginning and ending of each pleated strip—of course. But you should include a wider seam allowance than usual, 3 cm at each end of the fabric, to allow for any possible minor adjustments. This includes the usual seam allowance plus a bit of extra length.

If free-falling pleats aren’t hanging as straight as you want, feel free to reshape the waistline edge of the pleated fabric.

Topstitch the pleats. For a flatter look from the waist to the upper hip, you can topstitch the top few inches of the pleats.

Knife pleats Use this formula to determine the size and spacing of pleats for a given amount of fabric to fit a specific waist circumference. For example, you have 2 meters of fabric and want 24 pleats. This formula tells you how wide and how far apart the pleats should be.

Givens Given



Length to be covered (e.g., waist circumference)


76 cm

Fabric to be pleated, minus two seam allowances of 3 cm


200 cm - 6 cm = 194 cm

Desired number of pleats

Pleat quantity








A = length to be covered divided by number of pleats

A = length/pleat quantity

76 cm/24 = 3.1 cm

B = fabric length divided by number of pleats

B = fabric/pleat quantity

194 cm/24 = 8 cm

U= initial pleat units

U = (B - A)/2

(8 cm - 3.1 cm)/2 = 2.4 cm

MAKE THE TEMPLATE Use a metric ruler and a sharp pencil or pen to make the template. Cut a strip of paper about 40 cm long. Mark the template as shown in Step 1. Use different colored pens for the marks, and label the marks with the appropriate designations.

MARK AND FOLD KNIFE PLEATS Pin-mark the pleat foldlines. With the fabric wrong side up, align the template strip along the edge to be pleated, and insert pins to correspond with the A and B lengths. Use different colored pins for these marks, or position the pin heads in opposite directions. Shift the template when you reach its end. Skip the seam allowance and pleat units and continue marking the A and B lengths until you have 3 cm of fabric left.



First pleat











Fold the first pin to the second pin to form the first pleat. Fold the next pin to the pin following it. Repeat to the end of the fabric. The last pin should fold to the start of the final seam allowance, leaving you with about 3 cm of fabric.



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For this skirt, a cross-grain 2.25-meter length of fabric was folded into 39 knife pleats, each 1.8 cm wide. The only seam is at the center back. D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 /J A N UA RY 2 0 1 6


Box or inverted pleats You decide how many pleats you want, and this formula tells you how wide to make them, and how much fabric is needed to cover a given waist circumference. For example, you'd like 10 pleats evenly distributed around the skirt. Follow these instructions to find out how much fabric to buy and how big to make the pleats. In this formula, the seam allowance is added after the calculations are made.

Givens Given



Length to be covered (e.g., waist circumference); no seam allowances


86 cm

Desired number of pleats

Pleat quantity


Formula Formula


Pleat width = length/pleat quantity

86 cm/10 = 8.6 cm

Marker width = pleat width/2

8.6 cm/2 = 4.3 cm

Fabric length = (length x 3) + 1 pleat width + allowance

(86 cm x 3) + 8.6 cm + 6 cm = 272.6 cm (round up to 273 cm)

Cut a paper or oak-tag marker the “Marker width” as determined above. Cut a strip of paper at least six times as long as the marker width, plus 3 cm. With the marker as a guide, mark the paper strip as shown. Each full pleat is six marker widths. Label the center line and add arrows, as shown.

Seam allowance



MARK AND FOLD THE PLEATS Pin-mark the foldlines. With the fabric wrong side up, use the template as a guide to mark the edge to be pleated. Use pins with different colored heads, or alternate the direction of the heads, to indicate fold and center lines. Move the template along as you mark, omitting the 3-cm seam allowance for all subsequent pleats.



Outside foldlines




Form the pleats. For each pleat, bring the outside foldlines toward the center. Pin in place. Fold the number of pleats you selected at the beginning of your calculation. At the end, you’ll have some excess fabric for seam allowances and fine adjustments.





Photos: (p. 44; p. 47, right; p. 49) Jack Deutsch; all others, Mike Yamin. Illustrations: Abigail Lupoff. Stylist: Jessica Saal. Hair and makeup: Nancy Cialdella. Styling credits: necklace—, belt—BCBG (Nordstrom Rack).


tip Check the fit. Either measure the pleated fabric length and compare it to the waistline length, or pin it to the waistline, matching centers and openings. The excess allowances at the ends enable you to make minor adjustments, keeping them on the underlay portion of the pleats. Trim away excess beyond the seam allowance.

Watch to learn how to make and fold knife and box pleats.

Knife pleats add controlled volume, and now you can incorporate them into any dress with a waist seam. w w w. t h r e a d s m a g a z i n e . c o m

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 /J A N UA RY 2 0 1 6


Ease Ease Ea


Effect Put space where you need—and want—it most BY JUDITH NEUKAM AND CAROL J. FRESIA

ne of the best ways to create clothing that looks and feels good is to manage the amount of ease, not just in the garment as a whole, but in particular areas. This aspect of fitting is often overlooked, in part because there is no general formula for it. Learn how to incorporate ease mindfully when planning garments. Once you start seeing ease as a customizable design feature, you’re on easy street.



The simplest definition of ease is the additional space in a garment beyond the actual body measurements. In terms of pattern and garment design, this ease is typically broken into two separate types. Wearing, or fitting, ease is the minimal extra space needed to get into and wear a garment. It is sufficient for breathing, walking, sitting, and moving your arms. Design, or style, ease is intended to create a particular silhouette, and 50


produces anything from a closely sculpted sheath dress to a voluminous ballgown. Note that comfort isn’t essential to the definition of either type of ease, though it is important to you. Ease in a garment is chiefly, though not entirely, a quantity based on circumference. We give extra space around our bodies so we have room to move, or in order to visually change the body contour. Typically, there is little ease in lengthwise measurements, unless the designer intends for a fuller garment section to blouse over a tighter, stayed section, such as a shirt cuff or dress waistline. The amount of ease varies among garment parts. A waistband, for example, usually has very little or no ease, whereas the bust and hip areas have a bit more, to accommodate the body’s expansion during movement, breathing, and sitting. The essential thing to remember is that you can control how much ease goes where, so you get the fit, comfort, and look you prefer.

Find your fit preferences Determining the right amount of ease is straightforward. Take a good look at garments you own (or try some on in a store), and assess how they look on you. Consider the length, width, and overall silhouette and proportion. Pay attention to the drape and hand of the fabric. Narrow down your selection to a few garments that you love. These pieces can tell you what you need to know about your preferences for ease. The example dresses are derived from the same base pattern, with different amounts of ease.

The original design has minimal ease and is fitted with bust and waistline darts. Pattern: Butterick 5627. Fabric: cotton sateen, Banksville Designer Fabrics, Norwalk, Connecticut.

Moderate ease was added to the pattern, resulting in this loose-fitting garment. Considerable ease was added to create this extreme A-line silhouette. The waist seamline was removed and the darts ignored.

Fabric: linen, Banksville Designer Fabrics, Norwalk, Connecticut.

Fabric: polyester taffeta, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

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Personalize ease in your garments by doing some straightforward research, and applying your findings to your patterns. Begin with your favorite clothes—the ones that make you look and feel great. Even if you don’t want to duplicate them exactly, think of them as test garments for establishing your preferred fit. Measure and record their key dimensions, and use these as a guide for adjusting commercial patterns. With basic patternmaking skills and multisize patterns, you can adapt any design to include the ease amount you find most attractive and wearable. TH E FA B R IC FACTOR

When you measure garments to determine your ease preferences, make note of the fabric as well. It’s obvious that a fabric’s amount of stretch affects how much ease is needed or desirable in a garment. Patterns designed for knit fabrics are sometimes drafted smaller, and include a stretch gauge so you can be sure that the fabric you choose has adequate give for a comfortable finished garment. Equally important is a fabric’s drape. The same pattern made in fabrics with different drape results in very different garments. In general, stiff fabrics tend to stand away from the body, so if you want a trim silhouette, choose a pattern with less ease. Drapey fabrics fall softly over the body, and work better with more ease.

How to measure garments Measure the garments you consider most flattering. You don’t have to measure every detail—begin with the main horizontal and vertical dimensions. If you have areas of the body that are difficult to fit, measure the corresponding parts of the garment as well, and note whether you prefer more or less ease than the existing garment offers. Record the dimensions, making a sketch if desired. Having sufficient space in the bust, waist, and hips is crucial for comfort, but there may be additional places where generous horizontal ease matters to you, for example, the shoulder width or biceps circumference. You also may find that you have specific preferences for vertical measurements. If so, include lengths in your notes. Internal garment lengths, such as bust-point or armhole depth, may be important to you.

Biceps circumference

Chest width


Ease is about more than just fitting into your clothing. It also establishes the overall proportion and style of a garment. Distributing ease thoughtfully can do wonders for your silhouette. Enhance, camouflage, or visually reshape your figure by adding or subtracting ease strategically. Don’t feel the need to follow conventional notions of where ease “belongs.” It’s possible that, through the exercise of measuring and assessing your clothes and patterns, you discover an ideal amount of ease that’s just right for you in nearly all your garments. Don’t forget to include length in this equation, even though it’s not, technically, ease. Remember that the only rule is your personal preference. Judith Neukam is editor-at-large, and Carol J. Fresia is technical editor.



Waist width

Length at center front

Hem width

Biceps circumference + 71⁄2 inches

Chest width + 21⁄2 inches

Waist width + 71⁄2 inches

Length at center front

Hem width + 10 inches

Biceps circumference + 12 inches

Chest width + 101⁄2 inches

Length at center front

Hem width + 24 inches

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Lots of ease in a stiff fabric creates a highly exaggerated trapeze silhouette— it’s fun, but not for everyone. For a more wearable version, see page 55.

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 /J A N UA RY 2 0 1 6


Compare and adjust patterns Half-chest width

Minimal ease

Length at center front

MEASURE Measure the pattern in the same places as the garment. Double or combine halfpattern measurements as needed to get total dimensions that correspond to the garment. Adjust the pattern to reflect the measurements. The outlines at right represent the patterns created for the dresses shown. Half-hem width

ADJUST Depending on your skills and where you want to change the ease, you can adjust patterns in different ways. Add/subtract at the side seams. For minimal changes, this approach is quick and easy. Be sure to compare adjacent seams to check that they still match after the adjustment. Cut and spread/overlap within the body of the garment. If you want to add ease in targeted areas, such as over the abdomen, this method enables you to do so. The dresses shown were enlarged using this method, with fronts and backs slashed and spread equally.

Half-chest width + 11â „4 inches

Moderate ease

Length at center front

Use multisize pattern lines to increase or decrease ease. With this approach, you can fine-tune the ease in many places without knowing a lot about patternmaking. For example, you can use a smaller back than front; a larger neckline size than bust size; or different bust and hip sizes. Half-hem width + 5 inches



Photos: (p. 53, right; p. 55, right and bottom) Jack Deutsch; all others, Mike Yamin. Illustrations: Rosann Berry. Stylist: Jessica Saal. Hair and makeup: Nancy Cialdella. Styling credits: (pp. 53 and 55) necklaces—, shoes—Nine West (

Now that you know how much ease you like in your clothes, you can alter your patterns to match. Remember that the pattern is only a guide, and that you can change it to suit your fit preferences. The illustrations at right represent the patterns for the dresses shown on the previous pages. Compare the pink and red dresses, made from the same radically widened design. In stiff fabric, the design stands away from the body, whereas in chiffon, the extra ease drapes attractively over the body.

Half-chest width + 51â „4 inches

Length at center front

Considerable ease

Half-hem width + 12 inches

What a difference a fabric makes. This red dress was sewn from the same pattern as the pink one on page 53, but in drapey chiffon. Fabric: polyester chiffon, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft stores.

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Faux Fur Collar & Cuffs Direct the nap with darts for polished results â?˜ B Y K E N N E T H D . K I N G

With the right techniques, you can handle faux fur so it looks like the real thing. Pattern: Simplicity Threads 1015. Fabric: woolblend coating,; silver fox faux fur,; jacquard for lining,



fur collar and cuffs give a favorite coat a sumptuous new look. The faux (French for “fake”) furs available now are beautiful, soft, realistic, and they are easy to work with. With the key techniques explained here and a few specialty tools, you can create a gorgeous set of accessories with a highend look and a designer-quality finish. It’s much simpler to make a collar and cuffs that are removable than to attach them permanently to the coat, and it makes cleaning the coat easier. You also can use the pieces to accessorize more than one coat. Fur has nap with an obvious direction, which must be considered when creating an item that curves around the neck, such as a collar, or one that flares


in any way. Without specific modifications to the pattern, the fur nap would run in one direction only, disregarding the collar or cuff shape and its orientation on the body. In the case of a collar, the nap always should run perpendicular to the collar edge as it curves from back to front. To achieve this, the faux fur must be invisibly shaped with darts. I’ll show you how to modify pattern pieces to ensure the faux fur nap runs in the correct direction, creating a luxurious faux fur collar and cuff set in the process. Kenneth D. King is a Threads contributing editor, custom couturier, and creator of the DVD Smart Sewing: Fake Fur (The Taunton Press, 2015).

Modify the patterns The faux fur collar and cuffs must be large enough to cover the coat’s integral collar and sleeves. In many cases, you’ll need to adapt the pattern to accommodate the faux fur pieces. Make two patterns for each piece: one for the padding and one for the fur. The example coat pattern creates a shawl collar using a single lapel facing/upper collar pattern piece, but you may use a pattern with a different collar style.


Upper edge

Copy the cuff pattern. Trace over the foldline (which becomes the hemline), the upper edge, and both ends. The red outlines show the shape of the new cuff pattern. If your pattern doesn’t have a cuff, decide how deep to make the cuff, and draw a parallel line the desired depth from the sleeve hem. Copy the new pattern shape onto paper.


Add 3⁄4 inch to the cuff pattern’s short ends. Add 5⁄8 inch to the long edges. This accommodates the turn of cloth and padding. Draw two vertical lines onequarter the cuff’s length from the ends to mark slash-line positions. Trace a fresh copy of the modified cuff pattern (the master), including the slash lines, to create the padding pattern.


Bottom edge



⁄8 inch


⁄4 inch


Slash lines continued

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Modify the cuff padding pattern. Slash the vertical lines from the top, leaving hinges at the cuff’s bottom edge. Spread the cuff pattern 1⁄2 inch at each slash line. This flares the cuff slightly at the top, which helps it to sit on the sleeve more gracefully.



Spread. Top edge



COLLAR/LAPEL PATTERN Trace the collar/lapel facing to make a pattern. Draw a diagonal line from the neck seam to the break point. Extend the pattern 1⁄4 inch at the center-back outer edge. Draft a new center-back line from the extended center-back point tapering to nothing at the neck edge. Add 5⁄8 inch to the pattern, excluding the center-back edge. Trace two copies: one for the padding and one for the fur.


Break point

Bottom edge

Extend 1⁄4-inch.

Add 5⁄8 inch. COLLAR/LAPEL PADDING PATTERN Center-back outer edge

Trace a copy of the new cuff padding pattern. Add seam allowances to the ends only. The top and lower edges are the finished size; no seam allowances are needed.


Copy the cuff padding pattern created in step 3. Add 5⁄8 inch to the pattern’s top and bottom edges to create the fur pattern piece; it must be larger than the padding to accommodate turn of cloth. Make a copy of the fur cuff pattern, including the vertical slash lines. Notice the pattern is slightly curved at the top edge.


Neck edge


Finish the padding pattern. Add a 5⁄8-inch seam allowance to the padding pattern’s center back only (not shown).


Adapt the fur pattern. Draw slash lines from the neck edge to the outer edge along the collar area. Colla r are a

Slash line



Slash line

e edg ter u O

Slash lines Neck edge

Add darts to the fur cuff pattern. Cut each slash line from the cuff’s bottom edge, leaving hinges at the top. Spread each slashed line 1⁄2 inch, and draft darts ending at the top edge. The darts will shape the fur into the necessary curve to maintain the nap’s correct direction. Do not add seam allowances to the fur cuff pattern.


Cut along the slash lines from the neck edge, leaving hinges at the collar’s outer edge. Spread the pattern until the outer edge forms a straight line. If necessary, cut an additional slash line in the lapel area to fully straighten the outer edge (shown). At the center back, draw a line perpendicular to the straight outer edge line you’ve just created. Add 5⁄8 inch to all edges, excluding the center back (not shown).


Outer edge Top edge

Ne ck e dge Lap el


are a

Bottom edge Spread.



Center back Spread.

Spread the slashes until the pattern’s outer edge is straight.

Assemble the cuffs and collar Padding gives a more opulent look and feel to the collar and cuffs by increasing the faux fur’s loft. Separate patterns are required for the padding and fur. The padding pieces and the fur pieces are constructed separately. You’ll need a sewing machine walking foot,

⁄8-inch-thick batting, a tracing wheel and carbon paper, cold tape (used for fur and leather sewing, available at AmericanSewing or 1⁄4-inch-wide twill tape and fabric glue, and a singleedge razor blade.


PADDING Trace the collar and cuff fur pattern pieces onto the lining fabric. Mark the seamlines on the lining with a tracing wheel and carbon paper. Cut the pieces, leaving a wide allowance around all edges. Set the collar pieces aside.


Sew the collar lining pieces together at the center-back seam, right sides together. Press the seam open. Pin the lining to three layers of the batting, and quilt just as for the cuffs, with the quilting lines echoing the neckline seam.


Pin the cuff lining pieces, right side up, onto three batting layers. Quilt the cuff batting to the cuff lining. Use a walking foot and stitch the rows 11⁄4 inches apart.



Centerback seam COLLAR LINING


Compare the quilted cuffs to the padding pattern to check for shrinkage. If necessary, re-mark the seamlines using the padding pattern as a guide. Sew along the corrected lines to stabilize the edges. On the long edges only, trim the fabric and batting back to the corrected stitching line.




Compare the collar padding pattern to the quilted collar. Correct the seamlines to accommodate any shrinkage.


Mark the cuff ends’ stitching lines on the batting. Trim only the batting to the stitching lines.

Marked stitching line BATTING

Corrected seamline Lining

Sew the cuff’s vertical seam, right sides together. Press the seam open, and tack the seam allowances to the wrong side. Set the cuff padding pieces aside.



Sew along the corrected seamlines to stabilize the edges. Trim the excess batting close to the stitching. continued

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FUR Mark arrows on the fur’s wrong side to indicate the nap direction. Trace the collar and cuff pieces’ finished lines on the fur’s wrong side and transfer the dart legs. On the cuffs, the nap should run from top to bottom, and on the collar it should run from the neck edge to the outer edge.


Sew the cuff darts and seams edge-to-edge. Use a 4.0-mmwide, 2.0-mm-long zigzag stitch—what I call a zigzag hinge seam (see Step 2 in “Finish the pieces,” page 61). Use an awl to help guide the fur under the foot. Flatten the seams with your thumb. The cut edges abut.


Stabilize the collar edges the same way. Apply cold tape to the perimeter, to one leg of each dart, and to one side of the center-back seam.


Nap direction

FAUX FUR (WS) Dart legs Nap direction

Dart legs

Cold tape

Stabilize the cuff edges. Apply strips of cold tape to the cuff’s top and bottom edges; or glue 1⁄4-inch-wide twill tape. Also tape one leg of each dart and one short end of the cuff.


Cut the fur collar pieces, and sew the darts and centerback seam edge-to-edge. The darts keep the fur’s nap perpendicular to the collar’s edges.

Nap direction

Cold tape Dart leg

Cut the cuffs from the faux fur’s wrong side with a single-edge razor blade. This helps prevent cutting the fur pile. Cut outside the taped lines. Vacuum each edge after you cut—this keeps the excess fur from going up your nose.


Cut out each dart’s center. Fold the dart legs right sides together, and use a hair pick to push the fur down between the layers. Pin the dart legs closed 1 ⁄8 inch from the cut edges.

The darts and angled center-back seam keep the faux fur nap perpendicular to the collar’s curved edge.




Pin the darts closed.

Photos: (p. 56; p. 61, right) Jack Deutsch; all others, Kenneth D. King. Illustrations: Rosann Berry. Stylist: Jessica Saal. Hair and makeup: Nancy Cialdella. Styling credits: earrings—Nordstrom Rack, tights—Hue (


Finish the pieces Now you’re ready to connect the padding and fur. I’ll demonstrate the technique on the cuffs. Follow the same steps for the collar. Prepare bias strips for edging. Cut 13⁄4-inch-wide bias strips from the lining. Press them in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together.


On the fur cuffs, pin a folded bias strip to the top and bottom edges, right sides together and raw edges aligned. Sew these together with the zigzag hinge seam. Finish the collar’s edges the same way.




Attach the fur cuff to the padding cuff. Slip the fur piece into the padding piece, wrong sides together. Pull the bias strips from the fur piece over the padding piece’s edges. Pin, then fell-stitch the bias strip edges to the padding.


Pin the bias strip’s edge over the padding’s raw edge.


360° See this chic faux fur coat in 360 degrees.

Attach the fur collar to the collar padding in the same way. Place the pieces wrong sides together, pin the bias strips over the padding’s edges, and fell-stitch the bias strips to the padding.

4 5

Install the pieces. Simply slipstitch them into position on the coat.

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Darts in the faux fur keep its nap perpendicular to the curved cuff and collar edges for a high-end look. D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 /J A N UA RY 2 0 1 6


Make It with Winning garments display creativity and craftsmanship BY STEPHAN I L . MI LLER, WITH MELI NA ERKAN AN D DAN I ELLE AGUGLIARO he Make It with Wool competition (MIWW) recognizes excellence and innovation in wool garment design and construction. Every year, sewers compete in age groups and in special award categories, and the state winners advance to the national judging round in January. As a change from previous years, during this year’s National MIWW competition some category awards were given to both junior (ages 13 to 16) and senior (ages 17 to 24) winners. Garments must be made from fashion fabrics or yarns containing at least 60 percent wool ibers. Judges consider each entry’s appropriateness to the contestant’s lifestyle, the coordination of fabrics and yarns with the garment’s style and design, as well as the presentation, construction quality, and creativity. Sponsors include: the American Wool Council/ American Sheep Industry Association; the American Sheep Industry Women; Harper Livestock Company of Eaton, Colorado; Pendleton Woolen Mills; Brother International; Wild Ginger Software, Inc.; and many others. hreads highlights National MIWW winners each year to recognize their hard work and skill, and ind inspiration in their stunning garments. Here are the nine individuals who received awards in the January 2015 national judging round.


Stephani L. Miller is special projects editor. Melina Erkan and Danielle Agugliaro are hreads’ editorial interns.



Wool 2015 Fashion/Apparel Design Winner Kristen Morris Columbia, Missouri Kristen is a doctoral candidate

have a spongy texture. Kristen adapted a men’s suit-

in the Fiber Science and Apparel Design department at Cornell

jacket block for her coat design.

University in Ithaca, New York.

She machine-stitched the strips

This year was her first time com-


peting in MIWW.

twill base. She hand-sewed

Her winning design is an

⁄2 inch apart onto a cotton

the garment sections together

extension of her academic

because they wouldn’t fit under

research into the concepts of

a presser foot. Kristen then dyed

materials reuse and waste diver-

the garment from natural white

sion. The dense coat, dubbed

to a bright aqua. After letting

“Cilia” for its resemblance to the

the felt dry for nearly four days,

fingerlike organelles found in

she reinforced the coat’s seams

human cells, features strips of

with more hand stitching and

thick wool felt tabs she pur-

installed a cotton twill lining.

chased as industrial waste from

The coat incorporates more

an industrial filter and floor-pro-

than 70 feet of wool felt waste

tector manufacturer. The 2-inch-

and weighs 9 pounds.

long tabs create a spiky look but

—Stephani L. Miller

National Adult Winner Dianne Galloway Sandusky, Ohio Dianne found a burgundy wool jacquard that cried out to become a cocktail dress with special details. She paired the dress with a luscious black wool bouclé coat trimmed in dense black mouton sheepskin. Dianne designed the dress based on two garments in her closet, adding a midri≠ band and creating keyhole openings along the princess seams at the neckline. She used an organza underlining as the pattern pieces to determine the most attractive pattern layout on the floral jacquard fabric. Dianne embellished the neckline and outlined the midri≠ with nearly 1,800 black glass beads. She used Marfy 2886 for the bouclé coat, constructing it with many tailoring techniques she learned through the years. She drafted a lining pattern for the coat and installed the black satin brocade lining by hand. A fabric from a men’s silk tie covers the piping she inserted between the coat’s facing and lining seam. Vintage black velvet buttons close the coat, while hidden embroidery in the pockets adds a touch of whimsy. —Stephani L. Miller

Senior Winner & Mohair Award Scholarship Winner

Jenna Legred Bricelyn, Minnesota Jenna studied fashion business at the London College of Fashion for a semester in 2014, and her time in England inspired the design of her MIWW-winning coat and dress. She selected Marfy 3476 for her coat and Marfy 3067 for her dress. As a self-described “diva,” Jenna likes to wear unique outfits. To create a fashionable and striking ensemble, she made the coat from ivory baby alpaca with a ruched collar and scarf drape of sequined mohair. Crystal buttons on the coat match the crystal belt buckle on the black wool crepe cowl-neck dress. The coat’s ivory satin lining bears the Versace logo. Jenna enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to construct and finish each garment, since Marfy patterns don’t include instructions. Jenna says in the four years she has competed in MIWW, she has built self-confidence, improved her ability to think on her feet, and developed more patience. —Stephani L. Miller



Junior Winner and Junior Exemplary Construction Winner Kris Puckrin Sandusky, Ohio Kris was inspired to create a look that is “young, fresh, and trendy,” she says. She made her garments using Style Arc’s Ziggi Biker Jacket, Mindi Skirt, and Tamara Top patterns. Kris’s goal was to highlight the beauty of her chosen wool fabrics. She used jet-black wool flannel for the biker jacket and lined it with flannel-backed satin. Exposed metal zippers and a quilted design across the jacket’s shoulder yoke and upper sleeves contribute to an overall edgy look. She made the skirt from vintage brushed wool broadcloth from Pendleton and lined it with black Bemberg rayon. The top is black merino wool jersey with chi≠on insets at the shoulders and chi≠on sleeves. Kris takes her sewing projects seriously. “Sewing to me is more than just making clothes; it provides me with an opportunity to challenge myself. I am all about challenges,” Kris says. —Melina Erkan

Senior Exemplary Construction Winner Gabrielle Augustine Palmerton, Pennsylvania Gabrielle won the Senior Exemplary Construction Award with her cranberry and plaid ensemble. She used Simplicity 2508 to create a black-and-white plaid, lightweight wool flannel coat, lined with a polyester-blend moleskin material that adds coziness. She inserted contrasting piping in the seam between the coat’s lining and facing. Gabrielle made the dress using Simplicity 1798 along with some button and sleeve details from other Simplicity patterns. The dress is made from cranberry wool crepe, lined with Bemberg rayon. To further customize the dress, she added pleated sleeves, and vintage buttons. Her ensemble exemplifies her desire to create garments of a better quality than ready-to-wear. —Melina Erkan

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Use of Claire Shaeffer Pattern Winner Kelsey Clear Niles, Michigan For her first year competing in MIWW, Kelsey created a three-piece suit in her favorite color combination: black, red, and white. She chose a wool glen plaid with a thin red stripe for the suit jacket and skirt. The vest is in solid red wool. The jacket is Claire Shae≠er’s Vogue 8333, the skirt is Donna Karan’s Vogue 1324 (out of print), and the vest is Simplicity 8702 (out of print). Kelsey used the red wool for the jacket’s collar and lapels, and she hand-embroidered feather stitching on the lapels and the vest front and back before constructing the garments. The vest’s pocket bags and welts, which Kelsey added, are made in the glen plaid, too. Kelsey has been sewing for 15 years. With each project, she says she tries to incorporate new skills, like the handworked keyhole buttonholes she sewed on the jacket and vest. —Stephani L. Miller

Outstanding Needlework Award Winner Kimberly Westenberg Kimberly knitted her entire ensemble because knitting is her passion. She adds that seeing the other contestants’ entries at MIWW has inspired her to become as good a sewer as she is a knitter. Each element of her ensemble can be worn with the others, or on its own. For the hooded, chunky cardigan, she used bulky-weight wool and followed the Aberdeen Sweater pattern from Love of Knitting’s Winter 2013 issue. The skirt is DROPS Design’s Fabel Skirt, and the stockings are Think Outside the Socks’ Knit Lace Hose, both in fingering-weight wool. She knitted the skirt to be worn inside out, contrary to the pattern, so that its ribbing matches the stockings’, and she altered the waistband construction for a better fit. Kimberly says that participating in MIWW has encouraged and driven her passion for knitting and sewing, taught her valuable lessons, and o≠ered her characterbuilding experiences. —Stephani L. Miller



Photos: (Winners) Jerry Newtown, Newton Photography, Reno, Nevada; all other photos, Mike Yamin.

Watertown, Wisconsin

Senior Creative Embroidery Winner Lauren Parks Bloomington, Illinois Inspired by the wool double-knit plaid fabric she chose, Lauren embraced a retro theme and created a 1950s look with a modern twist. She used wool/angora blend double cloth for the coat, based on BurdaStyle 6844. She lengthened the coat and gave it a flannel-backed satin lining to accommodate Illinois’ cold weather. Lauren machine-embroidered the front and back yokes, and added her name to the coat’s inside cellphone pocket. Then she hand-sewed Swarovski crystals onto the yoke embroidery. She created bound buttonholes and covered buttons for the coat. She made the plaid wool double knit into a drop-waist dress with a pleated skirt (Burda Young 6853), and added contrast-color tipping in rayon knit. Lauren says she sews to challenge herself: “Each time I try something more difficult, and I learn something new that I can add to my repertoire.” —Danielle Agugliaro

Junior Creative Embroidery Winner Andrea Dunrud Forest Lake, Minnesota Andrea purchased a Bernina embroidery machine in 2014 and was eager to use it for her MIWW ensemble. She created a tailored jacket from fuchsia wool using Simplicity 4954 (out of print), and embellished it with machine embroidery at each shoulder in a paisley swirl design. Andrea hand-beaded black crystal seed beads atop the embroidery to add sparkle. A frog closure complements the embroidery and beading. Andrea also made coordinating black wool crepe pants using Claire Shae≠er’s Vogue 8156 (out of print). Andrea plans to pursue a career in fashion design and tries “to approach each project with a professional and creative mindset in hopes of creating something that I will love and that inspires others to want to start sewing as well. I want to design a whole line of women’s couture wool clothing in the future.” Andrea says she looks forward to working hard next year and, hopefully, returning to nationals for the fourth time. —Danielle Agugliaro

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Add a Sleeve Vent Create a functional opening on a lined sleeve BY JACQUE GOLDSMITH

hen I browse the designer sections in my favorite stores, I am drawn to interesting sleeve details, especially on jackets and coats. A jacket’s sleeve hem, in particular, shows the garment’s quality and the design’s level of detail. A plain, straight sleeve with a standard hem is the simplest and cheapest way to finish a sleeve, while a two-piece vented sleeve adds superior quality, functionality, and distinctive design interest to a jacket. Often, ready-to-wear sleeve vents are nonfunctional. It’s usually the most expensive ready-to-wear jackets that have a sleeve vent with functional buttons and buttonholes. Try a contrasting lining fabric to subtly draw attention to the vent, or use an attention-grabbing trim for a bolder effect. Add beautiful buttons and superbly finished buttonholes. It takes only a few pattern changes to add this sleeve vent to a favorite jacket pattern, but the enhancement instantly upgrades the garment from run-of-the-mill to designer quality.


Jacque Goldsmith teaches ready-to-wear techniques for home sewing.



Add a sophisticated vent detail to any jacket or coat sleeve for enhanced functionality and design interest. Pattern: Vogue 8960 (modified). Fabric: wool bouclÊ knit, author’s stash.

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Prepare the sleeve The measurements given assume a 5⁄8-inch-wide seam allowance; adjust the measurements accordingly if your pattern uses a different seam allowance. You’ll need lightweight fusible interfacing to support the sleeve hems; I like to use HTC Touch O’ Gold II, tricot, or Pellon’s Bi-Stretch Lite.

This process is designed for a two-piece sleeve. If your jacket pattern’s sleeve is drafted as one piece, convert it to a two-piece sleeve. (For help converting a one-piece sleeve pattern, follow the instructions in the article “Draft a two-piece jacket sleeve from a one-piece pattern” on

Add vent extensions to both sleeve pattern pieces. Make the vent 4 inches to 6 inches long (from the sleeve hemline) and 11⁄2 inches wide. Include a 11⁄2-inch-wide hem allowance on both sleeve patterns. Reduce the sleeve lining pattern’s hem allowance to 1 inch. Cut the sleeves from fashion fabric and lining fabric, and transfer the pattern markings.

Grainlin e





Interface the hems and vent extensions on the sleeves. Fuse a 2-inch-wide interfacing strip to the sleeve hems’ wrong sides, and a 4-inch-wide strip to the upper sleeve vent extension.



1 1⁄4 inches

Prepare the vent on the upper sleeve lining (overlap side). Measure 3 inches in from the vent extension’s vertical edge and 11⁄4 inches down from its horizontal edge. Trim this area parallel to the vent extension edge.


web extra For instructions on turning a one-piece sleeve into a two-piece sleeve, visit




Trim the lining.

Construct the vent The sleeve vent construction requires attention to detail and precise sewing. Complete the vent construction before sewing the front sleeve seam. The right sleeve is shown in these step-by-step photos; the left sleeve’s assembly is opposite what is shown.


Reinforce the vent. On the upper sleeve lining, staystitch the vent edge’s top corner at a scant 5⁄8 inch for about 1 inch on both sides of the corner.



Sew the back sleeve seam. On the sleeve and the lining, sew the upper sleeve and undersleeve back seams from the armscye edge to the vent’s top finished edge (5⁄8 inch below the cut edge).


Press and clip the seams. Press open the sleeve seam allowances. At the vent extension’s inner corner, clip the seam allowance to, but not through, the stitching line. Press the lining seam allowance toward the undersleeve. Clip the seam allowance at the vent corner in the same way.



Press under the hem allowances 11⁄2 inches on the fabric and 1 inch on the lining. Sew the undersleeve lining to the corresponding fabric piece at the hem allowance edge with a 1⁄2-inch-wide seam allowance. This creates a 1 ⁄2-inch-deep tuck in the lining.


Sew the undersleeve lining to the sleeve at the hem allowance edge.

Vent edge corner

Back seam






On the undersleeve, sew the vent underlap vertical seam with the lining tuck in place. Match the vent’s top edges on the fabric and the lining pieces, and fold up the vent hem allowance, right sides together. Sew the vent’s vertical seam with a 5⁄8-inch-wide seam allowance from the hemline fold to the top. Trim the seam allowance to 1⁄4 inch. Understitch the lining only. Turn the vent right side out at the hem.




Vent underlap vertical seam

Sew the vent underlap vertical seam. Hemline fold


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Secure the lining tuck at the undersleeve’s underarm seam allowance. Catch the hem allowance only. Set the stitch length to 2.5 mm and sew a line of stitches across the tuck, 1⁄4 inch from the raw edge, to secure it in place.

Miter the vent overlap’s corner. Press under the vent edge. Make a small clip in the hem allowance and vent edge where they meet (A). Open the hem allowance and the vent, then fold them right sides together and align the clips. Stitch from the clips to the hemline fold (B). Press open the seam allowance with a point presser. Trim the seam allowance to 1⁄4 inch and turn the vent and hem right side out.


7 Secure the lining tuck.

Clip through both allowances.


Underarm seam edge

Align the clips to miter the corner. B


With the sleeve wrong side out (looking at the lining), align the vent underlap atop the overlap. Tuck the upper sleeve and lining seam allowances, which are uppermost, into the opening at the vent’s top horizontal edge.


Tuck the fabric seam allowances into the opening. UPPER SLEEVE LINING SLEEVE (WS)

Vent overlap edge

Vent overlap

Fold down the lining to expose the vent’s top. Align the fabric and lining at the vent’s top. Stitch from the clipped corner to the back seam. Stop one stitch before the seam; do not stitch across the seam.



VENT Back seam



Vent underlap

Photos: (p. 69; p. 73, right) Jack Deutsch; all other photos, Mike Yamin. Illustrations: Rosann Berry. Stylist Jessica Saal. Hair and makeup: Nancy Cialdella. Styling credits: earrings—Kate Spade (Nordstrom Rack), dress—Maeve (

Sew the upper sleeve lining to the vertical vent overlap edge. Use a 5⁄8-inch-wide seam allowance and stitch from the lining’s hemline to the staystitching line at the vent’s top edge. Be sure to keep the lining hem allowance folded and 1 ⁄2 inch above the sleeve hemline. At the vent’s staystitched corner, clip the lining to, but not through, the stitching line.


FINISH THE SLEEVE Sew the upper sleeve lining hem allowance edge to the upper sleeve hem allowance edge with a 1⁄2-inch-wide seam allowance. Stitch as close as possible to the mitered corner. There is about a 1 ⁄2-inch space that’s unsewable; this doesn’t matter because the lining was stitched with the fold in place. To secure the upper sleeve lining’s 1 ⁄2-inch-deep tuck, sew a line of stitches at the undersleeve seam allowance, 1⁄4 inch from the raw edge; make the stitch length 2.5 mm.



Sew the upper sleeve lining to the upper sleeve at the hem, creating a 1⁄2-inch tuck.

Secure the lining tuck to the hem allowance.

Sew buttonholes on the vent overlap. Standard spacing for 1⁄2-inch buttons on a woman’s jacket is 11⁄4 inches above the hem, spaced 1⁄2 inch apart, and set 1 ⁄2 inch from the vent’s vertical edge. Alternatively, space them according to your design preference.


Buttonhole markings 1

⁄2 inch


Sew the vent buttonholes 1 ⁄2 inch apart.

With the sleeve right sides together, sew the remaining lining and sleeve seam in a continuous seam with the lining tucks in place. If you’re bagging the lining, leave an 8-inch-long to 10-inch-long opening in the left sleeve lining (to allow for turning the garment once the sleeve is attached). Press open the fashion fabric seam allowance, and press the lining toward the undersleeve above the hem.


Tack the undersleeve hem in place. Turn the sleeve right side out. Sew on the buttons, and set the sleeve into the jacket using your preferred method.


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A special detail, such as a functional sleeve vent, is the mark of quality and sewing skill.

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 /J A N UA RY 2 0 1 6


A wish list

from our editors and authors

f you could have anything that celebrates your sewing hobby—a notion, a special pattern, or a fancy new machine—what would it be? What would you give to a fellow sewer as a gift? To help you answer these questions, Threads asked its editors and contributors to share the


sewing gifts they would like to receive, from small and inexpensive to big-ticket, dream items. We present to you, dear readers, Threads’ annual gift guide: a collection of sewingrelated products to give as special presents for sewing friends, or to add to your own wish list.

Sewing Machine Travel Case I’ve been looking for a traveling case so I can take my sewing machine with me when I travel. I want a case that looks great, protects my machine, and includes supply and notion storage. The Quilted Sewing Machine Rolling Tote from Everything Mary Originals meets my criteria. It is a rigid-frame travel case covered in a pretty, quilted microfiber fabric. It has two outer velcro-flap storage pockets, a front zipper pocket, two clear zippered pockets inside the lid, and a telescoping handle that locks in place. The interior compartment measures 16 inches long by 14 inches tall with an 8-inch base. Everything Mary also sells coordinating organizers, so I could build a collection. —Sarah McFarland, editor; $99.99

The Pink Suit, a Novel I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Nicole Mary Kelby’s novel, The Pink Suit (Little, Brown and Company, 2014). It tells the story of Kate, a seamstress at New York boutique Chez Ninon, which made much of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s wardrobe for the president’s 1963 trip to Dallas. Alongside Kate’s personal story, the novel also gives an in-depth look at the world of fashion and sewing during the time period. What could be better?

web extra For more great sewing gift ideas, visit



—Dana Finkle, former assistant editor; $15.40

Hand-Sewing Leather Punch

Tailor’s Thimble Ring I love unique statement jewelry, especially rings, and the sterling silver tailor’s thimbles by Thimbles by TJ Lane are simply gorgeous. Silversmith Tommie Jane Lane makes them (along with other stunning sewing jewelry) in her Iowa studio using the lost-wax casting method. The tailor’s thimble bottom rim is flat to prevent chafing, and the body is deeply dimpled for control. The tailor’s thimble is available in three sizes. Also shown are quilting thimbles.

This rotary hole punch sold through Tandy Leather Factory makes holes in five different sizes. I use it for precutting sewing holes on difficult-tosew items. It’s made from stainless steel and punches holes in materials in a range of thicknesses. It works on leather, fabric, felt, plastic, etc., to add a hole just about anywhere you need one. —Anna Mazur, author; $39.99

—Evamarie Gomez, web producer; $100.00

Silk Thread Collection I have a decided weakness for silk fabric, and have recently experienced the delight of topstitching silk fabric with silk machine-sewing thread. And I want more. I would love to receive the entire 71-color collection of lustrous Tire no. 30 filament silk thread, which is perfect for topstitching that’s meant to be noticed. Each spool holds 55 yards of thread. —Stephani L. Miller, special projects editor; $510.75

Fashionable Weekly Planner Although cell phones make it easy to store important dates and appointments, I still can’t go anywhere without my hard-copy planner. This beautifully designed, pocket-size edition planner from Fashionary, which includes a fashion dictionary and sewing-related reference materials, would be the perfect item to have with me when I’m on the go. —Dana Finkle; $24.99

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Vintage-Style Needle Book I’d give my sewing friends a needle book. They’re a charming place to store your needles. These vintage cocktail-napkin needle books are beautifully embroidered and sport vintage buttons. The pages are made from a special wool that’s impregnated with lanolin, so needle rusting will never be an issue. Tiny handmade bullion roses hold everything in place. A silk-ribbon bookmark and a tassel are the finishing touches. —Susan Khalje, contributing editor; $40.00

Desktop Magnifier I’m dreaming of a good-quality, hands-free magnifier for close work, like Telesight Magnifiers’ BoaMagLighted Desk Magnifier. Its 20-inch-long flexible coil can wrap around a sewing machine or your neck, and it can prop itself up on flat surfaces. The 31⁄2-inch-diameter magnifier lens provides 21⁄2 times magnification and integrates a 5-times spot lens. Each end incorporates bright LED lights to illuminate work; the end opposite the magnifier can be used as a flashlight. It runs on batteries or an AC adapter cord. —Jeannine Clegg, senior copy/production editor; $39.95



Gridded Cutting Mat To go with my new rotary cutter (see page 77), I’ll need a good cutting mat. This 36-inch-by 24-inch gridded, self-healing cutting mat from Olfa can accommodate whole garment sections. It’s also double-sided, with the grid markings and cutting guidelines on one side, and a plain reverse for general cutting. —Evamarie Gomez; $69.00

Pattern Notcher I love gadgets that are really helpful, and this pattern notcher sold by Nancy’s Notions is such a cool invention. I always hate making notches in patterns because I’m afraid I’m going to clip too far, and for some reason my scissors don’t seem to be as sharp at the tip as they are in the middle, so it’s a struggle to make my notches the right length. A pattern notcher eliminates the guesswork and gets the job done beautifully. Although it’s not designed for notching fabric, I think it also would be useful clipping curves. The reviews are all good, too. —April Mohr, former administrative assistant; $29.95

Ergonomic Rotary Cutter I am determined to learn how to sew, and I want to make the process as smooth as possible. Starting out with easy-to-use tools and methods seems like a good idea. Sewers I know swear by rotary cutters as the ideal way to cut fabric; there’s no lifting of the fabric, as with scissors, and cut edges are smoother. Fiskars’ Titanium Soft Grip Loop Handle 45-mm rotary cutter is a useful size and has a cushioned handle for reduced hand fatigue. Plus, it can be used by lefties or righties equally well, because the retractable blade can be installed on either side of the cutter. —Evamarie Gomez; $24.99

Spacious Ironing Surface The Original Big Board is so versatile: You can use it for its intended purpose as a huge ironing board, or put a cutting board on top of it and use it as a cutting table, or use it as a general worksurface. It’s perfect for pressing quilt projects or anything large. The sturdy wood-frame board comes with a pad and cotton cover, and it fits on top of an ironing board. What I like the most is that you can hide it easily when it’s not in use. —April Mohr; $129.95

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Versatile Mechanics Stool

Iron-Cleaning Pen I love Joan Hawley products—they’re always super useful and innovative. The new Press Perfect Iron Shine Cleaning Pen, from Clover’s Joan Hawley line, is no exception. It’s designed to make it easier to clean off the build-up on your iron’s soleplate. The pen-style applicator’s scrubbing tip provides precise control of its water-soluble cleaning solution. You can spot-clean only the areas that need it, or clean the whole soleplate. The pen contains enough solution for eight cleaning sessions and will last for up to two years in storage, the maker says.

After watching Sarah Veblen scoot around the Threads video studio on her Craftsman Mechanics Seat, I realized this height-adjustable stool would be a useful addition to my sewing space. For fitting others, draping skirts on a dress form, marking hems, sitting at my sewing machine, and even digging through my various bins and boxes on low shelves, a rolling, rotating stool is just the ticket. (It wouldn’t be a bad perch when I play my ukulele, either.) I don’t mind the sleek look of the black seat, but it would be simple to create a custom cover that matches any décor. —Carol Fresia, technical editor; $34.99

Sarah Veblen Workshop I would really love to take one of Sarah Veblen’s three- or four-day workshops on patternmaking or fitting. I find that, as I have less time to sew, I am more interested in being sure the garments I do make fit me really well and are flattering, wearable styles. Sarah’s method of fitting is logical, thorough, and individualized. She considers the wearer’s personal style and level of comfort, and offers many solutions for fitting challenges. I’d like to develop confidence in fitting and designing my own clothes, so I end up with fewer of those garments that get shoved to the back of the closet. —Carol Fresia; $465.00–$665.00



Favorite Sewer’s Shears I can’t live without my Kai 61⁄2-inch scissors (product code N5165). They are ideal for trimming and grading seam allowances on wools and home décor or coat-weight fabrics. The blade is strong enough to cut through thicker fabrics easily and short enough to give precise control around curves. But if you are like me and have all the Kai scissors you need for the sewing room, try the kitchen shears (product code DH3005, $34.99); they cut through chicken as if it were silk charmeuse. —Jacque Goldsmith, author; $18.99

Photos: (p. 75, top left and right, bottom right; p. 76, top left and bottom left; p. 77, bottom; p. 78, bottom right; p. 79, top left and bottom) Mike Yamin; all other photos, courtesy of the manufacturer or publisher.

—Sarah McFarland; $16.95

Brilliant Measuring Tool

Professional-Finish Serger

I want—no, need—to add the Pattern Altering Stylus to my collection of rulers and templates. This little measuring tool is brilliantly simple. It’s a clear plastic octagon with laser-carved measurement markings at each of its eight sides. Just a turn of the stylus atop a pattern enables you to easily draft new pattern lines in the most common 1⁄8 inch increments used in sewing, from 1⁄8 inch to 1 inch. It comes in right- and left-handed versions, so it’s intuitive to use: Righties turn it to the right, and lefties turn it to the left. It also includes laser-cut perforations for marking dots, X’s, and grainlines..

When I started sewing as a little girl, a serger seemed like an expensive tool for professionals only. Now, a serger with precisely the stitches I’ll use most is affordable and easy to master. I like the feature package on Brother’s Designio DZ1234 Serger. It offers three- and four-thread overlock stitches, along with narrow hem, rolled hem, and ribbon lock stitches; comes with a blind-hem stitch foot, gathering foot, and piping foot; and utilizes differential feed to deliver better stitch quality on a variety of fabrics. Plus, it can sew up to 1,300 stitches per minute and includes a free arm so I can sew cuffs and sleeves easily.

—Stephani L. Miller; $19.99

—Sarah McFarland; $241.99

Knit Fabric Bundles I want to sew with more knit fabrics, and I want to try as many different varieties as possible. But quality knits are difficult to find locally. I love the concept of cut-to-order fabric company Girl Charlee’s KnitFix, a monthly fabric bundle. Each month’s KnitFix is an edited selection of six on-trend knits, all in 2-yard cuts. It’s a great way to experiment and get a feel for different knits without agonizing over the choices. KnitFix kits are announced on the second Tuesday of every month, and they come in a custom-designed, reusable tote bag. —Stephani L. Miller; $69.00 per month

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Join the Feast! Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking returns to PBS TV this fall. Watch as host Pete Evans travels to Nashville, Austin, Maui, Anchorage, and more enticing locations, creating pop-up feasts with local chefs and artisans. S SEA SON 2 1& able w no avail ! D on DV

For showtimes, recipes, and more, go to

If you like Fine Cooking magazine, you’ll love our TV show! Nominated for Emmy® and James Beard Awards Winner of The Taste Awards for Best New Series Winner of Silver and Bronze Telly Awards

Series funding provided by:

“Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking” is a production of WGBH Boston and distributed by American Public Television.

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Vicki Vasilopoulos Filmmaker finds she is cut from the same cloth as her tailor subjects recently sat down with ilmmaker Vicki Vasilopoulos, who produced and directed the 2013 documentary Men of the Cloth. he ilm chronicles the professional lives of several master tailors in Italy and the United States. We delved into Vicki’s transition from journalism to ilmmaking, what sparked her interest in craftsmanship, and the ilm’s appeal for niche audiences. She also shared how she identiies with the tailors, what it’s like to ind one’s true calling, and the appeal of creating something that endures. For more information about the ilm and to purchase a DVD, visit Here is a part of our conversation.


Top, left to right: Tailor apprentice Joe Genuardi, director Vicki Vasilopoulos, and master tailor Joe Centofanti during filming in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Above: A young Nino Corvato hones his tailoring skills in Sicily in preparation for his lifelong career in New York City. Left: Nino Corvato (center) and crew members during filming. continued



▸ ▸ ▸

Photos: courtesy of Vicki Vasilopoulos.

Kenneth D. King is a hreads contributing editor and an adjunct instructor of fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.


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Kenneth D. King: What was your profession before you became a ilmmaker?

also for Italian-Americans or people

Vicki Vasilopoulos: I was a fashion editor

KDK: I love how you talk about

at the men’s news magazine Daily News

what a gift it is, to ind your true calling. I look at these guys [the tailors], and they get to practice their craft.

who love Italian culture.

Record (now a part of Women’s Wear Daily). I styled and produced photo layouts, reviewed runway shows, and wrote

VV: But their craft was chosen

fashion feature stories.

for them by their parents out of

KDK: Why did you transition into a

economic necessity. So what are the

diferent career?

chances that decision, which was

VV: I’ve always been an avid movie fan

made for them, would become their

and had started taking filmmaking classes

calling, their vocation? That, I find

and going to seminars about 15 years

stunning; and that they’d stay with

ago while I was a men’s fashion editor.

it their entire lives. I have met a few

The disappearing craft of hand tailoring

tailors who got to retirement age,

is what inspired me to make a documen-

and they retired. These tailors are dif-

tary film. Filmmaking is a craft and a col-

ferent. Checchino Fonticoli, a master

laborative art form. It feels like a natural

tailor in Rome, Italy, worked past his

career transition for me. I’ve been able

o≤cial retirement age; Nino Corvato

to combine my writing and storytelling

continues to work into his seventies,

skills from my journalism background, as

and Joe Centofanti worked well into his eighties. I think Joe tried to retire

well as my production skills and experience working with photographers, on a

The documentary’s promotional poster features Nino Corvato.

the master tailors in my film, I feel like I’ve found my true calling in life.

but realized he couldn’t give it up. I feel a kinship with them; I feel I’m

film set to create beautiful images. Like

cut from the same cloth. These tailors all identify personally with what they make. It’s imbued with their own spirit. When I make a film, I feel

KDK: Was Men of the Cloth your irst ilm? VV: Yes, it’s my first film. It took 11 years to make. People ask me why it

it’s the same. I want to do something that stands the test of time.

took so long. It’s because you have to follow your characters and what happens in their lives.

VICKI’S FUTURE PROJECTS KDK: I read that your father was a craftsman. What did he do? VV: He was a furrier. We come from Kastoria in northwestern Greece, in the Macedonia region. That craft has been practiced there for centuries. I never realized how that might have influenced me until recently. I remember watching my dad working at a sewing machine, with very luxurious materials, but he was a humble craftsman. I love seeing people work with their hands; there’s something magical about it.

KDK: Do you interact with the sewing community? VV: I’ve screened the film for the American Sewing Guild and for the

• Vicki’s next film will document an organization called Little Dresses for Africa, a volunteer-run nonprofit based in Michigan that distributes home-sewn dresses (dubbed “Ambassadors of Hope”) to little girls in developing countries. • A project she’s still developing will be a portrait of a wellknown dandy. • She also is planning a more personal film about her family in Greece, the current political situation there, and how that ties back to the Greek Civil War.

Association of Sewing and Design Professionals; and I recently had a meeting with a woman from the Haute Couture Club of Chicago about screening it for that group. So far, everyone has been supportive and encouraging. I really appreciate that, because my film is not for every-

web extra

one. It’s for people who love sewing, people who love bespoke clothing

For more of Kenneth D. King’s interview with Vicki Vasilopoulos, visit

or menswear, or people from the fashion and design community. It’s 84


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What is the cause of puckered stitches? What is the best way to avoid a rippled seam? —Abbie Bennet, via email

Judith Neukam, Threads’ editor-at-large, replies: There are multiple causes for puckered stitches, many of them related to thread tension. Some or all of them may come into play in your sewing. When you try to eliminate puckers along a seam, you may need to experiment with one adjustment at a time to see which one, or which combination, gives you the best results. Thread is manufactured under tension and it is slightly stretched on a spool. Polyester thread stretches more than cotton. When wound onto a bobbin, the thread accrues additional tension. The sewing machine applies even more tension to the thread during stitching. After a seam is sewn, the thread relaxes, drawing up the fabric and creating puckers. When you press the seam, the iron’s heat can contract the thread further. In each of these scenarios, the thread ends up tight and incrementally too short for the distance


have a question? Send it to us and we’ll find an expert’s answer. Threads Q&A PO Box 5506 Newtown, CT 06470-5506 or via email: ThreadsQ&



it covers. To offset this effect, try reducing the tension on the upper thread, releasing it more easily into each stitch. If top tension adjustments are not enough, try changing the bobbin tension incrementally. Minute adjustments make a difference. If polyester thread

and wider. It allows the line of thread to extend when the seam is stretched lengthwise. An approach often recommended to cure ripples in fine, sheer, and tightly woven fabrics, especially synthetics, is taut sewing. Grip the fabric in front of and behind the needle

isn’t working for your project, try mercerized cotton thread, which doesn’t stretch. Besides tension, the combination of stitch choice and length, as well as fabric weight and weave, also contribute to puckering. A stitch that’s too short on a thick fabric compresses the fabric, and can produce dimples. A straight stitch may pucker some fabrics, such as stretch wovens or knits with spandex. Switching to a very narrow zigzag may solve the problem. The structure of a zigzag stitch means it can grow longer and narrower, or shorter

and tug lightly so that it lies smooth, and let the feed dogs advance it for a few inches. Stop with the needle down, release your hold, then begin again. Be careful not to stretch the fabric as you sew. Watch your speed when you’re sewing. Faster sewing may cause more puckers than sewing at a moderate speed. The feed dogs pull the fabric through quickly and create greater tension in the threads as the machine moves along. Finally, it is always helpful to test seams on fabric scraps and make adjustments before sewing any project.

Illustration: Rosann Berry and Abigail Lupoff.

Cures for puckered stitches


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Fashion by Correspondence








Ace Sewing Machine, Inc.

p. 87

Moveable Feast

p. 80

Association of Sewing & Design Professionals

Nature’s Fabrics

p. 88

p. 15 New Zealand Academy of Fashion

p. 88


p. 2 Oriental Silk Company

p. 37


p. 17 OttLite Technology

p. 11

Brother International Corp.

p. 13 Premier Prints, Inc.

p. 3

Budo Bear

p. 88 Reliable Corporation

p. 9

Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Workhops

p. 88

Royalwood, Ltd.

p. 87

Cruise Planners

p. 3

Santa Fe Fabrics

p. 88

Cutting Line Designs

p. 87

Schmetz Needles

p. 88

Do It Your Silk

p. 88

Seattle Fabrics

p. 37

Embroider This!

p. 15


p. 35

Emma One Sock

p. 9

Sewing & Stitchery Expo

p. 15

Eva Dress

p. 87

Sewing Parts

p. 35

Fabrics & Fabrics

p. 15


p. 88

Fabulous Fit Dress Forms

p. 15

Simplicity Patterns

p. 37



The Smuggler’s Daughter

p. 11

Sterling Name Tape Company

p. 87

Susan Khalje Couture

p. 11

Tandy Leather Factory

p. 3

Taunton Store

p. 83

Thai Silks

p. 9

Threads Magazine

p. 81

Threads Online Store

p. 85

Tom’s Sons International Pleating

p. 88

Woodstock Sewing Centre


p. 11

Fashion Patterns by Coni

p. 25

Fashion Sewing Supply

p. 3

Fine Fabric Stores

p. 25

Folkwear Patterns

p. 87

Horn of America

p. 91


p. 7

Juki America, Inc.

p. 35

Kai Scissors

p. 87

Linda Stewart Couture Designs


Linton Direct

p. 87

p. 88

w w w. t h r e a d s m a g a z i n e . c o m

p. 88

Your Personal Fit

p. 87

The Zipper Lady

p. 9

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 /J A N UA RY 2 0 1 6




Portrait of a seamstress was 8 years old and my sister was 10 when we began riding the subway from Spanish Harlem to Manhattan’s Fashion District every weekend to work with my mother. Raising us alone and living in Spanish Harlem, Mom worked relentlessly to be the best seamstress. In Puerto Rico, my mother had sewn for upscale clients, so she was confident about her creations when we moved to New York City in the late 1950s. When she began looking for work, she visited four or five factories that were affiliated with some of the best designers in the city. A couple of the factories were clean and organized, with superior sewing machines. Others looked like rundown prisons, with windows so dirty and dusty that you couldn’t see daylight. Fortunately, my mother found work in one of the better factories, at least in part because she knew how to operate many of the specialty sewing machines. She soon mastered a particular machine called a Merrow (an industrial overlocker), and from that point on, her work was always in demand.


Due to Mom’s long hours, my sister and I grew up very independent, and we were as motivated as our mother to work hard. By 6 on Saturday mornings, we were on the train heading to the factory. For me, it was magical—Mom’s special world where she could design and produce her inspired creations. We looked on as she worked in a fascinating state of both high energy and peace. For years, my sister and I spent our Saturdays sweeping the factory floors, cutting threads from ready-made garments, and counting dozens of fabric bundles. The boss treated us to hot dogs from the cart on the corner and gave each of us a small payment. When we were finished, we would watch my mother sew garments perfectly, without pins, on some of the most powerful sewing machines of the day. She just held the fabric together, matching tiny snips on the edges. After 35 years of hard work, mom retired. She sewed for family, friends, church plays, and more. One of her favorite projects was sewing outfits for the Alzheimer’s patients at the nearby nursing home. We would go from room to room, delivering the ruffled, lacy, and colorful outfits. Mom would zip them up and make sure that all the ladies looked beautiful.

When Mom developed Alzheimer’s, she went to stay at the same nursing home. As the disease progressed, she began to remove the bedsheets from the other patients’ beds and spread them out in two or three layers on large tables in the recreational room. She would spread and fold them and, with her index and middle fingers, pretend to cut the fabric. A pen became her marker and her thumbnails her iron. By this time, Mom no longer recognized us, but it was remarkable to watch her put bedsheets around other patients and pretend she was draping and pinning a garment on them. It seemed her brain still embraced her work as a seamstress. Mom is long passed now, but she inspired me to continue her nursing home projects, sewing beautiful, colorful garments for Alzheimer’s patients. I’ve also started new projects: sewing blankets for abandoned animals in shelters and summer dresses for little girls in Haiti. Every day, I thank my mom for leaving me with beloved memories of her work and a love and appreciation for sewing. Rosa Vazquez sews in Nalcrest, Florida.

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Illustration: Lisa Henderling.

For me, it was magical—Mom’s special world where she could design and produce her inspired creations.

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Up Close


ffluent ladies of the early 20th century enjoyed dressing up to display their social status. This tea dress, from the early 1910s, brings together an assortment of embellishments in a delicate way that was well-suited

to at-home entertainment. It combines tucks, multiple lace trims, braid, and embroidered fabric in a palette of ivory and pale sea green. The simple silhouette, enhanced with beautiful ornament, captures a sense of luxury, calm, and domestic harmony. See page 18 to learn how to achieve this look.

From the Collection at Western Costume Company Photographer: Jack Deutsch Text: Judith Neukam

Rotate the garment by moving your inger left/right. Using two ingers, pinch the garment to zoom in/out. You can also use the buttons provided.

Rotate the garment by moving your finger left/right. Using two fingers, pinch the garment to zoom in/out. You can also use the buttons provided.

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