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december / january 2003 number 104


features 32

A Crazy Workshop What happens when you put five women in a room for two days with all the fabric, beads, tassels, and trims they could want? Crazy creativity. BY BARBARA RANDLE


Best Bets in Fall/Winter Patterns Modern, feminine fashions feature clean lines and interesting details Online extra:


Behind the Seams: Producing a Pattern Review.


42 Crazy quilting with bright scraps like these sets the stage for the "more is better" school of embellishment­ see the results on p.


Making a Shearling Coat With electric hair clippers to trim away the fur, you can successfully sew shearling on any sturdy home sewing machine BY KATHRYN BR E N N E


Sleuthing the World of Ready-to-Wear Tips and techniques for fit, form, and fashion from an industry expert BY LOUISE CUT TING


Embroider to Suit For artful garment enhancement, arrange motifs in allover patterns-or group them to emphasize style lines BY KAYLA K E N N I N GTON

Threads Embroidery Collection: Sprigs of Greenery


Four Fancy Finishes for Pillow Corners Trims make the point on simple, knife-edge pillows BY LINDA L E E


Eyes on the Hemline Add diagonals and curves to draw attention to the lower edge of your garments Online extra: More on sewing scalloped edges. BY FRED BLOEBAUM

Piped bias binding makes a fast, all-in-one trim and facing. See p. 66.

Trims, tassels, bows, and knots add the finishing touches to plain decorative pillows. Turn to p. 56.


An All-in-One Finish Piped bias binding doubles as facing and trim Online extra: See Sally demonstrate this finishing technique on video. BY SALLY SILVERS


Light on the Sole Handmade slippers are the last word in coziness for toes BY SASKIA WASSING-SHE PHERD

Whimsical slippers could warm the toes of everyone on your gift list. Turn to p. 68 for the how-to know-how. Cover photos by Scott Phillips.

On the cover:

6 8

departments Contributors



Dressing furniture, more


Squeezing a jacket out of soap, binding edges, a tooshort thread, pivoting your grainline, maternity waistbands, pincushions, balancing uneven stripes


Questions Sequins and beads, invisible zippers, new life for a down jacket

20 24


Basics All about ease

Fitting Fitting bias patterns

Quick to Make When the gift is the gift wrap

Tips too little fabric, pins and


Garrett Wade

heirloom French scissors

couching, basics are valued, free-motion techniques,

Simplicity's Americana Series Model SE3,


praise for machine chart

Tools of the Trade


Delicious Details


Exploring Design


Cowl variations

The Denim Challenge

Advertiser Index/ Web Directory




Back Cover

"Fabric Forays Past..."

Senior Editor David Page Coffin sports the proof-home sewers can make terrific shearling garments. Turn to p. to learn the techniques.


A nineteenth-century crazy quilt

The InspiratTaunton ion for hands-onPress living'"

C ont r i b u t o r s Kayla Kennington


("Em broider to Suit"), winner

of Sernina's "Creme de la Creme" award at the Houston International Quilt Festival i n


Publisher Kathleen Davis

teaches workshops in creative clothing

construction and embellishment across the country.

Executive Editor Carol Spier

Her unique art-to-wear pieces have been featured in galleries for years, and she has issued a pattern

Art Director Karen Meyer

Senior Editor David Page Coffin

collection so home sewers can try her designs and

Associate Editors Carol J. Fresia, Jennifer Sauer

embellishment techn iques themselves.

Assistant Editor Judith Neukam

Barbara Ra ndle ("A Crazy Workshop"), of

Saskia Wassing-Shepherd ("Light on the Sole")

Birmingham, Ala., believes in breaking the rules when

was born and raised in the United Kingdom, and

it comes to sewing. After years of home-decor

studied machine embroidery at Glasgow School of Art.

sewing for herself, her

She and her husband

family, and her friends,

Doug now live in Toronto,

she found her true

Canada. Saskia has been

passion: embellished

making her own clothes


since age 11, but

accessories. With her

discovered machine

natural artistic flair and

embroidery in high school,

her gift for teaching,

where she also developed

she's won over dozens of

a passion for decorating

sewers in Birmingham

her environment from floor

and hopes to spread the

to ceiling. Since settling

word nationwide that crazy quilting is "the most fun

down, she's run Saskia Designs, a thriving source of

you can have with a sewing machine." Barbara's

handmade, one-of-a-kind textile furnishings, from

book, Crazy Ouilting with A rtistic A ttitude (Krause),

cushions and drapes to sofas, ottomans, and lately,

will be in bookstores next summer.

interior tent-rooms. Ruby, her daughter, likes them.

Copy/Production Editor Jennifer M. Themel Associate Art Director Linda Boston Imaging SpeCialist William M. Godfrey Editorial Assistam April Mohr Contributing Editors Susan B. Allen, Barbara Emodi, Linda Lee, Mary Ray Group Publisher Sarah Roman Advertising Sales Manager Angelyn Termini Account Managers Lori J. Galanis, Tracey Lenahan Advertising Secretary Marjorie Brown Threads: (lSSN: 0882-7370) is published bimonthly by The Taunton Press, Inc., Newtown, CT 06470-5506.

Sally S i lvers ("An AII-in­

Kathryn Brenne ("Making

Telephone (203) 426-8171. Periodicals postage paid at Newtown, CT 06470

One Finish") is a

a Shearling Coat") has

professor emerita who

been on a fashion-sewing

teaches classes in

mission since she was 7,

custom clothing with

when her mom taught her to

3048 and Eastern News

humor and style. One of

sew. She took advanced

Distributors, Inc., One Media Way, 12406

her specialties is finding

clothing construction

faster methods of

classes in high school, and

construction and finishing

was the first female to take

that also produce better

advantage of the school's

and at additional mailing offices. GST paid registration #123210981. U.S. distribution by Curtis Circulation Company, 730 River Road, New Milford, NJ 07646-

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results. Sally is on the board of the Professional

cooperative education opportunities to explore

two years, $96.95 for three years (payable

Association of Custom Clothiers, as well as vice­

Toronto's active garment industry. She graduated from

in U.S. funds). Single copy, $6.99 in the

president in charge of programs for the Wearable Art

the Fashion Design program at Ryerson University,

Connection of Southern California. Her goal is to help

and formed her own design and custom-sewing

her students feel good about what they accomplish

business. She offers intensive design and

while encouraging them to raise their standards.

construction workshops through The Academy of Fine

Inquire about workshops at

Sewing and Design in North Bay, Ontario.



U.S., and $8.99 in Canada. Postmaster: Send address changes to T hreads, The Taunton Press, Inc., 63 South Main St., P.O. Box 5506, Newtown, CT 06470-5506. Printed in the U.S.A.

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2003 7

Le t t e r s The InspirariTaunton on for hands-onPress living'·

We welcome your comments, criticisms, advice, and ideas. Letters may be ed ited


for brevity a n d cla rity. P lease write to: Threads Letters, 63 S. M a i n St.,


Founders. Paul and Jan Roman

P O Box 5506, Newtown , CT 06470-5506; or via e-ma i l: th@tau





Chief of Operations Finance Director

Dress i ng furniture

Publisher, Magazines

As always, when I received my latest issue of Threads, No. 103, I rushed to the table o[

surprise, once settled in [or serious reading,

through some old Threads

it was the article on slipcovers that turned

scribing at issue No. 54), and I saw a few

out to be inspirational.

ideas from previous articles. I purchased

Sarah Roman James Childs

some really fancy threads at the conference

iom that made the article understandable; or

and am anxious to create with them, but

the photograph of the tailored slipcover,

can't seem to get started. I even purchased

looking like none that I have ever owned.

all the feet that should be used for couching.

But the wear and tear of ten years of children

Could you do an article on couching? If

and cats suddenly seems all too apparent on

Creative Director

(l started sub­

Perhaps it was the use of dressmaking id­

Marketing Director

Parra Vaughn Carol Marotti

Controller Technology Services Director Promotion Director Fulfillment Director Associate Ad Sales Director

The editors reply: We explore some wild and

wonderful couching in this issue ("A Crazy

for the muslin, I can get a good start, al­

Workshop," pp. 32-35). It should get your

though I will be anxiously waiting the next

creative ideas flOwing. You could also check

installment in the series. Ordering the fi­

out Fine Embellishment Techniques by Jane

nal fabric is going to have to wait until I

Conlon (The Taunton Press).



can my armchair go to the "Inspired by

Praise for our mach i n e chart

Threads" fashion show?

The article "31 Basic Sewing Machines and Pam e l a S h erwood,

How to Choose One," (issue No. 1 0 1 ) 0[­

Palo Alto, Cal if.

fered j ust the information needed in the K­ State Research


Extension Office in Chero­

Couch i n g , please

kee County. I receive numerous phone calls

I absolutely love Threads magazine and read

asking about machines before women head

it from beginning to end-including all the

to dealerships to purchase one. Having the

advertisements. I've written you a few times

David Palmer, Jennifer Peters, Amy Reilly. Timothy Snyder, Marilyn Zelinski. Art: Paula Schlosser, Joanne Bisson, Nancy Boudreau, Wendi Mijal, Lynne Phillips, Carol Singer, Gyulay. Business Office: Holly Smith, Gayle Hammond. Legal: Carolyn Kovaleski. Magazine Print Production: Philip Van Kirk, Nicole Anastas. Distribution: Paul Seipold, Aaron Lund, Sergio Colon, Leanne Dion, Deborah Greene, Linnea Ingram, Jennifer Licursi, Frederick Monnes, Raymond Passaro, Alice Saxwn. Finance/Accounting: Finance: Kathy Worth, Andrea Henchcliffe, Susan Hochreirer, David Pond. Accounting: Patrick Lamontagne, John Vaccino, Irene Arfaras, Lydia Krikorian, Elaine Yamin, Carol Diehm, Margaret Bafundo, Dorothy Blasko, Susan Burke, James Post, Lorraine Parsons,

Fulfillment: Diane Goulan. Client Services: Jodi Klein,

gestion for an article. I just attended the

Threads abbreviations key

American Sewing Guild Conference in

center front To save space, center back we sometimes 5.a. seam allowance abbreviate right side these frequently wrong side used terms.


Editorial: Maria Taylor, Robyn Aitken, Helen Albert, Peter Chapman, Carolyn Mandarano, Jennifer Renjilian Morris,

Priscilla Wakeman.

and thought I'd write again and offer a sug­


THE TAUNTON STAFF Books: Marketing: Allison Hollett, Audrey Locorotondo.

Rosalind Wanke. Manufacturing: Thomas Greco, Michael

can read the yardage estimation article. But

thought that maybe you could do an article

Patricia W illiamson Jeff Dwight

Director, Suzanne Roman

niture. With such clear directions on fitting

one's imagination and j ust sewing, but

Steven Turk

Circttlation Director, Ned Bixler

Nan Id es, Phi l a d e lp h i a, Pa.

have started to plan my approach to the fur­

big thing now. I realize it's mainly using

Edward Kingston

President, Jan Roman

impossibly difficult, but article in hand, I

Philadelphia, and couching seems to be the

Wayne Reynolds


not, are there any books that give ideas?

Re-covering furniture has always seemed

Marc Vassallo Susan Edelman

Human Resources Director

Thank you from a Threads admirer.

my own furniture.

Timothy Rahr Jon Miller

Publisher, Books Editorial Director

on techniques or ideas for patterns. I looked

Thomas Luxeder

Publisher, Magazines

contents to see what tips for dressmaking and tailoring were in store for me. But to my

John Lively


Nancy Knorr, Donna Capalbo, Renee Pagelson. Customer

Service: Ellen Grassi, Bonnie Beardsley, Katherine Clarke, Alfred Dreher, Monica Duhancik, Summerlily Gajdosik, Margaret Hicock, Barbara Lowe, Eileen McNulty, Patricia Parks, Deana Parker, Patricia Pineau, Marylou Thompson. Data Entry: Melissa Dugan. Anne Champlin, Madelaine Frengs, Debra Sennefelder, Andrea Shorrock, Betry Stepney. Human Resources: Linda Ballerini, Christine Lincoln, Dawn Ussery.

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Le t t e r s (continued) der of sewing skills. Three cheers machine our mom gave us as children.

On t h e road

never gets caught up in being cutesy or Threads will have a booth at the shows

simply trendy.

so we rarely sewed. Our sewing training

listed here. If you attend, please stop by

Corde l l Affe l dt,

to say hello.

H a rrisburg, Pa.

Original Sewing &: Quilt Expo

But she never sewed much, that I recall, was a semester class in junior high. Now that I finally have managed to ra­ tionalize that the cost of a subscription

Free- motion tech n i ques

could pay for itself in ideas, I must say I


I found the article on Manuel

am delighted. Your magazine consistent­

(No. 103) interesting, partic­

ly gives basic information which my sis­ ter and I really need to do plain, everyday

Threads Design Challenge VII to

ularly his embroidery technique. Is there

be presented:

an article on free-motion machine em­

sewing for our families and friends.

November 14-16: Bloomington, MN

broidery in a past issue? If not, will there

Please continue to share basic techniques.

(Minneapolis area)

be one? Thanks for a great magazine.

Home economics in many schools has

Louise Edwards,

been eliminated. We need magazines

New S outh Wales, Aust r a l i a

like yours to provide the basic infor­

Creative Festival

mation to figure out a sewing problem

Denver Merchandise Mart Denver, CO

The editors reply: Threads has published

on our own or to learn a new technique.

5 4 1 -245-1296

several articles on free-motion embroidery­

Elizabeth Bailey Roberts,

too many to list here, so we invite you to

Wi nthrop, M a i n e

January 17-19

search our index on www.threadsmagaZine .com. Of course, Manuel's process is quite

H o w a bout p i n -friends?

survey on your Web site has made my job

different because his embroidery machine

I live in the remote west highlands of Scot­

easier-I just give the address for the printout.

gives a new meaning to freedom.

land, and the arrival of Threads provides a

up the good work. We have been loyal

Basics a re va l u ed

produced in the u.K. which can match

subscribers of Threads.

I j ust received my November issue of

Threads for its interest and stimulation. I

Threads. I have only been subscribing for a

got quite intoxicated with the sheer pletho­

Hope you have had lots of hits. Keep

M a rtha Fla n ag a n , Co l u mbus, Kan.

real lift to the spirits. There is nothing being

few months, having treated myself and my

ra of exciting articles and really useful in­

Reference doesn't date

sister to subscriptions as birthday presents

formation. In each edition there is always

Thank you so much for the helpful article

this summer. I'd like to respond to two re­

something I desperately want to try out and

"Inserting Shoulder Pads" in your Novem­

cently published letters asking why your

all the tips and advice make me feel I have

ber issue. I don't think it belongs in the Ba­

magazine covers areas not speCifically on

a whole army of pen-friends who are always

sics column, however. I have

sewing clothing or why your magazine has

willing to share experiences and offer help

never seen the topic treat­

so many basic articles-and the writers

and encouragement. How I wish I could


seemed to want more fancy clothing ideas

take advantage of the advertised courses



sewing books, in your magazine, or in group

and no branching out into quilts,

and seminars, not to mention the stores and

etc. My sister and I sew clothing

pattern companies! My thanks to all your

instruction. Once again,

for our children and ourselves,

you have created an ex­

lap quilts for the children's

cellent reference for con­

teachers and for babies, and cur­

Christine Dodds,

tains for our homes. We also

Ross-sh i re, Sco t l a n d

tinuing use. I find that my oid issues of Threads grow in value as I

sew costumes for school and church plays and

gain experience. Ideas that

tiny clothes for our

you present that are new to me

children's dolls and

the first time I read them become


valued help on my next step up the lad-




contributors-life is more fun for meeting you, albeit at a distance.


first with

2002 99

Threads Index The annual index for Threads (issue Nos. through will appear in Threads No.

2002 104) 105.

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december/january 2 0 0 3

1 1

TiPs S h a re a tip, a

Squeezing a jacket out of

useful trick, or

too l ittle fabric

a great sewing or

When I don't have enough fabric

embel l is h i n g

for a jacket, vest, or blouse, I elim­

resou rce. Send

inate some of the seam allowances

details, sketches,

by converting the seams into darts.

photos, or sam ples

The more seams that you convert

(if you l i ke) to:

(including princess seams), the

Threads T i ps,

more economic your fabric use­

PO Box 5506,

just pay attention to the grain. I al­

Newtown, CT

so convert button or snap closures


into zipper closures to conserve

or via e-mail:

fabric. This allows me to save 2-3


inches of fabric on each side. This

Be sure to i ncl ude

technique can be adapted for skirts

a phone n u m ber

and dresses too.

i n case we have a q u estion. We' l l

-Yelena Yantovskaya Barth, Centerv i l le, Va.

p a y f o r each item we p u b l is h .


r - /I1

/ \ \ \ \ \


- -... "-



I I I I I I I I \ I I \ I 1 \ I I II \\ I 1 I I \___ -l1 11_ .JI


1'!. in. saved


I I \ I I I I\ I 1 \ I I \ I I \ I I I I1_ .JII


Manual d ifferential feed helps b i n d edges

This is how to do it: W hen the

curves so much to go up over your

While a one-to-one ratio of binding

wrapped-edge curve is smaller than

ever-growing stomach it's impossi­

to a garment edge may work fine

the stitched-edge curve (inside

ble to simply turn under a casing.

on straight edges, some adjustment

curve), you should stretch the bind­

While bias tape is flexible enough

is required over curves to keep

ing along the stitched edge as

to make the curved casing, I found

the work smooth and flat. The dif­

you sew. Conversely, when the

that it was extremely irritating on

ference between the binding's

wrapped-edge curve is larger (out­

my increasingly sensitive skin by

wrapped edge and its sewn edge

side curve), ease the binding when

the last trimester.

determines whether you need to

you sew it on.

It took me two pregnancies to

ease or stretch the binding along

-Steph anie Corina God d ard,

the curve. Even on the narrowest

Easton, M d .

Stretch binding along inside

knit fabric instead of bias tape, the casing has enough stretch to flex

bindings there is enough difference to warrant this compensation.

discover that if! use strips of cotton

P i n -stick

around the curved waistband-and

Try using an empty lipstick con-

it's much softer and doesn't irri-

tainer as a pin and needle case.

tate my skin.

Remove every trace of lipstick, pack

-Sandra T h wai tes,

the tube base with cotton balls for

Oakv i l le , Ontario, C a n a d a

a cushion, and press pins and nee­ dles down into the tube. -An n a V i ctoria Reich, Al buquerque, N. M .

Pins and soap ti mes two

I read your hint about storing nee­ dles and pins in a bar of soap. I used cloth diapers for all my ba­

Ease binding along outside curves



Maternity waistbands

bies and started storing the pins

The patterns for maternity skirts

in a bar of soap, but found this to

and pants feature elastic waist­

be very messy and inconvenient.

bands and recommend using pack­

The soap broke up in a short time

aged bias tape to form the casing.

and left soap crumbs everywhere.

This is because the top of the front

I then put my sewing skills to

� e)

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(c o n t i n ued)

Pin pivot you r grai n l i ne

When th read is too short for

After 40 years of sewing I learned a

even one more stitch

simple way to quickly align the

We've all experienced the need to

grainline arrow on a pattern piece

bury or knot a thread tail that is

to the lengthwise grain of my fab­

shorter than a needle. One easy so­

ric. First, at one end of the grainline

lution is to position the tip of an

arrow, I stick a straight pin verti­

unthreaded needle where you want

cally into the pattern tissue and

the thread to disappear, and push

measure the distance to the sel­

it through the fabric, j ust up to the

vage. Then I hold the pin secure

eye. Then thread the too-short

to my cutting mat as I rotate my

thread through the eye and pull

pattern around the pin until the

the needle and thread tail all the

opposite end of the arrow is the

way through.

same distance from the selvage (see

needle (the kind with a spring­

drawing at left).

closing slot at the top of the eye)


Easy Threading

-Cat h e r i n e Bro m a n ,

makes my tip effortless-instead of

I n v e r n ess, F l a.

pushing the thread tip through the eye, you snap the side of the thread

Tiger Tape revisited

For a tiny ruler I can't lose, I put

through the slot. -E'A n n e Fry, Top e ka, Ka n.

a 'h-inch piece of Tiger Tape on my left thumbnail (I'm right-hand-

Balancing u n even stri pes

use and made a small decorative

ed). Then, when I'm hand-stitch­

To achieve a balanced appearance

pillow that I stuffed with dryer

ing or hand-embroidering, the way

when working with uneven stripes,

sheets. The sheets lubricated the

I hold my thumb allows me

cut pairs of pieces (two fronts and

pins, and the cushion never wore

to gauge stitches qUickly and ef­

two backs) with their hemlines in

out. Later, I sewed a loop on the pil­

fortlessly. Now my stitches have

opposite orientation on the fabric;

low so I could hang it on the wall­

even depth and width, and for me,

align key stripes in the same posi­

out of the way of baby's hands.

that's important.

tion on each, as shown below.

Even later, when my babies were

-Suzan n a San doval ,

-Gayla Gard n e r,

big, I moved it to my sewing room

Be l l evue, Wash.

Housto n , Tex.

where I still keep my needles and pins stored in it. -Jessica Ayers, Cassopol is, M ich.

Pitch i ng tomatoes

My tomato pincushion was thread­ bare, so when my mother gave me a new felted wool one I eagerly transferred all the pins. After the transfer, I discovered a buried nee­ dle so I decided to take the 20-year­ old pincushion apart and found 31 more needles inside! -Li n d a Boston , Woodbury, Con n.





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Artwork by Vicki Tracy

Q u e sti o n s Do you have a

Seq u i ns and beads, oh my

navigates nicely over the varying

touch because once inserted, there

q u estion of general

I need some help! I'm making a simple shell out oj a double georgette silk embellished with small sequins and tiny beads. I'd love some advice on the best way to sew this type ojJabric.

thicknesses. When sequins are

are no placket overlaps, top stitch­

sewn flat, it's best to remove all se­

ing, or zipper teeth visible-all

quins that fall along the seamline,

you see is the zipper pull. Howev­

i n terest about sew i n g , q u ilting, embellishi ng, or a g a rment-related craft? Send it to :

-Pau l i n e Schaffer,

Threads Questions,

C h icago,

PO Box 5506,

I I.

to avoid having half or partial se­

er, this zipper can be problematic

quins in the finished seam. To re­

in a side seam, but with a little

move individual sequins without

preparation, and careful handling

cutting the holding thread, just

of the fabric, you can ensure a

push each sequin away from the

pucker-free seam.

thread and cut through the center

BaSically, an invisible zipper


Connie Long replies: You'll be

of the sequin (see illustration at

needs a stable seam. The curved

or via e - m a i l

pleased to know that you can eas­

left top). Sew the seam, then fill in

side seam in pants or a skirt actu­

(th @tau nto n .com).

ily sew through sequins, but beads

any bare spots for a seamless look.

ally creates bias over the hip, so

Newtown, CT

For beaded fabrics, you need to

stabilizing the seam is critical.

I classify sequined fabrics into

remove beads along the seamlines

I recommend using a knit inter­

two categories, based on the way

so the presser foot can lie flat on

faCing, such as Fusi-Knit or SofKnit

the sequins are applied: 1 ) over­

the fabric. (Sew with a zipper foot

(www. h, in the zipper

lapped for a raised texture, or 2)

to minimize bead removal.) If the

area, to proVide soft stability but

sewn flat, either scattered about or

beads are clustered, first try to lay

still some stretch, so the side seam

densely positioned. When sequins

out the pattern so there are no

conforms to your hip. Cut two

are overlapped, you can stitch

beads (or as few as possible) on

strips of knit interfaCing

through the sequins with a stan­

the seamline. Then remove beads

wider than the seam allowance and

dard presser foot, but a walking

where necessary by breaking them

1 inch longer than the zipper tape,

foot is gentler on the fabric and

off the holding thread with small

then fuse in place. To prevent

pliers. To protect the thread, insert

stretching and puckering, avoid

a pin through the center of each

overhandling the fabric.

require a little more work.

bead (as shown at bottom left).


\{6 inch

Position and sew in the invisible

To press sequined fabric, lay the

zipper according to the directions

fabric sequin-side down, place

in the package, but use a regular or

plain paper over the fabric and iron

grooved foot instead of a zipper

on a low temperature, without

foot or invisible zipper foot (a reg­

steam. Or, use a clapper to flatten a

ular foot grips the fabric better,

seam. To press beaded fabric, lay a

which means you don't have to

towel over your ironing board and

push or tug the fabric with your

place the fabric bead-side down;

fingers) . Stitch slowly along the

iron on a low temperature.

teeth from the top to the bottom of

Tips for i nvisible z i ppers

per stop, stitch the other side of the

I love the look oj an invisible zipper, but whenever I insert one in the side seam oj a skirt, the side seam pulls out oj shape. Any tips ?

zipper, and then carefully close the

the zipper. Backstitch at the zip­

- N ancy H anson, via e - m ail

zipper (no tugging). Then align the seam allowances right sides together, and sew the rest of the seam using a zipper foot, starting just three stitches above the backstitch at the zipper stop. Gently press the seam open, and as a final



Lynne Giovannetti replies: An invis­

touch, finish the seam with a

ible zipper adds a professional

serged or rolled edge.

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Q u e s t i o n (" (C"ot;o",d) New l ife for a down jacket

shell of lightweight fabric. You may

My favorite down jacket is past its prime-and it's fraying and soiled. Can I replace or cover the shel l ?

need to rework the closure area; if

creating "cold spots." Down breaks

the j acket has snaps, it may be eas­

down with age, so you may need to

ier to replace them with a zipper.

keep the down from shifting and

add new down. Transferring down

-Jane Swans o n ,

Your third alternative is to trans­

Lucca, Italy

fer the down into a new shell made

about wildly can be tricky. Damp­

of down-proof fabric, which won't

en the old garment by running the

Karen Morris replies: You

allow feathers to escape . Nylon

jacket through your washing ma­

have a few options. First,

down-proof fabric is available from

chine; this helps the down clump

to give the j acket new

Seattle Fabrics, Inc. (www.seattle

together. Or freeze the dry garment

life, dye it a deeper color

fabrics. com) or Sundrop Outerwear

to prevent static, and to stiffen the

using a dye compatible

Textiles Inc. (www.sundroptextiles

down. Finally, don't pack the down

with the shell fabric.

. com). If you prefer cotton fabric,

too tightly, or you'll lose trapped

Bind frayed cuffs with

use a tight weave. To make sure a

air, which provides insulation.

a contrasting fabric, like

fabric is down-proof, sew a 6-inch­

Ultrasuede Light, and

square pillow, fill it wi th down,

place appliques over

Connie Long teaches in Rockville,

then machine-wash and -dry.

Md.; Lynne G i ovannetti owns Lynne

Studying the jacket will help you

worn or soiled spots.

into the new j acket without it flying

Rose Bridal


Clothing Design i n Elk

As a second option, you can cov­

reproduce its construction. Chan­

Grove, Calif.; Karen Morris designs

er the j a cket with an additional

nels are important because they

in the Boston area.



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St• yl ing tips

Ease is dependent on body

type. For a comfortable, Here Threads exp l a i n s essential


flattering fit, a fuller figure

unflattering wrinkles and limits

usually needs more ease

movement. The strain of a too-tight

than a thinner body.

tech n i q ues i n order


to m a ke your sewing

When you try on a garment and

portional to height. A taller

experience smooth­

study its effect in the mirror, I'm

Style and fu nction

figure can support more ease;

no matter what your

sure ease-the difference between

Design ease, on the other hand,

s k i l l level.

your actual body measurement and

is the amount of ease added to the

A l l ison Page

garment also lessens its durability.

a petite frame can be over­ whelmed by a loose-fitting, flowing garment.

the finished measurement of the

basic sloper (in addition to wearing

garment-may not be the first thing

ease) for a speCific style. The

that comes to mind. The amount of

amount of design ease is deter­

find comfortable can change

ease included in a garment, how­

mined by the desired fit or activity

with size, age, and lifestyle.

ever, directly affects its fit, appear­

the garment is intended for. A

Fashion and pattern sil­

ance, and comfort.

comfy pajama top, for example, has

houettes (and ease) also

Breat h i n g room

j acket, and a skinny exercise top

There are two types of ease-wear­

has even less ease than the jacket.

ing ease and design ease-which

Design ease also takes layering

work together in a well-fitting gar­

needs into consideration. A winter

ment. Wearing ease allows you to

coat intended to be worn over

change season to season.

Even the fit and style determined by ease. A skinny stretch T-shi rt, in fact, has a negative amount of ease to h u g a body's cu rves; a natural, classic fit has a m i n i mal amount of design ease; and plenty of ease creates a boxy, oversized look.



Be sure to account for inter­ facing, lining, and other in­ terior supports that infringe on a garment's ease.

breathe and move in your clothes,

heavy sweaters generally has more

ed in a thick cotton or wool. This

and sit comfortably in pants or a

ease than a spring trench coat, and

is one reason why it's important

skirt. This basic amount of ease,

similarly, a vest worn as a sleeveless

to follow the fabric recommenda­

typically 2 inches added to the bust,

top has less ease than one layered

tions on a pattern. A garment re­

waist, hip, and other key points

over shirts and turtlenecks.

(see drawings on p. 2 2), is built

of s i mple T-shirts is

Revisit your preferences often, as the amount of ease you

much more ease than a tailored


Garment ease is also pro­

quiring a stretch woven or a knit

Design ease is dependent, as well,

fabric usually has less ease built

into any basic sloper used by de­

on the type of fabric used. A jacket

into the pattern. In fact, a stretch­

signers and pattern companies.

made of fine silk has a very differ­

to-fit knit garment has "negative"

Wearing ease is critical. In fact,

ent fit than the same j acket (with

ease, meaning the finished gar­

just a smidgen too little causes

an identical amount of ease) creat-

ment is actually smaller than your

garment bust - your bust - ease



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B a s i ( S ("ctio"ed) need minimal alterations and give you a flattering, comfortable fit.

W H E R E T O M EA S U R E E A S E Ease is included throughout a pattern, but there are key points where the amount of ease directly affects fit. Determine and/or check ease at the following locations: Dress, j acket, or blouse


S k i rt

Pattern analysis

Determining how much ease a pat­ tern has is like playing detective, but it's worth the effort. First, com­ pare the pattern company's size chart to the finished garment mea­ surement chart. For example, if the pattern company's size 12 has a bust measurement of 3 4 inches, and the finished garment mea­ surement is 4 0 inches, there's 6 inches of ease in the pattern. The pattern description also often


clues you in to the amount of ease with the terms close-fitting, fitted , semi-fitted, loose-fitting, or very

actual body measurement, and

fitting garments you already own.

stretches to fit.

Measure the bust and hip of your

garment can range from 0 inches

favorite j acket, for example, and

(or less) for a close-fitting garment

Personal preferen ces

compare these measurements to

up to 12 inches (or more) for a very

Having a general awareness of de­

your own measurements. The dif­

loose-fitting garment (see ease al­

sign ease is an important first step

ference between the jacket and your

lowances chart, which is the stan­

in improving the way your sewn

body measurements is the amount

dard for the four big pattern com­

garments look, fit, and feel. Figur­

of ease included in the jacket.

panies-Vogue, Butterick, McCall's,

loose-fitting. The ease built into a

ing out your personal ease prefer­

Once you determine your ease

and Simplicity). Each independent

ences is the next step, and will save

preferences for a variety of gar­

pattern company has its own pa­

you hours struggling to make a pat­

ments, note that information on a

rameters, so for them, measure

tern fit the way you'd like it to.

card and compare it to ease

each pattern to determine specific

To figure out how much ease you

amounts in different patterns, so

amounts of ease.

prefer, turn to comfortable, well-

you can pick a pattern that will Putti ng it all together

With an understanding of how B u st area S i l h o uette

Dresses, blouses, skirts, tops, vests

Hip area



Lined or u n l ined

0-2% 3-4 3%-4 % 5%-6% 4Ye-5 4%-5% 6%-8 5Ye-8 5%-10 8Ye-12 8 12 10 j Chart courtesy of Vogue Patterns magazine on Close-fitt ing






Loose-fitt ing





not appl icable



Very loose-fitting


not appl icable







in. in.

Sh irts, pants, shorts, c u l ottes

0-1% 2-3 3Ye-4 4Ye-6 6


a garment, you'll become more aware of the amount of ease in any garment, and be able to quickly compare your own preferences to the ease in a pattern. In no time,



ease affects the final fit and look of

you'll become very discriminating

in. in.

in the patterns you use, and there­ fore able to quickly and eaSily per­ fect the fit of any garment.

in. Allison Page teaches tailoring, fitting,

and style classes in San Francisco.

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F itti n g Here's the pl ace to get some answers to your fitt i n g q u estions. If you have a better solution t h a n the one we've g iven here, please write and tell us. Send


its weight, so every fabric responds differently when cut on the bias. But in every case, it's essential to compensate for these shape-shift­

I 'm i n terested in trying a few of my favorite patterns in b ias-cut fabric. Do I need to alter them ? Should larger figures avoid b ias cuts 7

ing tendencies before cutting. The pattern and all significant details must be made both wider and short­

-Ruth Raymond, Darien, Conn.

your q u estions

er. The illustrations below compare patterns b efore and after being adjusted for cutting on the bias. Conventional wisdom recom­

( i n cl ude photos, if possi ble), comments, a n d solutions to: Threads Fitt i n g ,

PO Box 5506, Newtown,


The trick to fitting and styling bias fabrics is to use their flexibility for draping effects and not as a replacement for wearing ease, says fitting expert Karen Howland.

and if you stick to simple pattern

Bias-cut garments (in which the in­

Bias-cut fabric gets shorter if it's

predict and allow for a fabric's drape

mends draping any bias-cut gar­

shapes like skirts, shifts, pants, and

ment on a dress form or on the

T-shirts, there's no reason not to

wearer to customize the design to

convert already-fitted patterns from

the particular fabric's bias respon­

straight- to bias-cut.

siveness. However, it is possible to


tended center of gravity of each

stretched in width, and narrower if

with measurements. Here's how:

or via e- m a i l

piece is arranged to fall at 45 de­

it's stretched in length. Girth and

Straighten one end of the fabric and


grees across the fabric's lengthwise

movement stretch the width and

lay it out on a large flat surface. Es­

and crosswise grains) have won­

gravity stretches the length, so that

tablish a square section at the

derful drape and movement. The

openings such as armholes and

straightened end by folding the

fabric molds smoothly to your

necklines will lengthen with the

fabric diagonally so that the cut

curves. And when the garments are

pull of gravity. How much length­

edge aligns with one selvage edge,

well-fitting, they are flattering and

ening or shortening depends on the

creating a triangle. Mark the triangle

interesting to wear. Extra care in fit­

looseness of

ting the pattern will allow a bias­

your fabric's

cut garment to flatter larger sizes,

weave and



All pattern details and dimensions need to be made wider and shorter when bias-cut, based on the increased flexibility of bias fab­ ric. Darts can usually be converted to ease.


Ease Bias-cut




At one end of the fabric, diagonally fold each corner to the opposite selvage and mark the intersection with a pin; then measure the true-bias diagonal.

Straight­ cut

Shift front


Pants front


Hang the fabric from one corner overnight to stretch and compress bias directions, then remeasure the horizontal and vertical diagonals.



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december/january 2 0 0 3


F it ti n


point a t the selvage edge with a safe­

mathematically: If the pattern pro­

ment to get the same result when

ty pin, and repeat for the other sel­

vides a finished bust measurement

cut on the bias. Assuming two side

vage edge, as shown in the draw­

of 40 inches when cut on the

seams, both front and back pieces

ing on p. 24. Next, measure across

straight, I divide 40 by the width fac­

will grow in width by 5 % inches

the diagonal of this square, from

tor (here 3.58) and add the result

( 1 1 divided by 2). Finally, I also cut

one cut-edge corner to the oppo­

( 1 1 . 2 , or about 1 1 Y. inches after

the side seams an extra 2 or 3 inch­

site-side safety pin. For a 45-inch

rounding) to the original measure-

es wide, in addition to allowing for


fabric, the diagonal should measure

the calculated needed width, in case

approximately 63% inches; 6 3 . 64

it's needed in the fitting. Don't ne­

inches, to be exact. To see how much this diagonal­ the fabric's true bias-changes when subj ected to gravity by being hung, pin one corner to a wall or a hang­ er and let it hang overnight. Then arrange the fabric so it hangs smoothly, and measure the width and length diagonals. (Restraighten this fabric before cutting it out.) To use your results, first find the differences between each diagonal's hung measure and its original, flat

glect this precaution if possible.


Repeat this process on the length­


wise pattern dimensions by deter­ mining the length factor. Compare the lengthwise diagonal before and

Divide each pattern piece verti­ cally at intervals ( equal) to the width factor see text , and spread at each division by 1 inch.

after stretching, and divide the in­ creased diagonal by the difference. In this case, let's say the original 63% inches grew to 75 inches-a dif­ ference of 1 1 % inches ( 1 1.375). Di­ viding 75 by 1 1 .375 gives a length

Width factor




factor of 6.6, meaning for every 6.6in.

inch length, the pattern must shrink

length. Let's say the original width

by 1 inch. I make this change to the

diagonal reduced from 63% inches

overall pattern by marking off sec­

to 493A inches when hung, is a dif­

tions on the pattern equal to the

ference o f 1 3 � inches. Divide the

length factor, and making a �-inch

reduced diagonal (493A) by the dif­

tuck within each section, reducing

ference ( 1 3'4). The result is 3 . 5 8,

each section by 1 inch, as shown

called the width factor. What this

at left. Then, I check overall length

factor means is that for every 3 . 5 8

and all critical vertical details, such

inches across the width o f your pat­

as the armhole, neckline depth, and

tern, you need to add 1 inch of ex­

crotch depth, by dividing the length

tra width. I apply this factor as if I

by the factor and deducting the re­

were grading the pattern; I don't just add the difference at the sides, I distribute it across the whole pat­ tern so that all the details are in­ creased as well, as shown at right. After making this overall slash-and spread a djustment, I usually go back and calculate the needed

Repeat horizontally, using ) the ( length factor see text , and tuck out 1 inch at each division. Length factor


sult from the detail's original length. Using our 6.6 example factor, a 25inch skirt needs to be cut 2 1 . 2 inch­ es, and a lO-inch-long armhole needs to be reduced to 834 inches. After adjusting for the stretch and

---=:1 ::":::::� Tuck


shrinkage, I usually convert any b odice darts to ease, and move

changes by dimensions as well, to

pants darts to the nearest seam, de­

confirm that the changes have been

ciding whether to put the darts in

applied accurately to the overall

the center front, center back, or side

width, and to such critical hori­

seams, or a little of each, when I'm

zontal details as the neckline and

fitting the pattern on the figure.

shoulder-seam widths. Here's how I calculate the needed changes 26


Karen Howland fits in Chill icothe, III.

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"I'm alwqys combining different colors and textures andfabrics. " I love to m ix heavy textures with shiny things , o r dressy fabrics with o nes that are more casua l . For instan ce , I might try a silky top and add some organza to an edge and then put that over linen pants. I'm not afraid to combine things that seem ingly don't go together . "


� Bernina, I get perfect stitches o n Qr.ry fabric. "

" Some people can't sew on silk because they know their machine won't do i t . But my Bernina performs for me, n o matter what fabric I ' m working o n . I t ' l l g o from heavy wo ol

..-r I'--0 1"-ll--I"-'

to chiffon to five layers o f velvet without a h iccup . "

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I Nothing Sews like A Bemina. Nothing. ©2002


Bernina of America ' Visit for a dealer near . READER SERVICE NO. 201



A C r zy

Coordinating fabric colors is no laughing matter-or is it? In the middle photo a bove, the

author and Becky Jones experiment with some outrageous color combinations for future handbags, while Joan Brown, at left, rotary-cuts fabric for kits. At right, Mary Ray (left), and Chris Timmons work on their own fabric choices, selecting from the dozens of options in the bins along the wall. Barbara demonstrates sewi ng techniques in the top photo.



Wo rks ho p

What happens w h e n you p u t five wom e n i n a room fo r two d ays with al l t h e fabric, beads, tassels, a n d trims t h ey co u l d want? Crazy c reativity.

by Barbara Rand l e

f you think crazy quilting is

accessories, take a peek into my

outdated, take a look at the

studio. You'll see from the photos of

handbags at the right and

our workshop how easy it is to

think again. A couple of years

catch the crazy-quilting bug.

ago, I fell in love with embell­ ished crazy quilting and, after

Fabric: bold

much experimentation, I have

and beautiful

developed some design ideas and

When you're choosing fab­

machine-sewing techniques for

rics, don't stop at two co­

bringing this Victorian quilting

ordinating colors when

style into the 2 1 st century. And

you can add three or

now that I've been teaching crazy

four more to brighten

quilting workshops almost weekly,

the mix. For an 8-inch

I've learned that this process is easy

by lO-inch purse, aim

for beginners and a great design

for about 1 5 different

opportunity for expert sewers. Last spring, I invited Threads for­

fabrics; you might be sur­ prised by how the colors in­

mer chief editor Chris Timmons,

teract, but you won't be sorry. Black

contributing editor Mary Ray, and

and white patterns (stripes, dots,

associate editor Carol Fresia to join

checks) will help even the oddest

me and some of my sewing friends

combinations coalesce beautifully.

in a two-day class. We all had a

Vary the textures of the fabrics you

great time getting to know each

use-from matte to shiny to napped

other, exchanging ideas, and mak­

to positively hairy-and be sure to

ing some of the most eye-catching

use fabulous fabrics, such as bro­

purses you'll ever see. Although the handbags we made

cade, dupioni, j acquard, and eye­ lash: they make all the difference.

Exuberant crazy pieced

Surface em bel lishment:

of Randle workshop fun:

in our workshop have an out-of­ control look, there's actually a

bags are just one example

method behind the crazy-quilting

more is better

Each bag reflects the

madness. To learn about some of

The first thing I do is piece the var­

sensi bil ities of its maker but

my embellishing techniques for

ious sections onto a foundation

acknowledges that signature

crazy quilted home and personal

fabric. This gives me the basic

"Barbara Randle" look.

Crazy foundation piecing, bobbin work, and couching are the basic steps to making and embellishing a

Randle-inspired project. From left above: Chris stitches patches to a muslin foundation; a finished panel awaits bobbin work, which Mary learns from Barbara; and as a final embellishment, novelty yarns are couched to the patchwork during the "driving" process.

From patchwork to purse. Assembling the embellished sections into a handbag involves piping

the edges (above far left), "bagging" a colorful lining and turning the handbag right side out (above middle), topstitch ing the upper edges with monofilament thread, and giving the finished bag its final shape with a good, hard steam press (a bove rig ht). And of course, there are those last-minute beads, buttons, and bows to select (right).



canvas on which I unleash an

chor the end of the yarn where you

arsenal of embellishment tech­

want to begin, which can be at any

niques and materials.

point on the edge of the pieced fab­

To start, I use bobbin work to

ric. With the needle down, lift the

mimic the hand embroidery that's

presser foot (I use a general-pur­

found on vintage, traditional crazy

pose zigzag foot with a side or cen­

quilts, using my sewing


a Bernina Artista l80E that has lots of decorative stitch­ es appropriate for crazy


ment. I wind deco-

"If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing."

rative threads, including rayons and

ter opening), slide the yarn through the opening and pull it forward, in front of the needIe, then release the foot (see photo at left) . Holding

the yarn with one hand, and steer­

metallics, onto bobbins, and use

ing the fabric with the other hand,

monofilament for the upper thread.

"drive" the yarn in loops and swirls

With the right side of the pieced

over the fabric, stopping at an edge.

fabric down and the machine set for a decorative stitch, I sew along

F i n is h i n g touches:

the piecing seamlines (apparent on

every square i nch cou n ts

the foundation), so that the bobbin

By now, my pieced fabric sections

thread is worked onto the right

are rich with color, pattern, and

side of the project; for more infor­

texture-but I don't stop here. My

mation on this technique, see "Bob-

next step is to create a worthy set­

bin Work," Threads,

ting for them. For handbag gus­

No. 97, p p . 64-68).

sets, I choose fabrics that pick up

I pass the bobbin

colors or patterns from the pieced

thread ends to the

panels, and I almost always use my

wrong side with a

signature striped piping to define



and tie them off.

edges. Quilting cottons in bold, bright prints are perfect for linings

To break up the

and interior pockets. And every

geometric look of

handbag that leaves my studio has

the pieced and ma­

an embroidered label inside.


After the bag is assembled, I add

fabric, I next turn

beads, buttons, tassels, trims, or



any other extra embellishment that

right side up and

captures my fancy. My perspective

embellish it with

on embellishing is that, if you think

a series of mean­

there's too much going on, you

(l call it

should probably add something else. And don't talk yourself into

dering curves by couching What good is a g reat

"driving") novelty yarns onto the

handbag without a great pair of shoes? Barbara and

surface. Chenilles, tufted or fluffy

the idea that a crazy quilted hand­

her crazy-quilting coterie favor inexpensive slip-ons

yarns, metallics, boucles, silk rib­

bag won't go with anything you

embellished with beads and seq uins for wearing around

bons, and multicolor twists look

own. On the contrary, it will go

the studio (and out, too). Chris, Carol, and Mary were

great stitched over the patchwork.

with everything-trust me!

delig hted to adapt to the local style.

Monofilament upper thread, with regular polyester thread in the bob­ bin, makes the couching strong and invisible. Simply set your ma­ chine for a zigzag stitch, and an-

Barbara Randle, Bernina's Artist oj the Year, sews, deSigns, and teaches in Birmingham, Ala. Visit her studio at

december/january 2 0 0 3




Fal l/Wi nter Patterns

M o d e rn , fe m i n i n e fash i o n s feat u re c l ea n l i nes and i nte rest i n g detai ls by

Patri c i a


t first glance, you may think this season's fashions are simply

son, or mixed with purple for a sophisti­

classics, but a closer look re­

cated look. Camel, so popular last fall, is

veals pretty, wearable garments,

toastier this year, a yummy caramel with

a sensible body consciousness,

nutmeg and cinnamon variations. Neu­

and a touch of glamour, along

trals include khaki, cream, gray, and olive.

with luscious colors and richly textured

Winter white is also a must, but a few key

fabrics (see "Trends" on the facing page). The proportion this time is slim tops

pieces are more practical than the head-to­ toe ensembles on the runways.

over slim bottoms, but slouchy over slim

Fabrics really tell the tale this year. Fake

works too. Plain fronts still characterize

fur pops up in very simple vests, or in col­

pants, but interesting seaming and hem

lars and cuffs. Sheer prints mix with

details are fresh-on pants and skirts. Look

tweeds, pinstripes, and herringbones (the

for pencil and flared skirts worn just below

new eclecticism), and corduroy enjoys a

the knee; minis look dated unless worn

comfy return. Velvet, satin, and charmeuse

with a flat, high boot. Skirts pair up with

make their way into casualwear, as well

short jackets, or long, fitted jackets. Lace or

as holiday duds. Denim pairs with all of

ruffled blouses, and soft, V-neck tops keep

the above and is a great canvas for hem-to­

classic suits feminine, not preppy. Dresses

knee embroidery.

are slinky or fit-and-flare, which is flatter­ ing for all figures. McCall's 3749 Neue Mode J22838

espresso and mocha browns of the sea­

Color-wise, burgundy and claret red are the places to start, paired with the warm

Along with the best of the new patterns, I've included a few must-have older patterns that not only fit and flatter, but fit this fashion season.

Patricia Moyes would like to thank the following testers: Elisabeth Gillem, Portland, Ore. ; Kristin jones, Kathy judd, Barbara Kelly, Ann Nutting, Allison Page, San Francisco, Calif.; Anne Kendall, Seekonk, Mass. ; Ronnie Kornfeld, West Palm, Fla.; Susi Lilly-Blean, Palo Alto, Calif. ; johanna Mramor, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada; Carol Oliphant, Silverton, Ore. ; jennefer Penfold, Lyn­ nwood, Wash.; Mary Ann Shannon, Columbiaville, Pa. ; jill Todd, Longview, Wash.




Winter white, khaki, cream,

• • • •• • ••Fabrics •• • •• • Key looks •• • • •• • • and sand

Wine red, amber, deep purple to lavender; mauve

and clear pink Blue is on the rise-navy

and denim blue especially Olive and green neutrals Brown, black, and charcoal

Caramel; metallic,

especially bronze

Luxurious, textured fabrics

Cashmere, corduroy Fake fur, leather, suede

Velvet and panne Silk charmeuse and

crisp satins Brocades and matelasse Rich wool suitings, pinstripes, plaids, tweeds; herringbones

Sheer prints and solids; paisley

Ladylike, modern dressing

Pants: slim, flat-front,

straight-legged, or flared Pencil or A-line skirts; uneven

hems or hemline details Pea coats; standard-length

jackets with one or

two buttons Bomber and jean jackets

Fit-and-flare and sheath

d resses; slinky gowns Jean Harlow



Chunky, slouchy, patterned sweaters

Classic, soft blouses with ruffles, bell sleeves, or high collars

•Details •• ••

Sequins, ruching, corset

deta iling; embroidery and beading

Zippers and straps Long, skinny scarves

Belts worn low on the hips Boots: high or mid-heels,

slouchy, or lace-up; T-strap shoes

decembe r/i a n u ary 2 0 0 3




Vogue 2678 Clothing Designs by La Fred, Daphne Pants

Butterick 3637 (www ,butterick,com) offers double­ breasted styling i n a well­ designed jacket (25 in, long/ size 1 0). Front and back princess seaming, and shaped side and CB seams provide places to personalize the fit. Our tester l i ked the large, curved notched collar combined with the shaped, add-on cuff, which she felt added a vintage look, For a pea coat style, she suggests elim inating the cuff detail and adding a welt (and pocket) to the front pri ncess seams, The knee-length, A-line skirt (25 in, long and 49 in, at hem/size 1 0) has front and back darts and a contour waist. (Sized 8-24,

(www ,voguepatterns,com) offers slim over slim proportion, Accord ing to our tester, the jacket fits more l ike a fitted coat. The notched-collar jacket has a two-piece sleeve and trendy back vent, as well as a CB seam, side panels that end in princess seams on the front and back, and front bust darts for adjustment. The pattern includes two jacket front pieces : one for two buttons (the new look); one for three, Our tester rates the pant "cu rrent but not over the top;' with its 2'tiJ-in,-wide, just­ below-the-waist contour waistband; it's fitted to the knee before flaring to 20\£ in, at the hem, (Sized 6-22, Vogue N Y/ N Y 2678

busts 30'/,-44 in.)


is a d ramatic, elegant pantsuit for those who love the chal lenge of an Issey M iyake garment; fabric choice determines whether the jacket is dressy or funky. Few seams and many folds provide disti nctive jacket style (26 in, long and 44 in, at hem/ size 1 0) ; the princess-seamed lining is integral to the shape, Our tester loved the origami­ l ike construction elements, but notes that altering the jacket affects the design l ines, The wide plai n-front pant (20 in, at hem) balances the wide collar, (Sized 6-22, busts 30'/,-44 in.)





busts 3 1 '/' -46 in.)

showcases what we liked most about American designer Bill Blass, who passed away last s ummer: wearable garments with ti meless style, interest­ ing details, and g reat fit. The fitted jacket has pri ncess­ seamed side panels, bust darts, and shaped welt pockets; the two-piece sleeve is set-in on the front and raglan on the back, Both the skirt and pant have shaped bands at the hem, The knee-length skirt (42 in, at hem and 21 % in, long/size 1 0) has a contour waist, and the no-side-seam pant ( 1 9 in, at hem/s ize 1 0) has a contour waistband and fly front. For advanced sewers only, (Sized 6-22, busts Vogue 2602

Vogue 2687

emi' "


30'/,-44 in, and hips 32'/,-46 in.)


Christine Jonson, Swing

(www,cj patterns ,com) is easy to sew and easy to wear. This oversized ( 1 6 i n , of ease at bust) long shirt (29'4 in.lsize S) has d rop-shoulders, a si m ple collar, and a shaped side seam, Our tester plans to use her sh i rt as a jacket to wear over yoga clothes, but the shirt can be created i n many different fabrics, from silk pri nts to polar fleece, Instructions are clear and helpful. (Sized XS-XL, S h i rt 505

busts 32'/' -48 in.)


Purrfection Artistic Wea r­ ables, 1 032 Baltimore

( is a knee-length (40 in.) swing coat with g reat shape-big enough to layer over a jacket; our tester added 1 2 in. for a better winter length (making it 88 in. around at hem). Details include princess seams, deep shawl collar, and i n-seam pockets with welts. Our tester added faux fur to the cuffs and collar of her wool crepe coat; she may try a rainwear fabric too. This coat is easy to construct, but if you adjust for a long or short torso, check the pocket/welt placement. (Sized XS-5XL,


McCall's 3749 (www.mccall .com) is a zip-up casual jacket (24 in. long/size 1 0) with three collar variations (convertible, knit, and stand­ up), that's straight through the torso, and has side seam pockets (one version also has a patch breast pocket). The saddle shoulder sleeve is as easy to construct as princess seams, and provides a nice fit in the upper chest/back. Short or curvy figures will want to shorten the jacket to high-hip length. (Sized AA-EE,


busts 30'/,-42 in.)

busts 30-

62 in. and hips 32-64 in.)

by Sandra Betzina includes a short jacket (2 1 % in.lsize D) and long coat (5 1 % in.lsize D), both with a classic yoke, front panels, shaped pockets and flaps, two-piece sleeves with vents, and convertible collar. Fitting tips are included in the instructions, and the mu ltiple seams are g reat for fitting. For a Prada look, straighten the back yoke, and eliminate much of the detail, l ike pockets and belt carriers. O u r tester recommends also using a m id-weight cotton for a soft drape. (Sized A-J, busts Vogue 76 1 0

The Cutting Line Designs, 60565 By Popular Demand

( is a perfect match for skirts this season, and got high marks from our mom-daughter test team as a pattern for less­ experienced sewers. This loose-fitting jacket ends at high hip, has a two-piece sleeve, shirt collar, yoke with forward shoulder seams, and patch pockets. Our testers told us the fun pattern went together quickly, even though they l ined it. (Sized XS-XL, busts 30-48 in.)


32-55 in.)



The Classics by Cecelia Podolak, 1 04 Fearless

(604-4696953), a long (29% in.lsize M), loose-fitting, d ropped shouldered jacket, offers a roll or mandarin collar (our tester increased the height of the collar), and a partial l ining o r unl ined finish. Other details include a two-piece sleeve with fold-back cuffs and patch pockets with flaps. Our tester raved about the easy instructions for altering fit (including cup size adjustment), as well as jacket-specific techn iques that made sewing a snap. Casual Jacket

(Sized XS-XXL, 33'h-4 7'h in.)


Vogue 761 0


december/january 2 0 0 3


PANTS/SKI RTS The Sewing Workshop Collection, Lotus Skirt

Neue Mode 22894 (www is a plain-front, no-side-seam pant (4 1 in. long/size 1 0) that falls straight to the 20-in.-wide hem-perfect with a poi nty­ toe shoe. With one dart at the front, back, and side, and a waist facing, o ur tester says this pant can be sewn "in an evening, or if you line it, a Sunday afternoon." For a pair in velvet, sew the C B z ip p e r i n b y hand, and sub­ stitute Petersham ribbon for the facing. (Sized 34-46,

hips 34'!.-44 in,)

( is a style that has stood the test of time. The d raped left front on this long skirt provides the asymmetrical hem seen on the runways; the skirt also has a V-shaped yoke and side seam zipper. Because of its asymmetrical styling, the pattern is a challenge to fit and sew in the yoke area, and may be best for a taller figu re. It's easy to change the length (33 in.), so shorten this skirt to above the ankle, and wear it with a heeled boot. (Sized 8-22,


hips 35-47'h in,)


Textile Studio Patterns, 1 1 07 Manhattan Skirt

(5 1 0-849-34 1 0) made our tester look 1 0 pounds lighter! That makes this 32-in.-long pencil skirt (4 1 in. at hem) a "m ust sew." The skirt, wh ich also comes in a short version, is faced at the waistl i ne, has front and back darts, a CB zipper, and a back slit; the close fit makes the recommended stretch fabric absolutely necessary. The pattern is easy to make, with thorough instructions, although our tester would tack the facings at the front darts rather than at the C F seam. (Sized XXS-XXL,


hips 43-46 in,)

rWn\ uil the

is modern skirt: A-l ine with m i n i mal detai ls. Seams, rather than darts, provide shape. Vers ions A and B fal l below-the-knee (24 in.) and are faced at the waistline; Version C, the m i n iski rt, has a traditional waistband. All versions have CB zippers. The seaming invites fash ionable details: p i ping along the side-panel seams, or cord u roy with the nap inverted on the side panel. Our tester suggests cutting 1 -in. seam allowances to allow for fit adj ustment at the side-panel seams. (Sized Neue Mode J 2 2838

Burda 8806 Textile Studio Patterns, 1 1 07 M a nhattan Skirt

34-4 6,




hips 34%-44 in,)

Vog ue 7608, Today's Fit by

is a g reat five-pocket jean pattern with a slightly d ropped waist, and a faced back yoke that narrows to a waistband-look i n the front. The pant is either boot-cut or straight­ cut ( 1 8 in. at hem/size D). Our tester l i ked the fit, eng i neering, and instructions, and thinks a novice could make these jeans. She remarked that Lycra in her test garment made the jeans feel "as comfortable as sweats while looking as sharp as jeans." (Sized A-J, Sandra Betzina

hips 34'h-57in,)



Cloth ing Designs by La Fred, Daphne Pants

( is an excel lent, basic pant pattern to revisit this season, with narrow-b ut-not-too-s ki n ny legs ( 1 6% in. at hem/size 24). This plain-front pant sports front and back darts, and CB zipper; elastic is used as the waistband stay. O u r tester made only m i nor fit adjustments to t h e pattern, tested the pant i n scrap l inen, t h en made two more pair before sen di ng in her evaluation. Instructions are clear and easy to follow, and include not-often-found finishing details. (Sized 4-26,


hips 32'/' -50 in,)


is an easy blouse that m i m ics couture. Versions A and B have ruffled front and sleeve edges (note: WS of fabric will be visible in ruffle), front and back darts, and for Version A, a %-Iength, set-in sleeve. O u r tester l i ked the m i n imally sized ruffle and the fact that the blouse is fastened with hooks and eyes, which are easier than button holes to apply to frag ile fabric. (Sized 1 0-20, Burda 8806

Loes H i nse Design, 5303

(www.loes is a V-neck dress with long or elbow­ length sleeves that can be dressed up or down depend­ ing on the fabric. The short version (4 1 in. long/size S) is especially qu ick to make; the long version (50% in.) has a front yoke and gathers, C F seam and slit, and belt. O u r tester added Seams G reat (sheer nylon binding) to stabilize the neck and shoulder edges, and serged her garment in two hours. H i p ease and bust ease are marked on the envelope-a helpful detail. (Sized XXSNew York Dress




busts 33-4 1 in.)



Sew Patterns,

Layers (www is designed for people with i magi nation. This ensemble of easy-to-construct tops includes a vest, tun ic, and jacket with two sleeve lengths, so layering long over long, and short over long is more than a possibil ity. The tun ic, wh ich was almost knee-length on our five-foot­ three tester, is our choice for a long, fake fur vest. (Sized 336 Layers



busts 30-48 in.

and hips 32-50 in.)

busts 33-47 in. and

hips 34-48 in.)

is a semi-fitted, pull-on blouse, elegant or, if you prefer, h ippy chic. Featuring CF seam and three neckline variations, the blouse has raglan sleeves that gather into cuffs. As in many B u rda patterns, the larger size rang e includes a bust dart. Our tester slJggests leaving off the cuff, and even bel l ing the sleeve slightly for an u pdated look. Also wear the blouse u ntucked with a h i p belt to add the illusion of a waist. (Sized 1 2 -22, busts B u rda 8738


(www.burda is a very flattering fit-and-flare dress. The bodice and hem dip i n back, and shoulder and curved bust darts allow for easy personalization. The pattern includes a long sleeve, mid-calf in. around at hem version), as well as a sleeveless, j ust­ below-the-knee (68 in. at hem) version. Our tester made her d ress in a size 22, and said it fit almost perfectly right out of the envelope. Burda 8707


(Sized 1 2-22,


busts 34%-

34%-43'/, in.)


is a Vintage Vogue option for party d ressing. The bodice is fitted in the torso, and has lots of ease in the bust; the d ress straps are wide enough to hide regular bra straps. The skirt is 1 40 in. around at hem (size 1 0), and falls 42 in. long in front, 46 in. in back. Especially elegant in crepe­ back satin, the d ress is best on a tall figure. Vintage details are for more advanced sewers on ly. (Sized 6-22, Vogue 2707

busts 30'/,-44 in.)


43'1, in. and hips 37-45% in.)

de cember/jan uary 2 0 0 3


Affordable luxury is possible. This shearling jacket with

long-haired Tuscan lamb collar and cuffs costs little to make compared to a similar off-the-rack garment. The author added seams at the waist and a



sleeves of a discontinued Vogue pattern (2462), and left all the edges raw.


Shearling Coat

Wit h e l ectric h a i r c l i p pe rs to t r i m away t h e fu r, you can s u ccessfu l ly sew s hearl i n g on any stu rdy h o m e sewi n g m ach i n e

by Kathryn Brenne erhaps you've seen them

garments shown in this article at-

in catalogs and expensive

test, shearling can certainly be sewn

department stores, and

on a good, sturdy home machine,

shuddered over the prices

like the Bernina Artista that used.

as you imagined the snug足

And the most exotic equipment

If so, you prob足

you'll need is inexpensive electric

ably also assumed that shearling

hair clippers-such as those you'd

coats couldn't be sewn at home足

use to give a youngster or the fam足

gly luxury.


not without an industrial sewing

ily dog a close trim-to pare down

machine and a lot of speCialized

your shearling's seam allowances to

tools and knowledge. But, as the

a manageable thickness.

----------------[ I1______ MASTER CLASS I ---------In "Shopping for shearling" at right, you'll find guidelines and sources for finding and choosing shearling skins, and on the follow­ ing pages I'll cover everything you need to know to tackle a coat pro­

Shopping for shearl ing

Shearling i s a form of lambskin that has been processed with the

fur still attached. The other side of the skin is usually suede­ finished, but can also be leather or a d istressed-leather finish. Shearling comes in a wide range of colors, as well as contrasting

ject, from selecting, laying out, and

suede/fur color combinations, and in a variety of weights and

cutting a suitable pattern to secur­

thicknesses; the lighter-weight skins are easier to sew. The fur side

ing the final buttons, and all the

comes i n a variety of types, from very curly and long to sheared

most typical construction issues in

short and straight. Most are luxuriously soft.

between. If you'd like to try some­ thing a little less daunting than a coat, see "Try it out! " on p. 46 to find an outlined, no-fail, one-skin shearling hat project. This would be an ideal, inexpensive test for

Purchasing skins

Shearling skins are sold by the square foot and average about 5 square feet each. To convert yardage to square feet, use the 45-inch yardage requirement from the pattern envelope, multiply this by 1 1 .25, and add 1 5 percent for waste. For example: 3Y. yards of 45-inch fabric would be 3.25 x 1 1 .25


36.56 x .1 5


42.05 square

your machine's capacity to handle

feet, or nine 5-square-foot skins. Also the number of skins you'll

shearling-and your tolerance for

need will be affected by the number and size of the pattern pieces

clippings, for which you'll definitely

in your garment, since smaller pieces make better use of the skin.

need a vacuum! Other equipment you'll need in­ cludes universal sewing machine needles, size 100 or larger, depend­

ing on the thickness of your skins. H ave some leather machine nee­ dles on hand, too, in case you get

If possible, shop in person. Besides being able to check each skin for quality, you can take your prepared pattern along and do a trial layout. If shopping by mail from swatches, inquire about the quality of the skins, the average skin size, and the return policy on uncut skins. In any event, look for clean skins with minimal holes, and for consistent textures and

Toronto, ON

coloring and

skipped stitches. For hand sewing,

Canada M5V 1 M 1

similar weight

pick up a few glover'S needles (avail­

41 6·205·9775

among skins.

Ships to the U.S.

able from most notions dealers).

Smaller skins and

Your presser feet should have a


Teflon coating on the underside,

skins tend to

Libra Leather

either as an added press-on cover­

create more waste.

259 West 30th St.

ing to your existing feet, or as ded­ icated Teflon feet. The only thread to consider is 100-percent polyester

It's always best to

New York, NY 1 0001

purchase an extra

21 2·695·31 1 4

skin, just in case.

Offered the widest variety of novelty

thread. The tannins used in pro­ cessing the skins will eventually rot any threads that include cot­ ton, and nylon thread is too strong.

colors and finishes.

CONVERT YARDAGE TO SKINS Start with the 45-inch yardage requirement

The Hide House

Multiply by 1 1 .25

Small bulldog or hair clips substi­

595 Monroe St.

Add 1 5 percent for waste

tute for pins, which will leave holes

PO Box 509

Divide by the skin size

and, if necessary, should only be

Napa, CA 94559 800·453-2847

used in a seam allowance. Cold fuse


tape, a woven adhesive stabilizer

used by furriers, is useful for sta­ bilizing neck edges, and double­

heat from an iron (without steam),

able as you learn how easily

sided tape is invaluable to hold

used with a press cloth, and only

you can make shearling do what

hems in position during topstitch­

on the suede side (so as not to flat­

you want.

ing. Finally, you'll need a rubber

ten the fur) is a helpful prelude

mallet (and a strong surface to

to pounding. As with any of the

pound on) to flatten edges and

techniques described here, a little

bulky seam crossings, etc. A little

testing with scraps will be invalu-

Includes an informative catalog with swatches.

Kathryn Brenne writes and teaches at her Academy oj Fine Sewing and Design i n North Bay, Ontario, Canada.

d e c ember/jan uary 2 0 0 3


P a tt e r n s e l e ct i o n a n d p re p a ra t i o n Shearling works well for jackets, coats, hats,

Because of the small size of individual skins, you'll need to divide


large pattern pieces into smaller sections so they'll fit on the skins.

slippers. Examine print and online catalogs

Look for patterns with two-piece sleeves, princess seams, and

for ready-to-wear a pproaches to shear-

yokes, and add seams at waistl i n e, center back, collar center

ling design a n d finishes. Most design

back, above the elbow, and above the knee on full-length coats.






deta ils a n d seam types are possible,

Shearling doesn't ease well, so eliminate the ease in sleeve

or easy to m i mic, and because they

caps, and avoid patterns with gathers or pleats. Always make

won't ravel, edges can be left raw.

a muslin to determine the placement of the new sea mlines

Closures ca n include zippers, toggles,

and to check the fit; and wear a sweater under the muslin to


simu late the b u l k of the fur. After the m u s l i n is transferred

Pockets can be welts, flaps, or patches.

back to the pattern, trace all pattern pieces onto heavy paper.



sna ps,


Shearling ga rments are usually fa i rly

Add seam allowances to your new seamlines, make a left and

simple, which allows the textures of the

right tracing for each pattern piece, and clearly label all pieces.


skin a n d fur to m a ke the design state­

Reduce sea m a l lowances to

ment, and they tend to be loose-fitting due

skins and reduce bulk. Hems can be left raw, turned to the inside,

to the thickness and weight of the skin.



c u tt i n g

inch to make better use of the

or turned out to show the fur. Hem depth is usually about 1 inch.

Finding the best layout is l i ke work­

and thin spots, to make everything

ing a puzzle; you'll probably have to

fit. Working on one or more large

rearrange your pattern tracings many

su rfaces, lay out all of the ski ns, fur

times to match the best-looking

side down. Begin with the largest

skins with the most visible pieces,

pattern pieces first (usually the

while avoiding or incorporating flaws

fronts, backs, and sleeves); lay them out on the biggest skins, lifting or turning the skins frequently to see the condition of the fur underneath. Sleeves can go on thinner skins. Lay out detail pieces last.

Use weights to hold the pattern pieces in position. Use a chalk wheel marker on the suede side to outline the pattern pieces and notches; use a ruler to mark straight edges.



---------------r I MASTER CLASS� ______________ L

C u t j u st t h e s ki n , n ot t h e f u r


Sew i n g t i ps For all seam stitching reduce the pressure on the presser foot by two notches (ignore if not pos­ sible on your mach ine) and set a stitch length of 4mm, or 6-8 per inch. Tie knots at seam ends

Cut the skins using small, strong,

instead of backstitch ing, which

kn ife-edged, sharp scissors such as

weakens the leather. To conceal

tai lor's poi nts. Using just the tips,

the stitching line if necessary,

be careful to cut j ust the skin and

use a pin or needle to pull the

not the fur. Cut the edges where

hairs out of the stitches.

the fur will be exposed last, after you've gotten comfortable with this tech nique. Mark any notches with Y.-inch c l ips.

Make a zipper facing

from a strip of shearling shaved to suede, as the author did on this vest (Vogue 2450). Pocket linings were made from a matching sweater knit to reduce bulk.

Shaving seam a l l o wa n c e s Th is i s a messy job. I t may be help­ ful to have a garbage can u nder your worktable, but plenty of fur will

to red uce bulk i n seam allowances

hit the floor, so work over a non­

and where allowances will fold back

carpeted area and away from d rafts,

(as shown above). Shaving can be

vents, or fans, or work outside if

done before or after a seam is sewn,

possible. Practice on scraps. How

and may not be requi red on both

close you get will someti mes

sides; see seam descriptions on

depend on the nap or density of the

p. 46. If shaving after sewing, be

fur; you may have to change

careful not to shave too close or the

di rection or angle to get a close

stitches will be cut. To red uce their

shave, and several passes may be

bulk, pocket bags, welts, and other

necessary. Use the cli ppers without

detai ls can be shaved down all over

any of the hair attachments. Shave

to j ust suede.

Sea m tech n i q u es to c h o o s e a m o n g 1 . Topstitched, one side.

Stitch the seam suede sides together, then shave the seam

allowance and fold-back area only on the side that will be topstitched. Push the seam al lowances to the shaved side, press lig htly, and topstitch at


inch from the seam.

A s uggesti o n: offset the needle from the center, set the stitch length at 5mm, and pull slig htly from beh ind to get the seam to feed nicely. 2. Topstitched, both sides.

As for topstitched, one side, but shave the

seam allowances and fold-back areas on both sides. Press the seam allowance open and topstitch



from the seam on each side. 3. Lapped.

Try it o u t !

Chalk a line 'h inch

from the edge on the underlap

Give shearling a try

and cut away the seam allowance

with this simple hat

on the overlap. Lap and pin along

(Butterick 3328), cut from a

the chalk line, sliding the overlap

5¡foot skin with plenty of

into position to arrange the exposed fur. Edgestitch close to the overlap edge. This seam takes practice to keep straight.


leftovers. The seams here are lapped, except for the top of the hat which was sewn to the crown with a %¡inch seam, then trimmed to % inch. Make a muslin to check the fit.

Wrong side out.

Reduce the

seam allowances to


inch. Stitch

with the fur sides together, using binder clips to ensure that the underlayer doesn't slip d uring stitching. Apply Y.-i nch double-sided tape to the suede side of the seam allowances and finger-press open to hold down. Brush u p the fur nap with a tailor's brush. 5. Embroidered.

Stitch with the suede sides together, shave the seam allowances, and fold back.

Press open and, using embroidery thread, a decorative stitch, and an open-toed, Teflon-covered em broidery foot, topstitch over the seam line from the suede side. Don't stitch too densely. This exam ple was stitched with a length of 1 .2 m m and width of 5mm. Trim seam allowances to 6. Butted.



Tri m the seam allowances away on both edges. Butt the edges together as you

zigzag over them. This example has a width of 4.5m m and a length of 2.5mm. Avoid for h ig h­ stress seams. 7. Serged/lapped.

Serge off the overlap seam allowance holding the piece suede side down.

Set the differential feed to 1 .5 m m and stitch length to 3 m m. Complete as for the lapped seam, stitch ing along both edges of the serging. 8. Leather-bound.



Stitch with the suede sides togethe r seams are on the fur side , shave the

seam allowances, and press open. C ut a 1 -inch-wide leather binding, turn under the edges


i nch, finger-press, and use rubber cement to hold them down. Baste the binding in place over


the seamli ne with a glue stick, then edgestitch each edge using a stitch length of 4.25mm. This method is good for reinforcing high-stress seams.


IL---------------MASTER CLASS_I ______________


Clos u re ideas

H e m o pt i o n s Fur side out.

1 . Corded buttonhole.

When shaving gar­


ment seam allowances, don't shave

the satin stitch to 1 .2mm, and

the final 1 '!. inches from the hem.

stitch the buttonhole with cording

Sew the seams, suede sides

under the stitches. Knot the th read

together, stopping 1 inch from the

on the fur side and th read the ends

hem. Tie off, then clip to the stitch-

Turned- u nder and mitered.


1 '!. inches along the hem area for a

of the cording under the stitching. 2. Elastic-cord loops.

For fur-side

%-inch turn back with topstitching

out edges, chalk-mark the loop

% inch above the fold. The front

position on the suede side at the

edge can be shaved 1 % inches for

garment center front. Cut tiny holes in

a 1 -inch turn back with topstitching

the garment; feed the elastic through.


inch from the fold. M iter the

Secure each end of the elastic with

corner with '!.-inch seam allow­

two bar tacks spaced '!. inch apart.

ances. Rei nforce the front lower

Fold back the center front edge to

edges and prevent them from

expose the fur, and topstitch.

curling by inserting a triangle of C ut a

shaved suede into the pressed

3. Pointed binding loop.

hem. Topstitch the hem with the

1 -inch-wide leather binding strip.

turn back facing up; pull the edges

Tu rn '!. inch under on each long

of the triangle slig htly for a tight fit.

edge; finger-press, and hold with rubber cement. Fold the binding at

ing. Sew the rest of the seam fur

midpoint, forming a triangle. Press

sides together. Trim the seam allow­

and flatten with a rubber mallet.

ances in the hem area to '!. inch.

Position on the preferred garment

Mark the top of the hem with chalk,

side, aligning the cut ends with the

and apply double-sided tape to hold

center front foldl ine. Fold back the facing seam allowance and


the hem allowance i n position top photo . Topstitch the hem; then pull

topstitch. Edgestitch the binding,

the fur out to conceal the stitching.

then carefully slit the garment


through the center of the loop. Curved col lar.

Sew a gathering

stitch along the cut edge of the collar with a 5mm mach ine stitch, with loosened top tension, sewing 2 inches beyond each end of the curve. Chalk-mark the collar underside to show the position of the folded-back hem edge, keeping the hem allowance under % inch to Laci ng.

Shave the hem allowance

4. Bound buttonhole.

Shave a

patch the same size as the button­ hole facing on the fur side. Sew around the opening, as for a fabric buttonhole. Shave the welts down to suede and sew into position; slash the buttonhole and turn the welts through. Position a facing over the welts, then topstitch as shown.

make it easier to curve. Place

and use double-sided tape to hold

double-sided tape inside the chalk

5. Attachi n g buttons.

the hem in position. Use a heavy

li ne. Pull up the basting thread and

ing buttons on either side of shear­

upholstery needle and yarn

press the hem allowance against

ling, always add a small, flat backing

to sew the hem in your desired

the tape. Topstitch, then pull the fur

button on the wrong side to support

stitch pattern and spacing.

out of the stitching with a pin.

the stitches not pictured .


When stitch­


december/january 2 0 0 3




eadyTi ps and tech n i q u es fo r fit, fo r m, a n d fas h i o n from an i n d ust ry expert by Louise Cutting

Hanging pocket updates favorite patterns On a recent buying trip to New York City, I noticed that one particularly distinctive pouch pocket was showing up on garments everywhere­ especially hanging off the front of an oversized knit top (in linen the same color as the knit)-and on the side seams of pants, below the knee. I think it's a simply wonderful design element that adds a dash of fun to a garment. Here's how to make it-adjust the proportions as you wish:

have been out in the world with my spyglass again, picking up more tips from ready-to-wear, clues on fitting, and some tricks you'll be glad to have for your latest sewing proj ects.

•• • • • • • "X"

For the pocket, cut a 1 �-inch by 20'X-inch piece from the fashion fabric. Cut two l ';;-inch by 1 1 �-inch strips of lightweight interfacing, to give

your fabric moderate body. Fuse an interfacing strip to the wrong side of the pocket, parallel to and

1 \4 inches from each short end. Fold the pocket in half crosswise, wrong side out. Sew a narrow seam at each

I like to snoop-shop in unusual

end, perpendicular to the fold, to form a pouch. Trim the seam allowances di­

stores and often find new and dif­

agonally at the corners on the fold. Press the seam open over a point presser.

ferent garment accents right where


Serge-finish the open edge of the pocket; turn a \4 -inch hem to the wrong

the designer left them. In this article,

side, and press. Insert double-sided fusible basting tape (such as Steam-a-Seam)

I'll tell you about two pocket ideas to

under the fold and as close as possible to the serged edge; press again to secure.

spice up your favorite standard pat­

Straight-stitch the hem 1 inch from the top fold. Turn the pocket right side

terns, a couple of button tricks, and tips for hems and even sewing.

Louise Cutting owns a fabriC store and a pattern line. She writes and teaches, and says she's in heaven wherever she is. 48


out and press flat. The pockets I saw were sewn to the garment with a l-inch square reinforced

with an

at each corner; the top edge was not spread taut, but was allowed

to drape. This is personal preference; the pockets could be sewn flat to the garment and/or at an angle to the straight grain.

FaCing-framed pocket opening I've recently seen what might be the world's fastest slash pocket-it's simply a faced slit, with the faCing turned to the right side of the garment, completed with a pocket­


size patch positioned behind the slit and topstitched into place. Put your design skills to work selecting fabrics, and shaping and stitching the facing and patch. To make this pocket:

• •

Decide the shape of the faCing and pocket patch and cut

a piece of fashion fabric for each. Mark the pocket slash line on the facing. Position the pocket patch on the wrong side of your gar­

ment and mark its position. Remove the patch. Mark the slash line for the pocket opening on the wrong side of the garment. Crepe with shape To maintain wool crepe's

• •

Staystitch the faCing

1( inch from the raw edges. Press the

raw edges to the wrong side along the stitching. Position the right side of the facing against the wrong

attractive soft characteris-

side of the garment, aligning the slash placement lines.

tics, completely underline it

Starting on one long side, sew around the slash line with

with sew-in lOO-percent

short stitches; sew two stitches when you pivot across

cotton batiste. Then apply the appropriate weight fusible interfacing to the batiste rather than the wool crepe. This elim­ inates drop-off lines where the interfacing starts and stops on the crepe and maintains the fabric's original hand.

each end. (Never start and stop stitching at an end; it's the weakest section of the opening.)

• • •

Place the garment faCing-Side up on the ironing board,

and cut along the line between the stitches, cutting up to but not through the two stitches at each end. Turn the facing through the opening to the right side of

the garment, and press. Use double-sided fusible basting tape to affix the facing to the garment. Topstitch around the opening. Edgestitch the facing to the garment. If you like, embellish the faCing with decorative stitching.

Serge-finish the outside edges of the patch, and position it right side down on the wrong side of the garment where you marked the placement; hold the edges in place with dou­ ble-sided basting tape. Edgestitch the patch in place.

december/january 2 0 0 3


Three ways to buHon it up To find the perfect buttonhole size to fit a button, wrap a piece of nar­

row twill tape around the button, including the shank, and mark the length. Half that length is the buttonhole size. The most important button position is the one on the bust point line.

Mark buttonholes and button positioning when the garment is close to being finished, right before sewing the buttonholes. To decide exactly where your bust point is, drop a measuring tape from where the shoulder seamline and neck edge meet, letting it fall over your bust. The point where the tape falls away from the body is your bust point. The buttonhole should be placed perpendicular to this point at the cen­ ter front. Equally space the rest of the buttonholes above and below this location. You will be able to unbutton your blouse or jacket down to this point and not look risque! The turn of the cloth lit the left and right of the garment will be high enough to cover the front of your bra, and this line is always flattering to the face. Try arranging buttons in groups of two or three instead of using a tradi­

tional row of Single buttons running down the front of a dress or blouse. This creates an interesting fashion detail­ or is a great button solution for "gaposis." When ready-to-wear garments have poor button placement at the bust, add an­ other one or two buttonholes in line with the original buttonholes. The new but­ tonholes can match the size of the orig­ inals and serve a set of new same-size buttons, or you can size them to fit mis­ matched buttons from your collection.

Two smart notions When snaps no longer stay snapped, renew

their grippers with clear nail polish. Coat both of the snap pieces, let the polish dry, and then try the snap. Continue to apply the polish until the snap holds securely. Never store out-of-season clothes with met­ al buttons in plas tic dry-cleaning bags. The

buttons will discolor by the next season. Plastic bags omit gases that eat the metallic coating off the buttons.



Four rules for jacket and sleeve hems The traditional sleeve hem­ line is easy to figure out: Stand by a table and place your palm flat on the surface. The end of the sleeve should j ust touch the back of your hand. This old trick comes from men's tailoring but women can use it for their traditional jackets or blouse sleeves that don't have cuffs.

Set the bottom hemline on a traditional tailored jacket according to your arm length. When you stand with your arms straight at your sides, the bottom of the finished jacket should touch the palm of your cupped hands, and your ringers should be able to wrap around the hem as shown at left.

Graph the math Hem sleeves to

U se graph paper to lengthen

flatter your figure.

a pattern piece. The '4-i n c h

To emphasize your

g r i d tablets a r e great gUides



for evenly s p acing the s plit

sleeve right at the

when lengthening patterns.

bustline-the strong

The tablets come in several

horizontal line will

sizes and can b e purchased




a t office supply stores. While

appear to be the

t here, pick up a r o l l o f re­

widest part of your

movable Magic Tape (in t he

upper body. To draw attention away from your bust, place the hemline above or below it.

bright royal b l u e box). I t can


be peeled off tissue paper, but

Taper sleeves slightly at the wrist for the most flattering silhouette. The wrist circumference

don't get a n iron near it.

on long-sleeved tailored jackets in ready-to-wear is usually 10-11 inches at the hem. Patterns are more likely to measure 11 �- 12 inches at the hem. This extra fabric hangs at the widest part of your hips and makes them appear wider.

december/janu ary 2 0 0 3


Fo r artfu l garment e n hancement, arran g e m otifs i n a l l over patterns-or g ro u p them to e m p h asize sty l e l i nes

by Kayla Ken n i n gton

��;'.�''.�,.-.>:;/;"�... '#� .- :(.)

�..f; ..




design groups are ideal for allover

have had a great time learning

bellished look is not necessarily

embroidery as well, offering graph-

to use it and its accompanying



ic variety and thematic consistency.



software. It's a wonderful tool

thoughtfully placed embroidery.

When considering a design, look at

for turning plain garments in-

I've developed two ways of design-

its general outline: an interesting

to one-of-a-kind pieces that are

ing embroidery layouts, which

contour will offer many opportu-

fresh and interesting. My approach

require slightly different working

nities for creative groupings.

is to look at embroidery motifs as

methods and produce slightly

Depending on the embroidery

elements that can be combined,

different looks (see pp. 53-55 for

machine and software you're us-

multiplied, and artfully positioned

more details).

ing, you may be able to reverse

to create a unified embellishment

Sometimes I arrange the embroi-

scheme. The Threads editors asked

dery to echo a dominant detail

ror-image, size them up or down, or

me to depart from my signature

such as a neckline, yoke, shaped

even split them into smaller com-

art-to-wear garments and apply my

hem or dart, or seam (see the vest

ponents. All these functions mul-

techniques to commercial patterns.

on p. 5 5 ) . In this case, I plan the

tiply the options you have for using

embroidery design in advance, one

a Single design creatively. Use templates as a

embroidery deSigns and built-

Alternatively, I embroider in a

in stitches, you can take your

more allover manner, creating my

des i g n tool

garments from ordinary to

design as I go along. I like to vary

As with any embroidery project, I

the density of the motifs when I

start my design process by test-

work this way, as in the girl's en-

stitching each motif I plan

semble on p. 5 3 .

a swatch o f my fashion fabric. This

Versati le motifs make for

lizers to use and how the embroi-

strong, coherent desig n

dery alters the fabric's hand.

eye-catching with ease.

� paper motif pattern are handy design aids


use on

helps me determine which stab i-


You can use almost any embroi-

Next, I make a template for each

the motif to work out you

dery design you like, but for max-

motif, to help in positioning de-

Use m u ltiple copies

motifs and stitch them out in mir-

garment section at a time.

Sheer templates anc

."y �


Modular designs a n d coordinated

The secret to creating a richly em-

be inventive in your use of both



Two approaches to des i g n

line embroidery machine, and

You'll see that if you're willing to



recently acquired a top-of-the-

overall design, and thel

imum flexibility, I choose motifs

signs and hooping the fabric for

use the templates tt

that can be stitched out attractive-

embroidery. The software I use al-

POSitIon the hoop correctly

ly in any orientation. Floral and

lows me to print out a full-scale

other organic shapes are great for

template on transparent sheets, but

both clustering and scattering.

if you're working directly from a

'.c�Q;1a.0, .s<i<i'"� ""6ci.E

.0�c0 I4 �·c (fJ" tE f0u

·20 Q;"0:>a.0 ;,;

Desi g n as vou ao If you have a confident eye for e m bellishment, you can design as you go. This approach works best with scattered, allover layouts, and i s ideal when workin g o n flat fabric.

Add motifs one by one: with one motif already embroidered, the author uses a motif pattern to decide the placement of the second motif.

.­ / ' .. . �� ; �. -

The sheer template does d ouble-duty as a design aid: l ay it over the fabric to see how the next stitch-out will look, and use it for hooping.

I Scattered petals and c u rving l ines o f straight stitching join the motifs i nto a g entle border.


Kayla sent a gentle flurry of snowflakes adrift over this gi rl's J a cket

Try i t o u t !

a n d pants (Butterick

341 6) to create a

Arrange and embroider a n

w h i msical a n d pretty

i nforma l border a n d pl ace it at

winter ensemble.

the ends of a table runner-fill in the middle section of the runner with a scattering of small motifs (or pieces of the motifs).

decembe r / j a n u ary 2 0 0 3


Compl e ment garment styl e l i n es wi t h embroi d ery Plan your overall d esign ahead to accent selected d etails such as shaped edges, darts, and seam lines. If you want to em broider over construction details such as darts or seams (straight o r slightly c u rved), stitch them fi rst, finish the seam allowances, and press careful ly. (Note that dense ly di g itized designs may be 2. Prepare the garment sections: Lay out pattern pieces on

tricky to stitch out through m ultiple layers of fabric, so

1 . A transparent template with orientation

the right side of the fabric, with ample space between

test them first.) Here Kayla

marks m akes placing the motifs and

them. Trace around the pattern edges to transfer the

demonstrates her process

hooping the fabric accurate and easy.

cutting l i nes. Draw in seam l ines as well if desired. Cut the

on a classic vest front.

Print one out on a mylar sheet, if you're

sections apart, leaving as wide a margin as possible around

using software that permits it, or stitch

the edges you plan to embroider, to facilitate hooping. Sew

one o n sheer, stable fabric.

any seams or darts over which you plan to embroider.

4. Use the sheer

5. Add decorative

template to position

mach ine stitching to

the hoop correctly

unify the desig n :

around the motif

Transfer t h e marks for

placement marking,

satin stitching from the

then remove the

d ummy pattern to the

template. Repeat for

garment section.

each motif.

Motif sources & A Designs


9 1 3-390-8600

design card or floppy disk, create a

these on the garment sections to

like a big deal, but don't underes­

template by embroidering each de­

aid in laying out the design.

timate their role: they can turn an catching one.

OK garment into a dynamic, eye­

sign on a sheer, stable fabric, such

Design CS003

as organza or organdy. Before un­

Branch out with sew i n g

(Small poinsettia)

hooping, draw the outline of the

mach i n e stitches

Sew Man Embroidery Designs S N- 1 28, S N- 1 29 (Snowflakes) Threads Embroidery


Col l e ti o n

www.threads embroidery. com (Forget-me-not)




encourage you to start using

inner hoop on the template, and

Although predigitized embroidery

embroidery motifs for more than

mark the center of the design and

motifs can be combined to make

just spot embellishment. You'll get


any cross marks or orientation

stunning deSigns, like to enhance

a lot more mileage out of pur­

points necessary for future hooping

them by adding stitches from my

chased designs, and bring new life

(see top left photo).

sewing machine. use regular satin

to your garments.

Just as important as the hooping


templates are my motif patterns:

orative stitching, and ordinary

these are multiple photocopies of

straight stitching to link motifs and

each template, trimmed close to

unify the overall design on many

the edge of the motif and marked

garments. On their own, these

with an orientation arrow.

added embellishments don't sound



stitching, isolated units from dec­

Kayla Kenn i ngton, oj West Linn, Ore., has developed a vast repertoire oj creative embellishment techniques. View her work online at .kayla


To experiment with Kayla's approach to embroidered embellishment, choose small motifs and arrange them to maximize their i m pact and the garment's design. Threads art director Karen Meyer designed these Sprigs of Greenery

aid in layout: Trace the pattern

with this approach in m i nd.

pieces onto scrap paper, and use photocopied motif pat­ terns to work out the overall design (top photo). Pin or tape the motifs into place, then mark the position and orientation of the motifs on the prepared garment sections (above right). The author suggests marking their position one by one as you stitch them out, so you can make minor adjustments to the layout d uring the embroidery process. In this example, she has sketched additional g reen li nes onto the d u m my pattern, which will be satin-stitched in a later step.

6. Sew over the marks to l i n k the e mbroidered motifs. Here, both motifs and satin

To purchase the Sprigs of Greenery design shown above and at left, visit www.threads embroidery. com.

stitches have been appl ied over a presewn dart.

By rotating, resizing, and overlapping three

related em broidery motifs, Kayla added emphasis to the neck and lower front of this classic vest (Vogue 2591 ).

Fo u r Fa n cy F i n i s h es Tri m s m ake t h e

he plainest pillows can be

(For basic directions, see "How to

turned into eye-catching

sew a knife-edge pillow" on p. 60.)

point on simple,

sophisticates if you trim

Four of my favorite corner em­

their corners with tassels,

bellishments (shown below) are

kn ife-e d g e p i l l ows

by Linda Lee


knots, or bows. Interest­

tassels looped through welting that

ing corner treatments are

rim the pillow; fabric tubing tied

very easy to add to plain knife-edge

into knots; squares of crinkled

pillows, which are among the eas­

fabric tied to look like bows; and

iest of all sewing proj ects to make.

corner extensions cut right onto

fo r P i l l ow Co rn e rs the pillow cover, which, depend­

To keep my directions easy to

ing on the fabrication, add either a

understand, I have narrowed the

whimsical or sprightly demeanor

definition of the following words:

when knotted. Once you under­

I use the word w elting to mean

stand the principle behind each of

decorative cord with an applied

these finishes, you'll see that near­

flange, not fabric-covered cord with

ly infinite variations can be created

an extending seam allowance,

if you change the scale or style of

which I call piping. Tubing refers to

the components.

cord covered with fabric, with the

seam allowance concealed between the fabric and the cord.

Interior designer Linda Lee, a Threads con tribu ting editor, exp lains more designer comers in her book Sewing Edges and Corners (2000, The Taunton Press). She is the owner oJ The Sewing Workshop Pattern Collection.

d e c ember/january 2 0 0 3

LO O P A TAS S E L T H R O U G H T H E W E LT I N G Hold the tassel against the pillow insert and determine the length of cord you want between the corner and the tassel. If the cord on the tassel is too long, shorten it, preferably by pulling one end through inside the tassel, or by cutting the cord loop at the midpoint and knotting it to the desired length. 1. Begin sewing the welting to the pillow top at the midpoint of one side: place the pillow top right side up and align the edge of the welting flange with the cut edge of the fabric. Stop sewing about inch before the first corner, backstitch, and remove the pillow top from the machine. Starting at the point where you stopped stitching, carefully cut off the flange from the next inch of the welting. ( 2. Return the pillow top to the machine. Swing the welting around ) the corner seamline allow ease so the welt will fit around the point when the cover is turned right side out , and align the next section of the flange with the cut edge as before. Stitch the welting to the fabric, stopping inch from the next corner. Continue in this manner to remove the flange and sew the welting to the remaining edges of the pillow top. Join the welting ends neatly. ( 3. Prepare the pillow back see "Make a lapped closure" on p. 60) and sew it to the pillow top, right sides together. Turn the pillow cover right side out. ( ) Slide the hang cord loop of a tassel under the welting at one corner of the pillow use a crochet hook , wrap it over the welting, slip the tassel through the cord loop, and pull it tight. Add more tassels at this corner you like. Repeat at the remaining corners.





If you wish to use fabric piping instead of welting, do not cut the flange at the corners, but sew it continuously around the pillow top. When the pillow is complete, use a large needle or an awl to poke a hole through the piping, forcing it between the corded section and the pillow corner, and use a crochet hook to pull the tassel hang cords through this hole. T I E K N OTS I N T U B I N G To estimate the total length of tubing you 'll need, tie a test knot, mark each end of the knot, untie it, and then measure the length between the two marks. Add four times this length to the perimeter measurement of your pillow.

( Prepare the pillow back see "Make a lapped closure " on p. 60) and sew it to the pillow front, rounding the cor­ ners. Turn the pillow cover right side out. Set your blind-hem stitch to mirror image and put the blind-hem foot on the machine. 1.


Begin sewing the tubing to the pillow cover just past one corner. Stop sewing about 1 inch before the next cor­ ner, backstitch, and remove the work from the machine. Tie a knot in the tubing, positioning it to sit at the corner. 3.

Return the pillow cover to the machine, and swing the tubing around the corner. Continue this process, sewing the tubing to the remaining sides, and tying a knot at each corner. Join the tubing ends neatly under the last knot.

Make just a corner. Then pin it on your sewing room wall to serve as a pouch for notions, trim, bobbins, etc.

T I E C R I N K L E D FA B R I C I N B O W S Begin with four 1 8-in h squares o f china silk; finish the edges o f each square with a rolled hem. 1. Soak the silk squares in water and wring each one separately until they twist back into a ball. Squares wrung on the bias will look different than squares wrung on the straight grain. Secure each ball with a rubber band or put them inside hosiery to keep them wound. Air- or machine-dry. Unroll.

2. Place the pillow top right side up. Position a crinkled square wrong side up inside each corner, aligning the hemmed edge just inside the seam allowance; ) one corner of the square with the corner of the ( align pillow cover (top left , ort)place the midpoint of one side of the square at the corner bottom lef . Baste the layers together for about � inch on each side of the corner, and swing the remainder of the crinkled fabric onto the pillow cover interior. ( 3. Prepare the pillow back see "Make a lapped closure" on p. 60) and sew it to the pillow front, right sides together; make sure to catch the crinkled silk in the seam only at the corners. Turn the pillow cover right side out. Tie the crinkled silk in a knot or in a bow at each corner.

E X T E N D T H E C O V E R C O R N E R S A N D K N OT T H E M Cut the pillow cover with extended corners, as shown in the drawing below. Experiment to see what shape works best with your fabric, and whether a tight or loose knot gives the effect you like. Knots in crisp fabrics will hold their shape, those in soft fabrics will drape.

1 . Make sure your sample corner extension is symmetrical. Trace it, without seam allowance, onto a small piece of paper; draw a line lengthwise through the center and mark the corner alignment, as shown. On a large piece of paper, draw a square or rectangle the size of your pillow top, without seam allowance. On it, draw lines diagonally from corner to corner. Align the extension pattern at each corner of the pillow pattern and transfer the extension outline. Add �-inch seam allowance all around the pillow pattern.



Using the pattern, cut out a pillow top and a pillow back.

3. Place the pillow top and back right sides together, aligning the cut edges. Sew together along the perimeter, leaving an opening in one side for inserting the pillow form.

�----�--�-�-��'\,���'-�)' 4. ,,

Press the seam open along the flat sides. Trim the seam allowance in the corner extensions. Turn the cover right side out and press the{Iextensions flat. Insert the pillow form, slipstitch the opening closed, and tie each} - --- corner extension in a knot. nstead of knotting, you could wrap the fabric with ribbon, cording, or other trim.

A knife-edge pillow is one on which the top and bottom are joined to

sew a cover for it. Knife-edge pillows can be a variety of shapes and

one another d irectly, with no side piece in between. The easiest way

sizes, but square or rectangular proportions are usually the most

to make one is to start with a purchased pillow insert, or make one

pleasing and easiest to sew; curved edges are difficult to keep crisp.

(see "Pillow Forms: What's I nside?" in Threads No. 97, pp. 76-79 ) and

Follow these di rections; add one of the corner trims from pp. 58-59.

M a ke a basic cover Knife-edg e pillow covers couldn 't be easier to make.

2. Place the pieces of the pillow cover right sides

1. Measure the edges of your pillow form to de­

together, and sew around the perimeter, leaving an

termine the size and

opening in one side for inserting the form. Trim the

proportion of the cover.

seam allowance at the corners and turn the cover

Cut two identical pieces

right side out.

of the cover fabric to this size, adding 'h-inch

3. Press the cover flat. Insert the pillow form and

seam allowance.

slipstitch the opening closed.

M a ke the cover removable There are s e veral ways t o make removable pillow covers, a n d

pillow. Depending on your pillow size, and the s tability of your

y o u c a n choose t o make the closure in visible, discreet, o r deco­

fabric, the overlap may or may not require a fastening. If you de­

rative. For an in visible closure insert a zipper in the seam on one

cide to use a fastening, consider ties, buttons, snaps, or hook­

edge before you sew the remaining edges together. It's easier to

and-loop tape. With planning, you can even s e w a contrasting

make an overlapping closure on one side of the cover, like the

band of fabric to the overlapping edge, or add trim. The key is to

one in the photo above -think of the overlap like the placket on a

s e w on the fas tening before you assemble the pieces.

shirt. You can decide to make this side the fron t or back of the

Make a l apped closure Following are basic directions for making a lapped closure from fabric that is solid or has a small pattern. If your fabric has a stripe or motif that you want to match, plan its placement before you cut.

1 . Measure the edges of your pillow form to determine the size and

3. Arrange the two sections, right side up, so one hemmed edge


proportion of the cover. Cut one piece of the cover fabric to this size,

overlaps the other.

plus 'h-inch seam allowance; set it aside. Cut a second piece about

and apply it, then return the pieces to this overlapped arrangement.


inches longer in one direction, the extra length will be the overlap

and hem allowance.

Pin them together across the ends of the overlap; do not close the fastenings.

2. Decide the amount of overlap; 1 'h inches is usually good-any­ thing less is likely to gap.

you are using a fastening, mark its position


you plan to include fastenings be sure the overlap is deep enough to accommodate them. Make a hem the depth of your overlap at each short end of the second piece of fabric. Cut the

1! '


Center the remaining piece of the

pillow cover face down on top of the overlapped pieces. Pin together,

1i:I *.., 5. h�:I

then cut off the excess length on the

overlapped layer. Sew the pillow cover together

around the perimeter. Trim the seam

allowance in the corners and turn the

fabric in half, parallel to the

cover right side out through the overlap.

hemmed edges.

Insert the pillow form.



ow often do you look at a

Adding fashion flair with a hem­

techniques for developing and

Eschew the expected.

great-fitting pattern and

line change is creative, but it often

sewing shaped hemlines, and show

Why choose a strait­

think it could use a little

requires more than simply cutting

you how I reshaped the bottom

laced hemline when

excitement, but you're

and folding up a new hemline

edges of a basic tailored j acket and

an unusual shape can

not sure where to add it?

shape. Every pattern is different

vest pattern to create three new and

give you a signature

If you look closely, you'll

and the specific ways you change

distinct looks for a single silhou­

look? (Left to right:

see that many j acket, blouse, pants,

the cutting and sewing processes

ette. And I think you'll enjoy my

tailored swoop, sheer

and skirt styles feature interesting

depend on the original pattern and

sketchbook of other unique style

scalloped hemline, and

details at the top of the garment,

your new hemline design. Once

options too.

and often ignore the wonderful de­

you decide on a design, think

sign potential at or near the hem.

through the construction process

H e m l i n e-fri endly patterns

So, take advantage of this oversight

from beginning to end to be sure

Basically, any pattern can b e al­

and add an interesting shape or

you understand how the change

tered for a new look at the lower

line to the bottom of your garment.

affects it. I'll share some general

edge; some patterns are just more

asymmetrical hemline with peplum.)

d e c ember/jan uary 2 0 0 3



d df T b b C d j pieces onto tracing tissue. ut out the trace o egin, trace the acket ack, si e, an ront D d pattern pieces, leaving some excess at the lower e ge. raw the vertical seamlines onto each piece. Alter the pattern Curved hem

A classic jacket cuts to the chic when the

heml ine curves from high on the center front to low at the center

Overlap the traced front, back, and side panel patterns at the side front and side back seamlines. Mark the desired high point of the hemline on the center front seamline. Draw a new hemline that grad­ ually curves down to the center back. Separate the pattern pieces and add seam allowance at the bottom of each. Cut off the excess paper at the hemline.

back (adapted from Vog ue 2602). Side panel



Side panel CB I I I I

-- Back bottom faCing CB

Overlap the traced back and side panel patterns again. Cover with another piece of tissue and trace the side front and bottom ( cutting)lines; also trace the center back seamline or foldline . Mark the top of the facing parallel to and 3� inches up from the bottom cutting line. Mark the top and bottom of the side back seamline with notches; mark the center back edge "fold." Cut out the facing pattern.

Front faci n g

Cover your traced front pattern with new tis­ sue; trace the side, bottom, front, and neck cutting lines. Mark a line parallel to and 3� inches up from the bottom cutting line. Then slide the original front facing pattern underneath, aligning the neckline and front edges. Trace the inner vertical cutting line to your new facing pattern, blending it to the line just marked. Cut out the facing pattern.

Sew the j acket

facing, C ut 2 CF



If there is a lining pattern, adjust the hemline on each piece to match the new jacket hem­ line. Add � inch to the bottom edge for wear­ ing ease when the cut edge is folded up and sewn to the top of the hem facing.

Assemble the jacket per your pat­ tern instructions. Sew the bottom facing to each front facing at the side seams. Add interfacing and/ or reinforce the curved edge with tailor's tape as appropriate to your fabric. Sew the facing unit to the edge G of the jacket, RS together. rade, turn, and press the edge. If you wish to put the lining in by machine, leave the bottom of the lining unsewn and attach it by hand after hemming the jacket.

challenging to work with than oth­

that you like its top portion. A new

straight hem and/ or strong hori­

ers. A pattern cut on the bias, for

hemline won't drastically change

zontal lines at the bottom of a j ack­

instance, requires creative prob­

the basic silhouette, so make sure

et or top often add width to the

lem-solving, espeCially if you want

that, overall, the pattern fits you

waist, hip, or thigh level. A shaped

to add bottom facings. Patterns

well, and that you find the style

lower edge is generally more fluid;

with many pieces, panels, or seams

appealing on your figure.

asymmetrical or diagonal lines, in

full bottom edge, like that of a cir­

Fl attering cha nges

wider parts of the body.

cle skirt, can be tricky to shape.

Although your pattern must have a

Experiment with a variety of

particular, lead the eye away from

also call for careful planning, and a

For any pattern you choose to re­

good overall fit, altering the lower

shaped hemlines to find styles that

shape, however, there's one com­

edge offers an opportunity to create

compliment your body shape. Look

mon rule. You must first decide

a more figure-flattering hemline. A

to fashion magazines or deSigner


A S Y M M ET R I CA L H E M L I N E W I T H A P E P L U M Before you begin, draw the seamlines for your size onto your original vest front pattern if they are not marked. You 'll need several pieces of tracing tissue to create the new patterns. When your new pattern is done, add seam allowances to all the pieces. All l i nes are sea ml ines

_ _ _

Alter the front pattern

Trace the front pattern seamlines, center front line, and any darts, onto two pieces of tracing tissue. Flip one so you have a left front and a right front; overlap them at the center front. 1.

Original pattern New left front pattern New right front pattern


Fold the dart, if there is one, into the new left front. Lap another piece of tissue over the waistline. Draw a peplum, making the side edge 1 inch long. Adjust the grain­ line to accentuate a striped fabric if desired.


Draw a new right front overlap extension and hemline; mark the buttonhole place­ ment. Draw a new left front underlap; from a point 1 inch above the bottom of the side seam, draw a waist seamline perpendicular to the center front. M a ke the facing a n d l i ni n g patterns

Sew the vest

Fold the dart, if there is one, into the new right front; cover with another piece of tissue. Trace to make a facing pattern as shown; mark it RF, WS. Repeat for new left front, making the facing deep enough to support buttons to correspond with the buttonholes on the right front. Mark this pattern LF, WS.

1 . Sew the side and bot­ tom edges of the pe­ plum, right sides together, pivoting at corners. Turn right side out; press. Baste the top edges together.


2. If you want to make a lining pattern, trans­ fer the inside edge of each facing to the vest front pattern un­ derneath it, lift off the facing pattern, unfold the darts in the vest front, cover the vest front pattern with tis­ sue again, and trace the outline of the vest front, excluding the facing.

2. Sew the dart in the vest left front. With the right sides together, align the top of the peplum with the lower edge of the left front. Sew together; press the seam allowance up. 3.

Construct the vest per the pat­ tern instructions; adjust as need­ ed to sew the facings to the lining.

clothing for inspiration, and start a

the bottom edge. Cut and pin this

on the pattern. Note

file of photographs, clippings, or

new pattern together, then gently

how each pattern piece

sketches of hemline details (and

slip it onto a dress form or your

relates to the other

see my collection of "Design Op­

body; also consider sewing up a

pieces; if you adj ust

tions" on p. 65).

quick muslin to check the drape.

one piece, you usually

Evaluate the basic fit and make

need to adjust its neigh­

sure the hemline shape is pleasing.

boring one.

Pattern manipu lation

To test a hemline shape for fit and

If you discover that the position

Once you finalize the

style potential, simply experiment

of certain fitting details conflict

hemline shape, consider

with your pattern. Trace the basic

with your new shaping lines, make

other details that affect

outline of your original pattern on­

necessary adjustments, such as piv­

the fit and style of that

to lightweight paper, then reshape

oting a dart

shape-such as facings,


a less obtrusive place

Asymmetry is interest­ ing. To adapt an existing

pattern, just exaggerate the angle of the front edges, taking each side to a different extreme. Add a peplum - a shaped piece - below the waist on one side. (Folkwear Patterns: Vintage Vests; 866-FOLKWEAR,



S H E E R S CA L LO P E D H E M L I N E Sheer, scalloped, and anything but dressed down. A lengthened

version of the same classic jacket adapted for the Swoop, this elegant organza coat has a graceful hem bound with china silk (adapted from Vogue 2602).

For a complex shaped hem on a sheer or delicate fabric, test the edge finish on samples before cutting the shape on the garment. The author used a 'I.-inch bias binding for her finish, cutting the strips extra wide to allow for ease around the curves. Make sure the binding fabric isn't hea vier than the sheer fabric, or the seamline will tear. Alter the pattern

Determine the length of the sheer layer at the deep­ est ( part of the scallop. Mark this line ) on your pattern or extend the pattern to this point . Mark the scal­ loped edge on each piece; the scallops need not be precisely the same size as long as their proportions are pleasing. If your jacket will have an attached opaque under jacket, mark its desired length, and add hem allowance. Transfer the under jacket hem­ line and cutting line to the facing and lining patterns. F i n ish the edge

Before you finish the scalloped edge, sew together the body of the sheer jacket per the pattern instruc­ tions, converting any bust darts to soft gathers and using an appropriate seam finish. If you are using an attached under jacket, do not set in the sleeves or attach the collar or facings, and plan how to integrate the front facing with the binding. ( 1 . Cut bias strips 1 :6 inches wide ) six times wider than the finished binding . Apply remov­ able stabilizer along the scalloped edge if the fabric is delicate. 2.

Staystitch the seamline at each peak be­ tween scallops, then clip to the peak. Stitch the binding to the scalloped edge, right sides together, leaving 1 inch of binding at each front edge. Use '/.. -inch seam allowance and sew with the jacket up and the binding against the feed dogs. At each peak, pivot the jacket fabric to align the edge to the binding. As you round each curve, gently push a little extra binding under the presser foot to ensure a smooth edge.





Under jacket length


Hem al lowance

4.wrongTurnsidethe jacket up, fold

up the raw edge of the binding '/.. inch, and then fold the binding over the scalloped edge, fold­ ing the binding ends flush with (the front) seamline or edge . Pin and slipstitch.

Scalloped edge, WS

5.edgeTo keep the bound flat between

the scallops, turn the jacket wrong side up and pinch the binding at each peak to form a small miter;Gstitch as shown. ently press the miters to one side.

Complete the jacket


Trim the seam allowance to inch and, with the jacket right side up, press the binding toward the scalloped edge. Trim the raw edge of the binding inch from the stitching line.


Complete the jacket per your pattern instructions. For an attached under jacket, baste the under jacket and over jacket together at neck, arms eye, and front edge, then set in the sleeves and sew the collar, fac­ ing, and lining as instructed. Hem the under jacket.

lining, edge support and finishes,

faCing if there is one, or it can be

and the fabric.

cut in one with the front faCing.


Add seam allowances to the ap­ Fabric choices

propriate edges of the faCing, and

In any garment, fabric is a major

draw the faCing grainline parallel

player, but for a shaped hemline,

the grain line of the original pat­

the drape, weave, and thickness of

tern piece.

the fabric can make or break the overall effect.


If you don't plan to use a faCing, test different edge and seam fin­

The easiest fabrics to work with

ishes, such as the binding used

when you are shaping a hemline

on the scalloped hemline of my

are medium-weight fabrics, but you

organza jacket (see p . 64), to find

can shape the edge of a sheer, slip­

one you like. You may need

pery, or very delicate fabric if you

to adj ust the seam

work out an appropriate way to

allowance on the

finish the edge (see instructions


on p. 64). It can be tricky to stabi­

pieces along

lize and finish the shaped edge of a

the hemline,

knit, and thick or stiff fabrics can


be problematic, especially if they

upon the finish

ravel. I've found that knits and

you've chosen.


thick or stiff fabrics only work for a very simple shape and when they

Edge su pport

don't require a hem facing or other

and f i n i s h

edge finish. With napped or direc­

After considering faCing

tional fabrics, or stripes and plaids,

and lining options, next

also consider how the direction of

decide whether you'll need

the nap or fabric design will inter­

extra reinforcement at the

sect the bottom shape.

bottom edge to achieve the

Faci ng or no faci n g ?

t h a t extends away from the

Shaped hemlines constructed from

body, in particular, needs addi-

opaque fabrics often benefit from a

tional stiffness and support. Test

desired shape. A defined shape

hem faCing, which establishes and

a few options (horsehair braid, flex­

supports the shape, and actually

ible boning, twill tape, or layers

makes it easier to achieve a smooth

of firm interfacing) on your fabric

edge. Sheers sometimes work better

before committing to any one tech­

with a narrow hem, binding or

nique. Experiment to see if a hem

serging, and nonraveling heavy­

or other edge finish can be made

the fabric (or against the right side

at the same time the stiffener is

if you will be cutting with the fab­

sewn on.

ric right side up).

reshaped pattern onto a new piece

The f i n a l cut

and thread choices, plus stitch

weight fabrics with no finish at all. To create a simple hem faCing,

Use fabric scraps to test needle

trace the bottom edge of your of paper. Determine the depth of

Here are a few tips for laying out

length and width, which you may

the facing, based on the garment

the pattern pieces and cutting the

need to adj ust. A hemline that is

length, fabric thickness, and the

fabric for a shaped hemline. First,

not parallel to the floor requires

hemline shape (the top edge of

remember to transfer all grainlines

careful planning-and a bit of prob­

Susan Khalje's article

the hem facing is usually parallel

from your original pattern pieces to

lem-solving-but the unique results

"The Scalloped Hem,"

to the hemline). Also work out how

any new pieces. For asymmetrical

are well worth it.


the ends of the hem faCing will join

pattern pieces, mark the pattern to

the rest of the garment: the hem

indicate which side should b e

faCing can be sewn to the front

placed against t h e wrong side o f • Threads

to see

No. 85,

for more on sewing

Fred B loebaum sells her own line oj patterns (


scalloped edges.

december/ja n uary 2 0 0 3


An Al l - i n - O n e Pi ped b i as b i n d i n g d o u b l es as fac i n g and t r i m

or a neat, decorative edge

great on both the right and wrong

finish on garments or soft

sides of fabric (see photo at left).

furnishings, try my all-in­ one piped bias binding.

Tips for perfect tri m

This technique converts

Although many fabrics will work, I

the piping flange to a self­

prefer to use relatively lightweight

finished facing, thus eliminating

woven fabrics that are neither thick

the need for a separate facing or a

nor slippery. My technique uses a

lining. You can make the bias fac­

double layer of bias folded over

ing wide enough to support clo­

cording; I find that thick or stiff

sures, narrow enough to edge the

fabrics yield bulky trim that's dif­

most delicate of fabrics, and flexi­

ficult to maneuver around curves

ble enough to bend around any

and corners. See the gUidelines and

corner or curve. It's a finish that

illustration below to determine how

saves time, reduces bulk, and looks

wide to cut the bias strips.


Add together the desired facing width, the amount of fabric needed to wrap the cording, and the seam allowance, then m ultiply by two. Cut s trips on the true bias for maximum flexibility. (See "Bias Strips Made Easy, " Threads No. pp.


18, 20.)

amount needed to wrap cord ing




Make piped bias binding:

Fold the bias strip in half length­ wise, right side out, a l ign i ng the raw edges; press the fold. Lay the cord ing on the folded strip and wrap the raw edges over it. Using a zipper foot, baste through a l i the


layers close to the cording, but without constricting it.


seam al lowance

Fi n ish

Tri m the edges of a curtain tie-back with

by Sally S i lvers

a narrow piped bias facing. You can make the contrast subtle

When choosing filler for the

the proj ect interior, increasing the

or bold, and choose

piped portion, consider the care

seam allowance by the piping

whether to hang the

of your proj ect and pretreat any

width. Whether or not move the

tie-back facing-side

cording that may shrink when it's

seamline, I draw a guideline to

out-or in.

cleaned. Once you've prepared the

align the edge of the piping. It's

bias strips and filler, you're ready to

easy to see and don't need to pin

assemble the binding.

the trim to attach it accurately. For tips on joining the ends when

sew the faCing to the garment.

Caref u l placement of trim

the piped binding completely rims

Here's a hint for inside curves-you

ensures an even edge

the perimeter of a project, see be­

can pull the cord inside the pip­

low. To reduce bulk at the edges,

ing to tighten it along the curve

Unlike an ordinary bias facing or




binding, this finish will add the

trim the project seam allowance af­

width of the piping to the edges of

ter sewing on the binding. Then

your project; if this doesn't work for

turn the faCing portion to the

the item, move the seamline toward

wrong side, press carefully, and


Sal ly Si lvers develops and teaches streaml ined techniques for sewing creative garments.

See Sally demonstrate this technique on video

www.threads magazine. com. at

Mark an alignment guide for

Use a zipper foot to

A neat join to start and end with:

Overlap the trim ends for a

sewing on the piping on the right

attach the piped

To abut the ends of the binding

quick finish. To overlap the ends of

side of the project. If you wish to

binding. Place the

when you apply it, begin sewing


inch from the starting end.

the binding when you apply it, begin sewing 2 i nches from the starting

compensate for the amount the

binding facing-side up


piping will extend from the edge

on the project, aligning

When you reach the other end, lap

of the finished item, move the

the piping edge to the

it over the first, free inch, by

seamline toward the interior of

right of your guideline.

and leave the overlap unsewn.

leaving both ends unsewn. At each

the project. To do this, mark the

Sew close to the

Remove the basting from the over­

end, push the bias back to expose



align ment guide twice the width

cording. Remove the

lapping end, open out the bias, and

of the piping to the left of the

basting stitches after

cut off

original sea mline, as shown a bove.

the trim is attached.


){ %

inch of the cord. Then fold

inch across the end of the bias

end. When you reach the other end, lap it over the first end by 2 i nches,

the cord ing, and cut off 1 inch of cording. Let the bias relax, then angle the cordless ends into the

Otherwise, mark the guide the

strip. Lay the other end of the bind­

seam allowance. Finish attaching

width of the piping to the left of

ing on top, abutting the cord ends,

the binding, sewing across the

the original sea mline.

and wrap the bias facing back over

empty piped sections where they

the cord. Sew the overlapped

angle over the seam line. Fold under

section i n place.

the free ends of the binding neatly.

december/jan uary 2 0 0 3


LIG HT ON TH E H an d m ad e s l i p p e rs are t h e l ast word

i n coz i n ess fo r toes

by Saskia Wassing-Shepherd




shoes is a lovely idea. Unfortunately, it's also quite a chal­ lenging project. On the other hand, comfortable, long-wearing slippers can be easily made by anyone, in as whimsical or work-a-day style as wanted. The difference is mostly in the sole; slippers simply don't need the toxic glues and heavy­ duty, hard-to-manage soling mate­ rials that shoes require. Of course, the tops (or uppers) of slippers can also be made from much cozier, less sturdy materials than those


that would stand up to the all-day wear of shoes. I've worked out a simple step-by-step process for

__--------------�--�'-� -'---

- Top opening edge



making fabric slippers ( from fit­ ting and patternmaking to stitching on a thin leather sole) that I'll walk you through in the photos on the following pages. The drawing at left shows the parts of a typical slipper, and in the drawings on p . 70, I've sketched a handful of slipper design ideas. Together, these offerings should set you squarely on the path to perfect slip­ pers for all your favorite feet. Just



M a k e t h e s l i p p e r p a tte r n s M a ke the sole pattern.

With the subject

standing barefoot on a piece of sturdy paper, trace around one foot (or both feet if there's a significant difference between them) and cut out the traci ng(s) to make the paper tem plate(s). Mark an approximate center line the length of the template, and a perpendicular line across its widest part. Make the sole pattern(s) by placing the foot template(s) on paper and d rawing around them, allowing about Va-inch ease, except at the front, where you can d raw whatever toe shape you want, so long as it's bigger than the template. Transfer the lines from the template(s), and check that this pattern fits the traced foot (or both feet). M a ke the top pattern.

(poi nts E) and curve to a point about 1 'h inches

With the foot on the sole tem plate,

measure across the widest point (line B), and across the arch,

above line C at the center. To complete the top

approximately where you want the slipper opening to start

pattern, connect the toe point to the opening

(line C). Mark the tem plate where you take

with a smooth curved line throug h each

these measurements. On a piece of paper

end of lines B and C.

placed beneath the template, extend lines B

Cut the top and sole patterns from craft

and C to their measu red lengths as shown,

felt (add %-inch seam allowances arou nd

dividing equally on both sides of the center

the sole and outer edges of the top) and

l ine. To d raw the c u rve at the opening, start

make a mock-up to test the fit and shape



inch below each end of line C

of the opening curve.

Sew the s l i p p e r Cut out the parts.

Adding %-inch seam allowance, mark

and cut out i nsoles, tops, and l i n i ngs. (If using velvet or

8�-]gn� �c' :;; "

ID"' �S�o �• £:���ID .�!:en <1.=g�(f)�o-0-.UVi"��ID;: 2";.;��cij0. ,:1�c -0�a...ID0.E .'"senc0ci�

Sew the tops.

Line each top by joining the lining and top right sides together

along the opening edge. Tu rn right side out and press. Starting at the toe point,

other fabric with pile, point the pile toward the h eel.) Mark

pin and sew each side of the top to the insole, with both the top and i nsole

and cut out felt and leather soles, without seam allowances.

facing u p. With all edges aligned and fabrics right sides together, pin the sole

Remem ber to reverse the pattern for each foot! Cut two

edgi n g strip around the top of the slipper, starting and ending at the i nside arch.

1 %-inch bias-cut sole edg ing stri ps, each long enough to fit

Sew from the underside, stitching on top of o r just inside the previous stitches,

around the outside edge of the sole, plus 'h inch.

as shown below left. Sew the ends of the edging together, and trim to Va inch.

8 -5

december/january 2 0 0 3


Att a c h t h e fe l t Cement the felt to the i nsole.

Make s u re the felt padding fits

Cement the sole edg i ng .

Turn the sole edging away

exactly within the i nsole seamli ne, rig ht. Spread an even layer of

from the felt. Carefu l ly apply contact cement to the inside

contact cement on the wro n g side of the i nsole, i nside the

of the edgi ng, catching the edge of the felt and both


seaml i ne only, below left. Also apply cement to the top side of

sides of all seam allowances, leavin g a clear

the felt sole. Allow the cement to d ry,

loose edge of the edging, as shown below. Then apply a

i nch at the

then press the two g lued surfaces

'h-inch band of cement to the u nderside edge of the felt

together firmly, starting at the h eel

sale, as shown. Place the sli ppers felt side u p o n top of

and worki n g u p to the toe; keep the

some boxes o r spools of thread, so they are clear of the

felt i nside the seamline and s mooth

work s u rface. Allow to d ry.

away any wri n kles or air pockets, below rig ht.


Consider beaded details, applique designs, unusual trims Possible materials are endless, including velvets, satins, silks, wool felt, suede, shear/ing, denim, tapestry, brocades Mix colors for contrasts or go with monochromatic designs Mix patterns on chosen fabrics



Att a c h t h e l e a t h e r s o l e Tri m the leather if

Stitch the sole to the edging.

With a

Secure the edg ing to the felt.

Cement the sole and the padding.

Working your way around the

necessary to fit exactly over the covered felt. Clip any

sli pper's edge from the u nderside,

m iters or excess overlaps so the edging lies flat, as

edge with a %-inch blanket stitch. Stitch

carefully wrap the sole edging

shown below. Apply contact cement evenly to both the

through the leather and then through the

strong thread, sew around the leather's

down and around the felt. Start at

u nderside of the sole leather and the felt, up to % inch

edg ing, i nstead of through both at once,

the front, m itering any corners, as

from the outside edge of each, as shown. Allow to d ry,

using needlenose pl iers, if necessary, to

shown below, and distributing

then carefully attach the

get a firm grip on the needle.

excess evenly around curves, as

sole to the underside of

shown. Keep pressing edging

the sli pper, working

down for a few m i n utes once i n

from heel to toe. Press

place t o ensure a good bond.

together well to ensure a good, even bond.

. .......................................... add embellishment to the tops be­

ment leather with the suede side

fore sewing them to the linings

out for my slipper soles, but any

and machine-sewing required.

or insoles.

synthetic leather or suede would

You'll also need a contact cement

No speci al tools req u i red

the best choices for both the hand­

no doubt also work. To pad the

(and an inexpensive �-inch brush

soles, I chose a \-\-inch-thick indus­

to apply it with) from the hardware

The materials and equipment you'll

trial wool felt, available by mail

store to hold the sole and padding

need for slipper-making are easily

from Dick Blick Art Materials (sold

layers securely in place, but a water­ based cement will work fine; there's

assembled. Any fabric can be used

as press cushions; 800-447-8192);

for the top and top lining. For the


insole and edging, use a medium­

rubber would also be a

weight or hea

good choice. Both ny-


eight fabric so


or '6-inch high-density foam

that your cement won't bleed

lon and polyester

through. I love velvet, so that's what

sewing threads

I've primarily used on my slippers,


but as long as you think your feet

than cotton

will like it, you can give any fabric


a try. I used a medium-weight gar-

so they're


no need for the more toxic, sol­ vent-based ver­ sions.

Saskia Wassing­ Shepherd deSigns, sews, and embroiders in Toron to, Canada.

d e c ember/january 2 0 0 3


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Q u i c k to M a ke If you're busy a nd have only l i m ited time to sew, try these q u i ck-to­

W H E N TH E G 1 FT 1 S T H E G 1 FT W RAP

green and decorate it like a tree-or

the fabric. And of course, the in­

fill it with potpourri or lavender.

tended purpose of the box indi­

Once you get the knack of sewing

cates the appropriate size.

by Judith N eukam

these fabric containers (large or

Draw an equilateral triangle the

small) you'll find they go together

desired size (you'll need a protrac­

Call these textile tetrahedrons, per-

very quickly-with a nifty little zip-

tor or a 60-degree drafting trian­

petual gift wraps, soft boxes, or

per trick, too.

gle): To begin, draw a baseline the

use them in myriad ways: as you

Draftsmanship fi rst

piece of pattern paper. At each end,

would Christmas stockings (to bear

First make your pattern. This is

draw a line at a 60-degree angle to

m a ke ideas.

length of the triangle side on a

what you will. The fact is, you can

small gifts year after year), as part

based on an equilateral triangle,

the baseline, extending these lines

of a special present (picture a tidy

which will form each of the four

until they meet, as shown below.

bundle enclosing precious jewels),

sides of the box. I'm not listing di­

At each triangle point on the

or as singular gifts for which the re­

mensions because the triangle can

baseline, draw a perpendicular line.

cipients choose an end use (per­

be whatever size you choose, and

At the top point of the triangle,

haps just to hold postage stamps).

you can base its dimensions on

draw a line parallel to the baseline,

Make a large padded one for your

other factors, such as the amount

through these two lines, forming

cat to sleep in, or put on a handle

of fabric you have for the project,

a rectangle. Mark the baseline

and carry it like a purse. Hang one

the size of the tassel you plan to

"fold" and add a %-inch seam al­

from the holiday tree-make i t

use, or the scale of the pattern on

lowance to the three other edges

H E R E'S TH E A N G LE Simple drafting makes the pattern, then just mark your fabric with the angle points and connect the lines to guide the uncompli­ cated sewing. Notice you only use one half of the zipper for a unique U-turn application.

:,--- -- -; - - -- - -:I






I, ----....! , ·'·. ".""Baste"�.:�:along �ne. .... .



of the rectangle. Cut out

line the box, cut a lining the same

the pattern.

shape as your p attern and sew it into the seam with the zipper,

Cut and sew

then complete the fabric box, treat­

Fold your fabric

ing the two layers as one. Tack

and, using your

the lining at the corners to keep it

pattern, cut out

in place. Lastly, decorate the zipper pull

a rectangle. Un­ fold the fabric and back the

with tassels, ribbons, charms,

wrong side with a heavyweight

beads, recycled j ewelry, or hand­ sewn gift tags.

fusible interfacing. Baste % inch from one long edge

so you'll be able to turn the box

of the fabric, then turn the fabric

right side out later. Hold each un­

Judith Neukam, Threads

right side up. Using your pattern,

sewn edge at its midpOint and

assistant ed itor, was

transfer the outline of the triangle

spread apart, refolding the fabric so

inspired to make

to both halves of the fabric, see il­

the seam and zipper align. Sew the

this project by

lustration at top right on p. 78.

edges together and turn the box

Linda Lee and

Fold the fabric along the triangle

right side out through the zipper.

Marcy Tilton.

outlines, one edge at a time, and edgestitch from point to point.

F i n i s h i n g touches

Prepare a nylon zipper (it should

There are many options for finish­

be at least 2 inches longer than the

ing your box. If it is large and the

long edge of the fabric) by prying

fabric is heavy, you may want to

the metal stops off the top and bot­

cut an extra backing from �-inch­

tom, opening the zipper, and re­

thick sheets of foam rubber, buck­

moving the pull. Set aside the pull. Place the fabric right side up.

ram, heavy felt, or heavier inter­ facing. These can be

Center one half of the zipper, right

tacked to the seam

side down, on the basted edge,

allowances after the

aligning the teeth with the stitches

box is made or

and the tape over the seam al­ lowance. Sew the zipper tape to the fabric. (Do not stitch too close

you want to

to the teeth-a zipper foot is not necessary.) Then fold the seam al­ lowance and zipper to the wrong side along the basting line and top­ stitch through all the layers. Referring to the illustration at the bottom left of p. 78, fold the fabric in half at the midpoint of the zip­ per. Bring the zipper ends together and ease them back into the zipper pull. Close the zipper and make sure the pull sits at the fabric fold. Refold the fabric wrong side out.

For gift-giving with flair, sew a four-sided gift wrapper for

Sew the edges opposite the zipper

everyone on your list. Use precious, witty, or themed fabrics,

together. Open the zipper halfway

a n d have f u n a d d i ng trim.

december/jan uary 2 0 0 3


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D e l i c i o u s D e ta i l s come across recently.


To tell us a bout the

Vintage costume expert Heather

Here a re some of t h e best deta ils we've

PATT E R N M A N I P U LAT I O N S F O R C O W LS The extra material for a draped cowl shape is usually created by simply slashing and spreading an existing pattern piece.

best deta ils you've

Claus brings us a collection of in足

d iscovered, m a ke a

triguing variations on the cowl. To

good sketch, a n d

help us understand how they are

S i d e cowls, skirt or pa nts

note w h e r e t h e deta i l

made, she begins by demonstrating

i s from. Include y o u r

the simple patternmaking proce足

Align the front and back at the side seam hemline; then spread.

add ress and p h o n e

dures for adding a cowl to an ex足

number a n d s e n d to

isting pattern. Says Heather: "The

Threads Details,

cowl comes in and out of fashion

63 S. Main St.,

but has always provided designers

Newtown, CT

with an easy way to add graceful


drape to almost any garment. The

S l eeve cowl Slash.


drawings at right show how spread足 ing a central vertical slash forms the basis for virtually all cowl shapes. Pivoting some or all the

Bodice cowl Pivot all/part of the bodice dart control to the neckline. Divide distance A by 2 to determine the depth of the cowl drape.

I nset or add-on cowl panel From a 1 930s fashion magazine. A button toggle holds a cowl panel together modestly at the neck. A panel like this would be easy to set into, or add on top of, an existing style. It could be used as an addition to a skirt or asymmetrical jacket, or as a pocket.

S h a llow cowl

Flip the half pattern on the center front line and duplicate it.

A Deep cowl

Flip and duplicate the half pattern, then spread from the waistline.



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D e l ic io u s D e t a i l bodice-front sloper dart

Cowl s leeves

control to the neckline

From a 1 932 McCall's pattern. The sleeves have a large cowl at the top and would be great short as well as long. Try this at the sides of pants, skirts, or at the side seams below the waist of a jacket.





stitched is also a com­ mon way to create a subtle neckline cowl. Always cut cowl pattern pieces on the bias to


Cowl contro l l ed with tucks

Bias cowl with raglan sleeves From a 1 930s DuBarry pattern. A gentle cowl is inserted between two raglan sleeve seams and is the result of rotating the darts, without additional spreading. This would be neat at a skirt or pants front, between two waistline darts.

From a 1 950 Vogue pattern. This cowl is initially formed with the same simple spreading of the pattern as the previous example but has been further held in place and shaped with carefully draped and stitched tucks.

achieve the best drape. Also plan a cut-on fac­ ing that can fold to the inside so you won't have the weight and tightness of a seam at the top of the drape. In the drawings at right and on p. 82, you'll find a few vintage treaUnents of this classic detail."

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Exploring Desig n Here's a look at de­ sign a n d some of t h e problems w e recently


posed as well a s the results t h ey brought.

T h e Denim Challenge awards were presented by Threads assistant editor Judy Neukam at t h e PACC

2002 conference. Here she is shown with winners Shawn Shepherd (in g reen), Patricia Robison (in charcoal), and Evelyn Bash (next to model in white). An array of finalist entries is at left.

In May of 200l, for the third

used, and that if the denim were

swatches, and descriptions of the

time, Threads invited the Pro­

combined with other fabrics, it must

garments. From these, finalists were

fessional Association of Cus­

make up at least 75 percent of the

selected and asked to send their gar­

tom Clothiers (PACC) members

outfit. One year later, on May 5 ,

ments to Threads, where the editors

to participate in a garment con­

2002, the winners o f the juried com­

faced a difficult challenge of their

test. Our challenge this year: se­

petition were announced in Chica­

own-selecting only [our winners.

lect a denim fabric in any weight

go, as the finale to PACC's annual

Several of the finalists can be seen

convention fashion show.

at left and more at www.threads

or color to make a garment or en­ semble with a distinctive pocket.

To select the winners, Threads ed­

We requested that the design be in­

itors blind-judged the entries sub­

magazine. com.

When Threads asked for some­

mitted by the 36 PACC members

thing different in denim, there was

who accepted the chal-

no question that PACC members­

that commercial patterns and

lenge. We began by re-

who spend their professional lives

original designs both could be

viewing photographs,

solving dressmaking problems­

novative, interesting, and wearable. Our only other instructions were

would give us a show. We received jackets, coats, and pantsuits-gar­ ments one would expect to see entered in a denim chal­ lenge, but interpreted in ways that were not predictable. Completely unexpected were the exciting eveningwear and wedding dress entries. Turn the page to see the four winning garments. Judith Neukam is an assis­

tant editor at Threads.


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december/january 2 0 0 3


p l o r i n 9 D e s i 9 n (oooUo"d) I


Cli nton, Mass.


Most Successful

Best Construction

Livermore, Cal if.

Garment O verall Caryne calls her entry a "Survival Coat." It's really three coats in one: a reversible coaL wiLh 1 00percent cotton denim in black on one side and, on the reverse, an unusual (black and lavender on cream) leopard print. A de-


tachable hood and an over-

yoke are black-lined with lavender grape. Worn black-side out, the coat is sporty­ looking and geared for daytime use. With more than six pockets, it will help you surOn her entry form, Evelyn told us, "My

vive an entire day of shopping-there's no

challenge was to create a beautiful, ele­

need to carry a pocket­

gant bridal ensemble from a fabric more

book. This side was

traditionally associated with work clothes.

made of over 20 rectan­

My goal? To have the garment make the

gular pieces of denim

statement, 'Of course, it's a denim bridal

serged together, then it

dress! ' rather than 'Whoever heard of a

was top stitched. But­

denim bridal dress?'" The dress and j a cket of Evelyn's three-piece ensembl e is based on Butterick pattern 659l.

tonholes secure flaps in front to keep out the wind. The coat zips and snaps to be extra weather-ready.

The dress is a strapless

Remove the hood and over­

(with a boned inner

yoke and turn the coat inside

bodice added for sup­

out to reveal the dressier

port), ankle-length column, with a detachable swallow-tail

leopard side. Inside one of

train. The long-sleeved, waist-length j acket has distinctive

the pockets is an orig­

breast pockets beaded with ivory pearls, clear iridescent

inal matching pill­

sequins, and milky iridescent seed beads, which spill over like vines

box-style hat.


made this coat

and coordinate with other beaded

by draping rectangular pieces and

embellishments on the neckline,

other shapes on a dress form, pinning,

cuffs, waist, back yoke, collar, and

and sewing. I didn't encounter any prob­

train panels. In a nod to classic denim

lems making this garment, but I did

styling, Evelyn topstitched her ensemble

have to curb my imagination or I would

in champagne-colored Sulky thread, which she also used for

have gone on and on with pockets and

the hand-stitched buttonholes.

design details. I have always loved to make reversible pieces with a casual style on one side and a formal flair on the other," wrote Caryne.




It's never been easy bei ng a perfection ist.

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To see more of the


PACC Denim Challenge finalist's garments,




I Can�t Believe It�s

closure with a lime

Denim and the


Audience Choice


"My outfit is composed of a jacket,

look for fabric, I


"When I went to bustier (McCall's 3315) and pants, previous plans changed to a busti­

all made of a cotton/Lurex/poly­ ester green, pink, and orange den­

er and j eans, and then I made a

im in an oil-slick pattern. The jack­

jacket to complete the look," Shawn

et yoke is hand-beaded to echo the

told Threads. "I feel my ensemble would be

fabric design, and accented with Swarovski rhinestones. Pink pip­

suitable for a night out on the town. For

ing around the yoke, down the

the people who dare to be different, it

sleeve, and around the entire

may even work for a prom or any event re­

perimeter of the neck and hem

quiring formal dress. The Lurex content

punctuate the silhouette. The

makes the fabric very shiny, however, a

jacket and pants are fully lined

shirt could be worn with the jacket and

with lime green polyester shan­

pants, and then the outfit would be less

tung. There are two double-welt

formal. I really enjoyed designing and

pockets in the jacket front and a

making the ensemble! "


Bel l i ng ham, Wash.

Most Successful Pocket Patricia's strapless evening gown (Vogue

Shawl with Sleeves," by Debra Blum and

2481 ) , made of glazed cotton/Lycra

Moises Diaz) is a sheer rayon metallic

denim, is shaped by draped

fabric with a denim band and

pleats and has hand beading

hand-beaded embellishment.

around the top edge and side

tion, Patricia said, "I love

lades in the unusual pocket

these challenges because

challenge by taking an un­

they make me try new

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(Required by 39 USC 3685)

1. Publication title:

Publication No.: 0882-7370. 3. Fil­

ing date: Sept. 15, 2002. 4. Issue frequency: Bimonthly.

No. of

issues published annually: 6. 6. Annual subscription price: $32.95.

P.O. Box 5506, Newtown, Fairfield County,

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Mailing address of headquaners of publisher: 63 S. Main St., Box 5506, Newtown,


Publisher: Kathleen

Da\'is, same as 8.; Execmivc Editor: Carol Spier, same as 8. Owner: The Taunton Press, Inc., 63 S. Main St., NewtO\.vn,

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data below: Aug/Sept 2002.

Extent and nature of circulation:


Average no. copies

Actual no. copies

each issue

of single issue

during preceding




filing dale

a. Total no. copies



Sales through dealers

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53.840 107.569

Total paid and/or requested circulation

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g. Total distribution


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17. I



Percent paid and/or requested circulation


Fabrics and patterns for swimsuits, lingerie, skating, drill team and dance costumes. A fantastic selection of Iycras, powernets, glistenets, tricots, lingerie laces, notions, underwires, bra cups, etc. Quantity dis­ counts available. Catalog-$3.00. Color swatches­ $2.00. FABRIC DEPOT, P O. Box 4 1 1 , Garwood, TX 77442-041 1 . Phone or Fax (979) 758-3100.


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EKLY ASSEMBLING beaded jewelry/ products from home. Rush SASE: Home Assembly­ TH, Box 216, New Britain, CT 06050-0216.

b. Paid and/or requested cin:ulation



Mailing address of office of publication: 63 S. Main Sl.,

certify that the statements made by me above are correct and

complete. Signature: Kathleen Davis, Publisher.

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For more information from advertisers, use reader service card inside back cover. For quick access to their websites, go to the Index to Advertisers at Reader Service


Web Address

Page #

p. 99


Able Labels of Sarasota Academy of Fine Sewing & Design Academy of Fashion Design Acme Country Fabrics Ahead Productions All Brands Alto's Quilt CUt Amazing Designs Amazon Drygoods American Sewing Center American Sewing Guild Angus International Apple Annie Fabrics AzraiaJewelry Baby Lock Baby Lock Barudan America, Inc. Batik World Batiks Etcetera Beacon Fabric & Notions Beads By Betsy The Bee Lee Company Bernina Bernina Bernina Best Impressions Best Sewing Bestfoods Specialty Products Blueprints-Printables Bo-Nash Born to Quilt Brother Brown Paper Patterns The Buckhead Fabric Salon Bullard Designs Burda World of Fashion Button Box Quilt Shop Cactus Punch Calontir Trim Christine Jonson Patterns Cochenille Design Studio Contemporary Cloth The Cotton Boll COllon Boutique Cotton Plus The Couture Sewing School The Craft Connection Create For Less Creative Sew & N eedlework Festival Creative Sewing Center Creative Sewing Machines Criswell Embroidery & Design Cutting Corners Cy Rudnick's Fine Fabrics Cynthia's Fine Fabrics Da'Max DaTT, Inc.

1 04


27 60138 64213 671621 4185221 23588 7529 186234 4439 354 1505 201174173 50144240 219 191 205215 63140 136101 95134 3735 232 7312 135236 4253 74172 96168147 83

Designs Unlimited Digitape Designs

p. 98

D'uva Fine Artist Materials

p 98

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p. 97

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p. lOO

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p. 9

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p. 92

p. 75

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p. 25


p 75

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p. 3 1




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p. 1 7

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p. 18

Gayfeather Fabrics

p. 87

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Goldblatt Distributors

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Homespun Wide Fabrics

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Horn of America, Inc.

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Reader Service

Web Address

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p. 96

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p. 83

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p. 99

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december/january 2 0 0 3

1 05

Closures Have comments you want to s h a re a bout sewing or needlework? A


Most of the fabric stores were with­

talked sewing talk with the same

in a five-block area, and we planned

gusto that men talk football.

to hit them all. After breakfast the first morning

by Mi ndy Sau nders

f u n ny or interesting

Our bus was going to leave at 6:30 in the morning, so we had to

we headed to the stores we were

pack that night. What fun we had

story a bout you r

Whenever I want to return to the

advised to visit. By 2 p.m. we had

stuffing 55 pieces of fabric into four

embellishing o r

Caribbean, where my husband and

filled our bags with fabric, so we re­

canvas bags and two duffel bags. "Maybe we can ask the hotel to

q u i lting adventures?

I spent six years cruising in our

turned to the hotel and stashed our

A page from you r

sailboat, I open the closet door in

purchases before buying any more.

sketch book we ought

my sewing room; there I find

In the afternoon, the city streets

"No way," said Sharon. "I bet if I

to see? Send it to:

enough fabrics from every West In­

were clogged with people and bus­

sit on this it will compress and fit."

Threads Closures,

dian island to fill half a fabric store.

es. We were having trouble breath­

I filled my duffel bag with a stack

And there was no shopping ad­

ing after walking just a few blocks.

of fabric and then Sharon sat on it.


venture quite like the one my friend

Fortunately, I had two bandannas

I helped her up and qUickly

Newtown, CT

Sharon and I took while our hus­

in my backpack; I gave one to

stacked more fabric on top so she


bands did "boat things" while

Sharon, then opened up mine and

could repeat the

docked in a marina along the Rio

qUickly formed a mask. Voila! The

laughed uncontrollably until the

Dulce. Sharon and I took a bus to

noxious fumes were cut drastically

hotel's manager came to the door.

Guatemala City, found a hotel room

and we walked more comfortably.

The next morning we wore as

63 S. M a i n St.,



downtown, and planned our shopping strategy.

"People are at us, Mindy," Sharon said in a muffled voice. "So what?" I replied. "They don't know who we are." "I hope the cops don't nab us as burglary suspects," she said, near­ ly tripping over a canvas bag. When we got back to the ho­ tel we barely made it up the stairs with the fabric. As we

ship this to the marina," I said.



much as we could and headed slowly to the bus terminal. Three bags each was almost too much, even for a couple of fabricaholics still drunk on our purchases. We had to stop to shift our loads as we tried to find a water taxi large enough to carry us back to the ma­ rina. When we arrived our hus­ bands gasped at the Sight of us.

examined each piece we de­

We were looking forward to

clared our plans for it. We

sewing; all we had to do was set

envisioned making wallets

the color and shrink each piece.

for Christmas gifts, pillow

It's years later and I still wear some

shams and upholstered

of my shorts, and my husband

cushions for our boats,

wears the shirts I made him.

shirts for our husbands,

Sadly, my stash of fabric grew

shorts for ourselves-our

when I inherited Sharon's after her

creativity was endless.

death a few years ago. I think I'll

After we unloaded our

make a basic qUilted throw of all

bags, we returned to the stores

this happy fabric. Sharon would

and shopped until suppertime.

enjoy that because I'll have to take

We slept like babies that night

a quilting class to expose me to

and awakened early in the morning

more fabrics and more wonderful

to begin the whole process again. We ate at a Chinese restaurant

women who hang out in fabric stores and dream creative dreams.

our second night in the city, and fell

1 06


exhausted into a booth. We

Mindy Saunders, from Salida, Colo.,

dragged out our purchases, and

is a retired reporter and sailor.

tel Husqvarna


�� eve

Iking Iris

Husqvarna V


ng you own will be

broidery. From the out of the box, the


and decorative stitches of optional embroidery and embroidery will blossom. For a limited time only, Iris is in

full bloom

)only at your local authorized Husqvarna Viking dealer. To find your nearest dealer visit http://


FREE Sul k y Sl i m l i n e hiKis. t . " with the purchase o f

The Sulky Slimline Kit and thre'dd would cost

if Good

S 127.63 24, 2002.

purchased separately.

Offer expires December

at palticipating dealers.



Exquisite embroidery and

exuberant color run rampant over this late nineteenth cen­ tury crazy quilt. The fabrics are silk, the embroidery is worked by hand with fine chenille as well as cotton floss, and the quilt is in exceptional condition. To enj oy our flirtation with contemporary crazy quilting, turn to p.


Threads%20magazine%20104%20 %20january%202003  
Threads%20magazine%20104%20 %20january%202003