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techn i q u es


12 Fresh Garment-Industry Tips Refine your sewn results with this sampling of great techniques from the latest ready-to-wear BY LOUISE CUTTING

On the cover: Go to


Lay Out and Cut Accurately Pay special attention to the first step of garment construction,

p. 76 to get sound counsel from a pillow pro on the best forms for your projects. Photos by Sloan Howard

and save time and trouble later BY CONNIE CRAWFORD

des i g n

48 A New Way to Pleat Fabric Add texture to fabric using fusible interfacing, string, and a large, cardboard, builder's tube Online extra: Patricia shares a gallery of her pleated garments BY PATRICIA CONGLETON


Log Cabin Piecing, Freestyle For simple quilts and smashing details or accessories, frame a fabric square with coordinating strips Online extra: Try your hand at Susan's spin on piecing with a few quick projects BY SUSAN B. ALLEN




fabr i c

Know Your Knits T his guide to the confusing world of knit fabrics will help you select and use a knit with confidence BY SARAH VEBLEN


Underline with Silk Organza for Invisible Strength Without adding bulk or weight, this strong, but delicate-looking, fabric supports a garment's shape BY JUNO FRIEDMAN

You'll find a helpful guide through the puzzling maze of knit fabrics beginning on p. 59.

Turn to p. 34 to see results of the recent RS/WS Wool Challenge.

deta i l s


Bobbin Work: When Threads Are Too Thick for the Needle Use hefty threads, yarns, braids, and ribbons in the bobbin, and sew from the wrong side to create exciting stitched effects BY SHAREE DAWN ROBERTS


Pillow Forms: What's Inside? Down, foam, or poly? Here's how to match the pillow stuffing to its purpose, and where to find it. BY LAUREL SPRIGG


Feel like some freestyle fun with your fabric fragments? Follow your fingers to p. 84.

The Interfaced Hem Interfacing smoothly shapes a garment hem, prevents clinging, and reduces wrinkling. Here's how to choose and apply interfacing for various hems. BY CLAIRE SHAEFFER

depa rt m e n ts




Letters Neue Mode news, tips for sewing with leather

Page 54 brings you a dozen delicious tips from the garment industry.


Tips Creating stronger fringe; high-hip alteration


Questions Avoiding injury: carpal tunnel syndrome

22 28 34

Basics Sewing a hem

Fitting Altering for a sway back

Exploring Design RS/WS Wool Challenge Online extra: Vote for your favorite garment


Tools of the Trade Singer Izek, Baby Lock Ellageo, Bernina Activa 145


When do you sew decorative stitches from the wrong side of your fabric? Answer: See p. 64.

Quick to Make Endless tube scarf




Delicious Details


Advertiser Index/

Quilt Studio, Graced by Lace, Kimono: Vanishing Tradition

Vintage collars

Web Directory




Back Cover


Satin-brocade dress and coat by Pauline Trigere

The Taunton Press

Inspiration for hands-on living'¡

Cont ributor s Susan B. Allen ("Log Cabin Piecing, Freestyle") is a

former associate editor at Threads and now a contributing editor. Hooked on fabric, she loves inventing ways to mix textures, stripes, vintage fabrics, and kimono silks; and her line of ethnically

TH READS Editor in Chief Kathleen Davis


Art Director

Christine Timmons

Karen Meyer

inspired accessories sells under the label Susan Allen

Senior Editor

Art. She has also been an entertaining speaker at

David Page Coffin

Associate Editors

conventions and conferences for more than 15 years. Her favorite topic? Creativity! These days, her most delightful creative project is 3-year-old daughter, Haley, who

Carol J. Fresia, Jennifer Sauer

Assistant Editor

lives with Susan and her husband David in a renovated 1927 tobacco warehouse in downtown Durham, N.C.

Judy Neukam

Copy/Production Editor Rita Scanlan

Patricia Congleton ("A New Way to Pleat Fabric"), of

Diamond Bar, Calif., has always loved to sew: first for

Associate Art Director

Sarah Veblen ("Know Your Knits"), of Sparks, Md., has

Linda Boston

Imaging Specialist

designed and created custom clothing for 17 years. As

her dolls, then for herself, and

well as lecturing across the country and regularly

finally for her family. Four years

contributing to Threads, Sarah recently launched her

ago, she joined the American

Intensive Study Program in Fashion Design to help

Sewing Guild, and she now

promote a better understanding of the many facets of

teaches and has trunk shows of

designing and sewing.

William M. Godfrey

Editorial Secretary Nancy C. Guitard

Contributing Editors Susan B. Allen, Linda Lee, Karen Morris, Mary Ray

Publisher Sarah Roman

her designs. She's also a gardener and proud grandmother of 13.

Circulation Manager

Connie Crawford ("Lay Out and Cut Accurately") is the

Jeanne Todaro

author of seven sewing and pattern making textbooks, Claire Shaeffer ("The Interfaced Hem"), an internationally

which bring traditional

known sewing author, expert, and speaker, initially went

garment-industry methods

to Florida State University to be a dancer in the circus.

to home-sewers. She lives

Today, she lives with her husband, Charles, and two

in Sedona, Ariz.; teaches

dogs in Palm Springs, Calif. Recently, she developed a

around the country; and is

collection of Couture Classics for Vogue Patterns.

the designer and CEO of

Nancy Clark

Associate Advertising Sales Manager Angelyn Termini

Account Managers Lori J. Galanis, Tracey Lenahan

Advertising Secretary Marjorie Brown

Senior Editor, Fiber Arts Books

Fashion Patterns by Coni, Louise Cutting ("12 Fresh Garment·lndustry Tips") has

styles created exclusively

sewn since she was a child, and nowadays divides her

for plus sizes.

Circulation Planner

Carol Spier Threads: (lSSN:

0882·7370) is pub·

lished bimonthly by The Taunton Press, Inc., Newtown, CT

time among Cutting Corners, a couture custom clothing business

Juno Friedman ("Underline with Silk Organza for Invisible

she created 24 years ago; Fabric

Strength"), of Kansas City, Mo., started sewing at age

Collections, a fabric store

12 and, by the time she was

established 12 years ago in Winter

degree in psychology gathered dust over the years as

Park, Fla.; and her newest venture,

she built a dressmaking business, taught sewing, and

The Cutting Line Design patterns.

finally turned exclusively to custom dressmaking.

16, had paying clients. Her

Sharee Dawn Roberts ("Bobbin Work: When Threads

Laurel Sprigg ("Pillow Forms-What's Inside?") started

are Too Thick for the Needle")' a fashion designer in

making doll clothes in kindergarten and hasn't stopped

Paducah, Ky., has won numerous awards for her

sewing since. She studied dressmaking and tailoring but

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found her niche working with larger quantities of fabric.

$36 for one year, $62 for $88 for three years (payable in U.S. funds). Single copy, $6; single copy outside the U.S., $7.

art-to-wear has been exhibited throughout the United

For nine years, Laurel Sprigg, Inc., in San Francisco has

Postmaster: Send address changes to

States, Japan, and Europe. Among many creative

provided interior designers and architects with couture·

hobbies, Sharee Dawn also enjoys gourmet cooking,

quality curtains, pillows, bedcovers, and slipcovers, to


gardening, and beading.

which Laurel applies her dressmaking and tailoring skills.

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october/november 2 0 0 1


Lette r s

The Taunton Press

Inspiration for hands-on livingm

We welcome your comments, criticisms, advice, and ideas. Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity. Please


write to: Threads Letters, 63 S. Main St., PO Box 5506, Newtown, CT 06470-5506;


Founders, Paul and Jan Roman

or via e-mail:



Contri butors page

&- CEO

Chief of Operatiom Finance Director

You may have noticed in recent issues


that we've included more photographs of authors in their articles. Since many readers have written to say how much

Contributing editor Karen Morris replies: I

they enjoy seeing what the authors

spoke with Mark Zaremski, president of

look like, we decided to go a step fur­

Sullivans, USA, the exclusive distributor of

ther and tell you more about the sew­

Neue Mode patterns for North and South America, and he said that the German pub­

ers writing the articles in Threads. On p . 6, you'll find our new Contributors page. Let us know what you think.

lisher of Neue Mode ceased its publication

S h owdown with show-thro u g h

I read Lisa Shepard's article "Invisible Un­

pattern collection, visit their Web site at

derlayers" in No. 96 (pp. 50-53), and she's

www.sullivans. net/usa.

ments drive me bananas, and I've never known how to solve the problem. Thank you so much for the article, which I will be

Threads and broken bones

In September 1998, I was unfortunate enough to break my leg. However, on visit­ ing the hospital for my x-ray, I was cheered

Timothy Rahr

Jon Miller Sarah Roman

Publisher, Books

James Childs

Editorial Director

Marc Vassallo

Creative Director Human Resources Director Controller Technology Services Director Associat< Ad Sales Director

Susan Edelman Carol Marotti Wayne Reynolds Edward Kingston Jeff Dwight


President, Jan Roman TAUNTON DIRECT

President, Sarah Roman TAUNTON NEW MEDIA

Director, Suzanne Roman

the only person I've ever seen deal with this issue. Shoulder pads, facings, darts and seam allowances that show through on gar­

Thomas Luxeder

Publisher, Magazines

about two years ago. Neue Mode patterns, however, are still produced and are avail­ able from Sullivans and a number of other retailers. To browse through the current


John Lively


Books: Marketing: Allison Holiet[, Kathryn Dolson, Susan Liebel, Ellen W illiams. Editorial' Elissa Altman, Lori Runco. Peter Chapman. Carol Kasper, Carolyn Mandarano, Suzanne Noel, Jennifer Peters, Stephanie Ramp, Jennifer Renjilian, Carol Spier. Art: Paula Schlosser, Joanne Bisson, Wendi Mijal, Lynne Phillips, Carol Singer, Rosalind Wanke.

putting into use immediately. I might even

up immensely. There, in the usual pile of boring magazines, was a copy of Threads.

make my first pair of white pants to cele­

What a find! I was completely enthralled. I

Carolyn Kovaleski. Magazine Print Production: Philip Van


already had the Threads books Couture

Manufacturing: Thomas Greco, Michael Gyulay. Business Office: Holly Smith, Gayle Hammond. Legal: Kirk, Nicole Anastas.

Distribution: Paul Seipold, Aaron Lund, Mary Ann

-Lynne W i l son-Orr, via e-m ail

Coscagliola, Deborah Greene, Linnea Ingram, Frederick Monnes, Christopher Moyer, Leo Reddy, Elsie Rodriguez,

No more Neue Mode magazine?

F I D M reviews Threads

I'm an avid seamstress and a Threads sub­

Recently the Fashion Institute of De­ sign and MerchandiSing (FIDM),

scriber, and have seen regular references to

Alice Saxron.

Finance/Accounting: Finance: Marcia Foscer, David Wasserman, Kachy Worth. Accounting: Pacrick Lamontagne, John Vaccino, Andrea Henchcliffe, Irene Arfaras, Lydia Krikorian, Elaine Yamin, Carol Diehm, Margarec Bafundo, Dorochy Blasko, Susan Burke, James Pose, Lorraine Parsons,

I've also long been a fan of the monthly

which has four campuses in Califor­ nia, added magazines to the regular

Neue Mode pattern magazine as well as the

book-review section on their Web site

Fulfillment: Patricia Williamson, Diane Goulan. Client

Burda publications, but Neue Mode appears

( and featured Threads

to be no longer published. Do you know

as the first magazine reviewed. In ad­

Services: Jodi Klein, Nancy Brown, Donna Capalbo, Renee Pagelson, Jeannine Piselli. Customer Service: Ellen Grassi, Carole Ando, Bonnie Beardsley, Katherine Clarke, Frances

what happened to it? Sewing hasn't been

dition to the book and magazine re­

Denninger, Alfred Dreher, Monica Duhancik, Summerlily

the same since Burda holds the monopoly

views, you'll find lots of other infor­

on the European newsstand.

mative, intriguing features to explore

Neue Mode patterns in your pattern reviews.

-Corinna Vie reck, Montreal, GC, Canada



on FIDM's site.

Priscilla Wakeman.

Gajdosik, Margarec Hicock, Barbara Lowe, Theresa Mazzacone, Eileen McNulty, Deana Parker, Jon Scroker, Marylou Thompson. Data Entry: Anne Champlin, Madelaine Frengs, Debra Sennefelder, Andrea Shorrock, Betty Stepney.

Human Resources: Linda BalJerini, Chriscine Lincoln, Dawn Ussery.

Creative Sewing

•• HeiFinerlIomomportLacesed FabrSuppl ics ies Silk, nRigbEmbmi bon d"y ••• "wi Clas es

Leslie Kern, Roger Seliga, Heidi Waldkirch, Gabriel Dunn, Kathy Martin, Robert Nielsen, Marjorie Omalyev, Linda


Reddington, Lawrence Sullivan, Cynthia Zibelin. Desktop and Network Support: Kenneth Jones, Michael Colonari, Michael Lewis, Joseph Manganello, Jay Walker. Marketing: Promotion: Mary Beth Cleary, Srephanie Fagan,

Maria LaPiana, Jennifer Rotunda. Promotion Print Production:

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Ph: 920-499-7003


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Information Technology Services: Applicatiom Development:





Russo, Peter Lewis, Pamela Winn. Photography: Anthony Phillips. Prepress: Deborah Cooper, Richard Booch, William Bivona, David Blasko, James Chappuis, Brian Leavitt, Chansam Thammavongsa. Advertising Production: John Garofalo, Patricia Petro, Stephen Roma, Kachryn Simonds, Martha Stammer, Carole Weckesser. Editorial' Steven Aitken. Taunton Direct: Deborah Curry Johnston, Nancy Clark,

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Fine Woodworking Fine Homebuilding Threads Fine Gardening Fine Cooking

Our magazines are for people who are passionate abour their pursuits.Written by practicing experts in the field, Taunton Press magazines pr ov ide authentic. reliable information supported by instructive and inspiring visuals. TAUNTON BOOKS Our books are filled with in-depth information and creative ideas fcom the finest authors in their fields. Whether you're practicing a craft or engaged in the creation of your home, Taunton books will inspire you to discover new levels of accomplishment. WWW.TAUNTON.COM OUf Web site is a place where you can discover more about the interests you enjoy, converse with fellow enthusiasts, shop at


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The Taumon Press, Inc., Taunton Direct, Tnc., Taunton Trade Company, Inc., and Taunton New Media, Inc., are all subsidiaries of Taunton, Inc.


158 october/november 2 0 01


Let t e r S


Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaef­

fer and Shirtmaking by David Page Coffin, and here was THE maga­ zine. I confess that I "borrowed" the issue till my next visit. But this find cheered me so much that my husband ordered me a three-year subscription as a present, and I've just reordered my second three­ year subscription. -Joy Hendron, Aberdeen, Scot land

Leather plaud its and q uery

Thanks for a stunning September

On the road

Sandy Scrivano replies: Lambskin is

this issue, but I have to hold myself back until my classes are over in

one of the most desirable leathers

and/or presentation at the shows listed below. If you attend,

for making garments. When con­

please stop by to say hello.

September. If you put out another

structing the garment, be sure to

issue like this, I might have to change my focus from landscape

use the cold tape mentioned in the

architecture to fashion design.

-La u ren Bu rton, Palo Alto, Cal if.

In October and November, Threads will have a booth

article on points of stress. And if the leather stretches over time, just

Original Sewing &. Craft Expo Hyatt Regency Crown Center,

open a seam and take it in. But re­

Kansas City, MO; 800-699-6309; Sept. 27-29

article "Classic Leather Pants" (p. 64-69): What types of leather are suitable for pants? I love the buttery softness of sheep leather, but I'm

member that, while you can take in a leather garment, if you let it back out, the needle holes will show.

Donald E. Stevens Convention

Concerning tradema rks

Rosemont, IL; 800-699-6309;

concerned that because it's so soft, it may stretch excessively,

I'm dismayed to see that references

Oct. 18-20

to Belva Barrick's Seam Stick in my

Meanwhile, I have one question for Sandy Scrivano regarding her

Original Sewing & Craft Expo

Center, 9301 W. Bryn Mawr,

Basics article "Pressing 101" in No.

Creative Sewing &. Craft Expo

95 (pp. 14,16) were not accompa­ nied by a trademark symbol. A

Exhibiti.on Place, The National Trade Center (Halls C and D),

Threads is a reader-written magazine, and we're always

Seam Stick is a trademarked term,

Toronto, ON, Canada; Oct. 19-22

looking for new authors. We welcome proposals,

not a generic one.

Want to write for Threads?

photographs, and ideas from readers, and in particular are looking for the following at the moment: Terrific sewing tips.

- Mary Roehr, S e d ona, Ariz.

Quilt Festival George R. Brown Convention

Editor Chris Timmons replies: For

Center, 7660 Woodway, Houston,

Readers who have extensively studied the design

years, Threads' editorial policy has

TX; 7 13-781-6864; Nov. 1-4

and construction of well-known designers' garments. Unusual, exquisite holiday ornaments made of

been to capitalize the names o f

Look for our live Web coverage

•• •


making it unsuitable for pants.

2001 issue. I just read it cover-to­ cover and can't wait to get to work. I intend to try every technique in

trademarked products, but never to use a trademark symbol

Original Sewing & Craft Expo

fabric/fiber (send only photos with query letter). We'll acknowledge all submissions and return what

these names. All of Taunton Press's

Radisson Hotel South

we can't publish. Send your contributions to Threads,

magazines, which primarily follow

Tower, 7800 Normandale Blvd.,

PO Box 5506, Newtown, CT 06470-5506.

The Chicago Manual of Style gUide­

Minneapolis, MN;

lines, use this same style.

800-699-6309; Nov. 8-10


&. Plaza


Our poluesters are multipluing like rabbits.

Costumes of Jt{{ Nations

Reproduction Singer Sewi[0 usnc g Co. Trade Cards SINGER* is:.l registered Ifadl'm:,uk of Singer Company, Ltd Forsythi.1 �olkcards is licensed

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20 notecanis - 5 eacfi Of 4 suvjects torr free: 866-235-4679 email:

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Coming to San Antonio, TX

-Jan. 24-26, 2002with the American Sheep lndWitry Convention Local & State December 2001 PRIZES INCLUDE OVER $20,000 IN AWARDS" PRIZES SPECIAL $1,000 FASHION DESIGN STUDENT AWARD!

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2001 National Make It Yourself Wtth Wool Competition Box 175 Lavina, MT 59046 Send SASE for more Information



october/november 2 0 0 1

1 1

Ti P s Share a tip, a

Better fri nge

useful trick, or a great sewing or

I liked the question and answer about twisted fringe in Threads is­


sue 90, p.l2. Here's another step in

resource. Send

the procedure that makes fringed edges stronger and neater. When

details, sketches, photos, or samples

selecting warp threads for tying or

(if you like) to:

twisting into fringe, cross the out­

Threads Tips,

side warp threads in each group and

PO Box 5506,

combine them with the neighbor­

Newtown, CT

ing group (see the drawing at right).


The edges of your textile will be­

or via e-mail:

come more even, since, if the threads are not crossed, they'll pull into a

in case we have a

group, giving the edge a series of V shapes. Crossing the threads is no more time-consuming, and gives a

question. We'll

good-looking, stable edge.

Be sure to include a phone number

pay for each item

CROSSOVER FRINGE When making fringe on woven fabric, cross outside warp thread, and tie with next group of threads.

Crossed threads lock fringe in place.

-Deb Sharpee, D e Forest, Wis.

we publish. Twist and/or knot this group.

Ta pe tips

Fragile tissue patterns tear easily, especially your favorites that you use again and again. Mending a tear with ordinary tape is fine, but many brands melt when pressing

H i g h-h i p hooray

a needle. Science to the rescue: If I

the pattern. I like to use paper sur­

With one hip higher than the oth­

gical tape that easily takes the heat.

er, I've always had fitting troubles on pants and skirts. Most gUide­

wet the eye of the needle, instead of the thread, the capillary action of

pharmacies in dispensers resem­

lines suggest altering the pattern

the moisture draws the thread through. Even with good eyeSight,

bling adhesive tape.

to fit the higher hip in various

this simple task becomes easier.

It's inexpensive and is available at

ways, but the high-hip adjustment

-Jacquelyn J acobi,

everything will appreciate the fol­

that works the best for me is to

Victoria, BC, Canada

lowing tape trick. You know the problem: just finding the end of

make the alterations to the lower hip instead. For the best fit, have a

For my fi na le, the jacket

clear, sticky-backed tape on the roll

seamstress friend help you make

Here's a tip for making an outfit

is a challenge, let alone keeping it

adjustments to a straight skirt on

with two, three, or more matching

from shredding when pulled from the roll. I used to turn tape back

plaid or checked fabric, so the grainline is maintained while the

garments from one fashion fabric.

over on itself to make a tab, but I

pieces" first, specifically the pants,

discovered an even easier solution:

lower-hip portion is decreased and the alterations are easily seen. Use

Use the yellow, plastic twist-lock

the resulting sloper as a template

tabs found on bread-loaf packages

for altering other garments.

Those of you who save just about

in the grocery store. Simply stick

-Inga Bauer, Milwau kee, Wis.

crucial piece (usually the jacket) for last, I have a very thorough knowledge of how the fabric han­

Sci entific need le thread i ng

making mistakes where they would

-Darleen A. C l e m ents,

As I (ahem) slip into my dotage, I

show most.

Seattle, Wash.

find it harder and harder to thread

easy to find.


skirt, vest, and so on. By saving the

dles, sews, and presses, and I avoid

the tape's end to the tab, which is


I always start with the "other

-Edna Kish, Epwo rth, Ga.


©2001 Morehead,

Inc.AII rights reserved.

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october/november 2 0 0 1


Questions Do you have a question of general

Avoiding i n j u ry: ca rpal tunnel syndrome

interest about

I use my hands constantly and am

sewing, quilting,

concerned about getting carpal

embellishing, or a

tunnel syndrome. Can you clarify

STRETCHES FOR HAND AND WRIST To reduce fatigue and prevent injury, repeat each exercise 1 0 to 1 5 times, twice a day.


what this syndrome is and what

1 . Finger stretches:

craft? Send it to:

preventive advice can you offer?

A. Straight

Threads Questions,

C. Full

B. Hook

D. Long

- Barbara Sinapoli, Chicago, III.

63 S_ Main St., PO Box 5506,

Diana Carswell replies: Ergonom­

Newtown, CT 06470-5506

ics, the science that deals with the way people interact with their work

or via e-mail

and home environments, shows us


that injuries can be reduced and often prevented. Carpal tunnel syn­ drome (CTS) can happen to anyone whose work or hobby involves

2. Opposition: Extend thumb to make L with hand; move thumb to back of little finger.


Full tendon excursion: Place hand, palm down on table, and lift each finger from table.

repetitive movement of the hands, no matter how simple in nature. Here's how it works: At the base of the palm there's a narrow pas­ sageway called the carpal tunnel. Through this "tunnel" run the me­ dian nerve and the nine tendons that control most finger move­ ments. CTS develops when the membranes surrounding these ten­ dons become swollen or inflamed, resulting in pressure on the medi­

4. Hold each movements below for count of 1 0, then release; alternate A and B, then alternate C and O. A. Prone flexor stretch: Forearm flat on table, grasp middle of hand and pull back as far as possible.

B. Prone extensor stretch: Grasp back of hand and pull down as far as possible.

an nerve. When swelling occurs from highly repetitive motions, like bending and flexing of the hand (as you cut and sew fabric, for ex­ ample), the resulting pressure on the nerve activates the symptoms associated with CTS: numbness and tingling in the fingers, weak­ ness in the hand and wrist, and pain in one or more of these areas. Dr. Craig Weil of Atlanta, Ga., a pioneering hand surgeon and CTS specialist, explains that these symp­ toms can lead to a loss o f grip strength, dexterity, and the ability to use the hand, with Significant fatigue developing very qUickly. According to Dr. Weil, "Many peo­ ple mistakenly think they have 16


C. Supine extensor stretch: Back of forearm flat on table, grasp back of hand, and pull up as far as possible.

O. Supine flexor stretch: Grasp

back of hand and pull down as far as possible.

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Quest i o n s

( c ontinu ed)

minished ability to feel fabrics or

mail" at far left).

S u p port d evices by m a i l

grasp them easily, to hold a nee­

Concord Catalog

dle, or other loss of dexterity, pay

Dr. Wei! also suggests that you review your work environment. If Carpa l -Loc k brace -s upports the wrist in a ne utral position

attention to these symptoms.

you perform the same motion over

Dr. Wei! says that sewers, partic­ ularly those who work with heavy

and over, see how you can vary it. Next, examine your posture and

or coarse fabrics, are at high risk

position. To reduce strain, sit up­

because of the amount of gripping

right and maintain a straight line

and grasping involved. He points

from wrist to elbow. Most impor­

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out the benefits of prevention: "It's

tantly, incorporate stretches into

critical to take frequent breaks and incorporate stretching on a regular

your daily routine to provide relief

basis, for example, five minutes of stretching per hour of work." CTS, but it usually begins with

Stretching reduces fatigue, which

numbness in the palmar aspect of the thumb, index, long, and inner half of the ring finger. Numbness is

diminishes cumulative damage (see the drawings on p. 16). In more ad­ vanced cases, consider wearing a

the red flag that tells you it's time to be evaluated." If you notice a di-

splint, brace, or special support gloves (see "Support devices by

and rest [or the wrist.

As well, it's a good idea to consult

with your doctor. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes and thyroid disease, may increase your risk of contracting CTS. Diana Carswell

is a fashion and

beauty edito r based in McLean, Va.


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NO. 213

B a sic s We've set aside this


in. to 2 in.;

a full, gathered skirt,

space to explain sewing techniques

l){ l){ '%


and terms that may

An old-fashioned,

in.; and a cir­

c:halk hem marker

cular, curved, or bias­

ensures a straight

in. to

by Barbara Emod i


hem. Wea ring shoes,

A hem deserves as much attention

cut skirt,

everyone. If you've

as the rest of your garment. It clean­

If there is excess full­

try on the garment,

ever been stumped

finishes the bottom edge and helps

ness when the hem is

determi ne were to

by an instruction

the garment hang properly. Al­

turned up, hand- or

place the hemline,

to "clean-finish the

though hems are generally easy to stitch, there are basic preparatory

machine-baste a row

and mark around the

of stitches to ease in

garment at this point

the excess, then evenly

by squeezing the bulb

column should be

steps to follow for best results and choices in terms of the type of hem

press in the fullness so

to send a puff of chalk

a handy reference.

needed for your fabric and garment.

the hem lies as flat as possible (see the bot­

onto the fabric.

M a rk the hem a n d

tom drawing below). To prevent fraying, clean-finish the raw edge before sewing the hem in

not be familiar to

edge" or "find t h e true bias:' this

determ i n e its d epth

Decide on your garment's finished length, and mark the hem to ensure it will be straight. Then trim the hem

place. My favorite finishing method is serging, using a two- or three­

right side, and use a small hand­ sewing needle to get the smallest possible stitch. A No. 7 or 8 sharps needle works best with regular­

allowance to the desired depth (see the top drawing below). The hem

thread overlock. Alternatively, for a fine fabric, you can turn under the

weight thread; use a No. 10 sharps needle and fine silk thread for the

depth usually depends on the hem­


in. and press it, or, for heav­

most invisible hem. Cut your thread

line's shape-the more curved the shape, the narrower the hem should be so there's less fullness to ease in.

ier fabrics or those that fray a lot,

about 1 8 in. long and wax it to

bind the edge with a narrow strip of bias-cut tricot, like Seams Great

knots. I run the thread over a bar of

(available at notions stores). For a couture look, I use a Hong Kong fin­

soap, but you can also use beeswax. Nowadays machine-sewn hems

As a general rule, a basic straight skirt has a hem depth of 2 in. to 2 Y; in.; an A-line skirt or tailored


smooth the fibers and prevent

ish. Right sides together, stitch a 1-

are just as acceptable as hand-sewn

in.-wide bias strip of lining fabric to

hems; and, on some garments and fabrics, they're preferable. A nar­ row machine hem is the perfect so­


the hem edge with a \I-in. seam. Trim to � in. , wrap the binding over the raw edge and press, then stitch-in­

Tri m h e m a l l ow a n ce t o a n even d epth

the-ditch from the right side to se­

cause it's impossible to make a

After marking the hemline, turn up the hem and trim evenly to ensure the hem hangs properly.

cure the binding's underside. (For

completely invisible hem. Follow the instructions in the top draw­

more on couture hems, see p. 80.)

-. Ease i n a ny excess h e m f u l l n ess

When the hem edge is fuller than the garment, stitch a row of long stitches z\ in. from the edge and pull up the bobbin thread until the hem fits.


lution for sheers, for example, be­

ings on p. 24, or stitch a rolled hem



in. to % in.

By hand or by mach i ne?

using your machine's special hem­

Hand-sewn hems have long been the standard on well-made gar­

mer foot. When using the foot, start

ments because the stitching is less

by narrowly rolling the edge over twice with your fingers, then place

visible. For three commonly used

the folded edge under the foot and

hand-hemming stitches, see the bottom drawings on p. 24 (see also

stitch for

move the fabric, and use the thread

Threads No. 96, pp. 44-49) and fol­

to pull the fabric through the scroll

){ in.

Leave a thread tail, re­

low these general guidelines for a

of the foot, making sure the fabric

beautiful, unobtrusive hem: Keep

stays rolled over twice. Continue

the stitches somewhat loose to avoid puckering on the fabric's

stitching the hem close to the fold. Choose a machine hem, which is

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B as i c S Hem m i ng tips


When hemming by

hand, pin the hem allowance in place from the right side to prevent the thread from catching in the pins.

(c o n t i n u e d )

Press hems along the

FOR SH E E R FA B RICS 1. Press up hem and stitch � in. from fold. Trim close to stitching.

�:.:.::.:::!�:=:.::::::::=::::::=: : 3J

2. Turn up again just bringing row of stitches to wrong side. Stitch again from wrong side using previous stitching as guide.

fold and not at the sewn

� < ____�?

edge to avoid pressing a ridge on the garment.

generally a little stronger than a

istics of your fabric. Some fabrics

hand-sewn hem, for garments that

require special attention throughout construction, and the hem is no ex­

Use a serger to ease

in excess fullness

need to be more durable. Follow the

by increasing the

previously mentioned guidelines for preparation and topstitch the

differential feed.

• •

Interface hems for

additional support (see

p. 80).

A light spray starch

makes it easier to

hem in place, or use your machine's

ception. For example, a high-sheen, hard-finished fabric like satin is im­ possible to hem invisibly, and I sug­

allowance minus the seam allowance from the lining and stitch the lining, and fashion fabric right sides to­ gether. Match the layers at the waist­ line seam and baste them in place. The skirt hem allowance will turn up

blind-hem stitch. Most machines al­ so have a stretch version of the blind

gest doing a "hanging hem," attach­ ing the hem to either the lining or

without the hem stitching showing. Another challenge involves knit

hem that's more suitable for knits.

the underlining of the garment (see p. 69) using a blind or catchstitch by

when stitched. One solution is to

hand-sew a rolled

fabrics that tend to ripple or stretch

hem on sheers and

Specia l situations

hand. You can also attach the gar­

make a ruffled "lettuce" edge by

lightweight fabrics.

The hemming method you choose depends mainly on the character-

ment to the lining by machine. On a

gently stretching the fabric as you

skirt, for example, cut away the hem

narrowly zigzag or serge the raw edge. For a flatter finish, sew a knit

For an extra secure,

hand-sewn hem, take a tiny backstitch in the hem allowance every few inches of stitching.



Bl i n d h e m

S l ipstitch

A blind hem is sewn from right to left under hem allowance, Y. in. from finished edge. Pick up just one thread with each stitch.

A slipstitch is used on folded and rolled hems and stitched from right to left. Pick up a few threads of garment fabric and slide needle through fold. To stitch rolled hem, first machine­ sew row of straight stitches � in. from raw edge and trim to � in. Fold to wrong side just enough to reveal stitches. Take small hand stitch in fold, then in fabric about � in. to Y. in. over and below previous stitch, rolling fabric over as you go.

.. Catchstitch

.. .�

A catchstitch can be worked between layers, like blind stitch, or along edge of hem. Sew from left to right in herringbone pattern.

hem with a twin needle. A double row of top stitching appears on the right side, and a zigzag stitch forms on the wrong side, providing stretch. Binding the hem edge with a strip of bias binding is a decorative al­ ternative to a traditional hem, which can resolve dealing with a hard-to­ hem fabric. And, in some cases, you may want to face a hem: Cut a faCing to match the garment's hem edge, then stitch the two edges right sides together; turn; press; and hand- or machine-sew it in place. Hemming shouldn't be an after­ thought. Consider your options as you plan your garment, and put as much care into this final step as you did in the rest of your project. Barbara Emodi

sews in Halifax, NS,

Canada. Contact her via e-mail at






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F itting Here's the place to

back. Notice the sway­

conclusion: A sway-backed figure

get some a nswers

backed figure has a

needs not only more length at the

longer curve from the back waist to the floor.

center back, but also adequate

to your fitting


questions. If you


have a better

Can you help me get rid of

solution than the

the sway-back wrinkles at my

This longer curve requires more garment

one we've given

center-back waist, while

length. In addition, the

when fitting bridal gowns with a dropped back waist. The zipper at

here, please write

straightening out my side seams?

and tell us. Send

waistline (and hem) is

the waist bubbles and ripples as

likely to be tilted when

Milwaukee, Wis.

viewed from the side,

fabric is forced into folds at the back waist. The first inclination is

with the front lower

(include photos,

than the back.

if possible), solutions to: Threads Fitting, PO Box 5506, Newtown,


or via e-mail (

to remove this "excess length" with a horizontal waist seam. But when the zipper is unzipped and the

The extra fabric that often appears at the back waist on sway-backed

So, why does the fabric often wrinkle at the back waist of a sway­

back is held closed, a large gap ap­

figures is usually interpreted as too much length at the garment b ack, says fitting expert Karen

backed figure? Let's think of the

pears below the waistline. The cul­

lower torso from hip to waist as a cone that gets smaller as it goes

prit is not too much length, but not enough width in the upper hip.

up. If you put a skirt with hips that

By letting out the side seams, and taking in the back darts to keep

Howland. Most books suggest re­ moving this extra length by lower­


I have seen this effect many times

- N ancy D e l g ad o ,

your questions

comments, and

width in the back-hip area.

are too small on the cone, there is­

ing the waistline in the back. How­

n't enough fabric to go around the

the waist measurement the same,

ever, my experience is that a

cone at the hip, so the fabric creeps

the fabric will lie against the small

sway-backed figure needs extra

upward to find the spot it does fit. As the back of the skirt climbs up,

of the back without a wrinkle. To ensure that hemlines and

length in the back, not less. The bunching fabric at the waist is the

the skirt tilts so that its front swings

pants hang straight and that side

result of inadequate width at the hips, not too much length.

inward at the hem, the hem is un­ even, the side seam is no longer

you need correct length measure­

The left drawings below compare two similar figures, one with a sway

straight, and fabric bunches up be­ low the waistband in the back. My

COM PARING B ACK LENGTHS FOR AVERAGE AND SWAY- B ACK FIGU RES The back-waist-to-floor length for a sway-backed figure is greater than for an average figure of similar height. - Average _ Sway back

-r+..J.--T---,H- Before

M EASU REM EN TS N EED ED FOR A SWAY B ACK Pin a tape o r strip o f waistband interfacing comfortably around your waist and measure from its bottom edge to the floor for lengths. For widths, measure at widest point in front and Back waist back, and a t Widest back waist, - belly all from side seam to Widest hip side seam.

- After Lengths at front, back, and side

seams fall straight down the side, ments for front, back, and sides. When measuring for pants or skirts, place a waistband comfort­ ably around your waist. Measure at the front, back, and both sides from the bottom of the band to the floor. This will provide the needed length, establish the tilt of the waist, and also reveal a high hip if one exists. To take these measurements yourself, attach a large paper clip in the hole at the end of your tape measure. Stand on the clip, which holds the end of the tape measure against the floor. Stand straight up faCing your mirror and mark the bottom of the band with your thumb, then read the measurement. Also measure the fullest part of the hip in back, from side seam to side seam, the front at the fullest point of the belly from side seam to




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o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1


F itt i n g

(c o n t i n u e d)


side seam, and the back portion of

the angle of the side seam and the

position, which will move the side


the waistline from side seam to side seam, as shown in the drawing at

hem. Look at the kick pleat in the back if the skirt has one. If the skirt

seam toward the back. Let out the

right on p. 28. Compare these mea-

is adjusted correctly, this pleat

surements to the pattern to deter-

hangs closed without spreading or

the back dart to fit the waistband,

mine the needed fullness in the back of the skirt or pants.

overlapping too much at the hem.

then reapply the waistband. If the

I prefer to make the adjustment

waist is also tilted, lower the waist-

To fit a dress with no waist seam,

in the placement of the side seam


For dresses without waist seams, alter entire side seam and adjust dart or princess seams in back to correct for waist circumference. Taper to nothing at armhole.

Deepen dart by amount added at side seam.

Dress back

measure the needed fullness at the

and in the depth of the back darts.

line in the front the needed amount. In both garment and pattern al-

hips across the back. Add to the en-

(This assumes that the skirt has

teration, the deeper back darts that

tire side seam to accommodate this

enough total fullness, front and

result from these changes create a

measurement, tapering to nothing

back at the hip. If not, let out the

more curved waistline without a decrease in back length, which is ex-

side seam, too.) While wearing the

at the armhole, as shown at left. Take in the back darts or princess seam at the waist to return the waist to the needed amount. To alter ready-to-wear for a sway

skirt, mark the location on the waistband at the sides where the side

actly what a sway back needs. If you

seam should meet the band if the

lowering the back waistline, you'll be solving only part of the problem.

side seam were straight as desired. Remove the waistband to within 1

center back below the waistband

in. of the closure. Pin the waistband

Karen Howland

is helpful, but this fix won't change

to the skirt at the new side-seam

in Chillicothe, III.

E.\SY OIWEW 1-5/f1-17!J-:l!J()(;

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T H E R S /WS WO O L CHALLENG E by t h e Th reads ed itors

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At last year's annual convention of the Professional Association of Cus­ tom Clothiers (PACC), Threads teamed up with PACC and JoAnn Stores, Inc., to invite PACC mem­ bers to join the second design chal­ lenge, entitled The RS/WS Wool Challenge (see the results of PACC and Threads' first joint venture, The Mohair Challenge, in No. 91, pp. 74-79). This time, we asked parti­ cipants to select a wool fabric with a different, interesting reverse side, and create a garment or ensemble featuring this reverse side in some distinctive way. The wool could be paired with another fab­ ric but had to make up at least 75 percent of the gar­ ment. We also asked them to incorporate into the de­ sign a lively closure. The Threads editors blind-judged

the 34 entries last April, us­ ing as their criteria the de­ The RS/WS Wool Challenge winners

were announced last May in Los Angeles at the fashion show during the an n ual PACC convention. Here is a sampling

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of photos of the winners and audience

reverse side. The editors selected

at the show.

four winning garments-and the fashion-show audience picked their favorite entry for the Audience Choice Award-for awards and total cash prizes of $ 3 ,450. Over the next few pages, you'll find the win­ ning garments, and on p. 42 you'll see several finalists' garments. To see more of the finalists' garments and to vote for your favorite, visit our Web site, where you'll also find the gUide­ lines for next year's challenge.




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E x p l o r i n 9 D es i 9 n

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Le n a Ste pa n e n ko , Ed i s o n , N .J . M o s t S u cc e s sf u l G a r m e n t O v e r a l l a n d A u d i e n ce C h o i ce Aw a rd Original design Lena chose a double-faced wool jersey for her unusually styled, entirely reversible two-piece outfit. The ensemble's charcoa l-gray daywear side uses the fabric's taupe face as trim at the cuffs, cowl neck, belt, and hem band on the longer section of the two-piece skirt and for the skirt's shorter u n d erlay. The des i g n 's dressier, taupe side is tri mmed with ba nds of dark-olive snakes kin (which Lena also used for a belt and match i n g purse) a n d features the fabric's charcoal side on the cowl neck and skirt's overlay. To make the g arment entirely reversible, Lena painstakingly constructed the seams and hems. For the seams on the charcoal side, she carefully separated the wool's two layers on the front section,


stitched the back with one of the front's separated layers, folded u nder the front's rem a i n i ng a llow­ a nce, and bl i n d-stitched the trimmed seam. On the taupe side, Lena zigzag­ stitched each edge of the snakeskin

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D e ly n n B a r rows, C h ey e n n e , Wyo. F i n e s t C o n st r u ct i o n Jacket, out-of-print Butterick pattern from the 1 940s; pants, adapted from out-of-print Vogue pattern

Delynn chose a fine, soft jacquard wool and very effectively used the wrong side for her jacket's side princess panels, lapel, and handsome cu rved welts on the applied patch pockets. She took care to nicely match the pattern on the pockets to the underly­ ing fabric, and similarly matched the pat­ tern at the jacket's center front and back. For her tweed pants, she su bstituted a slot seam for the pattern's standard side seam, and used the tweed's wrong side for the slot seam's underlay. All i n all, a nicely paired jacket and pants, both of which are beautifully constructed throughout.




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L i n d a M a cke, Le b a n n o n , N .J . M o s t W h i m s i c a l C l o s u re Suit, original design

L i n d a chose an u n us u a l , brown­ a n d - m i d n i g ht-blue woven wool with b l u e , t u rq u o ise, and l i m e m o h a i r woven i n t o create a border that' s n a p ped on o n e s i d e a n d l o o ped i n a b o u c l e textu re o n t h e other. T h e co l o rs i n the fabric t r i g gered h e r d es i g n : t h e m i d n i g ht b l u e r e m i n d e d h e r of t h e d a r k oce a n ; the t u rq u o ise, the oce a n sky; and t h e l i me, a n u n us u a l seaweed. In turn, s h e developed t h e sca l loped e d g e for h e r j a cket a n d s k i rt pock�ts a n d s l eeve vent, a n d chose m uscle s h e l l s , a d d e d a s h i n y coa t i n g t o m a ke t h e m l o o k wet, a n d e n cased t h e m i n s i lver b e a d i n g w i re, formed to l o o k l i ke m i n i ature f i s h i n g n ets. L i n d a ' s construction is as c l e a n and ref i n ed a s her c l o s u res a r e w h i m s i c a l . A l l i n a l l , a n e n s e m b l e d eserv i n g of notice.

I i a Katy E r i c ks o n , P a r k C i ty, M o n t . A u d i e n ce C h o i ce Aw a rd , H o n o ra b l e M e n t i o n Adapted from Vogue 2203

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Using border fabrics, embroider with almost any machine, then add embellishments for dazzling quilts and wearables. sC, 96 pp, full color

by Laurel Burch

by Judith Baker Montano

Laurel's graphic signature style translates beautifully into 1 2 great quilt projects-using embroidery, fabric painting and more. sc, 96 pp, full color

Newly updated-this classic guide offers new projects and up-to­ the-minute techniques. sc, 80 pp, full color

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by Wendy Hill

Wendy Hill

Create trendy, reversible quilts, wearables, and accessories in one easy step. sc, 96 pp, full color




FAB RI C Add text u re to fabric u s i n g

fus i b l e i nterfac i n g , stri n g , and a larg e , card board , b u i l d er's tu be

b y Patricia

Cong leton

couple of years ago , I learned of designerjanet Kaneko Loo's pleating method for garment de­ sign inspired by the centuries-old japanese method of dyeing, called shibori. In shibori, the fabric is tied, bunched, folded, clamped, or oth­ erwise controlled so dye can't pen­ Two tubes-one cardboard, the other fabric­

etrate the tightened areas, resulting

begin the process that produces pleated fabric

in patterns on the fabric. Sparked

like that above, a detail of the tunic jacket at right

by janet's idea, I set out to develop

(Vogue 21 80). Pulled face down over the cardboard tube, the fabric tube is wrapped with string, and

my own version of shibori pleating by winding string around a fabric­

then eased over the string one row at a time to

wrapped tube, like that at top left,

create pleats in the fabric (as shown in the top

then pushing the fabric and spi­

photo). The pleats are then fused in place, and

raled wraps of string up the tube

the fabric is cut off the tube and pieced with

until pleat-like rows of fabric fold

other fabrics, pleated or not, to make panels for

over the string. After some experi­

garments and home furnishings. I n this garment,

mentation with this technique, I

the pleated panel combines silk and meta llic

realized that I could get a wonder­

organza, metallic lace, and jacquard chenille.

fully textured, three-dimensional surface that mimics pleating, with



the texture secured by fusing in­ terfacing on the back of the wrapped fabric before cutting it off the tube. I then used the fabric, without removing the string, to piece with other pleated or unpleated fabrics and to create trim fabric, tame a large print, provide modesty in a sheer fabric, or add strength to a lightweight fabric. I'll show you the pleating and piecing process in de­ tail, and also explain how to as­ semble a garment in a way that fin­ ishes both inside and outside. Shop at the b u i l d er's-supply store

My pleating technique uses a tube that's roughly 12 in. in diameter and at least 2 ft. long, with a cir­ cumference of approximately 38� in. The tube's circumference dictates the maximum length of your pleat­ ed strips-a larger circumference yields a longer strip, and a smaller circumference, a shorter strip (see "Try it out!" on p. 52). I've found that most builder's-supply stores, such as The Home Depot, sell 1 2in.-diameter cardboard forms for under $ 10 (Sonotube and Quik­ Tube are two brands) that are used as forms for poured-concrete columns, and they're perfect for this process (note, however, that the measurements on these builder's forms are approximate, so, to figure your final lengths most accurate­ ly, measure the form yourself ). While you're at the supply store, al­ so buy a roll of kite string and mask­ ing tape. And, of course, you'll want to make a trip to the fabric store for fusible interfacing (I use nylon knit fusible) and fabric for pleating. Soft, l ightweight fabrics pleat best

I like to use fabric that's lightweight and made of natural fibers, such as silk and rayon, for pleating. I've had problems with shiny polyester

. ] � 1!�

P LEATING FAB RIC ON A CARD B OARD TU B E Making shibori-inspired pleated fabric involves working on a cardboard tube s ee text for size and source details . Note that all of the steps in the process are shown here on a single long tube for reasons of space.


ric (crossg rain)






tI.,. r--

M a ke fabric t u b e

Cut a n d seam fabric into a tube, using measurements at top right and '/.,-in. seam allowance.



Length of fabric tube's circumference + %-in. for seam allowances and ease (cut on grain)

S ea m l in e .

Place tube on form

Pull fabric tube, face down, over cardboard tube, and tape fabric to top of tube with masking tape.



A n ch o r a n d wra p str i n g Anchor end of string to top of cardboard tube, and wrap string tightly around tube twice.


M a ke p l e a ts Push fabric over wrapped string to form pleats, repeating process until width of fabric is fully pleated.

Cardboard tube



Press pleats After securing string tail to tube with tape, press pleats in one direction.

6. Fuse i nterfacing to p leats Fuse interfacing following manufacturer's directions to pleated fabric still on tube, starting at tube's seam and working carefully around tube.

( )

7. Cut fabric off t u be

Cut through seam and strings to release fabric from tube.


Press fa b ric on both s i d es

Remove pleated fabric from tube and press on both sides. Join pleated fabric to other fabrics, then cut out garment section and construct garment.


Different fabric. and pleat depth. produce

The drawing on p. 49 shows how to pleat a single fabric, but you can also pleat more than one fabric at a time or piece several fabrics to create the fabric tube, then selectively pleat the pieced fabrics.


varied effect

Experiment with pleating d ifferent types of fabric and varying the distance between each string wrap

Piece a n d pleat as one

to change the pleat depth

Sew the fabrics right sides together; trim the seam to � in.; and press it flat. Form Seam the fabric tube as usual and pleat. The results look like striped pleats.

and textured effect.

Lightweight fabric densely pleated

10 in.

ing successfully, but I've seen very

sample, that's cut to length on the

nice results from other synthetics.

straight grain (many fabrics pleat

Soft, sheer fabrics pleat very well. Experiment with various fabric

Piece a n d selectively pleat fa b rics


Piece the fabrics together to make the tube, then pleat some sections and leave other sections unpleated.

ferent fabrics-both solids and pat­

and with the right sides together,

terns-pleat. This pleating tech­

machine-baste the fabric's short

nique will make good use of that

ends together using a \4-in. seam

large, bold print that's been in your

to form a tube. Then pull the fabric

stash for years. You'll be surprised

tube, wrong side out, over the card­

at how different patterns look when

board tube. The fabric should fit

the heart of the process In a bird's-eye view of the process, this pleating technique involves making a fabric tube and pulling it over a cardboard tube, then wrap­ ping the fabric with string, sliding the fabric over the string wraps to pleat it, and fusing the back of the fabric with interfacing to lock in the pleated texture, as shown in the drawing on p.

49. I suggest

pleating test samples to explore the pleating process before using a spe­ Threads online


cial fashion fabric.

My piecing method clean-finishes the inside of the garment and adds one more surface embellishment


To make the fabric tube, first es­ for

tablish the length to cut the fabric

freely over the tube, but without

a look at a gallery

by measuring the circumference of

too much excess. If the fabric is

of the author's

the tube and adding %-in. (for two

too tight, it will be difficult to create

pleated garments.

lA-in. seam allowances and �-in.

pleats, and if it's too loose, it will

ease). Start with a piece of fabric

gather up rather than pleat.




better when cut so the pleats run with the grain). After cutting the fabric to size

Wrapped string is at

When you want two mirrored lengths of pleated Seam fabric at the center front or back of a garment, prepare and pleat the fabrics, then press the two sides in opposite directions before fusing with interfacing.

15 in. wide for your test

scraps to get a feeling for how dif­

broken up by these textured pleats.

M i rrored pleatin g


not adhering to iron-on interfac­

Medium-weight fabric with a medium pleat

Sheer vintage fabric widely pleated

Secure the fabric around the top

space between the string wraps, or

edge of the tube with masking tape.

unwrap the string and start again.

Next, anchor the end of the kite

When you've finished pleating to the top of the tube with

your fabric, iron the pleats in one

tape or knot the end and fasten it in

di.rection on the tube. Then, starting

a slit cut in the cardboard edge.

at the seam, fuse the nylon tricot in­

Holding the string taut, wrap it around the tube starting about



terfaCing to the back of the pleated fabric, as shown in the drawing on

49. Follow the manufacturer's

from the top edge. Wrap the string


a second time around the tube, and

instructions for fUSing, working

then, with each consecutive wrap,

around the tube and back to the

push the fabric up over the string

seam. Then cut through the string

to create a pleat. The weight of the

wraps and the seam to release the

fabric and how closely you wrap

pleated fabric from the tube, and

the string determines the depth of

press it again on both sides.

the individual pleat and ultimately

Before you continue, decide if

the width of the final pleated piece.

your pleated creation is going to

Wrap evenly, with consistent dis­

need any extra help or support in

tance between wraps if you want

order to hold the pleats secure. For

the pleats to be the same depth.

example, I pleated a patterned net

Decide how densely you want to pleat the fabric. For example, the

Pleated lace

lace that didn't want to stay pleat­

ed, so 1 anchored the pleats by free­

photos above and on the facing

motion machine-stitching over the

page show a variety of pleats from

pleats to secure them.

dense to sheer and shallow. Make the pleats even, and keep

You ca n piece

the basted seam straight as you wrap

the pleated sections, too

(it tends to move during wrapping).

Fabrics pleated in this way aren't

Repeat wrapping and sliding up the

large enough to cut a whole gar­

fabric until the full width of fabri.c

ment from one section But even if

has been pleated. If the pleating is

it were, pleating changes the hand

too dense and pleats bunch up over

of the fabric so it no longer drapes

The process invites unusual combinations of fabric.

each other, the interfacing won't

as it did when unpleated. There­

The garment above (out-of·print Vogue pattern) pairs sheer

hold them i.n place. If you don't like

fore, a garment made entirely of

polyesters for the pleated panel with mudcloth (and faux

the pleated results, put more or less

this pleated fabric would likely look

bear-claw closu res).

o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1


stiff and unpleasant. Consequently, the solution is to strategically piece the pleated fabric with other fab­ rics, whether they're coordinating, pleated, unpleated, or comple­ mentary arrangements of texture, color, and deSign. Fabrics can be pieced before or after being pleated (see the top left drawings on p. 50). When piecing fabrics after they're pleated, I like to join them with a seam on the right side to clean fin­ ish them, as explained in the draw­ ings on the faCing page. Choose a simple pattern a n d desig n you r g a rment

You can incorporate pleated fabric

into almost any garment. I suggest choosing a very basic jacket or vest pattern without darts or a collar. To help design and coordinate the placement of your pleated inserts, draw the areas you want them to go on your pattern . As you can see in the detail pho­ tos at left, the pleated sections of

your fabric don't have to run par­ allel to each other. And, likewise, not all of your pieced sections need to be pleated. Usually pleating adds enough weight to the fabric that the gar­ You can incorporate the pleated fabric into garments in various ways: ( 1 ) Pleated fabric

ment doesn't need extra lining fab­

pieced to flat fabric, (2) pleated fabric pieced to pleated fabric, (3) pleated fabrics cut

ric. The fusible interfacing holds

diagonally and pieced together to create a chevron effect and (4) pleated fabrics cut and

the pleating secure and serves as an attractive backing, which nicely fin­

pieced in different directions.

ishes the garment's inside. But if you want the fabric to have more weight, interface each piece of fab­ ric with another lightweight nylon­ Making pleated fabric to piece with other fabrics for a pillow is a

tricot interfacing. The way I piece the pleated sec­

started with was too small to use a builder's tube, I wrapped

tions together finishes the inside of the garment and adds one more

and pleated it instead on a 3-in. diameter mailing tube, which

embellishment element to the sur­

great way to try out this process. Since the 9�-in. by 40-in. fabric I

worked fine. Then, usi ng the "Hong Kong" finish described on

face: Cut your piecing shapes to

the facing page, I joined the pleated and flat fabrics. -P. C.

match the piecing designs you made on your tissue pattern, adding a \4-in. seam allowance to each cut edge. Using the Hong



Kong method described in the

Pleat a print and combine it with

drawings at the bottom of this page,

stenciled linen for warm seasons

finish the seams on each pieced section. After piecing the fabric,

(tunic, Vogue 21 80).

and climates or festive sportswear

lay the pattern piece over it to make sure your design lines match at the seams, and then cut out the pat­ tern's shape. Then sew and finish the actual garment as you normal­

the garment's edge from the right side the same way you would sew bias binding with a It.-in. seam al­ lowance, then wrap the lace bind­

ly would, using a serged, flat-felled,

ing around the seam's raw edge

French, or Hong Kong seam finish, whether mine or a traditional one.

and stitch by hand to the back. Once your remarkable garment is

F i n ish the edges

sures. I love to shop in antique and

with lace b i n d i ng

thrift stores for interesting buttons

assembled, be creative with clo­

To finish the raw edges of the neck

or earrings to use as closures on

and jacket fronts, I like the results

my jackets. Shibori pleating is a process to

and weight of a wide lace binding: First, fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the lace, then cut strips 2% in. wide and long enough to com­ plete the binding. I don't cut the lace on the bias because, generally,

have fun with. An element of the unexpected is always present, and the opportunity to combine fab­ rics and embellishment is rich with


it has enough stretch to go around any curves. Fold the lace strips in

Patricia Congleton teaches and designs

half lengthWise, wrong sides to­ gether, and press. Sew the lace to

Bar, Cal

her remarkable garments in Diamond


M Y HONG KONG SEA M FINISH SITS ON THE RIGHT SID E This method sews the seam to the garment's RS and encases it in lace to look like a piped embellishment, clean-finishing the inside. 1. Stack fabric sections WSs together. Top with lace strip WS up, cut 4 -in. -wide and as long as the longest seam. Seams will be pressed toward the bottom fabric when finished, so plan your layout accordingly. 2. Stitch a 'I.-in. seam through all three layers, and trim seam allowances (s.a.s.) to 'la-in.


Press lace over and wrap snugly around s.a.s. 4. Stitch-in-the-ditch.

5. On reverse side, trim unbound lace close to stitching line (save it to use on next seam).

� � " . " ;" R�'�R'/ S ,

6. Press seam toward its unfinished side, and edgestitch free edge to hide lace 's raw edge and complete binding.

o c t o b e r/n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1



When the front edge of your jacket hem curls under, often the problem is the interfacing, which, even when preshrunk, can shrink further when fused to the facing and become slightly too short for a jacket front. The fix ? Give yourself a 2-in. leeway. Here 's how: Typical setup for a curved hem Garment front


New set u p

Inter­ facing

1. Cut facing and interfacing 2 in. longer than pattern facing's bottom edge.


Garment facing,

I nterfacing

2. After fusing interfacing to facing, sew facing to garment. Stitch along garment's marked hemline. Trim excess, and clip seam allowances (s.a.s.). Facing,

RS 1

Grade s.a.s. and press open. Turn facing and press.




Cut 2 in. longer than facing pattern 's bottom edge.

Facing and interfacing are cut to match profile of garment front's edge.

RESH ere's another round of sewing techniques and refinements from the racks of ready-to-wear that I know you'll love (see my first article in Threads No. 90, pp. 44-48). I must

tell you, though, that the industry tips here are intermixed with some of my own ideas that grew from my roots in the industry. And as I test techniques gleaned from my

res u lts with t h i s sam p l i n g o f g reat tech n iq u es fro m t h e l atest ready-to-wear



specting any good-looking garment is a terrific learning tool and opens your mind to new approaches to sewing. So don't hesitate to take a peek inside expensive deSigner gar­ ments. In the meantime, try these tips, which are deSigned to make your sewing look professional and your garments last forever.


I nterfacing a faci n g

Even when you preshrink fusible interfaCing, it often slightly shrinks the length of the front faCing when

This can happen with you, too, if mire on garments off the racks. De­


Refi n e you r sewn

observations of ready-to-wear gar­ ments, other ideas naturally evolve. you look closely at details you ad­

Clipping s.a.s. allows seam to lire/ax."

b y Louise Cutt i n g

you apply it with an iron. Unde­ tected shrinkage has sewers stretch­ ing the faCing to fit the front, which

ciphering how a particular effect

inevitably results in puckering.

was achieved triggers new ideas

Next time, cut extra length at the

for applying the method, and be­

facing's hem, apply the interfacing

fore you know it, you'll be coming up with ideas of your own. In-

the same length, stitch the faCing to the garment front, then trim it to

the garment's hemline (see drawing No. 1 on the facing page).


7737; is a terrific ally. It has buckram stitched along one edge of the interfaCing

Where cu rved hems meet

between long perforations that al­

seam. This hem has four rows of

low stitching to be seen from un­ derneath and the waistband edge to fold over easily. Along with help

decorative topstitching accentuat­

from this well-designed product,

ing the curves. The stitching also adds weight and stability to the

added bulk is avoided by not fold­

Create a precise and polished in­ tersection of curved hems at a side

hem (see drawing No. 2 at far right).


ing under and stitching the serged­ finished edge of the waistband facing. Instead, the waistband is

Clean-finish a wa istba nd

secured by stitching in the ditch

with buckram

on the garment's right side. Also,

For a superlative and quick way to make waistbands on skirts and

the small step of folding back the facing seam allowance at the waist

pants, the inexpensive Jiffy inter­

closure eliminates zipper hang-ups

facing by Staple (available from Fab­

and gives a professional-looking

ric Collections, 900 Orlando Ave. ,

finish on the garment's wrong side (see drawing No. 3 below).

Winter Park, FL 32789; 407-740-



HE M S M E ET 1. Serge hems separately, cutting off all but % in. of hem allowance. 2. Staystitc along --hemline.

_ I

2. Pin perforated line of interfaced waistband above buckram along garment staystitching at waist, RSs together.


Front "

- - --



Press hem and staystitching to WS; slip strip of Steam-A­ Seam 2 under serged edge, and press into place. Edgestitch on fold, and top­ stitch % in. from edgestitching.

Stea m-A-Seam 2

4. Stitch side seams, matching finished curves. Press open s.a.s. then press to back. Press again on garment RS. Serge-finish s.a.s. together % in. from seam, leaving 6-in. thread tail. Using tapestry needle, slip tail through serged seam to clean-finish. 5. Topstitch third and fourth rows % in. above previous rows, stitching over s.a.s. Stitch % in. from edgestitching.



3. CLEAN- FIN ISHED WAIS T B AND 1. Fuse Jiffy interfacing to WS of waistband, buckram toward upper edge, and serge-finish non-buckram edge.

" _::;;? ; ; ,," / Back "

4. Extend both ends of waistband to % in. beyond garment waist opening, cutting off any excess waistband. 5. Trim buckram from waist-opening 's s.a.

6. Fold waistband in half RSs together, then fold waistband's inside bottom edge diago­ nally as shown. Trim top corner; turn waist­ band to inside with point turner. On garment RS, stitch-in-the-ditch of waistband seam.

3. Stitch through interfacing 's perforations along garment's waistline, through all seams, pleats, or other layers, leaving %-in. s.a.s. Trim s.a.s. to % in.

Ga rment, RS

Garment WS

Waistband/facing, WS

o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1




If your buttonhole is smaller than your buttonhole chisel:

1. Overlap pattern's front and neckline facing at shoulder seam to make new, single pattern.


1. Position buttonhole partially off wood block. Cut to center.

1. Make sleeve-pattern adjustments to create vent extensions using dimensions below, and reshape rounded corner as shown.

3. Stitch sleeve seam, pivot to stitching around extension, and complete sleeve seam.

2. On cut-out sleeve fabric (example shown is right sleeve), apply interfacing as shown, extending below hemline � in.

Under­ sleeve pattern 2 in.

2 in.


Ch ise l i n g buttonholes

Upper sleeve, WS

Under sleeve, WS


Press vent toward upper sleeve.

5. On sleeve board, press up hem. Bag lining to jacket with continuous circle at sleeve hem (see Threads No. 88, pp. 56-59 and No. 39, pp. 62-64, for bagging instructions).

der to the center back, eliminating

Most tailors and dressmakers who

bulk at the shoulder. As shown in

sleeve's hem in one uninterrupted circle. It's easier to bag a lining

make buttonholes by machine

drawing No. 5 above, the back-neck

with a continuous circle at the hem,

swear by opening them with a chis­

facing is now situated on the fab­

rather than the usual two-piece,

el and wood block. This tool al­

ric's bias grain. Because the bias

mitered sleeve vent. It looks terrif­

lows more control than scissors or a seam ripper. But what if your

grain is stretchy and � in. of the back-neck facing seam has been re­

ic, too (see drawing No. 6 above).

chisel is larger than your button­

moved, the neckline snuggles up to

hole? See drawing No. 4 above.


the neck. When the same strategy is applied to armhole facings, the gar­

The main advantage of this clean­ finished shirt- or blouse-front

ment's underarm no longer gapes.

placket is bulk reduction. But al­


sleeve vent

front, plaids match perfectly, and a perfect tuck makes the placket look

Ellen Tracy's vent in the cuff of a jacket'S two-piece sleeve leaves the

the [acing page).


Arm a n i facings

A peek inside an Armani jacket and top reveals a strategy for cutting faCings that results in a smooth fit around neck and armholes. The fac­ ing seams are moved from the shoulTHREADS


4. Clip s.a.s. of under sleeve only at sleeve-seam pivot points; trim s.a.s. close to stitching at curve 's lower extension, leaving upper sleeve 's s.a. uncut at sleeve seam. Press open s.a.s. above and below extension.

Upper sleeve


Armhole facing



Upper­ sleeve pattern

3. For armhole facing, align shoulder seam with straight grain. Sew underarm seam with o/,-in. s.a.s., and trim to % in.

2. CB does not include s.a. Add %-in. s.a. to CB, but sew at %-in. seam.

2. Turn buttonhole so unopened end is on block. Cut to center.



Cool mock placket

so, with no seams on the garment's Ellen Tracy's two-piece

authentic (see drawing No. 7 on


Flat, no-stitch pocket

Often commercial pattern instruc­ tions direct the sewer to place twill tape along the bias-grain opening

edge of front pants or skirt pockets to keep them from stretching out of shape when sitting. Changing the grainline on the lining of the pock­ ets results in a significant reduc­ tion in bulk; keeps them from stretching; and produces a flat, crisp, almost undetectable open­ ing (see drawing No. 8 at far right). Place the opening seamline of the pocket lining on the fabric's sel­ vage to cut out the lining. Then sew the opening seamline with the garment's bias edge under the lining, letting the feed dogs help ease the bias.



1 . On right shirt-front pattern, extend CF � in.


On fabric, clip Ya in. at notches.

2. Extend pattern front, marking vertical lines at dimensions shown, and clip at top and bottom of vertical lines.

Ri9htfront pattern

Orig inal CF


Y, in.



Opening sea mline


1. Grade seam leaving garment s.a. wider than facing's.


2. Clip s.a.s. separately, at opposite diagonals as shown. Press seam open over point presser. Turn and press facing.

.J'" Lining selvage




4. Topstitch \{ in. rom edge. Fold open on stitching line to RS, then topstitch \{ in. from new edge. Press flat.


Pant front, WS



can relax is after it's sewn into fab­


Sew lining to garment, using %-in. s.a., with garment on bottom.


the spool at the factory, and it stretches again when wound on the



2. Cut pocket lining with pocket­ opening seamline on selvage.


improve stitch q u a l ity

The seam will lie flat when pressed, but only for a short time. And when

1 . Cut pant or skirt front according to pattern instructions.

,, ,

Polyester thread has a tendency to stretch when it is being wound on

ric. The resulting ripple effect is especially visible on long seams.


On fabrtc, fold to clips three times as shown.

Thread and need le choice

bobbin. The first time the thread



5. For left side, fold first three folds like right side, and top­ stitch at 1 \{ in.

�<;\.}-. � Universal needle

Polyester thread

Using polyester thread with a universal needle usually creates puckered seams. To prevent this, use 50-wt., all-cotton thread with a size 1 1 machine-quilting needle.


1 . Pin-fit pattern tissue to establish roll line.

2. Cut garment-front and lapel interfacing as one piece on straight grain. Cut off lapel at roll line, and use as pattern to cut matching interfacing on bias.


Roll line

Interfacing edge

% in. from roll line Fuse separate, bias­ cut lapel-interfacing piece first, then original straight-grain interfacing over it.

Use paper pattern as guide for stab-pinning jacket fabric onto ironing board without distortion. Fuse new bias-cut interfacing to lapel Ya in. from roll line, then fuse original straight-grain lapel interfacing exactly on top of bias-cut interfacing. 4. Leaving a Ya-in crack, or opening, between interfacings at roll line, apply remaining jacket-front interfacing; add stabilizing tape if desired, without covering Ya-in. crack.

Roll-line tape


Front interfacing


1. Cut out pattern; mark CB keyhole slash line on fabric's WS. 2. To make a new back facing, cut fabric piece length of distance between upper corners of shoulder seams and bottom of slash line plus 1 � in., and width of lower corners of shoulder seams.

3. Mark vertical CB line on facing fabric, then mark parallel line 2 in. to left, and label it facing slash line.


With facing fabric under garment fabric, RSs together, align facing fabric's slash line on garment slash line, so that facing fabric also touches imaginary horizontal line from shoulder corner to opposite corner. 2 in.

Facing fabric

Mark CB on

Garment ...... ----1--1- slash l i ne


5. Stitch close to CB slash line from neck to bottom of slash line, take one stitch across, then stitch up to neckline (use small stitch length on loosely woven fabrics). Cut between stitching to bottom cross-stitch.


Facing fabric,

6. To get hard press on seamline, on garment's RS (and facing's WS), press facing's left side to right and its right side to left on slash line. Flip facing to garment's WS, and similarly press each side of facing.

7. Flip facing back to gar­ ment's RS, and fold right side of facing so CB line meets slash line, forming 1 -in. pleat at slash line, and pin. Draw neckline curve on facing.

you wash the garment, you'll find that it causes further rippling.


and the facing will roll to the inside effortlessly. Overlapping clipped



Buttonhole closure



Anne Klei n 's back-neck

vent replaces a keyhole

A simple solution is to change

seam allowances prevents wedge


shaped imprints from appearing

When sewing a garment with a

1 1 quilting needle and use 50-wt. all-cotton thread for all sewing (see drawing No. 9 on p. 57). This

on the garment's right side.

neck facing and a keyhole back clo­

"Cracki ng" the i nterfacing

hole with a vent that creates a flat,

needle-and-thread team sews wool,

A lapel will always roll exactly

no-gap closure. In the technique

linen, rayon, Tencel, silks of all

along the roll line when you crack

shown in the drawings above, a

kinds, and blends. For very light­

the interfacing, that is, when you leave a small (llj-in.) gap between

new back-neck facing is created di­ rectly on the facing fabric. •

the roll-line tape and lapel inter­ facing. The process also involves

Louise Cutting is owner of Fabric Col­

cutting two lapel interfacing pieces,

lections in Winter Park, Fla., and in­

thread makes a finer seam.




9. Complete garment as usual, joining new back facing to front facing at shoulder seam. Finish with button closure.

your machine's needle to a Schmetz

weight silk chiffon, a 60-wt. cotton


Fold so CB meets slash line.

8. Draw shoulder line to depth of front facing. Using French curve, draw curved bottom edge on facing from shoulder point to opposite point, with facing center point 1 � in. below vent opening. Cut and serge bottom edge. Stitch neckline on each side of facing to shoulder seam, starting at slash line on left side and at outer edge of pleat on right side. Trim excess at neck; clip neckline curve as in tip No. 1 0 on p. 57. Turn and press facing.

A new way to cl i p cu rves


sure, consider replacing the key­

Contrary to the usual practice of

with one of them cut on the inter­

cludes many of her industry-inspired

clipping, clip the facing of the gar­

facing's straight grain and the oth­

tips in her patterns, The Cutting Line

ment's seam allowances in opposite diagonals (see drawing No. 10 on

er cut on the bias. Combining the interfacings cut on different grain

p . 5 7 ) . When pressed, the gar­

directions provides the lapel sup­

ment's curve will be extra-smooth,

900 Orlando Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789; 407-740-7737; www. fabric

port without stiffness.

collections. com).

Design (available from her store at

Know Your This g u i d e to t h e confus i n g worl d

AN ATOM Y OF A KNIT FA B RIC There are two basic types of knit fabrics-weft knits and warp knits-and it's the direction in which the yarns making up the fabric are looped that determines which type of knit the fabric is.

of kn it fabrics wi l l h e l p you se l ect a n d use a kn it with confi d e nce

by Sarah Ve b l e n

A warp knit is made with numerous parallel yarns that are looped vertically at the same time. (At left, a tricot warp knit.)

A weft knit is made with a single yarn looped hor­ izontally to form a row, or course, with each row building on the previous one. A hand-knitted fab­ ric is a weft knit. (At left, an interlock weft knit.)

've found that many sewers shy away from knit fabrics, per­

pattern will work with a certain

similar ways. Unlike a woven fab­

knit, I have to say that the answer

haps confused by the wide va­ riety available (take a look at

is ingrained in my fingers. Handling the fabric triggers now-intuitive

ric, which is composed of a series of warp (lengthwise) yarns inter­

the samples in this article alone) or unsure of what kind

knowledge derived from years of

wise) yarns, a knit fabric is made

sewing with knits and absorbing

up of one or more yarns formed

of garment to construct from a par­

every scrap of information I've ever

into a series of loops that create

ticular knit. I believe the more you know about a fabric, the easier it is

learned about them. I'd like to pro­

rows and columns of vertically and

vide you with an overview of basic

horizontally interconnected stitch­

facts about knit fabrics to help you develop your own cache of knowl­ edge that will soon find its way in­

called a wale, and a horizontal row

to evaluate how to use it. And knits are definitely worth getting to know-they are much easier to fit than wovens; resist wrinkles; in

laced with a series of weft (cross­

es. A vertical column of stitches is of stitches, a course (see the draw­

to your fingertips.

ings atop p . 60). Although, in a woven fabric, the

Knit fabrics a re made

terms warp and weft refer to the di­

to wear. And these days you can

i n one of two basic ways

rection of the two sets of yarns

find a remarkable range of knits

Understanding the ways in which

making up the fabric, in a knit fab­

in various fibers, among them,

knit fabrics are manufactured will

ric, these terms describe the direc­

linen, silk, wool, Tencel, polyester, cotton, and cotton blends.

help you see why the topic of knits

tion in which the fabric is pro­

is so complex and why different

When I'm asked how I know if a

knit fabrics behave in such dis-

duced: A weft knit-which is what hand-knitted fabric is-is one made

most cases, are wonderful to han­ dle; and are extremely comfortable

o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1



with a single yarn that's looped to

In a knit fabric, a vertical column of stitches is called a wale, and a horizontal row, a course.

create horizontal rows, or courses,


with each row built on the previous row. A warp knit is made with mul­ tiple parallel yarns that are simul­ taneously looped vertically to form the fabric (see the drawings on p.

59). Both warp and weft knits can be

ever their structure, are composed of four basic stitches: a knit, or plain,

for choosing a knit over a woven.

stitch; a purl, or reverse-knit, stitch; a missed stitch, which produces a

from one type of knit to another,

float of yarn on the fabric's wrong

not always stretch consistently. For

side; and a tuck stitch, which cre­ ates an open space in the fabric (see

example, a double-knit, known for its stability, can sometimes have

the drawings on the facing page).

the fabrics in a given category do

more crosswise stretch than usual and not be stable enough for a giv­

made either on a circular knitting

machine, which produces a tube of

Stretch is the bottom l i n e

en proj ect. Hence, it's imperative

fabric, or on a flat-bed knitting ma­

All knits stretch to a greater or less­ er degree, and this inherent give

to assess the inherent stretch in a particular knit in order to make a

makes these fabrics comfortable,

good match between fabric and

helps with fit, and is a big reason

pattern. Always test-stretch a knit in

chine, which delivers flat yardage.

All knit fabrics, even exotic novelty


While the degree of stretch varies

knits like laces and jacquards, what-

A SAM P LING OF WEFT KNIT FA B RICS All weft knits fall into three basic categories: rib knits, which are a combination of knit and purl stitches; purl knits, which are made with purl stitches alone, and jersey knits, which are made with knits stitches on the front and purl stitches on the reverse (see the drawings on the facing page).

Doub l e knit

I nterlock

Jersey knit

Pu rl knit

Made with two sets of yarns, this double-constructed fabric has fine ribs running lengthwise on both sides. Usually looks same on fabric's face and reverse, making it reversible. Fancy double knits may have novelty stitch on fabric's face and fine ribs on reverse. Properties: Heavy, firm; usually has almost no stretch in either direction. Good shape retention; cut edges don't curl. Best use: Tailored garments, like jackets, suits, or sheath dresses. If particular double knit has some crosswise stretch, adjusting pattern (by cutting it slightly smaller in body girth) may be necessary.

Compound fabric made by "inter-knitting, " or interlock­ ing, two simple ribbed fabrics, each made with single yarn. Has fine ribs running lengthwise. Fabric's face and reverse look same, making it reversible. Properties: Almost no lengthwise stretch; more crosswise stretch than double knits or jerseys; fairly good shape retention. Raw or cut edges don 't curl; unravels only from end last knitted. Best use: Wonderful for T-shirts, turtlenecks, casual skirts and dresses, and children 's wear. Because of its crosswise stretch, use pattern designed for interlock knits, or be prepared to adjust pattern.

Also referred to as plain knit or single knit. Has distinct right and wrong sides, with fine ribs running lengthwise on fabric's face, and semicircular loops running across reverse. Many variations of stitches and fibers create wide variety of single knits, ranging from delicate openwork to heavy, thick piled fabric. Properties: Little or no lengthwise stretch, varying amounts of crosswise stretch. Curls to fabric's right side; cut edges unravel only from end knitted last. Best use: Jersey with little or no crosswise or lengthwise stretch (like most wool jerseys) can be used for skirts, blouses, and dresses without pattern adjustments. Jersey with crosswise stretch requires pattern adjustments or pattern designed for crosswise stretch.

Double-faced, reversible fabric produced by intermeshed rows of knit and purl stitches, which appear as loops in crosswise direction. Sometimes called "Links-Links, " from the German word links ("Ieft'�, since knitting machine 's mechanism always moves to left. Properties: Usually heavy and bulky; stretches in both directions. Cut edges do not curl. Best use: Sweater-type garments, outerwear.







the store (here's where your fingers get into the act). Here's how I do it: Since the greatest amount of



stretch is usually in the crossgrain, Tuck stitch

P u r l stitch

I check this first. To assess the amount of stretch in the crossgrain, I grasp a single layer of the fabric between my left thumb and fore­ finger, then hold the fabric in the same way with my right hand about 4 in. away on the crossgrain. I put my hands and the fabric down on a ruler with my left hand


Knit stitch

at zero and start gently pulling the

A S A M P LING OF WARP KNIT FA B RICS Because of the mUltiple-needle configuration of warp-knitting machines, the warp knit fabrics produced can be very complex and intricate in structure; and they don't fall neatly into groups or categories as weft knits do.

Ri b knit

M i l a nese



Double-faced, reversible fabric with distinct vertical ribs on both sides, produced by alternating knit and purl stitches. Ribs can be small (txt, that is, one knit stitch followed by one purl stitch), thick, (2x2 or 3x3), or uneven (tx3, for example). Properties: Little or no lengthwise stretch, but lots of crosswise stretch and good, natural recovery. Cut edges do not curl. Best use: Because of its elasticity, ideal for trimming other knits (and wovens). Garments made from rib knits are usually close-fitting and therefore use a pattern designed for knits.

Made from two sets of yarns knitted diagonally. Face has fine vertical rib, and reverse has diagonal structure. Properties: Lightweight, drapey, smooth texture, extremely run-resistant. Best use: Historically used for gloves and lingerie; makes lovely, soft blouses and eveningwear. May be a little difficult to find, but worth looking for.

Raschel-knitting machine produces wide variety of fabrics and can incorporate conventional or novelty yarns, thereby creating interesting textures and surface designs. Knits can be fine and lacey, highly patterned, and even piled. Properties: Runs gamut from dense and compact to open and lofty; can be either stable or stretchy, and single-faced or reversible. Best use: Almost any garment. Assessing amount of stretch, give, and recovery in a raschel knit is essential, since its nature is so diverse.

Face has fine length­ wise ribs; reverse has crosswise ribs. Some machines can produce complex patterns, and some can incorporate a weft insertion (extra yarn inserted crosswise) for added texture or color. Properties: Some lengthwise stretch; almost no crosswise stretch. Usually soft and drapey; cut edges tend to curl. Best use: Besides traditional use for lining and lingerie, can be used for blouses and dresses. It's essential to assess stretch of particular tricot for given project.



Descrip tion:

Descrip tion:

o c to b e r/ n o v e m be r 2 0 0 1


Ti ps for sewi ng kn its Here are some tips for confidently sewing knits and getting great results. interfacings. My favorites include

reinforcement is fine. Reducing the

knits on a sewing machine or a

Sofknit (for soft, light support),

pressure on your machine's


Textured Weft (for light to medium

presser foot (some but not all

support), Satin Weave (for medium

machines can adjust this) when

Machine vs. serger: You can sew


often combine the two

methods when making a garment.

Needle/thread: Use a ballpoint or

stretch needle


like Schmetz

support without stiffness), and Flex

sewing in the direction of the

Weave (slightly lighter than Satin

crossgrain often alleviates

Weave; gives flexible support).

stretching and puckering.

brand) and good-quality polyester or cotton thread


use Gutermann

or Mettler thread).

Seam finishes: Since knits rarely

ravel, seams sewn on a standard

Taping seams: On very stretchy



use X-in. cotton twill tape or

its hem could also be machine­

shoulder seams in order to

stitched, cover-stitched on a serger, or "merrow"-finished with

stabilize them.

the rolled-hem setting on a serger.

more about knits,


You could also decoratively hem it,

Serging the allowances, however,

gives a nice, clean finish.

use a straight or zigzag stitch

for example, with a shell stitch

(with the latter set so it barely

(made with a blind-hem foot and

zigzags). On a serger,

Interfacing: When a knit needs

Stitches: On a sewing machine,


like a

tension adjustment), or use self­

interfacing (on a jacket collar, for

four-thread overlock seam, but any

or contrasting-fabric bindings to


setting that provides some seam

finish all the edges.


like to use HTC

5 II.


fabric along the ruler with my right

points for alteration: If the fabric

types, warp knits are run-resistant

hand. I stop pulling j ust at the point that I have to exert any ef­

has only a little stretch

and don't ravel.

fort (if I have to grip the fabric in my left hand more tightly, I know

If you want to read

Hems: A knit can often be

X-in. clear elastic to tape the

machine don't need to be finished.

Rea d i n g a bout kn its

finished with a traditional hem, but

recommend Connie

I'm over-stretching). By doing the

Long's book, Sewing

test two or three times with the

('6 '6

in.), take

a total of \{ in. out of the pattern at both center front (CF) and center back (CB). If it has moderate stretch in.), take a total of in. out at


With a few exceptions, weft knits have moderate to great amounts of crosswise stretch and some length­ wise stretch (some j erseys, howev­ er, have little or no crosswise or

same knit, I get a feel for the fabric's

both CF and CB. if it has generous stretch (2 in.), take a total of 1 in.

inherent stretch. Then I can either

out at both CF and CB. Any addi­

knits, the edges may curl. As with

use a pattern designed for a knit

tional fitting adjustments can usu­

fabrics as well as

with that amount of stretch or alter

ally be made at the side seams or

warp knits, weft knits are made from many different fibers and come in

construction techniques

my pattern.

darts/princess seams.

many weights. If a stitch in a weft

with Knits (Taunton Press,

2000), which

includes brief technical descriptions of knit

lengthwise stretch). On many weft

For more technical

Altering patterns for knits

tune the necessary fitting adjust­

knit is broken, the fabric will tend to run, but a weft knit ravels only

information about knit

Select your fabric and determine

ments, using an inexpensive knit

from the yarn end knitted last.

terminology and how

its stretch, as explained above, be­ fore trying to alter your pattern,

fabric with similar stretch to that of your fashion fabric.

are now being produced with the

and design ideas.

different knits are made, you'll find Understanding Fabrics by Debbie Ann Gioello (Fairchild Publications,

1 982)

thorough, concise, and helpful.

5 II.

the fabric's stretch. Below are some

Wa rp knits vs. weft knits

general rules for altering patterns

Warp knits, which generally have a

stretch to the fabric. Garments made from fabrics with spandex

for knits:

flat, smooth surface (though they

can be comfortably fitted closer to

If the fabric has no stretch, as

can also be made with a pile), have

the body. Although spandex im­

with a firm j ersey or rugby-type knit, pattern alterations are usual­

little or no vertical stretch and vary­

parts increased stretch and give to

ing degrees of crosswise stretch. Produced in a large variety of

knits, it's the ability to "recover"

weights in a wide range of fiber

state) that spandex adds that's

-. • •


Lots of knits (as well as wovens) addition of spandex fiber to add

since the alteration will depend on

ly unnecessary. The following are good starting 62

Always make a muslin to fine­

(or bounce back to its original

Kn its by mail


8&J Fabrics 263 W. 40th St.

New York, N Y 1 0028 2 1 2-354-8 1 50 Great selection of cotton , silk, and wool knits (including cashmere); rayon jerseys; and novelties. Swatch service. Michael's Fabrics

www. M oderate, but comprehensive assort­ ment, many suitable for eveningwear. Call toll-free for swatches: 877-266-8 9 1 8 Spandex H o u se

228 W. 38th St. New York, NY 1 00 1 8 2 1 2-354-67 1 1 Stretch knits galore appropriate for dance- and activewear, Slinky Knits, and stretch lace and velvet for day- and eveningwear.

Nylon raschel

') ••-.�A. l,i..)'��...��It.�'\. ..•)1�..1 •�., II..\.�� Ir-.... ..•�" .�.�.�-,� ••,,,...... \.JI•....��·�· •·._•.II'�-��� k\�. .._�"�_,""¥1'#>A ••.. -.��'�\M.�••••• ���.\• ••�,._\� \'.�,•.._�.a�""�' ,' . �_,I'. ..•• ,._t... •., " . .. "' .. _ .j' ,J'J.. ••"�'.'1' 4,.�''�, ..,'t.�_ .'.'-••• '�.�•• �a., ,,\� ••� ••.....•••. ,,,.,, """\'."'! ,.�� .. �.�� ... ••I'••} p,.•1••........'.�. . ,,,... fiI,,,� ,..• t";r,;,., "iI' . • I��!",.,,, , .�· . �,,,��, .....� ..\�." �..., .),.�.,�.� ,.�.. �.,.\ .... ..\ . �.,...,,' II••••• �- '* ,. .;,....., ... _1•..�,.� �.,.,.' ,••:r ��.� '" •• ,. ...,_ ,.•."'tI'l .. .. '



prized by manufacturers and sew­ ers alike, since the resulting gar­ ments retain their shape. Now that you know some of the basic facts about knit fabrics, take a look at a few of common types of readily available knits in the samplings on pp. 60-61 . Look for some of these knits in your fabric store (or see "Knits by mail" at far right for mail-order sources) , and try them out, using "Tips for sewing knits" on the fac­ ing page. As you gain a sol­ id background of knit fab­ ric facts through direct experimentation and reading (see "Reading about knits" on the facing page), you'll rel­

Rayon interlock

4051 Hillsboro Road Nashville, TN 372 1 5 6 1 5-297-5346 Interesting knits, often in fibers such as linen or silk. Swatch service. Tex-Styles Fabrics

1 032 6th Line Oakville, ON L6H 1 W5, Canada 800-77 1 -7599 Great selection of beautiful knits, mostly from Europe, some made of less common fibers such as Tence!. Swatches at reasonable fee. The Rainshed, Inc.

707 NW 1 1 th St. Corvallis, OR 97330 541 -753-8900 www.therainshed. com Array of sports knits, including fleece and exercise knits. Large swatch sets at minimum cost. Th rifty Needle

3233 Amber St. Philadelphia, PA 1 9 1 34 800-324-9927 Sweater bodies in various knit types. Swatches and information on working with sweater bodies.

ish sewing with these re­ markable fabrics.

Sarah Veblen, oj Sparks, Md., sews


"' .. .. "' . " .. . . � . � � .. " ;; ., � . , � � .� . , � " " · - ' . " " " i � '" . . . , �. . ; . . . .. .. . . . .. . . . .. ... ..... " "" � . � �"� . l t • • •

Textile Fabric Store Linen/viscose single knit jersey


Author Sarah Veblen and her daughter Annie are

practical and exotic knit garments

partial to knit ga rments because they're comfortable to

Jor her custom clothing clients.

wear. Here they are in examples of Sarah's creations.

o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1


_-.1/ C O N F I G U R AT I O N O F A ST I T C H B y sewing with fabric's right side face down, the decorative bobbin thread shows on the right side. The needle

thread ca n either match the bobbin thread-in this case, s i l k ribbon-or contrast with it for effect.

bly never considered using in the sewing machine (see the bottom photo on p. 68). You can use threads that come on spools or skeins

There are many types of threads and ribbons that can be used for

Bobbi Wo r k

When Th reads Are Too Th ick for the Need le

bobbin work, and you'll find some of them in craft stores, yarn shops, and your local fabric store (see al­ so "Decorative threads by mail" on the faCing page). I group bobbin­ f you don't want to embroider by hand but can't resist all

work threads into four categories: 1) decorative sergers threads; 2)

those incredible decorative threads and ribbons that won't fit through a sewing-machine

needlepoint, cross stitch, and em­ broidery threads; 3) knitting yarns

needle, why not try bobbin work? It's an old technique that you can use on garments as well as

and crochet threads; and 4) craft and miscellaneous threads. Deco­ rative serger threads include those like Halo from Superior Threads, Decor 6 from Madeira, Pearl Crown

Use h efty t h read s, yarn s, b rai ds,

soft home furnishings, but it takes on a new dimension with all the

Rayon from YLI, and Ombre soft

and r i b b o n s in t h e bo b b i n ,

wonderful threads available today.

metallic from Kreinik. Among

Essentially bobbin work amounts to sewing upside down-the deco­

needlepoint, cross-stitch, and em­ broidery threads are those such as

rative thread goes in the bobbin,

Watercolours (four-ply cotton), Wa­

and you sew from the wrong side­

terlilies ( ll-strand silk), and Wild­ flowers (one-ply cotton) from the

a n d sew fro m t h e wro n g s i d e t o create exciti n g stitched effects by S h aree Dawn Robe rts

therefore the embellishment thread doesn't need to go through the needIe. You can use various types of

Caron Collection, Kreinik silk and embroidery threads, Madeira four­

stitches-straight, programmed,

strand silk floss, and YLI silk rib­

and free-motion (see the photos on

bons (2mm and 4mm). Knitting

pp. 66-67)-but, whatever your stitch

yarns and crochet threads include

choice, there are things to consider to get the desired effects. I'll show

those like DMC pearl cotton and

you this easy technique and intro­

and Cro-Sheen from Coats

duce you to threads you've proba-

Clark. And craft and miscellaneous

Cordonnet, and Knit-Cro Sheen


will make doing bobbin work more fun and give you the best results:

Consider the presser foot, too. For straight-stitching, use an all-purpose

and fine novelty yarns from On the

First, keep in mind that the needle

Surface. The listings here are just a

thread will show a little on the right

foot; for free-motion stitching, a darning foot; and for programmed

few of the current offerings. New

side (remember, you're stitching

stitches, an embroidery foot.

threads include such things as the designer threads from Threadline

threads are emerging all the time,

from the wrong side), since it will an­

and you already may have great

chor and "couch" the bobbin thread

Fabric a n d sta b i l izers

possibilities in your sewing basket.

or yarn. Hence, choose a color of needle thread that works with the

I've done bobbin work successful­ ly on all kinds of fabrics, including

they fit through the throat plate of

thread you're using in the bobbin.

the sewing machine. Stay away from threads and yarns that are

Regular sewing thread is fine to use,

knits, velvets, and sheers, and in most cases, it's necessary to use a

or choose a thin, decorative thread,

stabilizer to prevent puckering.

too nubby and coarse, like boucle

like a metallic, to add a bit of sparkle

There's not space in this article to

Most threads will work as long as

yarns. And don't try to use gros­

to your embroidery. You can also

fully cover stabilizers but I'll give

grain ribbons, because they are not

use monofilament thread in the

you an overview of the four types I

flexible enough.

needle, which is strong and invisi­

use: tear-aways, water-soluble and liquid stabilizers, fusible stabilizers,

ble. It's available in a clear color to What a bout the needle thread ?

use with light- to medium-colored bobbin threads, or in a smoke color

Before I address preparing your ma­

to use with darker threads. Select a

chine's bobbin for this technique, I'll mention additional factors that

sewing-machine needle that's ap­ propriate for the thread you choose.

and batting (I don't use heat-aways because they're hard to remove en­ tirely [rom stitched threads). Tear-away stabilizers come in dif­

Decorative threads by m a i l

A Great Notion Sewing S u p ply

Canada: 800-309-2829 E-Z Winder Beverly's Fabric

& Crafts

877-308-5858 bevfabriccrafts Coats & Clark yarns

DARR, Inc. 334-66 1 -5 1 9 1 www. darrsewnotions . com E-Z Winder Madeira U SA

800-225-3001 Decor 6

Mim i's Fabrications

ferent weights, provide a sturdy

800-948-3455 www.mimisbymail. com YLI Silk Ribbon Need lework Plus

6 1 0-705-3039 www. needlework plus. com Caron Collection, D MC, Kreinik Su perior Threads

800-499- 1 777 www.superior threads. com Halo Victorian Pleasures

888-362-7455 www. victorian pleasures. com Threadline designer threads

Bobbin work adds surfac:e texture and highlights the quilting on this vest with random rows at silk ribbon and varied weights of

thread (vest, out-at-print pattern similar to Simplicity 8744) and on the pi llow on p. 5.

o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1


Stitchi ng tips

For large stitching

jobs, fill several bobbins at once to keep bobbin­

can be easily removed

a minimum.

move all the tear-away,

When using yarns and

threads from a skein,

and it will be visible

first wind them onto a spool, using the E-Z

on the wrong side. Water-soluble and liq-

Winder tool ( see

uid stabilizers can be

"Decorative threads by

washed out after you

mail" on p. 65 ).

A drop of fray­

retardant solvent, like Fray Check, prevents heavy, mu lti-strand

soft fabric to prevent losing the screw if it accidentally falls from the case.





ric you use them on is washable. Fusible stabilizers are

work over a piece of

• 1.;

ing, so be sure the fab-

permanent and gener-

removable bobbin case,


have finished stitch-

tension screw on a


threads from unraveling. When loosening the



from the stitched area. With elaborate stitch patterns, however, you may not be able to re-

winding interruptions to


backing, and generally

ally add bulk to the fabric. Therefore, I don't reco


cause the fabric to pucker. If the top or bobbin tension is too loose, the


bobbin tension of your machine in

them for garments, but they're suit­ able for projects like place mats,

order for the thread to flow easily through the hole in the needle

stitches will be uneven. It's always

pillows, and other accessories. Batting can also be used as a per­

wise to check the tension with

plate. I'll talk about that in a mo­ ment, but first, let me explain how

manent stabilizer. It gives a quilted

machine tension in general affects

ing a test sample on your chosen

effect and adds substantial body to the fabric to support the stitches. To decide which stabilizer is best

the appearance of a stitch. The ten­ sion discs at the top of the machine

fabric. If the bobbin thread loops to the top of the fabric, the top tension

every new thread you use by mak­

are responsible for controlling the

may be too tight or the bobbin

for the fabric and thread you're us­ ing, do some bobbin-work stitches

amount of drag placed on the nee­ dle thread. Similarly, the bobbin

thread too loose, and the reverse

on a 1 2-in. test square of fabric with the stabilizer in place.

tension is responsible for how eas­ ily the thread flows from the bob­

may be true if the top thread pulls tightly to the fabric's wrong side. You can also check the bobbin ten­ sion by pulling up a length of thread

bin case. If either tension is too It's a matter of tension

tight, there is more resistance on

Using thicker threads in the bobbin

the thread, which will affect the

from the opening on the bobbin. For normal tension, it should pull

may require that you loosen the

look of the stitch and possibly

out easily, but not too freely.

BOBBIN CONSIDERATIONS This chart compares bobbin mechanisms of several major machine brands. Each company supplied details for three of their most popular models. M a c h i n e m a ke a n d model

Baby Lock E l l ageo Esante B21 ESG E S E2

Artista 1 80 E

Bernina Artista Virtuosa 1 60 HOE



Brother PC PC 8500 2800

E lna H e i rloom Qui lter's EnVision Dream 8007 Edition 6003Q 6005

Type of bobbin













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Programmed stitches suitable for bobbin work?















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� Basic utility and built-in programmed stitches can look like hand embroidery

(at l eft), and straight machine stitches (on the facing page) take on a new life, when sewn with heavy or novelty threads and silk ribbons in the bobbin.

Two types of bob b i ns

There are many makes and models of sewing machines, but only two types of bobbins: drop-in bobbins

plate. In the chart below, I've pre­ sented common questions about bobbins as they relate to bobbin

two higher than normal to offset the looser tension in the bobbin. And remember to return it to its

work and the answers from edu­ cators at several major machine companies about some of their

Wi n d i ng the bobbi n

popular models. If you have fur­

Decorative threads and ribbons

bin case that's inserted into the ma­

ther questions about your particu­

chine from the front or the side. In order to adjust the bobbin tension

lar model, check with your dealer. If your machine has a front- or side-loading bobbin, you'll need to

that can't fit through the needle won't pass easily through a ma­

that fit into a built-in bobbin case and load from the top, and bob­ bins that fit into a removable bob­

for bobbin work on a top-loading bobbin, you may need to remove

normal setting for regular sewing.

chine's bobbin-winder tension points either. But you can still wind

loosen the tiny screw on the bobbin case by turning it slightly to the

the bobbin on the machine: Start by feeding the thread end through

left. Then, of course, you'll need to

the hole at the top of the bobbin,

this type of bobbin tension, but if you're unsure how to make this ad­

bring the tension back for regular sewing. For this reason, I suggest getting a second bobbin case to use

from the inside out, leaving a I-in. to 2-in. tail of thread, and make three or four complete wraps

justment, simply bypass the ten­

exclusively for bobbin work.

around the bobbin by hand. Place

sion springs in the bobbin case and let the thread flow directly

You may need to adjust the upper tension as well. To do this, turn

the bobbin on the winding pin,

through the hole on the throat

the top tension dial a number or

the cover plate and unscrew the bobbin case. Some machine man­ uals have instructions for adjusting

H usqvarn a Viking Designer I Designer Rose

Janome Memory Memory Memory Craft Craft Craft 1 0000 9000 5700





























click it in place, and trim the thread tail so it's flush with the top of the

Necchi 601 5 601 1

Pfaff Creative Creative Creative 7560 7570 7530

Singer XL-1 000 X L- 1 50 1 1 7



































o c t o b e r/ n o v e m be r 2 0 0 1


Try i t o u t !

Should the feed dogs

ric, since it's hard to predict the re­

be up or down?

sults when using unconventional

You can use heavy threads and rib­

threads in the bobbin.

Play with bobbin work by making an evening bag: Cut a

bons successfully in the bobbin with

Free-motion stitching is another

rectangle of fabric (we chose silk dupioni), about 9'h in. by

the feed dogs engaged as for regular

fun way to do bobbin work. You

1 7 in. Baste a layer of medium-weight stabilizer to the

sewing. And you can put the dogs

need to move the fabric along by

fabric's wrong side, divide the fabric in thirds, and

down for free-motion stitching.

hand, because the feed dogs are

stitch rows of bobbin work horizontally across one outer third. Cut a similar rectangle of lining, and stitch the two, right sides together,

With feed dogs up, you can sew

lowered and not there to help, but

regular straight stitches, utili­

you can stitch in any direction you

ty stitches, and programmed

want. It's best to use an embroidery

leaving an opening on one

decorative stitches. For ex­

hoop for free-motion work so you

edge. Turn to the right side,

ample, you can finish a

can keep the fabric as taught as pos­

garment using a simple straight

sible, but some fabrics may require

hand-stitch the opening closed, and press. Fold into

stitch to achieve the look of ele­

a stabilizer as well. And remember,

thirds with the stitched section on

gant topstitching. Use a longer

you'll mark and stitch on the wrong

top to form the flap, and machine­ stitch the outer edges of the center and bottom thirds.

stitch length (about 3mm) to show­

side of the fabric, so you don't need

case the thread. And for more cre­

to worry about the markings show­

ative effects, loosen the bobbin ten­

ing on the right side.

sion as far as possible, and the bobbin. Then, place the thread

thread will weave loosely back and

Starting a nd stopping

forth, producing a lacy, free-form

To begin stitching, take a Single

spool on a pencil, pinch the thread

stitching line. Utility stitches take

stitch and pull gently on the needle

between your thumb and forefinger

on a new dimension when used with

thread until the bobbin thread

to give it a little tension, and press

decorative threads in the bobbin­

comes to the top. Pull both threads

the foot pedal slowly to engage the

a zigzag, for example, looks more in­

behind the presser foot and stitch,

bobbin winder. You may need to

tricate. If you're using programmed

taking several close-together stitch­

guide the thread up and down the

stitch patterns, stick to those with

es to lock the threads in place. To

bobbin so that it fills evenly, and be

simple outlines. The more intricate

end a row of stitches, lock it with

careful not to fill it beyond the

patterns, or those that include satin

several close-together stitches, raise

edges of the bobbin or it won't fit

stitches or tight reverse stitching,

the needle, and pull the fabric

into the bobbin case. For ribbons

can cause puckering and/ or create

back. Leave at least a 6-in. tail of

and threads on a skein, start the

little tunnels under the stitching.

bobbin thread, and, using a small

process in the same way, but feed

Whatever stitch you choose, always

hand-sewing tapestry needle, pull

them over your fingers, being care­

experiment on a

the bobbin thread to the fabric's

ful to keep ribbons flat and un­

small square of fab-

wrong side and tie it with the nee­

twisted as they wrap around the bobbin.

dle thread in one overhand knot. Once you try bobbin work, you'll love the surprising results. It's a fun

With bobbin work, you're not restricted to conventional sewing-machine threads. For unique stitch patterns and

way to embellish by machine, and

it looks like you did it by hand .

hand ·sewn textures, experiment with decorative serger threads; needlepoi nt, cross-stitch, and h eavy embroidery

Sharee Dawn Roberts sews and teaches

threads; knitting and crochet threads; and other craft threads.

embellishment in Paducah, Ky.



nderline with ilk rganza for Invisible Strength Withou t ad d i n g b u l k o r we i g ht, th is stro n g , b u t d e l icate- looki n g , fabric su pports a garment's shape by J u no Friedman

ven if you've sewn for decades, you still may not

when sewing raw-silk garments,

have learned about the

which, in just one season of wear, tend to come apart at the seams

benefits of underlining a garment. Underlining hides

inforced. Cotton batiste, my usual

and points of stress when not re­

between the garment's out­ er fabric and lining, is cut from the

choice of underlining, often shrinks when steamed together with raw silk, so I tried using silk organza,

same major pattern pieces as the garment, and is hand-basted to the wrong side of the fashion fabric.

hoping the two silks would work together. In fact, they

From then on, throughout the gar­ ment's construction, the fashion

paired so well that I start­ ed using silk-organza un­

fabric and underlining are sewn as one, with the underlining support­

derlining with other fab­ rics, too, including linen,

ing the garment from the inside out.

silk, rayon, blends, and

Common underlining fabrics in­

even Armani-type woolen suitings; and I've never

clude batiste, China silk, muslin, flannel, and canvas. Each of these

been disappointed. In a nutshell, silk organ­ za makes an exceptional

fabrics helps keep the fashion fab­ ric under control, but silk organza as an underlining works like noth­ ing else. Underlining is tradition­

underlining fabric because it's very lightweight, strong, and

ally used in tailoring, but even

Usually considered a fashion fabric, s i l k organza becomes

flexible. Because of these traits, it's

blouses and dresses can benefit

a workhorse as an underlining. Sewn as one with the fashion

naturally able to mold to a fashion fabric and invisibly strengthen and support it without bulk. It rein­

from a semi-transparent, light­

fabric ( 1 ), the underlining (2), covered by the lining (3), supports

weight, silk-organza underlining.

the garment's si lhouette and details, as in the skirt at right of the otherwise identical pair of skirts in the inset photo above

forces loosely woven fabrics, gives

Why use silk organza?

(for details on these skirts, see p. 70; skirt, Vogue 9928).

life to limp fabrics, supports a gar­ ment's shape, reduces wrinkles,

I began experimenting 20 years ago with silk-organza underlining

and keeps a garment from becomocto b e r/ n o ve m b e r 2 0 0 1


ing disfigured with wear and clean­ ing. It can be used as a vehicle to car­ ry fusible interfacings. It also sup­ ports construction details, such as pockets and buttonholes, and sim­ plifies sewing, because you can stitch and mark on the organza with­ out the marks showing on the fash­ ion fabric's right side. And, because steam easily penetrates the silk or­ ganza without sticking the other

Stitching the hem to the

An underlined garment wears

layers together, you create the un­

underlining, not the skirt,

better, especially at pOints of

mistakable "hang" that marks a

keeps the hem invisible, i n

stress. After 1 1 wearings, the back

An experiment

fine garment. In short, silk organza

contrast t o the very visible hem in

vent on the non-u nderlined skirt (on

with underlining:

has a wonderful ability to strength­

the non-u nderli ned skirt (on top).

top) has a lmost torn through.

Threads' Art Director

en, and brace the garment's outer fabric without ever being seen itself.

Karen Meyer (below) alternated between an underlined and

When to use s i l k organza

non-underlined skirt

I suggest using silk-organza under­

(shown on p. 69)

lining in the following situations:

every workday for

o o

one month to observe

When a fashion fabric is too flu­

id or loosely woven. When the fashion fabric is too light in color, allowing construc­

interfacing but avoid its changing

pegged suit skirt takes a beating

the fashion fabric's hand, fuse it to the silk-organza underlining. When you want to prevent any

when worn often, and its demise

hand-sewn stitches holding hems, faCings, or design details from show­

silk organza will keep its lines crisp.


can ruin a suit whose jacket is still wearable. Underlining the skirt with

How to use silk organza

ing on the garment's surface, sew them to the underlining instead.

First, preshrink both the fashion

tion details, like pockets and seams, to show through on the right side,

When you're making a linen gar­ ment. The linen will still wrinkle

fabric and silk organza, using a hot iron with maximum steam and

silk organza provides just enough denSity to hide them. When you want to use a fusible

o o

but won't look as if you slept in it. When using double-knit fabrics

holding the iron a few inches above the fabric. To be sure the organza has a straight edge so you can align

and it looked and

for fitted garments that aren't sup­ posed to cling or stretch, silk or­ ganza stabilizes the knit so it can be

wore better overa ll.

handled like a woven fabric.

the difference a silk­ organza underlining makes. Her findings: The underlined skirt (nu mbered in red) wrinkled less, its lining did n't peek out when she sat down,



When the design itself de­ mands a light stabilizing to support its shape.


example, a

the grainline perfectly (see Basics, No. 96, p . 20), tear it across its width. If pieces are cut off-grain, waves

cutting a generous X;-in. inside any of the garment's previous foldlines. You can easily trace dart, but­ tonhole, and pocket placement,

organza underlining into the seams

and center-front marks on the sheer

with the fashion fabric, then press­

organza layer without fear of de­ faCing the fashion fabric. Then fuse

ing them open as usual. When mak­


the layers from shifting, and then


construct through both layers. As you make the garment, the un­

• • • • •

tion them wrong sides together and baste along the grainline down the center of each pattern piece. To al­ low for the turn-of-cloth, next lay

derlining is a convenient place to at­ tach hems, shoulder pads, or other

the fashion fabric and underlin­

internal elements. Once the garment is constructed, assemble the lining

ing over your hand or arm right

as usual and sew it into the garment.

side up, pin in the seam allowances, and hand-baste the layers together in the seam allowance, using a long

Finishing is easy because stitching

face, and the layers can distort. Next, cut out the pattern from the fashion fabric. Then adjust the pat­ tern for cutting out the underlin­

milliners needle and large stitches. It's a good idea to run a horizontal

ing. Since the underlining should hang straight from the shoulder or

line of basting across the middle of

fast rules in garment construction.

the larger pattern pieces.

Whatever works to support a shape, from whalebone to metal

can appear on the garment's sur­

Machine-basting can remove any part of the pattern that folds back on itself, such as the hems and facings.


possible underlayers

buttonhole is to be made to keep

in the two skirts: The non·

the wearer was seated.

Some of the

ing layer to the fashion fabric. To join the two layers, first posi­

peeked out below the hem when

ing pockets or buttonholes, baste around the area where pocket or

Confused by the terms?

the interfacings directly to the or­ ganza before joining the underlin­ An unexpected difference

underlined skirt's lin ing always

After basting the layers, handle them as one piece of fabric as you make the garment, stitching the silk­

distort the grain of both layers by holding them together too tightly. Loosely hand-basting the layers together allows them instead

into silk organza underlining takes the labor out of the hand sewing. Over my 27 years in dressmaking, I've learned there are no hard and

in a garment have

An underlining supports the garment. An interlining adds warmth. An interfacing stabilizes the facing. A faCing finishes unhemmed edges. A lining clean· finishes the inside of the garment.

hoops, is allowed. So, for stabi­ lizing or supporting a garment, remember silk organza. • Juno Friedman underlines her gar­ ments with silk organza in Kansas City, Mo.

use the adjusted patterns to cut out the underlin­ ing strictly on-grain,

o c t o b e r/ n ov e m b e r 2 0 0 1


Lay O ut an d

ou've bought beautiful fabric, chosen a pattern, altered it to fit your body, and now you're anxious to dive into construction.


Pay special att e n t i o n to t h e fi rst ste p of g arm e n t co n stru ct i o n , a n d save t i m e and tro u b l e late r by C o n n i e Crawford

Wait! Don't rush the next step of laying out your pattern and cutting your fabric. Here's why: All the slight errors and inaccuracies you might make if you hurry at this stage would readily add up, and the sum total of slightly off­ grain, j agged cut edges, shifted fab­ ric, and other gremlins may equal disappointing results, such as dis­ tortion of the style lines or even an unintentional change in dress size. I'll take you through the funda­ mental steps for correct layout and cutting so you can get a good start on your garment. Layout varies with fa bric type

The first step in constructing a fine garment is to arrange your pattern pieces on the fabric, creating a lay­ out that works with the type of fab­ ric you're using. You can, of course, use the pattern instruction's sug­ gested layouts, but remember that these cannot take into account your fabric type, nor do they nec­ essarily lay out the pattern pieces in the most economical way. For example, if your fabric is a solid color or a multidirectional print (meaning the print's pattern is sym­ metrical or otherwise looks right both when positioned up or down on your garment), you'll be able to use what's called a two-way layout, that is, one in which the pattern

- ---

piece can be placed heading in ei­ ther direction on the fabric's lengthwise grain.

Paper stabilizes the fabric during cutting like nothing else. Use brown paper, shelf paper, or any

Any fabric with a nap (surface

fairly heavy paper, aligning the edges of the fabric and paper and cutting through all the layers (yes,

texture that looks different when

cutting paper dulls your shears, which you'll need to have sharpened professionally at regular intervals).

the fabric is turned crosswise or



I n d ustry's big

upside down) or pile and any asymmetrical print needs a one­ way layout, that is, with all the pattern pieces placed to head in the same direction (see the draw­ ings below). If your pattern rec­ ommends avoiding napped fabric, do just that.


Line up the fabric selvage or folded edge with the machine-cut edge of the paper (see the photo on the facing page).

cutting accuracy.

secret: pa per


When laying out pile fabric, gently fold the right sides together, but don't smooth out the fabric with the palm of your hand. If you do, the fabric will stretch and the pile's threads will lock together, creating a distorted pattern shape. Instead, holding the selvages together, "fluff" the fabric in the air as you would a bed sheet, and let it settle naturally. Any remaining wrinkles can be removed by gently tapping the wrinkled area with a quilter's gridded ruler, or an 8-in. by 1 0-in. piece of stiff cardboard.

Having decided on a layout, you're now ready to pin your pressed pat­ tern pieces to the fabric, carefully

Another important aspect of fab­ ric that affects laying out your pat­

lines. But first,

tern is its grain. (to learn about

here's an industry

finding the fabric's grain, see Ba­ out process by establishing a stable

tip that makes cut­ ting out a pattern easy and efficient:

crossgrain edge. To do this, tear

The garment in­

the fabric across the grain or trim the edge along a

dustry's cutters, both in their sam­

pulled thread. Then, match the

ple and producti.on rooms, always place brown

matching grain­

sics in No. 96, p. 20). Start the lay­

grainline printed on each pattern piece (the straight line with arrows on each end) to


The entire length of fabric can be pinned to paper. When you run out of table space, gently fold (don't crease) the paper, along with the pinned fabric, letting it stack up loosely at one end of your table. (as in the photo on the facing page).

Paper is extreme­ ly useful for sup­ porting lightweight fabric, such as lin­ ing material, ray­ on, chiffon, silk, knits, and pile fab­ ric. But fabrics of all weights are eas­ ier to handle using the paper tech­ nique. Another ad­ vantage of using paper is that, after pinning through all layers, includ­

ing the paper, a garment section is so well stabi­

paper underneath the fabric be­

lized that you can move it easily

fore layout and cutting, no matter

when cutting awkward angles. Slip­

how many layers are to be cut. The reason? The paper ensures that

ping, sliding, and shifting fabric is

the fabric will not move or slither

never a problem. You can use shelf paper, butcher paper, unprinted

the fabric's grain.

during cutting (the paper is cut

newsprint (sometimes available

If a pattern section is cut the slightest bit askew to the fabric's grain, the garment won't drape properly, and the directional

along with the pinned pattern).

very inexpensively at your local newspaper) or brown kraft paper

change in napped fabric will be distinctly noticeable. And when laying out interfacing or lining material, use the same grain di­ rection that you used to cut the garment fabric. Many fabrics are cut with a double­ layer layout, in which the fabric is folded in half, usually lengthwise along its grain, for cutting two lay­

This benefit is a terrific boon to


Two-way layout

In a one-way layout, the top of each pattern piece is laid toward the same end of fabric. This layout is needed for asymmetrical plaids, stripes and prints; knits; and fabrics with a nap, which look different when each cut end is held up. A one-way layout usually requires more fabric than a two-way layout.

A two-way layout allows for positioning the top of each pattern piece in either direction on the fabric 's straight grain. This layout is used with fabrics that look the same when either cut end is held up, for example, a solid-color fabric, an even-weave fabric without nap, or a print fabric that's symmetrical, such as a stripe or a dot.

ers of fabric from one pattern piece.

Paper -

Fabrics with asymmetrical prints or weaves need to be cut out single­ layer. This, of course, means that you'll need to make a full pattern


out on the fold, and you need to flip over pattern pieces for their


second cutting in order to cut their


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piece for pieces marked for cutting Place on fold.



Place on fold.

Line up either the fabric's fold or selvages with the brown paper's machine-cut edge.

mirror images. octobe r/november 2 0 0 1


(lengthwise and crosswise) direct­

To lay out your fabric double­

rupted by seams. Whether stripes run lengthwise

ly on the pattern piece at the

layered on paper, fold it in half

or crosswise on the fabric, when

shoulder, side-seam, and armhole

(usually lengthwise) with right

laying out folded, symmetrically

notches. Next, to ensure that the

sides together on top of the brown

striped fabric, make sure the top

stripes match across seamlines,

paper. Folding the fabric right sides together and aligning either sel­

layer's stripes match those under­ neath for the fabric's entire length

pair up the adjoining pattern pieces with those pinned on the fold by

vage or foldline to the paper's edge

(see the drawing below). If match­

keeps the fabric on grain while cutting, makes pattern marking

ing the stripes causes diagonal rip­

aligning their common notches, and transfer the stripe marks to

ples across the fabric, you'll need to

the adjoining pieces. Then you can

easier to transfer, and protects the

straighten the fabric's grain (see

fabric's right side from soil. If you

Basics in No. 96, p. 20, for more

accurately position these pattern pieces on the appropriate stripe(s)

like the fabric's wrong side and

on straightening grain).

in the fabric (see the drawing at

(available at art-supply stores).

right on the facing page).

The lengthwise and crosswise

want it to face outward, there's no law against this; fold b ack one

stripes of sym-

corner and compare the two sides for these aesthetic decisions. To lay

metrical plaid fab­ ric should also match on both

out the fabric single-layered, place it face down on the paper, align­

fabric layers. To prepare plaid fab­ ric for layout, sim­

ing one selvage with the paper's cut edge.


Pin the pattern every

When matching lengthwise stripes, the selvages should be parallel, but the fold doesn't have to be centered on the fabric's full width t his can help conserve fabric .



is good craftsmansh i p

Pinning the pattern to the fabric may seem like an easy task, and it is, but if you're shooting for accu­ racy, follow these steps: Start by placing the appropriate pattern pieces on the fabric's foldline, di­ agonally pin the edge marked with

ply follow the same procedure that I've described

Match i n g plaids a n d stripes

few i n ches

Plaid and striped fabrics are a little

for striped fabric. The pattern layout for symmet­

fussier to lay out than most fab­

rically striped or plaid fabrics starts

sal foldline marking) exactly on

rics, but if you follow these guide­ lines, the resulting garment will

by first placing pattern pieces to be laid out on the fold. By laying

the fabric fold, which, if you've matched the fabric's selvages ac­

have stripes that cross seamlines and plaids that appear uninter-

these pieces first, you can pencil­ mark the location of the stripes

curately, will correspond to the fab­

two connected arrows (the univer­

ric's grain. Next, pin the other pattern pieces correctly, first pin one end of the pattern's printed grainline to the

M ATCH STRI P E S For double-layered layouts, stripes on both layers should match from fold to selvage for the entire length of the fabric, with no rippling. Should wrinkles appear, like those shown at right below, the fabric's grain is askew and needs to be straightened (see Threads No. 96, p. 20). Match up symmetrical plaids the same way, both with the straight grain and across the grain.

line's other end so that it's equidis­

Match stripes of plaid at selvage and along fabric's cut edges.

piece, pin the grainlines of all oth­










fabric, then position the grain­


j 1i




tant from either the selvage or the fold at the first pin (see the drawing on the facing page). Before adding any more pins to this pattern

Match stripes at selvage or along fabric's cut edges.

er pattern pieces to the fabric the same way. After all the pattern pieces have been pinned to the grainline, pin


through all layers around each pat­


and at each corner, making sure


tern piece's edges every few inches to keep the pins well inside the cut­ ting lines. Keep the fabric flat with pattern weights as you pin, and avoid overpinning, which can cause the fabric to distort.

The long blades on shears are designed especially for cutting out patterns. These scissors

make a fine cut if you start at the base of the blade, then continue the cut a l l t he way t o t he shear's tips in a single motion. You won't have the jagged, raggedy edges that result from short, choppy cutting motions.

Use a rotary cutter or

cut in order to keep the fabric as

section as needed to accurately cut

shears for cutting

close as possible to the table. And, yes, cut the paper layer along with

awkward to reach.

Whether you cut out pattern pieces with a rotary cutter or shears, cut with the bulk of the pattern to the left of the scissors or rotary blade (reverse if you're left-handed). When using shears, place one hand on the pattern, close to the cutting line where your other hand is ma­ nipulating the shears. Cut in full strokes-choppy cuts result in jagged edges. Move the non-cutting


Be fanatic when it comes to good layout and cutting practices, and soon all these procedures will be

be able feel when

automatic. And you'll end up with a

the other layers (have your shears sharpened professionally at regular


The straight line with arrows on each end that's printed on the pattern piece is its grai nline and should always be aligned parallel to the fabric's selvage on the fabric's lengthwise grain-even when the line is printed diagonally on the pattern.

hand along with the shears as they

an area that would otherwise be

the scissors are beginning to get

garment you'll be proud to wear.

dull, and your

Connie Crawford is the designer and

cutting won't be crisp and clean).

CEO of Fashion Patterns by Coni, pat­

As you cut, you can reposition a

which can be found on her Web site:

terns designed exclUSively for plus sizes,



M ATCH GRAIN LINES It's important to match the grainline printed on the pattern to the straight grain of the fabric, which is parallel to the selvage. To position grainline, pin it at one end. Measure from pin to fold or selvage and pin opposite end of grainline equidistant from fold or selvage. Repeat process for pinning grainline for all pattern pieces before pinning edges. Pin edges of pattern to fabric, pinning diagonally at corners. A void using too many pins, which can distort pattern 's shape.


r---1 Selvage


9 in.

For stripes and plaids: Place pattern pieces to be positioned on fold first. Mark position of stripes at shoulder, side-seam, and armhole notches. Transfer these marks to each adjoining pattern piece after aligning notch marks on common seamlines, to ensure matching fabric's pattern across seamlines.





o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1


What's Inside? Dow n , foa m ,

o r p o l y ? H e re ' s how t o m atch the p i l low stuffi n g t o its p u rpose , and where to find it. by Lau rel S p r i g g

hen sewers think of making pillows, they're likely to turn first to the fun part, which is, of course, picking the fabric and trim. As their experience with pillow-making grows, sewers in­ evitably come to understand that the more attention they give to the structure and stuffing of a pillow proj ect up front, the more likely Down is tops for softness (top) and

they are to get what they want when

"re-fluffability!' Polyester cluster fi bers (middle)

the project is completed. In this ar­

offer an allergy-free, re-fluffable alternative to

ticle, I'll share what I've learned

down. Polyester sheet batting (bottom) is the

working with suppliers of pillow

least expensive, but it tends to flatten over time.

forms and stuffing materials to the interior-design trade, for which my custom workroom makes covers, including both decorative throw pillows and seat covers.

Is you r p i l low for seating

in every case, a commercial, pre­

best down fill you can afford. Don't

Pil low- m a ki n g

or for show?

made form will look better and be

spend the money on a very soft fill

sou rces b y m a i l

The pillow-maker's first issue

less trouble.

if your fabric is relatively tough,

Airtex Industries

1 50 Industrial Park Road Cokato, M N 55321 800-8 5 1 -8887 www.airtex. com Wholesale fiberfill pillows, foam, batting. Ask for distributors in your area.

should always be usability. How

Finally, if possible, buy the pillow

like canvas. You can use a stiffer

will you use this proposed pillow

form before you buy or cut the cov­ er fabric. It's much easier to fit a

fill with a lighter fabric, such as a

with two basic pillow categories: decorative and seating pillows. Dec­

standard-size form (typically avail­

may want to interface or underline

able square in sizes from 1 2 in. to

the fabric to prevent the feather

orative pillows include the accent

36 in.; rectangles are a custom or­ der) than to have to order a custom

spines from being felt and seen. (See "Pain-free down" on p. 78, for

stuffer to fit a non-standard cover.

more tips on handling down.)

comfort to a room. The seating cat­

Mix down a n d feathers for

Synthetic stuffing materi als

egory includes seat and back cush­ ions for chairs, couches, and win­

the best decorative p i l lows

a re getting better a n d better

There's nothing quite like sinking

Fortunately for those with feather allergies or smaller budgets, the

or cushion? In my business, I deal

pillows and bed pillows that are meant to be soft and squishy, and

silk taffeta over a 5/95 fill, but you

whose purpose is to add color and

dow seats, and also floor pillows.

into a pile of down pillows for a

All these cushions need resilient

feeling of luxury. It's the stuffing of

structure and are meant to be sat

choice for most of the interior de­ signers I work with. Down is soft

upon and used for a number of years. The information that follows breaks down easily into these same two categories: stuffings for show and stuffings you can sit on. But first, some general advice on pil­ low filling, based on hard-won ex­ perience, regardless of the type of pillows you're planning.

and light and can be fluffed back into to shape for years and years. But, by itself, down compresses so completely (think of the hiker's sleeping bag) that it gives little or no support in a decorative pillow, Most decorative pillows perform All of the filli ngs on the facing page

down, giving the pillow more body. "Down" pillows are available in

can be used to cover foam furniture

buy the f i l l i ng

I highly recommend that you pur­ chase a completed pillow form in

white or gray and in a variety of feather and down mixes. The color

the size you want and spend your

is unimportant if your cover is

cushions, as shown above.

synthetic stuffing available today is quite good. Polyester fiberfill,

creative energy on the cover, not

opaque, so don't pay for white un­

the insides, though I've included sources for both in "Pillow-making

less you need it. The more feathers

sources by mail" at far right. Also

pensive the pillow. Most feather and down forms for sale in fabric

decorative pillows. Most easily avail­

resist the urge to try to change the size of an existing pillow by tak­

and craft stores are the least ex­

such as Poly-Fil, is the most com­ mon synthetic stuffing, and it's a good, inexpensive choice for many

ing stuffing out or by sewing across

able polyester forms are garnetted,

pensive available. The label will be

which means that the form is ac­ tually a piece of filtered and folded

it to make it smaller. If you mess

marked 5/95, meaning 5 percent

batting. The drawbacks of garnetted

with loose feathers, you'll find them

down and 95 percent feathers. The most common mixes in the trade,

polyester are that it tends to go flat

available from upholsterers or the

with a lot of use, and, because it's folded, it will never shift to fill up

79). And if you stitch across a feath­

sources at top right, are 10/90,

empty pillow corners. This may be

er-filled form, you'll have feathers

25/75, and 50/50. These sources

designated "unbranded" polyester

and the spines of feathers emerging from that seam for the life of the

can also make a fuller or less full pillow, according to your taste.

by local upholsterers and the sources listed here, most of whom will also

pillow. In the case of synthetics, your own stuffer made with hand­

Down puts the least stress on the surface fabric of any fill, so if you

dards: DuPont Dacron 91, a resilient

fuls of polyester batting is almost

want to make your pillow cover with

sheet batting that holds its shape

certain to be very lumpy. In short,

a delicate antique textile, use the

quite well, and DuPont Cluster Fiber

in your studio or house for years to come (see the bottom photo on p.

Cushion Works

Lodi Down a nd Feather

no matter how easily it fluffs up.

in the mix, the stiffer and less ex­

4055 Pestana Place Fremont, CA 94538 5 1 0-657-2420 All kinds of foam, Dacron/polyester wrap.

3320 1 8th St. San Francisco, CA 941 1 0 4 1 5-552-6220 Feather and down cushions and pillows, foam, zippers, welt, poly batting, poly pillow forms, upholstery supplies.

best with a mix of feathers and M a ke the covers,

Bob's Foa m Factory

6-9 Park Place Lodi, NJ 07644 800-634-6 647 973-546-4502 www.lodidownand feather. com A division of Avery Boardman, Ltd., whole­ sale manufacturer of fine-quality down and feather products for use in furniture. Ask for distributors in your area. Zeilinger Wool Co.

1 1 3 0 Weiss St. Frankenmuth, MI 48734 877-767-2920 www.zwool. com Wool stuffed pillows, comforters, quilt batting.

offer the following industry stan­

o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1


Seat cush ions h ave

CU T CROWN INTO PIL LOW AND CU SHION COVERS Cushion and pillow covers need shaped side-seams to accommodate the curvature of their forms.

an i ntern a l structure

Pillows for seating usually have an inner structure, either made o f

Deduct from corners for p i l low forms

Add to sides for cush i o n forms

springs with a foam wrapper o r of

Measure across pillow form from side to side at center, and draw square/rectangle using these dimensions. To curve form for crown, deduct from each corner, redrawing sides with hip curve starting 1, of length from each corner. For 1 8-in. pillows deduct Y. in.; 24-in. pillows, deduct \I, in. ; over 26-in. pillows, deduct 0/, in.

Measure across cushion form from corner to corner to find length and width, or measure existing cover, to be sure form fits seating. Then add length at centers of each side. For 25-in. cushion, add \I, in. to 1 in., depending on loft of stuffing down is loftiest ; for 40-in. cushion, add 1 \I, in. Redraw side-seam curve with curved ruler, from corner to corner. Boxing strips remain unshaped.

foam alone. These inner structures are usually themselves surrounded

Form's side-to-side length


\4 in'



1 8 in.

'I y, length J-"

1 8 in.



with softer materials like polyester­ fiber batting or a down wrap (see the photo on p. 77). Foam with a polyester-fiber wrap is usually a foam rectangle with poly-batting glued to it with spray

25 in.

adhesive. Sometimes, the polyester

Form's corner­ to-corner length

wrap is held in place with a muslin cover instead of adhesive. You can

2 5 in.

purchase your own bare foam, but

% In. to

if you don't wrap it (in addition to adding a decorative cover), air will

1 1�.

Deduct from corners, depending on pillow size.

degrade the foam over time (you've

Add to sides, depending on cushion loft.

seen that yellow, crumbly stu



and the foam by itself will not give

Pa i n -free down

forel), both shown on p. 76). The lat­ ter is an exciting new, non-allergenic

the curve of the crown, rather than

Foam comes in many grades and

If there are feathers in

fiber that's quite down-like: loose,

by using the form's specified di­

your cushions, sooner

curly, soft, and able to be fluffed up

or later one will poke its

again and again.

mensions. Adding this "belly" to the seamline gives the crown room

levels of firmness and is readily available in foam shops and from upholsterers. Outdoor cushions

to round out without distorting the

should have "dry-fast" foam that

horizontal dimensions.

allows water to drain through. High-grade foam has lots of tiny, connected holes for speedy recov­

type 387 (formerly known as Com­

shaft through the cover and stick you . . . unless your cover is thick enough to resist it. If

Cut p i l low covers to fit the "crown"

When you stuff a fluffy bed pillow

your covering fabric by measuring the actual length and width across

If the form is too loosely filled,

your cushion any life, or "cush," for lack of a better word.

even after taking

into a rectangular pillow case, no

you can compensate by cutting your fabric a little smaller, but don't over­

precautions, resist these

doubt you've noticed how the not­

do it or you may end up with a pil­

ery, whereas cheaper foam does not and will stay squashed longer.

temptations while you

quite-filled corners of the case stick out, while the straight sides curve

low the consistency of a football.

The most luxurious seat cush­

But also, never cut a cover too large

inward in response to the round­ ness of the pillow. The pillow's

for the stuffer to make it softer. A

ions are wrapped in a feather/down envelope that's sewn with horizon­

you're getting stuck

contemplate a heavier cover:


pull out the

barb. This will only make

a bigger hole for another one to find.

o DON'T vacuum your

cover that's too big looks like you

tal baffles to prevent the feathers

roundness is called its "crown."

bought the wrong size or measured

Whether for decorative or seating

your fabric incorrectly. If you want a less-stuffed look, order a form

from shifting front to back. You can also purchase feather-only cushions

purposes, all pillows have a crown,

tidying up. This will only

the size of which can be controlled by (and specified to) the form man-

orient the barbs straight

ufacturer. To accommodate this

toward the cover.

shaping, a well-fitted permanent

pillow when you're


with less filling material inside.


slightly inward at the corners (see

To give the fill breathing room, cut 78




Down- o r


(polyester fiberfi ll, D u Pont Dacron 9 1 Du Pont Cl uster Fiber type 387)



the drawings above), not straight The decorative pillow, by nature, needs as much crown as possible.

other than these baffles. These


cover has seams that are curved

like a pillowcase.

with no inner structure for seating

wrapped foam

Appropri ate for:

Decorative pil low Seating cushion

Maybe No







Let the pillow factory do it: Sheet

batting (top), foam (middle), and down (bottom) are all easiest to deal with when covered at the factory.

cushion forms are usually a stiffer

they go with, cush­

mix of feathers and down to give support. Heavenly to sink into ,

made somewhat

such cushions must be fluffed up every time they're used, or they'll

larger than the covers they'll fit. Ideally, you'll have

look squashed and tired.

an existing cover to measure and copy when ordering a new cushion

Other stutters you may encounter

stuffer, which will arrive a bit larg­ er than dimensions you ordered,

Here are other materials you can

so the cushion will be full and

use, but they're not as easy to find or work with, and do not always

plump-looking, at least from the suppliers listed on p. 77. If not,

give the best results. Shredded foam is still sold, but it

carefully measure the space the cushion will fill and give these di­

makes a lumpy pillow if not en­ cased in thick polyester batting. It also settles and quickly sags to look

mensions to your cushion supplier,

like a bean bag.

Cotton batting is still used by up­

holsterers for chair padding, often

ions are purposely

then reshape the sides as shown in the drawings on the faCing page. The tight fit of cushion covers means more pressure on the seams, so choose a heavy, 40-wt. garment

on dining-room seats. With the seat

thread, but use an all-polyester or

cover pulled tight, cotton batting

blended thread for strength. Also,

crushes flat between the fabric and foam, creating a felt-like feel. Wool batting is more resilient than

stery zipper for seat cushions, not a garment-weight zipper, so the zip­

cotton and can be a good alterna­ tive for those allergic to down. Cut seating covers

use a heavyweight, nylon, uphol­

per won't split open every time any­ one sits on the cushion. Finally, serge all raw edges on your cover as you make it. This makes handling

to tit the cha i r

easier and prevents raveling, should

Unlike pillow covers, most cush­

you want to wash or dry-clean it.

ion covers are 2 in. or more small­ er overall than the stuffer to help

Laurel Sprigg's San Francisco work­

create a solid seating structure. But because cushions typically must

drapes Jar deSigners all over Califor­

wind up fitting exact dimensions

nia. She wrote about Jabrics Jar interi­

when covered, to fit the furniture

ors in

room makes pillows, slipcovers, and

Threads No. 92.

o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1



by Claire S haeffer

f a garment you've made has a problem, it usually takes one

developed ugly, little vertical fold­

area and reduces wrinkling when

lines parallel to the lengthwise grain

the wearer is sitting. It also elimi­

wearing to realize you're dis­ appointed with it. The last time

at all edges. I had completely backed my loosely woven silk suiting with

this happened to me, it was ob­ vious within a few moments

a soft fusible to hold its shape, but since the fusible was cut on the same

that something wasn't working.

grain as the garment, it didn't elim­

And, as I analyzed my mistake, I was reminded of the often crucial

inate the need for bias-cut interfac­

ment, concealing any ridge at the edge. When a soft effect is desired, a

ings in the hems, which would have

hem interfacing can also be extend­

importance of hem interfacings.

held each hemline in an attractive

These unglamorous layers are rarely

oval shape and smoothed its edge. In

ed into the fold of the hem to keep edges looking smoothly unpressed

mentioned in pattern directions,

short, it was a perfect instance of a

(no matter how firmly pressed they

and so their need is frequently over­

garment needing its hems interfaced

are), rather than crisply creased.

looked, but many an otherwise fab­

to produce the smooth, controlled

Ever since my disappointing dress,

ulous design can be diminished by their absence. In this article, I'll out­

edges it reqUired to look its best. Besides creating more attractive

line when, and with what materials,

hemlines and smoother edges, a

I now interface all hems on skirts and dresses made from crisp and dressy fabrics, including silk, wool,

it makes sense to interface your hems, and I'll offer several methods

from clinging at the knees or feet

for inserting them for the best effect.

and improves the body and shape of a skirt that extends below the knee,

When crispness counts

reducing cupping under the knees


some linens, and blends that in­ clude these fibers. I also continue to use interfacing in all j acket and coat hems. Interfacing is generally unnecessary on the hems of wash­

My problem garment was a dress

as you walk. On jackets, espeCially

able garments, soft blouses and

that looked limp and shapeless at

long ones, a hem interfacing cre­ ates a smoother line over the hip

skirts, pants, and garments with

the sleeves and hem and quickly 80

hem interfacing prevents a hem

nates shapeless, limp, and unde­ fined sleeve hems. And, on lined garments, it provides a buffer be­ tween the hem allowance and gar­

narrow, machine-finished hems.

No more limp hems.

Interfacing a hem, whether on a ski rt or a sleeve, helps it hold its shape. Compare the uninterfaced hem on this loosely woven shantung skirt with that on the facing page, which was supported with a strip of bias-cut interfacing.

I nterfac i n g s m oot h ly s hapes a garme n t h e m , p reve nts c l i n g i n g , and red uces wri n kl i n g . H e re ' s h ow to choose and a p p ly i nterfac i n g fo r vario u s h e m s .

Keep i nterfacings

hem allowance. On lined garments,

l i g htweight

there's no need to hide the inter­

If the skirt hem is above the knee,

Besides always cutting hem inter­

facing, so it can be any width. In

interfacings are rarely more than

facings on the bias (or crossgrain if

fact, it's usual in these cases to cut the interfacing so it will extend at

below the knee, interfacings fre­

they're knit), the only rule I consis­ tently follow when choosing inter­

least \{ in. above the hem allowance

on the right side of the garment.

2 in. to 4 in. wide. For skirt lengths

facing materials is to select one

to prevent any impression from the

quently extend from the knee to the hemline to prevent cupping.

that's lighter than the fashion fabric.

hem edge from shOwing through

On long skirts and dresses, it's not

The "Interfacing materials and their uses" chart at right shows the variety of interfaCings and their uses. I gen­ erally prefer sew-in interfacings


Will create or is used for:

Silk organza, silk shantung

A smooth, inconspicuous hemline on light- and medium-weight fabrics

Organdy: permanent-fin ish cotton, nylon, or polyester

More defined hemline on l ight- and mediu m-weight fabrics

Cotton flannel, lamb's wool, polyester fleece, cotton wadding

A soft "unpressed" edge, no matter how hard it's pressed

Wig an or hair canvas

A soft, pressed edge for wool, cotton, silk, and linen suitings

Hair canvas; horsehair braid; or stiff, woven interfacing , such as Armo Press.

A crisp, defi ned heml ine

How wide?

On unlined garments, the inter­

Synthetic interfacings

For washable garments

faCing should be narrow enough to hide between the garment and

Fusible knit interfacings

For backing garments

made of natural fibers in weights from silk organza to cotton wadding, depending on the fashion fabric and the look I want. My favorite ma­ terial is wigan, a crisp, woven, non­ fusible cotton available in bias strips and several widths (see "Interfacing sources by mail" on p. 83).

o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1


Stitch primer The following hand stitches are used in applying sew-in interiacings:

Running stitch

Work even stitches right

to left, using a stitch length to suit use.


Work left to right, in

even, alternating lines of stitches that create an

X pattern on garment's

wrong side and parallel

Blind stitch

Work right to left, with Yo-in. to �-in. stitch length, alternating from garment to hem.



Cut enough bias strips of sew-in interfacing for entire hem, trimming selvages from strips. To splice strips end to end, cut end on-grain, overlap \f in. and stitch together by hand. If using precut strips (such as wigan) that are too narrow, piece strips by hand horizontally as illustrated, overlapping them \f in. and joining with short running stitches (see "Stitch primer" at left).



---� -- -


:: t-..:=--..\I-t:s:::==� _-_ ...

Pieced strips


interfaci n g

R u n n i n g stitch


Spliced strips

Step 2. After hemline is marked, spread garment WS up and pin interfacing in place on garment side of hemline so it covers hemline by about \f in.

Slash strip.

FOR A CRISP EDGE, A P P LY HEM INTERFACING TO THE HE M A L LOWAN CE Step 1. Cut bias strips (or crossgrain for knit) from fusible interfacing \f in. narrower than hem allowance.

To piece interfacing, sew strips with running stitches. Baste Y. in. from hemline and Y. in. from edge. Lap interfacing \f in. over hemline.

i'� 0" Sew slash

Step 3. A ttach interfacing to garment with a blind stitch. If edge is shaped, slash interfacing strip as needed to lie flat or conform to shape, then overlap to fit and join with running stitches. Finish hem edge as desired and secure to interfacing with running stitch or catchstitch.


EB ias-cut, sew-in

d .m�

Catchstitch edge of interfacing to garment, WS.

Garment, WS

Interfacing butts hemline and is \f in. narrower than hem.

2. Align interfacing edge with hemline fold.

Step 3. Fuse to hem allowance, crossing over seam allowances (s.a.s.). If fashion fabric is thick or bulky, cut interfacing to fit under s.a. and fuse before finishing hem as desired.

uncommon for hem inter facings to be 10 in. to 1 2 in. wide in order

can be increased by \{ in. or more if you plan to extend the interfacing in­

it; and they can be applied before or after the garment is assembled. But

to maintain the skirt's silhouette.

to the hem's fold to prevent creasing.

regardless of these options, there

Apply i nterfaci ng to the

are only two basic approaches: in­ terfacing the garment or the hem al­

jackets, they're generally wider and

g a rment or to the hem

lowance. Generally, on better gar­

begin 1 \{ in. to 2 in. below the waist to establish a smooth line over the

Hem interfacings can be sewn in or

ments and in haute couture, a

fused; they can be included in the

hips. In addition, all of these widths

fold at the hemline or end flush with

sew-in interfacing is applied to the garment, as shown in the top draw-

For short jackets, inter facings are usually 2 in. to 3 in. wide. For long



I nterfaci n g sou rces by m a i l


Try t h e following tailoring suppliers for wigan, wadding, horsehair braid, and other interfacing supplies not available at local or mail-order fabric stores.

For forma l g owns

Often used to support flowing, wavy hems on full-length evening and wedding gowns, choose a narrow horsehair braid for softer, smaller undulations and a wider braid for larger undulations and a more defined hemline. Press braid to remove any foldlines. Always work flat on a table to be sure braid and garment edge don't stretch. Step



Mark hemline on garment, and trim hem allowance to % in.

r Finish braid ends with ribbon.

\ 1\ ..�. .. ,.\ -.. .. ...... ... .. -...... -.. .. I :



Raw edge


Horsehair braid

Step 2. With garment RS up, align braid edge with skirt's raw edge and pin. (If using wide braid with gathering thread at one edge, pin opposite edge to skirt edge.) When braid ends meet, overlap � in. and join with short running stitches. Cover raw ends with short piece of seam binding or �-in.-wide ribbon to prevent scratches or torn hosiery. Step

Machine-stitch � in. from raw edge.


Machine-stitch braid to hem

G re e n b e rg

Baer Fabrics

� in. from edge.

51 5 E. Market St. Louisville, KY 40202 800-769-7778 www. baerfabrics. com

Catch stitch

Step 4. Fold braid to WS so fabric wraps around edge of braid; press lightly. If braid has gathering thread, pull it up as needed so braid fits skirt smoothly. Step


O re g o n Ta i l o r S u p ply

2 1 23A S . E. Division St. Portland, OR 97202 800-678-2457 www.

Catchstitch top of braid to secure hem permanently. Hem l i ne

For skirts

MacDonald Faber

952 Queen St. w. Toronto, O N M6J 1 G8 Canada 877-668-4667 www.macdonald faber. com

Spanish-born French couturier Castillo, whose heyday was in the 1 960s, used horsehair braid in one of his straight-skirt hems to both define the shape and hide a fabric-covered, lightly weighted chain used to help the garment hang smoothly. Step

1. Mark hemline and select braid narrower than hem allowance.

2. With skirt WS up, align edge of braid with hemline and pin in place.

& Hammer

24 W. 57th St. New York, NY 1 00 1 9 800-955-5 1 35

Ski rt, WS

Blind stitch



Hem, RS

3. Lap ends � in., stitch together, and cover with seam binding or ribbon.


4. Secure lower edge of braid with running stitches, alternating between braid and skirt.


Step 5. Place weighted fabric tube (available at drapery suppliers) just above hemline over braid. Use running stitch to sew weights to braid. Step

6. Fold hem in place over weights and hem permanently.

ing on the faCing page, and extends beyond the hemline about 'h in. in­

Horsehair braid i nterfaci ng

braid, one method is appropriate

On formal wear and bridal gowns,

for straight skirts and the other is

to the hem allowance to create a

an interfaCing of horsehair braid

suited to wedding and evening

softly folded, smooth edge. On moderately priced garments and

is frequently used to create a crisp,

gowns. With these speCialized ap­

buoyant hemline. Named for the

plications of hem interfaCing, your

everyday wear, a fusible interfac­

material once used to make it, to­

collection of hem solutions should

ing is usually applied to the hem al­

day's horsehair braid is a trans­

take you almost anywhere your

lowance, as shown in the bottom

parent, synthetiC braid that's avail­ able in a variety of widths from

sewing plans lead.

drawing on the facing page, and stops at the hemline, creating a sharp, crisp edge.



to 6 in. The drawings above show

two ways of applying horsehair

Claire Shaeffer writes and teaches in Palm Springs, Calif

o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1


Log Cabin Piecing, Freestyle Fo r s i m p l e q u i lts and smas h i n g d etai ls o r accessories, frame a fabric squ are with coord i nat i n g stri ps b y S u s a n B . Allen

ere's a fun, easy way for sewers of every skill level to create a quick, pieced quilt, showcase a special fabric, or explore design options for wearable or decorative proj ects: Piece fabric strips around a central square of any size, in a simple variation of the classic Log Cabin square, which can become anything from an add­ on embellishment to a self-contained finished project. You can shrink the square to fit a lapel pin or col­ orful patch pocket, expand it to fill an entire quilt or throw (as shown on the facing page), or make it in any size in between. Let's start with the construction basics for freestyle Log Cabin squares, and then I'll

TRAD ITION A L LOG CA B IN VS. FREESTY LE B LOCK A traditional Log Cabin block is pieced with strips, or "logs, " around a central square, with the strips on opposite sides of the square different lengths. By contrast the author's freestyle block pairs opposing strips of the same length though she occasionally varies the length of one or two strips). To create a freestyle block, start with a central square of any size, then cut strips in pairs to match the length of the sides they'll join. Add strips until you have a block in the desired size. Cut all pieces with right angles and straight lines for precision, or cut and seam by eye for a more spontaneous effect.


Freestyle b lock

share a few strategies I've used to help me make exciting color and




fabric choices when working on pieced projects of any kind (see "Try these color exercises" on p.

used on two adjacent sides of the central square and one light fabric

86). Along the way, we'll explore some of the many possible uses for

on the remaining two sides. In my

these swift but sweet designs.

freestyle projects, I usually use the

Log Cabin without the spin

same fabric on all four sides, chang­ ing on successive rows. Since I al­ most always use just a single block

Like the venerable Log Cabin block,

in my freestyle projects (unlike tra­

the freestyle version is constructed

ditional Log Cabin or Courthouse Square designs composed of many

by sewing rectangular bands of fab­ rics around a central, contrasting square, as shown in the top right

j oined blocks), the block appears more balanced with its colors laid

drawings, which also show a tradi­

out this way. Finally, when mak­

tional Log Cabin block for compar­ ison. Notice that the concentric rings

ing freestyle blocks, I typically cut a large square compared to the

of the Log Cabin block appear to

width of the bands and often vary

spiral out from the central square,

the width of each ring of bands,

because the bands on opposite sides of the square are not equal in length,

unlike traditional blocks, in which

as they are in the freestyle block,

and the bands are the same width.

the central squares are quite small

which is similar to what tradition­ al quilters know as a Courthouse

S q u a re you r l i nes

Square block. Also, Log Cabin

or work freeha n d

blocks are often divided diagonal­

Whatever the size of your finished

ly by color, with one dark fabric

project, begin by deciding whether

Dramatic and usable at almost any scale, freestyle blocks are extremely simple to design and construct,

as you can see in the quilt on the facing page (66 in. by 68 in., 2001 ) and the top at right (orig inal design).

october/nov e m b e r 2 0 0 1


make a list of its colors, then find

Threads online Visit



magazine. com for a

look at more quilts and detailed instructions for a few of the projects on the facing page.


fabrics that match those colors. Fly blind: With eyes closed, reach in­

to a stack of fabric and pull out three pieces. Now open your eyes and choose two additional fabrics to pull

Consider assembling a block that you treat as yardage, created in your fa rite colors and textures. Add bands to a central square until there 's enough fabric to cut patch pockets, a yoke, or cuffs.

your first choices together. To a traditional, safe fab­ ric mix, add one fabric that's ethnic

Be exotic:


or handmade: Batik, African mud­ cloth or wax print, kimono fabric, something you've stenciled or stamped, something hand-dyed. If your tastes are conservative, pick an exotic that's also conservative, like a small stripe or dot. Stand back: This interior-design trick-of-the-trade works every time: Arrange a group of fabrics you're a disappearing-ink fabric pen. Be­

square block, like those in the vest

fore sewing, double-check all mea­

on the facing page, or a more spon­ taneous and active block that echoes crazy-quilting, like those below.

surements to make sure the width of

ly at arm's length, the colors often

each strip is consistent end to end.

won't work together as well as those

When I want exact alignment, I work on a gridded mat and frequently

selected at a distance.

Both approaches to freestyle blocks can create beautiful projects.

compare my project to the grid.

No project needed

To create straight seamlines and perfect angles, use a gridded quilter's

For the freehand style, you don't have to measure anything. Trust

I find it a valuable creative exer­ cise to make up freestyle squares

ruler to measure and cut all pieces,

your eye, not a ruler, to guide you

with no particular project in mind,

and mark seamlines with chalk or

in sewing lines that are approxi­

just to see what develops. Because it takes only a few minutes to stitch

mately straight. If each band is dif­ ferent, and seamlines aren't paral­

one together, you can study the fin­

lel, all the better; the square will find its own balance in the end.

ished square at leisure to decide if the combination of fabrics is jelling

or brim, sew a tiny freestyle block.

Try these color exercises

A 1 %-in. to 2-in. square when

It takes nerve to mix fabric colors,

and what it wants to be-a pocket, an applique, or maybe a bag. If you want to experiment with larger

To make a dapper pin for a lapel

finished works well. Start with a 1 %-in. center square, 1 -in. strips, and use Y.-in. s.a.s. Fuse interfacing to the WS, and stitch the block to the backing, leaving one side open for turning. Stuff the square with a pinch of batting, turn, and

Use paper template to frame options for pin, then trim around template.



thinking of combining, stand back 10 ft. , squint your eyes, and study the colors. If you match fabrics on­

you want a perfectly straight and

slipstitch the opening closed. Add quilting, beads, or a tiny button, and sew on a pin-back.

prints, and textures (though it's my absolute favorite part of sewing). It also takes practice. To increase your fabric-mixing confidence, try the following exercises: Seek complements: Select two or

blocks, consider piecing together fabric "yardage" for further cutting into sophisticated inserts, bands, or pieced details, as shown in the drawing at top. No matter what, the freestyle block is fun, fast, and simple, and can easily lead you in

three key fabrics you'd like to use in a project. Then consult a color wheel to find the color that is directly op-

projects. And all you need to do is

new creative directions and to new

posite the main color in the most

sew a reasonably straight line.

prominent fabric. Use this color in your project to surprise the eye.

Susan B. Allen is a contributing editor

Find an image that appeals to you from any source,

speaker who deSigns in Durham, N.C.


to Threads and a sewing industry


Freestyle blocks add snap to the ends of a scarf or at the back of a vest. Consider using

the main fabric of the scarf or garment for one band of the blocks to pull the design together visual ly. Use a soft fusible interfacing to back the blocks. (Vest, Central Park No. 8, Park Bench Pattern Co., PO Box 1 9 1 399, San Diego, CA 921 59;

To convert a small freestyle quilt into a child's hooded wrap, back the pieced

top and insert a small, additional triangular piece of the same material into one corner of the backing for the hood. At right, the author wraps her daug hter, Ha ley, in this small quilt (33 in. square), which she alternatively uses as an ottoman cover.

Blocks make great pockets or purses. For the purse at far right,

make a 1 2-in block and fuse interfacing on the wrong side to stabilize. Use cotton batting or polyester fleece to add l oft, drapey charmeuse or satin for the lining, and O-rings to attach a fabric-tube handle. (Scarf at top and jacket, One­ Seam Topper No. 1 08, ReVisions, 305 W. Beach St., Watsonville, CA 95076;

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o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1


Tool s of th e Tra de A change in our product reviews

Here's a look at some of the

Starting with this issue, we'll handle reviews of sewing machines,

sewing, quilting,

sergers, and other costly tools a little differently than in the past.

and embellishing

Instead of a lengthy review of a single new machine in each issue,

products now

we'll provide shorter reviews of new machines and tools as we get word of their release; and later, to better serve the reader,

on the ma rket.

we'll take a comparative look with in-depth feature articles of similar machines or tools. -Chris Timmons, Editor

B A BY LO C K E L LAG E O Baby lock's new Ellageo (suggested re­

and clips tails in a single start-to-stitch mo­

tail, $5,499; www. is a dual­ use, computerized, top-of-the-Iine sewing

tion. Ellageo's many stitch options include

The Ellageo's embroidery-edit menu al­ lows you to add and rotate images, resize de­

107 utility and heirloom stitches; 391 dec­ orative, satin, and cross-stitches; 15 but­

signs, and mix them all in the same hoop (the large hoop measures 6� in. by 1O� in.)

tonholes (each style capable of sizing itself automatically to fit a chosen button); five

And you can choose among sewing speeds

machine that also does state-of-the-art em­ broidery. Its many features include touch­ screen stitch and pattern selection, lateral feed (to enable sideways and diagonal stitching), automatic tension, a knee lift, a

stitches designed for use with an optional

of 350, 600, or 800 stitches per minute. You can preview and change design colors

side-cutter accessory for serger-like over­

on the screen before making a single stitch.

low-bobbin indicator, and a needle thread­

casting; and stitches for quilters: stippling,

er that really works. As well, the machine automatically pulls thread to the underside

quilting with a hand-stitched look, ap­ plique, and a 1 �-in.-Iong basting stitch.

Patricia Curtis reviews and sews profession­ ally in Osborn, Mo.

SINGER IZEK Singer has a new space-age-looking machine

ing stitches, stitch length and width, but-

access to the stitches and modifying them

that incorporates Nintendo's Game Boy technology into an entry-level sewing ma­

tonhole type, lettering styles, and so on,

through the Game Boy requires screening

and for storing and retrieving custom-stitch

through patterns to change a stitch. For

chine called lzek, in honor of Singer

setups from memory.

example, to get from a preset straight stitch

founder Isaac M. Singer and the company's

Stitch patterns include a variety of utility

(which doesn't require the Game Boy) to an

150 anniversary (suggested retail price,

stitches, like those for sewing elastic, gath-

adjusted zigzag stitch (which requires the

ering, overlocking, overedging, and stretchoverlocking. lzek also has a nice selection

Game Boy) necessitates clicking through 17

of decorative stitches for embellishment. Making buttonholes couldn't be easier:

adjustment, it takes five more clicks. Overall, this is a fine machine for a be-



. With its turquoise

bubble top, this jolly machine features 84 stitch patterns and




three alphabets; and, yes, Just snap a button into the foot, attach the the package foot on Izek, choose your buttonhole style,

choices. If the stitch width needs another

ginning or intermediate young sewer. And the Game Boy isn't just for fun; its tech­

includes a Game Boy console with

and stitch. The machine automatically sizes

nology keeps the price of this entry-level

the buttonhole to the button.

machine low. Izek comes with an instruc-

a Singer cartridge for select-

chines, and the extensive stitch selection satisfies all sewing needs. However, gaining

Izek's stitch quality rivals the best ma-

tion video and a comprehensive manual. Judy Neukam is an assistant editor at Threads.


Origins TM Software

auto-digitizing software with the patented



(OS T),


only home embroidery

processor that determines stitch type, stitch sequencing,

region generation, color sequencing and accurate color matching. Create your own ready-to-stitch designs in minutes. Origins enables you to instantly digitize any graphic, scanned or photographic image. Add TrueType fonts. Embellish and customize with ultra-easy yet powerful tools. Visit one of our select sewing and embroidery software retailers or see our web site at


O r i g i n s . S o f t w a r e t h a t c r e a t e s s o f t w e a r. READER SERVICE NO. 1 87

To 0 I s

of th e Tr a d e ("cti c "d)


•o0J'. '01000" el00-I "':"":"'j:t."� ·'It"�l�':I '1';-I"'!lT1"<

1 45

Bernina has unveiled its newest entry-level

(including two overlock stitches and an­ other that looks just like hand-quilting

sewing machine, the Activa 145 (suggest­ ed retail, $ 1 ,599; Activa 135 Patchwork

stitches), three different automatic but­

Edition, a similar machine with fewer fea­

tonhole styles, automatic darning, and an

tures, $ 1 ,299; www.


haven't seen on other machines, is stitch 1 5 , a basting stitch that's 2, 3, or more inches long, which you walk one stitch at

Designed by sewers for sewers, the ma­

The easy-to-attach and -remove stitch

chine is the product of a team from vari­

plate has vertical and horizontal guidelines

a time across your fabric. These gross

ous countries, who met over time to select

to establish seam-allowance width as well

stitches are perfect for basting fabric and

stitches, accessories, and fine-tune its

as to measure pivot points. The machine of­

batting layers together before quilting,

every detail. Sewers, quilters, program­

fers horizontal or vertical thread-spool place­

and this basting step can be further sim­

mers, engineers, machinists, and even the dust-cover designer, collaborated to de­ velop the Activa 145 so all of its parts

ment and includes six of the most popular

plified and speeded up by using the op­

presser feet and a nicely designed, snap-on accessory case that sits on a table with

an entry-level machine, the Activa 145

work in concert and incorporate thought­

its doors opened out for easy access to the

comes packed with a book called Sophie Learns to Sew, which offers solid infor­

tional presser-foot knee lift. Considered

ful touches to make sewing more plea­

presser feet, bobbins, and pullout drawers.

surable. For example, you don't have to

The LCD screen guides you through

mation for a beginning sewer of any age.

pull up the bobbin thread before sewing;

stitch selection and adjustment, and ad­

Nevertheless, this machine will keep an

the machine automatically engages it. And

vises which foot to use. Fully adjustable

advanced sewer happy with its solid con­

there are three conveniently placed thread cutters. The computerized Activa 145 of­ fers 50 practical and stitches


buttonholes automatically size the hole

struction, reliable stitching, and artfully

to match the button you place in the foot. And one of my favorite features, which I

designed stitches.

cutting prod ucts

Olfa recently introduced a mini RTY-4 18mm Ro­ tary Cutter ($ 10.98, 800-962-0LFA,; available at most notions stores), making intricate detail cutting possible with rotary ease.

Olfa RTY-3/0X 60mm Rotary Cutter

This little cutter moves right into tight

gonomically designed to help reduce wrist and hand strain. They include an all-purpose blade for straight cutting and a shoe blade for cutting out patterns (just rest the iron-shaped blade on your table, and easily maneuver the scissors around

spots for easy maneuverabili.ty and

pattern curves and notches to cut). The carbide

smooth cutting around armholes and

steel blades cut fabric, paper, patterns, and leather,

necklines whose curves are too tight

and they never need to be sharpened. However, you can get replacement blades if ever needed.

for 24mm or 48mm cutting blades. If you're into broad-stroke cutting on multi­ Olfa RTY-4 1 8m m Rotary Cutter

-Judy N e u kam

layers, check out Olfa's new RTY-3/DX 60mm

Rotary Cutter ($35.98).

Back in the '60s, I used electric scissors for years

to cut out clothes for myself and my children, but the cord was always in the way, and I felt like I was

The scissors kit includes two blades, a recharge­ able battery, AC adapter, charger, and power cord. You can use the electric scissors with or without a cord, and either right- or left-handed. They make cutting a breeze.

on a leash. I was therefore pleased to find the new

Dri tz Electric Scissors ($89 at most notions coun­

ters) , which are cordless, lightweight, and er-



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o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1


Quic k to M a ke If you're busy and

have only lim ited time to sew, try these quick-to­ make ideas.

TH E E N DLESS T U B E S CA R F by Susan B . A l l e n

There's no end and no beginning to

end, or middle, or somewhere in­

this interesting, easy-to-make scarf.

between, as you can see below. You

It turns inside out, outside in, and has the potential to never look the

two-sided, with only two fabrics

can design this scarf to be clearly

same twice. How does it work? It's an enclosed, reversible tube of

pieced together, so that, for exam­

pieced fabrics that can be turned so

evening look and the other half, a

that any part of it is at the scarPs

cheerful daytime appearance. Or

ple, half of the tube has a posh

M A K E AN END L E SS T U B E SCARF Use medium- to lightweight fabrics with lots of drape for a fluid scarf. 1. Piece fabrics into long rectangle as desired.



1 20 in.

7 in. to 1 3 in.

2. Staystitch % in. from edge on each end of rectangle, press ends to WS along staystitching. Fold scarf lengthwise, RSs together; stitch 'f,-in. seam. Trim and press open seam allowances.

Staystitch i n9




1 I [ ----·-l

you can make a mix 'n match scarf

about � yd. of fabric, piece it with

by sewing a continuous chain of

hesitate, however, to make a nar­ row tube that may take slightly

interesting fabrics in various

fabrics to die for. Treat yourself to some flattering shades of luxuri­

widths for an unpredictable effect every time you turn it a bit. This

ous fabric, or simply play with

longer to turn-I find narrow scarves add more vertical visual

combinations of patterns and tex­

impact and look wonderful peek­

design has so many options that

tures. You can piece stretchy knits

ing out neatly from behind a

you just can't get tired of it.

with crisp dupioni or taffeta, or mix in sheer chiffons and devore

somber suit lapel.

Since the scarf only requires

velvets for interesting layering ef­

To start your own adventure with fabric, follow the steps in the draw­

fects. Keep in mind that a slippery

ings below. After you've made a few

fabric, such as sueded rayon, will

for yourself, make some for gifts.

be easier to turn than a rough linen

You'll be a hit!

or slubbed dupioni. But make a wider scarf from such fabrics (so you can readily reach through the tube), and they'll turn easily. Don't

Susan B. Allen, of Durham, N.C., is a

sewing-industry speaker, designer, and contributing editor to Threads.

Each partial turn of this reversible tube makes a new scarf-just reach into the tube, grab the fabric, pull, then

smooth out the scarf i n order to show a new section of the


piecing (as shown in the photos above). If you vary widths, patterns, and textures, the scarf's proportions and colors can change each time you wear it.

Turn scarf partly to RS, match folded ends, and invisibly hand-stitch together, using slipstitch, fell, or ladder stitch.

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Schiffer Publishing continues t o amaze

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jects we never thought to see so lavishly

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presented in print, such as their wonder­

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is for anyone

who loves embroidered

David Coffin is senior editor of Threads magazine.

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o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1

1 05

Delicious Detail s Here are some of the


best details we've


come across recently.

and No. 96, p. 84). Her topic this time is unusual collars she has

Let us know your

Heather Claus, avid collector and

design or construc­

wearer of vintage fashion, and own­

tion ideas for using

er of PatternShowcase (

them i n garments or

showcase. com) and SewNet, con­



known. Says Heather: "Collars and necklines have been featured often


Details, and there's

no reason to stop now. As typically

ting for the face, directing the view­ er's attention toward the personal­ ity and expression of the wearer, and away from potential figure flaws. The following collar details are from patterns and garments of

nonfitting details, they provide end­

the 1930s and '40s. The effects are widely varied and can be used on a variety of garments."

An inter­

soft furnishings. And

tinues to bring us more Delicious

less scope for variation.

tell us a bout the best

Details (see Threads No. 94, p. 94,

esting collar acts as a frame or set-

detai ls you've come across, sending a

Scarfed neckline

good sketch, where

Cut-on scarf begins at center front, and wraps up and around the neck, then under itself to be pinned in place. Seen on: 1 930s Vogue pattern. Could be used: On top, jacket, or as scarflcummerbund on pants or skirt. Variations: Length or width of scarf.

the detail is from, and your address a nd phone number to Threads Details,

Asymmetrical collars Decorative collar attaches to any garment with small snaps.

Seen on: Early 1 930s Simplicity pattern. Could be used: On tops, dresses; as cuffs. Variations: Change shaping, fabric contrast, size. Use as snap-on details or attach permanently.

63 s. Main St., Newtown,



1 06


Rolled collar

Collar buttons to lapel

Fabric tube twisted and rolled to form collar on evening jacket. Seen on: Illustration in 1 93 1 Harper's Bazaar. Could be used: As straps, twisted-cord belts, piping, as well as collars or cuffs, anywhere on garment. Variations: Use sheer fabrics with body or velvet for different effects.

Collar of this tailored jacket buttons onto lapel for overlap interest. Seen on: Early 1 940s jacket. Could be used: On man 's or woman 's suit collar. Variations: Change shape, size of collar/lapel; use contrasting fabric for collar.

Large, s h a ped l a pels

Tri p l e col l a r

Strap col l a r

Lapels on this bolero jacket turn back to show contrast facing and button to jacket body. Cuffs match. Seen o n : Late 1 930s pattern. Could be used: Anywhere there is wrap closure, including skirt hems, pocket flaps, etc. Va riations: Change size and shape; decorate with embroidery; use self-fabric.

Two applied collars o n this suit add tailored, yet feminine touch. Seen o n : Early 1 950s jacket by Lilli Ann. Could be used: On collars, cuffs, pocket flaps. Va riations: Change shape of additional collars, use contrast fabric; make them detachable.

Strap comes up through buttonhole in this collar and buttons down to shoulder of jacket. Seen o n : Late 1 950s jacket. Could be use d : On collars, pocket flaps; as jacket or wrist closure. Va riations: Change direction of strap; attach strap to breast-pocket button.



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o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1


Advertiser Index/Web Directory

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



Able Labels Academy of Fashion Design The Academy of Fine Sewing &: Design Acme Country Fabrics

AH Kimono Ahead Productions All Brands Alpha Impressions Alto's EZ Mat, Inc. Amazing Designs Amazing Designs Amazon Drygoods American Sewing Guild Anne Powell, Ltd. Apple Annie fabrics


Quilt Cute As A Button

Baby Lock Baby Lock /Elageo

Backporch Dyeworks Co. Barkcloth Hawaii Barudan America, Inc. Batik World Batiks Etcetera Beacon Fabric &: Notions The Bee Lee Company Bernina Bernina Bernina Bernina Best foods Specialty Products Best Impressions Best Sewing Blaine Sewing Machine

61 200 1 46 88 21 6 86 21 1 60 63 1 88 1 89 55 2 223 118 34 3 1 86 1 85 1 64 1 21 73 30 75 43 209 210 207 208 67 1 47 1 61 7



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p 110

C y Rudnick's fine Fabrics

p. 109

Darr, Inc. De Anna Marcus

p. 1 1 1

Denver fabrics Designs Unlimited

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Dharma Trading Co.

p. 1 1 2

DiCarlo Fabrics

p. 1 15


p. 41


p. 90

Domenica Rosa

p 97

Dos De Tejas

p. 15

Dover Publications, Inc.

p. 103

Earth Guild

p. 39

Elan Patterns

p. 101

Elegance Fabrics/Bella

p. 35



p. 1 1 1

Elegance Unlimited

p. 47


p. 97

Embroidery Arts

p. 95

Embroidery Software

p. 43-46

p. 1 10


p. l 14


p. 101

Ethnic Arts


p 97

E-Z Knit Fabrics/

p. 114

p 113

Protection Coalition

fabulous Fit Dress Forms fashion Passion Fabric Stores

p. 1 12

Fitting Tips

p. l14

Flying Colors fabric

p 47

Folkwear Patterns

p 107

forsythia Folkcards

p. 1 13

Full &: Sassy Pattern

Colfax Cloth &: Quilt Co. Collins Publications The Corner Stitch Cottons Plus Counterpoint The Couture Sewing School Craft Connection Creative Sew &: Needlework Festival Creative Sewing Center Cutting Corners

1 16


64 1 08 4


p 11 1

p. 109

G Street Fabrics

p. 1 1 1

Gayfeather fabrics

p. 31

General Label Mfg.

p. 91


p 90

Ginsco Trims

p. 1 1 1

Goldblatt Distributors

www.comerstitch .com

p. l 1 4

Grainline Gear

p. 109

Grannd Garb

p. 91

The Green Pepper, Inc.

p. 1 1 4

Haberman Fabrics

p. 15

Hamilton Books Hard-to-Find Needlework

p. 109

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p. 90

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p. 35

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Fishman's fabrics, Inc.

Cochenille Design Studio

p. 1 14

p. 1 1 1

Finishing Touch

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p. 29


p. 1 14

The Cloth Spot

p. 109


p. 1 1 2

1 22 92 32 212 74 1 49 202 1 40 205 18 48 219

p. 1 12

Christine Jonson Patterns

p. 1 10

p. 26

Fiesta En Santa fe

Carol's Carry-ails

p. 108

p 108

p. 97


p. 41

p. 19-21

Carol Lane-Saber Designs

p. 97

Cactus Punch

p. 1 15

p. 1 1 4


p. 39


C&:T Publishing

p. l 14


p. 35

p 97

Button Peddler

p. 1 1 1

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p. 97


p. 88

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1 78 90 96 21 8 1 94

p. 1 13

p. 1 1 2

p. 2 7

Fashion Patterns b y Coni

Brown Paper Patterns

p. 41

p 112

The Buckhead fabric Salon

20 95

p. 103

p. l 14

21 3

1 58 111 1 57

p. 29

BIueprin ts-Prin tab es Brother Sewing Machines

117 39 1 92 171

p. 1 1 5

The Fabric Studio

p. l 14

1 06 37 1 93 47 14

p. 1 12

The Fabric Outlet


231 52 82


p. 88

p. 25


224 1 24


T ' s EmbrOidery Supply

p. 108



Sew E-Z Too



SerReadervice WebAddress


p 9

Harper House

p 29

Havel's, Inc.

1 32 66 1 99 31 83 1 82 1 67 1 84 1 90 1 35 97 1 39 1 68 11 50 1 62 71 24 79 234 110 99 27 56 114 1 98

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Advertiser Index/Web Directory

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

SerReadervice Web Address



Hirsch International Homespun Fabrics Hugo's Amazing Tape International Fabric

Islander Sewing Sys,ems Islander Se ing Si te'm s

W s

).I.M. Enterprises Janome America Janome America Joanne's Creative Judith M Design

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Keepsake Quilting Supplies Kiyo Design, Inc. LJ Designs La Fred Leandro Fabrics Leesburg Looms & Supply Les Fabriques Loes Hinse Design Logan Kits Madame Dandelion's Make It Yourself With Wool Maiden Mills Marilyn's BUllons Martha's Sewing Market Martha's Sewing Market Martha's Sewing Market Mary Wales Loomis Material Things

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159 23 38 220 80 10 204 26 172 1 42 1 53 51 1 83 1 70 119 229 228 230 62 6

M'Fay Patterns Mill End Store Monterey Mills My Twin Dress Forms Name Maker, Inc. Nancy's Notions, Ltd, Oriental Silk Company

Craft Expo Origins/Software PAC.C. Palmer/Pietsch Associates

Pavelka Design Studio Paw Prints Panern Co. Petite Plus Panerns Ragwool Embroidery Rain City Publishing The Rain Shed, Inc. RCT Fabrics Reprodepot Fabrics Roberts Manufacturing Robison-Anton Textile Co.


Sears/Kenmore 1 14

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1' , 97

p, 32

p 42

p 110

1', 1 10

p, 30

Sew Sassy Fabrics

p, 1 1 1

1' 103


1' , 101


p 41

Sew/Fit Company

1 29 1 8 151 222 54 1 37 40 69

p, 1 1 2

65 1 27 70 98 29 214

p. 47



1', 1 7

SewBaby Sewgrand Patterns

1', 1 1 1

Sewing Notions


p, 1 1 2

Sewing Studio


1', 109

Sewing Supplies Warehouse

p, 113

SewPro Workshop

p. 1 1 2

Shipwreck Beads


p 7

Shoppers Rule, Inc.


p 42

Sievers School of Fiber Arts


1', 35

Simple Scrubs


p, 41

Singer Sewing Machines


1'. 7

Small Office Solutions


p, 90

Smoke & Fire Co.


1', 1 13

South Beach Trimmings


p, 9

Southwest Decoratives


p, 1 13

Spandex House


p, 1 13

Specialty Lace


p, 109

Sl.Theresa Textile Trove


p. 1 1

Sterling Name Tape Co.


p, l14

Sullivans USA, Inc.


p, l 1 3

Super Silk


1' 26

Suzzette Exclusives


1', 30

Sylvia Design


p, 88

Taunton Press


1'. 1 1 3

Taunton Press Books The Taylor's

p, 41

Tex-Styles Fabrics


p, 1 1 2

Textile Fabric Store


p 42

Textile Workshop

p. 109

Thai Silks


p, 107

Things Japanese


1'. 1 1 5

ThreadPro & Sew Zone

1', 35

Threads at Gingerbread Hill


1', 91





Total Embellishment News

1'. 41


1'. 2 6

www.ostsoftware .com



Ultra Style Designs Unique Spool

p. 1 12

Utica Thread


1', 1 12

Velvet Fabric

p. 1 1 1

Vicloria Louise

p. 1 1 1

Viking Sewing

1'. 1 14






1 50 1 63 1 75 1 45 53 1 23




Panern Studio

Sawyer Brook Fabrics


Sew Fancy



203 1 87 1 91 116 225 1 77 1 25 112 1 97 81 1 02 1 80 57 78 28 176 9


p, 113

Sewing & Stitchery Expo

1 04 1 69

Original Sewing &

1', 3

SerReadervice Web Address

1' 1 12


Olfa Products Group





46 1 34 217 76 16 94

Mesa Distributors

Royalwood, Ltd.

1 36


201 91 1 41

Notions Plus



1 26 60 59 93 227 233


Park Bench Pallern Co,

1 65

Page Advertiser



Machines, Inc. Virginia Marti Fabrics


p, 109

Vogue Fabrics by Mail

p. 107

Wheeler Arts

1', 26

Wild Ginger Software, Inc.

p 35

Wildly Wonderful Wearables

1'. 103

p. 1 1 5

You Can Make It, Inc.


p, 1 13

YWCA Rags Guild


p, 1 1 9

Zipper Source

p, 1 1 1

Zoe Lee's

232 226 72 85 21 5 25 19 174 206 1 48 1 52 1 55 13 42 221 1 81 1 43 235 115 1 28 77 1 54 1 05


173 22 58 1 07 41 211 5 68 35 1 30

1', 113 p 110

1'. 1 1 0

p, 88

p, 47

p. l 14

1'. 108 p 90

1'. 1 10

p. 1 14

p 23

1'. 29

1'. 1 13


1', 1 1 1

p. 111

p . 1 10

p, 29

1', 1 15

p. 1 1 1

p, 15

p 109

p. 1 1 0

1', 18

p. 105

1', 96 p. 1 13

1'. 1 10 p. 1 10

1'. 109

1'. 29

1', 1 15

1'. 1 10 p, 1 1 3

1', 109


1', 1 1 2

p. 109

1'. 109


p. 110

1', 90

1'. 1 14

p. 1 14

p. 2

p. 47

p 39



1'. 41

p. 1 1 4

p, 1 1 5

1'. 47

1' 88

p, 1 10

o c t o b e r/ n o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1

1 1 7

C l osu res Have comments


you want to share by

Patricia A.

Ferg uson

sort them into three groups: The

tiny treasures in parallel rows, spi­

first included only the fanciest

rals, or fan-shaped patterns in or­

(rhinestones, the large sparkly

funny or interesting

My mother is many things-quirky,

the shiny gold and

der to create epic battles, royal weddings, and dances to celebrate the

story about your

silver, the elegant

harvest. These in­

embellishing or

funny, bright, caring-but she is not domestic. Even though she knows

quilting adventures?

how to cook, iron, sew, and mend,

A page from your

she avoids these activities whenev­

came the colorful, but not so fancy,

ful patterns were a visual feast to

sketch book we ought

er possible. She's also a pack rat. So

bunch. Lastly there

our preteen eyes.

to see? Send it to:

it makes perfect sense that, over

were the whites of

Threads Closures,

the years, my mother had collected

S. Main St.,

a bevy of discarded buttons that

all sizes (except for the pearls). Each

would never be sewn on garments

of us would take a

of us played But­ tons. And you

and kept them in cookie tins that

fair measure from

never heard us

all three groups.

complaining that

a bout sewing or

blues, the pearls,

needlework? A


PO Box 5506, Newtown, CT


would never see crumbs. But those tins of buttons provided hours of


pleasure for Patti, Mike, and Mike. I am Patti. The Mikes are


my brother and our neighbor. We grew up in the days before color TV, com­

puters, or video games. Our town didn't boast a recreation center, shopping mall, or even a movie theater. During the summer, there

black j ets) . Next


winters, the three

There was never any quarreling over who got which

there was "noth-

ing to do" in our town.

After those two years, Mike the

button; as luck would have it, our individual favorites didn't overlap. The buttons were no longer util-

Neighbor moved away, and we lost

itarian or decorative closures for

each found new friends and new

garments. The most elegant were

activities to get involved in. And

kings and queens, dukes and

the tins were once again relegated to the storage area

dutchesses, counts and countesses. The less fancy variety became generals,

contact. Mike the Brother and



of the basement. Buttons no longer enticed us on cold winter nights. Nowadays, I shop

royal servants, mes­ sengers, scholars,

seek or kick the can, but in the cold and dark of winter, we sought

artists, and scribes. The white buttons were deemed soldiers, peasants,

for buttons at fab­ ric and specialty

shops. Sometimes I have a garment

played cards and board games. But­

and townspeople. Our make-believe, button uni­

in mind, but often I buy beautiful buttons without having a specific

tons, however, belonged to just the

verse was a mixed metaphor of all

purpose for them. Recently I found

three of us.

the histories, stories and myths

Like all of our friends, we read and

that had come

A couple of times a week, the Mikes

some antique emerald-green glass

beauties, which I plan to use on a

sueded silk blouse. For a brief moment, though, I en­

from our collec­ tive reading: science-fiction rulers

visioned my diminutive darlings

basement and haul

negotiated with

as the royal family of a Button King­

up Mom's button stash. After uncer­


emoniously dump­ ing the contents

Medieval knights supped with Re­



would ven­

ture down to the


tricate and color­


were endless games of hide-and­

other ways to amuse ourselves.

1 18


.."""" ... I.. ,... � ,/<1 ....,;

-... )



from times.

dom, reigning over their domain on the kitchen table. Patricia A. Ferguson lives in

onto the kitchen

naissance artists.

Glenview, III., where she has her own

table, we would

We laid out our

sizeable collection of buttons.

leader in for ho




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Photo: Scott Phillips; illustration: Karen Meyer

Threads magazine 97 november 2001  
Threads magazine 97 november 2001