Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pant Class Success!

A big congrats to my Basic Simple Pant class students. What a wonderful job they did on their Butterick #5614 basic pant. Some made pants, some made cropped pants. All chose great fabrics. Thanks to preparing a muslin in the first class all fit them quite well. This is one of those great patterns that fit into anyone's base pattern library. Once fitted the pattern can be modified or adjusted to make all kinds of style changes.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tools for Summer Sewing

My Weekly Blog Post

Summer sewing is in full gear. That means sewists everywhere are making thing in lightweight fabrics. Though beautiful and comfortable to wear, summer fabrics sometimes come with sewing challenges. This week's post recommends some great tools to make summertime sewing  easy and fun.  Here is the link: tools

Thursday, June 12, 2014

6 Tips for Well Fitting Pants

courtesy: White Pants by Clio from

How many pair of pants do you own that just don’t fit right?  If you are anything like me - lots! Every year I buy another set of pants in the same basic colors. Some fit pretty well but only a few fit the way I want them to. Sound familiar?  Pants are relatively easy to make, construction wise that is. But, its quite another story when it comes to fitting them.

Making a pair of pants requires patience and a willingness to work through perhaps several attempts before you get the fit just right. The key is getting the crotch or rise to fit properly so they are both comfortable to wear and hang straight off the body. Since pants are generally designed to fit snugly and should conform to our individual silhouettes, its easy to see that a commercial pattern simply can’t address everyone’s issues. So, many fittings and adjustments are typically in order, even on the most slender figure. But, once you get the fit right you have a template for many pair of pants that can be made into many different styles and lengths.  

The real work is done before the first pattern piece of the fashion fabric is cut. Measuring, adjusting patterns and trying on either muslin makeups or pinned patterns, sometimes several times, is all part of the process, but all worth it. I am in the middle of teaching a class on making pants. My students so far have done all the appropriate measuring and adjusting and have completed their muslins. If I have taught them well and they have done the prep work well, they will have a pair of pants made perfect for them. 

When it comes to making pants, here are 6 helpful tips to keep in mind that will steer you towards the a pair of well fitting pants:


1.  Start with a basic pattern. If this is the first time making a pair of pants for yourself, don’t go too fancy or intricate with the design. Use a basic styled pant like the Butterick one pictured. Once the rise and fit around the waist, hips and buttocks are right you have a pattern that can serve as a template for so many more pairs of pants, fancy or otherwise.
2. Take the right measurements. But more importantly, be sure to do the measurements correctly and accurately. Measurements can sometimes be an elusive endeavor. You never get the same measurement every time. Using the right tools and some simple aids can help. Tie a piece of string or narrow elastic around your waist. This ensures length measurements are consistent and always start from the same point. When identifying hip points or the high hip placement, pin the spot, once again to ensure consistent measurement.  Use a good measuring tape and don’t cheat! You are what you are. Also, when measuring crotch depth, sit on a flat surface such as a table and not a chair with cushions or curve at the seat. Then use an L-square ruler to measure the depth, which is much more accurate than a measuring tape. 

3. Measure the pattern. This determines where and how much needs to be added or subtracted to match your body measurements plus ease. This forms the basis by which the patterns will be adjusted.

4. Do tissue fittings for simple pants, like pj pants. A muslin, however, is best for fitted pants and can address all the fine points of your fitting issues.  Depending on your body challenges, you may have to prepare more than one, but the result is a pair of pants that fit you perfectly.

5. Study the fit of the muslin carefully and thoroughly. Be extra critical of the muslin fit. Every drag line or fold means something is not right and needs adjusting. Pinch and fold till the pants hang straight from the crotch and there is no pulling at the knees or thighs.

6. The muslin can be the final pattern.  Once the muslin fitting is finished, either use it as the pattern for the making the pants, or be sure to carefully transfer all the alterations to the original pattern. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

How to Make a Men's Tie

My latest blog post on

Still need a gift for dear ole' dad?  How about a tie? No, not a store bought one. One made extra special by making it yourself. They are simple to make. Do what I did. Disassemble an old tie and draft a new pattern from it. Here is the link tie for the instructions on how to make one.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Upcycle a Plain Tank Top

My Weekly Blog Post

Give new life to a simple tank top with this easy-to-do ruffle technique. It's the subject of this week's blog post. The secret is the dart-like application at the front. Here is the link:


This coming Monday, June 9th at 2pm EST I will presenting another live webinar. Learn the strategies and techniques for sewing with sheer and very lightweight fabrics. They are fun and easy to sew once you know how to gain control over them.  Click here to sign up.  

Monday, June 2, 2014


Here I go again, another webinar for on Monday, June 9th. The live presentation will begin at 2pm EST.

The topic is sewing with sheer and very lightweight fabrics.  The session is filled with oodles of great techniques and strategies for sewing with these often difficult fabrics.  
Please join in on the fun. Click here to register for the session.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Fit Diary

My Weekly Blog Post

Last week's post introduced readers to my Fit Diary or Sewing Journal. It's something I picked up from Peggy Sagers, my sewing & fitting guru.  I record all of my measurements in a diary which I update each year. But, the real plus is it contain the 'style formulas' I use to create necklines and other types of styling details. These formulas are tailored to fit my body. No more gaping necklines or ones that turn out too low.  It's a great tool that every garment sewer should maintain. Here is the link:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sewing - A Developmental Boost for Kids

Sewing is Good for Kids!
As the end of the school year is upon us, parents, are you looking for a constructive activity to engage your 8-12 year old this summer? Have you considered sewing lessons? Children in this age group have the mental capacity to grasp basic sewing concepts and sufficient manual dexterity to work a sewing machine. It is, in fact, about the most perfect age for them to learn the craft. And, you will be amazed at the developmental benefits children can gain from learning to sew at this young age.

Knowing how to sew, for anyone, is a useful life skill with lifelong practical applications and many health benefits. To sew requires concentration and focus, problem solving skills, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. It challenges left brain thinking and is a great way to express ones creativity and individuality. And, let’s not forget, sewing can be just plain fun!

Studies have shown that children, especially those in the 8-12 year old group, who learn to sew gain many mental as well as physical developmental benefits. It has been found that the various tasks involved in sewing a simple project, such as following pattern instructions, fabric selection, color coordination, sizing and fitting all help stimulate creative thinking, promotes self-esteem and perseverance. Completing a sewing project from start to finish fosters a sense of accomplishment that can boost a child’s morale and self confidence. Furthermore, the tactile nature of sewing helps strength a child’s hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Other notable benefits include providing children a vehicle for personal and creative expression. It is a productive way for kids to use personal time and create independent work. And, it opens the door to future potential career paths. Sewing really is good for kids!

So, where does a parent go to look for kids sewing classes? In the Detroit metropolitan market, surprisingly, there are number of great places offering kids classes this summer. Oftentimes, they are promoted as 'Kid’s Camps' as they offer parents a place for kids to go during the summer recess. Typically, most places offer classes that introduce kids to sewing and how to use a sewing machine; as well as classes that teach them to make simple projects. The number of students per class is kept to a minimum so each child gets the amount of attention they need to complete the project.

Here is a list of places throughout the metropolitan area that are offering kid’s sewing programs this summer:

Haberman Fabrics.  This premier fabric retailer located in Royal Oak offers the most comprehensive selection of sewing courses in town geared to sewers of all levels. This summer they will be offering courses geared specifically to children aged 8-12. The classes include beginner courses as well as those making simple clothing and doll clothes. Go to for details.

Joann.  The fabric and craft retailer offers kids sewing classes throughout the year, but expand their ‘Kids Camp’ offering in the summer. Go to for class offering and schedules in your area, or pick up one of their flyers featured in all stores.

Scrappy Chic. The scrapbooking mega-store in Livonia has collaborated with Simply Sewing Studio to offer children’s sewing classes in their store. The courses include a beginner class for first time sewers as well as those making simple clothing. Go to for dates and times.

Sandy’s Make it Sew. The sewing machine retailer will also be offering Kids Camps in July and August in their Livonia location. Courses include a beginner basics class as well as simple garment making classes.  Go to for dates and times.

Sew Many Things Sewing Center – This sewing and quilting store in Clinton Township offers sewing classes for children 8-12 years old.  Go to for class offerings and schedule.

Ann Arbor Sewing Center  -- This sewing mega store selling sewing machines and fabric is also a headquarters for great sewing courses. They offer a nice selection of classes for kids all year round. Go to for class details and schedules.

All Sewn Up – This Ann Arbor based concept is dedicated to teaching people of all ages to sew. Kids are the concept’s specialty and the summertime Sewing Camps offer week long programs that teach kids to sew. Go to for details.  

Private Instructors. They do exist but they are hard to find and are in short number. The advantage to private sessions is they can teach whatever the student desires and students can learn at their own pace. A quick Google search reveals who is teaching private lessons in the area. 

And finally - yes I will be teaching kids classes at Haberman's &  Sandy's Make it Sew in Livonia.  

Friday, May 23, 2014

BRAVO Beginner Skirt Class Students!

 Another Great Sewing Class!

Butterick 5466
To the students who finished their skirts yesterday at my Haberman Fabrics Beginner Skirt class - a big congrats to a job well done. I have been teaching this beginner course for some time now and each and every time I teach it I leave happy and gratified. It is wonderful to see how happy and proud my students are at their accomplishment. And great accomplishments they are. For most the skirt is their very first project. The class teaches them a wonderful base of skills they will use throughout their sewing careers and all of them did a superb job! 

Their invisible zippers were excellent, their darts done in my reverse fashion were even and well balanced, waistbands were just right and I would have to say the fitting of the side seams could not have been any better. So BRAVO  to all and I hope to see you in another class.

As an added note, this Butterick pattern #5466 is an excellent pattern I recommend to anyone to keep as part of their personal base pattern library. As you can see it is a pretty basic and straightforward skirt that can be easily modified to replicate any ready-to-wear skirt sold in stores. It can be easily streamlined into a pencil skirt adding a kick pleat to the back. The waistline can be converted to any number of ways and of course a lining can always be added. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Another Webinar!

Sheer Management - Strategies & Techniques for Sewing Sheer to Lightweight Fabrics
Monday, June 9th at 2 pm EST

Once again I will be presenting a one hour webinar on  The topic this time is sewing with sheer to lightweight fabrics.  If you have ever tried to sew with these delicate, but beautiful fabrics you know how frustrating and sometimes downright difficult they are to work with. This webinar will clue you into a wide variety of techniques you can employ to better manage and control their often unruly nature. Sewing with them really can be fun!

I will offer numerous ideas for ways to control excess fraying, manage their slippery nature and I have oodles of ways to sew and finish seams, and master rolled hem using these fabrics. Don't miss out, there will be lots to learn.  Sign up at  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How to Make Gathered Curtains in 3 parts

My Weekly Blog Post

I have begun a 3 part series on making gathered curtains. It begins with a post on a way to determine gathered fullness. Anytime gathering is involved the fabric being used will ultimately determine how much fullness is needed, or desired. Fullness plays a big role when it comes to making curtains as you need to know how much to account for so you can order the correct amount of fabric. 

The post illustrates a simple method using a yard stick. Here is the link:

This weeks post describes the hardest part of making simple gathered curtains - measuring and calculating. Determining the finished and unfinished curtain dimensions is vital to 1) determining how much material to buy and 2) creating any type of curtain. Once that's done, the actual construction of the curtain is quite easy. Here is the link:

Look for part 3 next week for the easy steps to sewing this simple yet versatile curtain. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Catching Up

Once again its been awhile since I last posted anything. It's been a busy month of sewing and writing. I have two more magazine articles coming out next year so I have had recent deadlines to meet. Boy, they are a lot of work. Designing and sewing up the six sample garments took a toll not to mention all the sketches and photos that needed to be done for the articles. I'm a bit pooped but happy they turned out well and got out on time. 

I have also been writing articles to spur interest in sewing classes.  Here in the Detroit marketplace I believe there are a lot of people who want to learn to sew, but simply don't know where to go to learn. The sad fact is there really aren't that many places around here for lessons. I am hoping to raise awareness of where people can go to learn and how popular sewing has become.  

As a side note, I believe the interest in sewing is about to skyrocket. The very popular British reality TV series, The Great British Sewing Bee is coming to the U.S. I don't know when the U.S. version will debut, but I predict it will do wonders to reinvigorate interest in the craft even more than Project Runway. So, stay tuned.

I have also expanded the number of locations where I will be teaching. Mostly sewing for beginner classes, but I will be doing several Kids Sewing Camp sessions as well.  Look for my beginner sewing classes at Scrappy Chic the scrapbook mega-store in Livonia ( for details). At Sandy's Sew & Vac I will be teaching a great summer dress class in June. Then come July and August I will be teaching several kids classes ( for details). 

Oh, and lastly, look for another one of my webinars. The topic is how to manage and control the unruly nature of sewing with sheers. I have had a lot of practice lately and can't wait to share some of my ideas.  Go to to register. The session is on Monday, June 9th at 2 pm EST. 

Also, don't forget my weekly blog posts on  

Friday, March 28, 2014

How to Transfer Pinned Adjustments

My Weekly Blog Post

This week's subject has to do with methods for transferring pinned adjustment when fitting a garment. These are not adjustments made to a muslin where anything goes when it comes to marking up the prototype. My lesson is on how to transfer the pinned fitting to the chosen fabric without damaging it. Here much more care and forethought is involved.  Here is the link: Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Resurrecting A Designer Find

What a fun project I've embarked upon!  A friend of mine purchased a dress at a discount store carrying a label from a famous NYC designer. The dress was priced at $39, but due to some small tears in the back of the dress she talked the salesperson down to $35.  

What a steal! The dress at regular retail goes for almost $1000. Yes, you heard me right. She bought a dress valued at almost $1000 for 35 bucks.

The dress is rather intricate in its design. It features a patterned front panel, solid colored side panels and leather sections artfully pieced in the back and at the shoulders.  Classic yet updated in style. Its fully lined and nicely made.

The tears in the back which rendered the dress its deep discount worthy price, are in the leather sections in the back. And as we all know, you can't really mend leather.  My friend purchased a lambskin leather hide from Etsy for $22 for a piece big enough to replace all the leather sections used in the back of the dress.  So here is where I come in. I am replacing all the leather pieces and repairing the dress. In effect, resurrecting it back to it $1000 value. How cool is that!

To repair the dress the back was essentially, deconstructed by ripping out all of the leather sections and disassembling the invisible zipper. While the leather tears were in only 2 of the four leather sections, the new hide, though incredibly similar, was just different enough to make replacing every section a must if the dress was to look just right. 

None of this was terribly difficult. But, there are no do-vers when it comes to sewing with leather so great care and careful planning was necessary. Knowing how to work with leather - tools, techniques, shortcuts- also helps.  If you look closely at the dress you will see it required piecing together a number of very sharp corners and curves which were the hardest part of the repairs. 

Figuring out the sequence in which the leather sections would come together took a little planning.  

The photos don't do justice to the dress. I didn't have a dressform that fit the dress so I could only show it to you either flat or hanging - not the best.  Also, bear in mind that leather has no give so there are significant curves in the back piecing to accommodate the curves of the back and buttocks. As a result the photo, which was shot with the dress flat on my worktable, appears puckered though it is not. The hard parts were the sharp corners and matching the transitions from fabric to leather in the zipper, which all in all turned out great. 

So, for $57, the dress is back to its original state and ready for the wedding shower where my friend plans to wear it. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to Sew a Perfect Intersecting Seams

My Weekly Blog Post

This week's post teaches how to sew perfect intersecting seams. This is not brain surgery. It's a simple technique that any sewer can easily learn. It's one of those tiny details that while in garment sewing it mostly goes unnoticed, when done just right, it adds to the overall professional look of a garment. That certainly is not the case when it comes to quilting. This is a common and standard practice throughout any quilting project, so doing it right every time is important. Here is the link:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sew Your Own Wardrobe with Basic Patterns

My Weekly Blog Post

I've missed posting here a number of recent blog entries that have been published in Today's blog is on a more hardy approach to gathering long stretches of fabric, like when making shirred tiers on a skirt. While there are many ways to gather fabrics, I use plain ole household string to aid in accomplishing this ordinary sewing technique. Read my post to learn what this is all about. Here is the link:

Last week's post had to do with investing in a small set of patterns in basic silhouettes that can serve as templates for creating many of today's fashion looks. It's surprising how many of the styles you see in the stores these days are created from very simple, easy to make garment silhouettes. Its the fabric and choice of styling elements that make them into modern day designs. You can re-create those same looks from basic patterns that have been fitted to you. Read how to build a wardrobe from a set of basic patterns. Here is the link:

A few weeks ago I offered some tips on how to set in a sleeve.
Many sewers struggle with this sewing technique. Problems mostly arise because of the fabric and not the technique. Learn a number of tips to help insert a perfect sleeve every time. Here is the link:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Meeting Kenneth D. King

Whew! I'm embarrassed at how long it has been since I last entered a new post. It has and still is a busy month for me. I have several new magazine articles in the works which means putting together a half dozen new projects. I have done several new samples for upcoming classes and best of all I met Kenneth D King. 

What a fun couple of days that was. The fabric store where I teach here in the Detroit market, called Haberman Fabrics, hosted an event featuring the great Kenneth D. King. The celebrated couture designer, FIT professor and contributing editor for Threads magazine is, indeed, as vivacious and colorful as he comes across in his writings and many teaching videos. I can't believe how much I learned from him.

The event included a full weekend of instruction and hands-on training by Kenneth. Sewers from surrounding states and fashion design students from Kendal College in Grand Rapids along with many Detroit areas sewists were in attendance. 

I attended Friday's opening event that provided an interesting look into how he came to be who he is today. It included a showing of many of his celebrated designs that have been featured in many Threads articles and in his books. I was blown away by his creativity and ingenuity. His creations are truly pieces of art and rather awe inspiring. 

Saturday's event concentrated on teaching the room how to draft and complete shawl and notched lapels. His instruction was superb  - detailed, logical, and practical.  He must be a fun professor to have at FIT. I haven't tailored a jacket in some time so his presentation brought back all that I had once learned, and re-inspired me to put his tricks and tips to work. 

What I especially enjoyed was his review of how to draft a sleeve. That's an area I continue to struggle with. Getting my sleeves to fit and hang perfectly off my forward leaning shoulder has been a constant challenge. No matter how hard I have tried I just can't seem to get them perfect. He explained both the math and art to them, so I am hoping his instructions will finally solve my issues once and for all.

Throughout the day he offered many helpful tips about sewing in general. Lots dealt with taking an out-of-the-box approach, which I was so glad to hear. I have found through teaching so many first time sewers, the methods and sewing techniques sewing books and textbooks advocate are not always the best or easiest way to do things. I have  re-engineered many techniques and was so glad to hear Kenneth espouse many of the very same sewing alternatives I teach. How fun is that!  

All in all it was a fun couple of days. I learned a lot and got to connect with other sewists who share the same passion for sewing as I do. Kenneth's enthusiasm for  sewing was wonderful to witness and though only for just a few hours it was great to be a part of. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

On Newsstands Now! - My Article in Sew News magazine

Fresh off the presses, my article on sewing darts in reverse fashion is in the February/March 2014 issue of SewNews magazine. This article is based on a blog post I featured here on my website last year. The article serves as a primer course on darts (types and purpose) but more importantly, it offers a new way to sew them - in reverse fashion.  

As a sewing instructor I often times look for easier ways to execute fundamental sewing techniques that first time sewers can do on the first try. Darts is one of those techniques. For new sewers sewing them from the usual wide base to the end point is hard. Getting the darts to end at precisely the prescribed end point on both sides of a garment, is especially hard.  After watching students repeatedly ripping out so many darts, I was compelled to teach them an easier way. And indeed I did. I taught them to sew the darts from end point to the base or wide end, instead.  That is the central point of the article - on page 54.


I'm especially proud of the article for the simple reason that the technique came about from teaching new sewers to sew. When you've sewn for so many decades as I have you take doing certain sewing techniques for granted. For any experienced sewer sewing darts is, frankly, a no-brainer. One, two, three and they're done. But, I had to tackle them from a new sewers perspective. Now, I sew all my darts this way. So, in a way, the students taught the teacher. I hope you read and enjoy my article.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

3D Embellishments: Cutouts & Couching in Sewing

My Weekly Blog Post

This time I'm offering 2 super simple ways to give a flat print fabric some 3 dimensional elements. Both require just a basic sewing machine and some zigzag stitching; no fancy embroidery machines for special tools. Easy peasy, done! Here is the link:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Exposed Zipper for a Handbag Pocket

My Weekly Blog Post

This week's post instructs how to insert an exposed zipper - this time the kind you see inside (and sometimes outside) handbags. They are the kind used to secure pockets. They are a cinch to do. Here is the link for the step by step instructions:

Grainline - Making Fabric Thread Perfect

My Weekly Blog Post

I had two posts this week. The most recent ran this past Saturday - Crafty's biggest day for readership - Yeh! for me. My post offered instructions on how to make fabric thread perfect (when a single crosswise thread can be pulled across the width of the fabric) and how to check to see if fabric is on grain.  Here is the link to the post:

Be sure to check out the next post which will offer ways to correct material that is off grain.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Serger Alternative: The Lock Cutter Attachment

My Weekly Blog Post

I'm a bit behind on updating my website with regard to my posts on the blog site.  Last week's post was on this device that came with my Singer sewing machine - The Lock Cutter. I call it a serger alternative because it cuts and sews at the same time just like a serger. With this device it sews a zigzag stitch instead of an overcast one trimming the seam as it sews.  I like to use it to finish my seams that have already been sewn with a straight stitch. I have gotten alot of comments on this device.  Here is the link: