I've been wanting to write this little tutorial for a little while now. I'm not exactly sure if it was my fear of sewing a fly front zipper or never quite finding the time, but it has been put on the back burner for about a year now. Now that I'm finally getting down to it, I'm feeling pretty inspired.
It is true, all zippers can feel a bit intimidating. However, a fly front style in particular is its own spices, or shall I say, beast. I was forced into sewing one recently when I created some custom outfits for two (super talented) musicians (I'll show you more later!). This particular fly front zipper belonged to a pair of jean-like mens trousers. Needless to say, it had to look the part and function by the book.
In the steps below, I'll show you the steps for sewing this exact zipper, including an intro to the pattern pieces you need and how to put it all together. Although the zipper in this tutorial is sewn into a pair of pants, an identical process will work for sewing one to a skirt, given that there is a seam able to house it, of course.
What is a fly front zipper? As the name suggests, this style is sewn to the fly of women's or menswear trousers (although conventionally used for almost all men's bottoms). There is a directional rule to differentiate between womens wear and menswear: In women's clothing, the fly placket is positioned right over left while in men's clothing it is left over right (shown in this tutorial).
I've had a personal obsession with pockets for years. I love them all regardless of style and find them to be one of the primary functional elements in a garment. Today, I'll show you how to sew one of my all time favorites: the welt pocket. A classic, tailored pocket that is conventionally used with men's trousers, suit jackets, vests and other menswear and womenswear tailored items. Although they seem to be more prevalent in menswear, I love seeing a welt pocket as a design element in more casual women's wear.
The clean, high quality finish of a welt pocket can elevate a garment's look and function regardless of whether this a business-appropriate style or a pair of casual shorts.
There are two main types of welt pockets: single and double welt, although these derive other styles.
Naturally, the single welt pocket has a single welt (rectangular tab) while the double has two, usually equal width taps or welts. As you might have already guessed, the single welt is easier to sew simply for the fact that there is less stitching and measuring involved in comparison to a double style.
I do have to admit that welt pockets can be a bit tricky for sewing beginners, but after you sew a few of them, they will definitely start looking more uniform and professional! So if you love welt pockets as much as I do, don't give up on the first try! I recommend that you don't move on to the double welt pocket until you feel comfortable with sewing a single welt.
OK, before we move on to the sewing steps below, here are a few things to keep in mind with regards to the construction and styling of welt pockets:
This week's tutorial will be a very simple one. It has been inspired by a cute little sash I recently made for a cute little flower girl. To make the sash match the fabric of the bridesmaid dresses, I treated the construction of the sash as I would with any conventional waist tie. So this brought me to another thought: considering its sewing simplicity, wouldn't a waist tie make a really pretty addition to any old dress or tunic top that needs to be replenished a bit? In the steps below, I'll show you two techniques for sewing a professional waist tie: The self-finished folded method and the lined method.
A waist tie can take on many styling challenges and serve a number of different functions. Yes, it's a great little bow builder for a flower girl, but it can also make a perfect stylistic element for any dress that needs an update. A tie waist look is classic, accentuates the waistline, and can hide a majority of size and design issues.
If this sewing tutorial has already peaked your interest, here are some tips on how and where to start if you want to vamp up a dress in your closet with a waist tie sewn by you! Consider these three elements: Fabric, color and drape.
Choose a fabric that either matches the weight, thickness and texture of the dress or vise versa, an opposite that compliments the dress' design and fabric. You could of course sew the waist tie out of any scrap fabrics you already have, but I suggest that you pay close attention to what also works with the dress both visually and functionally. If mismatched however, make sure the combo looks intentional.
For example, if you are adding a tie to a very lightweight silk dress, a waist tie made of stiff, textured fabric (like linen or wool) may not feel or look the part. Vise versa, if the dress is more structured, a very thin, flimsy waist tie may be overpowered or simply not withstand the dress both functionally and visually. So that being said, if you're rummaging through scrap fabrics trying to find the perfect tie material, keep these fabric-related elements in mind.
On the topic of color: you can and should use your design eye. I suggest choosing a color that works in combination with the rest of the dress to ensure a cohesive look. Sometimes when it comes to color opposites attract, so you can certainly color block! What you want to avoid however, is making the waist tie look like an add-on that simply doesn't belong. Because it is a removable piece, color blocking doesn't always work as it can make the tie feel as if it is not intentionally part of dress. If you can't find a matching color, I suggest either staying within the same basic color scheme but choosing a darker or lighter shade, or making the separate tie in a neutral like black.
Although drape goes hand-in-hand with fabric, I think it's important to consider it separately as it will affect the design and overall look of the garment. Consider how you would ultimately like to knot or style the waist tie. A lightweight fabric with high draping capabilities carries less bulk and for that reason, works well with a longer waist tie.
Vise versa, if the fabric is stiff with no natural drape, you should almost look at it more as a belt. When styling a more structured waist tie, I suggest either making it shorter or wrapping it around the waist a few times so that the hanging ends are nicely contained at the waist. A tie made from drape-less fabric can look bulky and overwhelm a garment if the loose ends are long and left floating at the bottom.
Ultimately, it is really up to your taste and design eye to decide what fabric, color and drape is best suited for your waist tie addition (or sash)! But now that I got some of my own suggestions out of the way, let's get started on the sewing portion of this tutorial. As mentioned above, it will be a fairly simple and hopefully a fun one! I'll walk you through two separate techniques both resulting in almost the same edge finished style. Choose your method based on how much fabric you have available and what is most suitable for your sewing experience.
Hint: You'll find that the first technique is more simple and has less steps to fiddle with.
Here I am writing another post about darts... My obsession aside, the importance of darts in dressmaking is essential to grasp both as a sewing beginner as well as an advanced dress and pattern maker. While my previous tutorials focused on understanding the structure of darts and how to sew them, today's post will shift its attention to dart logistics. Perhaps, it will answer some questions you've often asked yourself in your own sewing process.
I'll walk you through all the concepts below, but if you landed on this page desperately looking for a detailed tutorial on transferring and sewing darts, check out this oldie but goodie: Everything You Need To Know About Darts In Sewing.
The video tutorial above should give you a better visual on how to correctly pin and sew single pointed darts which go hand-in-hand with some of the concepts discussed below.
The Importance Of Darts In Garment Construction
To understand darts at their core, you have to understand why they are so essential in garment construction. A dart works to convert fabric from flat to 3-dimensional. While darts are very simple triangle-like shapes, the architecture relies on the dart vanishing point- the point where both dart legs and the middle fold line meet. Check out the image below for some visual clarity on these three elements.
So how does such a simple shape mold to the human form? Dart points radiate to some of the highest points on the body. They take in the excess that extends to these points gradually and smoothly. Darts are conventionally added the curviest areas of the body. Naturally, that is the bust, waist and hip areas. The dart's widest part always corresponds to the slimmest portion on the body, while the vanishing point blends into the wider areas. The best example of this concept of course are bust and front waist darts which regardless of how they are positioned on the bodice, will always have vanishing points radiating to the apex- the highest point on the bust.
Keeping this logic in mind, you can shift the dart excess anywhere on the bodice as long as this point of gravity remains the same. Side note: this rule is perhaps the most basic yet widely used in pattern drafting. Following that same logic, back darts, whether single pointed or double pointed (contour darts), gravitate to the highest points on the upper back. Below the waistline, dart vanishing points are aligned with the widest/highest areas of the hip. In the back, dart vanishing points will blend into the highest point on the bottom.
Following a very simple concept, darts are able to adapt to the organic shape of the human form, adjusting to any body type and size in a very simple fashion.
In the design and pattern drafting process, darts are also important landmarks for moving excess around. For example, a basic blouse pattern with darts can be easily converted to princess style by re-directing the dart’s excess to the seams. If darts aren’t present, you wouldn’t know exactly how much excess needs to be taken out at each princess seam. That being said, they are an essential part of basic blocks which are simple sewing patterns used for generating new patterns in a variety of styles and sizes.
Although I've done a set in sleeve tutorial before, this one is going to be a little different. In this week's video, I'll show you not only how to sew a basic jacket sleeve but also how to add lining to the sleeves individually, when the rest of the jacket is left unlined.
Partially lining a garment can pose some technical challenges but will always result in a higher quality finish. Speaking of challenges, sleeves are one of those elements that can be a bit intimidating especially when they need to be lined. As you go through the process described below, take each step one at a time and you'll love the end result!
So why not add full lining to the jacket? Wouldn't it be easier?
The answer is yes. Full lining is basically the mirror image of the self garment and often times, does not require additional sewing patterns to be drafted. It is also undeniably easier to sew since you don't have to clean finish any of the seam raw edges individually as it self finishes on its own.
There are however, many instances when full lining simply may not work due to a multitude of design and construction requirements. Examples of such situations include:
- The overall garment will be too bulky if lining is added
- The lining will affect the overall drape of the garment (if you are sewing a flowy blouse or dress, for instance)
- In case of sewing a more casual style (lining usually adds a more formal, finished effect). In cases as such, adding lining to only the necessary portions of a garment is usually your best bet.
Here are some instances when partial lining (as opposed to full lining) is ideal for finishing a garment:
- Only a portion of the garment cannot be clean finished by any other means but lining.
- A portion of a garment uses fabric that has a wrong side not suitable or comfortable enough to touch bare skin.
- You need added thickness and coverage in certain areas but not others. For example, you may be using a thin or light color fabric and need an added layer at the bottom of a skirt or dress.
- A garment's edge is too thick to be stitched when folded. In this case, lining it may provide the best finishing technique.
- For design purposes. For example, a portion of the garment should not have any visible top stitching on its right side in which case, partial lining will provide the prefect clean finishing method.
As one of my favorite looks of all time, this box pleat skirt is every bit the playful yet classic cut you want in a silhouette. From a technical stand point, drafting its sewing patterns form scratch is moderately simple yet a little more time consuming (proof in the duration of the sewalong video below).
The steps below will walk you through the complete process of sewing a full, box pleat skirt with invisible side zipper and side seam pocket, from drafting all sewing patterns (from scratch) to cutting, marking and sewing the final skirt!
Side note: This tutorial will emphasize the importance of using notches as they provide one of the most essential markers for matching pleats and pockets in the sewing process.
Drafting The Box Pleat Skirt Patterns
When I draft sewing patterns from scratch, I always work from a set of basic dress patterns (also called blocks) fitted perfectly to my size. If you choose to do the same, never work on your original basic patterns. Always trace a copy to a separate piece of paper that you can then completely alter into the new design. Doing so not only allows for re-usability but also takes the pressure off making mistakes! If you take a difficult-to-fix wrong turn, you can always retrace the basic dress patterns and start the process all over.
My dress patterns are cut on fold style with single pointed bust darts on the front and double pointed (contour) waist darts at the front and back. This style is as simple as you can get in terms of a non-stretch, basic fitted dress. For this skirt tutorial, I separated the bottom portion of each front and back dress pattern and used it as a blue print for drafting my box pleat skirt.
The Waistband Patterns
Before you start altering the body of the skirt pattern, use the original waistline to draft the waistband patterns first. It is a lot more difficult to draft the waistband once the pleats have alreday been added to the skirt's waistline as you would have to keep the pleats folded as you draft. No need to complicate things! Get the waistband patterns out of the way first.
You can view the full tutorial of drafting this particular waistband pattern here: How To Draft A Sewing Pattern For A Non-Stretch Skirt Waistband (Faced Style)
To give you a more succinct breakdown, here are some of the main steps in the process:
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