Pleats are folds of fabric that can appear either in clusters, as a single fold, or continuously. Although pleats may look to be decorative only, they additionally serve the purpose of controlling excess fabric and fullness. Grouped pleats are most commonly seen on skirts and dresses that are more loose fitting, while single pleats are common on a variety of garments from outerwear to tops, bottoms and dresses.
On a sewing pattern, pleats are represented by two main lines: a fold line and a second line that the fold line is positioned to, usually called placement line. This means that when you create a pleat, you fold the fold line first and then align this fold to the placement line- this is usually very intuitive and once you get the hang of it, it's also quite fun to do! The crispest and best hanging folds are achieved if the pleats are aligned to the straight grain- Most fabrics are also much easier to fold if the folds are positioned parallel to the grain. We'll discuss a little more about the different pleat finishes and the best fabrics for them below, but first, here are 4 styles of pleats you should know!
Basic Pleats You Should Know and How to Fold Them
1. Accordion Pleats- These are pleats that are actually difficult to do at home because your iron doesn't have enough pressing power to really set this style of pleating in place. Accordion pleats are thinner in width and shaped to resemble an accordion. They are usually continuous and are found on lighter-weight fabrics for skirts, dresses and some blouses. Because this pleating style uses an industrial method we wont show you how to do it at home in this tutorial.
2. Knife Pleats (also called side pleats) are represented by even, continuous or clustered folds that point to one direction (either left or right). This pleating style is much easier to sew at home than the accordion pleats and can be found either grouped in specific areas of the garment or continuously throughout.
Knife pleats are done in a few different styles:
-Some garments have clusters of knife pleats pointing in opposite directions, as opposed to the same side all around.
-The fold of a side pleat can either start right where another begins, or have some distance in between as displayed below.
Folding a Knife Pleat:
Below, you'll see a strip of fabric that requires pleating which is already marked with two fold lines and a placement line. If you look at it carefully, you'll notice that the lines are grouped in 3: The first line is the outer fold line, the second is the inner fold line and the last (3rd line) is the placement line. Each line is marked by a notch (1/4" slit) at each end.
1. Once you have your pleat lines transferred to your fabric with tailor's chalk or a water soluble pencil, starting at one end, fold and iron along the first vertical line. Then, take this fold and align it to the 3rd line, skipping the second one (which inevitably becomes the inner fold). Follow the pictures below to get more clarity on this process.
2. Iron on top of the two fold lines and makes sure your notches are matching at the top.
3. Repeat the process with the next cluster of lines, starting with folding and ironing the first line then aligning it with the 3rd which is the placement line, thus allowing the middle line to become the inner fold.
4. Iron on the top surface of the folded knife pleats.
5. Continue this folding process until all your pleats are completed and ironed flat, also making sure all your notches are properly matching.
Place pins horizontally along the top of the row of pleats to hold them in place. On your sewing machine, apply a straight stitch along the top in order to permanently stabilize the folds which will make it easier to sew the pleats into a regular seam.
In order to keep the pleats flat and stable while you continue working on your garment, place a few pins along all the pleat folds to hold them in place. You can also baste the folds in place for a more precise, less bulky stabilizing method.
Your knife pleats are now complete! Always remember to horizontally stitch along the top to keep your edge even and the pleats aligned properly.
2. Box Pleats are easy to fold and can be a great way to add fullness as well as ease to the back of a jacket or the bottom of a dress or skirt. A box pleat is comprised of two fold lines and two placement lines- the folds are placed so that they actually face away from one another on the face side of the garment. If you look on the back side of the garment however, the folds are placed towards one another although it doesn't matter if they meet at the same line or not.
Folding a Box Pleat:
1. As mentioned above, a box pleat has two fold lines and two placement lines. The image bellow displays four vertical lines: The two inner lines represent the fold lines while the two outer lines are the placement lines. In a box pleat the fold-lines are facing away from each other.
Start by folding one of the inner lines and aligning it to its corresponding placement line (the closest outer line).
2. Iron down this fold placement and place a pin to hold the fold in place at the top as shown below.
3. Repeat this step with the second fold line by aligning it to it's corresponding placement line on the opposite end. You will now notice that the fold lines are pointing away from each other which is characteristic to a box pleat.
4. Iron down the folded box pleat and place another pin at the top of the second fold line as pictured below.
5. Apply a straight stitch along the top of the box pleat in order to hold the folds in place and maintain stability when eventually sewing the pleat into a seam.
3. Inverted Pleats: An inverted pleat is comprised of two fold lines that are positioned to meet at the same placement line. On the other hand, the pleat's folds on the back side of the fabric point away from each other. Think of an inverted pleat as the opposite of a box pleat except that the fold lines share a common placement line, meaning the folds are always touching (but not overlapping).
Folding an Inverted Pleat:
Because an inverted pleat has two fold-lines that meet at the same placement line, the 3 lines bellow display: two fold lines each positioned at the edge and the placement line which is positioned in the middle.
1. Begin by folding one of the two outer lines and positioning this fold along the middle placement line. Iron this fold down to stabilize.
2. After placing a couple of pins at the top to keep the first fold in place, repeat the process with the second fold-line making sure it meets at the same placement line as the first, having the folds essentially touching.
3. Iron down this second fold to stabilize.
5. After placing a few pins horizontally through the top of the inverted pleat, apply a straight stitch to hold the two folds in place.
Because not every fabric has the same folding capability and not every style requires the same pleating look, there are a few different pleat finishes you could choose from depending on the garment you are sewing:
Crisp/Sharp Folded Pleats: These pleats have a very defined, sharp fold and are usually used on woven fabrics that can easily maintain a crisp fold. Natural fabrics like linen and cotton and synthetics like polyester work the best with this style of pleating. This finish is the most commonly used for light to medium weight fabrics. Sharp folded pleating is not difficult to attain at home but you do have to use some extra steam to really set the creases in place. In addition, use an ironing cloth on more delicate fabrics when ironing down pleats.
Soft Folded Pleats: As opposed to sharp edge pleats, soft fold pleats don't have crisp, defined fold lines. The pleats in a soft fold are usually more defined where they connect into the seam and lose their line structure as they move away from it. This finish works best for heavier weight fabrics and those that are difficult to iron and unable to maintain a sharp fold-line. On the other hand, soft fold pleats can be used for design purposes on an easy to iron/fold fabric when a less linear look is desired.
Stitched Along the Edge: This finish is represented by straight stitches that are applied along the fold line of a pleat very close to the fold's edge. The stitch goes only through the two layers of fabric that make up the fold and not through all the layers underneath. This is actually a great technique to use at home because the stitching insures that the folds will always stay in place. Often times, after washing, pleats that were initially ironed sharply lose their structure and need to be re-ironed after washing. A stitched edge pleat will not lose it's fold after washing because it is always kept folded by the stitching.
Top-stitched: As opposed to edge stitching, top-stitched pleats are stitched down at the top through all the layers of fabric. This finish is usually used on skirts and dresses from waist to hip, controlling fullness and defining the shape of this area.
Who says educational gifts are for kids and students only? You should never stop being curious or loose your sense of discovery whether you’re at work or at play. The good news is, there’s an educational aspect to just about any game out there. Whether on a small or a large scale, games and products that stimulate our interest and get our brain thinking are educational whether they are labeled as that or not.
For many people who get lost in the day to day routine and lose their purpose and excitement in life, adding something that exercises their brain with a sense of play could be the answer to a better mood and maybe even a newly discovered hobby. While there are many educational games and products out there that are suitable for kids, not many are labeled as "educational" and brain stimulating for adults. Next time you’re searching for the perfect gift for a loved one, throw in a semi-educational but fun product in the mix! There are thousands of great innovative products on the market, but we’ve picked eight ideas we love that might make your search for that perfect gift a little easier:
We all remember that semi-boring periodic table from high school… Thankfully, this deck of cards gives us a new perspective and awakens our interest in taking a look at it again- with some enthusiasm this time. It has bold images of what each element looks like finally giving us a more exciting visual of what we’re learning. Yes, this is a perfect learning tool if you’re struggling to pass that chemistry test in school, but there is also no reason why this shouldn’t be a fun tool for adults that want to awaken their memory. This great way to learn includes scientific facts and data on the back of each card along with stories that will help you remember them better. And speaking of memory, provided also are some additional cards that suggest activities and study tips as well as an explanation of each one of the elements and their arrangement. In the words of Uncommongoods, “ get yours before they Argon!”.
Aristotel's Numbers Puzzle
Math might not be something you choose to practice in your spare time, but if you bring a sense of play to it, it will do wonders for your brain. Scientists say there are long lasting benefits to exercising your brain with math, and The Aristotle’s Numbers Puzzle will add a little more excitement to something that is notorious for not being “fun” for most people. So how does it work? It is a puzzle made out of antique-looking wood comprised of number tiles which are meant to be aligned to give the same total in each row. Once you start exploring all the different combinations of numbers, math starts to be a little more fun- and guess what? Your brain is benefiting from it at the same time. Plus, it’s kind of nice to keep your mind off the daily grind, and give your brain some well-deserved, smart playfulness.
The Lucky Gardner DYI Green Terrarium
This gift is definitely for the nurturing soul. Although it might not come across as educational right away, you’ll definitely learn a thing or two about plant biology in the process. First of all, it is imperative to mention that this product is entirely handmade in the US- New York to be more specific, and we love that! The best thing about it however, is the uniqueness of each individual terrarium which is fully determined on each user. It feels great to put something together with your own hands and then watch it grow into a beautiful little landscape that is unique to you. The beauty of this product is that it makes such a sweet, thoughtful gift and the size and look is just perfect. If you live in the city or a more industrialized area, this cute little glass terrarium will allow you to personalize your own mini-conservatory. A proprietary mix of soil along with the seeds, embellishments and full instructions are included. How is this educational? You will learn about what is biologically necessary to plant and grow a green living thing- How much light it needs; how much water it feeds on; its behavior as it grows.
Hudinni’s Tricklock Puzzle
Since we’re on the topic of puzzles, this one is definitely one to make you scratch your head- Or maybe not, if you’re the brainy engineer in the family. This is a gift that will inspire some intense logic and critical thinking. Why? Well because this baffling lock looks just like any old one. It even comes with a key! The problem is that the key won’t do you much good with unlocking it- but your brain will. Concentrate and you’ll be able to unlock this padlock while giving your brain an intense workout. We love this gift because it is small and charming but has the unique power to really make you think. Its versatile nature makes it a perfect gift not only for those close to you but also for coworkers and acquaintances. It also reminds us of Houdini’s magic and its lasting impression on modern society!
If you are familiar with “escape the room" games, Codex-Silenda is a similar concept but in physical form. It comes from an independent inventor and it is one of the more intricate and unique puzzles on the market. It is made of beautiful wood-work and comes in the format of a book with 5 pages. Each page has intricate puzzles that need to be solved in order to unlock the next page. What we love about it is the meticulous attention to detail and high quality work behind every component of the book. It is every mechanical engineer's dream game that includes a variety of different problem solving skills and critical thinking. The puzzle-book is not yet available on the mass market, but you can pre-order one by pledging on the maker’s Crowdfunding page until it is manufactured and readily available (hopefully). Either way, it is worth the wait!
Perplexus 3-D Puzzle
We had to include a marble maze puzzle on this list! This one caught our attention because of its intricate nature. It has 125 barriers including some that you probably won’t find in your average labyrinth puzzle. It give the impression of a computerized game by offering so much variety when it comes to its barriers. Although this makes a great game for the teenagers in your family, there is no reason why you shouldn’t pick it up every once in a while and play! Marble mazes stimulate your thinking in a gentle, playful way while exercising your quick thinking and attention span. We love the Perplexus in particular because it's visually pleasing and offers lots of variety all-inclusive in a single space.
Learn to Sew Box
This is a great gift for the ladies in your life! Most women would love to learn how to sew and ultimately make and design their own clothing. It is truly a valuable skill whether you need to alter something or learn how to sew from scratch. The issue with learning how to sew is that there really wasn’t anything on the market that could get you started without feeling overwhelming and requiring lots of time, money and dedication- until now. The Learn To Sew Box has changed the process of learning how to sew from a scary one to a fun one! It is a charming little blue box that includes everything you need to sew an A-line dress from start to finish.
The box is personalized by allowing you to choose from 2 fabric prints and a solid and between three sizes: Small, Medium and Large. The box includes the fabric, your dress patterns (that are simplified and labeled accordingly), customized binding (for finishing raw edges), matching spool of thread, a water soluble marking pencil, a seam ripper and a jar of pins. To walk you through the process, the box includes a simple, visual guide that helps you cut, mark and sew the dress from start to finish while also giving you some tips and secrets along the way. This makes an exciting educational gift for every woman but especially the one that has tried to learn to sew before without success. It is not only brain stimulating but also rewarding, and it could potentially signify the beginning of a new hobby in you loved one’s life!
West Coast Style IPA Beer Brewing Kit
You might be wondering how this might be stimulating your brain… and we’re definitely not referring to drinking the final product. This is a fun, educational “game” for adults that is bound to add some excitement to your daily routine. Why educational? Well because this kit will teach you how to craft your own beer, which is an art in itself. It includes everything you need to brew your own IPA which is bound to teach you a thing or two about aging and chemistry. The kit includes a simple guide with component ingredients like malt extract, grains, high-quality yeast and two types of hops. This kit makes a great gift for your loved ones and yourself- it is rewarding and you’ll never look at beer the same again. Not only is it educational in the fact that it teaches you a new skill, it will further develop your pallet to understand how the taste of beer is achieved. Watching and understanding how the ingredients interact and the purpose of each one of them will teach you a thing or two about beer brewing chemistry.
Tucks are mostly used for decorative purposes and are a great way to add a high-end design quality to any garment. Tucks are made by straight stitching a fold of fabric. Think of them as pleats whose folds actually get stitched together. Once sewn they are ironed and stay-stitched horizontally in a specific direction according to the design.
Some of the most common tucks are pin tucks, dart tucks, blind tucks and spaced tucks. These tucks are very simple and come in different widths and alignments. Because a tuck is represented by a single fold, the width of the tuck is calculated by measuring the distance from the fold to the stitched line. The tuck's fold can be located either on the inside or outside of the garment (according to design specifications).
Although most of the tucks mentioned above are used for decorative purposes, dart tucks can also be used to control shape and fullness and sometimes affect the fit of the garment. In this sewing tutorial we'll show you how to transfer tuck markings from your sewing pattern to the fabric as well as how to sew some of the most common tucks listed above!
Before we get started on the sewing steps, you should have a better understanding of the most common tucks:
Pin tucks are very thin folds of fabric that are stitched and ironed to one side. They are used on lightweight fabrics for blouses and dresses as well as various tailored items like trousers, blazers and jackets. Pin tucks are very narrow and subtle but they make a huge difference to the design of a garment. Although they don't effect fit, pin tucks can give the illusion of a slender, taller figure.
As a basic tuck, a regular blind tuck is folded using the same method as a pin tuck but is usually wider and aligned so that the fold of each one of the tucks meet each other. In other words, if you take a look at the raw edge of a blind tucked fabric, you will notice that the next fold starts where the last fold ended as shown below. For that reason, blind tucks are always aligned evenly, maintaining the same distance from fold to fold.
A spaced tuck is constructed the same way as a blind tuck except that it's folds do not start where another one ends, but rather with some space in between. Spaced tucks are a more spread out. The distance between the folds can be equal and evenly spread out or require uneven spacing. As opposed to blind tucks, spaced tucks don't always have to be aligned at an equal distance to one another.
Special Tucks: Dart Tuck
A dart tuck is a special tuck that is usually used to control fullness by stitching it down and then releasing it at a single point or in the case of a double pointed tuck- at two points. Although also decorative, a dart tuck can influence the shape an fit of a garment. Dart tucks are common on dresses and skirts at the bust, waits and hip area. A dart tuck can either be stitched and released on one side or on both sides depending on the design you are working on. Top stitching is also common on dart tucks.
Marking and Sewing Tucks
How To Mark a Basic Tuck On Fabric:
Tucks are easy to recognize on a sewing pattern because they are usually represented by equally spaced vertical or horizontal lines. Most tuck lines are aligned parallel to the grain and in most cases, have notches at each one of the lines' ends. The notches will help mark and fold the fabric easier and more accurately.
1. Cut out the sewing pattern that has the tucks using your regular pattern-cutting method. For your convenience, we've marked each tuck line with its corresponding description. You will notice that located between two stitch lines is the fold-line. The fold-line will eventually be folded ensuring that both stitch-lines meet, thus getting sewn together.
Transfer your tuck markings from sewing pattern onto the fabric.
In order to transfer the tuck lines to the fabric you must:
2. Clip the notches at each one of the line edges, cutting at about 1/4" in with your scissors.
3. Transfer the actual fold and stitch lines of the tucks to the fabric by using either a few pins and a fabric marking pencil or a tracing wheel and tracing paper.
In this tutorial we're using the pins and marking pencil method: Insert pins vertically along the tuck lines making sure to include the layer of fabric underneath as you pin.
Sewing Basic Tucks:
1. Fold along the fold-line, ensuring that both stitch lines match.
2. Use your iron to press this fold down. Ironing not only stabilizes the fold but it also makes it easier to handle and work with in the sewing process.
3. Place a few pins through both layers of fabric thus matching and connecting the stitch lines. You can also baste this fold in place for more accurate, easy sewing.
4. Repeat the folding, ironing and pinning process described above for all remaining tucks.
Note: Make sure that as you fold and pin, your stitch-lines and notches are aligned properly.
5. Starting at one of the edges (preferably from hem up), stitch on your sewing machine following the marked stitch-line on your fabric precisely. Back-stitch either at the beginning or end for a durable finish.
Repeat this process described above to sew the rest of the tucks.
6. For a clean finish, iron each individual tuck then iron down all the tucks towards one side as shown. If you're working with delicate fabrics, use an ironing cloth.
6. As a final step, apply a straight stitch along the edge of the pleated fabric in order to stabilize their direction and keep them flat when sewn into a seam.
As long as you are able recognize the two stitch lines and the fold line of a tuck on your sewing pattern, you can use the simple technique described above to sew most basic darts. However, if you are adding a lot of tucks to a clothing items, it can be easier to prep and sew the tucks on the fabric before cutting out the sewing pattern. Sometimes, it is much easier to mark, fold and stitch a square or rectangular shape, so this method can save you some time.
Sewing and Marking Single Pointed Dart Tucks
Dart tucks are a specialized darts that in addition to being decorative, also serve as a shaping tool. A dart tuck is similar to a regular dart in structure, but as opposed to being sewn to a vanishing point they are stitched to a specified point on the dart leg. When stitched to this specific point, they are able to release fullness. Below, we'll show you how to sew a dart tuck that is released at a single point.
1. Cut out your sewing pattern. You'll notice below, that a single pointed dart tuck looks a lot like a regular single pointed dart. The only difference is that instead of being sewn into a vanishing point, the stitch actually stops at a dash line which creates a way to contain and release some fullness at the bottom.
A single pointed dart is composed of two stitch lines, a fold-line positioned right down the middle, and two sew-to marks (dashes) that are matched when the dart is folded. Just like a regular dart, a single pointed dart-tuck also has notches in the seam allowance displaying where each line starts.
2. Once you've cut your pattern, clip the notches at each end at about 1/4" with your scissors. If you're working with triangle notches, mark them using your regular method.
3. Place a few pins along the stitch-lines, fold line, and sew-to dashes on your pattern making sure you also go through the fabric underneath as you pin.
4. Turn the sewing pattern so that the fabric is facing you. Using your fabric marking pencil mark dashes on each end of the pins that are showing. Make sure you also transfer your horizontal dashes at the bottom.
5. Remove the pins and the sewing pattern and using your ruler, draw straight lines from notch to horizontal dash lines. Use your ruler to also add the middle fold line.
6. Once all your markings are transferred, fold the dart tuck down it's center fold-line so that the two notches and stitch-lines match up. Place a few pins through both layers to fold the stitch-lines together. Iron the fold for more stability.
7. Starting at the notches, sew a straight stitch from notch down to the horizontal dash. Back-stitch to reinforce.
8. Iron the tuck's excess to which ever side the design calls for.
Sewing and Marking a Double Pointed Dart Tuck
A double pointed dart tuck looks a lot like a double pointed dart but as opposed to having two vanishing points, it allows fullness to be released at both ends of the stitch. You will see the horizontal dashes placed towards the top and bottom along both dart legs.
1. Transfer the dart legs, center line and these horizontal dashes to your fabric. Insert pins along the two stitch-lines and fold-line, as well as horizontally on the sew-to dashes located at the top and bottom of the dart tuck. Make sure you pin through the fabric at the back.
2. Turn the pinned pattern so that the fabric is facing you and using your fabric marking pencil, add dash lines along the showing pins. Don't forget to also transfer the horizontal dashes at the top and bottom which will serve as your sew-to marks.
3. Using a ruler, connect all the markings as shown below. Mark the middle fold-line with a straight line.
4. Fold your fabric down the center along the fold line so that the dart legs are matching. Place a few pins to hold the two layers of fabric together at the dart leg.
4. On your sewing machine, apply a straight stitch starting at the top dash line and following the stitch line down to the bottom dash line. Make sure you back-stitch both at the beginning and end for a durable finish.
5. Iron the excess fabric to one side as specified by your design.
Learning how to sew really comes in handy when it comes to rescuing clothing items that either don’t fit well or are too outdated. The truth is, alterations are actually more difficult to do than sewing a garment from scratch. Why? Because it requires the removal of straight stitches and serging stitches (which can take some time) and you risk throwing off the balance and fit of the whole garment with certain alterations. Remember, a clothing item is made of multiple “puzzle” pieces that need to fit together perfectly in order to achieve the correct fit and drape. The most sensitive areas of a clothing item that requires more of a professional hand are: sleeves, bust area, neckline and armholes. In addition, you should be careful altering an item at the waistline and hip- Not altering these areas correctly could hinder movement and comfort and even make the garment difficult to put on and take off.
That being said, there are some basic alterations that won’t throw off the fit and comfort of your clothing! Altering the length and silhouette of tops and bottoms as well as making some style and size adjustments is always a good idea when updating your closet. We will teach you one of the most common alterations: Turning a dress into a blouse by shortening the hem. As an added bonus, we will be adding a rounded, longer hem in the back to modernize the style a bit and teach you a new technique- So let’s get started!
Here is a straight-silhouette dress that we want to turn into a high-low blouse.
Step 1: Try on the dress or tunic you want to alter into a blouse and mark with a pencil (preferably a water soluble fabric one) or fabric chalk (if you have it) the new desired length for your blouse. Mark with a horizontal dash. If you’re not sure how long you’d like the blouse to be, you can try a few different lengths by folding the dress up (inwards) and placing a few pins along the edge to hold the fold in place.
Step 2: The dash line you marked with the pencil on your dress represents the actual hem of the new blouse. In order to clean-finish the hem however, we need to add a hem allowance. This is excess fabric that goes bellow the hemline in order to be folded up for clean finishing. The allowance we’ll be working with for altering this dress is 1”. We highly recommend working with 1” hem allowances because it offers enough excess for easy sewing and adds some room for error if you find out the blouse is too short and you want to lengthen it.
To mark the hem allowance, measure from the marked horizontal dash 1” down and add another parallel, horizontal dash bellow using your marking pencil. This second dash bellow represents the raw edge of your blouse as well as the cutting line.
Step 4: Using your ruler and your fabric marking pencil, connect the dash lines into a straight line horizontally across the front. This line will represent the cutting line as well as the raw edge of your blouse which will need to be double folded for clean finishing.
Marking the longer, rounded hem in the back.
Step 5: Lay your dress flat down on the table with the back side of the dress facing up. Using the measurement in the previous steps (10" for us), measure up from the hem at both side seams of the dress and mark with a dash line. This will mark where your curve will start at the side-back as well as ensure that your back curve will smoothly connect to the straight lined hem on the front.
Step 6: To create the longer, rounded hem at the back of the blouse, first you need to find the horizontal middle point of the dress' existing hem. To find this point, you can measure across the back's existing hem, divide the measurement in half, and mark the half point. Our dress has a vertical seam right down center back, so we can use that as a refference instead.
Decide how much lower you want the hem to be in the back and subtract this measurement from the one you’ve been working with so far (10" for us). In our example bellow, we are lowering the hem 2 inches. This means that we need to subtract 2" from the full measurement (10") and use this new measurement to measure up (in a vertical line) from the horizontal middle point on the existing hem. Note the measurement with a dash line. In our case, since we are lowering our hem about 2 inches, our middle back vertical measurement from existing hem is 8" (10"-2"=8"). We recommend that you don’t lower the hem too much at the back, because the lower the hem the rounder the hem-line will be, which can sometimes make it difficult to stitch when clean finishing . Stay within 1”-2 1/2” if you’re a beginner.
Step 7. Using your marking pencil, free hand a semi curve starting at the side-seam pencil dash towards the center-back dash. Repeat the step on the remaining half portion, trying to keep the curves as symmetric as possible. Make sure that when the semi-curve connects at the center back, it connects into a straight line- this will keep the curve clean and easier to sew.
Step 8: Now that you have the raw edge marked all around, cut along it with a good pair of scissors. Remember that your actual hem line is 1” above the raw edge. You will have to clean finish the edge to achieve the designated length for your blouse.
Here's what the "rough draft" of your blouse should be looking like once cut!
Clean-finishing the hem (hem allowance of 1")
Here's what your finished hem should look like.
Enjoy your new blouse!
So what is really the easiest way to learn how to sew? So many people would love to learn this craft but very few actually have the patience to get through the semi-confusing, overwhelming initial stage of figuring out sewing patterns and confidently working the sewing machine. Sewing does require some patience and practice, but there is no reason why it should be confusing and overly-complicated. The average person who wants to learn how to sew, doesn’t need to master complex tailoring methods or sew complex garments.
The main problem with getting started is where and how? You can go to the fabric store and buy a “simple” sewing pattern and fabric, but things start getting complicated when the sewing pattern is ambiguous and you’re still very confused on the supplies and tools you need to have. It is this frustrating reality that has inspired us to create the Learn to Sew Box: a comprehensive and extremely simple start-to-finish guide for sewing a simple A-line dress. The box includes simple Front and Back sewing patterns in the size of your choice, a beautiful crepe fabric in the print of your choice, and all the sewing supplies you need for the project. As an added bonus, included in the box is an email address which you can contact anytime you run into issues or have additional questions! The awesome thing about it is that everything included (aside from you fabric) is reusable so you can make an infinite number of dresses! The idea is that if you learn how to sew a simple dress from start to finish, you will develop the skills necessary to sew blouses and skirts, moving on to more complicated styles further down the road.
In the paragraphs that follow you will have an opportunity to tour the Learn To Sew Box and learn a bit more behind the process of sewing a professional A-line dress from start to finish.
1. The sewing pattern, fabric and supplies.
The first sewing patterns you work with are the deciding factor to whether you’ll continue to want to learn how to sew or just throw in the towel on the first day. You will need very simple, good quality patterns that are easy to read and understand (without a fashion design degree). The sewing patterns provided in this box are most likely the simplest you’ve ever seen. First of all, you get to pick your size right from the start so you automatically eliminate the hassle of breaking down the markings of a commercial pattern just to extract the correct size. It comes in three very simple choices: Small, Medium, Large. We purposely stayed away from numbered sizing maintaining a very simple way to get started. The patterns are based on a standard, industrial model and have only the essential markings you need to complete the dress. The flaw with commercial patterns you buy at the fabric store is that they try to cover too much information on a single piece of paper. Although, there are positive aspects to that, these sewing patterns are essentially way too complicated for the sewing beginner.
As mentioned above, included in the box are sewing patterns for the Front and Back of the A line dress. We tried to stay away from complicated darts and style-lines and opted for two simple bust darts on the front. This way, you will learn how to transfer these darts to fabric correctly as well as sew and understand their purpose. We provide basic understanding of seam allowance and hem allowance and label each line of the pattern markings so you get a better understanding of what the pattern is displaying.
One of the greatest challenges for the beginner when sewing anything, but especially a dress, is choosing the right fabric so that the final drapes correctly and feels comfortable. The printed step-by-step guide included in the Learn To Sew Box gives you examples of fabric content that works best for this particular dress style. The fabric included in the box, which comes with your choice of prints, is a crepe dress-weight which has the most beautiful silky drape. We wanted you to actually be able to wear the dress YOU make yourself with ease and comfort.
2. Cutting out the fabric.
Although you’ll need a good pair of scissors for this step, you don’t have to make an extra trip to the fabric store for pins because they are provided in this box. Understanding how to lay your sewing pattern on fabric is an important initial step before effectively pining and cutting it. Your sewing pattern should be laid flat on the fabric in correlation to the fabric selvage edge and pinned at the edges correctly to maintain stability during cutting and marking. Cutting a sewing pattern smoothly takes some patience and practice, and we encourage you to try to achieve smooth and precise cutting lines to the best of your ability! The Learn to Sew Box has a verbal and visual step by step guide from laying out the pattern on fabric, pinning and cutting it correctly.
3. Transferring pattern markings to fabric.
Marking a pattern on fabric relates to transferring important elements from the paper pattern to the fabric , which is later used as a guide when sewing the garment together. As a sewing beginner, it is essential you understand darts and notches and transferring them correctly to fabric. Darts are used for woven fabrics and are the key element that establishes the fit and 3-dimensionality of a garment. Darts are the deciding factor when it comes to how a garment will fit and it’s level of comfort. Notches on the other hand, are not something you see on the outside but play a key role when it comes to putting each seam together. Think of puzzle pieces and how they have to align in order to fit together. Notches are little slits in the seam allowance that correspond to each other allowing the proper alignment of the fabric pieces. The detailed (yet simple) process of sewing the A-line dress included in the Box will teach you how to transfer your dart lines to the fabric in two simple steps, using a water-soluble pencil we provide, without the need for tracing paper and a tracing wheel. In addition, we’ll give you a comprehensive look into how to mark notches and match them in the sewing process.
4. Sewing the dress.
If you’ve attempted to learn how to sew before without much luck, chances are you probably invested in a sewing machine already. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a professional dress marker, a sewing machine is great to have anytime you need to fix tares or make alterations. The good news is, you can find good quality sewing machines at your local fabric store for a very reasonable price- it is definitely worth the investment! Unfortunately, our Learn to Sew Box does not come with a sewing machine… It does however come with a seam ripper ready to bail you out if mistakes are made (and there usually are quite a few in the learning process) and a custom-made binding that matches the fabric of your choice. The sewing process includes guidelines on how to match seams, backstitch, serge or zig zag your raw edges, the correct way to iron seam and dart excess, how to clean-finish a hem, and clean finishing the armholes and neckline with pre-folded binding (included). All of these are elements you will consistently come across when sewing women’s clothing, so mastering them in a simple step-by-step way with this Box will pave the way for completing more complex sewing projects in the future. We chose to use binding as a clean-finishing element for both the armhole and neckline because of its capabilities and wide range of use. Once you know how to sew binding properly, it will become your go-to for a lot of different sewing projects not limited to the clothing industry.
5. Tips and Tricks.
Throughout the years, as I was working hard to develop my dressmaking skills professionally and producing seasonal collections by hand form paper to fabric, I wish I had someone next to me at all times giving me pointers and letting me in on the secrets. I would’ve probably avoided many mistakes and pitfalls along the way. Now however, I finally realize that those so called “mistakes” and challenges were actually a way for me to open my eyes and develop smarter, faster and more resourceful options for advancing my sewing skills. These little tricks I’ve learned along the way are included as tips throughout the sewing tutorial provided in the box: Some are things you’ve probably heard of before but others are little secrets I’ve developed for myself that have helped me with easier and more efficient sewing!
An extra added bonus:
Because the Learn How to Sew Box is about you and how you can better develop your skills without quitting in the first stages, we’ve included an email address that is available to you any time you have a question or run into difficulties in your learning process. Please use the email provided in the box to contact us any time, we will be more than happy to help you achieve your greatest potential.
Most importantly, enjoy and have fun!
A journey into our design process, sewing tutorials, fashion tips, and all the inspiring people and things we love.
Today, allow yourself a few moments to explore and feel inspired because everyday is an opportunity to learn something new. Never stop searching for what makes you truly happy.