What Is Basting:
Basting is a longer hand or machine stitch that is used as a stabilizer to hold layers of fabric together in the sewing process. It serves as a tool for fitting, quilting, home decor and shaping a variety of different garment finishes like gathers, sleeves and ruffles. Basting is an important tool used in tailoring to maintain structure in the construction process and ensure that everything aligns accurately before receiving a final stitch. A quick basting stitch can save you from having to redo zippers, neckline and armhole facings/lining, and other finishes that require proper alignment. Basting can be comprised of even or uneven stitches. Uneven stitching is a quick way to baste for fitting purposes or to keep layers of fabric together, after which the stitch is removed. Even basting is also a non-permanent stitch but has more control and structure- used on sleeves, gathers, some hems and quilting techniques.
Machine Basting: What is it and when to machine baste?
Basting on the sewing machine simply requires that you stitch at the highest setting available for the longest stitch. Using a machine for basting is more common for instances when the stitch isn't necessarily removed afterwards. Such finishes include: gathers, set-in sleeves, quilting and hemming. In order to achieve gathers, you must use a basting stitch to bundle the fabric together evenly- this is properly achieved by using a basting stitch on the sewing machine which will ensure that the gathers are spread evenly and hold their shape during the sewing process. Same goes for sewing in a sleeve which requires a pair of basting stitches along the cap's seam allowance in order to give it a 3 dimensional, round shape. Another use for machine basting is aligning zippers before sewing them permanently. If you're a sewing beginner, you'll find that sewing a zipper with the use of pins alone proves to be very tricky. Basting, whether on the machine or by hand, allows you to keep the zipper in place before adding the final stitches.
Hand Basting: When to Use It.
Our policy on hand basting is that you should use it whenever you feel like you need extra stability that pins alone can't achieve. Uneven hand basting in apparel construction is used temporarily as a fast and easy technique to hold various layers together keeping them flat and aligned for final stitching. This ensures that the final garment fits and aligns properly at every edge and seam. Hand basting is most commonly used in tailoring as a way to keep collars, facings, lapels and hems flat during the construction process. On regular garments, hand basting is a great tool for keeping linings and facings laying flat around the neckline, armholes and center front before everything is finalized. It also serves as a convenient way to stabilize zippers and hems before applying final finishes. During fittings, you can quickly hand baste along any edges and excess that needs to be taken in, thus achieving a perfect fit. Hand basting is almost always removed once its purpose is served.
Even hand basting features evenly spaced, usually same-length stitches providing more structure and close control. It is used on curved seams and round edges, set-in sleeve caps and seams with excess ease fabric requiring even distribution.
Types of Basting Stitches and How to Sew Them
Uneven Hand Basting Stitch:
As described above, uneven hand basting is a quick and effective way to stabilize layers or temporarily attach zippers and trims to a garment before final stitching. A straight, uneven hand baste is applied when looking to keep edges flat and layers of fabric together in a quick fashion. It is a general basting techniques used during the construction process to facilitate control during permanent machine stitching, as well as for marking and fitting purposes.
How to sew an uneven hand basting stitch:
1. Insert your hand needle through the layers of fabric that require basting a few times in the direction required for the stitch placement. You do not need to create even stitches throughout so don't worry about the size and distance between each stitch.
2. Pull the thread to create uneven hand stitches that temporarily hold the layers of fabric together. Your basting stitch doesn't always have to be straight- It can be curved or angular depending on the purpose of the basting.
Uneven basting stitches have different sized spaces in between each stitch, and the hand stitches are also not even. As mentioned above, it is the quickest, easiest way to baste as well as the most commonly used.
Even Hand Basting Stitch:
Even hand basting is made of equally sized stitches and equally sized spaces between these stitches (floats). These hand stitches are usually shorter in length than those of uneven basting. Even basting is used on areas that require close control and stability. It works well on very curved seams and round hems, as well as a variety of different sleeves and edges that are difficult to pin. Additionally, more dense, even basting is used for decorative purposes and in quilting to hold thicker layers of fabric together permanently.
Sewing an even hand basting stitch:
1. Just like you did for the uneven basting stitch, insert the needle through the fabric layers but this time making sure that the stitches are aligned at the same distance throughout. This means that the floats (space between stitches) are exactly the same length on both sides. Even basting also ensures that the stitches are the same length.
2. Pull the thread to insert the basting gently resulting in a smooth stitch that is stable but not too tight as to wrinkle the fabric.
As mentioned above, make sure both the stitches and the floats in between are the same length. This provides a lot more stability and close control.
Diagonal basting is a temporary hand stitch that is applied to keep a larger surface area flat. It consists of a group of horizontal/diagonal stitches that are placed parallel to each other forming parallel floats (spaces) in between. Shorter diagonal basting stitches allow for more control and are commonly used to keep seam allowance flat and seam lines open during stitching or pressing. Larger diagonal basting with larger spaces in between allow for less close control. This is a great stitch for facings and certain linings that require control over a larger area. It is also commonly used to keep seams closed and overlapping edges straight during sewing while handling and ironing the garment- examples include skirt/dress vents and various styles of pockets.
Larger floats or a larger space between the diagonal parallel basting stitches provides less control and faster basting. This is used on larger surface areas like facings, lining and certain collars where less control and stability is needed.
Diagonal basting creates horizontal parallel stitch lines on the back. Just like the face side, the horizontal basting stitches on the wrong side are placed parallel, at exactly the same distance throughout.
Sewing a diagonal basting stitch:
Start at a point on the fabric and insert stitches horizontally or diagonally parallel to one another thus keeping the layers of fabric together across. A shorter space in between each stitch as pictured above will result in tighter basting and provide more stability and close control.
Slip basting is a hand basting technique used when temporarily connecting a folded edge to a flat surface. Just like a permanent slip-stitch, slip basting is less visible on the surface of the garment. However, as opposed to a regular slip stitch, slip basting is uneven and not permanent. It is used to temporarily match various plaid and stripe prints at the seams, as well as for fitting corrections made on the right side of the garment. It is also used on very curved sections that feature a curved fold/seam.
Sewing a slip basting stitch:
1. Catch the edge of the fold with your hand sewing needle at about 1/4" as shown above. You may slip baste at a very wide stitch ratio or a smaller one depending on the level of tight basting control your project requires.
2. Insert a horizontal hand stitch on the fabric bellow also measuring approximately 1/4". For easier basting, apply a few pins horizontally keeping both the fold and flat piece of fabric together for stitching.
3. Repeat this two-step process for the rest of the slip basting stitch by alternating basting stitches through the fold at the top and the flat surface of the fabric underneath.
4. Continue stitching until the fold is connected to the fabric throughout. Don't forget to remove each pin as you get closer to it.
Drafting sewing patterns may seem a bit intimidating for a sewing beginner but it is actually quite simple if the proper techniques are learned from the beginning. When it comes to pattern-making, you should keep things as simple yet as accurate as possible. There is really no need for complicated, expensive sewing tools. A few basic tools that can tackle a number of jobs is all that's necessary for drafting simple patterns as a sewing beginner.
All you need for making a basic sewing pattern is: An 18" clear plastic ruler, an unmarked french curve, a pencil (preferably mechanical) and an eraser. These 4 tools are essential for pattern-makers of all levels, and the good news is, they are easy to find at your local art/crafts store and fairly inexpensive.
Want to learn how to sew and make your own patterns? These are the basic sewing tools/supplies you should have.
If you already have a front and back pattern of your garment, drafting a facing is actually quite easy. You can use the garment's patterns as a canvas for all your facings. Once they are drafted, all you have to do is transfer them to a separate piece of pattern paper, add seam allowance and they'll be ready for cutting and sewing.
In the patterning tutorial bellow, we are working with marked patterning paper. If you don't have access to professional pattern paper, as many beginner dressmakers don't, there are a number of pattern paper substitutes you can use instead. These substitutes are easy to find and won't cost you a fortune.
In this patterning tutorial, we are working with Front and Back cut-on-fold patterns. This means that our facings will also be drafted on fold along the Center Front and Center Back. Cutting a Sewing Pattern On Fold is an important sewing technique that will save you space and pattern paper if you make your own clothing at home.
Note: You can always turn a cut-on-fold facing pattern into a full pattern by duplicating the cut-on-fold facing thus forming two symmetric sides.
It is up to you how wide you want the neck facing to be but make sure it is not so narrow that it flops to the outside of the garment during wear. Below, we'll show you how to draft a round facing that is the same width throughout. You can always play around with the shape of your facings as long as they are drafted accurately to the sewing patterns as shown.
Our neckline facing will be 2.5 inches wide and distributed evenly along the front and back neckline.
1. On the front pattern, starting at the shoulder seam, measure 2.5" away from the neckline and add a dash line.
2. Add another dash line at a short distance bellow, also measuring 2.5" inches away from the neckline.
3. Repeat this process along the neckline by marking dash lines at exactly 2.5" inches away form the neckline throughout.
As you continue to add the dash marks at 2.5" away along the neckline you'll notice the curve of the facing start to form.
4. When you get to the Center Front, make sure you mark a horizontal dash that is perpendicular to the Center Front line at 2.5" bellow neckline (as shown in the image above). Because the pattern is cut on fold along the Center Front, so will our neckline facing. Adding a straight horizontal line will ensure that when the facing is cut on fold and opened the front bottom curve remains smooth.
The dash lines create the initial blue print for the neckline facing.
5. Use a plain french curve to connect the dash lines into a smooth curve.
Note: You wont be able to connect the dash lines with a single french curve placement. Move the french curve around as necessary to smoothly connect all the dash marks.
Once completed, the neckline facing draft is ready to be transferred to a separate piece of pattern paper. The curve displays the bottom of the finished facing. Once transferred, you will have to add seam allowance to this curved edge.
The thing to remember about pattern paper is that just like fabric, it has a face side and a wrong side: The marked side is the face and the unmarked-the wrong side. This is important when drafting patterns especially for facings because they are a mirror image of the garment's edge.
6. On a separate piece of pattern paper, draw a straight line with your ruler and a pencil on the face side of the pattern paper (marked side).
Most often, transferring the facing draft from the garment's sewing pattern to a separate piece of pattern paper requires additional tools like a tracing wheel and tracing paper. To simplify the process, we'll show you how to cut some corners and use just your pencil and ruler.
7. Place the separate piece of pattern paper on top of the garment's patterns with the marked side facing down, aligning the vertical line directly on top of the Center Front line of the pattern. The reason you don't need tracing paper for this is because white paper is semi-transparent so you can easily overlap the two vertical lines and transfer your pencil markings.
The facing lines are easy to spot and transfer to the separate sheet of pattern paper but make sure once you overlap the two layers of paper, they do not move around during transfer. If necessary, you may use masking tape to keep the two pieces of paper from shifting.
8. Making sure both layers of paper are properly aligned without moving, use your pencil to transfer the facing markings from the garment's sewing pattern onto the back of the separate piece of pattern paper.
9. Use your ruler to transfer the straight line of the shoulder seam and the dash lines along the curved edges of the neckline and bottom of facing.
You don't need to transfer the Center Front line because it is already marked on the right side of the pattern paper.
10. Turn your pattern paper face up and you'll be able to see the facing markings you transferred to the back. Due to the paper's semi-transparency you'll be able to easily transfer them to the right side of the pattern paper.
11. Using your ruler and pencil, transfer the dash lines of the curves and the straight line of the shoulder seam to the right side of the pattern paper as shown above.
Make sure the facing's bottom dash is a straight horizontal line, perpendicular to the Center Front. This will ensure that the facing's bottom edge is smooth when cut on fold.
12. Use your french curve to connect all the dash lines into smooth curves along the neckline and bottom edge of the facing.
Keep in mind that as mentioned above, you wont be able to connect each curve with a single french curve position, You'll have to move the french curve along the dash lines to connect them into a final smooth curve.
The cut-on-fold front facing is now complete but it's missing seam allowance and a grain line.
13. Use your clear plastic ruler to add the proper seam allowance along all the edges.
Our seam allowance around the neckline and shoulder edges is 1/2". The bottom edge of the facing has a seam allowance of 1/4".
Moving your ruler along the curve, add dash lines at 1/2" distance form the neckline's edge.
14. Using your french curve, connect the seam allowance dash lines as described above.
15. Repeat the process for the bottom edge of the facing, but measuring 1/4" away from the bottom curve.
Use your french curve to connect the dash lines into a smooth curve.
16. Cut the final facing along the outer edge of the seam allowance carefully around all the curved lines.
17. Add a lengthwise grain line parallel to the Center Front line and mark the Center Front (CF) edge with the proper cut-on-fold symbol for your reference. This will assist you in placing and cutting your pattern later.
Repeat the process described above for the back neckline facing.
Just like the front facing, start at the shoulder seam and add dash lines at 2.5" away from the neckline using your 18" clear plastic ruler.
Make sure the Center Back dash line is a horizontal line perpendicular to the Center Back line.
Use your french curve to connect the dash lines and don't forget that you'll have to shift the french curve around in order to connect all the dash lines smoothly into a continuous curve.
Once the facing draft is complete, use a separate piece of pattern paper placed face down to transfer the facing markings.
Use dash lines for the curves and a straight line for the shoulder seam to transfer the draft of the back neckline facing to the wrong side of the pattern paper (unmarked)
Turn the pattern paper face up so that the marked side is facing you, and use your ruler to transfer the facing pencil markings from the back onto the front.
Using your french curve, connect all the dash lines into smooth curves. Use a straight ruler for the shoulder seam.
Using your clear plastic ruler, add the seam seam allowance to the back facing as you did for the front facing. The back and front facing will be sewn together so they have to have the same exact seam allowance throughout. In this case, we added 1/2" for all seams except the bottom edge of the facing which is 1/4" seam allowance.
Add a vertical grain line parallel to the Center Back and mark the Center Back as the cut-on-fold line using the cut-on-fold double pointed arrow shown above. For your reference, label the facing pattern as "back neck facing". Labeling patterns is a good habit to develop from the beginning because it keeps you organized and facilitates the cutting and sewing process.
Just like you did for the front facing, cut out the neckline pattern along the seam allowance being careful along the most curved edges.
Learning how to sew ruffles as a sewing beginner will help you get a better understanding of fabric fullness and drape. While ruffles are a great way to add a decorative aspect to dresses and blouses, they can also be used to control length and shape around the hem and sleeves. Ruffles can be constructed in a variety of different lengths, fullness and drape.
Two Types of Ruffles You Should Know
There are two main styles of ruffles that differ in the way they are cut and constructed: Straight ruffles and circular ruffles.
Straight ruffles are cut in the shape of a strip and need to be gathered to achieve fullness.
Circular ruffles are cut in a circular shape which provides fullness once the inner edge is straightened and sewn into a seam. If it sounds a bit confusing, don't worry! We'll show you how to cut and sew both of these ruffle styles bellow.
Gathered Straight Ruffles
As perhaps the easiest of the two, it requires you to cut the ruffle into a straight strip which is gathered to achieve fullness. If you are sewing beginner this is a great way to practice gathering simultaneously to learning how to sew a ruffle.
A plain ruffle is the most commonly used straight ruffle and features a single finished hem edge and a second gathered edge that gets sewn into a seam (or another raw edge). This ruffle style is mostly used for apparel products and is very easy to cut and sew.
A double ruffle has two finishes hems on opposite ends but the gathering stitch is applied right along the middle of the two edges. The gathering is then either top-stitched to the garment or another reinforcement like twill tape or binding. A double ruffle is great for achieving double the fullness of a regular ruffle in lighter-weight fabrics featuring a fluid drape. It is also a great way to apply an ornamental double row of ruffles to more structured fabrics.
A heading ruffle has two finished hems and is gathered at a shorter distance from one of the hems. As opposed to a plain ruffle, a ruffle with a heading is not sewn into a seam but rather forms two reflecting ruffles of different sizes using gathering alone. To set the gathering in place it is then top stitched to the garment or to a strip of twill tape or binding. Although this type of ruffle is also used in apparel, it is most commonly found on drapery and decorative upholstery items.
Clean Finishing a Ruffle Hem
When clean finishing ruffles you should keep in mind that the backside of the fabric will be visible from certain angles or during movement. This means that both face and back side of fabric should be completely clean finished. A baby hem, which is double folded and top-stitched at 1/8"-1/4" intervals, is the most common way to finish ruffle hems. For a more luxurious feel or when the ruffle's back side requires less visibility, a self-facing can be used. A ruffle that is self-faced is basically folded onto itself to hide the wrong side of the fabric and usually used on fine, lightweight fabrics. Hem tape, twill tape and binding can also be used to finish ruffle hems, but these finishes are usually more appropriate for medium to heavy weight fabrics that are thicker and have more structure.
Sewing A Straight Ruffle
Decide the ruffle strip's length.
In order to determine how long the initial fabric strip should be, ask yourself how much fullness you need/want your gathered ruffle to have? Normally, for a fully gathered ruffle you need about twice the measurement of the finished length- meaning, you need twice more excess than the seam or raw edge you are sewing the ruffle to. However, you could do less or more excess depending on the fabric and the fullness desired. A general rule is that a finer, wider ruffle should be fuller thus requiring more excess fabric.
In this sewing tutorial we are working with a ruffle that is 2.5 times the original length.
In the image above, the ruffle strip is 2.5 inches longer than the seam it gets sewn to above. Once the longer piece (ruffle) is gathered, it is sewn into the edge of the non-gathered piece next to it.
Finish the ruffle's hem first!
Our ruffle hem/seam allowance is 1/2" and we are working with a lighter-weight fabric. In this case, a double folded machine stitch will work best for clean finishing the hem's raw edge.
1. Turn one of the lengthwise raw edges in towards the wrong side of the fabric (inside of garment) at 1/4" and iron as you fold. Fold once more at 1/4", iron as you fold and place a few pins along the edge to keep the fold in place.
Place the pins perpendicular along the fold for easy removal during stitching.
2. Machine stitch along the fold (on the wrong side of the fabric) using the fold line as a guide.
The ruffle's hem is now complete.
The reason the hem is finished first is due to the fact that it's raw edge is more difficult to work with once the ruffle is gathered and sewn into the seam.
Add two gathering stitches.
3. Set your sewing machine to a basting stitch and machine stitch at about 1/2" down from the remaining raw edge. The reason why the first basting stitch is applied at 1/2" down from the edge is because that is our seam allowance. If you are working with a different seam allowance, use that measurement instead.
4. Apply a second basting stitch at half the distance between the raw edge and the first basting stitch- 1/4" in our case.
Allow enough excess thread at the beginning and end of the basting stitches to facilitate gathering.
5. Align the ruffle's edge to the corresponding seam edge making sure the face of the fabric is touching, and insert a pin at one end to keep the two layers together.
6. Wrap the loose stitch threads around the pin as shown above. This will keep the basting stitch from coming out when the thread is pulled from the opposite end during gathering. Just wrap the thread up and down in a crisscrossing motion until the stitch is stabilized.
7. Begin pulling the two threads on the opposite end of the ruffle carefully, spreading the gathering evenly as you pull.
When forming the ruffle, your goal is to achieve evenly distributed gathering that is exactly the length of the edge it is sewn to.
The easiest way to gather a more dense ruffle is to first pull the gathering all the way to the opposite end, then keep pulling the basting threads to add gathering until the desired length is achieved.
8. Once the correct length is achieved, use a pin or your fingers to distribute the gathering evenly throughout and add pin to hold the two layers in place on the other end.
9. Repeat the step described above by wrapping the loose threads of the basting stitch around the pin to lock the basting in place. This will stop the gathering from coming undone and allow you to pin the rest of the seam together evenly.
10. Pin the seam together horizontally making sure the gathering remains evenly distributed and the raw edges are aligned properly.
11. Making sure your sewing machine is set at a regular stitch now (not basting), apply a straight stitch right bellow the bottom gathering stitch. Use the bottom gathering stitch as a guide and sew consistently bellow it and as close to it as possible.
As shown above, the gathering stitch remains consistently above the regular seam stitch.
12. Iron ONLY the seam allowance and never directly on top of the ruffle. Ironing on top of gathering loses fullness and flattens the gathered seam.
13. Clean finish the raw edge of the seam allowance. We've used a serging stitch, but if you don't have a serging machine you can use a regular zig zag stitch on your home sewing machine. However, make sure your zig zag stitch is set at the densest setting.
Other options for clean finishing ruffle seams are by using binding or a french seam (in some cases).
14. Iron the seam with the seam allowance pointing away from the ruffle as shown above. This will ensure that the seam stays flat while the ruffle gathering maintains its fullness.
As opposed to straight ruffles, circular ruffles are cut in the shape of a larger circle which has another smaller circle cut in the center of it. When the edge of the inner circle is straightened the body of the fabric creates a clean, beautifully draping ruffle. Because the fabric is cut in a circular shape, the ruffle is able to encompass all directions of the grain including the bias, which gives each ruffle fold a luxurious look/feel.
Sewing a Circular Ruffle
The inner curve will be sewn to a straight edge. When the inner curve is straightened, it forms a set of softly draping ruffles without the use of gathering.
Because the hem of a circle ruffle is curved, it requires a hem finish that is most appropriate for curved edges. The most commonly used techniques are a baby hem, or a bound finish which uses double folded binding constructed of matching fabric.
We will be using a baby hem for clean finishing our circle ruffle. A baby hem uses the technique of a regular double folded machine stitch hem but the folds are very thin- 1/8" wide or less per fold. It works best on curved edges of lightweight fabrics because smaller folds are easier to manipulate along curved edges thus resulting in a smoother, more even finish.
Our seam allowance for the circle ruffle is 1/4" on both inner and outer curves. A smaller seam allowance is easier to work with around curved edges.
1. Fold the outer curved edge of the ruffle at 1/8" once towards the wrong side of the fabric (inside of garment) and iron to keep the fold in place. Fold once more at 1/8" to enclose the raw edge- iron and pin this final fold to stabilize for stitching.
Because the raw edges are curved, it will take some practice to get the folds smooth and even. Your first baby hem wont be perfect but remember to be patient and keep practicing!
2. Machine stitch right above the fold line using it as a guide. For a smoother stitch, go slower along the most curved areas.
The baby hem should have a consistently smooth stitch line placed at the same distance from the edge throughout.
3. Starting at one end, pin the inner curve of the circle ruffle to the straight edge of the seam making sure the face of the fabric is touching (the wrong side of the ruffle should be facing the outside). This is when you'll first start to notice the ruffle form.
4. Continue pinning perpendicular to the edge until the entire seam is pinned and the two layers of fabric are attached.
5. Stitch the seam at 1/4" seam allowance.
As mentioned above, we are using 1/4" seam allowance on the ruffle's edges. A smaller seam allowance is recommended for circle ruffles because it is easier to work with along curved edges. It will create less tension in the seam and not require manually clipping the seam allowance for tension release.
6. Finish the ruffle seam's raw edge with your chosen finishing technique. The easiest and least expensive is by using a serging or zig zag stitch. This also minimizes bulk and allows for the seam to lay flatter on the outside of the garment. A matching fabric, bound finish may also be used.
As displayed above, we've applied a serging stitch along the edge of the ruffle seam to clean finish it.
7. As a final step, iron the ruffle's seam with the seam allowance pointing up, away from the ruffle. This will ensure that the ruffle drapes well and maintain a smooth seam on the face of the garment.
Clean finishing a round neckline with a facing creates a more elevated, tailored look. Facings are a great addition to styles constructed of medium to heavy weight fabrics that are difficult to finish with top-stitched binding. Facings are usually considered a higher quality addition used for styles that are less casual. If you are in the process of learning how to sew, attaching a facing to a round neckline is one of the first sewing techniques you should learn. Once you understand the process needed to achieve a smooth, clean-finished neckline you can apply the same steps to attach armhole, sleeve cuff and center front facings. Applying a facing will also teach you techniques like clipping the seam allowance for tension release, stay-stitching and under-stitching, which are equally important in the sewing process.
You can learn how to draft a round neckline facing pattern from scratch using your garment's sewing pattern. Learn the step by step process on last week's blog: How To Make A Sewing Pattern For a Round Neckline Facing.
Cutting Out The Neckline Facing Patterns
In this tutorial, our sewing patterns are drafted to be cut on fold.
1. Fold the fabric parallel to the selvage edge so that the face of the fabric is on the inside of the fold. When cutting on fold, you should always pin and cut your patterns on the wrong side of the fabric.
2. Align the cut-on-fold line of your Front sewing pattern (Center Front) to the fabric's fold. Pin the pattern in place at the seam allowance through both layers of the fabric.
Here's a quick reminder on how to correctly pin and cut a sewing pattern.
3. Repeat this step with the back facing, aligning the Center Back fold line to the fabric's fold and pinning through both layers of the fabric.
4. Cut out the facings carefully around all curved edges.
The facing's edge should be a smooth curved line and cut precisely to the sewing pattern.
5. Remove the pins and unfold the facings. You will notice that for a classic round neckline, the front facing is always more curved than the back. Understanding this will help you correctly position the facing to the raw edge of the neckline.
Sewing The Neck Facing
6. Pin shoulder edges of the front and back facings together so that the face of both fabric layers are touching (the wrong side of the fabric should be on the outside).
For more stability and easy removal during sewing, apply the pins perpendicular to the seam.
7. Machine stitch both shoulder seams at the correct seam allowance (our seam allowance is 1/2"). Don't forget to back-stitch on your sewing machine at the beginning and end of the stitch.
8. Iron the seam allowance open on the inside of the facing.
9. Once the facing's shoulder seams are connected and ironed, apply a finishing method to the bottom raw edge of the facing. Depending on the fabric you are working with, the most common techniques for clean finishing a facing's raw edge is by serging, with a baby hem (for lightweight fabrics), binding, or machine stitching.
You may also use a zig-zag stitch on your home sewing machine but make sure your machine is set at the correct tension balance for the fabric being used.
We clean finished our facing's raw edge with a serging stitch along the bottom.
Do not clean finish the inner circle of the pattern- this edge will be sewn to the neckline's raw edge and does not require serging or any other finishing technique.
10. Pin the facing's raw edge to the neckline's edge starting at the shoulder seams. Match the shoulder seams of the garment perfectly to the facing's shoulder seams and place a pin through both seams. Make sure the right sides of the fabric are touching.
The shoulder seams should be matching perfectly.
11. Once you've stabilized the shoulder seams, apply pins perpendicularly along the rest of the neckline's raw edge.
12. Machine stitch along the neckline's edge at the correct seam allowance (1/2" in our tutorial). This will take some practice along the more curved edge of the neckline. How smooth this stitch line is will ultimately determine the final shape of the neckline so take your time when applying this stitch.
The final result should be a smooth, curved stitch maintaining the correct seam allowance throughout.
13. Clip the seam allowance with your scissors at the more curved areas using a wedge clip to release tension along the more curved areas of the neckline. Be careful not to cut through the actual stitch- the snip should be placed at about 1 mm away from the stitch.
For added tension release add a few notch clips along the back neckline and between the already clipped wedges where needed. Be careful not to over clip the fabric- this could weaken the seam and create a less-durable, unstable edge.
14. Iron the facing's seam pointing away from the garment as shown bellow. This step will prepare the facing for stay-stitching, which is a necessary step in ensuring that the facing lays flat on the inside of the garment and the neckline's edges are consistently smooth throughout.
The seam allowance should be pointing towards the facing.
15. Stitch on top of the facing though the seam allowance on the back, at about 1/8" away from the seam. This is called under-stitching which ensure that the facing lays flat pointing towards the inside of the garment. It will take some time to get a perfectly even under-stitch if you are a sewing beginner but remember that practice makes perfect. The more even the under-stitch is the smoother the edge of the neckline will be.
16. Move the facing to the inside of the garment and iron the neckline's edge.
17. As a final step, it is necessary that you tack the facing at the seams on the inside of the garment. This means applying a loop stitch through the facing and garment's seam allowance to stabilize the facing ensuring that it stays on the inside of the garment permanently.
Match the facing's seams to the garment's seams on the inside and place a pin through to stabilize.
Keeping the pin inserted, hand stitch in place a few times attaching the facing to the garment's seam allowance.
Repeat this step on both sides of the seam allowance as shown bellow and don't forget to remove the pin once done.
Use the tacking method described above on all the garment's seams. This will result in a stable, flat facing that wont flip to the outside with wash and wear.
Learning how to sew is a journey filled with ups and downs and learning from mistakes. The challenge that comes along with it makes sewing one of the more difficult crafts to learn but also intriguing and quite satisfying. Sewing clothing properly is not just about what the finished product looks like on the outside- The sewing techniques applied on the inside and during the construction process equally affect what the final garment will look and feel like. That being said, you should devote a lot of attention to practicing the correct methods during the construction stage. One of them is understanding when and where to snip your fabric at the seam allowance for tension release.
What does "clipping (or snipping) the seam allowance" mean?
Clipping the seam allowance during sewing refers to cutting localized notches or wedges on the inside of the seam allowance in order to release tension along curves, V-shapes and other tight areas on the garment without compromising durability and long-term wear. This is normally used on woven fabrics that don't stretch. It is very rare that knits or high percentage spandex fabrics need to be snipped at the seam allowance because they are flexible enough to release tightness and tension on their own. It is important that in the process of learning how to sew, you understand when and where to clip your fabric correctly and vise versa: what are the places on your garment you should never add "snips" to. Technically, you should always try to have as little cuts on your fabric as possible (even if it's on the inside of the seam allowance) as too many necessary notches/wedges can weaken a garment. As you practice, you'll start to understand the limit to notching only the necessary curved edges of a clothing item for a smooth professional finish.
Where on the garment should seam allowance be clipped during the construction process?
The most common areas that require snipping at the seam allowance are round necklines, V-necklines and sleeveless armholes when attaching facings and linings to the raw edges. Snipping the fabric during the facing and lining process works hand-in-hand with under stitching. Used together, they create clean curves with flat, smooth edges. Other uses for snipping the fabric to release tightness are on princess seams (although it should be used carefully), round style lines, and very curved hems in some cases.
You should never snip the seam allowance at the armhole when it is sewn to a sleeve- this can weaken the seam and create future damage with movement and wear.
How to Correctly Clip The Fabric to Release The Right Amount of Tension.
There are two methods you could use to snip your seam allowance for added movement and tension release. We will discuss them bellow, but first, here are a few rules to remember when snipping a garment's seam allowance:
1. Snip carefully only around curved edges. Remember, you want to remove only the necessary amount of excess fabric without weakening the seam.
2. Clip up to about 1 mm or 1/8" away from the stitch line. It is not necessary, nor is it recommended that you snip your fabric right next to the stitch. This could also compromise durability and you may accidentally cut the actual stitch.
3. Use the wedge method (described below) for round necklines and seams. The wedge snip is perfect for inner curves because it creates a smother, more balanced edge. The notch clipping method is best used for quick tension release along less curved seams.
Wedge Method: A triangle shaped snip that allows for release of tension as well as minimizes seam allowance bulk. This is a great method to use around very curved edges like the neckline to achieve an extra smooth finish.
Notch Method: It is a single or group of straight clips done with a pair of scissors to release tension along a variety of different seams, usually less curved.
A combination of both methods can be used along the same seam: Fore example, you could clip a few wedges around the more curved areas and simply add a notch or two around the less curvy parts.
Clipping The Seam Allowance On a Faced, Round Neckline
Pictured bellow is the difference between a clipped and under-stitched round neckline and one that lacks clipping/under-stitching. As shown, clipping the seam allowance allows the facing to lay flat underneath and gives the curved edge a smooth, even definition.
Once the facing is stitched to the neckline at the right seam allowance, apply a few wedge clips with your scissors along the most curved edges of the seam allowance. Be careful not to cut through the actual stitch. Clip at about 1 mm away from the stitch.
Add a few notch clips along the areas that are less curved, such as the back neckline. This will further release tension without removing too much excess fabric.
Clipping a Faced V-neckline
Once the V-neck facing is attached, add a single notch clip vertically along the seam allowance right in the middle of the V at about 1 mm (or less) away from the stitch. You do not need to add any addition snips on the front neckline because the sides are already straight and will naturally lay flat once the facing is flipped over.
Add a few wedge snips along the seam allowance of the back neckline to release additional tension.
The extra wedge clips at the back will ensure the neckline lays flat along the more curved edge.
The single notch snip applied on the inside is enough to create a smooth, sharp V at the front and keep the facing flat on the inside.
Clipping Faced Armholes
After the facing is stitched to the raw edge of the armhole, add a few wedge clips along the under-arm curved edges at the bottom. To release extra tension, add a few notch clips to the less curved areas the top. You do not need to snip the seam allowance along the entire edge, only the curved areas.
After the seam allowance is clipped, the facing will be easily positioned towards the inside of the garment resulting in a smooth, clean edge that lays flat and is easy to iron.
Rumor has it that sleeping on a silk pillowcase is much easier on the skin, possibly reducing wrinkles and skin irritations during the night. The constant tossing and turning on a regular pillowcase doesn't hurt your skin by any means but it certainly adds to those sleep wrinkles we sometimes end up with in the morning. Although they go away in a matter of minutes (and sometimes even hours), it's always a good idea to stay away from things that unnecessarily wrinkle or irritate the skin, even if only temporarily.
If you do a quick Google search for "how to prevent face wrinkles" you'll find that one of the suggestions listed is sleeping on a silk pillowcase. Why? Well, silk fabric has a smooth, soft quality and doesn't form deep fabric wrinkles like cotton does. This allows the face to rest more flat and maintain a smooth surface throughout the night. In addition, silk is made of 100% natural fibers which means it is just as absorbent as cotton, allowing the skin to breath comfortably during the night. Speaking of comfort, silk feels extremely soft and luxurious on the skin which certainly contributes to a better night's sleep.
Now let's talk money: Silk is a more expensive fabric which means if you want to switch to silk pillowcases, it might turn out to be a bit of an investment. If you're not ready to dig into your savings just yet, no problem! Being the resourceful, crafty person that you are, you can actually make your own silk pillowcases. All you have to do is get the fabric and take out your trusty sewing machine. We'll show you the easiest way to do so bellow, but first a few things to remember about silk fabric:
1. Silk fibers can deteriorate with too much friction and heat which means washing it in warm to hot water is a big no-no. If your washer has a hand-wash setting always use it to wash your silks and makes sure the water is cold or cool. To be on the safe side, you can always gently wash silk by hand with soap or very gentle detergent.
2. When shopping for silk fabric, check the label for machine washable silk. Yes, there is such a thing and we have the goods to prove it. An example of machine-washable silk is a sueded silk which has been sand washed in an industrial setting about 5000 times to create a soft, "fuzzy"coating. This treatment allows for the silk to withstand much greater tolerance for friction which makes it perfect for everyday clothing and silk pillowcases. That being said, you should still take some precautions when machine washing it: Cold to cool water in addition to the most gentle setting you have available on your washing machine.
3. When sewing with silk, especially silk charmeuse and chiffon, it is recommended that instead of a zig-zag stitch or serging along the raw edges of the seam you use a french seam finish. This technique will not only ensure that the edges don't fray over time, but also creates an extremely high-quality, durable finish which should last you over a long period of time.
Note: If you have an overlock machine at home, you can certainly use that to finish the inside edges but we recommend using a more dense stitch setting and make sure the needles are sharp enough to avoid pulling on the sensitive silk fibers.
If a zig zag stitch is all that's available to you, we recommend a french seam for your pillowcases instead- It is not difficult and we'll show you how to do it bellow.
In this tutorial, we'll guide through both the french seam method and serging so that you get a better understanding of both.
Sewing The Silk Pillowcase
1. Get precise measurements from a pillowcase you already own:
Using a measuring tape, measure along the width and length of an existing pillowcase. A standard pillowcase is 19" wide by 29" long.
2. Add seam allowance to both measurements.
You will need to add 1/2" in seam allowance to the width measurement which will give you a total of 19 1/2".
Add an extra 5" to the lengthwise measurement totaling 34". The reason why a longer seam allowance is needed for the length is due to the fact that the pillowcase is folded and stitched to create the illusion of a wide band along the opening. The 5" excess also includes the 1/2" allowance necessary to sew the seam on the opposite end of the opening.
3. Fold the silk fabric lengthwise, ensuring that you have enough fabric for a 19.5" x 34" rectangle.
Using a ruler and a fabric water-soluble pencil, draw a straight line perpendicular to the bottom fold, about 1" away from the edge. This will ensure that the pillow has a straight side edge.
4. Starting at the fold, measure 19.5" inches up and mark a dash line with your fabric pencil.
Repeat this step at different areas of the fold to achieve an alignment of dash lines which will eventually be connected into a straight line.
5. Starting at the vertical line you drew initially in Step 3, align the measuring tape parallel to the lengthwise fold and mark a dash line at 34". Repeat the step at different areas of the vertical line thus marking an alignment of vertical dashes which will form a straight line.
6. Using a ruler and your fabric pencil, connect all the dash lines vertically and horizontally on the fabric resulting in a 19.5" x 34" rectangle.
7. Before cutting, place a few pins vertically on the inside of the rectangle. Silk has a fluid drape and is more difficult to cut. Pinning the fabric on the inner edge will hold the two layers of fabric together so that both receive an even cut.
8. Carefully cut the rectangular shape following along the pencil markings.
The result should be an evenly cut, double-layer rectangle with a lengthwise fold as displayed in the image above. You may now remove the stability pins.
9. Working with one of the two side edge (19.5" width), fold the raw edge of the fabric at 1/2" towards the wrong side of the fabric and iron this fold to stabilize.
10. Fold this edge once more towards the wrong side of the fabric at 4" this time. Use a ruler to ensure that the fold measures 4" throughout. Place pins perpendicular to the top fold to hold the layers in place.
11. Iron the bottom fold for more stability.
12. Using the pinned top fold as a guide, machine stitch at about 1/8" away from it.
The opening edge of the pillowcase is now complete!
You should have a horizontal straight stitch visible on the outside of the pillowcase, while the inside is clean finished with a top-stitched fold.
13. Working on the face side of the fabric, pin the two layers of the second side edge (19.5" width, parallel to the pillowcase's opening) horizontally as shown. This edge will be finished with a french seam.
The total seam allowance is 1/2".
14. Straight stitch at 1/4" seam allowance from the raw edge. Make sure the face of the fabric is positioned on the outside.
15. Iron the seam allowance excess towards one side making sure to iron on the wrong side of the fabric (clean side of the seam).
16. Fold the seam to enclose the raw edge and iron this fold for stability. Place pins horizontally along the fold to hold it in place properly.
The face side of the fabric should be on the inside of this fold.
17. Machine stitch at 1/4" seam allowance from the fold's edge. This stitch will enclose the raw edge of the seam allowing for both outside and inside edges to be clean finished.
18. Working on the face side of the fabric, iron the folded seam allowance pointing to whatever direction you choose.
19. On the inside of the pillowcase (wrong side of the fabric), pin the final lengthwise seam horizontally. The face sides of the fabric should be touching.
Make sure opening edge and the fold lines at the pillowcase's opening are matched properly on both layers. The best way to do this is to align the fold lines and place a pin horizontally right at the location where they match.
20. Straight stitch at 1/2" seam allowance.
21. To clean finish the seam, apply a serging/overlock stitch along the raw edge. As mentioned above, silk is made of very fine, dainty fibers which requires thinner, sharper needles and a denser overlock stitch. If you don't have a serging machine, you may use a regular zig-zag stitch but make sure you have it set at the densest setting and your sewing machine needle is sharp and appropriate for silk fabric.
For a highly durable finish however, we recommend that you use a french seam on both seam edges.
22. As a last step, iron the seam's serged edge towards one side for a smooth, professional finish.
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.