Don’t you love simple sewing techniques that when finished, look like hours of hard work? In today’s tutorial, I’ll show you one such technique- sewing a faced slit to the bottom edge of a sleeve. I chose to add this finish to a sleeve as this is one of its most conventional uses. A faced slit looks beautiful on heavier weight pieces like blazers and coats.
There is undeniably a clean, tailored aspect to anything that features a facing. Using a facing to add a slit not only provides an elevated, high quality finish, it is also a great way to add an opening into the surface of fabric without relying on an actual seam.
There is no argument that slits which open from a seam are certainly more durable, but as in the case of a sleeve cuff, a shorter faced slit is a great option for areas that don’t require as much movement and stretch. The key word here is “shorter”. Seamless faced slits usually function and hang best at a shorter length as they are more tailored and structured in nature. Of course, a slit that originates from an actual seam can also be faced or lined. This sort of slit style however is an entirely different technique than what we’ll talk about today.
Here are some important notes on facings before we move on to the sewing steps below:
While it may seem initially intimidating, sewing a pair of shorts or trousers is not as difficult as you may think. If you adhere to a few basic sets of rules, sewing pant-style bottoms should really never pose a big challenge. In today’s tutorial I’ll show you how to sew a very simple pair of shorts with a faced waistline and invisible side zipper. For a more tailored look, I will also add a hand slip stitch to clean finish the hem.
Let’s start by discussing some of the general rules of sewing trousers. To begin with, it is important to be able to differentiate between the front and back pant leg pieces. Given that they often look very similar (especially to the inexperienced eye), an easy way to accomplish this is to look at the J curve which is the crotch seam edge. The two back portions will always have a deeper curved edge while the front has a softer, shorter curve.
To further differentiate between the front and back pieces, you could also take a look at the darts. Conventionally, the back darts are always deeper and/or longer than the front ones. In my shorts example below, the front does not include darts yet the back does. Keeping this in mind, I can easily spot the difference between my front and back pieces.
In a conventional pant style, the front is always comprised of two or more identical pieces. Similarly, the back is also composed of two or more identical pieces. Both the front and the back pieces are separate by a J seam.
Always keep an eye out for notches- your pattern pieces are most likely marked with notches along their J curves. A single notch marks the front pieces and conventionally, a double notch marks the back pieces.
The front J curved edges get sewn to each other. Similarly, the back J curves also get sewn to each other. As you’ll see below, these are some of the first seams you should complete in the sewing process. Darts of course, always come at the very beginning so don’t forget to get those out of the way before starting on the J seams.
Speaking of the front and back J seam- these curved seams correspond to the pant’s crotch line and thus should be comfortable and easy to move in. As you’ll see below, the seam allowance along the most curved area of the J seam should be graded and/or trimmed to improve flexibility and eliminate bulk. Never clip these curved seams for tension release! Doing so will weaken the seam not to mention that it defeats the purpose of it’s overall functionality.
As you would with any style bottoms, think carefully about the type of closure you would like to us. Even stretch fabric may require a full zipper, snaps or buttons to provide the shorts/pants with the proper functionality. Zippers are the easiest to incorporate into shorts or trouser seams. They don’t pose as big of a challenge in terms of fit, added bulk, flaps or plackets.
I recently got a great question from someone who is getting more into pattern drafting but not surprisingly, experiencing some setbacks with dart placement. Darts are undeniably one of the most complicated elements to maneuver around when altering or drafting sewing patterns from scratch. It comes as no surprise given that darts alone provide the transition from flat to 3-dimensional. The organic shape of the human form is complicated and not a single one is made exactly the same as the other. That being said, understanding dart placement and dart manipulation comprises the most essential part of learning patternmaking. It is also a great starting point for those that want to learn how to alter and draft patterns from scratch!
Today, I will show you how to shift darts around on a pattern using the slash and spread method- the single most important beginner technique in patternmaking, in my opinion. I don’t know why I waited so long to write this tutorial! After all, I use the slash and spread technique on almost all the patterns I draft from scratch. From adding gathers and pleats to altering fullness on sleeve caps, I can't work without this simple method.
The best part about it? It is actually fun, and along with “funness” (not a real word), comes simplicity. If you’ve struggled with shifting darts around on a sewing pattern, or feel intimidated by darts altogether, follow the simple steps below and you will hopefully no longer feel like a prisoner to it. By learning the slash and spread logic with darts, you will be able to individually apply this technique to other patterning challenges. Darts are just a great, basic way to start.
In today's tutorial, I will show you two different but common scenarios you may encounter when drafting a pattern that has darts:
1. How to split a single waist dart into two separate darts: one vertical waist dart and another horizontal bust dart.
2. How to transfer an entire dart from one area of the garment to another. In this particular example, I will show you how to shift full excess from the waist dart to a shoulder dart.
You may or may not have noticed, but I am absolutely obsessed with pockets. There is nothing more functional and comfortable than a pair of pockets placed perfectly on a garment. Pockets are those simple elements that always work overtime, elevating both the quality and versatility of a garment.
While I have a couple tutorials on the simplest of all pockets: on-seam pockets, I haven’t challenged you with something a bit more complex yet. For that reason, in today’s tutorial, I will be walking you through the process of sewing front hip pockets. If you own a pair of jeans (and you most likely do), you have seen and enjoyed the convenience of this very functional pocket style. In the example below, I'll show you the detailed steps for sewing a jean pocket which as opposed to conventional options, has an extra seam within the pocket piece.
Front hip pockets are visibly positioned on the front of the garment connecting at the waist (or any horizontal seam on the front) and a side seam (or an appropriate vertical seam on the front/side of the garment). As opposed to an on-seam pocket that is comprised of two identical pocket bag pieces, a front hip pocket is made of two differently shaped pieces: a facing and a pocket piece.
The pocket piece becomes part of the garment at the waist, or the horizontal seam it is sewn into. Its upper part is visible on the face of the garment so for that reason, the pocket piece is cut of the same fabric as the garment. In this tutorial however, I will show you a pocket piece that is divided into two pieces: the upper half is cut from the same fabric as the garment while the bottom half is cut from lining or your choice of pocket bag fabric. This style is conventionally used for jeans or other styles of casual and formal trousers. Having the bottom piece cut of a thinner lining fabric eliminates bulk and ensures added flexibility and comfort.
A pocket facing is used to clean finish the inner curve of the pocket opening. The facing is usually cut from a lining fabric or your choice of fabric for the actual pocket bag. While they are different shapes, once sewn into each corresponding garment areas, the outer edge of each facing and pocket piece should match perfectly thus completing the pocket bag container. If this sounds confusing now, don't worry! The sewing steps below will clarify the process.
I absolutely love a faced waistline finish! Surprisingly, this sewing application is much easier than any waistband style, including an elastic one, believe it or not. It requires two simple stitches with a final finish that looks like a million bucks.
Clean, tailored and highly professional, a faced waist finish is similar in construction to any regular facing. Just as any facing, it also requires interfacing and understitching. A waist facing will usually need to be finished around a zipper or other closures like snaps or buttons. Regardless, you’ll find the process of cutting and sewing one fairly simple. That is if you know the 3 basic rules of sewing! You can learn more about them here: How To Sew A Seam- The 3 Rules.
A waist facing can be used on both skirts and short/long trousers. It is a finish usually applied to non stretch fabrics as they provide the right structure and drape to withstand them. A faced waist is not suitable for very stretch fabrics as it requires the use of interfacing to actually keep the bottoms from sliding down. Applying interfacing will inhibit flexibility thus if the stretch garment has no closures, applying a waist facing to it will prevent the bottoms from expanding enough to get over the human form.
Before we get into the sewing portion of this tutorial, I wanted to touch a bit on sewing patterns as this of course is an important aspect of constructing any garment. Depending on the type of fabric used, the waist area of the bottoms you are sewing may or may not have darts. Due to the fact that faced waistlines are usually applied to woven non-stretch bottoms, your garment will most likely include darts. When drafting the waist facing patterns, the darts will most likely be omitted in order to eliminate bulk from overlapping dart excess. This is fairly simple to do but I’ll save it for a pattern drafting tutorial! So to recap, the waist facings are the identical mirror images of the front and back but normally don’t included darts.
I recently came to a realization: I have way too much stuff (and by stuff, I mean sewing related stuff) in my studio that I hardly ever use. I’ve been sewing for years and while I have drawers filled with sewing tools, thread and trimmings accumulated over time, some of them I have almost never used. In order to optimize my work to its fullest capacity, I decided to take a closer look at 6 lesser used sewing tools in today post. These include: the awl, double faced tape, bodkin, pointer and creaser, beeswax, and a loop turner. What is their purpose and how can I start introducing them into my work routine to make the process faster, simpler and more efficient?
I was introduced to this tool way back in the day when I started sewing in high school. I never really understood its use until I got to college. Even then, I can’t say I was using it all that much. These days, I am realizing I may have had a bit of a missed opportunity by not taking full advantage of it over time.
To start with, what exactly is an awl? It is a hand held tool that has a pointed sharp end on one side and a handle on the other. It is used both in patternmaking and sewing.
In pattern drafting an awl is used to keep layered patterns in place at a specific point, to “walk" patterns when checking seams, and to perforate marker points through paper (especially used on basic blocks) that can then be used to easily transfer pencil lines to other patterns. By the way, walking a pattern means overlapping corresponding seams on two patterns and shifting them as needed at certain points to check that both seamlines are the same length.
In sewing, the awl is commonly used to perforate fabric layer(s) at buttonhole or eyelet locations in order to create the round holes needed to complete these applications. You can also use an awl to perforate fabric as a starting point for adding small slits and cuts to the surface of a finished garment- allows for more precision!
I’ve experienced a need for this tool in both the patterning and sewing scenarios described above. Alternately, I've used the sharp point on my pencil to walk my patterns in the quality control process. When needing to perforate holes into fabric, I've always used the tip of my scissors. I now realize doing so offers nowhere near the precision an awl would. Needless to say, I am hands down introducing this tool into my repertoire starting today!
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Designer by trade and dressmaker at heart. I spend most of my days obsessing over new fabrics and daydreaming new ideas.
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