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Sewing Blog

How to: Sew a Shirt Yoke

It's one of those techniques where at first you might think it won't work and then it does! Gotta love that about sewing :) Your shirt might be slightly different but this technique will be useful for most shirts with a yoke.

Below is an excerpt of the instruction booklet for the Garçonne shirt / dress  it explains how to sew a yoke on a shirt.

1. Sew two rows of basting stitches, above and below the stitch line, between the notches on the back piece. Leave the tails. the gathers are specific to the Garçonne shirt / dress, but your shirt might have a small pleat, you need to secure with basting stitches.

how to sew a shirt yoke tutorial

2. Match the notches of the back piece and the yoke and the yoke facing (the second yoke piece that you cut). Pull the tails of the basting stitches to gather and use pins to secure the gathered back piece to the yoke and yoke facing. Stitch the three layers together, sandwiching the back pannel between the right sides of the yoke pices. Grade the seam to reduce bulk. Remove basting stitches.

how to sew a shirt yoke tutorial
3. Press yoke and yoke facing up and topstitch close to the seam line

how to sew a shirt yoke tutorial
4. Fold the yoke facing down. Align the shoulder seams, right sides together, of the front and yoke and pin.

how to sew a shirt yoke tutorial

5. Roll up the front and the back panels.


how to sew a shirt yoke tutorial
how to sew a shirt yoke tutorial

6. Fold the yoke facing over the rolled up fabric. Align the yoke facing, the yoke and shoulder seam and pinning as you go. Stitch, grade the seam allowance and turn.

how to sew a shirt yoke tutorial

7. Press the shoulder seams and topstitch close to the seam line. Baste stitch yoke at the neckline and the armscye inside the seam allowance at ca. 0.5 cm ( 1/4” ) from the edge. This step helps keep the layers in place when you insert the sleeve.

how to sew a shirt yoke tutorial

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Tutorial: Sew a Curved Hem 4x

How to sew a curved hem tutorial

How to sew a curved hem? Well it depends! I've made a few videos explaining different techniques for sewing around curves

Sew a curved hem using a stitched guideline
works well on the more narrow hems, so you might need to trim the seam allowance.

Sew a curved hem using a basting stitch
This is a great technique for the wider curved hems. The basting stitch helps to gather and ease the exces fabric.

Sew a curved hem the quick an dirty method
"F*** this round hem business I'm going home" a.k.a serge and fold over round hem method. Use this technique on thicker fabrics and knits



But wait there's more!

Another option is using bias binding to finish a curved hem. You can find photo tutorial right here on the blog

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0543/0621/files/how-to-sew-curved-hem-easy-method.jpg?2012059907784712933
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0543/0621/files/how-to-sew-a-curved-hem-tutorial-using-serger.jpg?13085412039326549582

Quick Tip: Turn a Strap Inside Out Without a Safety Pin

 

Turn a fabric strap without a safety pin

Did you know you can turn a strap without a tool like a safety pin? Well here's how:

 1. Pull out the threads from the bobbin and the needle, make sure the threads are a bit longer than your strap

2. Fold the strap in half and sew.

3. Use the threads hanging out of the bottom opening to carefully turn you strap.

4. pat yourself on the back ;)

5. Check out some of my other tutorials on bias binding, mitered corners, sewing corners on a narrow hem

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Tips for buying your first sewing machine

Tips for buying your first sewing machine

It took me a while before I bought my very own sewing machine. When I started the academy I borrowed an oldie from my grandmother, but did most of the sewing in school. After a year or two I bought my first sewing machine. There were a gazillion machines to choose from, it was overwhelming! After weeks of googling, shopping and interrogating other sewists...I finally decided on a Pfaff Classic 1525 and never looked back :) It rocks and I still use it as my main sewing machine. Once I started working with interns and I needed another sewing machine I opted for a second-hand Pfaff Edition 130 which is another stellar machine. They are work horses that (with the help of many interns) have sewn hundreds and maybe even over a thousand garments! Below you’ll find a couple of tips and thoughts that will hopefully help you in your quest for your first sewing machine.



BORROW BEFORE YOU BUY

  • Even if you can only borrow a sewing machine for a month, it will help you make a better choice. You will learn what features you love and it gives you an experience to compare other machines to.


BUY USED

If you have a dealer with a good reputation, consider buying a used sewing machine.

  • You will get more machine for you money. I find that in general the older machines have a higher quality build, more metal and less plastic.
  • Score a few sustainable karma points by buying second hand.

Buying a used sewing machine tips

WHAT IS A GOOD BUDGET?

  • €100, - or less will get you started, but you might want/need to upgrade once you get serious about sewing.
  • €300, - / 350, - with this budget, you can find used sewing machines that are basic but good quality. My used Pfaff Edition 130 was in that range and the used Bernina 1008 machines I've seen were also in that price range. They are both machines that you can happily work on for years.
  • €600, - and up. This is a good starting point for new high-end models. They will have basic options, but a sturdy build.

Buying a used sewing machine tips


WHAT STITCHES DO YOU ACTUALLY NEED ON YOUR SEWING MACHINE?


Straight, zig zag and a buttonhole are essentially all you need for basic sewing. In addition, I commonly use the straight stretch stitch and a stitched zig zag. Those last two stitches will take your sewing even further.

  • Straight: This is what you will use the most. 
  • Zig Zag: Finish edges, sew fabrics, sew on buttons and create a bartack for reinforcement. 
  • Buttonhole: It doesn't matter how many steps your machine needs to make a buttonhole, make sure it looks good.
  • Stretch stitch: Use it to reinforce a crotch seam or sew a woven stretch fabric. 
  • Three step zig zag: Is a handy stitch for sewing on elastic, finishing edges, sewing stretchy fabrics and making lingerie.



BASIC FEATURES TO LOOK FOR

  • More than 3 (left - middle - right) needle positions. I switch between needle positions, for top stitching, working on narrow seams, sewing on buttons, etc. It helps me get better results and It makes my sewing life so much easier.
  • Free arm. Although you will manage without, it's a great feature when sewing sleeve cuffs or hemming pants. If a machine doesn't have a free arm you might want to reconsider buying it.
  • Presser feet. You want a standard presser foot for zig zag and straight, a zipper foot for sewing on regular zippers and a buttonhole foot is all you need to start sewing, however a blind zipper foot would be a nice bonus! You can always pick up special feet along the way, once you specialize in certain fabrics or finishings.
  • BONUS FEATURE. It's certainly not a deal breaker when choosing a machine, but I find it a cool feature on my Pfaffs and I wanted to mention it. IDT is a double transport system that is built into many Pfaff sewing machines. It helps to feed top and bottom fabric pieces evenly through the machine. I find it easier to work with slippery fabrics, thick layers and it helps when matching a print or seams. I believe that other brands offer a special foot to create the same effect.



WHAT BRANDS TO BUY?

  • Ask your sewing friends & family & the internets. I can only tell you about the brands I have used which are Pfaff and Bernina. I swear by Pfaff, but Bernina is a close second. I've worked on a couple of Bernina 1008 machines that were awesome. Please note that all my experiences are all with models that are at least 10 years old.


AT THE DEALER

  • Shop local, because it's easy to return with a quick question, for a demonstration or when your machine needs maintenance or a repair.
  • Shop on a quiet day so your dealer has time to answer your questions and set up a machine for a test drive. 
  • Test drive! Make sure you test the machine or a couple of machines before you buy. 
  • BYOF or Bring Your Own Fabric (yeah, I just made that one up). They have fabric scraps for you to test the sewing machines, however if you plan on working with specific fabrics, bring a piece and see how it handles your favourite fabric.
  • Go often (or give them a call). If you want to buy second-hand, it might take a while for them to get what you are looking for.
  • Wait for a deal or ask for a deal. I always ask if they can do something with the price. If they won't drop the price they might give you accessories for your machine. Just by asking I have saved money, got free serger cones and accessories. Need new tools too? Buy everything at once for a better chance of them offering a deal.

my favorite sewing machine
 
What are your top tips for buying a sewing machine? Please share in the comments!

PS: Keep in mind that my experience is primarily in dressmaking you might want other features if you have other plans.

PPS: Check out some of my other sewing tutorials on bias binding, mitered corners, sewing corners on a narrow hem SaveSave

How to fold and sew a mitered corner

Yay! Another tip to bring your sewing practice to the next level. I am always searching new ways to improve my sewing and sewing mitered corners is quite new to me but I really like it. In both the Tie Dress and The Pocket-T I use this technique for the corners, so I wanted to show the technique in a clip to make it even easier to apply it in your own sewing project. 

How to make a mitered corner with double fold hem. 

First fold and press the hem towards the wrong side of the fabric to create fold lines. You will use those lines as a guide to create the mitered corner. 

Cut off the corner.

Fold the cut edge towards the wrong side of the fabric

Fold the straight edges towards the wrong side of the fabric

Fold again and sew

 And action........

Have you used this technique before? Will you be using it in the future? Let me know in the comments!

PS: Check out my quick tip on hungry sewing machines and sewing narrow hemmed corners

Quick tip: Sewing corners on a narrow hem

sewing corners on a narrow hem

Don't you just hate it when your sewing machine tries to eat the corners of your sewing project? I've sewn a lot of corners on narrow hems and I always had problems sewing the corners until I tried the trick in the video. I use narrow hems on many of my designs like the Pocket-t and the Tie-Dress

It's a simple trick but it works like a charm. When you pivot your project at the corner fold the hem you just sewed under the foot of your sewing machine. This ensures your gripper will have enough fabric to guide it through. 

Do you have another trick or technique that works like a charm? Did you give it a try? Let me know in the comments below.

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How to Make & Sew: Bias Binding



I LOVE BIAS BINDING! 
There, I said it...I love bias binding and yes all caps that's how much I love it ;) 

Why am i in love with bias binding? 
It's an elegant finish suitable for a lot of projects and fabrics. After using the technique for a few years (on just about every project like the Tie Dress PDF sewing pattern pictured below) I find it's actually a quick, clean and easy way to finish garments. 

Tie dress pdf pattern

So what is bias binding? 
Strips of fabric cut on an angle 45 degrees to the selvage. In this direction the fabric is stretchy and it adjusts well to curves, making it a great finish for necklines, (curved) hems or armholes.

How to use bias binding?
There are a lot of different ways you can use bias binding. You can use it to finish your garment by attaching it and folding it around or behind the edges or just attach a strip and leave it unfolded for a raw edge that doesn't fray. Because the strips have a natural stretch, they are perfect for finishing curved edges. You can even attach it to very stretchy fabrics like jersey. It's also a great way to use up left over pieces of fabric.

Buy or make your own bias binding?
You can buy prefold bias binding in different widths and colours, but it's very easy to make you own bias binding. And we all know these little helpers to make your own double fold bias tape Especially if you have a cutting mat and rotary cutter. You can use the main fabric of the garment you are sewing to add a subtle finish or choose a contrasting fabric to add a little fun.

How to make your own trifold bias binding?
Or maybe I should say...How I make my own bias binding. For an invisible application I find regular bias binding to wide and that makes it harder to get a clean and flat finish. I do it a little bit different compared to single fold and double fold bias tape, i make a trifold biais binding. So I cut a 20 mm strip of fabric using a rotary cutter and a cutting mat. If I need longer strips I just sew the ends together. You can also use the continuous method, but that means you have to cut the strips by hand and I prefer to sew the ends together. After cutting the strips I fold them in three equal parts. 


Press the first raw edge inwards.

Now fold and press again.

 

Attaching the bias binding
I will show the individual steps in photos, but I always find it helpfuI to see a technique in different ways so I included an illustration from the Pocket-T pattern where you can see all the steps combined. 

Fold the tape open and pin to the right side of the garment. As you can see there is a small strip of fabric next to the bias tape. I normally cut all my garments with a 1 cm seam allowance, the fold in the bias tape has to be 1 cm from the edge. You will trim this edge after stitching the bias tape in place. 

Stitch in the fold and 1cm from the edge of your main fabric. 

Trim the edge before pressing.

Press the bias tape away from the garment, but be careful not to iron out the second fold.

The wrong side should look like this.

Now fold and press the bias binding towards the stitches.

Fold the seam allowance under and press again and add some pins along the way. I like to fold the seam towards the inside of the garment so that the seam of the bias tape is invisible from the right side of the garment.

Stitch the bias binding in place, working on the wrong side of the garment. I always align the edge of the garment to the edge of the presser foot, then change the position of the needle close to the folded edge of the bias binding. If you follow the edge you will get an even stitch line on the right side of the garment and because you are working on the wrong side you don't have to worry about not catching the bias binding on the inside.

Give your work a final press and enjoy!

So lastly a few tips before you storm towards your sewing machine :)

- Narrow binding is key to get the best results!
- If your main fabric does not stay well after ironing, use a different fabric to do the bias binding.

I hope you found the tutorial useful! Do you plan on using this technique? have you tried it? Do you have any questions just leave a comment below, i'd love to hear what you think!

PS: Check out some of my other sewing tutorials like how to sew mitered corners or how to sew corners on a narrow hem or see my favorite and not so favorite sewing tools.

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How to Sew: The Pocket

A pocket with a little surprise! 

Cut two pocket flap pieces and one pocket piece

Finish one end of the pocket with a serger.
Align the pocket flap pieces and stitch. Snip of the thread endings as you go.

Cut out a notch before you turn and press the pocket flap.

Align the pocket flap with the pocket piece.

Stitch and press away from the pocket.

Use the markings to fold the pocket. First fold the pocket flap towards the pocket then fold up the bottom of the pocket..

Stitch along the sides. Turn and press.

After turning and pressing stitch above the pocket flap.

Stitch the pocket to the garment. Voila! You have a pocket with two openings, at the top and under the pocket flap.

The pocket is part of the Tie Dress and the Pocket-T sewing pattern. The pattern is a print at home pdf sewing pattern. A great sewing pattern for the confident beginner that is looking to learn new techniques and wants to update their homemade wardrobe with a versatile dress or top.