Cover stitch hem preparation





CS Tutorial 1


This first photo is showing a hem pressed.  If you try to sew over this area where the serged seams are stacked up with a cover stitch machine, at the very least you will get a pile up of smaller stitches as the feed dogs struggle to push over the extra bulk.  More likely you will get skipped stitches.  So, open up that nicely pressed hem:





CS Tutorial 2


And see where the fold is pressed into the seam allowance.  Here is where you will clip to, but not through the furthest needle thread in the serged seam:

CS Tutorial 3


And flip the seam allowance in the hem the opposite direction from the seam allowance in the body of the garment:

CS tutorial 4


Now you can fold the hem back into place along the pressed line and the seam allowances will nest and be much flatter:

CS tutorial 5


Be sure to put a pin here to hold everything in this orientation before you begin sewing the hem.  I have been doing this for years and have never had a seam pull out in the hem area as a result of that clip.  Please ignore the bad manicure, or actually, the complete lack of manicure, and ragged cuticles.  I went straight back to the lotion after every hand-washing and cuticle cream at night regimen as soon as I saw this photo.

One size fits most

mod dots tank


This is the latest in a long line of tanks made from this pattern since every time I try to use up a knit from stash and I end up with a usable piece left over, I make one of these.  I finally got around to doing a much-needed FBA on the pattern because this knit is very limited in stretch and recovery ability, almost like a stretch woven rather than the true knit that it is.  I didn’t take that into account when I used it to make the first top, a 3/4 sleeve boat-neck number.  That one is wearable, but only barely.  This one is much better, thanks to the FBA.  Why the title?  This old Vogue pattern (see below, printed in 1997), which only goes up to a size 10 and I’m usually a 12, is so adaptable I’ve shared it and made it for many people of varying sizes by sliding it one way or another before cutting and making use of the seam allowance for adjustments.  I love the neckline, which is not your standard tank, but not quite a boat neck.  It’s unfortunate that this pattern is so obscure.  Doesn’t even come up on Etsy or a Google search or on Pattern Review. This little throw-away tank that seems to have no relation to the 2 main “fashion” tops in views A and B is a real gem, sort of like the flip side of an old 45 rpm record.  Remember those…and House of Fabrics and 1997?

Vogue 9708 pattern

BWAP, yes there is a plan

LA Fabric

Just because I’ve never actually sewn an official SWAP wardrobe, doesn’t mean I don’t plan at all.  Before heading to Los Angeles to PatternReview Weekend to buy fabric, I decided I wanted to buy knits to make tops that would coordinate with crop pants I own in basic colors and get some Ponte in solid colors to make pull-on stretch crops.  This is the group I picked up for around $14 at the FIDM Scholarship store after viewing the latest group of Oscar-nominated costumes on display there.  Later I went to Michael Levine’s and picked up 3 pieces of Ponte and a few other knit pieces in their by-the-pound loft. So I call it Buying With A Plan, BWAP.  The sewing comes later and everything should dovetail right into my basic wardrobe without a hitch, but I am flexible as to patterns used and have no firm plans as yet, unlike with a true SWAP wardrobe.  I adhered pretty well to my rules going in, only buying one fabric that wasn’t a knit in a basic color or colors that would coordinate with basic pieces in my wardrobe.  My go to solids are Navy, Dark Brown, Black and Red.  My stash reduction project has gone so well that I was mostly down to knits that I had purchased with someone else in mind that are not colors I generally wear.  So now I can start sewing quick knit tops again with my favorite patterns.

Before I left for LA, I sewed up a nice piece of batik using Simplicity 1614 and it turned out well with no real hiccups:

Simplicity 1614

The only changes I made to the pattern were the facings.  I always eliminate facings when I can and use self bias tape I make with one of my bias tape makers.  I’m pretty sure I’m not going to give up those little devices like our workshop instructor Lynda Maynard suggested we should, but I may try her stretch pressing method on the cut bias strips before running them through the bias tape maker to see if I get fewer ripples when I bind necklines and armholes.  I will definitely use her method of sewing darts with a single thread next time I have a dart to sew.  Now I’m trying to decide if I should sew my other hoarded piece of rayon batik with this same pattern or choose another, but that decision is on the back burner as I stage the knits I bought in LA with patterns and quickly sew them up for summer.

This rayon top should be a staple of my summer wardrobe as it will go with black or brown or khaki.  I love it when a plan comes together and I can reach in to my closet and have many options that all play nicely together. This is the magic result when you BWAP instead of on impulse.  Pretty fabric is often not really useful and useful fabric in the wardrobe doesn’t always look pretty on the bolt.  How long it has taken me to learn that lesson!  Useful is the new beautiful.

Many thanks to the wonderful volunteers who make PR Weekend events possible.  They did an amazing job of organizing this event and I had a terrific time!


UFO from 1990-something…

Pink and Gray Quilt

Finished this quilt today.  That’s one UFO off the list and some decent practice refreshing my machine quilting skills, and boy oh boy were they rusty!  I’d never attempted a freehand free-motion feather border before.  Will be doing more of that.  On to the next UFO + Stash-busting project, a top I cut out a few months ago.

Britex report

So I did promise to report on the fabric shopping adventure.  I bought a white slub knit, and gray sweatshirt fleece, both remnants, neither of which I’ve even thought of sewing up but both of which should make useful additions to my day-to-day wardrobe when I do.  Britex is wildly over-priced so I wasn’t too tempted by anything that wasn’t on the remnant floor.

It was a lovely day of shopping with friends in the city in spite of getting drenched by the pouring rain in the middle of the worst drought in a generation.  You can see the Britex bag in the background of recent posts featuring my dress form in her scandalous state of deshabille, which really shows in the most recent post of the jacket I recently made.  Shameless hussy.

Back for more…

McCall's 6210

In January I decided to join a monthly goal sew-along on Pattern Review.  My goals each month so far are modest in the hopes that I can actually achieve them.  This month I had just 2 goals: to use a piece of wool purchased at the last Pattern Review Weekend event in Los Angeles to make a coat or jacket and to finish the machine quilting on a small quilt.  For the coat, the piece I had in mind was a lovely soft and lofty green wool tweed.  I had chosen a pattern also.  Sadly, I did not have enough fabric to make the chosen pattern, but while I was riffling through the coat and jacket patterns looking for one that would work, I came across this one and remembered I had another piece of wool that might work for this rare cardi pattern for woven fabric.  I’d say it did work.  I’m very happy with this jacket and got compliments (I think they were sincere) from everyone who saw me wear it today, minutes after finishing it.  For more technical details on how I made the jacket, I’ll refer you to the review I posted.

Why did I title this post Back for More?  Well, I’m headed back to Los Angeles for the next PR Weekend there this spring.  I figured before I bought more fabric I ought to try to use up everything I bought there last time.  I think the green wool is the last piece from the last trip.  I probably won’t get that sewn up, but I did find a suitable pattern.  It’s just that one hardly needs heavy coats when temps are running in the 65-75 degree range most days.  Today was a bit chillier so that’s why I wore the new coat today.

February is slipping away but I may yet have some time this weekend to attend to that quilt.  I’d say it’s about 60-70% quilted.  There’s hope.

Something old, something new

McCall's 6844 Navy Ponte

This cardi is my first stab at McCall’s 6844, which is a Best Pattern of 2013 on  I think I’ve owned it since 2013.   Seeing the potential in it immediately, I bought it in one of JoAnn’s so-cheap-you-have-to-buy-ten pattern sales and I’ve had it around for a while.  I planned to make it up with some off-white French Terry and several months ago I polled some sewing/style friends on whether or not to use the peplum version or the straight-no-peplum version.  I got some curious responses.  It turns out that not everyone knows the word “peplum,” although everyone was familiar with the detail once I explained it, and once we got past the initial confusion, everyone who cared voted for the peplum.  So by the time I got around to actually sewing it up, I had lost the pattern in the moving shuffle and had to go out and buy it again at what passes for full price for patterns.  Rats.  But I wanted to make this jacket and didn’t want to wait for the next big McCall’s pattern sale.  I brought the pattern home and started working on it, doing some of the recommended alterations based on my researches and put the French Terry in for a pre-wash as it looks suspiciously like it will shrink significantly in length to me.  While the Terry was in the wash I remembered I had this lovely navy ponte in stash and thought I’d make a wearable muslin.  Here’s the result.

Notes about the pattern:

  • Sizing:  Most everyone on PatternReview comments that this pattern runs large so I made a small even though according to my measurements I’d need a medium.  They were mostly right, but I did add 1 1/2″ in length, a generous 1/2″ in the body and 1″ to the circle hem of the peplum.  I thought the pictures of this view all looked short, even on petite people.  I am happy with the length.  I also added width to the arms.  I don’t recall reading this on PatternReview, but the current Threads Magazine pattern review article features this pattern and their tester commented that the sleeves were tight.  I happened to be wearing a similar style of garment at the time I was making these alterations and compared and sure enough, the sleeves were about 1″ narrower through the bicep area than on the jacket I was wearing.  So I made the alteration for this given in Fit For Real People.  I used the version that doesn’t increase the wrist circumference as I mostly plan to wear this over sleeveless dresses.  If I was making a jacket I wanted to layer over something with sleeves, I’d add even more and let the wrist enlarge as well.  For this version, I am happy with the fitted wrist area.
  • Interfacing:  Many reviewers mentioned leaving the interfacing out of the collar/lapel and being happy with the result so I tried that.  I would interface next time.  I think the collar lacks body and will not fold correctly when I put the jacket on.  I hate having to fuss with a collar every time I put on a jacket.  I might even go so far as to double interface the collar area at the back neck.  This would give the jacket a better finish.
  • Pieces-parts:  I might buy a few more copies of this pattern next time there is a sale because when you cut the pattern apart to make the different views, you end up destroying the pattern for any other view as the pieces are drafted on top of one another.  Yes, I could have traced off the parts for the view I wanted, but my time is too valuable to bother with that when the pattern can be had for under $2.  I think I want to try the peplum-less view and the longer view with the straight hem.
  • For the French Terry:  I think I will look for a different pattern.  I think this one begs for a more refined fabric with nice drape.  Maybe New Look 6315 ?  Anyway, something a little simpler.  So if I use 6844, not one of the peplum views.

Underneath the jacket is a beach cover-up I made just before the jacket and reviewed here.  Another terrific McCall’s pattern.  I’ve always had better luck with McCall’s than other pattern lines.  I confess to having bought new fabric for this project, but I sewed it up within a couple of weeks of purchasing and it never made it to the stash.  Whew!  Close call.  I also confess to having bought 2 pieces of fabric from the 4th floor remnant area of Britex in San Fancisco a few weeks back and you can see the offending Britex bag peeking through from behind the right side of the dress form if you really look.  A bit of a backslide on the stash reduction project, but overall, still making progress.  And yes, I ironed out that wrinkle on the front of the jacket before I hung it in the closet.

Oh yeah, Something old is the navy ponte (about 5 years or so in the stash) and the something new is the fabric for the cover-up.

Crazy Knitting, Sane Sewing

McCall's 6963...again

McCall’s 6963…again




This top turned out well and I plan to wear it tomorrow when I go…fabric shopping!  Will post the results of my first purposeful fabric shopping trip in ages.  I’ve been in and near fabric shops over the course of the reduction program and have resisted adding to the stash, only buying what was needed for any current planned project and then using it up before getting back to stash reduction. This lightweight knit is again from the stash, I think it came from  There were other fabrics ahead in the queue but I finished knitting the sweater below and thought I might make a top to wear with this crazy sweater since the colors were so lovely together.  I know, crazy idea.  The best thing to do with that sweater is probably wad it up and toss it into the charity bin.  But more on the sweater in a minute.  This pattern has become my go-to cowl neck pattern.  I’ve got others, but they droop too low.  This one is just right.  Not sure how many 3/4 sleeve cowl neck tees I need, but I might make one more for winter and then will switch to spring/summer sewing and might need a few short sleeve or sleeveless versions for next year.  This time, I added a (an?) FBA to the pattern and that fixed the snugness all around.  Fit is good.  Even in this lighter weight, stretchier fabric, the sleeve cap wouldn’t set in without being cut down so I will do that to the pattern permanently now.

Note to Palmer and Pletsch:  yes, a set-in sleeve with a higher cap gives a more snappy appearance to a plain t-shirt, but what’s the point if the cap is SO high you can’t set it in without either gathering it or cutting it down in knits?

Okay, now on to the sweater:

Crazy Lace Sweater, aptly named

Crazy Lace Sweater, aptly named

Well it’s hard to say whether the yarn choice or the knitting instructions were the biggest culprit in this case but 2 lessons learned:

  • If a Craftsy Class combines the words Lace and Crazy in the title, whatever results is probably not going to be my cup of tea.  There were a couple of sweaters posted on the class boards by students in this Crazy Lace Sweater Class that were really cute, but I didn’t like most of the students’ sweaters or even the sweaters knitted by the instructor for the class and that should have been a huge clue.  The one or two successes were very experienced knitters who completely altered the pattern.  And I know Lace is not crazy.  Lace is lovely and serious, requiring attention to business at all times and deserving of a certain class of yarn, not craziness, which is for socks.  I do enjoy a little craziness in my socks now and again.
  • Singles yarns can be lovely, but the “textural” ones are declared forever off the table for me.  This yarn varied from fingering (sock) weight to nearly super-bulky weight randomly as you knitted along.  I hated knitting with it and do not like how it looks.  I will look more closely at yarn in future.  This is Manos Del Uruguay, worsted weight in Cornflower, which you’d think would be blue, but is really quite as purple as it looks in the photo.

So, there’s countless hours of knitting down the tubes.  Good thing knitting brings other rewards.  This thing came out so huge I had to basically do some half-fashioning and treat the knitted fabric as just that, fabric, and sew up the side seams, taking out about 4 inches per side after completing the sweater.  I’m not much for un-knitting a whole sweater and you really can sew knitted fabric on your sewing machine easily, it won’t ravel if you do it right.  The sweater is so lumpy and bumpy because of the inconsistent weight of the yarn and it will not settle down with blocking, I tried that.  To make matters worse, the dye is inconsistent as well so the sweater really had no hope.  I should never have tried even a minimally structured garment out of such unstructured yarn, but I only noticed the lovely color and thought the variations might add interest to the areas of plain knitting but not overwhelm the lace.  Not the first time I’ve gone this wrong, but the first in a long time.  I’ve got several successful sweaters knit from Jacquelyn Fee’s book, The Sweater Workshop.  Next time I’ve got the urge to knit a sweater, I’ll head back there and get some less capricious yarn.  Meantime, I might make some fingerless mitts out of what I’ve got left since the color goes so well with this top.  On fingerless mitts, I don’t think the yarn variations will be such an issue and although they are structured, they are quite small.  Or even better, a loose-knit open scarf pattern would serve, but I’m not sure this top needs a scarf.  The neck has enough interest on its own without adding a scarf, plus I don’t trust this wool against my neck.  I’ll think about it a bit longer before committing this time.  For the now, I’m back to knitting socks, and not even crazy ones, just plain brown superwash wool.  Winter’s coming.


Using the old noodle

Well, the folks at Golden Grain have upped the ante on sliced bread with their pot-sized spaghetti. Best idea I’ve come across in ages but why did we have to wait so long, always breaking spaghetti in half over the pot of boiling water and having little bits of it end up everywhere while risking a nasty steam burn?
What WILL they think of next?

Back to the Stash

McCall's 6963

Once again, what looked to be ugly fabric turned out to be a very wearable garment.  This is a test of McCall’s 6963, a Palmer/Pletsch tee with 2 cowl neck options.  I made view C with the higher neckline and 3/4 sleeves in a straight 12.  It fit perfectly when I used 3/8″ side and sleeve seams.  This fabric is a tight knit with minimal stretch.  In a stretchier knit, the 5/8″ seam called for in the pattern would probably work.  I might also do an FBA rather than the narrower seam, but since the sleeves needed the same amount of alteration as the body, I think I’ll hold off on that FBA.  I will be making this in another knit from the stash that coordinates with a sweater I’m knitting.  It’s a great pattern and it’s hard to believe there are only 2 reviews of it on so I might bestir myself to add a review.  I haven’t done that in ages because every new pattern I’ve tried lately has had plenty of reviews and I’ve had nothing useful to add.  This time I could mention I lowered the sleeve cap, which neither of the other reviewers seems to have done although one mentions how high the cap is.  My sleeve would not set in without that minor alteration.