Figgy's Blog

The girl's got attitude - Figgy's winner tutorial September 28 2012, 3 Comments

Whow, this girl knows how to pose! And another 'whow' -  it’s been a while but sometimes, good things just need their time! And this is a very special blog post: As you might know, the charming and talented Celina (mom of the cutie up there) of the blog petitapetitandfamily won our Figgy’s circle skirt design contest in July and with her cascade dress design. And with this win didn’t only come awesome prices – but also a feature tutorial for her winning design right here on our Figgy’s blog!


So, who is Celina? She's half British and half Moroccan, living, playing, working and raising two kids in Montreal, Quebec. She’s a childrenswear designer by trade (which certainly explains her exquisite aesthetic) who has worked in the industry before having her own kid’s label - Laila B. and her own children’s boutique – MossPink. Whow! As committed as she was to her business when she didn’t have kids, so committed she now is raising her two young children, designing, creating and blogging about her inspirations, life and projects. Hop on over to her blog and check out what she’s been up to lately. Click at the pattern sheet below to download instructions how to re-create this fashionable high-low dress.

Of course, we had a couple of questions to get to know her a little bit better:

Figgys:  How long have you been sewing?
Celina: I took my first sewing class when I was 13... that was ummm 23 years ago and I've been sewing ever since!!!! But I graduated from Fashion Design in 2001 and really learned how to sew and make patterns then.
Figgy's: What are your favorite things to sew?
Celina: Anything I can upcycle is my favorite, it's always a brand new challenge getting all the pattern pieces to fit in.
Figgy's: Would you consider yourself an experimental sewer or perfectionist? And why?
Celina: Definitely a perfectionist, I think that the difference between a good piece and an amazing piece is all in the details, I pay a lot of attention to the little things and I usually spend a lot time on the finishing details.
Figgy's: What's your favorite fabric to sew with? Maybe a designer or Fabric line?
Celina: Usually I'm attracted to the color or the pattern first, then I usual go for natural fibers, whether it's woven or knit really depends on what the project is. Although, knit is always quicker and easier, I have no real preference.
Figgy's: Do you have a favorite tool that you don't want to sew without?
Celina: The seam ripper is by far my favorite tool, I guess it goes with being a perfectionist! Funny thing is I always seem to be looking for it. However, sharp scissors and an iron are a must.
Figgy's: And because we all need inspiration at the pots too - do you have a favorite go-to recipe you'd like to share?
Celina: Oh boy! Cooking is not my thing, it's not that I'm not good at it, it's just that I don't enjoy it. The one meal my whole family enjoys is my spinach quiche. Yes my kids eat spinach!


Daniela & Shelly

shorts on the line banyan tutorial July 11 2012, 0 Comments

  Sometimes when creating a tailored short with an attached waistband the waistband ends up being too long or too short so for the shorts on the line post I have decided to provide a couple tips and tricks to creating a tailored pair of shorts.  I chose to use our Banyan shorts pattern and a really sweet Lecien fabric called “Vintage Linen” by Meg Hawkey of Crabapple Hill Studio.   This is not a full tutorial but if you need a little help with the zipper please visit our zipper tutorial here or you can always email me.

 Let’s begin!

I’ve cut out some of the pieces I’ll need to create these shorts:  Front and Back Shorts, Zip Extension and Pocket.  You’ll notice I cut around the cutting line and not on the cutting line.  The reason for this is you don’t want to cut on the cutting line twice because you could alter the pattern size.  You’ll notice I didn’t cut out the waistband pieces yet (more on this later) or the cuffs either.  I’ve decided not to make this pair with the cuffs this time because I wanted to showcase the print on the fabric.



Because I wanted the print to show at the bottom of the shorts I had to go against the grainline :0.  There are certain patterns you can do this with and certain ones you can’t (that’s another post in itself).



Once I cut out the pattern piece I then cut out the markings for the pleats.  This will allow you to create more accurate pleats which makes all the difference in the fit and size of the shorts.  Alternatively you could pierce through the pattern at the points.


Transfer the markings onto the wrong side of the fabric and on both front pieces.



For the back pattern pieces you’ll want to do the same thing but first transfer the pocket markings onto the right side of the fabric.


To create the pleats you will align the top two yellow markings and pin or press flat.  The bottom point should run along the fold of the fabric.

When you sew the pleats be sure to sew along the folded edge and leave long tails to manually tie the threads in a knot.  Also, about 1/2" before the folded edge shorten the stitch length.


After you sew the pleat take a moment to measure the distance between the waist edge and the pleat bottom.  You can compare that with the pattern piece markings to make sure you sewed them correctly.  You’ll also want to use this measurement against the opposite shorts panel to make sure the pleats are the same length.


Place the pocket and stitch in place.  (Isn’t this fabric darling?)

When creating the front pleats you do not need to sew these to a point.  Simply sew down to the stopping line and backstitch.  Press all pleats to the center.


I went ahead and attached the pockets and the side seams.

Measure the back along the raw edge of the waist hem and then compare this measurement to the pattern piece (doesn’t quite look like it in the photo but the measurement was 11.5” (29.2cm)). If I have sewn the shorts perfectly the back pattern piece measurement + the seam allowance (total of 1”) will be 12.5” (31.8 cm).

The pattern piece measures 12.25” (31.1 cm).  It looks like I am ¼” off.  This could mean I was slightly off when I created my pleats, center or side seams or I was off a tiny tiny bit in all of those places.  Perhaps my needle was in the incorrect spot.   It happens to all of us.


How do I fix this?  Do I rip out my side seams?  Not in this situation.  I simply added ¼” to my waistband which is just 1/8” on both sides.  Now, if it is off by more than that I would have a look at your seam allowance and trouble shoot as to where you were thrown off a bit.

Repeat this exact process with the right and left waistbands.

At this point if you have read through the instructions (you should always do this) you’ll know that the waistband pieces for the right and left side should be at least ½” longer than the waist measurement.  So when you measure the pattern piece make sure you include the seam allowance and ½” overhang when comparing the two.

When aligning the raw edges of the waist hem and the waistband begin with the side seams and pin.  Pin the center back and then pin along the front panels.


You’ll want to make sure that the waistband side seam and the shorts side seam align.  Once attached press the seam allowances up.


  When sewing the inner waistband side seams be sure to leave a 1” opening for the elastic to slide into later.


Repeat the seam process by aligning the side seams, center back and then the front with the inner and outer waistbands.


Once the inner waistband is attached along the top you can make a chalk line to ensure you will make your sewing line to match the shorts edge.

Trim the corner at an angle and then trim the seam allowance.  Press the bottom of the inner waistband up ¼”.  Turn the inner waistband so wrong sides are facing.  Using a point turner gently push the corners to a point.


Lay the folded edge on top of the seam allowance and top stitch on the right side of the shorts.  I finished my shorts by finishing the raw edge of the bottom hems and turned them up ½” and finished with a nice topstitch.  I of course found an adorable vintage button for the final touch.

Ofelia (as usual) was the recipient of these darling shorts and I couldn’t get her to stay in one place long enough to get a good shot.  She’s really moving these days!

She was a very happy girl and even noticed the trim print on the fabric!

Be sure to visit Imagine Gnats, Small + Friendly and Designs by Sessa this month for shorts galore!

Happy Sewing!

free new figgy's pattern and a design competition too! July 05 2012, 9 Comments

Anybody who lives in the Pacific Northwest knows, that Summer starts on the 4th of July!  So, to celebrate summer (which finally arrived here in Portland as well!) we are excited to share our free (!!!) Flutter Circle Skirt tutorial with all of you! It's a beginner friendly sewing project that might only take you a couple of hours to complete from finish to end. Yet what we are providing here is a great pattern base or blue print for lots of sewing projects like, tiered skirts, minis, maxis, empire waist dresses, sun dresses - just perfect for summer! And as a bonus, we threw in adult/tween sizes too, so we grown ups can finally wear our own Figgy's too.

And because we think it's such a great pattern, we'd like to kick off a design competition throughout the month of July:

* create a garment based on the Flutter Circle skirt
* photograph your project and upload to the Figgy's Flickr group.
* indicate in the title: Flutter Competition.
* submission deadline: August 10th 2012
* a panel of insiders in addition to Shelly and myself will review all submissions and pick a winner!
* the winner is announced on August 15th 2012


And now for the prizes:

1st prize:

* The winning design will be featured here on the blog with a full sized tutorial and designer bio.
* Any three e-patterns of your choice.

2nd and 3rd prize:

* The 2nd and 3rd winning designs will also be featured here on the blog with pictures and designer bios.
* any one of our e-patterns of choice.


What are you waiting for? Download your free pattern and get designing! We can't wait what you come up with!

Happy Sewing!

Daniela & Shelly


CRAFTSY! July 03 2012, 2 Comments


I am so very excited to announce the news about my course for Craftsy "Kids Romper Revamp".  It was such a fun experience and I was able to work with some amazing and talented people.  If you haven't heard about Craftsy yet then I have to say I'm a little shocked but also excited to be the one who gets to share this terrific site with you.  My most favorite part about this site is that it offers all sewists who would love to take a class the chance to do so no matter where they live and also it's interactive.  I get to chat with you as you take the class, I love that!

 Here is a bit about my course.

During childhood, play is paramount.  So whether it’s a hot summer day or a chilly winter afternoon, kid’s need to be comfy in their clothes.  Like adults, kids should enjoy the way their clothes look, as well as how they fit and feel.

In Kid’s Romper Revamp, we’ll explore all kinds of useful sewing techniques, like how to properly measure a child, and adjust the pattern for a perfect custom fit.  We’ll choose high-quality fabrics that are seasonally appropriate and fashionably fun, and cover the ins and outs of interfacing and how to apply it to the romper.  I’ll go step-by-step through constructing the romper’s braided straps, gathering and assembling the yoke, sewing knit and woven fabrics together, and more.  Then, we’ll move on to making the shorts, adding pockets, hem ties, and attaching the top and bottom to finish it off. Finally, I’ll discuss extending the romper into pants for the colder season, creating separates and making the romper into a sundress! Create 4 patterns from just 1.

   In sewing for kids, I use comfortable fabrics as a platform to build from.  For this class, I wanted a platform that’s as comfortable for teaching as the romper is for wearing.  That’s why I chose Craftsy.  With Craftsy, you have unlimited access to your classes so you can learn at your own pace, and you have the added comfort of being able to watch the lessons in brilliant high definition, rewind, make notes, ask questions, and get answers from me and your classmates.  Plus, you can browse other people’s projects for inspiration, and upload pictures of your projects to get feedback and insight.


Enroll in Kids Romper Revamp, and create a comfy, yet stylish, custom girl’s romper, learn new sewing skills, and have fun doing it! 

conquering a zip fly May 15 2012, 5 Comments

Good news!  It's easier than you think, I promise!

 I've inserted a lot of zippers in my time but for the last 6 years they have mostly been the closed seam, invisible centered or exposed zipper applications.  Daniela's Banyan pant design called for just a slight overlapped zipper, which is the more modern look.  I love photos & illustrations because I'm a "visual" type of gal and lucky for me when we were writing instructions for this pattern Daniela sent over photos (yay) to help make sure we were clearly guiding our sewists. Now that the patterns have been released I thought what better way to make sure everyone has enough visual aids then to share these great photos with you!  So, here you go:

Once you have interfaced the fly flap, sewn the center seam beginning 1/2" below the fly flap and baste stitched from the bottom of the flap to the waist hem. Press the fly flap open and change the presser foot to the zipper foot on the machine.


If you have sewn most of the Figgy's patterns by now then you know that my most favorite notion is Wondertape.  You really can't beat it (if you think you can then please leave us a comment we love new knowledge) especially when installing a zipper.  I place the Wondertape along the right side of the zipper tape close to the edge (not the teeth).  This double sided tape will hold the zipper in place while you sew and you don't have to worry with pins.  With the zipper unzipped, align the right side of the zipper top edge with the waist hem and the zipper teeth with the basted seam line.  Stitch the tape in place.  Be sure that only the fly flap is resting on the sewing plate and not the pants and fly.  Remember to backstitch!


Close the zipper.  Turn the pants upside down, align the opposite zipper tape to the opposite fly flap.  Again, make sure only the fly flap is resting on the sewing plate and not the pants. Stitch the zipper in place.


Change back to the regular machine presser foot and turn the pants so the right side is facing up.  With most pants you can simply feel the curve of the fly flap from the right side with your finger.  Using a chalk or fabric pen mark this curve from the waist to the center seam.  Change the stitch length to 2.5 - 3.0 for a nice looking topstitch.    If your machine has a nice topstitch try using a contrasting thread.  After top stitching along the marking remove the baste stitches and unzip the zipper.


A fly extension will keep the zipper from rubbing your little one's skin and it gives a nice professional touch.  With the right sides facing, fold the extension in half lengthwise and press flat.  Stitch a crescent shape along the bottom raw edge.  Trim the seam and turn right side out.  Using a point turner  smooth the seam and press flat once again.  Finish the long raw edges by using a serger, zig zag stitch or pinking shears.


Align the finished edge of the extension with the fly flap edge behind the zipper.  Edgestitch through all of the layers from the right side of the pants.

All done! Not so bad was it?

Here is a look at the finished zipper after the waistband is sewn in place.  Nice!


 Thank you Daniela for providing these photos and we all hope you're having an amazing time visiting family in Germany (lucky girl)!


kelly hogaboom strikes again... May 08 2012, 6 Comments

....and thank goodness she has! The last time Kelly came for a visit we all gained so much knowledge in regards to sewing with knits.  If you haven't had the chance to read through that post please schedule the time, it's worth it!  Now, Kelly is back providing us with new sewing knowledge on a topic that many sewists have been very interested in:  customizing a pants pattern to create the perfect fit.  Thank you so much Kelly for sharing this with all of us.  We feel privledged to have you visiting once again.

Banyan, Pockets

I have the honor to work with Shelly and Daniela at Figgy's Patterns and their
wonderful garment pattern designs for children and tweens - in this
case one of their latest: the Banyan shirt, tunic,
pants and shorts
. Today I have for you a tutorial for custom
sewing pants for your child. But let me give you a spiel first.

One of the best things about learning to sew clothing is you can make
exactly what someone wants, using colors, fabrics, and
embellishments just for them. You can construct the garment in a way
that fits them perfectly and feels better to wear than anything
purchased ready-to-wear (RTW). And finally - these clothes last longer
than even rather expensive retail products. Yes, it takes time to
build these skills, but today I CAN HAZ THEM, and I love to share

Specifically what I'm going to show you today concerns sewing
trousers for the tall and/or slim child.

My children have typically been slim for their age and size. When it
comes to pants, in RTW this means buying slim-fit trousers, elastic
waist pants, or using belts - all of which have drawbacks and
limitations. But in sewing we have the opportunity to create custom
fit, and here's how I did it.

First, I measured my client - in this case, my eight year old son.
Here are his measurements in inches, with the corresponding Banyan
pattern size in parenthesis:

Height: 51 1/2" (size 8/9)
Chest: 24 1/2" (size 6/7)
Waist: 22" (size 4/5)
Hip: 23" (size 4/5)

In making pants, the next thing to consider is where your child tends
to like to wear his or her clothing. In Nels' case, he wears in
between his hip and his waist. Both these body measurements are in the
4/5 size. And since his height corresponds to size 8/9, I'll simply
adjust the fit to correspond to a size 4/5 body girth and a size 8/9

If you trust the pattern's draft, you can adjust the pant fit
according to the pattern's waist size. Let me describe another method
to determine which size to grade to, or a way to double-check waist
sizing at a selected size.

On a flat or pleated - that is, non-elastic - pair of pants, the
length around the front waist, side seam to side seam, should
correspond to front body's wearing waist, ideally bisecting the
side-body. Said another way, the front body section of the pants'
waistband should reach halfway around the body at the wearing waist.

Flat-front pants with pockets, or pleated pants, take a moment to
figure out, but it's pretty simple really (see below). This
pattern has a 1/2" seam allowance. So measuring 1/2" in from the top
raw edge, I drew lines (shown in red) from the center front
(dashed line at left), skipping over the pleats (which
will reduce to zero once sewn
), and extending to within 1/2" or
one seam allowance, of the side seam.

But - we're not finished! Remember, the pockets will extend the front
waist of the pants. In the case of this pattern, figuring the added
length is very easy: simply fold the pocket piece in half (as the
pocket will be when finished
) and measure the distance from the
slanted raw edge to the side raw edge - AT the size selected (shown
here, 4/5). Add these red-line measurements up.

The Math

For the 4/5 size, the finished front pant measurement was 12"
(and, spoiler alert!, when I finished the pants, they were 12"
). Obviously your cutting, tracing, measuring, and
stitching abilities will all affect the outcome of this method, and if
it seems too complex put it aside, or write me an email. However,
thinking this way about clothing is a good technique to learn.

On to tracing and cutting. When making a smaller girth to height, the
pant leg is a fairly simple adjustment: since I wanted the length of
the 8/9 size, plus 1/2", I simply traced from the crotch point of the
4/5 size in a smooth curve onto the thigh of the 8/9 cutting line
(you can see my resultant cutting line below, in red).

Grading A Smaller Size Inseam, Outseam

For the other side of the pant front leg, the difference between a 4/5
and an 8/9 is so minimal - about 1/8" as marked, I didn't do any
grading at all but just cut along the 8/9.

Pocket On Pant Front

Layout: This pant pattern only includes one back pocket. You can see
my pocket piece near the center of the photo, waiting to be cut after
I cut the rest and unfold it (this is a great opportunity to cut a
bias pocket if you have a cute pattern on your fabric, stripes,
corduroy, et cetera
). I added 1/2" to the length of the pant legs
for a bit of growth room. To do this, I simply extended the bottom hem
of the front and back pant leg - using the large ruler you see laying
on my pant front pattern piece.

Laying Out

One more comment about cutting. The waistband for the Banyan pants and
shorts is a bit of genius. It is a three-part waistband, with a long
back waistband fully-elasticized and corresponding to the side-seams
of the pants, and a left front and left right flat (i.e.
) waistband. In a case like this I typically cut
the front waistbands a bit longer, to make sure I don't run out of
room later. Waistbands can be kind of a pain and I'd rather add a
little extra now, than rip out stitches and/or add darts and/or cut
new pieces later.

After cutting according to your adjustments, the rest of
construction follows the pattern instructions
. I'll continue here
to write a bit about constructing the pants. You can skip to the
bottom of the post if you'd like to see the fit difference my
adjustments made.

To prepare the pants for sewing, I marked darts, pleats, and pocket
placement, interfaced appropriate sections, and pre-serged a few

For marking, I prefer either water-soluble marker or chalk or thread.
I used pencil in this case as I knew it would wash out.

I typically insert a needle through the pattern to get perfect
placement of marks. Here you see the inner pocket placement upper
edge. After pushing the needle through the paper, I carefully lift the
pattern and mark, on the right side, the pocket placement.

Transfering Markings, In This Case Pocket Placement

Pocket placement markings on the right side of the garment. The little
bump at waist-edge is the dart head.

Pocket Markings

For the darts, I used the same needle method to mark the termination
of the darts on the wrong side of the pants. I make these
markings simultaneously on both left and right pattern pieces.

Dart Placement

Given there is a 1/2" seam allowance, I give myself license to mark
the dart heads by notching. Below in the center of the picture you can
just make out my 1/8" notches, which will be matched up and stitched,
right-sides together.

Pleats/Darts, Notched

Now, the front pleats. Here you can see I notched and drew the pleat
headings with red, and used my trusty pencil for the pleat termination

Pleats, Pants Front

After marking and/or notching, I interfaced and pre-finished a few
seam allowances. I used a serger for finishing on this project. For
this pattern, I recommend finishing the edges of the cuff pieces, the
edges of the fly extension/guard (center of photo, rectangular
), and all four crotch seams, front and back pantleg. For
interfacing, follow directions in the pattern - interfacing one of
each waistband, the fly extension/guard, and the fly extension on the
front flaps of the pants (at left). Interfacing the fly
extension on the pants front will make a lot nicer fly - promise.

Readying Pieces

We will be serging/finishing more seams as we sew.

Now we get to stitch a little! Here is a finished dart:

Darts, Knots

After sewing I steam-press, then carefully knot the thread and use a
tiny dab of anti-fray glue.

Now it's time to make the pocket!

Rock It, Pocket!

In this picture you see the pressed front pleats (left), and
the pressed pocket with finished embroidery. The embroidery is my
son's drawing of Uranus, traced onto one of my favorite little
helpers, Sulky's Fabri Sticky-Solvy. I keep my sticky
stabilizer scraps (like the red type you see here) so I can
use it for all kinds of stabilizing jobs. It washes away easily and
makes things a lot easier than tracing, basting stabilizers, etc!

Creating the fly:

Sewing Fly

I use an extra long zipper whenever possible. That way I can sew
without coming anywhere near the zipper pull. Just be careful not to
cut the top of the zipper off until you're about to secure that top
raw edge. If you aren't going to need to zip up the zipper during the
rest of construction, you can stop at this stage and apply safety pins
along the zipper tape so you don't accidentally pull the zipper pull
right off the cut zipper tape (ask me how I've learned this, the
hard way!

Finished Fly, Zipper Not Yet Clipped

Here you see the finished inside of the pants, including the bar tack
in white. The pattern calls the piece in foreground a fly extension -
I've also heard it called a fly guard (my son calls it "wiener
protection", which I think is awesome

Outseams: I like to stitch, serge, then topstitch. This is easy to do
as the inseams aren't sewn and we can work in the flat with ease.
Outseam with pocket:

Side Seam, Before Serging & Topstitching

After serging and topstitching, I serged the pants hem. Again, easy to
do as we've not yet sewn the inseam:

Serging The Bottom Edge Of Pants

Now to stitch, then serge, the inseam! Here you see the crotch curves,
already pre-serged. We'll have a very tidy finish when we're done.


Finally - it's time for the waistband. This is a bit picture-heavy,
but I'm trying to demonstrate how to do a quick, yet good-looking and
sturdy, waistband.


I sewed the outer waistband on first (you can see the
water-soluble blue pen for my fly stitching, here

Applying Inner Waistband

Next, I stitched the inner waistband, at 1/16" larger seam allowance
so no stitches would show on the outer edge of the garment. Don't
worry if you don't get this perfect. The only person who's going to
inspect your waistband is you. Here you also see the gap in the inner
waistband for inserting the 3/4" elastic.

After Attaching Second Waistband

Waistbands both attached.

Waistband, Clip-To-Length

Trimming. Remember when I said I made my front waistbands a little
longer than the pattern? Here's where I correct if needed.

Grading At Waistband, Before Finishing & Topstitching

Grading seams eliminates bulk. It makes a big difference for wear and
comfort, and it can also make a huge difference if you have more
construction steps. Here, we're just about done with the pants, so
don't skimp! The general rule is, leave the longest seam allowances
where they will be facing the public side of the garment. So here in
the foreground you see the inner waistband, behind that the pant
front, and behind that the outer waistband.

Topstitching Waistband, Where To Start?

Topstitching the waistband. I start here on the underlap where you
won't be seeing the overlapping stitches.

Topstitching Waistband

Have I mentioned how much I love linen? It is so crisp it's easy just
to finger fold and sew. Remember though to fold enough of a seam
allowance and stitch so that the waistband won't ravel later. And go
careful over those zipper teeth. My 1950 Singer is a champ, but my
newer, pricey Juki will grind on a metal zipper tooth, break the
needle, and scare the camp out of me.

Topstitching Waistband

Still topstitching. Again, my desire isn't topstitching perfection so
much as sturdiness and no waistband ripples. That said...

Inside Of Pants Waistband (Top) And Public Side (Bottom)

Even my quick and dirty results look pretty nice. Go check your RTW
pants and compare! The waistband is also delightfully light, thanks to
that grading work.

A few words on tidy thread tails. I like to make invisible knots so
there are no ugly thread snarls or tails. Here after inserting and
stitching the elastic, I pull both thread tails firmly to the inside
of the garment. Then I thread a needle and stab it right through where
the thread tails end, emerging a little further down through the
inside of the waistband...

Adjustable Elastic, Invisible Knotting Pt. 1

Then I pull the threads all the way through (you can see a little
loop just before I snug them up

Adjustable Elastic, Invisible Knotting Pt. 2

After snugging and snipping, the thread tails are secure and invisible!

Adjustable Elastic, Invisible Knotting Pt. 3

Okay, now for a few comments on the finished garment and fit. Here you
see my adjusted version:


Banyan, Front

Banyan, Slim Fit

And here's the 8/9, made without adjustment:

Testing 8/9 - Hands On Hips

Testing 8/9 - Backside

Testing 8/9 - Front, Too Large

While the Banyan trouser, by virtue of an elasticized back waistband
and a fair amount of dart and pleat action to boot, is designed to
have a full seat and thigh, you can clearly see superior results after
adjusting for proper size. The too-large waist of the 8/9 pants meant
using a shorter elastic in the backwaist, leading to an overly-full
thigh and very bunchy bum.

And finally: here's how the pocket turned out:


This rendering of Uranus is a simple drawing of my son's, taken from a
larger solar system sketch he drew. My son selected Uranus for his pocket
as it's one of his favorite planets, with its "sideways" axis of
rotation and complicated ring system. This sketch may be a little less
than cosmically-complex, but the "ring system" does glow
in the dark

Thanks for joining me in my tutorial, and if you have any questions,
please do email or comment below!


Thank you Kelly!!!  I hope you come back again soon because YOU rock our socks :)

binding ofelia and a giveaway! March 24 2012, 27 Comments

I promised Jen would be back with another wonderful tutorial for all of us and this time she's teaching us a wonderful way to add a gorgeous binding to the Ofelia.  Pair this with her adorable tie and you have the perfect brother sister set!

From Jen:

The Ofelia  pattern is my all time favorite little girl dress pattern. Its FOUR pieces, easy to sew, only takes a yard of fabric, is stylish and well, Amelia my daughter loves it. Which means she already has four hanging in her closest. But they are getting small and are ready to pass down. Since I've already made them with the cute ribbon down the front, I thought I’d try something new!

Digging into my scrap bins, I found the answer.  Below I’ll show you how to create this super cute patchwork binding as well as how to attach it three different ways. This is also a great way to add length to a dress if you have a tall lanky girl like I do.

By no means am I the expert in binding the hem of a dress. I've learned by trial and error. The point of this tutorial and showing you three different ways is to get you motivated! To get you to sew! To look at these, and think “Hey that’s not so hard-I can do that!” Because really, that’s what it takes, a little motivation, a little confidence and a desire to try.


So do it.

Try something new today.

Make a cute dress for your little one and then make it your own with special little touches!



  • An almost complete Ofelia Dress (You can win a PDF download of this!)
  • Scraps of fabric measuring 1-4 inches by 5 inches
  • Regular sewing materials (machine, thread, cutting mat, rotary cuter, ruler, etc)

The first method is what I most commonly see in today’s patterns. It’s great to use if you want the inside seam to be completely hidden and if you don’t have a serger.


Step One: Making the binding

  • Measure the bottom of your dress to determine how long your binding should be and add ½ inch.
  • With your scraps sew them together to make one long strip that equals the width of the dress (mine was around 40 inches)


Step Two: Press and Square Up

  • Press your seams, which ever way suits you. (I press mine to the side-I like the texture it gives)
  • Square up the binding using a ruler and a rotary cutter. I found that five inches wide on all of these worked best. I made the 6/7 size dress-adjust the binding according to the dress size and preference.


Step Three: Attach

  • Press one side up a ¼ inch
  • Pin the binding to the bottom of the dress raw edges together and right sides to right sides.
  • Join the ends of the binding by sewing a ¼ inch seam and creating a circle. Press.
  • Attach to the hem using a ¼ inch seam


Step Four: Finishing

  • Press your seam down towards the binding
  • Fold the biding in half so the pre pressed ¼ inch seam just covers your stitch line (photo 2)
  • Pin in place and top stitch using a 1/8th inch seam allowance

This next method is my favorite and the one I call the “down and dirty”. It’s quick, easy and still looks neat and professional. I also totally thought I made it up-yeah I know, total dork…


Follow steps 1 and 2 above to make your binding.

Step One: Attaching the binding

  • Create a circle by sewing your end seams together with a ¼ inch seam (do this by measuring your dress hem width and adding ½ inch)
  • Fold the binding in half with wrong sides together. Press.
  • Pin to the hem and stitch a ¼ seam
  • Serge


Step Two: Finishing

  • Press the seam towards the bottom/binding
  • Top stitch using an 1/8th inch seam

(Note: Some people press up and stitch above binding-do what you like best just make sure to catch the serged seam allowance in your stitch)


The last method is probably the most traditional. It’s a double fold and adds weight and some thickness to the hem. It would be good on a heavy weight fabric such as wool. It also creates a narrower hem.

Follow steps 1 and 2 in the first set of directions to create your binding.

Step One: Create the double fold and attach

  • Fold the binding in half wrong sides together. Press
  • Open the binding and fold one side all of the way to the center line. Press.
  • Fold the other side towards the center but leave a ¼ inch gap.
  • Fold in half and press. One side will be slightly wider than the other


Step Two: Attaching

  • Open the binding. Pin the narrower side to the hem of the dress with right sides together matching the raw edges
  • When you get to the ends, turn one end up a ¼ inch (photo 1 below)
  • Place the other end on top to over lap (photo 2 below)
  • Stitch in the fold line (photo 3 below)

Note: You can also create a circle by sewing the end seams together as shown in method 1 and 2


Step Three: Press and Pin

  • Press the seam towards the bottom
  • Fold up at center seam; this should naturally fall above the stitch line
  • Press and pin in place


Step Four: Finishing

  • Top stitch 1/8th inch on top of the binding on the right side of the dress

TIP: Increasing the stitch length to create a longer stitch will give the garment a more professional look



Bonus Head Band!

Remember the tie tutorial from the other day? Well, all you have to do is slip it on a headband and your little girl has a super cute bow headband. Depending on how thick the headband is, you might need to make the center tighter by sewing a ½ inch seam allowance instead of a ¼ inch.


You could also attach it to various clips! I would add a touch of hot glue to the top of the clip to secure it. Amelia only wanted them on the headband, so I just fed the clip through to demonstrate; which actually worked just fine in my hair!


Hopefully this tutorial has inspired you to sew something pretty for your little one! To get you started, Shelly & Daniela will be giving away a free PDF pattern of the Ofelia dress to one lucky winner!!!  Perfect timing for this Holiday season.

Just leave a comment on this post to enter. It would be great to hear what you are working on now or what you’d like to work on soon! For an extra entry follow us on Facebook or Pintrest!  Please also make sure your email is in the comment or is linked to your comment! A winner will be chosen by random on Monday!


sewing with knits March 01 2012, 7 Comments

With thanks to and permission from the lovely Kelly Hogaboom I have decided to re-post this wonderful tutorial on sewing with knits.  I have been getting many emails inquiring about this particular post and I don't like to disappoint our faithful sewists (seamstress, seamster, tailor).  You may need to refer to this tutorial sooner than you think. (hmmmm, I wonder what that means?) 

I promised a few people a little blog regarding sewing with knits; here goes. My daughter requested a shirt in “earthy” tones. I had just enough in my stash to make her one. The natural-colorway was from a piece of organic bamboo yardage given to me by a friend; the brown was from a 100% organic cotton t-shirt I thrift-ed (I used most of the shirt to make a headband for my mother). In both cases once I cut out the shirt pattern pieces I ended up with only a small portion scraps to compost. I love it that I use fabric so economically.

Kelly used the Tee for Two pattern available here:

Knits are tricky. So many sewists claim to “whip up a t-shirt on the serger” – but the truth is, for most of us it takes time to get proficient at knits, especially those with a high degree of stretch. Many home sewists don’t even own a serger (or they own one and don’t know how to use it). I hasten to add, a serger is not needed to make great knitwear. The following tutorial regards making a t-shirt on a sewing machine. It needs only a zig zag function to achieve good results (a width of 0.5 – 1.0 and a length of 3.0 was used for this shirt).

One of the best tricks I know to make t-shirt sewing go easier is to stabilize the seam allowances. This means “painting” a solution on the seam allowances and allowing them to dry. This solution ensures that the knit will not roll nor be sucked into the feed dogs of the machine. It’s not a necessary step to sewing with t-shirt knits, but one that makes things a lot easier. In addition to creating an easier sewing experience, I have found the stitch formed on stabilized knits “floats” on the fabric (instead of being pulled into it). Not all knits need this treatment (a sturdy or non-stretch knit may not), but for my slim-fit t-shirt with the very stretchy, soft bamboo it made the whole process easier.

To stabilize the seams you can either purchase a water soluble spray-on stabilizer or a stabilizer by the yard. If you choose the latter, you simply dissolve a small amount in water to create a solution then “paint” the edges of your pattern pieces (shown below in a moment). In this case, I am sewing with a 1/4″ seam allowance so I stabilized about 3/8″ on each seam.

Which seams do you have to stabilize? Those that will be travelling across the feed dogs of the machines. For this pattern, this means all edges except the sleeve and shirt hems (which remain unfinished). I stabilized the short ends of the neckband as well, given as a last step in this pattern the neckband edges have to be top stitched closed in a little rectangle and I figured, “Why not?”. The neckband in general does not need to be stabilized as it is rarely against the machine (when you attach the band it will be the shirt bodice that travels across the machine surface) and it needs to stretch quite a bit to perform its function (which is to “snap back” after sewing and bring the shirt edge in to hug the neck).

Here’s a little photo-explanation of stabilizing (click each photo for more information):

After you've stabilized your seam allowances, you must let the pattern pieces dry. Give it overnight or, if you’re in a hurry, carefully put the pieces in front of a heat source (don’t burn your house down!). When the seams are dry, they will have a stiff edge to them. They may even be a bit waffle-y. Don’t worry about that, as on the machine they will sew up beautifully. Here is an example of the texture change resultant from the stabilizing process. It’s a bit difficult to see but it’s obvious to the touch (the green thread is the tailor’s tacks I use for pattern markings):

Now we’re all ready to sew!

In the Tee for Two pattern, the first seams sewn are those of the sleeves to the front and back bodice. I chose to do Option B. of the pattern – that is, a raw-edge, top stitched seam. This means first sewing the sleeve seams wrong sides together. The sleeve seams are curved – one generally a “convex” curve (the shirt bodice) and one generally a “concave” curve (the sleeve piece). The way you pin and sew these seams will make a difference in the ease of sewing. When pinning curves that have opposite lines (concave vs. convex), pin such that you’ll be sewing with the convex curve against the machine. To look at it another way, the curves will often look like they won’t match (don’t worry, if you cut accurately they will). Whichever seam looks like it has more fabric to be taken up during stitching, pin and place this piece against the machine. The natural action of the feed dogs will help subtly gather it (in the below photo, the brown is the sleeve, the natural-colorway the bodice. You can see the concave and convex curves):

When sewing – any time when sewing, but especially with a picky knit – hold the thread tails before you sew. This actually take a bit of practice. But if you don’t, your machine will often pull the thread tails into the machine’s throat plate. You’ll end up with a snarled-up bunch of thread and sometimes an ugly, bunchy seam. Observe the results when the thread tails were properly restrained:

After you sew each seam, you should steam press for best results. In general, it is always a good idea to “set the seam”, then press. “Setting the seam” is a technique I learned in a quilting class. It means pressing the seam just as sewn, before you turn it up and top stitch or whatever is next. Fabric is not two-dimensional but 3D – “setting the seam” helps integrate the seam into the structure of the garment (in this photo you can also see the nature of the zig zag that works well with stretchy knit sewing):

After you set the seam, go ahead and finger press it open and press with the iron again, this time in the formation you’ll want it in before proceeding. In this case, the seam allowances are pressed toward the bodice and then top stitched down for a deconstructed-look finish. Since the seams are curved, it makes sense to use a tailor’s ham (although this is rather optional):

The final touch in the raglan bodice/sleeve seams is the top stitching with the raw edge finish. I chose to do this from the inside of the shirt. This is because the stabilized portion of the pattern pieces would be travelling across the feed dogs. When I tried this from the outside of the shirt (as you typically do with top stitching) the seam process distorted the fabric and made a wonky seam, so I flipped the shirt. As long as you go slowly and make sure to gently pull the seam open, sewing from the backside of the garment lends a good result:

Since I made the “puff sleeve” version of the garment, the next steps in the pattern were to gather the raw edges of the sleeve hem into the two strips that will form the finished sleeve. This is done by a long basting stitch on the sleeve’s raw edge to gather the sleeve, then applying the two edge strips simultaneously. Again, the importance of securing the thread tails before you sew will result in a clean finish:

After attaching the sleeve strips, you press them together (hiding the raw edges of the sleeve end) and top stitch. Easy-peasy!

For a more subtle finish, you could use a matching thread instead of the contrast I have done here.

The side seam is one of the last remaining aspects to shirt construction. I elected to do a typical finish – that is stitch it right-sides together, then finish the inside seam allowances for sturdiness. One nice thing with a knit is you usually only have to pin at the top and bottom of a seam. Go slowly and stretch to fit and you’ll have lovely results. I sewed at a 1/2″ seam allowance (instead of the pattern’s 1/4″), because I knew my skinny-minnie daughter would fit just fine, and I wanted to trim the seam down to a clean edge before finishing the seams:

After trimming, and then stitching along the seam allowances:

The neckline is probably the trickiest part of this particular pattern, but it is an ingenious little treatment that not only looks fabulous but is a lot less trouble than most self-finished necklines. Two strips are sewn, one at a time, first to the outside of the garment than the inside. Both strips are simply overlapped at each short end. The outside strip is sewn at a slightly wider seam allowance. Thus when you press up both strips the seam line will cover itself. The only thing that remains is to sew a tiny rectangle, anchoring the overlapped ends of the neckband at the back-left shoulder.

So first, pinning:

I always imagine the Beginner stitcher is alarmed at this point. The neckband of shirts is always so much smaller than the shirt opening! But, that’s the point. This strip, cut against the knit grain, will pull the shirt neckline in to lie flat on the body. Again, you sew with the strip facing up and the shirt neckline against the machine. Carefully pin at a few places and stretch and the whole thing comes together like a dream.

Although the pattern doesn't have this extra step, after attaching each neckline strip I prefer to trim the seam at 3/16″ from the innermost seam, then press up and top stitch:

Here’s the best trick I know regarding top stitching: go slow! Very few of us make “perfect” top stitching but the slower you go, and the more you practice, the better things will look.

Finally, stitch the little rectangle at the back-left shoulder seam where the strips overlapped. The best thing about this little square is it will look different every time. It’s like a signature:

Finally, either wash by hand or throw in the washing machine and dryer to rid the fabric of the crunchy stabilizer. Then present your client with their new shirt! After the cutting and stabilizing aspects of construction (which I typically do the night before and take about a half hour), the shirt takes less time to sew than it took me to write out this tutorial. It’s a quick and lovely creation.

Thanks again Kelly!

Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Sewing!

ps.  visit again on Monday for a little Liberty giveaway. ;)

Ayashe: How to lengthen the blouse to a tunic or dress length February 13 2012, 6 Comments

I have a very opinionated little girl.

Over the last years I have learned that with kids everything is a phase. Right now, my daughter is going through an intense phase of not wearing anything but dresses. Pink dresses I might add. I surrendered - getting her into separates is a fight not worth fighting.

I love the Ayashe blouse and how quickly it goes together. How lovely would it be as a tunic or dress? Have you wondered the same? Here a little tutorial on how to lengthen the style.

Here is what I used:

1. Swedish Tracing Paper - I love that stuff and it literally revolutionized my sewing - I am not kidding. It doesn't tear like regular paper or tracing paper, will cling to the fabric, so there is no need to pin the pattern to the fabric AND it totally eliminates the need to carefully cut the pattern pieces prior to cutting into the fabric! Besides that it folds/stores well and can be ironed. A total time saver and therefore a win in my book!

2. Vary Form Rulers - a set of curved rulers that helps strike beautiful curves and is indispensable for paper pattern making. Easier on the budget though is this styling ruler that's kind of all-in-one if you are just starting out to make pattern adjustments.

3. C-Thru Ruler - a straight ruler that is a little easier to handle then a quilting ruler. Yet the later would work the same and if you go with the aforementioned styling ruler, you'll be set anyways.

4. Pencil

5. Measuring tape (not shown - it hung around my neck while I took the picture :))

6. The Ayashe pattern, of course.

The pattern weights are optional and I only used them to accurately trace the blouse pattern from the pattern sheet.

Now let's get to it: Lengthening the main body parts of the Ayashe blouse.

Can you see my traced blouse pattern piece lying underneath my tracing paper? If you want to start out with the tunic length right away, make sure to start tracing you pattern towards the top edge of your tracing paper to leave enough space to lengthen the hem, at least 9" though.

First, elongate the Center Front (CF - that's the straight line, not the curved one) in a straight line.

Measure 6" (for size 2/3 and 4/5) down along the extended CF line, and mark with with the pencil.

Here what we recommend per size for a dress ending above the knee:
5" (18mos)
6" (2/3 and 4/5)
7" (6/7) and
7.5" (8/9).

Generally, if you want the outcome to be longer, add a bit more as it is so much easier to shorten, then to lengthen a garment.

At the marking, draw a line in a right angle towards the side seam. It's important that this line is at a right angle - otherwise you'll end up with a funky point or dip in your garment.

Now on to the side seam. With your Vari-form or Styling ruler, find a curve you feel will elongate the existing curve nicely. Cut the little corner like shown above to create a nice line. Don't worry too much, there is no single 'right' curve here. Yet, be careful as to let the curve swing out too much as it will be harder to hem a very dramatic shape at the end.

Now, measure along the new side seam beginning with the original hem, the same length you measured along the CF and mark on that line. In my case, it's again 6".

Then strike a short line in a right angle towards the CF and let it cross the straight hem line.  Again, drawing a right angle at the side seam will ensure your side seams will sew together without a weird angle poking out or dipping in.

Use your Vary-Form or French Curve and find a smooth curve connecting the new hem line with the right-angle-line we just drew.

Your new hem line is almost finished! Final steps is to measure 1" and 3/4" up from the new hem line. Mark both.

Lay your ruler parallel to the CF, intersecting the 1" mark - as shown above,  and transfer the 3/4" mark down to the new hem line.

Join this with the 1" marking. This little angle will help eliminate excess fabric when you hem the dress.
Repeat the same steps with the back piece of the Ayashe and....

Your new dress pattern is finished!
Well done!

Curious to see how mine turned out? Here's the final outcome of my pattern adjustment.
A happy camper in a pink floral dress made out of Liberty Art fabric.

Need any tips beyond the instruction booklet on how to put your dress together? Don't forget about Shelly's three part sew along Ayashe post here, here and here! Also did you see Jen's gorgeous hand embroidery for Valentine here? Now, we can't wait to see how your Ayashe turned out? Please share on our flickr group.


On a side note: Do you love Liberty Fabrics as much as we do? We are preparing a little surprise give away on this blog - so come back again soon!

just in time for valentine's day February 10 2012, 7 Comments

Today we have a special guest, a dear friend and very talented sewist Jen Carlton Bailly!  Jen had stitched up some cuteness during the sew along and we are so pleased she's is sharing with all of us!  I won't keep you waiting.....

From Jen:

It’s not a secret that I love sewing patterns from Figgy’s.  They are simple, clean, modern and easy.  The Ayashe was no exception. When I read this, “You love your little one and one way you express your love is by hand tailoring a beautiful wardrobe especially for her”, from the front of the Ayashe Pattern I was so inspired to make something beautiful for my daughter. Amelia has so many prints in her closet, so I thought using simple red linen that I had stashed away for something special would be perfect.

While sewing I was reminded of a little shop in Seattle that used to sell clothes from Europe. All of the hand stitching was so beautiful.  Then it came to me, I’ll add a little hand stitching to the front of this to give it a little pop, and it would be perfect for Valentines Day! Below are instructions for how you can do this to your blouse too!


Embroidery floss- I used three strands of white DMC

Hand sewing needle

Water Soluble pen


Step One:

Using a ruler and a water-soluble marking pen, make a straight line up the front of your blouse and in between the stitch lines. Carry the line gently to form the heart. I just free handed.

Step Two:

Thread your needle, and tie a knot.  Starting about ½ inch from the start of your line, insert your needle in between the layers of the front and the back of the blouse. Pull your floss all the way through and gently tug on it to pop the knot in-between the layers of fabric.

Step Three:

Using a small running stitch (Pass the needle in and out of the fabric, making the surface stitches of equal length) follow the line that you marked. My stitching was about a ¼ inch.

Continue into the heart. At your last stitch tie a knot and pull it through the fabric the same way you began. 

Step Four:

Repeat on other side.  Spritz marks with water.

Give to a little one you love.

Thank you so much Jen, and thank you A for being so cute!

I hope you are all inspired to add special touches to your Ayashe blouse as I am.

  Remember to add your photos to our flickr group or facebook page!

ayashe sew along; the last day! February 10 2012, 4 Comments

Welcome to the last day of the Ayashe blouse sew along.  It went too fast, that just shows us, that even with all of the wonderful details in this blouse, it is a simple pattern but still tastefully contemporary.

Today we will set in the sleeves and finish the hem.


I accidentally forgot to take photos of how I hemmed the sleeves.  I got excited, and moved on to the next step.  I am making the 18mo size and I found that turning the raw edge of the sleeve hem 1/8" twice was sufficient and left room for the sleeve to attach to the body.  There is still room if you choose to turn the hem 1/4" twice, but I wanted extra room to set in the sleeves.

I also hemmed the sleeves before I set them.  The reason why is because I find it easier to do this first rather than last for toddler size patterns.  The reason why most don't instruct sewists to do this is if you look at the photos above you'll see that I hemmed and pressed my seam open, but it won't stay flat permanently. To fix this I tacked the seam allowance.  It won't show and it fixes the issue.


To set in the sleeve you will first turn the garment wrong side out.  Insert the sleeves right side facing the right side of the blouse.  Align the markings and underarm seam with the side seam and pin.  You'll see that it fits perfectly, ahhh.

The trick to setting a sleeve in little sizes is not trying to wrap the sleeve around the machine bar but place the presser foot into the sleeve itself.  As you can see above I am sewing on the wrong side of the sleeve inside the sleeve cap.  The machine will take me full circle without any drama.

Pink and press.


I chose the elastic hem because Ofelia is still young enough to pull the drawstring out of the casing over and over again just for fun.  My sister would have to re thread it over and over again, not for fun.  Also, I am an awesome sister by thinking of her. ;)

First, turn the bottom hem 1/4" and press.  Turn again 1", press and pin.  Leave a 1" opening to feed the elastic through the casing.  I left my opening at the side seam where stitches will be less obvious.  I am without a bodkin so I used a safety pin to thread the elastic through the casing.  Make sure not to twist the elastic and don't let the tail get swallowed or you'll have to re thread.  Overlap the ends of the elastic and stitch together.  Sew the opening closed.

How much elastic should you use?  Good question.  My neice's waist is 20" so I cut 15" of elastic that has a good amount of stretch.  It stretched to 30".  I would go by your child's waist measurement and deduct the amount necessary for the amount of elasticity the elastic has.

For the Draw String method:

On the wrong sides of the shirt hem fuse a 3" piece of interfacing to the blouse on the center bottom front hem.  Sew buttonholes 1/4" to the left and right of  the center front. Refer to day 2 on how to prepare the bias tape.  Once you've press the tape in half, stitch down both edges.  Knot the ends of the tape.  Feed the tape/string into one buttonhole, around the hem line and out the other.

All Done!  Nice work.

Want to see mine?

Back Detail.  My wooden hangers are curved which is causing the back to look a bit "hump back".  I need to purchase some flat hangers.

I don't know about you but I LOVE IT!

I hope you find this sew along to be helpful as you sew your adorable blouse.    Please come back again tomorrow because we have a very special guest hosting a tutorial on how  to make the perfect Ayashe blouse just in time for Valentines Day!

Happy Sewing!

ayashe sew along; day two February 09 2012, 4 Comments

Welcome back to Day 2!

It is nice and bright this morning in Portland and perfect for sew along photos.

We left off yesterday with all of the pattern pieces cut, the upper collar interfaced and we gathered the front shoulders and back panel.  I think we're ready, let's sew!

For a larger view please click on the photo.

Front Seam

Before sewing the center front seam it is best to measure the 1 1/4" seam allowance rather than hope for the best.  This will ensure a nice straight line.

Sew the center front seam from the bottom hem up.  Once you reach the slit marking do a back stitch and then adjust the stitch lenth to the longest length.

Press the seam open and fold the raw edge 1/4" under on both sides of the seam. The Ezy-Hem helper is a great way to measure this long seam so it will be nice and even.  Press flat once more.

Top stitch along both folded edges.  Top stitch again centered between the seam alowance and the stitch line.  Now you may notice I am not perfectly centered between the two.  Why?  Honestly?  I was being lazy.  I decided that if I aligned the presser foot with the center line it would give me a nice straight line all the way down.  You should measure between the two lines, chalk and topstitch.

Shoulder Panels

Align the markings, distribute the gathers evenly and pin.  Sew the seam.

Remove the gathers.  I like to press the seam up on the wrong side and then press again on the right side for a nice clean pressed look.

Repeat with the front shoulder panels.

The shoulder panels are now sewn, pressed and ready for the facing.  Using a seam gauge fold the seam allowances 1/2" towards the wrong side and press.  As you may already know I have an obsession with "Wondertape".  Karen and I used to buy it by the box.   I use it for so many things.  In this case, I'm using it to hold the shoulder panel facing in place on the wrong side when I top stitch on the right side.

If you don't know what "Wondertape" is (for some reason whenever I say the word I want to shout it out like Oprah when she would shout out the name of her guest.) then I'll quickly tell you.  It is wash away double sided tape.  Place the tape on top of the seam allowance, then place the shoulder panel facing on top of the seam allowance.  Other options are to baste the panel in place or use pins.  On the right side of the garment top stitch in the seam (stitch in the ditch) or next to the seam.  I aligned my 1/8" marker on the presser foot along the seam and top stitched.  Remove any baste stitches if used.

Repeat on the back.

Collar Time

Begin by stay-stitching the neck opening.

We have two collar options: Mandarin Collar or Tie String.  I'm going to take you through both.


Press the bottom raw edge of the outer collar (upper) 3/8" towards the wrong side.  Align the raw edges of the inner and outer collar and stitch along the short and long edges.  Trim the seam allowance to 1/4" and clip along the curve. This will help reduce bulk and give you a nice smooth finish.

Align the collar raw edges with the neck opening and markings.  Pin and stitch.  Trim the seam allowance to 1/4".  Turn the collar towards the wrong side of the garment and smooth the edges.  I used a dull pencil to do this but you can use a turning tool or a knitting needle, just don't use anything pointy and sharp.

Once again, I found another use for my "wondertape" (no they don't pay us to advertise, but they should).  Included in each pattern you purchase is a lovely woven label.  These labels will give the garment that professional touch and they can also serve as hooks to hang the garment (like the Nituna Jacket).  I placed the tape along the seam and then placed the label on top.  Sandwich the Figgy's label between the blouse and the collar and be sure the seam allowance is tucked inside.

Pin and top stitch. Done, unless your hosting a sew along and you need to show the alternative collar option.  A little seam ripping and then we'll be ready.


Yesterday I shared a wonderful "how to" link for making bias tape and if you read it you'll notice in my photo I cheated a little today.  For good reason though!  I love selvedge on Japanese fabric.  Some of them are really unique and I really wanted to use this for the tie string, so I did.  Press the bias tape in 1/2.  Fold both sides in toward the center crease and press.  I also folded and pressed mine once more to ensure a nice clean crease.

Turn the garment wrong side out, open the bias tape and align the right side of the bias tape raw edge and the wrong side of the blouse. Leave an equal amount of tie string hanging off each end of the neck slit.  Pin and stitch.  Use the same method as the mandarin collar mentioned above to attach the label.

Fold the tape in half wrong sides together, press and top stitch from one end to the other.  Tie each tie string end in a small decorative knot.

The last thing I did was sew a little bar tack at the bottom of the neck slit.  I did this for extra security. A backstitch should suffice but I wanted just a little more security for the times when Ofelia wants to pull her blouse on herself toddler style.

Look, it's almost a shirt!

It's beginning to rain now which is perfect timing because day two is complete.  Well Done!

See you tomorrow to finish our Ayashe blouse!

Happy Sewing!

ps.  Did you happen to catch Daniela's comment yesterday?  She's got something gorgeous to show us very soon and you will see she gave us a small piece of her design wisdom.

ayashe sew along; day one February 07 2012, 4 Comments

Welcome to the first day of the sew along!  If you are just now joining us please feel free to jump in at any time!  Who knows, maybe you'll learn something new by just reading along?  Today we are just going to cut and prepare our work for tomorrow's sewing, but first if you don't mind, I'd like to start by answering one frequently asked question.

Why is the pattern printed on both sides?

1. We print our patterns on both sides using recycled newsprint to save paper waste. Less paper also means lighter shipping which means less shipping cost for you!  You can trace the pattern using tracing paper, freezer paper or any paper that is translucent.

2. Tracing the pattern allows you to use the pattern over and over again as your daughters or granddaughters grow, and they do grow fast. If you were to cut the pattern you would only get one size out of the pattern and that's not good for anyone.

3.  Personal preference.  Tissue paper patterns tend to rip easily and the print fades with time.

I hope this answers your question, but if you have more, please feel free to email us.

Let's get started!

For a larger view please click on the photos.

The very first thing you should do before anything else (if possible) is measure your child.  Every designer and label has their own unique sizing, which means your daughter may measure to be a Figgy's size 3, but for another pattern she may be a 2.  You'll find the sizing chart on the back of the pattern cover.

When preparing this sew along I noticed a tiny typo in the sizing chart.  The Chest measurement for size 2/3 should read 21 - 21.5.  We apologize for any confusion.

For this blouse you'll want to take a chest and waist measurement.  If you have decided to make the long sleeve version, I would also measure from the shoulder to the wrist.  What happens if your daughter is between sizes?  I always recommend going bigger before going smaller, because tomorrow they'll probably awake .5" taller, and of course their bellies grow after every meal.


  Gosh, I love it!  For this blouse I chose to use a Japanese Lawn cloth by Yuwa because it's one of my favorite fabrics to work with. It will drape well and the fabric hand is perfect for my niece's sensitive skin.

Tracing the pattern.

 A little lesson I learned from Sarai & Caitlin at Colette patterns is using colored pencils to trace.   They really are perfect for the job.  I use one color to trace the outer main pattern piece and another color for my markings.

 So here we have traced all the pieces we need for our Ayashe of choice.  As you can see I've decided to make the Ayashe with the Mandarin Collar and short sleeves.  I am still undecided as to whether or not I'd like the drawstring or elastic at the hem.  If you have already chosen to use the bias tape draw string you will need to cut bias tape from the fabric 1.5" x 35".   If you have chosen the bias tape tie string collar option you will need to also cut bias tape from the fabric that is 1.5" x 30".  Sarai also has one of the best bias tape tutorials I've seen so if you need a little help with the process please visit HERE.

 You can use weights or pins to keep the pattern from shifting.  Normally,  I would use weights and my rotary cutter, but the blade broke and I had to use pins and scissors. The reason why I suggest the rotary cutter is with this lightweight of a fabric the pattern pieces can slip easily and the scissors may leave chomp like markings.

Before I begin cutting I like to snip out the triangles on the paper.  It is important the you never snip in towards the seam allowance when cutting out the fabric pattern pieces.  You don't want to accidently snip in too far.

Prepare the details.

Interface one of the collar pieces, this will become the Upper collar.  Remember, the "bumpy" side of the interfacing faces the wrong side of the fabric.  I use the fabric pattern piece I cut and not the paper piece, because I feel it gives a more accurate cut.

All cut and interfaced.  I'm ready to go!

 Notice I put my pattern pieces in a zip lock bag?

This is a great way to store your patterns.  Just remember to label the bag then file it away.

Last step, gathers.

Sew two rows of *gathering stitches between the notches on both the back and the front pieces.

and again on the front


To create *gathering stitches you simply increase the stitch length to the longest length.

*To gather simply pull both bobbin threads and slide the fabric towards the opposite direction.

That's it for today!

See you tomorrow when we will stitch up the front and attach the shoulder panels and collar!  Happy Sewing!