Saturday, February 4, 2023

How to Sew Underarm Gussets with the Portrait Blouse

 Before I dig into the meat of the "how tos" I want to go into what type of pattern would need a gusset.

"Hi Laura, ...My question is: Does a gusset benefit every garment? Why do some garments such as the portrait blouse have a gusset while others do not." -Laura K.

ANSWER: The whole point of a gusset is to improve arm movement, and there are several factors that
will be considered and as you might guess, all of them relate to the design of the sleeve. A cut-on sleeve ( a one-piece bodice and sleeve - often called a kimono sleeve) is generally the type of sleeve than needs a gusset, especially if the sleeve is fitted and the sleeve tilts down at the shoulder (such as the portrait blouse). Without a gusset, you could not lift your arm without pulling the whole thing up. Gussets adds fabric under the arm pit and allows the arm to move freely without pulling up the blouse.

Though I'll be using using Sew Chic Patterns LN1619 Portrait Blouse, this tutorial will apply similarly to any pattern with a gusset, or one that needs a gusset. 

Your pattern will look something like this one where the body and sleeve of the garment are all one piece. You'll cut according to your size needs, and there will be a gusset line marking where the gusset should be sewn. It should point to the neckline. 


During the layout stage, I must emphasize  DO NOT CUT ON THE GUSSET LINE at this point, but DO mark the line on the wrong side of the fabric with your dressmakers carbon.

After marking, the end of the gusset line will need a bit of fusible interfacing. The heavier the better. You will be sewing really close to the raw edge and there won't be much of an allowance. Interfacing helps to keep that end stable and supported. I know you are going to ask me which kind of interfacing, so I recommend fusible woven or knit. Make sure to fuse it tightly to the fabric! Heat and steam do this.  

The first "sewing" step is to mark the seam lines. I use a ruler and a chalk marker. The seam allowance is 1/4" where it crosses the garment seam line, tapering to nothing at the tip. It should look like a "V" with your original marked line running down the center.

Stitch, following the marked seam line. This is called "stay stitching." Use a standard or narrow stitch, especially at the tip to really support that narrow edge. 

Now cut down the center along the "gusset" line. 

Cut right the tip as far as you dare. If you don't cut far enough, it will cause puckering and this next step will be difficult to do. 

If you haven't marked the seam allowance on your gusset, do that now. Correct any cutting misalignment. An accurate seam line here will produce a perfect fit to the bodice.




Pin one side only, seam line to seam line as marked, joining the corner of the gusset to the corner of the gusset line stitching. The bodice will taper to almost nothing at that corner, but it can't be nothing, or the two pieces wouldn't stay together. 

Sew right over the top of the stay stitching. 

When you get to the tip, with the needle now, lift the foot to adjust the fabric. 

Reposition the fabric to align the seams and pin if needed. Make sure the fabric has been twisted to fit and doesn't have any bulk or bunching underneath. Lift the fabrics, as they can get caught on the feed dogs- make sure they are truly straight and aligned, then lower the foot and stitch down the other side.




Press seams toward the bodice. This gusset is complete. I do serge this seam after sewing and use a product called Fray Check to seal that tiny seam allowance on the bodice side.



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Future of Craftsy and the Flirty Day Dress Class

 You may have heard that Craftsy/bluprint has been purchased by an entity called TN Marketing, and that they have resolved to bring back the "old" Craftsy that we once knew and loved. They aren't really set up like the youthful Craftsy I enjoyed comrade with (teachers are still wondering about contract royalties) but for sure, as of now, the promise to keep your account and "forever" class purchases still stand. Hurray!

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

This image below is the landing page for my class, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that this leading "important" statement could be used in a Marketing 101 class as an example of what not to do. It doesn't encourage me to sign up, but rather does the opposite. Is it an attempt at transparency? Let me just be clear here and say that the statement isn't correct. Yes, Simplicity is still selling the pattern, and as soon as they stop, I will publish it again afresh! The design is only licensed to Simplicity. Thankfully I am still the copyright owner and all rights revert back to me.

Now that I've worked with two "for profit" enterprises in my field, Craftsy and Simplicity, I am much wiser about these "collaborations". We independents do it for the chance at exposure, and I did gain some valuable working experience, but there is yet a list to be made of the good and the bad. In the end, would I say it was entirely worth the benefit? Once you enter into a deal with a corporation,  it's like giving a gift to a stranger. You work so hard and give it all you can, but in the end you never know what they are going to do with the gift, so be prepared to just let it all go. Don't expect to be kept in the loop. It's not in the contract. You are the last person to discover it, yet it's your face or name on the front and held responsible by the public none the less.
So now you know. The future of this pattern remains in my keeping, and here's my promise:  I promise the Tia dress pattern will be "forever" available after it finally drops off the wheel with Simplicity. Will we be safe in the hands of TN Marketing? That I can't say, but there must always be hope for a bright future! 
Here's the links for the things I've been talking about in this post: 
Have a Great Sewing Day!  

Monday, April 1, 2019

Pattern Tour: Sew Chic Patterns & LN1923 Gatsby Skirt or Pant

Hello All! It's been a long spell since I've last written, and I've missed you! It's been a very busy year for me (in a good way!), so it's time for me to check in and share with you my last 4 new patterns. Gatsby sales are topping the charts at the moment, so I thought I'd share with you a few details that make this style pretty special.

All About Gatsby

 With a basic pencil sketch on a scrap of paper pinned to the corner of my mood board for the last several years, the skirt idea had been kicking around in my head for a while. A couple of visitors had commented it was cute, and with a board as cluttered as mine, just noticing it was simply amazing! It was my sign that it was time to bring the idea to life.

Designs do change once I get working on them, and adding curves to the princess seams and including pockets were two good choices. I had some good details, but it still seemed too ordinary for me. I don't like ordinary, so I added the extra flounce in front. It pulls the grain off kilter just a little bit, and the flare follows. It's a great detail for a solid color too.

 One customer asked about matching the stripes with the flounce. As you can see I didn't bother with matching the pin stripes on any seam. My rule of thumb for matching is that the print or pattern has to be bold and large enough to make a difference to the look before I will painstakingly match every stripe. On this skirt with this fabric, it doesn't bother me at all.

If you are a pin stripe matcher, let me just say that not all seams can be perfectly matched. To match stripes and plaids, both adjoining seams must have the same grain and match the same curve. Like a sleeve, they can match at certain points, but not throughout. Because the flounce and side front seams are not the same, they will not be able to match up perfectly. The side front and front pattern pieces also have a curved seam, but they are cut to match the same angle, so they could be pattern matched. Besides, if the stripes were matched, the seam would not stand out as such a great detail. Perfectly matched stripes would force the seam into the visual background.

The flare kicks out just a little bit more (pointing to it on the left), and the soft undulating hemline should help you appreciate the "designer" qualities of this skirt.

After I finished with the skirt, I asked my facebook followers which they would prefer- a jacket to go with the skirt, or perhaps a pant. Mind you, they did not know what the skirt looked like, but hands down, everyone wanted a pant. I personally hate making pants, but these are painless to make and are pretty cute!

At this point, let me point out the high top waist (called a hollywood waist) which I love because it visually lengthens the body. This pant leg style used to be called a "stove pipe" because they were wide and uniform from the hip to hem. These pants actually do have a tiny bit of leg flare, but it's not much. It's a pant leg that I like best and one that suits many figure types. Can you tell the difference between these two pant fabrics? Which would you choose and why?

 Find this pattern here:
Thanks for coming on the tour, have a great sewing day!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Custom Tabletop Ironing Board Cover Tutorial

Tabletop ironing boards are inexpensive and readily available in almost every craft or home supply store. The covers, however, can be problematic because they are hard to find or expensive to replace. When looking to find or replace a cover that will fit your board, your options may come down to buying a new board or making due with a cover that is far too big! Luckily, resizing an inexpensive standard cover (ours cost $5.95!) is a quick and and simple process, and you'll finally be able to relieve your designated ironing towel of its unconventional duty.

      A purchased ironing board cover
      A cover-less tabletop ironing board
      A match
      6 large safety pins
      A  shoelace (or any small sturdy cord)

Start by placing your board on top of the wrong side of your cover, keep it centered and towards the tapered part of both pieces. Remove the stitching on the casing that holds the pull cord just along the bottom end of the cover about 2" into the end your board.

Measure and mark two inches off the bottom edge of your board. Cut on the line drawn, rounding the corners in to match the shape of your board corners. Mark a seam allowance, matching the seam of the rest of your casing (~1/2").

 Take the casing with cord inside and pin over the edge of the fabric, making both halves of the casing visible from both sides. Pin from each undone edge of the casing and pinch the excess at the center. Pull the cord up close to your fabric, you do not want to cut this!

Cut the excess casing, leaving enough for the ends to overlap. Pin this closed.


Pull the plastic cord tight. Cut off excess and, using a lit match, melt the tips of your cord to prevent unraveling.

Sew the casing as pinned, sewing close to the casing edge over the drawn seamline, reinforcing where the stitching meets.

Pull tight and check tautness. Tie the cord and flip to the underside of the cover to get it out of the way and prevent snagging.

If your cover remains slightly too loose, use the safety pins and shoelace or cord to thread and lace reinforcements across the bottom. To do that, attach the safety pins along the underside leaving about 1/2" visible from the right side, three on each side and evenly spaced. The placement need not be precise. Cross thread the shoe lace through the pins and tie the two ends of the cord together.

And you're finished! Enjoy the use of your new and removable ironing board cover!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Week 2: Sew Chic Pretty Petticoat Sew Along LN1208

Here we are at WEEK 2 of the Pretty Petticoat Sew Along. How is your project going?

A lot has been said in the Facebook Group about the interfacing layout and WHY we must cut with the length of goods. Group member, Rebekah, has started her tutorial this week with a blunder in this direction and cautions you to not make the mistake she did. Let me give you a visual of the interfacing layout and all the reasons why you are instructed to do so:

Perhaps understanding the WHY will keep you from taking the same wrong turn.


I will now return to Rebekah's post for week 2, with a few edits from me for clarity:


 So this is where I say DON’T DO WHAT I DID! Lol
The very first steps in the instruction booklet specifically say:

So, I got ahead of myself and decided to go against the grain… just DON’T! This interfacing and most are only 20” wide, so not quite wide enough for the front yoke to be placed crosswise on the on a lengthwise fold. I decided to avoid having to zig zag two pieces together, so I turned  the pattern piece to the crosswise fold. As I sewed the yoke together all seemed fine until… I had to baste the bottom of the yoke together. The top layer or outer layer I didn’t interface. Just the inside layer (or my facings).  And since the yoke hem is on a slight curve, it stretched a bit. Which means the 2 layers are uneven in circumference around. It causes a fold … ick! ( below image of white yoke  is from the very first attempt at this petticoat last year and I got bummed and quit. Although now its been pulled out and I’ll correct it). I refuse to waste fabric lol
REMEMBER: place pattern pieces correctly on the grain and you will avoid such a disappointment. I had a slight tuck on my black yoke which I was able to fix easily enough. Not as severe as here on the white yoke.

 Apply the Interfacing and Sew the Side Seams


It’s hard to see here, but I have placed some of my tracing paper down underneath my yoke pieces and interfacings pieces. So as I press it won’t stick to my ironing board. It peels away nicely and toss. No mess! Interfacing on top, facing down. No messy iron either. After inter facing, sew up you side seams  per instructions. You will have two separate yokes.

 Laura: Concerning the yokes, one will be your facing (to the inside, against the body) and the other will be to the outside. I recommend the yoke with the interfacing be the OUTSIDE, or fashion side. WHY? 1) Because it provides stability for your zipper and 2) because this is an undergarment, the interfacing provides a smooth surface for your clothing to move against.

 Zipper Application


 Go ahead and baste shut the center back seam on your yoke that is the fashion layer, not the interfaced layer. And clip about every inch or so along the basting. It will help with removing stitches once the zipper is in.


So here is where Rebekah and I temporarily part ways. I do not recommend any kind of fusible, gummy strip, interfacing strip to hold or apply zippers.  WHY?   
Because they ARE sticky and add bulk, might be inappropriate for some fabrics and add expense. I worry about the risk. In the end, the adhesive doesn't do anything for me that a pin can't do so if you are okay with the old fashioned "pin the zipper tape to your seam allowance" method, this video will be of help to you. It's very long because I go through the whole process.

In the video I talk about zipper types and recommend against using an invisible zipper. The WHY behind this is that it's simply not sturdy enough to hold up against the hard use this type of garment is sure to get. 

Remember that centering the zipper teeth exactly over the seam allowance isn't critical. A mostly on center is good enough. If pins just don't do it for you, the tape is ready to serve. Rebekah does a wonderful job showing you how that is done.


Here I’ve prepped for my zipper insertion with wonder tape ( it’s water soluble & washes away). Just make sure it not too old or it may be past its prime in quality.

Mark 5/8” down from the top and make sure you place the zipper stop just beneath it. Peel off the paper backing to expose the adhesive.

Place  the zipper face down on the adhesive, zipper teeth centered right over the seam basted shut. Follow instructions for sewing zipper down to just the seam allowance.

Once the zipper is in, I continued with putting the yoke together. Don’t forget to trim your seams at the waist after sewing the layers together, CLIP, its on a curve so it will help it to lay flat. UNDERSTITCH the facing at the waist. 


Now you are ready to top stitch your zipper at center back. MARK the top stitching line from the seam on both sides before you stitch. Always stitch with the right side of the garment towards you. How can you see that the top stitching is straight if you aren't looking at it? Another good tip: I often use a walking foot to do my zipper top stitching, especially with long zippers, slippery or loosely woven, or stretchy (lycra) fabrics. This way, ALL layers can move forward in unison. Be sure to sew all the way to the top, moving your zipper pull out of the way.


Here is my black yoke,  you can tell on the bottom right where I had a tuck due to my incorrect interfacing direction. I fixed it as well as I could without deconstructing the yoke too much. Also, this will be inside the seam allowance after attaching the petticoat ruffles, so I didn’t stress myself too much over it. If it was like the white yoke, then yes. 

TIP:  I serged with a single needle three thread overlock stitch. But, be careful if you’ve chosen to use a 7” zipper. The zip stop at the bottom will most likely be in the direct path of the needle on the serger, so when you get to that part , slow down and hand walk your serger past it so you don’t break a needle… ask me how I know! Lol  OR use a 9” zipper and then no zip stop to worry about. Serging the edges cleans them up since they will be exposed after petticoat is done. Or you can use a tight narrow zig zag If you don’t have a serger, OR you can bind with bias binding! Which brings me to my next part.


It's okay to shorten the Zipper above the stop before sewing. 


Have you considered binding you hems? I adore the look of binding on the hem of a petticoat. It gives a lovely finish in my opinion. But it will work just fine without one also. So if price is a consideration, you can cut costs by not bothering with binding. It can be a bit costly depending where you buy it.
I just happened to have 2 yards of black cotton in my stash so I went to work making my own bias binding. Not terribly hard, just an extra step and time , but since I had it, I decided to make it!:) I saved myself $20-$40.
With the settings I used on my pleater, I needed between 12-13 yrds of binding per petticoat layer. So roughly 26 yrds give or take. I ended up with a lot more from my 2 yards of black cotton fabric. A LOT more! So I have extra for another project! Yay! 
Also, binding helps with the body and structure of your petticoat! BONUS!
If you want to be real fancy, you can purchase or make satin/ acetate bias binding. 
Etsy has it for around $1.00/ yrd and higher.
Ebay, amazon,  ( sources listed in materials needed at beginning)
It comes in many different widths. I would suggest ½” as opposed to ¼”. This comes after binding my hems with the bias seam binding foot. The ½” allows a bit more of the fabric to be grab in between the layers. Which keeps the binding from ripping off too easily from the organza…. Ask me how I know! Again. Lol
And I suggest double fold bias. It’s just easier to manage in my opinion. But use what you are comfortable with.


We had an excellent supplemental  2nd week video in the group today, and I'll be posting one tomorrow. The group link:
 Let me know how you are doing! Until next week....