Monday, 21 November 2011

Another Cold

Sorry I haven't posted this week. I have another cold, this time with a violent cough and a sore throat. I couldn't even talk on Saturday morning!

Sabrina Wharton-Brown

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

How to Make a Dress: Part 9 - How to Insert an Invisible Zip with an Adjustable Zipper Foot

I only just remembered that I am supposed to write this post today! Nearly all day I've been putting together a TV cabinet (flat-pack). What hard work that was!

Anyway, onto the invisible zip...

In case you don't know the difference between a regular zip and and invisible one, an invisible zip's teeth curl inwards so that when you zip the zip up you can't see them from the RS. When you have sewn an invisible zip into the garment properly, all you can see is the zip pull, whereas with a regular zip you would see topstitching and a sort of pleat under which you have the zip.

An Invisible zip is sewn in differently to a regular zip. You insert the zip before you sew the seam. Also, you can't sew all the way down it so you need a zip that is at least about 2" (5cm) longer than the opening. You can easily shorten the zip if you have to.

First, neaten the seam allowances all the way down and mark them off. Here, they are 1.5cm and the same width as my tape measure which I used as a guide). Press them to the WS.


Open the zip and, keeping the edge of the coil even with the folded edge of the seam allowance, pin the zip to the seam allowance only. It is a good idea to baste as well.

Remove your zigzag foot and replace it with your adjustable zipper foot. Have the needle fall right at the edge of the foot; you want to get as close to the teeth as possible without having the needle hit them.

TIP: If you sew at an angle so that it looks like you're going to sew diagonally through the teeth, it will be easier to stitch in the groove of the zip. You still have to open the coil far though, so that the teeth are perpendicular to the tape. In this photo I haven't got them pushed back far enough, but if you get them right, the results are better. It will be easier to sew the zip in properly if you machine baste it in first. Yes, it takes more thread, but it is worth it.

You will have to stop stitching about 1/2" to 1" above the zip pull. When you sew an invisible zip you will see why. Backstitch and tie off. Repeat for the other side, keeping the notches on the seam allowances matched.

Now fasten the zip and have the garment parts RS together, tucking the zip as far out of the way as possible. Sew, starting from where you stopped sewing in the zip, past the end and then back stitch. Change to your regular foot and sew the rest of the seam.

Note: It may be easier or better to sew below the bottom of the zip by hand with doubled thread if you can't get it just right. (It is very hard.) Then sew the rest of the seam by machine.


And there you have it! Just press. Doesn't it look neat? Yes, you can see my zip's pull, but you can get zips in different colours, or you can use nail varnish/polish to colour the pull. (Mum can't stand the smell of nail varnish/polish, so we don't have it in the house.)


After that you sew the rest of the dress.

Next week, we'll sew the front of the dress to the back of it and insert or "set" the sleeves. Plus, assuming the Blogger thing works right, I'll post a little video on ease-stitching the easy way (if only I had know about this when I did my first course!). It is my first online video and I felt almost nervous, so there is no speaking in it : ).

Until next time, Happy Sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner, 41 Market Place, Hornsea, East Yorkshire, HU18 1AP

P.S. You can sew an invisible zip in like a regular zip if you like. They are actually easier than regular zips that way. I know because on my first dress, I sewed one in using a centred zip application. You can get quite a narrow finish that way. : )

Monday, 14 November 2011

How to Make a Dress Part 8: The Pocket Flaps

This week, as the title of this post suggests, we'll make the pocket flaps. They're optional, but are a nice touch. You can embroider them or add appliqués or buttons etc. as you see fit. You can make them in a contrasting colour, or if you're using a striped or plaid fabric, you can cut the top-flap (the part you will see) on the bias for interest. You don't have to use the shape that was supplied in your pattern; you can easily draft your own by drawing a horizontal line the width of the pocket, drawing the shape you want below it (and above it if you like) and then adding seam allowances.

What I have learned from making these pocket flaps is that, as with collars, the bottom piece should probably be slightly smaller than the top one to make sure the seams are not seen from the RS when the garment is worn. (I didn't, so don't be concerned if your pocket flap doesn't look exactly like mine. : ))

So, let's get on with making the pocket flap!

How to Make a Pocket Flap

If you have only one pattern piece for the pocket flap, use it to cut all four pieces, and then trim about 1/8" (3mm) off the outside edge of the under-flap (or flap facing, whatever you would like to call it). In this case, it would be the round edge because the pocket flaps are almost semi-circles.

Interface the top pocket flap if you haven't already.

Then, keeping the raw edges even (and this may be a little fiddly) pin and baste the top pocket flap to the under-flap and stitch around the curved edge, leaving the straight edge unsewn so that you can turn the flap RS out in a minute. Press flat to set the stitches.

Grade the seam allowances as shown above (you don't have to pink them) and notch them so that the curve will work out. Turn the pocket flap RS out and push the seam out as far as it will go. You can use a knitting needle for this. Press.

Now you can apply the pocket to the dress. We are doing this before we sew the dress parts together because it's easier to sew "flat".

Fold down the seam allowance of the pocket flap. Trim to half and press. Neaten the raw edge. Now put the flap on the dress above the pocket so that the raw edge is about 1/8" to 1/4" above the top of the pocket. Stitch along the pressed fold. Press.

Flap the flap down to its finished position and stitch down, encasing the seam-allowance.


Repeat for the other pocket flap et Voilá! Your pockets now have flaps!

Next week we'll put in the invisible zip with an adjustable zip foot and then sew up the centre back (CB) seam.

Until next time, happy sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery, 41 Market Place, Hornsea, East Yorkshire, HU18 1AP, UK.

P.S. Last week we got some new stock in the shop so I bought a sewing gauge. (They're only £1.85!) It's nice for measuring hems, and you can even draw circles with it! It also has a point-turner on one end and an adjustable button sewing shank thing on the other. We sell Hemline brand products. We could have got the Nancy Zieman sewing gauge, but they're so much more expensive and I don't know that they're that much better. What do you think? Do you have one? Please comment below. : )

Monday, 7 November 2011

How to Make a Dress: Part 7 - How to Make A Patch Pocket

Hello! : )
My cold is almost gone now and I'm feeling much better.

The next thing we are going to do is make the patch pockets. This stage is optional, but the dress looks better with them. Besides pockets are very handy.

How to Make a Pocket


Get your pocket piece and if you haven't already, interface the WS of the hem (the top bit of the pocket). Turn 1/4 inch (6mm) along the top edge to the WS.

I did it wrong when I was making the dress and I turned it to the RS so I have "corrected" it on the photo with the red rectangle and drawn-in stitches.

Then you grade the seam allowances as shown and trim the edges like you did for the collar. Then you just neaten the raw edges with a zigzag stitch.

The next bit is a good idea. I'm not sure whether I thought of it or whether I got it from somewhere else. Anyway, get the pattern piece for the pocket, put it on top of a piece of cardboard such as you get from used cereal packets, and using your tracing wheel, trace the stitching lines. Cut out the cardboard shape and trim about 1 - 2mm) off the edges (otherwise it won't fit into the pocket).


Turn the pocket RS out and poke the corners out with a knitting needle or something. If they need trimming to a sharper point you should do that now. Now insert the square into the pocket hem and press. Fold the raw edges over the cardboard and press. You probably can't do the corners so leave them.

Take the cardboard out. Now it's time to mitre the corners. As you have folded the straight edges, you now have creases as a guide. Fold the corner in as shown so that the creases line up. Press. Trim the corner as needed to get a flatter corner. Fold the straight edges down so that the corners look neat like the left-hand one below. Then just hand stitch the corner closed, sewing only the seam allowances.

Now it's time to hem the top of the pocket in the same way as you hemmed the sleeve. Your pocket's hem will have the little fold going under, so you should be happy if it doesn't look like mine. : )

Secure your thread in the seam allowance at one side of the pocket. Take a stitch about 1/4" (6mm) long inside the fold of the hem, then take a stitch of one thread only in the pocket. Repeat until you reach the end. Then secure your thread in the seam allowance and cut it off.

Now you can place your pocket on your dress. There may be markings such as Tailor's tacks or dressmaker's pencil to help you match it up, or you may like to put the pocket wherever you want. Pin and baste. Then topstitch in place by machine. I have tried hand sewing pockets in place, but my hand stitching is never strong enough for something like a pocket, so I machine stitch.


I tried topstitching one of the pockets on using my blindhem foot as a guide, but the results were terrible. Thank goodness for my quick-unpick. It's better to topstitch with your regular presser foot.

And that's it. Just repeat for the other pocket.

Next week we'll make and apply the pocket flaps.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery, 41 Market Place, Hornsea, East Yorkshire, HU18 1AP
Tel. +44 (0)1964 537901

P.S. Are you watching Kristie's Homemade Britain on Channel 4? I especially liked last week's episode because it was mostly sewing. On my mental wishlist is now a Free-motion embroidery foot. : )

P.P.S. Sorry for any typos; I don't have much time for checking today. : )