Tutorial: How to make a Nursing Cover

NursingcoverblogHey everyone, sorry for the quiet blog… I’ve spent past couple of weeks designing and setting up my new studio.  So excited about this because ALL of my drafting, sewing and other mess is staying down stairs in my sewing room!   I’m only going to bring the single current project that I am working on for video.   Here’s a close up photo of some of the equipment I’ll be using.  I’m shooting with a Sony F3…. This is an amazing camera.  It allows me to shoot by myself more easily than if I were shooting with my Canon 5D because the picture quality is so good that I can zoom in during editing instead of zooming in for details while I’m shooting and being the movie star at the same time!   ….and now for the debut of my first class…photo 2I’ve decided that I’m going to shoot some short tutorials on all kinds of fun sewing projects in addition to my drafting, fitting and construction stuff.  One of the guys who does all my printing asked I could make a nursing cover for his wife because they are having a baby.    I couldn’t resist.   I designed a simple pattern (all easy rectangles) and sewed together a nursing cover that I think will be very comfortable, and easy to get on and off.  Instead of tying it around the neck, I made a knit tube that is worn around one shoulder and under the opposite arm.   It’s also reversible.   …. Enjoy this three part tutorial and let me know what you think!

Part 1:

  • The supply list
  • Cutting out the cotton print fabrics
  • Constructing Panels for the right and reverse side of the cover
  • True- up the edges

Part 2:

  • Cut and sew knit tube
  • Sew pieced panels together
  • Clip corners and seams
  • Turn sections right side out

Part 3:

  • Press panels and knit tube
  • Attach knit tube to top edge of panels
  • Sew the opening closed
  • Sew ends of the knit tube together

photo 5

New Sewing Studio Set at J Stern Designs!


Hey everyone… Happy rainy Saturday.  I want to show you my “before” photos of the new studio that my husband and I are working on.   I finally snapped when I was trying to organize my sewing studio for a new class that I want to shoot.  By the time I get myself organized… all my sewing stuff organized and put away half the day is over.  Then it takes my husband half a day to set up lighting and camera angles.  This usually takes a long time because we’re always trying to work around the stuff in my sewing room that I don’t want in my video.   Luckily, we have an extra room in the house.  We are going to transform it into my studio that will always be camera ready!  I’ll shoot all my upcoming (exciting) sewing, pattern work, fitting and whatever I feel like videos.

My first challenge was coming up with an inexpensive work table.  I really didn’t want to drag my cutting table up the stairs… Plus, I want to keep it in my sewing room.   So I decided to check out Deepika’s Blog at Patternreview.   There is a lot of great posts on all sorts of sewing topics… One of the series she does every month is a tour of one of her member’s sewing spaces.  I fell in love with this amazing cutting table that was made by putting two low dressers together (back to back).  I really love that idea, but I couldn’t find dressers that I liked…that were also in my budget.  So I went to Lowe’s and I found the perfect surface…. a 4 x 8 foot sheet of white Melamine… It only cost $38.00 :)

photo 1(2)…and it fit perfect on top of the table that was already in the room.  But you can see it’s pretty boring.

photo 4I dragged a dressform and a dress rack up the stairs.  I figure I can use those to organize and show the garments I’m working on in the class…

photo 1But it still looked pretty sterile.  My husband and I brainstormed ideas for set design. We took advantage of the fact that it was a yucky, rainy day and drove down to IKEA.   Before leaving, I went on their website and I fell in love with these shelves with square openings…

photo 5Here we are in line to check out.  I can’t wait to get these shelves out of the box… I think there may be some assembly required :)  … stay tuned!


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How to True-up the armhole after Adjusting the Shoulder

Hey everyone,   I’m still working on  my Mom’s shirt pattern…  When I made my initial pattern adjustments so I could cut out the fit muslin, I checked to make sure that the shape of the armhole was still a nice smooth “C” shape.  After I adjusted the length of the shoulder seams I checked the shape of the armhole and I noticed that it collapsed a little bit.  I think I’ve posted about this before, so this will just be a quick refresher on the subject.  It’s important to have a nice smooth transition from the front to the back armhole at the shoulder.  If the edge of the armhole is shaped like a subtle “V”, that will show when the garment is being worn. It’s especially noticeable on a sleeveless garment.

In the case of my Mom’s shirt pattern, the sleeve collapsed because I shortened the shoulder length by tipping the side front piece in (pivoting at the lower right corner of the piece).   I could have shortened the shoulder by shifting the entire side front piece over equally, but then I would have been left with having to true up somewhere else on the pattern.  This is an example of “every adjustment you make affects something else”.

So, if you think you may need to check the shape of your armhole, let me show you how.  Start by laying the front and back pieces together so that the shoulder seam allowances are aligned with each other… like this.  (I like to draw the seam allowances right onto the pattern pieces so they are easy to match up.)

a1You can see that the armhole collapses slightly at the shoulder seam.  The goal is to have a nice smooth “C” shape.  So, in this case, I need to re-draw the upper ends of the armhole through the shoulder so the transition is smooth.   You will see that this is a very small adjustment.  I’m not going to radically re-draw the shape of the armhole (If your armhole needs major renovation to get it to a smooth “C” shape, chances are either one of your pattern adjustments was too much, or the original pattern needs to be checked for a drafting error.)

a3I’m using my French Curve to smooth out the shape of the armhole at the shoulder seam.    Here’s a close-up photo of the new shape of the armhole (the pencil line along the cut edge of the pieces).

a4Here’s what the armhole looks like after I trim along the new line I drew.  Notice that the transition from the front armhole to the back is fairly straight.

a5 And, a close-up.

a6Please let me know if you have questions about this…Stay tuned for a tutorial showing how to adjust the back pattern piece for a high round back…






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How to Shorten Shoulder Seam…and Raise Bust in One Adjustment

Hey Everyone, I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.  We did, very relaxing to spend the day at my Mom’s house.   I even had an opportunity to work on her muslin for the Perfectly Fitted Shirt.   I figure I can make some shirts for her as I work on my new Patternreview class!  I made some initial adjustments to the pattern pieces and then I cut out and sewed a custom fit muslin.  When she tried it on, I started to fine-tune the fit.  You can see from the photo below that I pinned up the muslin across the front to raise the dart.

m2We need to make a few pattern adjustments to get a great fit…  The one that I want to show you today is how to shorten the shoulder and raise the bust in one step.  I need to raise the dart 1/2″ and  shorten the shoulder 1″.  Because my mother wants a nice loose fitting shirt (as a matter of fact, I had to convince her that she needs some darts for some gentle shaping),  the position of the waistline in not as important. (I actually removed most of the curve along the side seam.)  I mention this because the way I’m going to show you how to raise the dart is also going to raise the waistline.  If you’re making a fitted shirt and the waistline is the right position, this is not the best way to raise the bust.  I’ll show you that adjustment in another post.

I put the sleeves on so I could see how they fit and how they affected the fit of the muslin.  The first thing I noticed was that the shoulders were too long.  I pinned out an inch of fabric at the shoulder seam and blended to zero at the point I raised the bust.

m4Here’s another photo showing that I needed to do the same thing in the back as well. You can also see that I pinned out the 1/2″ across the back.  Then I sewed in waist darts for some gentle shaping.

m3Ok, let me show you how to adjust the front bodice pattern piece to shorten the shoulder and raise the bust dart.   The first step is to draw guidelines for slashing the pattern.   First I drew a horizontal line above the dart (approximately 1 1/2″ above the dart).  Then I drew a vertical line from the shoulder to the horizontal line.

a1The next step is to slash the pattern along those lines.  You end up with side front, center front and lower front pieces.    Here’s what the pattern looks like after it’s slashed along the guidelines.

a2The next step is to adjust the length of the shoulder seam.  I’m going to draw a guideline 1″ from the slashed edge on the center front piece that extends to the lower edge like this (dashed line).

a3Then I’m going to align the slashed edge of the side front piece with the dashed line and tape it in place.  Finally to finish the shoulder, I’m going to blend the shoulder seam by aligning a ruler with the seam at the neckline and tip of the shoulder and redrawing a straight line (red line).

a4Now let’s raise the bust dart.  Starting at the CF edge of the center front piece, I’m going to draw a horizontal line 1/2″ above the bottom edge of the piece.  If I draw it parallel to the grainline (black dashed line).  Notice that this line blends to the bottom edge of the side front piece at the side edge. Notice that the lower edge of the side front piece is now pitched up at the side edge.  This is caused by the fact that we used the lower slashed edge of the side front piece as a pivot point to shorten the shoulder length.

a5So to raise the dart, I’m going to align the top edge of the lower front piece with the black dashed line… raising the bust dart 1/2″.  (The blue shaded areas indicate the pattern pieces that are overlapped.)

a6So, that’s how to raise the bust dart and shorten the shoulder seam in one step.  I’m going to do an identical adjustment to the back bodice so that the shoulder and the side seam are the same length (that way they will sew together).

Hope this is helpful.  Please let me know if you have questions.  :)









J Stern Designs has new Jean Pattern & Selvage Denim to go with it!

Hey everyone,

Here it is…finally!!  My new jean pattern that’s specially designed for women who have a straight shape.  In fact, you have to have a straight shape (less than 2″ difference between your fullest hip and thighs…measure thighs when you’re standing with your legs together.)  This pattern features straight side seams, so you can’t make some of the traditional fit adjustments that work with a curved side seam.  The up side to this is, it makes it easier to adjust if it agrees with your shape.  I’ve already written a post on how to lower the rise when you’re working with a jean pattern that has straight side seams… and there will be more to come!  Here’s a photo of the cover of the pattern… and yes, that is my butt :)



… I wanted to let you know that I found super yummy Selvage Denim when I went to NYC this week.  I got even more excited when I put it through my wash test.  If you have been following along, you know that I washed my Japanese Denim Jeans that I made from selvage denim…and got yucky results (After washing them only two times!)  They now have very pronounced fade marks at every wrinkle.

photo 3

Not sure I want to blame it on the fabric itself.  I think part of the problem was that I wore them several times before washing them for the first time.  Not long enough to get the amazing results that I’ve seen on various Selvage Denim Jean websites… but just enough to break the denim down where the wrinkles were forming.    To test my selvage denim I washed it once… it came out squished up …  like this…


Then I threw it into the wash again… all wrinkled up.  After a second wash and dry, I ironed it flat… Super happy with the results.  Very little fading  and much softer.   Here’s how I’m going to handle my Selvage denim going forward.  If I’m not going to be committed to wear, wear, wear, wear, wear  and wear… for 6 months, I’m going to prewash it before working with it.  …Probably 5 or 6 times to get the dye out and make it super soft.   Because it was woven on a narrow shuttle loom, it’s only 33″ wide, and it’s non stretch.  The color is a very dark blue with the trade mark selvage edge featuring the red thread woven into it.   I adjusted my J Jean Pattern and made them out of this prewashed denim… very excited!  I’ll keep you posted on my ongoing selvage denim adventure….      If you’re interested, I have the selvage denim for sale in my store… and my New J Jean Pattern is also available.  If you’re a straight girl like me, you’ll get amazing results with the pattern… Here’s how to tell if it’s for you.   Measure your waist, full hip and around both of your thighs with your legs together.  If there is less than a 2″ difference between your measurements this is the pattern for you!  It’s multi-sized 6-18.


Metal metal military style buttons
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Celebrate Veteran’s Day — Use Military Style Buttons on your Jeans

My Grandpa's Honorable Discharge Paper from the Army

My Grandpa’s Honorable Discharge Paper from the Army

Hey Eveyrone,

Happy Veteran’s Day.  I was thinking about my grandpa as I worked on my jeans this morning.  He served in the Army during World War II… when it came time to add buttons to my J Jeans, I decided to search my stash for metal military style buttons instead of tradition jean tac buttons.  I found four metal military style buttons that were my grandpa’s–From an old coat, not his uniform.  Perfect for my jeans… Something to remember my grandpa by.

Metal metal military style buttons

Metal metal military style buttons

Before we get to my Grandpa’s buttons, let me show you how to place and sew on back jean pockets with flaps.

1The first step is to decided they are going to look attractive and enhance your back view.  Pin them on and try your jeans on to fine-tune the position of them.  It helps if you can ask a sewing friend (or you husband) how your butt looks :)

2My flaps look good when they are spaced approximately 2″ from the center of the topstitching along the back crotch seam.

Tip:  Don’t use the actual seam to center your pockets… the topstitching will make them look unevenly spaced.  Instead measure from the center of the topstitching…. even though they will actually be a little uneven, they will look even…trick of the eye!

In addition to centering the pockets, you want to play with the angle that you place them.   My pockets look better if they are slightly straighter across my butt than the back yoke seam.  You can see that the top inside corner of the guideline is 3/4″ from the back yoke…and the outer corner is 1 1/4″ away.    Definitely take a minute to check this, sometimes pockets look better if they are parallel to the back yoke seam (they may need to be higher or lower too).

3My flaps are already constructed and I’ve pressed the top edge under 1/2″.  Line the folded edge of the top of the flap with the guideline.   Flip the pocket up and pin the fold along the guideline.

6Then sew the flat to the back leg along the guideline.  Before you start stitching check to make sure that you’re not catching the front leg into the stitching.

5When the flap is topstitched in place, the raw edges will be encased in the stitching.  Trim the 1/2″ seam allowance to 1/8″.

7Press the flap down.  Here’s a peek underneath…You can see that the seam allowance is very short and it will be easy to encase into the topstitching.

8Here’s how the flap looks after it’s been anchored in place with topstitching.  You can see that I stitched close to the folded top edge of the flap, and then about 1/2″ away too.  I was trying to be consistent with the topstitching detail around the edge of the flap.

10Here’s what the underside of the flap looks like after it’s been topstitched in place.  While I have the flap up, I’m going to draw a guideline to position the top edge of the back pocket.  I like my pockets to be pretty close the base of the flap.  In this case, I drew a line 1/4″ away from the base of the flap.

9The next step is to position the back pocket under the flap, along the guideline.  Pin in place and lay the flap down to make sure that they are properly aligned with each other.  Then topstitch the back pocket in place.    Note how my back pocket design looks before it’s topstitched in place…

11And, how it looks different now that I’ve added topstitching to attach it to the back leg.  This is a good example of how topstitching really adds a lot of character to your jeans.

12Here’s how the pocket looks when the flap is laying down.   Notice, I did not sew a button onto the back pocket before I topstitched it into place.   I’ve decided to sew the button directly into the buttonhole in the flap instead.  I’m doing this because I never button my back pockets… So, I’m not going to take the time to make sure the button is position on the pocket perfectly so that it lines up with the buttonhole on the flap :)  Quick and easy!!

15In the front I added a button on the flap of the coin pocket (again, I attached it right to the flap).  But, don’t worry, I can keep my jeans closed, the button on the waistband is fully functional!





How to piece a waistband

What to when you run out of Denim… How to piece the waistband

Hey everyone,


w8I’m working on my new jeans… Love them!  I’m using the Selvage denim that I found in NYC a few weeks ago, and I’m trying to be very frugal with it… So of course, I did not cut a long enough piece to get my bias waistband out of it :(   This is especially disturbing because I brought this denim to the Sewing Tree for the Jean Fit Workshop I did there a few weeks ago… Where I cut pieces that were too short for a couple of the ladies who were ready to cut their jeans out!   I really feel like that should have been a “live and learn” moment…  (I guess I needed some reinforcement :)   I really didn’t want to cut more denim and spend time washing and washing and washing it…. So I walked away and slept on it.  I’m glad I did… when I starting working this morning,  I realized that I could piece the waistband.

w1I had two good size pieces of denim that were left over after I cut out the leg pieces.  After measuring the width of one of the pieces, I decided that I needed three bias strips to make a waistband that would fit around my waist.  This will work out well because there will not be a seam at the CB after the waistband is pieced together.

w2I lucked out, the 45° angle was lined up perfectly with the side cut edges of the piece of denim… So the ends of my strip are already cut at a perfect 45° angle…All I had to do is align the raw edges and sew the strips together.


After the seams are sewn, I pressed them open to reduce the bulk.


Because the denim is cut on the bias, and the seam is also sewn in the bias direction, it will blend in nicely and be barely noticeable.

w5The theme of these jeans is going to be “getting creative with fabric scraps”.  I used a piece of striped cotton for the pocket bags, but I didn’t have enough for the waistband facing.  So I cut the facing out of a piece of soft twill.  Then I pieced together the scraps of striped cotton so I could use it to finish the raw edge of the facing.  Here’s what the facing looks like after it’s been sewn to the waistband.  Notice that I trimmed the denim seam allowances that were poking up above the edge of the waistband.

w6Now it’s all ready to attach to the top of my jeans :)  …So happy I figured out how to use the denim scraps to make a waistband… Otherwise, I’d have to spend a day washing and drying another piece!



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How to adjust a straight side seam Jean pattern

Hey everyone… Super exciting week for me!  I’m finally launching my J Jean Pattern, which is for women with a straight (my) shape <3.    Basically, if your hip and thighs measure the same, or almost the same, this may be an amazing pattern for you!   You can see from the photo below that I’m fairly straight… I never acquired a curvy hip.   I’m wearing my first pair of J jeans.  I did make a few adjustments to the original pattern to get them to fit me… but I need a few more, like the excess length pinned out across the center front rise).   Let me show you how I manage my pattern adjustments, and how working with a straight side seam jean  pattern is a little different from working with one that has a hip curve.1The first thing that I do is make a “to do” list right on the pattern pieces that I’m going to work with.   I NEVER adjust my master pattern.  So that means making a copy of the pattern before I start adjusting anything.  Note that it’s important to include the date… that way it’s easy to keep track of what’s what.

In this post I want to show you how to lower the front rise.  In my case, I have to lower the CF rise 1 1/2″. Because I’m working with a straight side seam, this is going to cause my side seam to pitch toward the center front (I’ll show you how to deal with the side seam later).  If I were working with a conventional jean pattern that had a curved side seam, it would be a simple matter of truing up the curve after making the rise adjustment.

The first step is to make multiple slash lines to remove the excess length at CF.   By removing it a little at a time, the side seam (grainline) will be less affected.  The total that I need to remove is 1 1/2″… so in this case, I’m going to remove 3/8″ in four places.   Below you can see the first two slashes that I made.

3You can see below, that I got rid of most of the excess length in the zipper seam allowance by removing 3/8″ x 3.  I also decided to shorten the CF crotch below the zipper allowance, removing the last 3/8″ just below the base of the zipper seam allowance.

4After adjusting the front rise, there is a second step that’s necessary to complete this pattern adjustment. The side seam needs to be straightened.  You can see from the photo below that the side seam above the adjustment is actually pitching toward the CF. To help show this, I aligned my 60″ ruler along the straight portion of the side seam, making it easy to see how the top of the side seam is curved.


To fix this, I’ll adjust the CF front edge an equal amount.   The side seam flares out a total of 1/2″ at the waistline edge.

So, I’ll take away 1/2″ from the CF edge of the pattern to compensate for this shift.  Here’s a close-up of the center front edge.  I’m making a mark 1/2″ from the edge of the pattern.  Then, I’ll use this mark as a guideline when I true up the zipper seam allowance.

8Below you can see that I reshaped the zipper seam allowance to accommodate the 1/2″ that needed to be trimmed from the CF.

9Here’s a look at the completed “lower the front rise” adjustment.  You can see that the amount that was added to the side edge was trimmed from the center front edge.

10Stay tuned for more pattern adjustments on this straight side seam jean pattern :)







Sometimes you can take that patch off

Hey Everyone,

I just got home from our Mother/Daughter’s weekend in Vermont.  We normally go in the Summer… see a play, eat and shop ourselves silly.  This summer we were so busy, that we could not agree on a weekend.  So we went now.  It was really fun.  Of course because of the cooler weather, shopping had a different focus.  My mother was bend on getting me a winter coat.   I don’t wear coats… but I tried to humor her.  I almost picked out a real, quilted coat.  But in the end I couldn’t do it.  We almost lost hope until I spied a Navy coat/jacket that was made from “tech-wool”… I put it on and I was instantly happy.  I love it, except for the fact it had two big white patches on it.  One was sewn on the front and the other was on the sleeve.  (I think that some may think this is cool because it’s a ski jacket.  The company’s logo was proudly displayed in two places!  …I’m not a skier and I really didn’t like the patches so I decided to see if I could take them off.

fribtI used a seam ripper to carefully pick out the stitching the held the patch in place.  At this point if the patch had been glued in place, as well as stitched,  I would not have been able to take it off.  Happily it was just stitched on.

photo 5After I got the patch off, I thought that I would have to sew it right back on.  There was in indentation where the patch had been. In the photo below it looks like dirt, but really it was just matted down wool where the stitching had been.  I tried rubbing it away, that didn’t work.  I put it back on the dressform and stood away from it to see if you could see it from a few feet away.  It was very noticeable.  I almost resigned myself to stitching the patches back on.  then I decided to heat up my iron and give it some steam.  I didn’t press down with the iron because I didn’t want to burn the wool… I just hovered the iron over the indentation and applied steam.

photo 4

I was so happy, the indentation when away!  … I thought I would share this with you, just in case you have something in your closet that can use a little “unembellishment” :)



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Make IT…Take IT at ASE

Hi Everyone,

Last year at the American Sewing Expo I had a Make It-Take It project in my booth… It was a not so exciting Back Jean Pocket…  I thought I would be fun because I included instructions to add it to a simple tote bag… Let be honest, it was boring!!!!   This year I decided to do something fun.   So I came up with this silk bead bracelet.   It’s made from twisting a strip of silk and stitching over it with a zig zag stitch.   Then it’s folded in half and twisted again to create a loop for a button closure.  Before the button gets sewn on,  you can pick out a “pandora” style bead and slide it onto the twisted fabric silk cord.  Two tight knots hold it place.    I had fun testing a few different fabrics, and I think this will be a cool project.

MakeitTakeit…It may seem like this project has nothing to do with what I do :)….  But, there is a small amount of fitting to get it to be a comfortable length :)

There is motivation behind coming up with something fun…  I’m participating in a Charity Cycle Challenge in March 2015.  I decided that this project can help kick off my fundraising.  I’m going to be spinning (Cycling on a stationary bike) for 8 hours to raise money for The Alzheimer’s Association.  This a a charity that’s near and dear to my heart because Alzheimer’s is a health concern in my family.    I’ll be giving more information about the Cycle Challenge as the date gets a little closer… but it’s never too early to start!!!!

See you at the Expo!!