J Stern Designs l Behind the Scenes: Shorts Adventure

Hey Everyone… Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I’m getting ready to spend the next three days watching Abby and her team, The Inferno, play volleyball. (Love it) I’m also super excited about today’s video. It’s a behind the scenes peek at what goes on when I’m working on a new pattern. Part of it is sewing samples… Usually I’m not super happy during this step in the process because I want to get to the pattern production part of it, but in this case, I’m thrilled. I LOVE these shorts. I’m actually wearing them right now as I do this post. They are so comfortable. I can’t wait to get the long short version finished.

As a “special treat”, I didn’t edit out the mistakes that I made when I was constructing my shorts. When you are designing your own pattern, it doesn’t come with instructions, so my first couple of samples are trial and sometimes error. Nothing tragic, but I think my mishaps are good examples of things to be thinking about when you’re working a your own shorts (or pants). First, I’ll take you through the finishing of the waistline. There isn’t a separate waistband, just a facing. After it’s sewn on, the topstitching will create the look of a waistband. Then all share a few details about the button fly, buttons and holes… this is where a had some trouble….no spoiler, you’ll have to watch to see my boo boos!

The original plan was to show you some back pocket construction as well… I mistakenly purchased STICK on sew on velcro. It was awful to work with. I had to break out the Sewer’s Aid to get four little square of it sewn to the flaps of the back pockets… So, instead of a step-by-step, you get to see the finished pocket. Anyway, I hope you enjoy… and I hope you have a great holiday weekend too :)


Quick Tip Tuesday…On Wednesday

Hey Everyone, Well I managed to get the computer to start up this morning (It’s days are numbered though….)   Today’s quick tip is included with a peek at my new shorts pattern.  You’ll have to watch to see what it is :)   I’m excited about this pattern because I think I made a back crotch curve breakthrough.  I spent a lot of time trying to fit the first version of it on to my butt, but I couldn’t get it right.  So I stepped back and thought about it for a few and then I started a second draft.  Based on the fitting issues I was having, I made some adjustments to the shape of the crotch curve…  Then I traced a copy and started the fitting process again.  So happy I took the time to work on the design, the second version was so much easier to fit.  And, I got a stamp of approval from Anna (which is very difficult to get… she’s brutal with her honest opinion).  Anyway, check it out and let me know what you think!



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Preview of the Perfectly Fitted Shirt…and a Little Man Sewing!

Hey everyone, Hope you’re all having a nice weekend. My girls are actually bobbing around in the pool (It’s still a little nippy for me :) I’m going up to work on my new pattern “Long Shorts – Short Shorts” and I decided to do a quick post about some Man sewing and my new class on… The Perfectly Fitted Shirt.

First let’s get the men out of the way. During my Jean Fit Workshop last Wednesday, I was telling my class about two excellent men sewers who have excellent websites with excellent video tutorials. First there is BrianSews. He does very clear tutorials on how to put in tac buttons and rivets (plus much more). Next I discovered ManSewing with Rob Appell. He does lots of stuff… some sewing, some cooking … very interesting. Check out his tutorial on how to shorten jeans… the best I’ve ever seen!

Now onto my new class for It was truly a labor of love. I started working on in in September of last year and just finished it up a couple of weeks ago. Of course there was lots of fun in between working on it, but I’m glad to finally be finished. I think it’s a great class for sewers who may be new to shirt making. It takes you step-by-step through many common fitting issues and construction from cutting out to popping the buttons on. In this class I’m working with my cup sized Perfectly Fitted Shirt Pattern. Of course, if you’ve got a favorite already in your stash, you can work with it too. Here’s a quick preview video that takes you though what’s cover in this class… Please let me know if you have any questions!


Quick Tip Thursday l How to tell if your buttonhole is the right size for your button….

and-How to fine-tune the fit of your shirt by adjusting back waist darts… and-Links to No Sew Pant Hook Closure and How to Make Pants using your Jeans Pattern.   AND a quick fashion show to inspire you to make pants using your jeans pattern :)  This Quick Tip really feels more like an episode of a day in the life of j stern designs than a quick tip… Let me know what you think!  Working on shorts this weekend…super excited :)


Quick Tip Tuesday l Button Placement and How to Keep the Facing on the Inside…

When you’re sewing a garment with straps (like my new dress design :) … Phew….that was a long title! Today was a whirlwind of activity. My mom came over to bring me buttons to sew onto the shirt that I made for her for Mother’s Day…Then we went on a tour of the local nurseries (and I got a bunch of new stuff to plant). We had such a nice day… I know it was just Mother’s Day, but I love the chance to spend time with her whenever I get it!

So, I had to squeeze in Tuesday’s quick tip between admiring all the new plants that I have to put in containers and going to a track meet… and dropping off my other daughter at volleyball practice! I want to show you how to place buttons along the placket of a fitted shirt…and I have a quick tip for keeping the facing from peeking out along the edges of the straps of the dress I’m working on!

When you’re spacing buttons along the placket on a fitted shirt, start by positioning the first button level with your full bust. That’s where the shirt may experience the most strain :) Then you can space the rest of the buttons up and down from there! Next, I want to show you can keep your facing on the inside. …Normally, I trim off about 1/8″ of the width of the strap when I’m cutting out the facing…That way the facing is slightly more narrow than the garment fabric. It will stay neatly on the inside of the garment. If you forget, or don’t trim your facing, it may peak out… creating that “home made” look that I try to avoid. So, here’s an easy way to fix that if you need :)

SO, check it out and let me know if you have questions :) … Plus, I used my new camera as my “B” camera. I’m kinda of happy about how it added to the video :)


Quick ADVENTURE Thursday!

Hey Everyone, …I love shooting my quick tips, but I’m beginning to realize that I can’t call everything a quick tip :) Sometimes it’s really more of a sew along and sometimes it’s something else. So as I move along with my new camera (which I love by the way!) and work in my studio, I’m going to organize my videos a little better (please bear with me)… Yesterday I took my new camera to the Jean Fit Workshop I’m teaching in Rhode Island… This has been a fun class to teach from day 1…


Very talented group of ladies who have worked hard to create great fitting jeans! And, happily, they were happy to star in my first adventure video (thank you ladies).

DCIM.00_09_18_16.Still006So, the following video features some tips on Front Fly Topstitching Design, Back Pocket Positioning and Getting Crisp Corners

DCIM.00_08_15_27.Still004There’s also some problem solving and a sprinkle of fashion show!

DCIM.00_05_11_17.Still001 I take you right in the car with me… so fasten your seat belts and check it out!




Quick Tip Tuesday l How to Put in an Easy Invisible Zipper…

Fit for a costume. Plus rework on the design of my bodice :) Hey everyone, happy Tuesday! I decided to do a really easy zipper on the back of the top that I’m working on… because I’m really only going to wear it to jean fit class tomorrow. This zipper technique is perfect for Halloween Costumes or for a garment that you have to finish AND you have to leave the house in 30 minutes or less. It looks great on the outside. There is a tip for matching the waist seam…and a quick way to finish the top of the zipper tape. But, I do want to be clear…I would never a zipper in this way if I was making a garment that I loved!

In addition to the zipper, I figured out how I’m going to get rid of the extra overlap at the center front of the bodice and maintain modesty :) … so check the tutorial out for that! Plus, I have a new toy that I’m learning how to use that will make my video tutorials easier to produce… especially when my husband takes “my” equipment for a shoot :) … He got me a really small Canon Camera that shoots video…I can slide it in my pocket and take it with me. Stay tuned for my first video using this camera… I’m taking it with me to Jean Fit Class tomorrow! I plan on showing you how the class is going :) There are some really great fitting jeans :) I’m so excited!!

If you have any questions about the video, please let me know! …I’m really hoping to have the new version of my top finished so I can show you how that looks on Thursday :) I’m so tempted to make it out of this BCBG knit that I have in my stash…It’s not super stretchy, so I think it may work… We’ll see :)


Quick Tip Thursday l Cut and Sew the Lower Bodice

Hey Everyone, Happy Thursday.  Here’ s today’s QT… I want to show you how to cut out and sew the lower bodice pieces for the tunic.   And you can see me modeling it too!  Very exciting :)  I love the fit of this top, but the overlapping parts overlap too far…  So, I’m going to work on a re-design over the weekend.  Happily, I think I will actually be staying home :) I’ve got some projects to do and I want to completely finish the Perfectly Fitted Shirt for Patternreview…  My computer (Lenny’s old computer) is doing funny stuff when I try to edit sometimes.   This is making it a little frustrating to get stuff done…  I’m hoping if I take a blog break and give the Premier software a timeout, it will be better behaved when I turn it back on!

So, on to the top.  Basically I’m going to show you how to use your measurements to determine how wide to cut the front and back lower bodice/skirt pieces.  Then I’m going to use a French Seam to sew the panels together and gather them up using two rows of gathering stitches. Let me know if you have questions… or if you have an option of what you think the top looks like on me!   Hope everyone is having a nice day :) Jen

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Quick Tip Tuesday l How to Line a Bodice

Hey Everyone,
It was a big weekend… Abby’s Sweet 16 Party was really amazing. She had 90 friends…and they all had such a great time…Thanks to Kenny Q (If you ever need a DJ/MC at your party… he’s your guy!) Anna was busy in Washington DC at the National History Bowl Finals… Good Times all around! I also worked on my new dress pattern… When you check out today’s QT video, you’ll see the completed design on the dress form. I’ll share my opinions about what I think of the design and the fabric on Thursday. I can tell you that the design needs some re-work. I was so intent on making a modest shape, that I think I went a little overboard. Definitely let me know what you think about it. (Be honest-if you don’t like it, I would love to hear about it!!)

Anyway, here are the juicy details: I’m going to show you how to use a lining to finish both the armhole and the neckline in one shot. Then I’ll put the left and right pieces together to create the complete shape of the bodice. After gathering the bodice to size, I’ll finish up by sewing the band onto the lower edge.

It’s a lot of info for a “quick tip”… I think I’m going to have to come up with another title for my video tutorials. Maybe I’ll have sew alongs and quick tips :)

Ok.. Check out today’s video tutorial and let me know what you think!


Quick Tip Thursday l Dress Bodice Fit Update …and…

how to match prints.  Hey everyone… I’m on a roll today finished sewing up the bodice of my new dress and I love it!  The contour fit adjustment made a big difference.  So as soon as I press “Publish” I have to switch gears and get into Sweet 16 mode.  Abby’s party is just two days away, and I have a designer volleyball cake to bake and decorations, favors and other fun stuff to deal with.  Today is also the kick off to Anna’s trip to DC for the History Bowl Finals… So exciting, wish I could go with her too!

Anyway, back to business.  I cut out my dress bodice pieces and basted them together… did a little fine-tune fitting (I had to take it in at the side seams and I’m still playing with the length of the straps.  Then I used a very “technical” method for cutting out the band of fabric that I’m going to use to edge the bottom of the bodice before I attach the skirt.  I cut a piece of the cotton print on the bias and wrapped it around my mid-drift so that I could just trim it to the length I wanted.  Then I measured the length of the back bodice edge and marked the fabric band where the side seams would be. (The bottom edge of the back bodice measured 9″… So I marked in 9″ from each end of my strip.)

I pinned the band to the bottom edge of the bodice, aligning the side seam marks with the side seams of the bodice…. Then I gathered up the lower front edge to fit the center portion of the band.   It went together perfectly!  And, the unfinished edges of the bodice do not gap anymore.

…Let me know what you think!  Also, there is a tip for matching prints (very easy).   Have a great weekend, and next week we will finish this dress up!