QTcover Thursday

Quick Tip Thursday: How to sew and press a bust dart

Hey everyone, Happy Thursday.  Today I want to show you an easy way to sew a bust dart.  Darts used to be a source of sewing irritation for me.  When I first started sewing, I was taught to back tack at the tip of the dart to secure the stitches.  …I spent a lot of time practicing to get my back tack spot on… so I wouldn’t have a dimple at the tip of my darts. (I wore a lot of tops with yucky darts…)

Anyway, while I was working at Manchester Sewing Machine Center I took a lot of classes from the super talented ladies that also worked there.  I learned several good ways to sew a bust dart, and all of them did not require a back tack to secure the stitches.   So, let me show you one of the ways…  This method takes advantage of a shortened stitch length.

Start by back tacking to secure the base of the dart at the side seam, then sew the dart using a 3.0 stitch length.  When you get within 1/2″ of the tip of the dart, reduce your stitch length to 2.0 (or even 1.5 depending on the weight of your fabric).  Then stitch smoothly toward the tip of the dart…  Shift your stitching so that it’s just inside the line to snug yourself a little closer to the folded edge of the dart.   Stitch right off the fold and stop.  When you clip the threads leave tails that are long enough to tie a loose knot.   Tie a loose square knot to secure the threads.  (A square knot is tied when you put the left thread over the right and then the right thread over the left.)

After stitching your super smooth dart that will melt into the fabric, use a pressing ham to press the dart.  Use the rounded shape of the ham to press the dart without squashing it flat.     If you have any questions, or if you want to share your favorite way to sew a bust dart, please chime in!!   Enjoy :)


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Quick Tip Tuesday: French Seam vs. Flat Fell Seam

Hey everyone, Happy Tuesday!   In addition to spending the day editing class video, today I want to show you the differences between a French Seam and a Flat Fell Seam.   These two seams are excellent for shirt construction because you don’t need a serger to clean finish the raw edges of the seam allowances.  In both cases, the raw edges are encased in fabric.

When you sew a French Seam, you stitch twice encasing the seam between the wrong sides of the fabric.  The finished seam allowance ends up on the inside of your garment.  This is a nice finish when you’re working with sheer or light weight fabrics that are see-through.

The Flat Fell Seam is completed on the right side of the fabric.  In the easy technique I’m going to show you, one seam allowance is trimmed to 1/8″.  Then the raw edge of the opposite seam allowance is folded under to create a clean edge.  The folded seam allowance is then pressed down, covering the trimmed one.  A final row of edge stitching along the folded edge secures the seam.  I’ve been using this seam when I sew the back leg to the back yoke when I’m making jeans… I think it’s going to become my favorite way to construct a shirt.  (Have you ever had a moment when you sewed something and that sat back and looked at it thinking…. “humm, I really like the way that looks!”   Flat fell seams give a shirt a tailored look, and a very clean finish on the inside.

If these seams are new to you, check out this tutorial.   I’ll show you how to stitch them step-by-step  You’ll be surprised how easy they are!  Let me know if you have questions… I hope you enjoy it!

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Quick Tip Thursday: How to shorten the shoulder on a constructed garment

Hey everyone… I have a full day of shooting on the schedule today.  The girls have exams this week so there has been a lot more driving around to get them.  Happily I have a day off from driving them, so I’m taking full advantage :)  Today’s quick tip shows you how to shorten the shoulder seam on a constructed garment. I was thinking about it last night, and I realized I probably should have titled it “How to reshape the armhole after you shorten the shoulder”.   When you’re working with a garment, the easiest way to shorten the shoulder is to take it off the end of the seam along the armhole.  This process is really more about reshaping the armhole.

The first thing you have to do is take the sleeves off.  Make sure that the notches on the sleeve cap are still visible.  It’s really important to make sure you can match the top of the sleeve cap up with the shoulder seam when you are ready to set the sleeve back in. Press the edges of the armhole flat.

The technique I like to use when I’m re-drawing a curve is to dash it in.   Instead of taking that pencil and drawing a hard fast line, lightly dash along to create your new curved shape.  This makes it easier to see if you are starting to go off course… The other thing to keep in mind is that you want the new shape to be as close to the original as possible.  Start at the base of the front and back curve and dash up to the shoulder, following the edge of the fabric.

To get the smoothest cut edge, try using a rotary cutter to trim off the excess.  Then use the sliver of fabric as a mini pattern piece to mark the other armhole.       Hope you enjoy… Please let me know if you have questions!  Happy Thursday :)

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Quick Tip Tuesday: How to Shorten a Shoulder Seam

Hey Everyone, …It’s QT Tuesday, and I’m showing how to shorten a shoulder seam on a shirt pattern.  You could use this pattern adjustment technique to shorten the shoulder seam on any kind of garment.  I like to do it this way because I think it’s easier to true-up the armhole and shoulder seam than fuss with figuring out how to redraw the armhole (when you shorten the seam by trimming off the shoulder end of the seam).

The inspiration for this video comes from needing to re-adjust my own pattern.  I got some really nice Swiss cotton shirting in NYC and I was so excited to cut it out, I think I forgot to do a final test fit on my pattern.  The shoulder seam ended up being  about 1/2″ too long.  Today I’m showing how to fix the pattern…and Thursday, I’ll show you how to save the shirt!

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Quick Tip Thursday: How to work with fusible interfacing

Hey everyone,  …Since it’s so cold out side, I decided to heat things up with a little tutorial on how to fuse interfacing :) (lol)   It’s Quick Tip Thursday… and I’m continuing with “everything fitted shirts” by showing you how to fuse interfacing.   If you missed it, Tuesday’s quick tip was pre-shrinking interfacing.  And, next week, I think I’ll move on to some fun pattern fitting adjustments.  Please let me know if you have any questions or comments (…I’m also taking suggests for quick tip topics)  Hope you enjoy it!

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Quick Tip Tuesday: How to Pre-Shrink Fusible Interfacing

Hey Everyone,
Happy Quick Tip Tuesday! I’m working on my new video class for patternreview.com... The Perfectly Fitted Shirt. I decided to do some quick tips along the way. I’m starting with interfacing… how to get it ready for use by pre-shrinking it… and then to follow up on Thursday, I thought I would give some fusing tips :)

I have to admit, it’s really nice to work in a studio that’s all set up for video… there’s no need for the 4 hours of equipment set-up… or clean up either :)

…I have an early start tomorrow (shooting more exciting footage)… So check out this quick tutorial and let me know what you think!

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Quick Tip: How to Clean your Cutting Mat

Hey everyone,   Hope you had a wonderful holiday :)  I did a lot of Christmas Sewing in my new studio.   And, I made a big mess!   So I decided to close out 2014 with a quick tutorial showing you how I clean my cutting mat.  The fleece and sweater knits that I worked with left lint fibers everywhere.   To make matters worse, I was limping along with a rough rotary cutter blade… So I had to press down really hard to get a smooth cut through my fabric. The cutting mat in my studio is the one that is commonly found at Joann Fabrics and other sewing and quilting stores.  It’s  translucent white with blue lines. I haven’t had a lot of experience cutting on it because I’ve been using a green cutting mat in my sewing room downstairs.   I didn’t realize how wonderful it was until I tried to clean the one I put in my studio.

Trim seam allowance to 1/8"After a hard day of using the rotary cutting on my green mat, I could quickly make it look brand new by cleaning it with a little baking soda on a damp sponge or paper towel.  The cuts in the board would “self heal” and they would become barely noticeable.  When I tried to clean my white mat the same way, the results were not as spectacular.

….A live and learn character building moment :)    I experimented with a new rotary cutter blade and some scraps of fleece.   New blade and less pressure while cutting made it much easier to clean  the white mat!  So, if you own a white cutting mat… be gentle and keep the blade nice and sharp.

Here’s a quick video tutorial showing how I cleaned my cutting mat.

I hope everyone has a safe and super fun New Year’s Eve!! (I think I’ll be sleeping in tomorrow :)

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NEW….Video Tutorial Companions

Hey everyone, Hope you’re all getting your holiday on! I’m going to have to start my Christmas sewing/shopping this weekend (I love the feel of last minute pressure.) Today, I’m introducing something new at j stern designs – Video Tutorial Companions. I’m calling them “Companions” because they are detailed instructions showing how to do a project that I’ve already done a tutorial video for. They are a great way to supplement the instructions in the video.   And, if videos are not your thing, these tutorials stand on their own… You could make the project without ever viewing my lovely videos :)    Plus, the pdf format will be available the instant you pay for it  (only $4.00). (I’m learning all kinds of fun paypal stuff!).

My first Video Tutorial Companion is for the Nursing Cover.
videoTCIn addition to the information in the video there are some extra tips on figuring out to size the knit band for a comfortable fit.  There are a few extra illustrations and the step-by-step process of making this nursing cover is  complete with lots of photos from the video to help you from start to finish.

I hope you enjoy the Nursing Cover Videos, and the Video Tutorial Companion!

As I get more comfortable in my new video studio, I’m going to be making more video tutorials with these companions.  I feel like a kid in a candy store because I’ve decided that I’m not going to limit myself to patterns, fitting and construction (don’t get me wrong there will be plenty of those).  But, I’m also going to be doing fun and creative tutorials as well as helpful diy tutorials….like how to replace a zipper in a Coach bag.  (Yes, that’s pretty high on my list because it’s a favor for one of my friends…so stay tuned!)   I’m also going to do sew-alongs which will give me the opportunity to do larger projects from start to finish by make a collection of videos (and companions)… very fun!

If anyone has an idea or topic they would like to see, please feel free to let me know!

Happy Sewing…and Happy Holidays :)


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

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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!