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Using the Neutral “N” Differential Setting with Knits

Hey Everyone, I’m busy getting ready for Stitches United next weekend.  I’m super excited about the classes I’m teaching.  Today I finished the kits for my Yoga Pants Class.  …I LOVE the performance knit fabric I’m using for fit samples and the kits.  It’s a double brushed polyester that’s super soft.   I made all the sizes up so students can try them on before cutting out their yoga pants.  It’s also really easy to sew on the sewing machine… So if you don’t own a serger and you want to try sewing with knits… this fabric a perfect beginner fabric for pull overs and pants.

Today I want to share my stitch quality experience with you.  I always stitch a sample before I start constructing garments.  Usually I’ll cut a 6-8″ rectangles of the fabric I’m working buy generic hydrocodone online with and fine-tune my settings before I get going.   I did this today, the 4-Thead Stitch looked perfect with a differential feed setting of 1.3.  So I started making the samples.  After making a few pairs, I inspected my work… and I realized that the raw edges of the fabric was curling back down on itself under the looper threads.   I tried increasing the DF setting… This made it worse.   So, I set it to N or Neutral… Meaning the front feed dogs are going the same rate of speed as the back feed dogs.  The stitch was perfect!  

So this story has two morals…  First, a short sample may not tell you the whole story… and Second, sometimes the DF setting for a stretchy fabric may be N or even a setting below that!

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Get Tanked!! New Easy Fit and Sew Tank 2 Ways

Hey Everyone… happy day after Easter (I hope you all had a really nice holiday with family and friends… I did 🙂       Today I’m releasing a new pattern that’s near and dear to my heart…. The Easy Fit and Sew Tank 2 Ways.  It’s near and dear to me because I’m not a lover of sleeves 2/3 of the year.   This tank has two different necklines.  The traditional scoop neckline is perfect for the gym… plenty of freedom to move + no cleavage.  Plus, the back view will conceal your sports bra whether you wear one with racer back or traditional straps.

For a more dressy look, the tank with a gathered neckline and band to finish the hem can go from work to dinner out.  It also makes the perfect partner for the Cardi from the Tee Twin Set.  

It’s available in sizes 2xs – 5xl.  If you have questions, please let me know 🙂


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How to Get an Accurate 5/8″ Seam Allowance with a 5-Thread Stitch

Hey Everyone,  I had a little fun with this today’s video.  Anyone watch John Oliver?  He did this fun story about people directing traffic in Bolivia wearing Zebra costumes…  Apparently the traffic is so bad there, they came up with the idea of slowing drivers down with dancing Zebras…  Sort of like crossing guards without the reflective vest.  Well while shooting an episode of The Baby Lock Ovation Serger Manual one of the zebras decided to visit my studio.    So, while I’m showing you how to get an accurate 5/8″ seam allowance using the 5-Thread stitch on your serger, this little guy is busy helping me.

Seriously, if you have questions about how to get an accurate seam allowance, please let me know 🙂



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New Pattern Launch – The Easy Fit and Sew Tee Twin Set & Pattern Sale :)

Hey Everyone,  I’m so excited to tell you about my new pattern – The Easy Fit and Sew Tee Twin Set.  It is available in Print and PDF Download   This pattern includes both a Tee with long or short sleeves and a Cardi with an asymmetrical hem.  Because I paired it with a tee instead of a sleeveless top, it’s perfect cool weather twin set!  (If you’re a hottie like me, you can pair the Cardi with a sleeveless version of the tee, or your favorite tank top.)  I really had an amazing time working on this pattern because I had a wonderful group of pattern testers.  They really went above and beyond testing this pattern.  Because of their attention to detail, I was able to fine tune the instructions and the fit of the pattern.   You can also see how the Tee Twin Set fits a variety of shapes because of the beautiful photos that testers submitted.  . If you always have to do a full bust adjustment before you can work with a pattern, I think this tee will be a pleasant surprise.   Because I made room for a bust, you may actually need to take in the side and underarm seams.  This is really easy to do after you’ve sewn the tee together.  If you would like to check out all the pattern tester’s photos, I have uploaded them to the Gallery.

To celebrate the launch of The Tee Twin Set… and my New Website, I’m having a sale.  All patterns will be 20% off this weekend (until Sunday at 11:59 pm PST).   So, if you’ve been thinking about trying one of my patterns, now is a good time to snag it.  I’m excited that I can now do sales because of my e-commerce website.  Going forward, I think I will have a sale on PDF versions of my patterns when I release a new pattern.  In addition to offering sales, another new feature of my website is that you can leave a review of a pattern or class.  If you have a favorite pattern, consider sharing your thoughts about it 🙂

I just want you guys to know that I couldn’t do what  I love to do without all of your support… Thank you so much.       If you have an questions, please let me know.  Happy Sale Sewing Weekend!

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How to Become a Pattern Tester at J Stern Designs

Hey Everyone,  When I first starting making patterns… I tested them myself.  I thought that was working great because it gave me a chance to double check everything and work with all the sizes.  Then one of my good friends suggested that I use pattern testers to test my new patterns.   So, when I was working on the Ponte Knit Jeans, I tested the theory of pattern testers….  I quickly realized how valuable pattern testing is and how much better my patterns would be if I worked with pattern testers instead of doing it myself (on myself).   I want to send out a big thank you to the ladies who helped me with the Ponte Knit Jeans, Raglan and Yoga Pants Patterns.   🙂

Here’s what I learned from my pattern testers.  Everyone is not shaped like me 🙂   Only kidding… but I did learn how my pattern would fit on a variety of different shapes and sizes.  I can use that information to fix anything I think needs tweaking before I release the pattern, plus it helps me when I’m drafting the next pattern.  I really want to make patterns that are easy to work with and need minimal fit adjustments.  Plus, I think it’s really nice for you guys to see how a particular pattern will fit you… If I test them myself, you get to see  very nice and somewhat boring photos of the finished garment on dressform or one of my relatives.  With pattern testers, I can share their photos with everyone.  That gives you the opportunity to see how a garment will fit you because chances are, one of my pattern testers is practically your twin!  

Let’s face it, I’m a plain Jane when it come to picking out colors, if it isn’t black, gray or navy… I don’t have it in my stash.  I am always amazed at the beautiful fabrics that my pattern testers use.  Look at this cool fabric that one of my pattern testers used to make yoga pants 🙂

It’s also important to me that my instructions are really easy to follow along with.   While I try to write steps in the clearest way possible, I discovered that sometimes, there are better ways to put it in words.   Getting questions and comments from sewers of all skill levels has really helped me make my instructions even better 🙂

Do you think you would like to be a pattern tester for J Stern Designs?  Let me tell you what goes on before releasing a new pattern.

Before I send patterns to testers, I’ve already tested it with a few ladies who help me work out anything that’s not right with the pattern pieces.  At this point, I want to make sure all the seams sew together properly and that there isn’t any major fitting issue that will affect the majority of sewers.  While it’s impossible to make a pattern that will fit everyone right out of the envelop, I want it to be as close as possible.    So, in addition to checking the pieces, I work with a variety of fabrics to make sure the results are good.  In the case of a knit pattern, I’ll try a few different knits that hover around the recommend percentage of stretch.   After  we’re happy with the pattern, I get it ready to send to pattern testers…

This is where you come in.

I am forming a group of j stern designs pattern testers.  When I develop a new pattern, I will offer the opportunity to test the pattern to members of the group. If I need more testers, I will advertise outside the group for more pattern testers.  The total number of testers needed for a pattern depends on the variety of style options in the pattern. 

I am now creating color, multi-layered pdfs that allow you to just print your size.  This saves a ton of ink and makes it easy to work with.  If you are selected as a pattern tester, I’ll email you the instructions and a pdf of of the pattern pieces.  There is a 1/2″ margin around all the pieces that is marked with a dashed line.   You can accurately print this pdf on US or A4 paper sizes.  Here’s an example of what one of the pages of my new Tee Twin Set looks like.

The instructions include photos of the garments so you can see what you are making and a “scale check” that you can measure to be sure that the pieces will be the right size before you start printing out the pattern pieces. 

Once you receive your pattern, you’ll have week to complete the garment and submit photos of you sporting your new garment.  I’m going to start a Facebook Group that is just for ladies testing the pattern we’re working on.  That way you’ll have a place to ask questions, post photos and share your progress with other pattern testers.  I will be available in the group to answer questions and help you with your patterns.

Cutting out, sewing the garment and using the instructions is the first part of the pattern test.  The second part is taking photos of you sporting your completed garment.  This photos do not need to be professional, just clear so they show the fit and style of the garment.  Pattern tester photos are going to be used to promote the pattern and may even end up on the cover of the instructions. 

Here’s an example of good pattern tester photos:  I need at least 3 good quality photos of you wearing your garment.  These photos give the pattern testers the opportunity to show off their sewing skills. 

After testing is complete I’ll launch the pattern with a sale price for the first week.  I will be using the pattern tester photos to promoting the pattern on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and my YouTube Channel.  If a pattern tester loved the pattern I would love it if they posted their photos or wrote their own review and posted it in their blog or Facebook page.  As I’m writing this post, I feel like I’m asking a lot from my pattern testers.  It’s a voluntary job and I wouldn’t be able to make great patterns without you… So, I want to thank you in advance  xoxo.  Pattern Testers will receive the final pattern (complete with any pattern or instruction changes). 

If you would like to participate, please fill out the  application  below the photo of the pattern I’m working on now.  I will send you an email to let you know that I’ve received your information.  When I have a pattern to test, I email you the dates of the test week and all the specifics for that pattern.  


Currently I need pattern testers for the The Gathered Neckline Tank Top/Traditional Tank Top.    This tank top pattern has two views.  Version A is has gathers at the neckline and a band at the hem.  Version B is a traditional tank (no gathers, no band).





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I Need Pattern Testers for The Easy Fit and Sew Tee Twin Set

Hey Everyone,

The Tee Twin Set is ready to be tested.  I’ve included the Pattern Tester Pattern Cover here so you can see what it looks like.  There is a long and short sleeve tee and an open buy hydrocodone homatropine syrup front cardi.   I am looking for pattern testers with all levels of sewing ability and body measurements.   If you would like to apply to be a pattern tester, please click here for all the details.

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How to Assemble a PDF Pattern – The Easy Way

Hey Everyone,  I’m putting the finishing touches on my newest pattern… The Tee Twin Set.   And, I’m  creating PDF download versions of the Tee and Women’s Tee.  After printing out a test copy of the Women’s Tee,  I started to put it together.  …I love scotch tape, so I taped the pieces together like I really meant it.   I quickly learned that this may not be the best way to do it.  Actually it reminded me of the time I wanted to make a baby quilt for my daughter Anna.  I was new to quilting but that didn’t stop me from picking out a challenging pattern… “baby’s blocks”   Basically I spent all weekend making 3-dimensional blocks and sewing them into strips.  When it came time to sew the strips together to make the quilt, they did not match up.   It was one of my super “character builder” moments.  I quickly realized that I would have to take out the seams and resew them a little more accurately to get the strips to fit together.    This memory came to mind the minute I finished taping all of my rows together and tried to match up the rows to complete the pattern.

Each row appeared to go together perfectly…  however, across 6 pages it worked out that one piece ended up being slightly skewed and didn’t match the pieces in the next row when I tried to put them together.  Because I plastered the edges of the pieces with scotch tape it wasn’t a quick fix to take the tape off and fine tune the position of the piece that wasn’t lining up.    …It wasn’t the pattern pieces that were off, it was the way I positioned them together.   

So, I started over and realized that less is more.  By using one short piece of tape at the center of each abutting seam I could easily make slight adjustments to get the rows to match together perfectly. 

I decided to do a short video showing the easiest way I can think of to assemble a pdf pattern…  If you think you you’re spending too much time trimming edges and using scotch tape, check this out!  


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Easy Fit and Sew Yoga Pants Free Video Classes

Hey Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a chance to check out my new website.  This is so exciting for me because I have finally learned how to create an online space that is easy to navigate… plus I think it looks pretty good too 🙂  In addition to my new digs,  I am trying something new by offering free video classes for my Easy Fit and Sew Collection.  (You may already be enjoying the Raglan Sleeve Top Videos if you purchased that pattern.)   I’ve decided as part of my kick off celebration for my new website I’m going to offer the video classes for the Yoga Pants for free to all my wonderful followers <3      This will give you a chance to see how these classes are before you buy an Easy Fit and Sew Pattern.   

My new website also has some features that will make it easier for me to give you access to these classes.  In the future when you purchase a pattern that comes with free classes, the link and password will be sent to you when you purchase the pattern.  Plus, I’m now offering PDF versions of my new patterns and workbooks.   The process for downloading them has been simplified (super happy about that!)

I still have some work to do to get all of my things into the shop… so stay tuned!    I hope you enjoy the Yoga Pants Class Videos and please let me know if you have questions.   Happy Sewing! 




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What Can Happen When You Use a Topstitch Needle to Construct Yoga Pants

Hey Everyone…   I have a number of exciting projects going on and I wanted to sew some yoga pants for Anna to take back to school with her.  So I switched from working on some Fashion Serger Techniques to plain old knit construction.  It was then that I had a “do what I say…not what I do” moment.  Instead of changing my needles to something more appropriate for knit fabric, I decided to leave the needles I was using in my serger.  Everything seemed to be fine.  I made the yoga pants and gave them to Anna to try on.   Everything still seemed fine, she loved them and flopped down on the couch to watch some TV.  A little while later she came back up to show me that I must have “left a hole” in the back.  The waistband had separated from the pants across the entire back!   I thought I must have not caught the fabric completely when I stitched the waistband to the pants…. so I switched the serger on and went around again, carefully trimming off an 1/8″ as I went.  This time when Anna pulled the pants on, her fingers went right through the seam on both sides!

Looking more carefully at the damage, I realized that the fabric was sheering away from the base of the stitching.  Then I checked my needles and discovered that I had been working with a topstitch needle in my previous project.  Even worse, it was a size 16 needle… way to huge for knit fabric.   I know that it’s important to use the  appropriate needle for the job, but I didn’t realize that the consequences could be so dramatic!

Needles are super important… I almost feel silly sharing this experience with you.  I use Schemtz Brand Needles because they are the best, and they have a wide variety of specialty needles so you can sew happy, no matter what you’re working on!   Here is link to the Schmetz Needles website… Check out today’s quick tip video for all the gory details.

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BabyLock Ovation Serger Manual: How to Secure Seams (Pages 72-73)

Hey Everyone, I received a few questions about how to secure the ends of a seam that isn’t finished by an intersecting seam or hem.  Instead of using a bodkin or large eye needle to thread the tail back through the looper threads, give this method a try.  You can secure the beginning of the seam by bringing the tail around and stitching over it… At the end of the seam, you flip the fabric end to end and stitch back over the seam, kinda like a back tack on your sewing machine.    I’ve been using this method of finish the side seams on some of my knit tops when I decided to leave the hem raw.   It’s a very cool technique, quick and durable in the washing machine.  Let me know what you think!  (I know some of you are thinking that you would never leave the hem raw… that’s another story for a different day 🙂