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Quick Tip Thursday l How to Keep the outside of your Washing Machine Clean :)

Hey Everyone… We are having one of those weeks.  My studio is almost set back up (I have to admit I’m actually going into video withdrawal!!)   But, I have to give my husband a break, he’s working a ton and finishing up his taxes.  So, I’m going to offer another blog style tip!  It features a different kind of machine…The Washing Machine.  And actually, this tip comes from my good friend Gail (Gail Patrice Designs).  We were talking about doing laundry and I was sharing my  love of the Method Pump Bottle because I can squirt the right amount of detergent into the machine without dripping all over the place.    photo 5My washing machine has never been so clean…I used to have blue dribbles all over it from spilling as I poured the detergent from the cap into the dispenser in the machine!

photo 4Anyway, Gail told me that she pours the detergent into the cap and then throws the cap with the detergent right into the machine with the clothes.   That is so brilliant!

photo 3This works out so great because there is zero mess from dripping detergent on your machine and you don’t waste a drop because all goes into the machine…The best part is that the cap is also nice and clean at the end of the wash cycle…Ready to measure detergent for the next load!

photo 1…Alright, if you’ve been doing it this way forever… Yay!!!  If you haven’t definitely give it a try, your washing machine stay nice and clean…And, you’ll save money by using every drop of detergent!   (Let’s face it, laundry detergent is really expensive, I like to make it go as far as possible.    Hope you enjoyed this clean tip and I promise to return to video tips next week… I can’t wait actually because it’s really good practice for when I fly away to Denver to shoot my new Video Class for Craftsy at the end of March :)  … If you click on the link above for Gail Patrice Designs, you can check out her Craftsy Class… 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know!!   Have a nice weekend everyone!


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Quick Tip Tuesday l The Easy Way to Transfer Adjustments to your New Pattern Pieces

Hey Everyone,  Happy Tuesday :)  I’m just back from Atlanta where I taught workshops for the wonderful ladies of the Atlanta ASG.  We had a super fun weekend!  It was the perfect combination of fitting jean muslins and getting creative with our old jeans while designing new skirts!  I want to thank Julie, chapter president, for being the perfect hostess, and to everyone for making me feel right at home.    So, today is Quick Tip Tuesday and my husband is off on a shoot with all of his (my) equipment.  I went upstairs to shoot a video and when the single light  (that was left in the room) flicked on, it was leaning against the wall because the light stand was at my husband’s shoot…along with the camera and a few other essential things like the microphones.

Between you and me I’m a little tired today :) …so I didn’t have the strength to shoot my QT with my iphone.  But, I could take a photo with it!   One of the most popular questions I get when I’m teaching fitting workshops is “How to I transfer these adjustments to my pattern pieces?”     Happily, in some cases you don’t have to.  If you have made a lot of changes to your fit muslin, it may be easier to use the muslin itself as the new pattern pieces.

Specifically if you’re working with a jean muslin and you needed to take in the back waistband and yoke, it’s easier to use the muslin pieces to create new (adjusted) pattern pieces.  Here’s how to work with the back yoke.

When you’re fitting the back waistband and yoke, the excess fabric is taken out by sewing darts from the top of the waistband to the bottom edge of the back yoke.  Below is a photo showing a waistband/yoke that has been fitted.



The first step is to use a seam ripper and remove the waistband. You will be able to use the fitted waistband to make a new pattern piece too (I’m working with the yoke in this tutorial because it’s a smaller piece, making it easier to photograph… but the process would be the same for the waistband.) 

After the waistband is removed, cut the back yoke out of the muslin.  Yes, literally take a pair of scissors and cut out the back yoke.  Cut right along the stitching line along the side, lower edge and center back edges.  Then trim off the 1/2″ seam allowance along the waistline edge.  Press the darts flat and pin it to a piece of pattern paper.


photo 2Then trace around the edges of the yoke.  I like to use my French Curve.

photo 3After you trace, you can fine-tune the shape of the yoke by smoothing out the curved edges.  Mark the Center Back (CB) and the side seam edge (S).

photo 4Finally add the seam allowances back on… and you have a new fitted back yoke pattern piece :)

photo 5Notice that I marked what the seam allowances are.  I also recommend labeling the pattern piece  and adding   the date you worked on it.      ….Hoping for my studio to be back in commission for Thursday’s Quick Tip!

Please let me know if you have questions.  Happy Day.


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Quick Tip Thursday l How I create an overall applique design

…using individual motifs and Tips for choosing fabrics, threads and notions. Hey Everyone, Welcome to part 2 of Make Jeans into a Skirt Week :) Today I’m going to show you how I embellish a jean skirt. I’ll start by talking you through my process of picking out individual fabric motifs and how I arrange them on the skirt. I like to start in the front and then “wrap” the design around to the back view.

Then I’ll show you fabrics that can work well…and some that won’t. I like to pick fabrics that blend in or “knit” into the denim as well as pop. The trick it so either find fabrics that have a similar background color as the denim… or choose threads that you can use to blend them together.

Take a look and let me know what you think!


Quick Tip Tuesday l How to Take Apart Jeans…

To make a Fab Jean Skirt!   Hey Everyone,  Super exciting week.  I’m getting ready to go to Atlanta for a fun filled weekend of workshops.  And, on a totally separate note, we breeding our dog Maggie… So we have nature class and quick tips going on! :)  (Here she is (on the left)  lounging by the pool with Emma)

photo(4)Ok, getting back to Tuesday’s Quick Tip; I’m going to show you how to take apart a pair of jeans to use to make a jean skirt.  When you’re picking out a pair of jeans to use for this project it doesn’t matter if they fit when you start.  Part of creating the skirt is getting it to fit by adding or removing denim.   I’m going to be working with a pair of jeans that are too small for me (I have plenty of those in my closet :)

In the past when I’ve taught this workshop, some of the ladies in the class were afraid that they would “ruin” their jeans as they were taking them apart.  The happy news is that this is impossible.  Even if you tear or cut through a seam allowance or some other part that you didn’t mean to, it’s ok.  We’ll use cotton fusible interfacing to fix it. In most cases, any “mistake” that is made when working on this project can be turned into a designer detail …and a more interesting skirt.

In addition to cutting apart the side and inseams with scissors, I explain when to use a seam ripper to pick apart the seam instead.  There are also some tips for using a seam ripper effectively.

pic1So, hope you enjoy this tutorial…Please let me know if you have questions or comments.  And, stay tuned for Thursday’s Quick Tip …I’ll be sharing some stuff about the creative side of designing a jean skirt.  We’ll look at some fabrics that work well for machine applique as well as threads, needles and other notions you’ll need to create a beautiful jean skirt.


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Maybe no points on my cuffs??

Hey Everyone, Happy Valentine’s Day <3  …getting ready for another snow storm :)  Between me and you I love them because they create the perfect “let’s get stuff done” day!  One thing that I’ve been working on is perfecting my point turning method.  I’m hoping that my new prototype arrives in the mail today…my dad is such a wonderful wood craftsman (so lucky <3   When I was working on my collars, I was wishing that my standard point turner was wider so it would hold my seam allowances in place as I flipped the facing over to the right side.  I designed a wooden tool that looks kinda like a spade.. photo(3)I practiced using it to turn corners.  I also played with putting it between the seam allowances and the right side of the fabric when I was pressing the seams flat…That works great.   I think the new version,  which is  a little skinnier, will be easier to use when I’m turning points.  I also have a new curved end opposite the pointed side…

I think the curved end will come in hand when I try my new cuff …with no points!  I was checking out my husband’s closet, and I noticed that some of his shirts had cuffs with curved edges.   I don’t know why I didn’t notice that when were shopping for them. (Must have been because I was so distracted by how cute my husband looked in his new suit :)  Anyway, I’m going to try this style cuff to see if I like it.  In addition to a style change, it might be less challenging to get a really professional look.

photo(2)There were a few other details that I noticed as I closely inspected this shirt. One thing I really liked was the 1 button closure on the cuff (I hate doing buttonholes)  …Let me work on it… and then I’ll share all the juicy details with you :)

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Quick Tip Thursday l How to mark buttonholes… and sewing on buttons using a sewing machine

Hey Everyone,  Happy Thursday.  …So, I’m finished shooting my class… and I’m super tired.  So, there are few words to go along with this weeks QT Thursday…  I jumped around and decided to show how to use a clear grid ruler to mark the position of the buttonholes on the front of fitted shirt (I was going to show how to use the Slim Flex Ruler to position the buttonholes, but I needed more space than it allowed!) … And, how to use the sewing machine to sew on buttons.

Because it was a quick tip, I couldn’t show you everything… like how to sew a buttonhole or how to cut them open, but if you have questions about these techniques, please let me know!     …and because I’m finished shooting my shirt class, I’m moving on to a fresh topic next week.  Get ready for making jeans into a skirt :) (one of my favorite workshops <3)  …I’m teaching this class next weekend for the Atlanta ASG, so I thought I would give a few a  few tips on how to take apart jeans and such, as well as a few more creative tips too!  Stay tuned for super fun next week.



Quick Tip Tuesday l Two rows of gathering stitches are better than one

Hey Everyone,  Happy Tuesday :)  I’m so close to finishing my new Patternreview class… Very excited.  (I’m also working on a new Class for Craftsy… that’s all I’m going to say about that for now :)  Things are really starting to click along for me, I want to thank everyone who checks in and reads my blog and supports j stern designs. Thanks you -Thank you!

For today’s quick tip, I want to share a really simple technique.  This one is for the new sewers out there who may be thinking about sewing a shirt (or any garment that has sleeves).  I want to show you why two rows of gathering stitches are better than one row.   The next time you are preparing to set in a sleeve, try using two rows of gathering stitches.  Stitch a row of gathering stitches 1/4″ from the raw edge of the sleeve cap between the notches; then a second one about 3/4″ away.  This way you can set the sleeve in and not worry so much about unruly gathers.

So… Here’s the step-by-step if you need it.

  1. Shirt is laying on the table wrong side face up.
  2. Place sleeve, right side, out through the armhole
  3. Align the underarm seam with the side seam in the armhole (shirt and sleeve will be right sides together)
  4. Match the front and back notches on the sleeve with those on the armhole
  5. Match the notch on top of the sleeve cap with the shoulder seam
  6. Gently gather up ease.  Pull on the bobbin threads
  7. Evenly distribute the ease from the notches up to the shoulder seam
  8. Pin the evenly distributed gathers in place with pins
  9. Stitch the sleeve to the armhole by placing the sleeve cap against the feed teeth.  The feed teeth will help ease in the gathers.
  10. Start and finish at the underarm seam.

Those are the steps… Check the video tutorial out to see the details!

…Stay Tuned, we’ll be playing with buttons and holes on Thursday! Happy Day

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Quick Tip Thursday: How to do a Double Hem on a Shirt

Hey Everyone,  Happy Thursday :)  Today I want to show you may favorite way to do a hem…of course it’s a shirt hem!  And, I’ve discovered that the clapper/point turner that I used in Tuesday’s QT is also an amazing pressing tool (Thanks to Angela Wolf :).   First about the hem.  I learned how to do this technique at Manchester Sewing many years ago.  It’s  known as a double folded hem, or the “Calvin Klein” hem…  Basically you fold the fabric – stitch along the fold – trim the allowance down to 1/8″ – and then fold it again and stitch it in place.  The beauty of this technique is that you don’t have to press the entire edge up before you stitch.  It works great on full edges and edges with curves.  I love it for hems on skirts (I used it to hem three layers of my sister’s wedding gown many years ago.)  While working on my shirt class for PR, I used it to finish the curve of the shirt tail hem.

If you’ve watched any of my video classes, you know that I like to use my hand to apply pressure to the fabric after steaming it…  I’m going to just say it…that’s not the best way to do it.  I’ve actually burned my hand on hot fabric and chalked it up as a “battle wound”.     I was surfing around YouTube the other night and I saw that Angela Wolf had a video on how to use a clapper.  I was so amazed at what a little block of wood could to a seam after it had been steamed with the iron.  I decided to try it with my clapper, and it really works great… much better than using my hand :)  I’m totally using the clapper from now on!

So, I hope you’ll check out this Thursday’s Quick Tip on doing a Double Hem, and Angela’s Video that shows you in detail what a clapper is, how it’s used and why she decided to make her own!




Quick Tip Tuesday: How to Press the Seams Open on a Collar

Hey everyone… Greeting from snowy Connecticut :)  I have to say, I haven’t been to the gym in a few days now (and I don’t even miss it because of all the shoveling I’ve been doing!)  Today on Quick Tip Tuesday, I want to show you how easy it is to press the seam on  a collar when you have the right tools.

I think there may be some debate about how to press the seams on a collar.    I’ve seen the seams  pressed to one side (flat) and I’ve also seen them pressed open. I prefer the “pressed open” technique… and here’s why.    The seam between the upper collar and under collar (collar facing) is the focal point.  If the under collar is peeking out so it’s visible from the top side of the collar  it can give the entire garment a very “homemade” look.  There are a few things that help keep the under collar under and one of them is how the seam is pressed.  By pressing the seam allowances open you have a good chance of not pressing a crease into the fabric along side the seam.  When you press the seams flat in one direction, the fabric on the opposite side of the seam from the way you’re pressing the allowances can get caught under the seam.  This creates a tiny crease along the fabric right next to the seam that shows on the opposite side of the garment.  You can go back and press the seam once the collar is turned to the right side, but some fabrics tend to own creases more than others.    Of course, having made this bold statement I do want to add that if you like to press your seams flat, and you get good results, then that’s the best way for you to do it :) (So many ways to do things… none of them are wrong !!)

Anyway, here’s how I press my seams when I’m working on a collar (or cuffs)  … Let me know what you think, or if you have questions… Happy Day.    PS… I’m working on a new point turning tool… loved to know what you think of that too :)    PSS… Here’s a link to a Point Turner/Clapper if you’re interested.


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Quick Tip Thursday: How to Make a Cuffed Hem

Hey everyone… It’s been a crazy week, between the snow storm and jury duty, I had to push Quick Tip Thursday to Friday! (sorry about that :)   …I’m really happy about it though, I did a quick tip, and I hemmed my husband’s new dress pants.   If you know me, even a little bit, you know I hate doing alterations.  I would rather be working on something new instead of fixing something that already exists.  But at $12.00 a pop (x 3 because we picked out two new suits and a pair of dress pants, I really couldn’t say “no honey, I won’t hem your pants”.)   So… I went for the easiest way possible.

A blind hem can be tricky because if you don’t get the stitch just right, it’s not really blind… and it could end up looking yucky.   And, of course, I couldn’t just sew a straight stitched hem around the bottom of his really nice dress pants… So I went for the next best thing, the Cuffed Hem.

I love this method of hemming pants because it’s very forgiving…. If you don’t sew exactly straight, that’s ok, you don’t see the stitching.  And, if you don’t measure exactly right when you are marking the hem, that’s already too.  You can adjust the hem to take up or let down the length a little bit.  Plus, it’s not hard to do… So, let go!

Before you view the video, I want to give you some tips that are not included in the “quick tip”.   When you are marking the hem make sure that the person wearing the pants are also wearing the shoes that they will most likely wear with the pants.  Also make sure that they are standing up straight and that the waistband is sitting where they will be wearing their pants.  This can be tricky with men because I think they can slide that waistband up or down a few inches depending on how much they had for dinner :)

There are two ways that you can pin up the extra length…  The first way is to fold up the hem at the bottom of the leg, like this:  (I’m holding up the pant leg with the hem pinned up at the bottom) (sorry that I don’t have a live model… my husband was hard to pin down (no pun intended :)   This is probably the most common way to pin up the excess length when marking the hem.   …But it’s not my favorite way.

Blog1My favorite way is to take up the excess length at the knee.  That way you can see how the pant hem is laying at the bottom without the folded fabric getting in the way. It also makes it easier to see how the pants look while walking around because the extra length isn’t flopping down.   Below is a pant leg with the excess pinned out at the knee…

Blog2Another thing that I want to show you is an example of how long pants should be when you are marking them.  I found this from Todd Shelton, a pant maker.  It shows the difference between letting the pant leg hang totally straight without a break  …to a slight break…. to a deep break (which makes the pant look sloppy).

hem_too_longMy husband wanted this deep break because he didn’t want his ankles showing when he sat down… we ultimately decided on a slight break (compromise :)  ….Ok, I think that’s enough.  Check out the tutorial and let me know what you think!   Happy weekend and sewing.