Sunday, 29 August 2010

Pressing Tools & Techniques

This is part of the Skill Bite section of the Simplicity Dress 3833 series. If you have missed any of the series please visit the Introduction page, where you will find all the previous links.

What is Pressing?

Pressing is a technique sewing enthusiast use to flatten areas where stitching has taken place. A great website explaining about the difference between ironing and pressing can be found on Love to Sew.

Useful Pressing Tools

An iron is essential to be able to press. It does not have to be top of the range, the one I use is the cheapest on sale in Wilkinson’s for about £5.00.

To press darts and anything that needs to be curved, its best to invest in one of these or make your own. If you want to have a go I recommend following the instructions on Burda Style, created in only 5 steps.

To use a tailor’s ham place the fabric on top and apply pressure with the iron.

A sleeve roll is used to flatten the seams on making the sleeves and also makes it easier to make the hems.

To use a sleeve roll insert the roll into the sleeve and press the seam with the iron.
Richard654w from YouTube shows you how to press using a tailors ham and also a sleeve roll.
Next week I’ll explain what darts are and how they are used in constructing garments.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Stitching Seams

This is part of the Skill Bite section of the Simplicity Dress 3833 series. If you have missed any of the series please visit the Introduction page, where you will find all the previous links.

What is Stitching Seams?

To stitch seams is to join pieces of fabric together. There are a variety of different ways to stitch seams.  The most common seam I use is the Flat Seam, which is the simplest one to create. 


On the Alternative Windows website they have a good brief description explaining what flat, princess and gathering seams look like complete with diagrams.
For video tutorial I recommend the YouTube video from PandemicApparel where she clearly explains lots of different types of seams.

Using Seams

Measure a ⅝ inch distance for the seam allowance and pin the side seams.

Use a standard straight stitch to create the seam.

The seam is now ready to be pressed.

Open the seam and press in place.

Next week I will explain the pressing techniques and tools.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Skill Bites – Stay Stitching

This is the start of the new section ‘Skill Bites’ in the Simplicity Dress 3833 Series, where I shall explain sewing terms used in this pattern. If you have missed any of the series please visit the Introduction page.

What is Stay stitching?

When I first started to read pattern instructions it took me a while to figure out what this sewing term actually meant. In basic it is a stitch done on a single piece of fabric which prevents the fabric stretching while sewing and handling. For a more detailed definition of the term Stay Stitching visit


When it comes to explaining techniques I always find videos are the best way to go. On YouTube I came across Krissajojo’s video where she explains very clearly what stay stitching is.
Sometimes watching videos may be difficult when you are sewing if you need to keep referring to the information. I keep my pc in the bedroom and my sewing room is downstairs, which means I do a lot of running about in the house. In this instance I find a PDF reference sheet is ideal to keep near my sewing machine to refer to, on Sewing.Org they have a great selection to download.

Using Stay Stitching

For the Simplicity dress 3833 I needed to use stay stitching anywhere that the fabric may stretch. In the following example I will show how I used stay stitching on the skirt piece.

*Please note the measurement should be ½ inch distance from the top, not ¼ inch as shown in the picture.

Measure ½ inch from the upper edge of the skirt piece and mark.

Set the machine to a standard straight stitch and stitch along the marks.

This is how stay stitching will look on the fabric piece.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Transfer Pattern Markings

This is the 6th entry in the Simplicity Dress 3833 Series . If you have missed any of the previous entries please visit the Introduction Page.

Equipment Needed

There are a variety of tools available on the market to assist with transferring pattern markings onto  fabric. The tools I use for achieving this purpose are dressmaking pins, dressmaking wheel, tailors chalk, dressmaking marker pencils,  and an ink correction pen. Which ever tool you work with it is best to try them out on scrap fabric before using on the finished garment. My favourite tools are the dressmaking pins and an ink correction pen for quickness and precision. I find the chalk to be messy and can be rubbed off too quickly when handling the fabric. The dressmakers wheel creates tiny dots which are difficult to see. For more ideas on which tools to use for transferring pattern markings visit the  CyberSeams website.

Pattern Symbols

On each pattern piece there will be a variety of symbols which will help in making up the garment. On the instructions sheet that is provided in the pattern envelope there will be a General Directions section which explains what they mean. For more information on pattern symbols visit Diceyhomefree online.

Pattern Markings

On this bodice pattern piece I have circled the markings which will need transferring over to the fabric:-
  • A – Notches
  • B – Dots
  • C – Darts


Notches are used for lining up pattern pieces when constructing the garment. These should be transferred over in the cutting stage, please visit my previous blog entry for more information on notches.

The picture above shows how the notches look when they have been transferred to the fabric.

Dot Markings

Dots will be used to match up other pattern pieces. Stick a pin in the circle and draw around the area where the pin is sticking into the fabric.

The markings on this piece are showing where the sleeve will be placed.

Dart Markings

The quickest way to transfer the dart pattern onto the fabric is to stick a dress making pin into each circle and push through  all the fabric pieces. Remove the pattern piece carefully and push the pin heads through the pattern paper. Use a marking tool to draw a dot where the pins are, remember to do it on the ‘wrong’ side of the fabric on all the pieces. Use a ruler to join the dots together. For a more traditional way on making darts the Tailor Tacks method on About.Com Sewing has a great article explaining how to do them.

This dart is on the sleeve of an arm.

Next week I will be starting my Skill Bites Section in this series, where I will share tips and links to videos on how to make sense of sewing terminology.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Cutting Techniques

This is the 5th entry in the Simplicity Dress 3833 Series . If you have missed any of the previous entries please visit the Introduction Page.

When all the pieces have been pinned in place on the fabric they are ready to be cut. This stage is crucial in dress making and it is therefore best to cut as accurately as possible.

Cutting Tools

It is best to use dressmaking scissors to cut the pieces out of the fabric. In the photo above these are Janome 10inch dressmaking shears, it is advisable to spend as much as you can afford on a pair of good quality scissors. If they are looked after properly they will last a lifetime. After use always wipe away any lint with a clean cloth and store.

When cutting out a pattern piece put one hand firmly on the fabric and use long strokes to cut around the shape. For cutting around curves use smaller strokes. For more information on cutting using dressmaking scissors please visit Hip Line Media where there is a downloadable PDF.

Rotary Cutter/ Ruler & Mat

A rotary cutter is best for cutting straight lines with speed and precision. For a great video on how to use a rotary cutter visit TheCraftGemini. Depending on the amount of use the blades will become blunt very quickly and they are not cheap to buy. It is possible to buy a blade sharper to extend their life. Remember to always clean the blade with a cloth after use.

Place the ruler on the cutting line on the pattern and with pressure move the rotary cutter along the ruler. This came in useful for cutting down the straight sides of the skirt pieces. I have found Rotary Cutting for Tips to be a useful guide.

Next week I’ll explain how to transfer the markings on the pattern pieces to the fabric.