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Simply Sewn: Under-Stitching


If you are wanting to create a professional ‘ready to wear’ look to your self-made clothing, you’ll be wanting to familiarise yourself with the term and technique of UNDER-STITCHING. Ever had a facing or pocket lining refuse to stay hidden and pop out for attention? Most likely its because it hasn’t been under-stitched.

When I was learning to sew, the pattern instructions would often instruct me to ‘under-stitch‘ things like pocket facings, inside waistband facings etc, but in my impatience and and eagerness to wear my new garment, this was a step that I skipped over as I really didn’t understand what understitching was and why it was necessary. Over the years as my sewing skills increased, so did my desire for SEWING PERFECTION. Once I learn’t the what and how, I was impressed, it gave such tailored and professional finish with a crisp sharp edge and a perfectly turned facing that stays put!

While this might not be news or ‘new’ to some of you I thought that I’d do a little tutorial for those that are new to sewing and get everyone on the same page so we can all enjoy facings and linings that play nice and remain hidden. HERES HOW:

THE DETAILS: WHERE IS IT USED? Under-stitching is always used on the inside of the garment on any facing; i.e. neckline, armhole, inside pockets and shaped waistbands and also on bindings. It is a row of stitching, sewn from the right side of the garment, close to the seamline and through all the seam allowances forcing the seam to roll inside the garment to prevent the facing or pocket lining rolling outwards and being visible from the front of the garment.

HOW TO: Stitch the seam, the seam allowances are then graded ( if needed ) to 6mm, (1/4″), clipped or notched ( if needed ), then pressed to the side where the UNDER-STITCHING will be placed, i.e. pressed into the facing. I’m using a curved pocket piece to illustrate this technique.

**I like to use a smaller seam allowance, 6mm (1/4″) on seams that are curved such as pockets, collars, necklines etc. Because of the small allowance, I very rarely ( if at all) need to trim, grade, notch or clip the allowance as it turns very easily. This makes for quicker sewing!


Working from the right side of the garment, stitch through the facing and all seam allowances, staying close to the seamline.


Turn facing to the inside of the garment and press. If you look closely you will be able to see that the seam has rolled to the inside and about
1-2mm of the outside (shell) fabric is visible from the wrong side, which is perfect!

When making this tutorial I didn’t realise that black spotted linings don’t make for very good photos! Sorry for causing any eyestrain! Seeing spots anyone?





How To Alter the Height of the Dropped Waist Dress:


With this Dress (or any drop waisted dress) PROPORTION is really important to making the dress work. Depending on your height and body length you may need to shorten (or lengthen) the bodice of dress to change the height of the dropped waist. Heres how:


* Front Bodice
* Back Bodice
* Placket
* Front Binding

The best place to alter the length of the bodice for this style is between the WAIST and the HIP. Our dropped waistline falls right on the hip line at about 18.2 cm below the natural waist for the size 36 (subsequent sizes increase by 0.3cm).

Working with the front and back bodice of the Dropped Waist dress: Draw a line 90º to the grainline, 1/2 way between the waist seam and the center of the contour dart – the centre of the dart is the widest part that should measure 3cm between the dart points. This is also where the waistline is.


Cut the pattern a part on this line.

To Shorten: Overlapp the pattern pieces by the amount needed to shorten and tape in place, making sure to use the same measurement for the front and the back bodice. Blend side seams and cut off excess. Redraw dart legs. Shorten the front binding and placket by the same measurement.


To Lengthen: Place a piece of paper underneath the top of the bodice section. Measure on the paper the extra amount needed to lengthen and draw a line. Extend the grainline on to the paper. Place the lower section of the bodice onto the paper at the line drawn and match grainlines. Tape in place. Draw in new side seam and dart legs. Lengthen the front binding and placket by the same measurement.

True your pattern: This is where you take your pattern pieces and align them up in the way that they are to be sewn to make sure the pattern fits together accurately. I.e. place the front bodice on to the back bodice aligning the side seams and “walk” the side seam. Be sure to check that the PLACKET and FRONT BINDING also fits together well with the Front Bodice.

You may still need to adjust the Skirt length to get it 100% but thats an easy one to change by changing the hem allowance. With any pattern changes we recommend making a toile in a cheaper fabric to check the fit before constructing in your chosen fabric. I hope this little tutorial helps to customise the fit and get a perfect fit for you.



{How to:} Sew an Exposed Zipper (with a seam)


Lately we have been experimenting with our existing patterns, ironing out any quirks and bumps and generally making things better. One thing that came to our attention is the method for sewing the exposed zipper in our “Relaxed Shift Dress” pattern, as it stands, it’s a little on the fiddly side and one thing that sewing should never be is fiddly! Sewing needs to just flow from one step to another without too much fuss and bother. So here is a much easier tutorial for setting in the exposed zipper without the fuss and fiddle.

See below images for written instructions.



How To:
  1. Stabilise: Fuse a 2.5cm / 1” wide strip of suitable weight fusing to each side of the zipper opening (apply to the wrong side of the fabric). Fusing should be slightly shorter that the length of the zipper (including top and bottom tapes).
  2. Marking: If your pattern doesn’t already have the end of the zipper marked or notched, notch or mark the end of the zip.
  3. Staystitching: The opening of the zipper should be wide enough to expose just the zipper teeth plus a little extra for room around the teeth to prevent any fabric from getting caught. Staystitch each side of the zipper opening 6mm plus the seam allowance (1cm for our patterns) from the raw edge, pivoting 90º at the end of zipper mark/notch. Repeat for both sides.
  4. Sew the Seam: With rights sides together, sew the seam (1cm seam allowance for our patterns) from the base of the zipper mark/notch, to the end.
  5. Clipping: Clip into the seam allowances on a diagonal to the zipper base, just to, but not through the staystitching. You may find it easier to cut each seam allowance separately.
  6. Pressing: Press seams open and neaten each edge. Fold and press over the allowance of the zip opening on the staystitching line.
  7. Stitch the lower edge: Working from the right side of the garment, fold back the top of the work to the start of the centre back seam to expose the ‘triangles’ of the clipped seam allowance, align the metal base of the zipper with the centre seam, (zipper should be facing downwards and right sides together) and position it just past the stay stitching. Pin.
  8. With a zipper foot attached to your machine. Stitch across zipper tape and triangles, back tacking at either end.
  9. Stitch the zipper sides: Flip zipper up right way round, tucking the zipper tape and triangles to the inside, Align the pressed and folded edge along the zipper tape and pin.
  10. Pinning: Turn back one side of the dress back to expose the seam allowance and zipper tape, re-pin seam allowance to zipper tape only and remove pins from the front. Repeat for other side.
  11. Sew Sides: Starting from the base of the zip, stitch along the staystitching line. Repeat for other side of zipper. Press with a pressing cloth.
For all our customers who have previously purchased the Relaxed Shift Dress Pattern and would like to be emailed the updated instructions, please contact us and include the order/etsy invoice number and we will be sure to email you the updated instructions.