How to Replace a Jean or Pant Zipper

You know it’s time to replace a zipper when the teeth are missing or the zipper tab has pulled away from the teeth, like this one:

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It’s almost impossible to put the tab back on the track.

(But if the tab has broken off and the zipper is still intact, you can always just replace the tab. You can find replacements at most large fabric stores or online.)

This method works on jeans, slacks and skirts.

If you want to know how to replace a jacket zipper, see this post.

Before you begin, measure the length of the existing zipper.

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As you can see, I’ll need at least a 6 ” zipper for this pair of slacks. If you only have a longer zipper, go ahead and use it. Later, I will show you what to do with a zipper that is longer than the measured area.

If you can, ask your customer to measure the zipper, buy the one they like and bring it with them to the first appointment. I don’t like to have inventory of these on hand because I never know what size or color the customer would like, or if their first choice is even available. It’s much easier and less stressful to have them buy the one they’d like. That saves you time and hassle and you’ll have the one they like.

The zipper color does not have to match the fabric since it won’t be seen, once the garment is worn.

Once you have your zipper on hand, take it out of the package and set it aside.

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Start ripping out the old zipper, paying close attention to how it was installed.

You’ll want to make mental notes of each step so that you can insert the new zipper in the same way the old one was put in.

This area at the bottom of the zipper is usually sewn in with a tight zig zag stitch or bar tack stitch. Be careful when removing these stitches as they are sewn in very tightly:

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You can see that the top of this zipper was cut off. There is no problem with that because the top of the zipper will be stitched into the slacks so that the tab can’t come off at the top.

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Next, rip out the area of zipper where the pull tab is now in this photo:

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Notice there is a double row of stitching here.

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This photo below, shows how I’m almost finished ripping out both sides of the zipper:

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Once you have the old zipper removed from the pants, insert the new zipper and begin to pin the left side as shown below:

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Make sure you tuck the top of the zipper between the waistband and the front of the slacks. If it is too long, you can cut it, leaving an inch or so longer than what you need.

Next, I fit the front of the slacks over the pinning I just did, pulling out the pins as you sew. You can line up the zipper with the stitching holes left behind by the old zipper. Stitch right over the same holes where the original zipper was sewn. Use a denim or heavy duty needle, if you have one.

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Continue stitching to the bottom of that section, pulling the top fabric until it meets about 1/8″ from the zipper teeth as you sew. You’ll know when to stop.

Now turn the pants upside down like in the photo below. This just makes it easier to pin the next section.

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Now, flip just the zipper tape on the left side over to the right side, like this below:

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Line up the zipper tape with the old sewing holes on the right side and pin. Stitch it in place, sewing over the old holes, or if you can’t see those, stitch about 1/4″ away from the zipper teeth being careful to remove the pins, but don’t move the zipper tape as you sew.

On the outside, stitch just along the curve edge and stop about 3″ and backstitch to lock in your stitches. See photo below.

If you were to stitch all the way up to the waistband, you would sew the pants shut and you wouldn’t be able to put the slacks on! So, jsut sew about three inches. When you took the old zipper out, you probably noticed how they were done that way originally.

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Once you backstitch and trim off your threads, pull the pants away from your machine and fold under the right side of the zipper, so that the right side doesn’t get caught up in the remainder of your stitching and continue stitching up to the waistband.

I forgot to take a photo of this step, but you can look at the very last photo and see what the stitching line should look like.

At this point, your waistband is still loose and open on each side.

If you have jeans, you can topstitch the waistband on in a matter of seconds.

Notice that on these slacks, the waistband is not topstitched down. Some of you will want to topstitch it because it is fast to do so, but I don’t like the look of a partially topstitched waistband. I like to hand stitch the opening:

 

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Then I stitch in the “ditch” where the two fabrics meet, as in the photo below. I went ahead and stitched it so you can see the stitches out in front of the needle. Those stitches will basically be hidden. You won’t notice them if you stitch as shown below:

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Do the same on both sides of the waistband.

Many times the button is loose even before you start working on the zipper. I like to tighten that up or resew it as a courtesy to the customer.

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There you have it….a new zipper easily installed!

 

 

 

How To Add Lining and Hem Your Drapes or Curtains

Finding drapes in the color, length and fabric you need is not an easy task, unless you get them custom made. But that is expensive.

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I found a set of drapes in the color and style I wanted, but the length was too long. Also, when I stood on the curb outside, they didn’t look good because the window in the bedroom next to this one had white lined drapes. Maybe you aren’t concerned with that type of thing, but it stuck out like a sore thumb to me.

Back inside the house, I decided to hem them and line them in white to match the other window, Because it’s the guest room, I thought it might be nice to line them with “block out” or “black out” fabric so that whoever is sleeping there, wouldn’t be blinded by the early morning sun.

You can use most any type of fabric for lining. JoAnn’s sells a brand called Roc Lon. It is Dry Clean only. So, if you can wash your drapes, choose a lining fabric that is washable. Cottons are the most common. Check with your local fabric store for ideas.

I found some decent block out fabric by the yard and on the roll at Joann Fabrics. I chose it partly because it was a little wider than the width of each drapery panel, which would mean I could figure out the yardage easily. I only needed to measure the length of the drape panels, add those measurements together and add enough for hems (at the top of the drapes and on the bottom).

My drapery rods were hung at a strange height by the previous owners. They were hung at 90″ above the ground and store bought drapes are 84″ and 95″ in length, so I either had to move the rods or buy longer panels and shorten them. On this window, I decided to shorten the drapes. I didn’t want to rehang rods, patch holes and paint.

Let’s start with the hem and proceed to the lining after that.

My drapes have metal grommets. Other drapes have pleats or gathers.

First, I measured from the top of the grommet hole to the hem. If your drapes have gathers, measure from the top of the casing opening where your rod fits in. If your drapes have pleats, measure from where the hook goes into the hole along the rod.

Don’t measure from the top of the drape!

Do you see why?

The drape hangs from the rod, so the top of the drape doesn’t matter in this case. Measure from where the drape hangs from the rod.

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To begin, I took out the original hem with a seam ripper.

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Then, I folded and pinned up the hem at the length I needed.

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The original hem was 3 inches and had another 1/2″ turned over to hide the raw edge.

So, I measured up 3 1/2″ from the hem edge and cut the excess off.

Be careful not to cut the drape underneath!

Since you are smarter than me, you will probably choose to unfold the hem and cut it so there’s no chance of accidentally cutting the drape, but I guess I like to live on the wild side. Ha!

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Press that folded edge. That will be your new hemline.

Remove the pins as you press, of course!

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Next, fold down 1/2″ from the cut edge and press it. This may seem a little backwards, but I like to make sure my hemline is straight. If the cut edge isn’t straight, the hemline won’t be either. Does that make sense?

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Now, just turn up your hem on the fold line and topstitch along the edge of that fold on the back of the drape, using the folded edge as your guide. You can topstitch from the front of the drape, if you can see the folded edge as you sew. I usually stitch from the front, but stitching from the backside of the drape makes it easier for you to see in the photo below.

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Ok, now you are ready to add the lining.

On a flat surface, lay out your lining fabric.

This is my “block out” lining fabric.

Cut the lining fabric at least 2 inches larger all the way around than the finished size of your drape. If you can make it larger, that’s fine. This drape was 54″ wide and my blockout fabric was 60″, so it was 3″ wider on each side of the drape, which was perfect!

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Once you cut it out, lay the top edge of the lining to the top edge of the drape like this photo below:

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It looks like its upside down, but this is what you want. You are going to be sewing at that fold just under the grommets all across the width of the drape. So, lay the right side of the lining to the wrong side of the drape and it’s upside down! Study the photo above until it makes sense to you.

Keep reading and I think you’ll see how it works.

In the photo below, can you see how there is a fold (bump) to the left of the presser foot? I am stitching barely to the right of that fold (bump). You can see the wrong side of the drape off to the right in the photo:

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Once you stitch across the width of the drape, along that fold or bump, pull the lining down to cover the entire wrong side of the drape (in the photo below) and the raw edge will be hidden under the fold. You don’t have to finish the raw edge of the block out fabric because it doesn’t ravel.

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Now, you’re going to work on the hem of the lining.

As long as your lining covers the folded hemline that you topstitched earlier and as long as the lining hem is not longer than the drape, you are good. Any length in between those areas is fine. Unless your drapes are see through. Then, I would have your lining end just under the topstitched line on the drape.

Here I folded up the lining so that it was 1″ above the bottom edge of the drape:

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Pin only the lining fabric. You don’t want to set an iron on block out fabric because it will melt. It is a man made material.

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I added a half inch to the length of my lining fabric and cut the excess off.

Now my lining is 1 1/2″ above the bottom edge of the drape:

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Next, I stitched along the folded edge of the hem of the lining fabric:

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Next, measure the “side” hems of the drapes. They run along the vertical edges of the drapes. In this case, they are about one inch:

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So, I folded under the sides so that they were 1 ” from the edge of the sides and pinned it all the way down (just like I did for the hem of the lining at the bottom):

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This time, I pinned the lining to the drape along the sides:

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Next, I stitched along the edge of the lining. If you have light colored drapes and the stitching is going to show, then stitch from the right side of the drape and use the original stitching line as your guide. Stitch right over the top of it being as exact as you can be. With my drapes, it didn’t show at all.

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This is what the inside should look like, except that the bottom edge of the lining will have already been stitched:

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Here’s the length before I started:

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Here’s the length after:

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I know there are other ways to line and hem drapes, but this one works the fastest for me.

Enjoy your project!

Quick Gift Idea

I went to my quilt group the other day and one of the ladies had an impromptu craft to share with us.

Those of you (and I’m not one of you!) who are handy with paper crafts can figure this out by looking at it.

It’s a star ornament filled with 6 Hershey kisses.

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It’s cute, isn’t it?

Here’s another angle:

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I don’t know where she got the pattern.

I might be able to explain how to make this to you:

We started by making the exterior of the star. You just fold into 5 (?) parts and have a flap that is glued to hold it together.

Then, we took a long narrow piece of good qualtity turquoise paper.

You fold it into 4 equal sections. There are two of these and they fit inside the big star. These hold the kisses.

Then, you can see the triangles that fit above and below the kisses.

We glued those to the top and bottom of the star.

(She had this great glue that dries in a flash.)

It was a little white bottle with green letters.

I know, I am a big help, aren’t I?!!

Then, she embossed the turquoise strip that goes around the star and we glued that on with this machine:

Then, there is a scalloped shape “roof” to the star.

Now, it’s time to add your kisses in the compartments.

Next, we punched a hole through this very thick ornament with an incredible gadget she had called a Crop-A Dile.

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(Oh, my goodness, I may need one of these!

I don’t know why, because I don’t do paper crafts, but it just looks like it does alot of cool stuff!)

Next, we tied the silver cord through the hole to hang it on the tree.

Then, she gave us the silver medallions to glue on the center of the star.

The only thing that she didn’t have was a round rhinestone to glue in the middle of the medallion.

For those of you who know how to do this type of thing and have all the great gizmos to do it, it doesn’t take any time at all.

And it sure looks elegant!

How to Alter a Top With an Elastic Hem

You’ve seen these blouses everywhere:

ImageThey’ve got elastic running around the bottom edge.

Many women complain that they don’t like how they look when they wear them and pass up the idea of buying them.

Altering them is an easy fix.

Just trim off the elastic close to the edge:

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I use sharp small scissors to accomplish this task:

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Next, turn the hem up and press if necessary.

I hand baste the hem as well so that the knit doesn’t slip around.

If you have a woven fabric, you should press the hem up as well.

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In addition, if you are sewing on a woven cloth, be sure and finish the edge with a serger or a zig zag stitch first.

Next, look for a thread to match:

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On this top, I will sew a double row of stitching on the hem.

This means I’ll need two spools of thread.

If I don’t have two spools of matching thread, or they are very close in color, I will wind two bobbins.

One bobbin will be used in the bobbin case and the other bobbin will be used as the second spool of thread.

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Then, get yourself a double stretch needle. They look like this:

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Put the spool of thread on the first spool pin and a bobbin on the second spool pin.

To thread your machine with two threads, treat them as one thread and thread through until you get to the needle area:

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Then, thread one thread through each needle:

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Stitch the hem, keeping the right side of the shirt facing up so you can watch to make sure you are doing a good job.

As you can see, if you flip it over, the bottom threads form sort of a zig zag stitch:

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As you can see, it doesn’t take long to convert your top and the hem looks great!:

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How To Replace a Zipper in a Jacket or Coat

If you read my last post on How Much To Charge To Replace a Zipper, I promised I’d be back to show you how to put in a new zipper.

Here’s the jacket with the broken zipper:

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The zipper teeth didn’t hold together when the jacket was zipped:

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Before you begin, be sure and choose a zipper that is long enough for the jacket opening.

Try to buy a zipper that is the same length as the current zipper.

If that is not possible, get one that is longer.

You can always shorten the top of the zipper.

Here are two different types of jacket zippers:

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The zipper on the left is a heavy duty silver metal zipper.

The one on the right is made of durable nylon.

For this jacket, the metal zipper was chosen.

Before you buy the zipper, zip it up and down several times to make sure it doesn’t stick and that it actually works.

You’d hate to sew it in and find out it was defective.

You’d only do that once!

If your zipper tape is wrinkled, you could iron it, but be careful that you don’t hit the teeth on the nylon zippers with the hot iron.

I don’t usually have that problem with jacket zippers.

But occasionally, a dress or pant zipper is wrinkled.

Let’s begin.

I start by grabbing my seam ripper and pulling out the stitches just below the zipper:

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Pull out all of the stitches on both sides of the jacket.

As you can see, there is another row of stitching right next to the zipper tape.

It needs to come out too:

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Here is what this jacket looks like as the zipper is being taken out.

I think it’s funny that the manufacturer used pink thread:

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Here’s another look… near a snap:

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I’ll show you how to deal with the snap in a moment.

Before I take the zipper out of the top edge of the jacket, I pay attention to any detail I need to, so that I can put the new zipper back in the same way, if possible.

The zipper tape at the top is usually folded back inside the jacket so it doesn’t show from the outside.

You can’t see that on this jacket, but just take mental notes as you disassemble the area:

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Once you take out the entire zipper, be sure to take out all the loose little threads.

Sometimes, a lint roller is very helpful with this stage:

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I insert the zipper making sure the correct side of the zipper is on the corresponding correct side of the jacket and pin it every couple of inches:

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I like to pin because it anchors the zipper down enough so it doesn’t move as I sew.

If you are uncomfortable doing this, you can always hand baste the zipper in place.

Be sure to pin or baste the zipper so that the teeth won’t get caught in the fold of the fabric edge when you zip it.

I don’t measure this. I just eyeball it and give it about an eighth of an inch clearance.

Make sure that the lining of the jacket is lined up correctly to before you pin or baste.

You don’t want that bunched up at all.

Now, let’s talk about the snaps, if you have them.

When you get to a snap, you may notice that the zipper tape doesn’t fit down into the “hole” too well.

The snap is in the way.

Do you see how the zipper tape rises too high because of the snap?

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I place a pin right next to the snap on the zipper tape (see photo below).

It doesn’t have to be perfect placement as you’ll see in a moment.

You just want a visual marker:

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Next, with a pair of scissors, notch out a little semi circle on the zipper tape just below your pin, like this:

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That semi circle is going to fit over the top of the snap.

Now, remove that pin.

It has done its job.

Place the zipper tape back in the hole and continue pinning:

See how slick that looks?

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Your zipper will not pull out because you have that notch.

Trust me on this!

Once the entire zipper is pinned in, put your zipper foot onto your sewing machine.

I also use a denim weight needle.

They are better suited to a jacket than an all purpose needle.

Begin stitching.

Stitch on the stitching line where the original zipper was, being careful not to run over your pins.

Take them out just before you get to them:

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When you get to a snap, just stay on course.

You shouldn’t have any trouble staying on the original stitching line.

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You might think from the photo above that there would be a small pucker.

To avoid that, I just make sure to hold it tightly as I sew.

Let’s look at how that stitching line looks near the snap:

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When you reach the bottom of the zipper, you’ll notice that the zipper tape has a thick, stiff area about one inch long.

I go slowly over this area.

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Sometimes, I may even “walk” my needle over the stiff area so that I don’t break my needle.

You may have noticed that the original zipper ended a few inches above the bottom edge of the jacket:

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The new zipper was longer and it fit perfectly into the bottom of the jacket:

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If your zipper is too long, just fold the excess under at the top.

If it is several inches too long, leave about an inch or more so you can fold it under at the top.

Some people don’t like any bulk from the zipper, so they cut it off.

If you do that, just make sure you have some extra so you don’t have a raw edge at the top.

You may need to whip stitch the top zipper teeth so that the zipper slide (or pull) doesn’t come off.

You don’t need to worry about that second line of stitching that was next to the zipper tape.

This one row will hold your zipper in tightly.

Here is the finished zipper:

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I know you’ll have great success too!

How To Make a Sewing Pattern

A question came in yesterday asking how to line the inside of a nightgown.

Without having the original pattern, one might think it impossible.

But, I have found an answer to that diemma and I’d like to share it with you.

Call it my early Christmas gift to you!

All you need is some wide paper of any kind.

I use the end rolls of newsprint.

Our local newspaper office gives these ends out free, so I grab one or two a year.

They are great for all kinds of purposes.

If you can’t find wide paper, just tape what you do have together to make pieces wide enough for your project.

This is what my newsprint looks like:

Begin by rolling out a length of paper for your project.

Do this on the carpet, not on your floor.

You’ll see why in a minute.

I chose a simple T-shirt as my example.

Lay your garment on the paper:

You are going to do what I call “pin tracing”.

So get out your stash of straight pins for this.

You are going to trace each piece of your garment.

You will need to trace the front, the back, the sleeves, the collar pieces, the plackets, the cuffs, the leg, the waistbands, etc.

Get the idea?

Ok, to pin trace, you are going to start at one point (any point) on the first piece and poke a pin (through the paper) along the edge of that piece every inch or so like this:

This is why you need to work on carpet, because the pins can scratch your floor and it makes it difficult to poke them through.

On this shirt, I am pin tracing the front of the shirt first.

Pin trace all the way around.

If you’re not sure what a pattern piece should look like, take out  a similar one in any of your Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, etc. pattern envelopes and study it.

Just keep poking your pin all around the piece.

Along the side seams, it will look like this:

See the pin holes? Look closely.

Now, just connect the dots with a pen or a marker:

I’ve done only a partial section of this shirt, but you get the idea, right?

Can you see the shoulder seam, armhole and side seam in the photo below?

When you are finished tracing, be sure to  add on your seam allowances.

Next, move the shirt to a fresh spot on the paper and trace the next piece, making sure you’ve left enough room for it.

There’s nothing more frustrating than tracing one piece over another.

But I wouldn’t know anything about that!

Be sure to think ahead. If you are tracing a sleeve, you’ll need to either: fold the paper and line up the edge of the sleeve on it, or trace half the sleeve, move the sleeve and trace the remaining half.

Does that make sense?

Just be sure to think through each piece well before you cut it out of fabric to make the new garment.

This technique works well with garments and linings.

The idea came about because I had an favorite pair of shorts and I wanted to reproduce them, but I couldn’t find a pattern that was even close to it in style.

It’s not beautiful, but it’s cheap and fast and it works!

Give it a try.

 

How To Sew On Satin Covered Buttons

I admit I don’t get a request to sew on satin covered buttons very often.

It’s happened twice in eight years.

You’ve seen these before, right?

They are usually seen on wedding dresses or other bridal items.

The button is covered in satin on one side and has a softly padded shank on the other.

As you know, my daughter is getting married soon and she wanted me to add satin covered buttons to the back of her dress.

I thought I could run down to the local fabric store and buy a pile of them.

Wrong.

They don’t carry them.

Thankfully, they were available in the big city 75 miles away.

Some of you buy them on the internet.

I thought of that, but I wanted to make sure they’d match the dress closely as her dress is not a bright white, but a cross between white and candlelight.

I took a swatch of the fabric to match and wouldn’t you know, they had a bag of bright white ones and a bag of candlelight!

So I chose the candlelight color because the bright white made the dress look dirty.

Have I lost you in the details yet?

The owner of the store (they’ve been in business 50 years this year!) told me to figure two buttons per inch, and a few extra for the bustle, (that’s if she chooses an over bustle.)

So, I put a pin in the zipper area every 1/2″, starting at the 1/4″ mark.

Use one long continuous double thread to sew them on.

Be sure and put a good knot on the end and come up from the back of the dress with your needle.

Make sure your knot doesn’t get in the way of the zipper.

Using one long continuous double thread saves me major time sewing on the buttons one by one.

 

Do you see how I sew these on?

As I’m sewing one button on, I put the needle in just past the next pin.

Then, I push the needle into the button shank making sure it is horozontally inserted:

Here’s a side view of the buttons after stitching them on:

They look like little mushrooms all lined up!

Then, repeat the process, following the photo:

Push your needle to the back of the dress and knot it securely.

Halfway through the sewing, I poked my finger with the needle by accident.

I drew a little blood.

If you’ve noticed on my sidebar on this blog, I mention a way to get rid of blood on your wedding dress.

Saliva.

Yeah.

In the photo below, on the middle button, you can see where I have already dabbed a bit of my saliva on the blood stain.

It was bright red, but now it’s pink:

A little bit more saliva and the stain is gone! (I’m not kidding! See the second button from the left):

In the above photo, look at the third button over from the left.

That one is not the one that had the blood stain.

This button has a flaw.

Unfortunately, I only bought just enough buttons, so I had to use this one somewhere in the lineup.

Can you relate?

I’m hoping it won’t show.

At least it’s not on the front of the dress.

See how easy it is to sew on a set of covered buttons?

 

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