Category Archives: Clothing

Skirt Sew Along Part 3: Zippers

We are finally to the part of the skirt many people dread most. There is no need to fear, with a little practice zippers can provide a professional look as a closure to your projects. I will explain and use videos to show you how to install an in-seam zipper or invisible zipper depending on your preference.

In-Seam Zipper

I will start with the in-seam zipper. To me, it is the easiest to explain and visualize. For this zipper you will use an all purpose zipper.

Zippers can be hard to explain, so I also found a video I think it a nice tutorial for inserting an in-seam zipper.


Begin by sewing your center back seams placing right sides together. I use a longer stitch toward the top of the skirt where the zipper will be. Use a 5/8″ seam and press the seam open.


Place the zipper tape face down with the teeth lining up with that seam line in the center and pin in place. This is where the video really does a nice job. Use your zipper foot to stitch down one side of the zipper tape, pivoting at the bottom to go across the center and pivoting again to return back to the top.


Now flip the skirt over and rip out the stitches in front of your zipper so you can open it. Be sure not to go past the stitches you made across the bottom of the zipper tape. And your in-seam zipper is done!

Invisible Zipper

Again, I found a video to really help you install the zipper well. It is nearly 20 minutes, but I feel it is a very thorough video that walks you through step by step.

Invisible zippers are not hard to install once you understand them, but I have done several and can still sometimes mix myself up. I often refer to this tutorial from Colette Patterns which is just pictures and text.


First, I mark my 5/8 inch seam allowance on the right side of the skirt along both center back pieces.


I then pin the zipper teeth along that line as shown above. I am working on the right panel first.


Next using an invisible zipper foot, I bought mine for just a few dollars, I roll the teeth of the zipper out as I stitch to ensure I am getting as close to the zipper tape as possible. I also do a few reverse stitches at the end to anchor the zipper in place.


Now you will repeat the same steps on the other side.


After I pin and before I sew I like to flip the garment the way it will lay when I wear it to be sure I did not twist the zipper tape or do anything silly like that. Now go ahead and sew along this side as you did the other one.


Now I like to flip my skirt over to make sure my zipper is really invisible. I also like to make sure it zips. When you sew that close to the teeth, you can accidentally go over them which will stop your zipper from working. If that happens, pick those stitches out and go back over giving yourself a little more room.


Now place your panels right sides together and pull that little zipper tail out of the way. You may pin to keep your seams even down to the bottom of the skirt.


Starting a little bit before the bottom of the stitch I made for my zipper I sewed a 5/8 inch seam down to the bottom of the skirt.


Congratulations! You have now completed your invisible zipper!

Skirt Sew Along Part 2: Darts

Today is a shorter task, but we will work on zippers next which may be a challenge for some of you. Today we will take a look at sewing our darts. Those were the V shapes we marked into our fabric last time.


First you will fold your fabric down the center of the dart matching your markings on both sides. Make sure you have your fabric right sides together while you do this.


Now, sew along the marking from top to bottom.


This is what your dart should look like. I am using white thread so it is more visible for pictures, but you will probably want to use a color that matches your fabric.


Take the thread tail located at the bottom of the dart and tie a few knots in it. That reinforces it, and is less bulky than trying to reverse on a dart to anchor it. Repeat this dart sewing for the remaining three darts on your skirt.


When unfolded, your darts should look like this on your skirt front piece.


Press your darts toward the center of the garment. In general you always press darts toward the center unless the directions specify other wise. As you can see above I laid my skirt back pieces next to each other to help myself visualize which way would be center.


As you can see the blue skirt is still mirroring the pink skirt. We will start showing differences in finishes on the next post.

Skirt Sew Along Part 1: Fabric Cutting and Marking

I was wondering how far into detail I should go in this sew along. I decided since we were doing a beginner’s skirt version, we should be considerate of beginners and really get into the nitty-gritty of making this skirt. Some of this may be too beginner for you, but maybe we can get some tips from each other.


This is your view of the back of the pattern envelope. The top flap has a guide to help you use your measurements to choose which size to make.


This section gives you a description of the garment you are about to make. Under the Notions section you are told of any extras you will need to complete the garment, in this case you will need a zipper and maybe ribbon depending on the version you are making. The Fabrics section tells you which fabrics and weights of fabric will work best for this particular pattern.


This section tells you how much fabric to buy. Most fabrics come in 44 inch and 60 inch widths. I used a 60 inch fabric that did not have any nap or directional print to worry about, so I needed 7/8 yards. You can also see you need fusible interfacing here which comes most typically in 20 to 22 inch widths. For this skirt a light weight fusible interfacing works fine.


The directions that come inside the envelope are very helpful. In this shot it is showing you how to lay out your pattern pieces to best fit the width of fabric you bought.

Go ahead and cut out your fabric pieces along the line designated for the size you chose to use. In my case I am following the line for a size 20. By the way, don’t let the sizing turn you off. It was disheartening to need a size 20 pattern, but pattern sizes are different from your ready to wear sizes. I wear a size 12 in ready to wear clothing, but if I tried to make a size 12 in this skirt to save my pride I probably wouldn’t be able to fit the skirt over my hips!


After I have cut out my pattern pieces I like to iron them on a very low setting to help flatten them out. At this point I also iron my fabric I will be using to remove any wrinkles. Creasing and wrinkles in pattern pieces or fabric during this stage can really affect the fit of your skirt later on.


Here is how I laid out my pattern pieces on my fabric. I like to lay them all out before I cut or even pin just to be sure they fit.


In this photo I have placed a few pins just to keep the fabric and pattern from moving while I cut them.


As I cut out pieces I like to cut little notches where you see these triangles. These are used later to make sure your pieces are lined up as you are sewing.


This marking here shows we will have a dart. There will be a dart in both sides of the skirt front and back pieces. It is important to mark these before you begin to sew because they are the very first thing we will sew. There are several ways to mark darts depending on your preference.


These are the three methods I use most:

  • Frixion Pen – this pen is sold in office supply stores. It irons invisible and washes out.
  • Tracing paper and wheel – the paper comes in several colors and makes a light mark that fades away or is washed out over time.
  • Tailor’s Chalk – This is a waxy type of chalk that washes out.

For this project I am using my tracing paper and wheel, but there is no one right method to marking fabric. It all comes down to personal preference. When I was first starting, I even used regular pencils and ball point pens, so don’t feel like you have to go buy something fancy.


To use the tracing paper, I slid the folded paper in between the layers of fabric with its chalky sides out. I then used my tracing wheel and heavily went over the lines of the dart to insure the markings would be visible.

You have officially marked and cut your fabric! Please feel free to share if you have another method that works for you or if you have any questions.

Skirt Sew Along

I just love a skirt in the summer. Nothing fancy or lined, I just want a plain old skirt to wear. A-line is my favorite shape, and Butterick 4461 is my favorite pattern. It’s not too fancy. I can dress it up or down, and it is so much cooler to wear than shorts or pants in these hot Houston summers.



I made this version last year for the rodeo and got a ton of compliments. I used a Texas wildflower print by Michael Miller Fabrics.


I made this version this winter while wishing for spring. Sadly, I have already gotten to wear it and am wishing summer away.


I made this version around the same time. Sadly my iron wigged out and burned a hole through it. Le sigh. It was really beautiful.

I was thinking of the best way to do a sew along. Butterick 4461 the first skirt I ever made, so a very beginner could do it, but now I like fancy seams and new techniques that I would like to share. Here is what I came up with: I am making two versions of the skirt. The blue one will be a skirt that uses more advanced techniques. The pink one will be a version that uses very basic techniques that a beginner would benefit from.

Think of it this way, have you ever gotten an exercise video and the crazy buff trainer in front says if you are having any difficulty you can follow the one person doing a low impact workout? The pink skirt will be low impact and the blue one will be all out. You will be able to switch techniques I show on both skirts, and maybe you can teach me a thing or too.


Low impact pink skirt.


Advanced technique blue skirt. Isn’t it cute?

I know A-Line skirts are not for everyone. If you have a simple skirt with zipper in another shape, you may be able to follow along as well. I’m happy to try to answer any questions you have about this. In the meantime go get your pattern and fabric. As for zippers I will show how to do both an in seam zipper and an invisible zipper, so go nuts!

I’m off to complete my first important step: washing and drying my fabric on hot before I cut my fabric to thwart any washing and drying disasters in the future. I hope you do the same, and we’ll cut out fabric and patterns soon!

Random Question: Hey Stacie!  Why do you  recommend pre-washing fabrics on “Hot”?   Signed, Curious

Good question!  Sometimes my husband will do the laundry and not pay attention to temperature settings. We had an incident not long ago with a dress I had made that I had prewashed on a regular setting that he washed after it was completed on hot after several typical washings. It shrank and pulled, and I don’t think it will ever fit again. That was a huge lesson as well as a waste of money,energy, time and being upset with my husband. Now, in an effort to save my marriage, I wash on hot first to be proactive instead of reactive when someone else does laundry. If you have an alternate arrangement, washing on hot may not be necessary, but do pre-wash your fabric.

Adventures in Machine Embroidery: Cut Work

Ok all you adventurous machine embroidery ladies!  It’s time to take our hobby to the next level!!!

Yes!  We are doing some Cut Work!

What is cutwork?

Well, for some reason, looking at cut work reminds me of stained glass windows.  But that’s really not what it is at all.

Cut work is embroidery on fabric that is literally CUT OUT during the embroidery process.  So, your finished project has artistic and deliberate “holes” that are surrounded by beautiful embroidery stitches.

Here are some pictures of cut work designs by Anita Goodesign and also one by Dakota Collectibles.  You can get these and other designs from Humble Sewing Center or order them online.

Check out the pictures and then take a look at my step-by-step adventure in Cut Work on a shirt….


Dakota Collectibles File # FL1520

Cut Work Shirt Tutorial


  • one shirt
  • one cut work embroidery design
  • embroidery machine and embroidery thread
  • curved, fine tip embroidery scissors for precision cutting
  • No Show Fusible Stabilizer
  • Self-Adhesive Wash Away Stabilizer

Step One: Choose a shirt

Step Two: If you have embroidery software, print out a design template to help you with design placement on your shirt.

Don’t have software?  If you aren’t ready to invest in a full blown digitizing software, I like to recommend 2 smaller software packages, depending on what machine you own.

If you have a Janome Machine, I like Digitizer Jr.  (You can get this at Humble Sewing Center or your local dealer.)

If you have a Babylock or other brand of machine, I like to recommend: Embrilliance Essentials  (This is a smaller package that was created by the same man who created all of the Designer’s Gallery software. He’s amazing!)  He even let’s you download a free trial to see if you like it:  Free Trial    I don’t know if the trial lets you print or stitch anything, but at least you can click around and see if you like the way the software works…

Moving right along….

Step Three: Peel the paper backing off of the self-adhesive stabilizer and hoop it with the sticky side face up.

Step Four: Place your design template on your shirt and mark the cross hairs with a sticker or pins to help you with hooping.

Step Five:

Once you know where the design will be, you can fuse a piece of the No-Show fusible stabilizer to the wrong side of the shirt.  Make sure you are fusing this stabilizer in the area that the shirt will be embroidered.  This stabilizer helps keep your stretchy shirt fabric from becoming distorted during hooping and embroidering.

Step Six: Turn your shirt inside out and place it right side up on top of the hoop's sticky surface. I used the plastic grid that came with my hoop to help me align my shirt in the hoop. If my way is totally confusing you, see below to find out how Nancy Zieman does it.

(For the next two photos, I’m quoting the shirt hooping step from one of Nancy’s blog posts.  Here’s the link to the entire post:  Knit Shirt Makeovers)

“Place the embroidery hoop at the narrow end of an ironing board.  Next, position the T-shirt over the end of the ironing board. (See picture below.)  Match the neckline and center front to one of the Perfect-Placement Stitching lines and center front marking on the stabilizer. Gently finger press the shirt to the sticky stabilizer.”

Photo from Nancy Zieman Blog Post - Knit Shirt Makeovers

“Lift the back of the T-shirt to the top of the hoop, creating a nest shape. Reattach the hoop to the embroidery unit.”

Photo from Nancy Zieman Blog Post - Knit Shirt Makeovers

Ok, now we’re back to my instructions for the cut work shirt tutorial:

Step Seven: Once the shirt is hooped, make sure the needle is aligned with your target sticker or pins.

Step Eight: Stitch the first step of your cut work design and remove the hoop from the machine. Do not un-hoop the shirt!

Step Nine: Using your fine tipped embroidery scissors, cut out the fabric inside of the stitch outlines. Even cut through the stabilizers.

Step Ten: Turn the hoop over and use a piece of the self-adhesive stabilizer to patch the holes you cut. This is a very important step! Don't forget to patch those holes!!!

Step Eleven: Place the hoop onto the machine and finish stitching out the embroidery design.

Step Twelve:  Remove the hoop from the machine and un-hoop your shirt.  Trim away the excess stabilizers and use warm water to rinse away all of the wash away stabilizer.  Tumble dry your wet shirt.

Note:  If the embroidered area is stiff, you may need to rinse out the shirt again to remove the rest of the wash away stabilizer.  Once your shirt is dry, use a pressing cloth and press if necessary.

Look at my new shirt! By the way, this design is from Anita Goodesign Butterfly Cut Work Collection. I Love it!

My dog, Rilie, is very happy with the way my shirt turned out!

She's giving me her high five! What a sweet girl!

Thanks for reading!

I hope this helps you with your first try at Cut Work!

Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

Onesie Conversion!

Look at what I made!

Today I refashioned a ready-to-wear onesie that I had purchased at Walmart for about $2.  I used my handy dandy embroidery machine and added an applique to the front of it.  I also bursted a few brain cells and created my own pattern so I could add a mock-wrap skirt to it.  The picture above is the fruit of my experimentation.  I’m looking forward to seeing this on my niece!

Here’s a close-up of the applique that I found for FREE online.  I’m sharing a link to the website where you can download this and other free designs as well as purchase tons of very cute ABC’s etc.

Note:   To be sure you like the results, you may want to stitch out a test one on scrap fabric first.

New Video Tutorial Coming Soon:  My hubby filmed me going through the steps of stabilizing, hooping, and stitching out this applique on a onesie.  I’ll be able to share the video as soon as he’s done editing etc.  Yay!

After I embroidered my onesie, I fused a stabilizer called Fuse So Soft to the back of the embroidery design.  It’s like a tricot fabric, but it’s fusible and this keeps the rough threads from scratching or irritating a baby’s delicate skin.  You can get it at Humble Sewing Center or order something similar online.

After the embroidery was all done, I used my self-drafted miniature skirt pattern and went to town putting this cute little frock together.  My skirt pattern is basically a trapezoid shape with a rounded bottom edge.

See?  My onesie has a mock-wrap skirt.  The overlapping flap is sewn in place near my contrasting chocolate band and there are no waist ties.

I assembled and hemmed the skirt before attaching it to the onesie.

I marked center front and center back and placed some alignment dots across the onesie’s front and back so I’d be able to pin the skirt in place and sew without too much fuss.

Can you see the placement dots?

To sew the skirt to the onesie, I turned the skirt inside out and inserted the onesie into the skirt so that center fronts, center backs, and side seams were aligned and fabrics were right sides together.  Then I pinned it to death and sewed all the way around.

       My friend’s Beautiful Daughter, Marian! I get to be Auntie Jenny! Yay!!!!

I know I didn’t share a complete step by step tutorial for this project this time, but I am sharing a link to a pattern by Vanilla House that is very similar to what I have done here.  See?  Just click the images to go to the Vanilla House website and order your pattern!


P163 One-zee conversions162frontcoveronly

That’s all for now!

Let’s get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

The Refashioned Stretch Velvet Top

Hello again!

Today’s post is all about an experiment I conducted to refashion an old top of mine.  I decided to cut it open and add button holes & buttons.  Overall, it was a success, with a little bit of a fail mixed in.  See below for more….

(The following is reposted from my most recent Sew Weekly contribution.)

The day we set aside to take pictures was a very grey and blustery one so, my dear, sweet, hubby, set up his equipment for an indoor photo shoot.   We didn’t think you’d be interested in seeing our humble living room, so he got creative and hence, the custom backgrounds….

Ever since I began contributing to the Sew Weekly, he’s been faithfully helping me photograph my latest sewing efforts and this week’s button holes “experiment”.  I must take a moment to extend an official “Thank You!!!” to my wonderful Mister.

The Facts

Fabric:  RTW stretch velvet shirt

Pattern:  This is made from a hand-me-down top that I was given a few years ago.  I decided to cut it open and refashion it into a button up top that I could then wear as a blouse or leave open and wear as a dressy cover up.  (My own personal experiment… eeeep!)

Year:  2012

Notions:  Vintage Buttons from my Grandma’s Stash

Time to complete:  2 hours

First Worn:  January 16, 2012

Wear Again:  Yes!

Total Price:  Free

The Details:  Going into this, you’ll note, that I had visions of leaving the buttons unfastened and wearing this velvety top as a cover up over all kinds of other little tops.  But, as you can see, or not see, there are NO photos of me with this little gem unbuttoned.  This is because, stretch velvet rolls.  So, if I ever were to wear it unbuttoned, everyone would get a nice long look at my button hole facings…..  Not the look I was going for, but oh well.  It’s good to experiment.  Right?

If the end goal is to be able to wear the shirt unbuttoned, I think this experiment would work better on heavier weight fabrics.  With that thought in mind, here’s a few pictures of my shirt’s “metamorphosis”:

I cut 2 strips of fabric about 1 1/4″ wide & about 2 inches longer than the shirt front.Then I ironed fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.
I found and marked center front and cut open my shirt. Eeeep!
With right sides together, I aligned one long edge of a facing strip with one long edge of my cut open shirt. Then I sewed the facing to the shirt and zig zagged the raw edge of the facing. (Next, I repeated these steps for the other facing.)
I then marked and sewed all of my buttonholes on the front of the shirt. This is a picture of my lovely facings….
Here’s a close up of my finished button hole and button. Except for the rolling velvet, this shirt turned out just the way I wanted.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read about this partially successful refashioning experiment.

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Let’s Get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny