Sewing knit hems with a three-thread serger edge

Valentine's Day One Seam Wrap

Super quick and easy 3-thread edge serge finish

By: Christine Jonson

 

This technique works especially well for light to medium weight sweater knits where a traditional hem is not best. I love this Missoni-ish fabric that is in my current collection, and thought it would be the perfect Valentine's Day topper in the reds and pink colorway. This wrap (One Seam Wrap from #1117) has only one seam that needs to be stitched for the underarm/sleeve. Once that is sewn the rest of the work is the edge stitching or rolled hem.

Here's what you need:
3 cones of thread
1/8" bias fusible seam tape
Rolled hem foot and plate

The Outfit...

I paired the One Seam Wrap with my Ruched Skirt(free pattern in the tips & how-to) made with black rayon jersey and the Keyhole Top (sleeveless and without keyhole) made with a wonderful textured knit from my stash.

Since I want this for Valentine's Day I chose a variety of red and pink threads to choose from then made my decision.

I changed the plate and foot on my serger for a rolled hem and did a few test samples to achieve the perfect stitch.

This is my Brother serger which I bought in 1980! I love it and it has given me years of excellent performance.

I cut the 1/4" bias tape in half because I only need it to be as wide at the rolled edge and don't want it to show on the wrong side. You can use fusible interfacing cut on the bias for this step as well.

Carefully press the bias tape along the edge of the wrap on the wrong side.

Press this on all the way around.

Edge serge on the right side of the fabric without cutting any fabric off. I flip the knife up and out of the way to be sure.

I control how thick the thread is on the edge of the fabric by pulling it slightly with my left hand as I guide the fabric with both hands.

Sewing a ruched knit tee shirt from a tee shirt sewing pattern

Shirred/Ruched Banded Neck Tee

Get this ruched look by adding some elastic into the side seam of the Banded Neck Tee from the Travel Trio One #1204 after construction (hemming also completed first).

The total side seam length pictured here is 25” and the ruching starts two inches above the waist. 

In our sample, the last 15” of the side seam are zig zag stitched onto a 9” stretched piece of elastic. The elastic was cut into 11” pieces, so that at the start and end of the stitching, there was something to hold onto.  The extra elastic is then trimmed away at the ends.

The fabric pictured in the sample is from a previous collection you may still have in your stash.  Light weight sweater knits, and other drapey LYCRA blends would work well with this project.

Sewing your perfect tee shirt!

Sewing a perfect tee shirt is not only easy and FAST, but it offers a lot of creativity. We all need - and love - tees! Whether we pair them with our boyfriend jeans and some statement jewelry, wear them under a blazer or over shorts, tee shirts are a staple of our wardrobes. Making them takes about 20 minutes, and that's faster than the mall and far more instant-gratification than ordering online. One tee shirt pattern can yield many fun options! Check out the sewing ideas for tee shirts on our blog, complete with how-to instructions (and check back as we link more upcoming how-to articles to this blog post!)

Tuxedo ruffles on the front of a knit tee

Upcycle a tee of your own into a color-blocked mixed knit tee

Raw-edged abstract leaf design on a graphic tee

Heat-transfer vinyl on a slouchy tee to create your own graphic tee

Banded-hem dolman-sleeve tee

Ruched hem tee shirt

Mixed print stripe raglan tee shirt with shirt tail hem

Creating a shirt-tail hem on any tee shirt (with downloadable tail pattern)

How to sew tee shirt neckbands

How to hem knits

 

The Perfect Pants – How to get a great fit in a knit pant sewing pattern

By Ann Siegle, interviewing Christine Jonson

Ann: So tell me more about the fit of these pants and how they came to be

My butt does not look this good IRL (in real life). The ponté knit of these samples shot in the studio at Christine Jonson Patterns is the reason it looks so good. You can lift your butt cheek and position it in the pants and have it stay right there! Not kidding! Look at how good these look. They'll make your butt look amazing too!

My butt does not look this good IRL (in real life). The ponté knit of these samples shot in the studio at Christine Jonson Patterns is the reason it looks so good. You can lift your butt cheek and position it in the pants and have it stay right there! Not kidding! Look at how good these look. They'll make your butt look amazing too!

Christine: About five years ago, I set out to design a perfect pant. I wanted something that would feel like you were wearing your favorite yoga pants, but were more upscale. I looked at a lot of ready-to-wear retailers like Athleta, Nike and Lululemon, bought their pants, saw the fabrics they were working with. When I put together a sewing pattern (which can take a up to a year and many, many samples), I knew I wanted a pair of pants that our sewing friends could sew that would be their very favorite pants.

A: Why do these pants work so well?

C: If you look at the samples that you tried on (shown here, in red, Ann’s derriere in the Perfect Pant Classic Wide Leg), there’s a reason that your butt looks so good. There is up to 9” of negative ease and these are in a multi-way stretch Ponté.

You can literally grab your butt cheek and lift it up, and the fabric of these pants will do it’s job and keep your butt cheek right in that same spot!

Trust the ponté knit – it will do it’s job! Not all ponté is created equal though. Some ponté has crosswise but not lengthwise stretch. Some has unequal crosswise and lengthwise stretch.

 

A: This pattern goes up to a 2X. Tell me about fitting a 54” hip in these pants when the pattern says you’ll have only 45” of fabric without stretch.

C: At a 54” hip, you are looking at 45” of fabric without stretch. That’s 9” of negative ease. It seems crazy, but if you divide yourself in half, that’s 4 ½” and half again, that’s only 2 ¼” less on each pattern piece.

Negative ease works different in different fabrics. If you have a not-as-stretchy ponté or even a very ‘snappy’ recovery knit and you try to make these, you may well have to grease yourself with Vaseline and use a shoehorn to get yourself in them. But if you use a fabric with a soft recovery such as a rayon/lycra jersey, you will have enough stretch to feel comfortable. That doesn’t mean a plus size cannot wear these in ponte – it just means you may need to choose a soft recovery knit fabric for your first pair, or look for a ponté with more fluid recovery (like a rayon lycra ponté) or an ITY knit. It means you will need to try them on, and you might need to grade up for less stretchy fabrics. That’s pretty easy, actually; you can see the pattern lines for each size – just trace it off, adding extra for each additional size you want to go up. You can use the same grading distance from the next closest size.

 

 

A: Tell me about the size breaks (S,M,L, etc.)

C: The pants are designed to fit the larger of the two measurements in the size group, with negative ease. What that means (negative ease) is the pant non-stretch measurement is much smaller than your body measurements. But you will not need elastic to hold these pants up. The fabric does the work of making your waist, butt, hips and thighs look smoothed out and shapely. So for a 12 (I’m a size 12), I would trace them out with kids’ chalk and cut on the inside of the chalk line to essentially cut 1/8” off each pattern piece – over the entire garment, that’s enough to take them in to the right size.

 

A.   Let’s talk crotch fit in these pants

C: If you’re having frowny or smiley wrinkles near the crotch, you might need to shorten or lengthen the crotch length. This is outlined very well in our 3-Step Pant Fitting guide. Basically you’ll either slash and spread at the center front (but not side seam) or slash and fold (and then straighten out the CF). But do NOT change the crotch curve (some women have used a french curve or a tin foil ‘sausage’ on other patterns). Do NOT do this: the reason you never change this crotch curve is that I worked for years on this one – I have fit patterns on hundreds and hundreds of women. It’s perfect.

 

A: Let’s talk fabric

C: When I set out to design these pants, I bought a lot of ready to wear pants. The RTW pants, some of the fabric, you and I could grab a leg and literally stretch it across the room. The super stretch fabric (four way ponte or sport lycra) is harder to come by for home sewists, so the closest we get is for a 4-way ponte knit or a sport lycra. Then I made dozens and dozens of pairs of these pants before we released them. I fit these pants on dozens of women of all sizes to see how they worked. In a stretch ponte (with 4-way stretch), these are truly amazing pants.

 

A: Other pant design alterations that you want to talk about?

C: You can crop these too! Making the skinny or skinny with a skirt in the crop is as simple as cutting off the pant leg (with hem allowance) where you want it to fall on you. I think the Perfect Pants Classic would be gorgeous in a rayon/lycra in a white cropped and worn as a beach pant.

 

 

How to choose and place buttons on a knit blazer or jacket

by Christine Jonson

I never mark my buttonholes on a garment until it is finished. How in the world will I know what button I will be using? Even if I have chosen the buttons prior to finishing the garment I might change my mind. The last step in finishing a collection for my store was to take the finished garments to various places around town to choose my buttons. Many times the buttons turned into the focal point of the collection.

Right now I have a beautiful collection of button that I am eager to use. Whenever I see buttons that I love I buy them. Trying to find the right button out in the world when I need it never works for me. I also like using “non-buttons” for buttons. Favorites include beads, eastern coins, jewelry findings, buckles, keys etc…

Choosing the right button depends on many things. Even before deciding on the “look” of a button…

  • Does the garment “need” a great button to look good?
  • Should the button be the focal point on the garment?
  • What spacing is necessary for the garment to fit correctly?
  • Can buttons be used to add a design element to the garment?
  • Besides the obvious, is there anywhere else buttons would add to the appeal of the garment?
  • Is there another type of closure that would be more interesting than a button?
  • What size button will be appealing on the garment and on you?
  • What does the choice of button say about you?

 

Then there are the questions about the buttons themselves…

  • Should you try to match the color of the garment?
  • Is there a shape in the garment or fabric that you want to replicate?
  • Should it be shiny, matte, metal, bone, pearl, plastic…Does it matter?
  • Is it special enough for the time spent on the garment?
  • Does it add to the personality of the garment?
  • How does it need to be sewn on?

There are so many places to pick up unique buttons. There is no excuse to use thoughtless and boring buttons. For years my friend Lulu had a great button shop in town where I bought hundreds of special and perfect buttons. Antique shops, sewing shows and garage sales are great places to find buttons in jars, on cards and hidden in those great old tins. I have been lucky many times and found jars of Victorian glass, pearl and unique buttons for super cheap. The internet is a wonderful place to buy buttons as well. For me, stashing button is like stashing fabric, they go together. I also spend good money on buttons. Sometimes more than the fabric. Your buttons are no place to be cheap.

When you are looking through your stash of buttons another creative opportunity arises when you find the perfect button and you only have so many! OH NO…there has to be two more here somewhere…Then comes the creativity. Can I make three buttons work when the pattern says I need five? Can I find two other buttons in my stash that will work together with the three I do have? As your jacket and buttons are on the table the excitement grows just like it did when you chose your fabric. My question now becomes, what if you had marked your buttonholes already? I guess you can always change the markings but the larger point is that your thought process would have been different.

Choosing your buttons should be fun!

The length of your buttonhole is determined by adding the width of the button and the thickness of the button. I recommend that you make test buttonholes on scrap fabric and put a button through the hole before making them on your finished garment. Never make a buttonhole before you chose your buttons.

Once you have chosen your buttons place them on the garment. Depending on the garment start across the bust line. Then place one at the neckline. Now decide where to put the others. Is there a cute way to space them? How low should the bottom button be? Do you need one at the waist? I usually space my buttons around 4” apart unless I am being creative. If I am not sure of my choice or placement I pin the buttons on the garment, try it on and analyze my choices. Once I have decided where they go I put a large head pin approximately 5/8” from the edge. Then I make my buttonholes and open them with a sharp Exacto knife blade.

To determine where the buttons go I lay the garment on the table and lay the buttonhole on top of the other side so the left end of the cut buttonhole is even with the other side edge. I put a pin straight through the right end of the buttonhole and secure it there. Once I have them all pin marked I look to see that they are even. I check that the neckline and bottom hems match and if they don’t this is my chance to do a little creative button placement. Sometimes I may be off and one side of my jacket may be a touch longer than other. When this happens I move my buttons just a bit to take up the extra length.

There are variations to this depending on center fronts, fit and design but this is my usual way. I find that visualizing my buttons and their placement just one more way to express my creativity.

 

 

 



 

Become a Christine Jonson Patterns tester

You, yes, you can become a pattern tester for Christine Jonson Patterns

Pattern testers sew a sample of a new pattern in their own size, helping us fine tune the instructions, the downloadable pattern files and provide us with sample images to use in our marketing. In exchange, you get the pattern, for free!

Our pattern testers:

  • Receive a PDF copy in either letter or A4 paper size (or copy shop format)
  • Sew the garment in a two-week period of time in the fabric of your choice (recommended fabric type only)
  • Have yourself photographed (or photograph yourself), preferably outdoors, with good lighting and include 2-3 views (front, side front and back). See our blog post on how to take fashion photos of yourself (or have others take them of you.) Provide these digital images to us via e-mail for use in our marketing.
  • Provide an objective review at PatternReview.com, a blog post review if you have your own blog, a post on your own Instagram (with hashtags we will provide) and a post on our private Facebook group*

What we look for in our pattern testers:

  • Be active on Social media such as Instagram, Facebook group, not just during the review period)
  • Diversity in body type, shape, size and ethnicity - we want everyone from a 4 to a 22 sewing our patterns and we want to celebrate everyone that sews Christine Jonson Patterns!
  • Beginner to intermediate sewists are encouraged to apply.

*All testers should abide by good community standards and present positive comments and engagement with their fellow sewists on the Christine Jonson Facebook group. 

To apply:

Send three photos of yourself in Christine Jonson Patterns you have made in the last 3 years, to ann@marketingacuity.com with the subject line "Christine Jonson Pattern Tester" and tell us why you want to be a Christine Jonson Pattern Tester.

If you have not sewn a Christine Jonson Pattern before, you may submit three other patterns you have sewn from other designers. Plus size, junior (XS) and teen sewists are encouraged to apply!

Topstitching on stretch knit fabrics

by Christine Jonson

After researching for the Claire McCardell story I have a renewed interest in topstitching. Not only do I like the way topstitching looks, I like that it replaces hand hemming. Using topstitching to hold down facings, bring interest to important seams and keep the inside of a garment neat appeals to me. I have years of experience topstitching stretch fabrics with matching thread but now I find that I want to use contrasting thread and thick thread and yarn-like thread to add a new dimension to my garments.

Topstitching has to be perfect. You need to choose the right thread, needles and presser feet if you want a professional look

Thread

Silk thread is an excellent choice for topstitching and comes in a zillion colors and weights. My Mom and I always used silk buttonhole twist for topstitching our Ultra Suede garments. Machine embroidery thread, metallic thread and various other pearl cotton and rayon threads are great too. Choosing the right thread for the fabric is the key. Decide the effect that you want to create and choose the thread that will provide it.

Silk twist is recommended for fabrics that will be dry cleaned, such as silks or wools. Polyester twist wrapped in cotton is a nice alternative because it is machine washable and has the smooth, lustrous look of silk. When using regular thread you can achieve a similar look by threading 2 threads through the machine needle. Check the yardage on the spools so you’ll be sure to have enough to finish your project.

 

Needles

Topstitching needles have a larger eye, longer groove and sharper point than standard machine needle. They sew better with heavier threads and are less likely to produce skipped stitches and frayed thread. They work best when using a standard thread in the bobbin.

Sharp needles are best for topstitching tightly woven fabrics such as microfibers, woven silks and other dense fabrics.

Denim needles are very sharp and penetrate twill fabrics leaving a straight topstitch instead of stitches that slip between the fibers.

Double needles allow two rows of topstitching at once. They are available in a variety of styles and widths between the needles. The wider the space is between the needles the more “sportswear” the look. Be sure to change your machine foot plate to allow for the width of the needles.

Having a variety of these needles on hand will make topstitching easier for you. As always, the right tool for the job!

 

Presser Feet

Presser feet for topstitching come two ways. There are feet for straight stitching only and those designed for zigzag as well as straight stitching. Straight-stitch-only feet have a smaller hole for the needle and keep the fabric more stable. They are used in conjunction with a straight stitch soleplate.

Zigzag presser feet require a wide hole soleplate that allows you to change needle positions. This is handy for double needle, triple needle, zigzag topstitching and decorative stitches. Using the different needle positions allows you to stitch on either side of a seam using the center mark on the foot as your guide. A Teflon foot is great for topstitching suede and leather.

Good Ideas for Professional-looking knit topstitching

  • Increase your stitch length to about 6 to 8 stitches per inch and loosen the top tension slightly.
  • For the look of a broken line of topstitching use a darker thread on the bobbin.
  • Topstitch on the side of the garment that will be visible.
  •  Never backstitch when topstitching.
  • With a notched collar break the stitching at the lapel roll line. To tie off the threads at this point, pull them up to the underside and tie a square knot close to the garment. Then thread a needle with the ends and slip them between the fabric layers. Clip the threads close to the garment and they will disappear!
  • Two rows of stitching, one at the edge and the other ¼” from the edge gives a sporty look.
  • Multiple rows of topstitching adds a dressier look.
  • Buttons should not cover the topstitching line when a garment is buttoned.
  • Be sure that you are happy with all construction stitching and pressing before you begin topstitching.
  • Purchase special topstitching tape that gives specific guidelines or use transparent tape as a guide, just don’t stitch through it!
  • Test your stitches on scraps of fabric that are the same as your garment.
  • Use a walking foot to maintain even stitches when going over various thicknesses.
  • If you are topstitching a stress seam on a stretch fabric (close fitting, neck lines, narrow skirt hems etc.) you will need to use a double needle to allow for stretch and recovery. If not, you are free to use rows of single needle stitching on stretch fabrics.

 

 

 

 

 

Serging Darts in Knit Tops and Jackets

Christine Jonson Fitted Jacket / Blazer Sew Along Part Three: Cutting and Assembling Your Knit Blazer

Chalk-tracing your pattern pieces on to your fabric before cutting allows you all sorts of possibilities, including adjusting (slightly) the size by cutting on the outside of the chalk line or inside of the chalk line, as well as creating the dart "seam" as Christine describes in this article.

Chalk-tracing your pattern pieces on to your fabric before cutting allows you all sorts of possibilities, including adjusting (slightly) the size by cutting on the outside of the chalk line or inside of the chalk line, as well as creating the dart "seam" as Christine describes in this article.

by Christine Jonson

To me, the simplest way to sew a dart is to turn it into a seam. I first trim the dart out of the pattern tissue, then, on the fabric I chalk the inside of the dart. I cut out inside the dart leaving ¼” seam allowance and serge the new “seam”. I fold the fabric right sides together and put a pin perpendicular to the V at the end of the dart. This allows me to see where the end of the dart is when I am serging. I know I have approx. 1” to run off the dart and make a clean transition when I reach the pin. Just like sewing a dart with a single needle the left needle of the serger needs to run off the fabric. This does take some practice but is well worth the effort with the time it will save in marking. This method also eliminates the dart line from shifting while sewing.

Another great way to finish a dart is from “LizGo” on SewingWorld.com. After she serges the dart closed along the cutting line she single needle machine stitches next to the serging and finishes an inch below the serged end. She then checks the darts to make sure they all the same length.

Be sure of dart placement before using this technique. If you think you may need to adjust the dart after doing some fitting to the garment, especially a jacket, go back to the tried and true method of marking the dart line.

Jane from SewingWorld.com has this to say about serging darts. “At first I chalk marked the dart and sewed as usual on the sewing machine with a long stitch, then went to the serger and used machine stitching as a guide and had needles hit that line. After doing a number of darts this way I gained confidence and can now just serge the dart. Sometimes with slidy fabric such as velvet I now hand baste the dart then serge. The serged dart is very flat and the serging stitches enable the fabric to retain stretch so the character of the fabric is not changed. Now I serge darts on Polar Fleece and other knits as well as on Cotton/LYCRA. At the tip of the dart the serging catches the fabric only on the needle, the rest of the thread goes over air. Pull the thread ends to tighten them and tie off. It is so liberating!”

This technique works well on all types of darts. Concave and convex darts as well as “fancy” darts. French darts, which begin at the side seam and extend diagonally from the hip to the bust and Contour darts which taper upward toward the bust or back and downward toward the hip are both used to shape the waistline with out a waistline seam. Turning these darts into a seam helps maintain their shape and curve, which can get lost in the mark and stitch method. Seam darts also eliminate the need for clipping and reduce bulk.

Try this dart method on your next project and see for yourself how much easier darts are to deal with!

 

Introducing the Perfect Pant Collection by Christine Jonson

Your new favorite pants sewing pattern is here! The Perfect Pant by Christine Jonson features a classic wide leg, a skinny leg, a flare leg and a skinny-with-a-skirt option. All the pants feature a stretch fabric foldover waistband that is scrunchable, front and back leg seaming, optional deep inset pockets in the front. They fit snug at the waist and upper hip for a no-elastic-required hug!

I finished the skinny pants today and all I can say is….THEY ARE FABULOUS! I am so excited. I didn’t have to make a single alteration! They fit as cut and went together beautifully.
— Mary
The Perfect Pants Skinny