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Blog + Tips




Filtering by Category: Tips & How-to

Sewing knit hems with a three-thread serger edge

Christine Jonson Patterns

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.

Topstitching on stretch knit fabrics

Christine Jonson Patterns

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


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.



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.






Top tips for sewing knit fabrics

Christine Jonson Patterns

23 Tips for Sewing Knit Fabrics For Professional Results


Sewing With Cotton/LYCRA Knits successfully

by Christine Jonson

  1. Loosen tension on bobbin
  2. Use a 4.0 Schmetz double needle for hems
  3. Do not over stretch fabric while serging
  4. Use woven fusible Tricot interfacing only
  5. Iron only after garment is serged together
  6. Iron all seams and edges flat
  7. Turn facings in, press, and pin down
  8. Fold hems up, press and pin
  9. Double needle hems and facings Isee #2)
  10. Stitch on right side of fabric, using sense of touch to follow edge
  11. Use cording for all buttonholes on stretch fabrics. Follow machines’ instructions and use the buttonhole foot with the little tab on the back to hold the string. White kitchen string is fine.
  12. Stretch elastic and waistbands evenly
  13. Test quality of stitches often
  14. Double needle stitches should look like railroad tracks on the right side
  15. Double needle stitches should look like even zigzag stitches on the wrong side
  16. When fabric is stretched, the stitches should not break, feel tight or pop out
  17. Recheck tension often
  18. Always stitch a straight topstitch line. Do not follow a crooked facing or hem
  19. When serging use a 5/8” seam allowance
  20. When edging use a ¼” seam allowance
  21. A set in sleeve with a cap requires slowly lifting the presser foot to ease the curve of sleeve head into the armhole. Sew slowly
  22. When serging two pieces of fabric together it is important to know they are being fed evenly under the presser foot. After sewing the first few inches, go to the bottom edge and check they are even.
  23. Never topstitch to the very end of a topstitch seam. End one or two stitches away to stop the fabric from being pulled out of shape.

Having trouble hemming knit fabrics? Check out our Hem Options for Knit Fabrics for some great tips on how to sew professional-looking knit hems.










Plus size sewing with knits

Christine Jonson Patterns

Christine Jonson Designs Sizing for the Plus-Sized Woman
by Sarabeth Chambers

Reprinted from Life in the Little Black Dress

When I found Christine Jonson patterns I was very impressed with the simple style lines and straightforward construction.  I wanted to look like the drawings on the front of the patterns, so I bought them – all of them, to see what I could do. This was a bold choice for someone who is much larger than the patterns are designed for, and who has plenty of “big girl” figure flaws to hide.

Since then, I have made quite a few of Christine’s Patterns in much larger sizes than the patterns are designed for. I have found that sizing up exactly the difference in your measurements from the largest size works perfectly for most 100% cotton interlocks and LYCRA blend fabrics. For less stretchy the fabric, I add bigger seam allowances and spend a little extra time fitting the outfit after assembling it, so far, no problems.

I started with the Boyfriend Jacket and an inexpensive stretch woven that had previously been washed, my version of muslin. I used the measurements of the back of the pattern and found that I needed to add 7” to the bust, 8” to the waist, and 11” to the hip for the XL size to fit my body. I also wanted to add another inch because I was using a stretch woven instead of a knit. I found that the difference between the size medium (MD) and XL was 8” in the bust, 9” in the waist, and 8” in the hip. Just the differences I needed in the bust and waist, and a little small on the hip.

I traced the XL pattern lines on the fabric in chalk, including the line at the waist. As soon as I had the first piece traced, I went to each corner and moved the pattern piece so that the chalk tracings were lined up under the MD pattern lines and retraced the XL outline on the fabric around the corner. After I had completed re-tracing all the corners and curves, I connected the new lines smoothly for my new cutting line.

Please note that for the hip area, I re-traced by lining up the original chalk line under the small (SM) pattern lines to get the 12” difference I needed.

Once I had all the pattern pieces traced, I did a measurement check. I checked the length of the shoulder seam to my actual shoulder and the front and back shoulder-to-waist measurements. This verified that sizing the pattern up would still fit my body. I really didn’t have any changes to make, but I am kind of tall. I do this measurement check before I cut any fabric because I sew for different shapes of large women and waist length measurements are different for every body.

From that point on I followed the directions for construction without measuring or fitting until the jacket was complete. The pieces went together beautifully and the resulting jacket fit very well.

Boyfriend Jacket & Shell 311
Add To Cart

This method worked very well for the Tapered Pant, Shell, and Straight Shirt, 3 Tees and Swing Jacket. This method worked even better for the Fitted Jacket and Slit Skirt,
the two patterns that I really thought they were only for thin women.

I have a big tummy that prefers to stick out and pants just show it off even more. This leads to adding layers to hide it. I started wearing shirts untucked and big jackets to
hide it, but then I just looked bigger and bigger. I wanted to look as small as possible and very professional at work.

I made up the Slit Skirt in Christine’s Black Cotton/LYCRA expecting to have to wear it with something that covered me down to my crotch. But when I put it on and tucked in a white turtleneck, I looked like I had lost 20 pounds. (Note: A push up bra doesn't hurt this look at all) I wore the waistband flat to give a longer line and minimize
horizontal lines across my waist. Even when I walked around, my tummy was pretty well disguised no matter what length I made the skirt or what I tucked into it. (Knee
length out of ponte or Ottoman fabric is fabulous) That is when I made the fitted jacket to go with it for a professional look.

The Fitted Jacket is a big girl’s best friend. Whether you have a well-defined waist or not, you appear to have one. I decided that I like the feminine curvy look and started
making it in all different lengths and fabric weights. I made a coatdress, a short sleeve linen dress, a winter coat in polar fleece, a long fitted jacket, and a short, very
fitted zip-front jacket. The Fitted Jacket is very good in most any fabric and in whatever length you choose to make it. I like to interface the entire jacket if I am making
out of a real drapy fabric and want a more tailored look. This was the pattern that really inspired me to try different types of fabrics and pattern alterations.

Other surprisingly good looks for large ladies are: 

1) The 3 Tee’s pattern cut off at about the waistline and sewn to the top of the Slit Skirt waistband, just like the skirt is sewn to it.

2) The Straight Shirt cut off an inch or two above the waistline with the front slip stitched together and small darts that line up with the Pencil Skirt darts, sewn to the top of the Pencil Skirt. (Note: Add little extra ease to the Pencil Skirt and try it in a different color than the top, great for big hips) 

3) A Shell made out of the same fabric as the Slit Skirt or Cuff Pant, and tucked in, and worn under the Swing Jacket or Straight Shirt.

4) The Slit Skirt with a little walking ease added and the kick pleat removed, for a very feminine curvy look.

There is NOTHING frumpy or baggy about the clothes I wear now, or the clothes I make for other large ladies who can’t find nice business clothes to wear.

Finally, an important issue for big girls is undergarments and will a knit fabric hanging up on them, especially when used for the Slit and Pencil Skirts. I prefer cotton
undies and the skirts seem to hang over them without bunching up or sticking to them. I think that is why I am such a big fan of Cotton/LYCRA, Rayon/LYCRA,
Slinky and Ottoman.  I hate having to wear special undies and feeling uncomfortable, just to look good in the clothes over them. These fabrics do a lovely job of hiding all my
less than perfect lumps without making me look like I am wearing a large sack and the wrong underwear.


About Sarabeth:
I have made the Fitted Jacket, Shell, and Slit Skirt or Cuff Pant as a set for women with a bust measurement up to 68” and 70” hip, from 5’2” to 6’ tall, and with all
different body types and shapes. I am not a professional seamstress, nor have I been trained in anything remotely resembling design or pattern drafting. I just love sewing.

Don't be afraid to start sewing with knits!

Christine Jonson Patterns

Sewing with knits seems to strike fear in the heart of most sewists. Most of us learn to sew using tight woven fabrics like brightly print cotton. We start garment or apparel sewing with patterns that are not close-fitting and thus, forgiving on sizing. And then we see a friend in a cute tee and we think "if only I could make that". Or we see amazing printed leggings, skirts and cardigans at a home party and realize "that's so simple, I want to make that myself!"

Sherry (left) in print leggings, a reversible print flyaway hoodie jacket, and a black crewneck tee. Ann, (right) in a reversible sleeveless top, black cropped skinny pants (leggings, wider at the hem) and a draped black/gray jacket.


Don't be afraid to sew with knits! Successful sewing with knits comes from having the right pattern AND right knit fabric combo. I'm not talking any sewing pattern, but one that's designed for knit fabrics, and designed by a designer who understands where home sewists get tripped up in construction or finishing and need a better-designed pattern.

Knits are EASY to sew, forgiving on fit, and rarely require a series of 'muslin' or test garments to be successful. Because of these forgiving characteristics, they're a favorite for fast-fashion projects - or even fast fashion that you can wear year after year and still look stylish.

So, how do you choose a knit fabric for sewing success?

So many choices…And so easy to make a mistake. Choosing the wrong fabric for your pattern not only wastes money and time but it takes what could have been a positive experience and turns it into what may be, for some their last sewing project. Here are some questions to ask yourself before making the final decision on using a knit fabric.

Q.        Pattern sizing- Was the pattern you are using designed for knits?

A.        Pattern that are designed for knit fabrics ONLY are drafted differently that woven fabric patterns. Using a knit fabric for a woven pattern is a safer choice than using that a woven fabric for a knit pattern. Some patterns such as leotards and swimwear need at least 100% stretch in all directions to fit as intended according to the sizing charts. Just think about trying to get a bathing suit up over your hips in a fabric that only has 25% stretch in one direction! It just won’t work. Even though this is an extreme example if you don’t keep it in mind while making the decision to use a fabric that does not meet a patterns stretch guide your are taking a chance.

Q.        Is there a stretch guide on the back of the pattern?

A.        Stop ignoring stretch guides! Long before I started my pattern company I was designing patterns for my cotton/LYCRA knit fabric not really thinking too much about how much stretch the fabric had when I designed a skirt or sleeve or neckline. I just knew that it had to stretch enough to get over the hips and recover enough to stay put once it got there! It was fortunate that my fabric had 90-100% stretch in both directions and it just wasn’t a concern, but when I began expanding my fabrics and wanted to make some of my patterns in other fabrics it was a learning experience about which fabrics were suitable. Had I spent a little time thinking about a stretch guide it would have saved me time and frustration. I am also guilty of ignoring stretch guides. This is ok if you know what you are doing but if you are still learning about stretch, recovery and sizing you may miss out on a great pattern just because you choose the wrong fabric. Believe me, the designer of the pattern you are ignoring understood that the knit needed to stretch!

Q.        Pattern Ease- Was the amount of ease in the pattern designed for a woven fabric? How do you know if it is too much or not enough for your fabric?

A.        If you are using a 100% stretch knit fabric (which means that a 4” square will stretch to 8” in all directions) with a zippered pant pattern that was sized for a woven fabric you can assume that you won’t need the zipper and that the pant itself can be made smaller. How much smaller can be determined after the first fitting. Just remember that you need less ease in your pattern the more ease you have in your fabric.

Q.        Fabric Ease- Is there enough ease in your knit fabric without LYCRA to give a good fit?

A.        Knits without LYCRA are best used with patterns that are not close fitting or need negative ease. My only complaint with “plain” knit fabric is the stretching and bagging at stress points. I save these knits for very wide leg pants, a line skirts and loose fitting tees etc.

Q.        Stretch and Recovery- Will your knit fabric have enough stretch and enough recovery for the pattern?

A.        It is amazing that some knits have no ease at all. Just because you have a knit fabric that doesn’t mean it will be appropriate for all “knit” patterns. As much as I hate to measure anything the only sure way to be sure is to measure you tissue pattern pieces and test the stretch in your fabric to decide how much ease you need for the fit you want. Some knits need to be treated as woven fabrics when it comes to sizing. There are some double knits that are very closely knitted that you would use the some size as you would if you were using a wool gabardine.

Q.        Drape- The knit might be perfect but is the drape right? How do you know?

A.        Being able to recognize good drape in fabric is worth its weight in gold. When you have the entire bolt of fabric at your fingertips it is pretty easy. Unroll a couple yards and let it fall. Gather it up and let it hang to see how it falls. Hold it on the bias and see if the true bias falls longer than the straight grain. I love a fabric that drapes well on the bias. It is tricky to find. When you are making a bias cowl top and want excellent drape so the bias can truly hug your curves you need fabric with heavy drape.