My college-student brought home a pile of jeans that mostly fit her but gap at the waist. She asked if I could fix them. I asked the Internet and found a number of complicated solutions. Then I found a really easy solution involving elastic. My daughter was skeptical but agreed I could give it a try on one pair. I mostly followed the instructions and It worked so well she brought me several more pairs to de-gap. I have a few pairs of my own jeans that will likely get this treatment too.
The technique takes advantage of the fact that most pants waist bands are basically a tube that goes around the entire waist. There is an inside and an outside and empty space in between. I have previously improved the fit of several pairs of yoga pants by opening up the side seam on the the inside of the waistband and threading elastic all the way around, and sewing the two ends of the elastic together. For jeans, you just need a piece of elastic across the back. So the problem is what to attach it to. The solution is to sew the elastic to the waistband under a belt loop so it is hidden. (Even if you don’t sew it under a belt loop, if you use thread that matches the jeans it is not going to really show. And of course, if you wear a belt, it is not an issue at all. But one of the reasons to add the elastic is so that you do not need a belt to hold your jeans up.)
Most jeans do not have a convenient side seam as the inner waistband is a continuous piece (although one of the pairs of pants my daughter brought me were actually pants, not jeans, and they had a convenient seam that I popped right open with my seam ripper). So for the jeans, I just used a small sewing scissors to cut a little vertical slit through the inner waistband, positioned right under a belt loop on each side of the back.
Then I used a safety pin to thread elastic inside the waistband between the two slits.
I trimmed the elastic, leaving the waist bunched up a bit (it will smooth out when you wear the pants). I pinned the elastic a bit inside each slit so it wouldn’t pull out while I sewed. (Yes I know the photo below is from a different pair of jeans than the one above, but trust me, I did the same thing on all of them.)
Then I used my sewing machine to sew a wide zigzag over the slit, holding the belt loop out of the way so it didn’t get caught in the stitches. I did this for both slits and removed the pins.
Now her pants fit and the stitches holding the elastic in place are hidden under the belt loops.
A few weeks ago I made a Sinclair Serena dress to try out the pattern, which I plan to use to make a fancy gown. The pattern worked out pretty well in double-brushed polyester, but I’m planning to use a fancy (expensive) custom-printed crushed stretch velour fabric for the gown, so I decided to make the pattern again with some cheap velour. I bought two yards of purple crushed panne velour from Cali fabrics for $4.99 a yard. This fabric is pretty and has similar stretch as the fabric I plan to use, but it is not as soft and doesn’t feel quite as nice. It is also not really purple – I would call it lavender, but it is not the royal purple shown on the website. This is not meant as a high-end fabric, but it is fine for a muslin.
I projected the pattern and cut out the velour. I decided to use a purple ITY fabric for the lining pieces. Then, throwing caution to the wind, I decided to sew the dress together using my brand new Serger, having never serged before. It actually wasn’t that hard, except for the fact that velour is a super slippery fabric and no amount of pinning could get it to hold still. The slippery ITY lining just made it worse. There are parts of this pattern that call for two layers of regular fabric and 2 layers of lining, and getting them all lined up to complete the jigsaw puzzle bodice was a real challenge. I eventually basted together the layers before sewing, and it was fine. But parts of it that I sewed early on are not quite lined up right, although I managed to mostly hide them. Note to self when I make the gown, plan to do a lot of basting.
Besides being very slippery, the velour as almost no vertical stretch. That doesn’t seem to be a problem with this pattern, other than reducing the ability to ease out mistakes. Somehow the back ended up being and inch longer than the front when all was said and done (I’m pretty sure it was cut correctly, but there were numerous sewing errors), and I ended up just trimming it before hemming.
I did make a few mistakes that are mostly attributable to learning how to use my serger while making this dress. I now have a full understanding of the knife function and how not to use it when turning a corner. Repairing some of these mistakes might be one of the reasons the back ended up longer than the front.
I did manage to fix some problems from my last Serena dress. This time I added clear elastic to the neckline for good measure, and I sewed the crossover all the way to the edge. With both of these improvements, there is no possibility of drooping. I also did a better job stretching the armhole bands around the curves, so they look better than last time. In order to reduce pocket flapping,I made the pocket bags a little slimmer and attached them to the skirt a bit higher than the pattern calls for – about 1 inch below the point where the skirt meets the bodice. I made the pocket openings a bit smaller to keep my phone from falling out. I used the velour for the back pocket bags and the lining for the front to reduce bulk. But the lining still peaks out a bit so I may just use the velour for both sides next time.
The good news is that the whole dress did end up coming together nicely. The proof of concept worked and the muslin is a dress I would actually wear in public. In fact I wore it to an outdoor theater production this evening and can report it was both stylish and confortable.
I’ve been pondering buying a serger ever since I started sewing lots of knit clothing a year ago. I didn’t take the plunge because I have a really nice (somewhat high-end Bernina) sewing machine, I couldn’t decide which kind of serger to buy, and I was also worried about the learning curve. But so many people rave about them and they seem to save a lot of time… and I figured how hard could it be.
My first dilemma was whether to buy a combo serger and cover stitch machine or just a serger. If you don’t know what i’m talking about look at your favorite t-shirt. Chances are most of the seams have thread that wraps around the seam in sort of a zig-zaggy pattern. That’s done with a serger. If you look at the hem at the bottom of the shirt there are probably two lines of stitching on the outside. That’s done with a cover stitch machine. You can fake both of these things on a regular sewing machine, but not really well. The idea of a machine that can do both serging and cover stitch is appealing — there’s only so much space I have in my sewing room to collect more machines. But as I started reading up on combo machines I saw that many sewists who had them said that it was too difficult to switch them between serging and cover stitch mode, so most of them left them in serging mode and never switched to cover stitch — and then some of them went out and bought another machine for cover stitch. Since combo machines are more expensive than plain old sergers, I decided to just go with the serger and consider buying a cover stitch machine later.
There is a pretty big price range for sergers, from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. The expensive high-end sergers are very fast and can thread themselves. Self threading (often referred to as “air threading”) is nice because sergers typically have four threads (some have more) and they are notoriously difficult to thread. So I was pretty excited about the idea of a self-threading serger, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to invest in one given that I have never used a serger of any sort. Looking at the low-end sergers, the Brother 1034D and 1034DX seem to have great reviews and are frequently recommended on lists of best Sergers for beginners. They are at a low price point (around $275) and they have a color-coded threading system that makes the complicated task of threading slightly easier. When I asked on Facebook what type of Serger I should get, two of my friends mentioned they had 1034DX sergers. But one concern I saw in the reviews is that they don’t handle thick fabrics like fleece well. I don’t know how much fleece sewing I will do, but when I saw that for $100 more I could get the Brother ST4031HD, I decided to go for that one. ST stands for “strong and tough.” It is almost identical to the 1034D except that it is built to handle thick fabric and it has an extension table, both of which were features I thought I could use. So I ordered a Brother ST4031HD on Amazon and it arrived two days later.
Having never serged before, I was still a bit intimidated to use my new serger. I took it out of the box, registered it, and watched all the videos provided on the Brother website (note that it claims to come with a DVD with the videos, but they don’t seem to send the DVD any more; but they are all on the website, although not that easy to find). Finally I gave it a try with some scrap fabric and adjusted the differential feed to work with knits. So far so good. It sews very fast, but it didn’t take too long to get the hang of it.
The next challenge was threading the serger. The machine comes pre-threaded with color-coded thread to show you how to do it, but that thread won’t last long, and you probably don’t want to use a rainbow of thread on all your garments. I bought four large spools of medium grey polyester thread and worked on threading. I decided to use the easy approach, which is to cut the existing thread and tie it to the new thread, and carefully pull the new thread through the machine. This was much easier that figuring out all the threading details, but even this approach was not easy. Each time the thread stopped pulling I had to figure out where the knot was stuck and gently ease it to the next spot without breaking or jamming the thread. I figured it out and got it threaded, but was glad I chose grey thread, which will likely work with most sewing projects and maybe won’t need to be replaced for a long time. Later when I broke a thread I did have to watch the threading video so I could rethread the lower looper.
I had a stretch velour dress cut out and ready to sew, so I decided to take the plunge and serge it. In hindsight, stretch velour was probably not the best fabric to start with as it is very slippery, and should have been basted before sewing. Nonetheless, I jumped right in and it mostly worked out ok. A few seams slipped so much that I had to go back and baste them and then resew them. I also learned the hard way how to lower the cutting knife and why you might want to do that. By default, sergers include a cutting knife that trims the fabric before sewing it. This is great, but it does mean you can accidentally cut your fabric in places you don’t want it cut. I did fine until I got to a point where I needed to pivot around an inside corner. I sewed to the point of the pivot, put my needle down to pivot, and then realized that the knife is in front of the needle and thus had already made a cut into the fabric where I didn’t want it. Fortunately, I was able to repair that problem and it was a good excuse to figure out how to lower the knife. I can see for some projects it is probably best to sew the whole thing with the knife lowered.
My serger has two other feet and all sorts of adjustments I haven’t tried. But the test run went pretty well and I’m excited about how fast it is to sew knits. Typically when I sew knit clothes I sew every seam twice: first with a narrow zigzag stretch stitch, and then with a wider zigzag that serves as a fake overlock. Both of these stitches take longer to execute than a simple straight stitch because of the side-to-side motion. With a serger I can sew each seam with one pass instead of two, and that one pass is faster than either pass with my regular sewing machine.
I love the Sinclair seeing all the things people make and post to the Sinclair patterns Facebook group. It’s exciting when a new pattern comes out and all the testers post what they made over the first few days. There are some sewists who seem to test every pattern, and many of them make several versions when a new pattern comes out. I assume they don’t have the sort of day job that I have, and maybe they sew faster than I do. Or maybe they have a serger? Maybe I should get one? Anyway, I’m enjoying their posts and I feel like I’m starting to get to know some of the regulars.
I’ve been tempted by the last few calls for pattern testers. I’ve now sewn over half a dozen Sinclair patterns, so maybe I could get selected. But generally you have only 3 or 4 days to make the pattern, and that usually doesn’t fit my schedule. But when Sanna Sinclair announced the call for testers for their new Linda twist neckline knit top and dress pattern, I checked my calendar and saw that the timing might work. I filled out the application form and waited to see if I would be selected. Early Friday morning I got the email from Sanna Sinclair with the link to the test pattern, the private tester Facebook group, and a request to finish a garment and post fit pictures by Sunday evening.
By the time I got home from work on Friday, the first testers had already finished their tops and posted photos. I thought about getting right to work on mine, but first I had to finish sewing a pair of black Cleo palazzo pants (to match mine) that I promised my daughter. I got those done Friday night and selected fabric from my stash and decided to sew a top rather than a dress, as I was a little concerned about whether I would have enough time for a dress.
The pattern called for very drapey fabrics, so I selected a medium weight modal-spandex knit in turquoise. This was my first time sewing with this type of fabric. It is soft and stretchy like double-brushed polyester, but more breathable and a little less tightly knit. I think it has less body and a more fluid drape, which makes it a little bit harder to work with, but it is very comfortable to wear and it suited this pattern well.
On Saturday I projected the pattern on my fabric, cut it out, and began to sew. I periodically checked the Facebook group to see what other sewists were working on and their comments on the pattern. One small error on the pattern was caught early on and a clarification posted. There were concerns about a few fit issues, but otherwise people seems to be doing well with this pattern. The completed tops and dresses looked pretty good. I thought about making a dress instead of a top, but decided not to over reach on my first pattern test.
I followed the instructions without too many issues. Doing the twist itself was very easy, in part due to the short video provided with the pattern that demonstrates exactly how to do it. I had some trouble overcasting the flimsy fabric with my sewing machine and contemplated buying a serger. I think I will buy one as soon as I figure out which one. I had some pressing issues, again mostly due to this particular type of fabric, but eventually I got them sorted out. The sleeves were a tad too short and the length was a couple of inches too long. So I used a narrow hem on the sleeves and chopped off some of the length before hemming the bottom. I observed the same problem with the keyhole flopping open as everyone else in the Facebook group, and followed the advice to hand stitch it closed. I posted my feedback and my V1 fit photos. All of these problems have been corrected in the final pattern so you shouldn’t have these any of these problems.
Monday morning Sanna posted her comments on our feedback and her plans for adjusting the pattern. She announced that V2 would soon be available the next day but said it was fine to take final photos of our V1 creations. So I put on my new shirt and asked my husband to snap some photos. When I got home from work I selected my favorite photos and uploaded them. I had a busy week at work and did not have time to make a V2 top, let alone a dress. But I enjoyed watching the Facebook group and seeing the sewists who had time to create several garments from this pattern over the course of the week.
I usually like to wear twistneck tops. I had a couple of ready-to-wear dresses with twistnecks, and found I kept futzing with and repositioning the twist as they never seem to lie perfectly right, and I just can’t leave well enough alone. I have to admit I did my share of futzing with this one as I was sewing it. But once I got it set I let it be and it stayed put. Then my husband washed it and called me over as he pulled it out of the dryer because he thought the twist had gotten messed up. But it happily popped right back into position. I expect with a more substantial fabric it would not have popped out at all. I will probably make more of these some time (maybe in ITY, double-brushed polyester, or cotton lycra). I love some of the results other testers got sewing this pattern with prints. I still love the simplicity and fit of the Bondi top and think that style works better under sweaters and blazers since it is smooth and symmetrical. But Linda is a cute top for wearing on its own that looks more elevated than a basic t-shirt, but is just as comfortable to wear.
This morning was the pattern launch and I was excited to see that the first two photos on the Linda pattern web page were mine!
It was fun to be a pattern tester and if Sinclair does another test at a time when my calendar is relatively clear I will definitely sign up to do it again. Also, this is such a good excuse for keeping more fabric than I really need on hand… these testing opportunities come up quickly and there isn’t time to shop for more fabric on short notice!
My resident teen daughter liked my Cleo PyLos LiKnit Palazzos so much she requested her own pair. They meet all her criteria for pants: feel like yoga pants, pockets, flowy, and black (she hates wearing jeans). She tried mine on and said she just needed them longer with a higher rise and they would be perfect. So that’s what I did. She put them on so I could take a photo and decided to wear them to her band gig.
And here we are wearing all our me-made clothes. I’m wearing my self-drafted cups dress and my daughter is wearing the muslin top for her vintage sundress with her new palazzo pants.
I saw the Sinclair Serena crossover knit dress pattern a while ago and was a bit intimidated about sewing the crossover part, which is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. But I recently was looking for a knit dress pattern that would look great in a full length formal gown, and Serena looked like it could be adapted for this purpose. The gown project will be another story for later, but in the mean time I thought it prudent to sew a short version of this dress with inexpensive fabric to make sure this was going to work. So earlier this month I projected, cut, and sewed Serena in one weekend. Serena is an old pattern without projector files, but I was able to create projector files with pdfstitcher. [Correction: There are projector files, I just some how missed them!]
I used the 4 petite pattern and cut the skirt 1 inch below the above-the-knee length, making it sit exactly at the knee on me. I selected a floral double-brushed polyester for this dress. This is a light-weight, stretchy, and inexpensive fabric that’s very comfortable to wear. I looked at photos from others who have made Serena and saw some interesting approaches to color blocking this dress that really highlight the crossover (and/or the bust) and the jigsaw puzzling involved, but my favorites were all made from a single fabric print without any color blocking. Without the color blocking, you an hardly see the crossover, but you still get a lovely fitted top with a skirt that hangs from a point that I think will work really well for a gown.
Of course I made it with the pocket option (and added about an inch to the bottom of the pocket bags to make sure my phone doesn’t fall out of my pockets)! The pockets are great, but I think the openings sit a little low so in the next dress I will probably raise them about 2 inches higher. The pockets flop around when filled since they aren’t attached to anything except the side seams since there is no waistband to attach them too (and even if there was I probably wouldn’t attach them because I don’t like it when pockets distort the waist band), but I think they would flop less if they were attached higher. My favorite dress pockets are still the Alana dress pockets — no flopping or distorting — but that style of pocket only works with princess seams, alas.
The jigsaw puzzle was not actually too difficult to solve, although I do recommend reading the pattern tutorial very carefully and watching that you don’t try to assemble any of the pieces upside down or backwards (I had a couple of close calls). The pattern suggests optionally adding some elastic to the top edge of the v-neck if it doesn’t recover well from a stretch. I tested the recovery as suggested and it seemed fine, so I did not add the elastic. I have a very slight droop in the top layer of the crossover that might have benefited from adding the elastic, or at least a bit of fusible knit interfacing (maybe next time!), but it is subtle. (Later I realized that I actually ended the seam that holds the crossover down too early. Had I brought the same all the way to the center of the crossover it might not have drooped.) There is also optional top stitching that I opted out of, with no regrets. The arm holes are finished with a binding that I didn’t do a great job of attaching, especially on the left side, so the bottom of the armhole flops out a tad. Next time I will need to take more care with positioning and stretching the band. Most of these are issues that probably nobody would notice except me.
Anyway, I’m quite pleased with Serena, and am already planning to make another one soon.
I’ve always liked the idea of linen pants, but have never actually liked wearing and maintaining linen pants. They are cool and breathable, until they become a wrinkly mess and you have to iron them. Some have a texture that isn’t that soft against your skin. This spring I ordered several pairs of linen pants online from a popular retailer and ended up returning all of them because I wasn’t crazy about the fit and I could see they were going to need a lot of ironing. So when I saw a new fabric from Surge Fabrics described as a “faux linen knit,” I was intrigued. The fabric is called Pylos LiKnit, which is kind of a weird name that I struggled to pronounce until I realized the K is silent. I’m not sure if other fabric stores offer it under a different name; this one seems to be unique to Surge. It is 55% rayon and 45% nylon, with 50% 2-way stretch (it stretches side-to-side but not up and down). It comes in lots of colors, although some seem to be selling out. This fabric does not contain any linen. It is not a linen knit; it is a rayon/nylon (viscose) knit that looks and feels somewhat similar to a woven linen, but with stretch.
I decided to use black Pylos LiKnit for my second pair of Cleo palazzo pants. I used the same approach as last time to hack the Sinclair Cleo shorts and culottes pattern into palazzo pants with self-drafted slash pockets, with a couple of modifications. First, I wanted to reduce the fullness at the bottom of the legs a bit, so instead of extending the outside seam straight to the bottom of the leg, I curved it in starting at the notch below the hips and the sent it straight down parallel to the inseam. This reduced the circumference of the pants legs from 40 inches to 32 inches. Second, because this fabric is a lot less stretchy than double-brushed polyester, I did not narrow the waistband. I used a stretchy athletic knit (Surge’s black quad performance jersey knit) for the waistband lining. This 300 gsm fabric is 88% polyester and 12% spandex, with 75% 4-way stretch. This gives the pants a waistband that feels just like a pair of leggings or yoga pants, and that doesn’t slip down when I put my phone in my pocket.
The pants were a pretty fast sew. The PyLos is cool and comfortable to wear and the quad performance jersey knit keeps the waistband in place. I love the results of putting performance knit in the waistband lining, and will try that with other patterns too. The reduced leg fullness makes them look more like normal pants. But I wasn’t entirely happy with the drape of the leg.
After finishing the pants one evening, I decided to work on the drape again the next day. I basted a new outside seam, starting the curve on the front pant leg about even with the bottom of the crotch, but ending up at the same place at the bottom. This seemed better so I sewed it in place. You can see on the image below part of the original front piece of the shorts/culottes pattern outlined in red. The green line is the full palazzo extension that I used for my first pair of Cleo pants. The blue line is the final narrower palazzo extension that I ended up with this time after a bit of trial and error (I started with a line that curved in from the notch, but ultimately ended up with the blue line you see here).
Even after getting the side seam the way I wanted it, I still wasn’t completely happy with the drape and realized that it looked a lot better when I hitched the sides of the pants up a bit. It seems in my effort to raise the rise to be more of a high-rise fit, I added too much fabric to the outside of the waist. The adjustment to the center of the rise was good, but the outside of the waist did not need that much adjustment. The right thing to do at this point would probably have been to remove the waistband, cut off the extra fabric, and sew it back together. However, the idea of picking out all those zigzag stitches was not appealing. So I basted a new seam connecting the pants to the waistband, taking the sides up about three-quarters of an inch and grading towards the center. That seemed to do the trick, so I sewed a zigzag along the basting line and pressed it in place. While the inside is not beautiful, the outside of these pants looks much better with this adjustment. I’ve marked my pattern so I can just cut it this way to begin with next time I make this pattern. I’m learning a lot about fitting pants and clearly I have more to learn.
After wearing the pants with the phone in my pocket I realized that the phone tends to tilt outward and cause a bulge to the side. I added a zigzag seam to the pocket bag from the bottom up about 4 inches, placed about an inch in from the outer edge of each pocket. This is completely invisible on the outside of the pants but it keeps my phone more vertical. I went back and added this to my palazo pants too. Here’s the self-drafted pattern I used for the front part of my slash pocket bag with the extra vertical seam (the back part of the pocket bag is cut straight across the top without the slash).
In any case, the final product looks and feels great. I took these pants on a business trip and they were very comfortable and did not wrinkle in my suitcase. I wore them for three days and the waistband did not stretch out. They were comfortable in the outdoor heat and kept my legs warm in the over air-conditioned meeting rooms. Here are the photos, modeled with a Bondi top I made last Fall. At the bottom I have a close up of the waistband, including the slash pockets.
I first found the Sinclair Patterns company because I was looking for a skater dress pattern. I ran across their free valley skater dress pattern, but the skirt wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, so I went down the whole rabbit hole of drafting my own. But I saw their Alana dress pattern and after sewing a couple of Alana dresses, went back to the skater dress and found the add-on skirt pack. I liked the half-circle skirt option and bought the pattern. I’ve since made three valley skater dresses out of three different types of fabric and have a fourth planned.
On all my Valley dresses I’ve used the half-circle option, above-knee length, with pockets (lengthened about an inch to make sure my phone doesn’t fall out), and have replaced the neckline with a screwp neck. All are comfy and fit well. All are size 4P with no size alterations. The add-on skirt pack has lots of other nice skirt options and some day I may make those too… but for now, they are all half-circle skirts.
I made my first Valley Skater dress with a medium-weight, very soft and cozy cotton lycra (CL) fabric. I thought this would be a nice dress for cooler weather. Unfortunately, this lovely, cozy fabric does not have good recovery and I ignored the warning on the pattern about using fabric with good recovery. What does this mean exactly? Well it means the fabric stretches out as you work with it and it does not completely return to its unstretched length. As a result, my long sleeves ended up dangling around my fingertips, the above-knee length hits closer to at-knee length, and no matter how much I press it, I cannot get the waves out of the waistband. The sleeves were easy to address… I just lopped off two inches before I hemmed them. I left the length as-is. I tried futzing with the waistband a bit, and gave up and decided it is a casual dress that I will usually wear with a jacket or sweater, so I would just deal with a wavy waistband. Not my best effort but it is still comfy.
A couple of months later, I used a soft double-brushed polyester (DBP) floral print for my second Valley Skater dress and sewed the short-sleeved version. This time I altered the pockets so that they attach only to the sides and do not connect to the waistband. I’ve found that when I put my phone in my pocket, it pulls down on the waistband if the pocket is connected and the fabric is stretchy (I have this problem in me-made as well as ready-to-wear dresses). So I figured I would give side pockets with no waistband connection a try. Because DPB is so stretchy I decided to line the waistband with a medium-weight cotton lycra (not the green CL with poor recovery!) to give the waistband more stability. I don’t know if the CL lining was necessary, but it doesn’t hurt.
I’m very happy with how this dress turned out. The dress fits perfectly and looks great from the front and the back, even when I fill the pockets! I love the swishy half-circle skirt, which is very flattering and has some nice movement, but is not too prone to Marilyn Monroe moments. I’ve had random people on the street stop me to complement me on this dress. And it looks good with dress shoes or sneakers (admittedly, I will almost always wear it with sneakers).
I made my third Valley Skater dress just a couple of days after finishing the second one. This time I used a smooth polyester interlock twist yarn (ITY) fabric. I decided to omit the waistband and followed the instructions to lengthen the bodice about 1.25 inches. I used the same pocket alterations as I used for the second dress. This time I raised the back of the screwp neck a tad and shrunk the neckband accordingly. I had a bit of an issue with the waist stretching and seams popping when I take the dress off, so I had to reinforce the waist seam with wide zigzag stitches (I normally sew all my knit seams with a very narrow zigzag stitch).
The dress without the waistband is also great and ITY is a nice fabric choice for this pattern as well!
Stay tuned for the fourth dress, currently in planning. I have some heavier-weight fabric in mind for it and am thinking long sleeves and a knee-length full-circle skirt. But it’s 85 degrees outside right now so this may not happen for a little while.
In June I decided to try my first knit shorts pattern, Sinclair pattern’s Cleo knit shorts and culottes. These shorts have a comfy yoga-style waistband, optional side-seam pockets, and a full drape. I was intrigued by the comfy lounge shorts people were posting on the Sinclair Facebook group, and even more intrigued by the dressier looking long shorts and culottes. But what convinced me to purchase the pattern was the palazzo pants. This is not actually a pattern for palazzo pants, but I saw multiple sewists (especially Holly Stout and Kristi Käär) who simply took the Cleo culotte pattern, extended the side seams to pants length, and voila, lovely flowy palazzo pants. These sewists also executed and interesting pocket hack to get the pockets off the side seam.
Before cutting into 2 yards of fancy fabric for the pants, I decided to make a basic pair of soft knit shorts first so I could try out the pattern. Eighty percent of the work in making pants is in the top 20% of the pants — once you get past the waist band, pockets and crotch seam, the rest of the pants are a piece of cake.
I cut my size 4 petite shorts from one yard of plain black double brushed polyester (DBP) fabric. The DBP is super soft, so soft that I was concerned about keeping the waist band in place if I put my phone in my pocket. As the pattern advised, I sandwiched a piece of stretch mesh between the two DBP layers of the waistband. The waistband also has 1/4 inch elastic at the top, but that doesn’t provide a lot of support. Shorts construction was fairly straightforward, although as predicted most of the effort was in the pockets and waistband. The results look nice and are super comfy (will be great for PJs), but do sag when I load up my pockets. I also personally prefer shorts and pants with more of a high rise.
I decided to alter the pattern a bit before attempting pants from a two yards of a lavender DBP floral print. I thought I might be able to get a higher rise by using the regular size pattern rather than the petite, but I checked and the rise was the same. I checked the tall pattern and saw the rise was about 3/4 inch taller. So I used the size 4 tall as my base and then added about half an inch to the top of the front and back leg pieces (drafting the alterations in Affinity Designer).
After debating a variety of solutions to the waistband sag problem, I narrowed the waistband by half an inch on the left and right side of both the front and back (subtracting 2 inches total from the diameter) in order to tighten it up. Instead of sandwiching stretch mesh in the waistband, I used a medium-weight cotton lycra for the waistband lining, providing more support than you get from DBP. I considered using wider elastic but stuck with the recommended 1/4 inch braided elastic. The result is a much more supportive and less saggy waist band than on the shorts. They still sag a little when my pockets are loaded, but not as much. I’m going to look for a more supportive athletic knit or possibly try wider elastic to see if I can make future pants even better.
While Holly and Kristi borrowed their pocket design from other Sinclair patterns that I don’t have (yet), I found an online tutorial on making slash pockets and just drafted my own, with a very slightly sloping slash. I found the slash pockets actually easier to construct than the side-seam pockets because you don’t have to deal with the awkward part where you sew the side seam just up to the pocket opening and stop.
Finally, I extended the inseam and outside seam on the legs to full pants length, keeping the same angles. The width at the bottom hem is about 26″. (I used HeatNBond Soft Stretch on the hem and zigzagged over the edge.) At 5’2″, I can just barely get full length wide-leg pants out of two yards of fabric.
The finished results (see pants modeled blow with my Cachet top and Laura cardigan) are fantastic light-weight swishy pants for summer. They are quite comfortable with pockets that easily accommodate a cell phone and small wallet. I’m eager to make more in other knit fabrics, and also try curving the outside seam at the hips so that the legs are straight and not quite so wide for another look.
After my success with the relatively simple Harper cardigan, I decided to try the fancier Sinclair Laura relaxed-fit shawl-collar cardigan. Except I don’t like shawl-collar cardigans because I don’t like how they feel on my neck, so I decided to make a shawless shawl-collar cardigan. The reason I selected the Laura cardigan despite the fact that I obviously don’t like its primary feature, is that it has a really cool peplum in the back. Besides looking cool, the peplum is created by cutting the fabric on a tight curve and attaching the inner curve to the bottom of the bodice, creating a sort of flounce effect with no need to gather or pleat. Cool!
I hacked the size 4P Laura cardigan by reducing the shawl color to a 1-inch band. That would have made the front pieces too narrow to meet in the middle, so I used the Harper pattern as a template to draft wider front pieces, except I left the Laura shoulders and blended it together. I also wasn’t a fan of the handkerchief hem, so I rounded the square corners. In hindsight I should have just lopped off the front dangling part completely (which I saw another sewist do in the Sinclair Facebook group), which would also have made for a smoother front line as it avoids the 45 degree turn in the front binding. The cardigan is supposed to be made with a closure at the point that the 45 degree turn in the binding occurs. The closure helps straighten everything out. But I didn’t want a closure so left that out.
The Laura pockets are very cool — they form cute little pocket bags that are big enough for my iPhone, although depending on the fabric you use they may sag if you put an iPhone in them.
I used a poly-rayon impressionist double sweater knit fabric from Surge Fabric shop in the tea leaf color way. This fabric is a loose, fairly light-weight but still somewhat substantial — good for a summer sweater. What is really unique about it is that the reverse side is smooth. So I used the revers for the bands and had smooth, perfectly color matched bands. I was inspired to use the impressionist knit for my cardigan after seeing another sewist used it to for a Harper cardigan hack in the eucalyptus color. I have some of that color as well and may try that hack too.
Since I bought more of the impressionist fabric than I needed, I decided to make a short-sleeve sweater to match my cardigan and turn it into a twinset. I used the Sinclair Cachet t-shirt pattern in size 4P, but used my Bondi screwp neckline hack instead of the Cashet crew neck. I used the reverse side of the impressionist fabric for the neck band. The Cachet is only two pieces plus the neckband, so it is very fast to cut (especially with a projector) and sew. I like the high-low hem that is longer in the back than the front.
The impressionist knit was pretty easy to work with, but almost impossible to remove stitches from if you mess up (well most knits are difficult to unsew, especially if you sew with stretch or zigzag stitches). I used HeatNBond Soft Stretch for all my hems on the top and cardigan and it worked great, producing crisp edges on the curves. The impressionist knit also washes well and goes in the dryer. Since it is a fairly loose knit on the front it does sometimes catch on things and I expect over time to see some loose threads and pilling. I’ve been wearing the twinset to work a lot and the cardigan is a good weight to wear when it is 69 degrees and air conditioned inside and much warmer outside.
Sinclair patterns has a free cardigan pattern called Harper that is very nice. I decided to make it in the classic length, size 4P with pockets (of course!) using a glen plaid polyester spandex double knit. I started out very keen on matching my plaids, until I discovered, after much fiddling, that the plaids on the bands and pockets were not going to line up due to the evil plaid having no horizontal repeat plus the fact that you have to stretch the band. I don’t understand why the plaid has no horizontal repeat and it was completely non-obvious to me until I spent a lot of time desperately trying to figure out where the repeat was.
Once I threw in the towel on the plaid matching, I still had to figure out how to turn under the pocket edges and attach the patch pockets to the front of the cardigan. Again, much fiddling ensued as I tried to pin the pockets in place, but it was difficult to get the thick double knit aligned and pinned properly. Then I remembered that I had bought a package of Wonder Tape after having read that it was nothing short of the seventh wonder of the world. I dug out the Wonder Tape and then wondered how to use it for a while as I couldn’t get the tape unstuck from its backing. More fiddling, and I got it and applied the tape to hold the pockets in place. It was indeed wonderful and my non-matched plaid pockets actually look pretty good.
I’m pretty pleased with the jacket and I wear it a lot. It is more comfortable than a blazer but more polished than a sweater, and I can dress it up or wear it with jeans. (OK, usually I wear it with jeans.) Here it is with jeans and my black Bondi t-shirt.
I plan to try it in other lengths and fabrics. I may try it without the cuffs and bottom band, and may try a narrower front/neck band.
For years I have been buying scoop-neck long-sleeve t-shirts in a light-weight cotton blend from Landsend.com. I’m not a big fan of woven button-down blouses. These t-shirts are dressy enough to wear under blazers, the scoop is not too low, and they come in petite sizes so the sleeves aren’t too long. I have bought them in all the colors they come in that I like. But over time they get stained or worn out. This was not a problem until a few years ago when Landsend stopped making them. So when I discovered the Sinclair Bondi classic fitted t-shirt pattern, I decided to try making my own long-sleeve t-shirts.
I made my first Bondi in size 4 petite using a black cotton lycra fabric with a scoop neck and elbow sleeves (because I had only 1 yard of fabric, which isn’t enough for long sleeves). I liked the fit but found the waist a tad shorter than my preference and the scoop a bit narrow. I made my next Bondi with a yellow cotton lycra print, the wide scoop neck, long sleeves, and an extra inch in length and graded in a bit from the waist down. I don’t seem to have taken photos of these two shirts, maybe I’ll do that later.
For my third Bondi, I used a fabric pattern I designed and printed on modern jersey at Spoonflower.com. (The pattern is based on my interleave quilts.) Once again I went with the wide scoop neck, long sleeves, added inch and slight grading. I really like how this one fits but wish the neckline wasn’t quite so low.
Next I collaborated with my 16-year-old daughter to make a crew-neck Bondi for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday. My daughter designed the fabric and we printed it on modern jersey at spoonflower.com. We used coordinating turquoise DBP for the neck band and sleeves.
I made my next Bondi in red and white polka dot DBP to wear to my daughter’s robotics tournament and cheer on her team, the Girls of Steel, who have a Rosie the Riveter theme.
I wanted to try a neckline in between the crew and the scoop — I call it a screwp. I used the neckline and band for a size 26P crew on a size 4P bodice. If you were starting with a larger size I think you could achieve the same thing by using the scoop neck and band from a much smaller size. The Bondi pattern has nice notches on the neck band with matching notches on the bodice so that you can easily line things up and get the right stretch in your neck band, so it’s nice to have this and not have to guess.
Showing the screwp side-by side with a regular Bondi crew neck and scoop neck.
Having now achieved t-shirt perfection, I have no choice but to make more.
July 2023 update: Ok, not quite perfection. The back of the screwp is a little bit lower than a normal neck in my size due to using the larger size template. I’ve been grafting this neckline onto other tops and dresses and have decided to raise the back about half an inch and shorten the neck band by about an inch. Now we have perfection!
In October 2022 I ordered some funky paisley ITY fabric I found on Amazon and used it to make a Sinclair Joanne dress. I sewed it according to the pattern as written in size 4p with the knee length option and used clear elastic to stabilize the waist. I used my go-to HeatNBond Soft Stretch for hemming and zigzagged over the edge. I was planning to make it three-quarter sleeves but after looking at some lovely examples of the flounce sleeve on other sewist’s dresses I decided to give flounces a try. I was worried that the flounces would be difficult to implement and would get in the way when wearing. However, the flounces were very straightforward to sew, and I was able to omit hemming the ITY. Positioned at the elbow they don’t tend to get in the way either. And they look awesome with this particular fabric design.
This was my first time sewing ITY and I was worried that it would be slippery and hard to sew, but it actually wasn’t bad at all. I also wondered whether I would need to line it as it has a lot of white areas that are not 100% opaque. It seems fine without linking. Sewing the bodice with the faux wrap looks tricky as it relies on proper stretch for it all to work out. But I found if you follow the instructions it all comes together pretty easily.
One minor complaint is that the clear elastic at the waist can sometimes be uncomfortable since you can end up with plastic elastic rubbing against your skin. I think I might use braided elastic or forgo the elastic in the future.
My biggest complaint was that my phone kept falling out of the pockets, which aren’t deep enough, especially with slippery ITY fabric. I ended up grafting another two inches to the bottom of the pockets after the fact to solve the problem. If I make this dress again (I’m sure I will!) I will definitely make the pockets deeper.
This dress has been great to wear in fall and spring weather, and with a sweater or jacket on chilly days. The print I used is fairly eye catching and regularly brings complements.
Last September I bought my first Sinclair pattern and sewed an Alana dress. I have since sewn two more (and there will probably be more) and several other Sinclair patterns. I’ve found the Sinclair patterns to be well drafted and pretty straightforward to understand. They can be downloaded as PDFs and printed on a home printer, printed in large format at a copy shop, or projected.
I chose Alana as my first pattern mostly because I liked the pockets. I continue to love the pocket style, where the pockets are anchored by two princess seams. I also liked the neckline that used a facing instead of a binding or band.
Then I printed out the PDF layer for the size 4 petite pattern on the laser printer at work and spent about an hour taping it together and cutting out all the paper pattern pieces. Then I laid all my cutting mats out on the hallway floor and laid out the fabric as shown in the pattern instructions. I quickly realized that I didn’t have enough fabric for that sort of layout. Puzzled, I looked on the Sinclair website for where to ask questions, and discovered the Sinclair Patterns Group on Facebook. This FB group is a great resource for sewing Sinclair patterns. I found you can easily search for the name of a pattern and find lots of photos of garments other people have made with that pattern, including tips on fabric selection and alterations. You can also post questions or show off your own makes. In any case I soon learned that the layout in the instructions is just a suggestion and may not work depending on the fabric width, garment size, etc. I figured out how to fold the fabric to cut it and get it all in. I also learned from the FB group about a YouTube video tutorial for making the Alana dress.
I used large washers as fabric weights and used my rotary cutter to cut out the fabric. Then I followed the instructions to sew the dress. I selected the regular neckline, long sleeves, and knee-length options. On the advice of the video tutorial I extended the length of the front facing so that it would fall below the bust line. I used a very narrow zigzag stitch for all of the seams and a medium zigzag to finish the seam edges. I finished the sleeve and bottom hems with HeatNBond Soft Stretch and zigzagged over the edges.
When I tried on the dress it looked OK, but the waist is not designed to be fitted, and it looked a little baggy on me. Indeed, the pattern explains that there is about three inches of ease at the waist. So I decided to take the dress in at the sides and the back princess seams to remove most of that ease. The dress looked much better on me without the ease.
I made my second Alana dress in December using a rich purple scuba suede fabric. The fabric is soft, stretchy, washable, and pretty easy to sew. I used a lighter ITY fabric for the front and back facings and extended both of them below the bust. I thought about using a lighter fabric for the inside of the pockets but decided to try the pockets entirely in scuba suede, and they worked out fine. A line of top stitching across the top of the pockets might have been helpful, but it is ok without. I did not bother stitching over the seam edges. Once again I ended up removing the ease. Months later the fabric is holding up pretty well after many wearings and washings, although it is showing some slight signs of pilling.
My third Alana dress was another dress in Spoonflower modern jersey. This time I removed the ease in the pattern when I cut it. Cutting out this one took a while because I obsessed over the fabric placement. This was the third version of my bad passwords dress (there’s a whole story behind it), and this time I wanted to have long sleeves and pockets.
After sewing mostly quilts for a while, I was inspired to sew a dress again last summer (2022) because I wanted a dress to wear to the Symposium On Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) 2022, a conference that I started in 2005 and is still going strong. I thought it would be fun to have a dress that had soup on it. I thought about a soup-can dress channeling Andy Warhol, but eventually settled on a bright noodle soup pattern called grandma’s recipe, designed by Daniela Friedenthal and available at spooflower.com. I had the fabric printed on modern jersey, and then tried to figure out how to sew it.
Sidebar 1: I love Spoonflower modern jersey! It is one of the best polyester jersey’s I have found with a feel similar to cotton, but brighter colors. It is similar to double-brushed polyester (DBP) but has a little bit more body than most of the DPBs I’ve used. The main downside is it is about 4 or 5 times more expensive than DBP and only available for custom printing, not colored solids.
My previous me-made dresses were very simple, sewn from two pieces of fabric with no pockets. This time I wanted a half-circle skater dress with pockets and some better finishing details. I started reading sewing blogs and learned how to sew side-seam pockets and create neck bands and bindings and make smooth knit hems with Soft Stretch hem tape. I reverse engineered some dresses from my closet and drafted a pattern, trying to include enough ease so I wouldn’t need a zipper.
Sidebar 2: I also love Heatnbond Softstretch for knit hems of all sorts. I fuse the tape to the edge of the hem, turn under the hem and press using the paper backing edge as a guide, then peel back the paper and fuse the hem in place, then zigzag over the edge. I’ve used this on dress, shirt, sleeve, and cardigan hems with great results. It even works on curves — you just have to nudge the paper backing around the curve as you press it. I now keep a couple of rolls around at all times so I don’t run out in the middle of a project!
The finished dress worked pretty well. The waist ended up a bit looser than I wanted and the pockets pulled the waist down a bit when I put stuff in them. But a sweater easily hides the imperfections. It is a fairly striking looking dress because of the unique fabric, and I have had total strangers comment on it.
While I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the SOUPS dress, I decided it was good enough that I wasn’t going to remake it. But I wanted to improve my pattern and give it another go. So adjusted the fit of the waist and the pockets a bit and sewed the dress again, this time in soft blue vintage tea cups fabric designed by Cecilia Mok on spoonflower.com. I chose cups because the name of my lab at CMU is the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security (CUPS) Laboratory. I also went on a quest to find a spoon pendant I could wear with both dresses. Most of the spoons I could find online were either too tiny or too big, or were designed for functional use as drug paraphernalia. I eventually bought a 25 pack of spoon charms for less than $10.
When I started sewing clothes again last summer I read lots of sewing blogs and joined some sewing-related Facebook groups. I bought some PDF patterns (and downloaded some free ones) and printed them out and taped them together. It took a while to tape them all together and get ready to sew, but it was still more convenient than having to go to a store to buy a physical pattern or wait to have it shipped. But I noticed that some of these patterns came with “projector files” and people in the Facebook groups were talking about projecting their patterns. Intrigued, I started reading up on projector sewing and found a great projector sewing website with lots of good information about how choosing a projector, mounting it, calibrating it, etc.
For my birthday last February, I decided to get an inexpensive projector and asked my husband to figure out how to mount it. I selected an inexpensive Alvar mini-projector, which weighs less than 4 pounds, and has wifi and bluetooth. It was on sale for $87. My husband didn’t want to drill holes in the ceiling, so he bought me a 15-pound microphone boom stand to mount the projector on. It was difficult to level the projector that way. So we added a tripod ball head so we could easily adjust the projector to be level with the tabletop. With this setup, my projector is suspended about 61 inches above my tabletop.
I put my cutting mat on the table, connected my laptop to the projector via bluetooth, and projected a pattern and started cutting it out with a rotary cutter. I discovered that the projected image kept freezing periodically, which got kind of annoying. After some trial and error and reading advice on the Projectors for Sewing Facebook group, I switched to projecting from my iPad instead, which solved the freezing problem. I bought Affinity Designer (AD) for my iPad to use for editing and projecting patterns. Calibration was a bit tricky, but I used the calibration tool and followed the instructions on the projector sewing website. It has been three months since I calibrated and the calibration seems to be holding fine. Another problem I ran into was my table wobbled a bit, especially when I leaned on it while cutting. I tightened up all the bolts in the table legs and now my table doesn’t wobble.
Initially I used a set of large washers I bought at a hardware store to hold my fabric in place while cutting. But I noticed some of the projector sewing folks talking about magnets. It had never occurred to me that you could put metal under a cutting mat and magnets would stick to it. I went to Home Depot and bought two of the least expensive 24×36 galvanized steel sheets I could find (about $15 each). I duct taped them together and added tape around the sharp edges so I wouldn’t cut myself. Then I slid them under my cutting mat. I bought a box of 25-lb rare earth magnetic hooks to hold down fabric. The magnets are strong enough to hold multiple layers of fabric. And the hooks are nice for easily grabbing and lifting the magnets.
I use Crayola washable markers or white pencil (for dark fabric) to mark notches, darts, etc. on fabric, traced off the projected image.
Some of the PDF patterns I wanted to use were not designed for projecting. But I discovered PDFStitcher, which is free software, developed by a sewist, that stitches the pages of PDF files together. It also has some extra features such as allowing you to thicken and change the colors of lines, or select only the size layers you need. It works great!
Projector sewing is definitely a game changer! Now that I have this setup I don’t want to go back to paper patterns. For patterns that don’t require any alterations, I can quickly project, cut, and sew. For those that I want to modify, I’ve gotten fairly proficient at adding annotations to patterns on my iPad with AD and can use this approach to quickly lengthen, shorten, grade, change the neckline, etc. without having to cut and tape pattern pieces. I can even create pattern mashups, cutting and pasting elements from one pattern to another. This works even with dark fabric. The projector is usually bright enough, even without covering the window in my sewing room, although I do usually turn off the overhead light when using it. For cutting pieces that are larger than the projection area, I cut part of the pattern and then slide the image and cut the rest of it. You can add an alignment mark to the PDF and mark it on the fabric to make this easier.
Another projector trick is to draw or alter pattern pieces by placing a physical object (e.g. a pocket) on the table where the image is projected and drawing it on the iPad. You can see the projected drawing on top of the real object and adjust the lines of the drawing until they align with the real object. This is a good way to copy elements of exiting clothes or to add adjustments previously made on paper patterns to the PDF patterns.
I asked my 17-year-old daughter what she would like me to sew for her. After perusing some patterns I suggested she told me what she really wanted was a vintage sundress in a woven fabric with a full-circle poofy, twirly skirt, perhaps like the one she had recently seen worn as a costume in Carnegie Mellon’s student production of Godspell. (See photo below of said costume on display at the CMU carnival.)
So I visited all my favorite PDF pattern websites and found some candidate patterns, but none were quite what she was looking for. I searched the Internet for vintage sundress patters with circle skirts and found a number of patterns from the 1950s that were available from resellers as classic paper patterns. And then I stumbled upon McCall’s M7599, which has been reissued as a PDF pattern. I found some reviews of the pattern, and even a how-to video (and I found another video after I finished sewing that might have been useful to watch too). My daughter examined M7599 and decided that view A was almost perfect. Except she wanted it without the contrast band, above knee length, and, of course, with pockets. These seemed like doable modifications, so I bought the pattern and downloaded the PDF.
The PDF pattern came with a fairly terse set of instructions and was basically a scan of the original pattern with all the layers on one sheet, tiled into 8.5×11 pages, not a convenient modern PDF layered pattern. I was able to assemble the pages into one giant PDF using PDFStitcher, an awesome free tool developed by a sewist. Then I loaded the resulting PDF into Affinity Designer (AD) on my iPad and traced the pattern pieces I was going to use in the correct sizes with a nice thick red line that would show up well when projected onto fabric (see photo below of skirt gores projected on fabric, held in place with magnets, ready for cutting with rotary cutter).
The sizing of vintage patterns is strange. My daughter normally wears a 2 or 4 dress size but according to the size chart she needed a 12. Ultimately after making a muslin and futzing with the pattern I ended up making a size 10 with parts graded to a size 8.
Inspired by the Godspell costume, my daughter searched online for fabric with pages of text, and ultimately settled on the Filigree Zen Chic Newsprint Text and Words fabric from Moda Fabrics in the white colorway. It is a lovely quilter’s cotton fabric, but it occurred to me that it is quite directional and the circle skirt would result in some of the design being upside down. To compensate I divided the full circle into six gores so that I could cut them each right-side up. I drafted the gores directly on the PDF pattern in AD. Of course, this increased the amount of fabric I would need — I ended up using six yards!
Removing the band from the bodice was straightforward — I basically just sewed the pattern as written but without attaching a band. I decided to also leave off the petticoat so that my daughter would have the option of wearing the dress either with or without a petticoat (she can wear a separate petticoat). Since I wasn’t attaching a petticoat I decided the yoke under the petticoat wasn’t needed either so I left that out as well.
I made a muslin of just the bodice so I could adjust the fit. I reduced the size of the bust darts, and brought the straps in a bit. It was also a good opportunity to practice using my zipper foot, which I haven’t used in many years (and zippers kind of scare me). It turned out to be a nice enough crop top that my daughter decided to wear the muslin outside in public. In fact she even wore it to perform with her rock band. She requested thinner straps for the dress and I decided to continue futzing with the bust darts, and ultimately just removed them altogether for the dress.
Figuring out how to implement side-seam pockets was another challenge, as the pattern includes a side zipper, which means the zipper has to attach to the pocket. Fortunately I have a RTW dress with pockets sewn this way so I used it as a model. I drafted pockets in AD and then reverse engineered how to sew it all together. (There are actually instructions online for sewing a pocket in a zipper and a nice video that I will probably watch if I ever attempt something like this again.) This isn’t the most beautiful invisible zipper job, but it doesn’t look terrible, and both the zipper and the pockets are fully functional so I consider it a win.
The penultimate step in the pattern involved slip stitching the bodice lining to the zipper and then to the skirt. Until I reached that step I didn’t fully comprehend how that final finishing would be done or realize how much hand sewing was involved, but I got through it and it turned out fine. The final step was the hem. I knew my daughter wanted the skirt quite a bit shorter than the pattern called for so I had cut it shorter in anticipation. But I hadn’t cut it short enough and it would have required a 2.5 inch hem, which was going to be hard to sew on a circle. So I folded the skirt into quarters and carefully lopped off 1.5 inches with my rotary cutter. Then I sewed a line .5 inch from the edge of the circle all the way round. This allowed me to easily fold the skirt on the stitch line and then fold it again and press to form a 1-inch hem. I stitched the hem down with a straight stitch about 1/8 inch from the edge of the hem. All this was reasonably straight forward but I would like to point out that the circumference of this skirt was about 12 feet, which means that each step (stitching, folding, folding, pressing, stitching again) has to be done over a distance of 12 feet, so it takes a while.
Other than figuring out the bodice fit adjustments, sewing the zipper pocket, and all that hemming, the dress actually came together pretty quickly and wasn’t that difficult to make. And the results are pretty nice. Here it is modeled without a petticoat. (And below that, while performing at her music recital.)
And here it is with petticoat, in full 1950s glory!