Dec 26, 2012

Assembling a garment - A Resource Guide

Last week I gave you a comprehensive list of where to find specific sewing instructions in each of the Sure-Fit Designs kits.  This week, I'm providing a resource of general procedural steps when assembling a garment.  Whether it be pants, a skirt, blouse or jacket this list of 'what should happen first, and second, and third etc. will apply generically to pretty much any project.

When you’ve sewn for ages your mind kicks into gear when constructing a garment.  What do you do first?  What do you sew next?  You kind of know the order in which things should be done.  But for the novice, it might not be so obvious. Use these guidelines and you’ll generally be well on your way to a comfortable level of knowing how to sew something together.

First, do as much work on a major pattern piece as possible before joining them to another major piece.  All darts, pleats, tucks and style lines (like princess lines) would be sewn first.  Sew side seams and shoulder seams only when you can’t do anything more on the major piece.  This makes pressing easier, simplifies the sewing process, makes the garment easier to handle in the machine and the entire construction process will take less time.  

Read through these steps first, then analyze them in relation to the garment you want to sew.  Eliminate those that don’t apply, but stay with the general flow of steps.
  1. Attach any interfacing.  Whether for a blouse, dress, coat, shirt or waistband of pants or shirt, do this first.
  2. Darts, tucks, pleats.  Do these next.
  3. Sew style lines.  Does your pattern have style lines like princess lines or yokes?  Anything that is not a shoulder or side seam should be sewn now.
  4. Pockets.  Apply them to the major piece taking care that they are balanced from one side to the other.
  5. Insert the zipper.  If possible insert the zipper while the major piece is still flat, but if it is a dress with a waist seam and the zipper extends into the skirt, it will be applied later.
  6. Shoulder seams generally come next.
  7. Sew a 'shirt-style' sleeve.  The lower, flatter sleeve cap lends itself to sewing into the front and back armscye at this time.
  8. For shirts, sew side seams from hem up through underarm to sleeve hem edge.  For pants, sew inseams and side seams.  For a dress, if the design has an attached skirt, sew the skirt and bodice side seams separately, but don't attach skirt the skirt to the bodice yet.
  9. For pants, sew crotch seams.
  10. Sew waistband or facings for pants/skirts. Finish elastic waists at this time.
  11. Sew collar.  Prepare collar.  Make sure facings have been prepped.  Attach collar.
  12. Prepare sleeve.  Prepare any detailing like plackets, gathers, etc. before stitching the underarm seam.  Apply cuffs if applicable.
  13. Set in sleeve.
  14. Neckline/armhole facings.  Sew the neckline or armhole facings if there is no collar.
  15. Dress waist seam.  For 2-piece dresses, sew bodice to skirt at waistline.
  16. Apply zipper.  For dresses with waistline seams, add the zipper now.
  17. Finish hem.
  18. Closures.  Buttons, buttonholes, hooks and eyes, frog closures, snaps should be sewn at this time.
  19. Belts, bows or additional trimmings may happen now.
  20. Always Press As You Sew!
The more you sew, the more your confidence grows.

(Adapted from Industry Guide to Sewing Order by Connie Crawford)

(PS - Sometimes I really detest Blogger...I simply couldn't get the text and the images lined up where I wanted them to display...But I'm sure you'll get the picture.  LOL)

Dec 18, 2012

Does Sure-Fit Designs Give Sewing Directions?

Help...How do I sew this together?  I often am asked if Sure-Fit Designs™ provides sewing instruction steps.  Beginners using Sure-Fit Designs™ are particularly concerned that they might not know how to sew the garment together and what should happen first if they design the pattern themselves.

Even though Sure-Fit Designs™ is primarily a fitting and designing system, there are sewing construction steps provided for specific designs in the Dress, Pants, Shirt, Children’s kits and in the Men’s Instructional Package.  This resource guide is posted as an article on the website -, but I know some of you reading here don't typically go to the website for information.  

So here’s where you’ll find the information and though construction illustrations are not always provided, the instructions tell you what to do and in what order.
Pants Kit:
  • How to sew basic pants together is provided on page 11 of the Pants Kit Instruction book
  • Sewing jeans is provided on page 23.
  • Sewing an elastic waist is on page 24.
  • Inserting a pocket opening (eliminates the need for a zipper and is extremely comfortable) is on page 25.
  • Inserting an inseam pocket is on page 25.
  • Sewing a zipper fly front is on page 27.

Dress Kit:
·        Bodice sewing construction steps are found on the following video tutorials.

Shirt Kit:
·       General instructions for sewing the shirt are on page 13 of the Shirt Kit Instruction book.
·       Sewing robes are found on page 17.

Children’s Kit:
  • General instructions for sewing elastic back pants are found on page 16 of the Children’s Kit Instruction book.
  • How to insert a zipper fly front is on page 17.
  • How to attach a bib to a waist edge is on page 18.
  • General instructions for sewing a shirt/blouse are on page 20.
  • Sewing a child’s cross-over shoulder T-shirt is on page 21.
  • Sewing a hood on to a neck edge is found on page 22.
  • How to sew a tab neckline treatment is on page 26.
  • General skirt sewing instructions are on page 27.
  • How to sew a tab front is found on page 29.
  • How to sew children’s robes are on pages 30 & 31.
  • How to sew a girl’s party dress is on page 32.

Men’s Instructional Package:
  • General sewing construction steps for men’s pants is on page 10.

Additionally, all the newest Fashion Leaflets and book/DVD combinations provide fully illustrated sewing steps. 
Newest downloadable leaflets:

Newest book/DVD combinations: 
(Each book/DVD is designed specifically to go hand-in-hand with the SFD Pants Kit, Shirt Kit and Dress Kit.)

In an effort to give you sewing construction guidance, first analyze your current resources.  Did you know all of this existed in the Sure-Fit Designs™ kits, patterns and leaflets?   

Do you have a stockpile of existing commercial patterns?  The sewing steps provided on the accompanying guide sheets provide an excellent source of instruction.  Their pattern may not be exactly what you are wanting to sew, but if there is any similarity in design to what you are creating, their instructions can be a great resource.

Do you have any general sewing construction resource books?  There are a number of comprehensive books available that not only provide construction techniques, but will also provide step-by-step procedures.  My favorite is the Vogue Sewing Book.  It’s a thick resource guide and well worth the investment.

What do you recommend as your favorite how-to sewing reference book?

Dec 11, 2012

Getting that darned Crotch Curve to Fit!!!

So many women are on the seemingly never-ending search to find a crotch curve for their pants pattern that will fit their exact body shape and contours.  And so you should be, because a well-fitting crotch curve is one of the key ingredients in the perfect fitting pants.

The Sure-Fit Designs Pants Pattern has served so many so well over the past 30 years, but I know some of you are still skeptical.  Will if fit me???

Some of you will definitely fit 'straight-out-of-the box'.  Others of you may need to do refinements or minor tune-ups.  At Sure-Fit Designs, we provide all kinds of help for you.  You can watch any number of free videos on pants fitting at

But, I'd also like to share with you one of the Sure-Fit Designs (SFD) customers, who has tried many different pants patterns, many different experiments with 'bendy curves and butt tucks' to get just the perfect crotch fit, and ended up coming back to the SFD Pants pattern for her best and excellent fit.

In essence, Joy (from Joyful Expressions), shows how she manipulated the crotch curve with a 'butt tuck', and ended up with the pants shaping her backside, but that alteration changed the hang of the leg.  And if you pinch out a fold in the side seam, it helps to remove these diagonal wrinkles.
But then she says...'I had the choice of fixing my blueprint by adding the tuck from the outside leg, or starting over.  I decided to start over with a new SFD pants drawing and just TRUST the fit as it came out with NO CROTCH CORRECTIONS. 

I happened to have about six yards of this lightweight camo fabric in the closet that I bought when my 20-year old grandson was a little boy.  I decided he probably didn't want his Grandma making him camo pants anymore, so I pulled it out of the closet to use for my "muslin".  Here's how it turned out:

Even though we can't see all the great fitting details in this camo fabric, you can tell from an overall view that the fit is excellent.

For those of you who still might be skeptical about the results that Sure-Fit Designs can offer, I hope this has alleviated some of your concerns.

You can read Joy's complete post at

And if you'd like to investigate the SFD Pants Pattern a little more, please go to: SFDLearningCenter

Dec 4, 2012

December '12 SFD Sale

Have you had at least 3 or 4 'wadders' in your sewing career?  What's a 'wadder' you ask?  I know you all's the project that ended wadded up and in the trash can.  Of course, this can happen for any variety of reasons - it didn't fit, you didn't like the fabric when you thought it would be perfect, sewing construction 'oopses' happened that were not correctable.  The one I hear the most - 'it didn't fit'!

By the time you've bought the pattern, which we all know can range from very little up to the $20+ range, and bought the fabric, anywhere from $5 to $15 per yard or more, and of course all the accessories you need to complete the garment, it doesn't take long if you have 3 or 4 wadders to realize that you now covered the cost of some Sure-Fit Designs kits.

It's not frequently that I put any of the SFD kits or Designing Stylus 'On Sale', but for one week only, December 4-11, 2012, you can purchase that long-desired Dress or Pants kit and/or the Designing Stylus at a savings.
This photo shows you the patterns, templates and instruction book found in the Dress Kit.  It's regularly $41.95, but now on sale for $35.95 (+S&H).  Enter Coupon Code SFDSale after you've put the item in the Shopping Cart. Click Here.

The SFD ladies Pants Kit contains the necessary master patterns - Pant Front & Back, Waistband, Patch Pocket, Inseam Pocket, Zipper Fly Front Extension and Zipper Guard - and the Pants Kit Instruction Book (28 pages).  It's regularly $34.95, now on sale for $29.95 (+S&H)Click Here.  Enter Coupon Code SFDSale after you've put the item in the Shopping Cart.

If you need a Designing Stylus, they are on sale too.  Most of you know that the Designing Stylus is the Key to the System and is required for drawing off your body blueprint from the Master Patterns.  One Designing Stylus does it all - use it for all 4 of the SFD pattern kits.
It's regularly $ you can pick one up for $16.95 (+S&H).  Click Here Enter Coupon Code SFDSale after you've put the item in the Shopping Cart.

This (rare) sale ends December 11, 2012 , so order now.