Beatrixalong Day 8: Buttons and Buttonholes

We did it!!! It’s the eighth and final day of #Beatrixalong!!

If you’re just joining us, we’re sewing with my newest pattern, Beatrix.  You can find the introductory post here with basic info and a timeline for the sewalong. And here are Day 1Day 2Day 3, Day 4, Day 5Day 6, and Day 7 if you want to go back and see what we’ve done already. I’ll keep all these posts live, so you can always come back for a refresher!

Beatrixalong

Today is Button Day:

  • Mark and sew buttonholes
  • Mark and sew buttons

Mark Buttonholes

Use the button template provided to mark the buttonhole locations on the left button placket. I usually use a disappearing fabric pen with a hard enough tip to poke through the paper to mark the center dots. You could also use a hole punch to make a hole in the center of each button on the template.

Beatrixalong Day 8

Beatrixalong Day 8

Center your buttons over the buttonhole markings and mark just above and below each button. You can draw a straight line between these two marks if you need a guide for sewing (not pictured).

Beatrixalong Day 8

Practice a buttonhole.

I can’t stress this enough. On a scrap of the same fabric as your real-live Beatrix, do a test run. Haul out your sewing machine manual if you need a refresher on the settings, and once you have a buttonhole, check to see if your button fits through it!

Beatrixalong Day 8

Sew your actual buttonholes

Sew each buttonhole on your Beatrix. Use a needle to pull any threads through to the inside of the garment, then tie them in a knot and trim the threads

Beatrixalong Day 8

Carefully cut open each buttonhole with a seam ripper or small scissors. Be very careful!! This works best with a sharp seam ripper.

Beatrixalong Day 8

Beatrixalong Day 8

Beatrixalong Day 8

After you have completed the buttonholes, line up the left placket directly over the right placket and use a marking pen to mark the button locations through the center of each buttonhole so that they will be perfectly aligned.

Beatrixalong Day 8

Sew on the buttons

Beatrixalong Day 8

And look, it’s finished!

Beatrixalong Day 8

Oh heeyyyyyy there, Beatrix!

Beatrixalong Day 8

Beatrixalong Day 8

OK, let’s review today’s assignment:

  1. Mark buttonholes
  2. Sew buttonholes and cut open
  3. Mark buttons on other side
  4. Sew buttons on

And here’s your extra credit assignment:
5. You did it! Put your Beatrix on and strut around!

6. Post a photo (crappy phone pics are fine) to Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr showing me hard evidence you’ve done something from today’s sewalong post with the tag #beatrixalong. If you blog about it, post a link in comments.

Remember, you can sign up to receive my blog posts via email here.

Beatrixalong Day 7: Flip facings & Sew hem

Day 7 of #Beatrixalong is upon us!

If you’re just joining us, we’re sewing with my newest pattern, Beatrix.  You can find the introductory post here with basic info and a timeline for the sewalong. And here are Day 1Day 2Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, and Day 6 if you want to go back and see what we’ve done already.

Beatrixalong

We’re almost done! Here’s what’s on the agenda for today:

  • flip facings and button plackets to the inside
  • finish the button plackets
  • sew a curved hem

Flip facings to the inside of the garment

First, flip your newly-understitched neckline facings to the inside of the garment and press them in place.

Beatrixalong Day 6

Carefully press all the way around the neckline.
Beatrixalong Day 6

Now flip the button plackets to the inside

Go ahead and clip the bottom corners of the placket below the seam allowance. You can clip the top ones too if you like.
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Then flip the button plackets to the inside of the garment, poke those corners out with a pointy object, and press and pin them in place:

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Make sure the facings are tucked nice and flat underneath the edge of the placket before pinning. Notice that the hem gets folded up nicely into the bottom of the placket!

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Secure facings at shoulders

Once the facings are flipped to the inside and the neckline is pressed, I also like to stitch in the shoulder seam (from the outside; this is called “stitching in the ditch” because you sew right down the groove formed by the seam) through the facings to really help them stay put when you’re wearing your top.

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Time for the curved hem!

Just a note on curved hems: the stitching line you made earlier around the bottom makes this hem super-easy to press and sew. Another thing that makes a curved hem easier is EXTRA PINNING!!! As noted in the pattern, you can also use Wonder Clips or Wonder Tape instead of pins, and I do recommend this if you’re using a really slippery or delicate fabric, but in general, the more pinning you do, the better.

So let’s start by pressing the bottom edge of the hem up to meet the line of stitches you made earlier.
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Then fold up again at the stitching line (the stitching line will be at the very bottom edge of your hem), and press and pin this in place. IMG_3823 IMG_3831

You can always pull the stitches out later if you don’t like them hanging out at the bottom of your hem, but I find that as long as I use a thread that matches my fabric, they really aren’t noticeable. In this case I’m using black thread so you can see what I’m doing in the photos more clearly, so I’ll probably go back and pull that out later.

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Stitch around plackets and hems

I love this step. It’s so satisfying, because you can sew the plackets shut and finish the hem all in one go. I start at the top of the back right placket and sew down that placket edge:
Beatrixalong Day 7

Then pivot at the bottom corner and sew around the entire hem:

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Pivot again at the bottom of the left button placket, and then sew up that placket edge.

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When you’re finished it will look like this!IMG_3870

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Now press the heck out of that seam so it’s nice and flat, and now you’re ready for buttonholes and buttons! We’ll tackle those tomorrow, wooooot we’re almost finished!!!!

OK, Let’s review today’s assignment:

  1. Flip facings to inside and press
  2. Flip button plackets to inside and press
  3. Pin and sew shut plackets and curved hem

And here’s your extra credit assignment:
Post a photo to Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr showing me hard evidence you’ve done something from today’s sewalong post with the tag #beatrixalong. If you blog about it, post a link in comments.

Remember, you can sign up to receive my blog posts via email here so you won’t miss any of the sewalong posts!

Beatrixalong Day 6: Facings

It’s Day 6 of the #Beatrixalong…two days to go (if I manage to get all these photos uploaded, that is)! Ack.

If you’re just joining us, we’re sewing with my newest pattern, Beatrix.  You can find the introductory post here with basic info and a timeline for the sewalong. And here are Day 1Day 2Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5 if you want to go back and see what we’ve done already.

Beatrixalong

Today we’ll finish the neckline and prepare the back extension:

  • Sew facings together
  • Fold and press back extension; stitch at top and bottom
  • Attach facings
  • Clip and understitch neckline

First, assemble your facings

Sew the Front Facing to the Back Facings together at the shoulders. Press seam allownces open (no need to finish those seam allowances), then finish the outer curved edges with pinking shears, or with a zigzag or overlock stitch. Set the facings aside for a moment.

Beatrixalong Day 6

Now, prepare your button placket for finishing:

On each side, fold the button placket along the second placket fold line toward the right side and pin the top and bottom in place.

Beatrixalong Day 6
Beatrixalong Day 6

Stitch across the top edge of the folded portion with a quarter-inch seam (note narrower seam allowance at neck) on each side.

Beatrixalong Day 6

Stitch across the bottom edge of the folded portion with a half-inch seam. Continue sewing around the entire bottom of the garment, half an inch from the edge. Finish by stitching across the other side of the folded portion. This line of stitches along the hem will make pressing and sewing easier when we do the hem tomorrow.

Beatrixalong Day 6

Attach the facings to the neckline

Pin the assembled facings to the garment neckline with right sides together (note: the button placket is still folded to the right side), lining up center notches and shoulder seams. The ends of the back facings should cover about half of the folded portion of the placket.

Stitch around the neckline with a quarter-inch seam (IMPORTANT: Note smaller seam allowance).

Beatrixalong Day 6

Clip neckline seam allowances.

Beatrixalong Day 6

Press the both facings and the neckline seam allowances upward, away from the garment.

Now we need to understitch the facings to help keep them inside the top when you’re wearing it. To understitch, sew the neckline seam allowances and facings together (three layers of fabric), an eighth-inch away from the neckline seam as shown below. Don’t skip this step!!!

Beatrixalong Day 6

This is what your understitching will look like from the inside of the garment when its finished:

Beatrixalong Day 6
Beatrixalong Day 6

And that’s it for today!

OK, let’s review today’s assignment:

  1. Sew facings together
  2. Fold and press back extension; stitch at top and bottom
  3. Attach facings to neckline
  4. Clip and understitch neckline

And here’s your extra credit assignment:
5. Post a photo (crappy phone pics are fine) to Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr showing me hard evidence you’ve done something from today’s sewalong post with the tag #beatrixalong. If you blog about it, post a link in comments.

Go to Day 7

Remember, you can sign up to receive my blog posts via email here so you won’t miss any of the sewalong posts!

Beatrixalong Day 5: Sleeves

Welcome to Day 5 of the #Beatrixalong!

If you’re just joining us, we’re sewing my newest pattern, Beatrix. You can find the introductory post here with basic info and a timeline for the sewalong. Check out Day 1Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4 if you want to go back and see what we’ve done already.

Beatrixalong

Today it’s all about sleeves. Here are the steps we’ll cover:

  • Baste sleeve caps
  • Sew inseams
  • Hem sleeves
  • Set in sleeves

First let’s prep the sleeves

We’ll start by basting the sleeve cap. Turn the tension on your machine to its highest setting, and then stitch with the longest straight stitch on the wrong side of the sleeve over the top of the sleeve cap between the two notches, 3/8″ away from the edge. Remember to pay attention to right sides and wrong sides! You’ll probably notice as you sew that the fabric is beginning to gather. Leave long tails on your basting threads so you can use it to adjust the amount of gather on the sleeve cap later.

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Go ahead and press 1/4″ and then 3/4″ toward the wrong side along the bottom of both short sleeves so that we can easily hem them up before we attach them to the bodice. This is a hint that is mentioned in the pattern and I thought I’d demonstrate it for the sewalong.

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Sew the sleeve inseams

Pin and sew the sleeve inseams together, making absolutely sure you have two mirror image (one left and one right) sleeves. This is especially important if your fabric is double-sided, like mine:

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Now do a quick fit check and slide each sleeve over your arms to make sure they fit. If the sleeves feel tight, you’ll need to consider making a sleeve adjustment (this is a common sleeve adjustment). If they’re too loose, you’ll want to consider taking in the inseams a bit (if you take in more than 1/2″ though, you will probably want to do the same to the bodice side seams). If the length needs adjusting, hem them up/down more or less than the pattern calls for (hemming is coming up, below).

Then finish the inseams as desired; refer to yesterday’s post for more discussion about seam finishes.

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Hem the sleeves

Using the creases you pressed into the bottom of the sleeve earlier, fold up the end of the sleeve, then press and pin it in place.

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Stitch along the second fold to finish the sleeves. Now they should look like this (one is right-side out, the other is inside out)

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Attach the sleeves to the bodice

We’re using a set-in sleeve method here. Place the sleeve inside the armhole so that the right sides of the sleeve are facing the right side of your garment, and pin the sleeve inseam at the side seam and the sleeve notches to the armhole notches. Next, pull the gathering threads to adjust the basting stitches (this should be easy to do since you sewed with high tension from the wrong side earlier) so that the sleeve fits nicely inside the armhole. It will look like it won’t fit, but do your best to move the gathers around so that they are distributed as evenly as possible between the notches.

Beatrixalong Day 5

Beginning at the inseam, and with the sleeve on top and the bodice on the bottom, sew the two together, going VERY SLOWLY, and making sure the gathers don’t fold under the presser foot and make puckers. It helps to stretch the armhole slightly as you sew to ease in the extra sleeve ease.

Beatrixalong Day 5

It’s also very important to stay 1/2″ away from the edge — remember that the very top of the sleeve is longer than where the seam line should be, so if you’re sewing too close to the edge it will actually be harder to set in the sleeve. You should be 1/8″ away from the basting stitches, not right on top of them.

Beatrixalong Day 5
Beatrixalong Day 5

When you’re finished it should look like this:

Beatrixalong Day 5

Now press the seam towards the sleeve (notice that I’m using my pressing ham here again), then trim the seam allowances to 1/4″ and finish them as desired.

Beatrixalong Day 5

Voila! Set-in sleeves!!! Congratulations, this is a pretty advanced sewing technique, so even if it doesn’t look perfect, you should be very proud of yourself! Sometimes I need to go back and un-sew a pucker in the sleeve cap and re-sew it, and if you need to do that, it’s OK.

Beatrixalong Day 5

Notice that the sleeve cap has a slight puff to it at the top, but there are no visible gathers. The purpose of this is to create space for your shoulder while still maintaining a sleeve that is fairly fitted and rests nicely without wrinkling under the arm when worn. If you’re interested in the Science of Sleeves, I highly recommend this sleeve drafting post by my friend LiEr that gets into the relationship between the sleeve and the armhole.

Beatrixalong Day 5

OK, let’s review today’s assignment:

  1. Baste sleeve cap
  2. Sew inseams
  3. Hem sleeves
  4. Set in the sleeves

And here’s your extra credit assignment:
Post a photo  to Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr showing me hard evidence you’ve done something from today’s sewalong post with the tag #beatrixalong. If you blog about it, post a link in comments.

Go to Day 6

Remember, you can sign up to receive my blog posts via email here so you won’t miss any of the sewalong posts!

Beatrixalong Day 4: Darts, shoulder and side seams

Happy Monday!! Sorry for the late start today. Feeling the Monday-ness of today if you know what I mean. It’s Day 4 of the #Beatrixalong!

If you’re just joining us, we’re sewing with my newest pattern, Beatrix.  You can find the introductory post here with basic info and a timeline for the sewalong. And here are Day 1Day 2, and Day 3 if you want to go back and see what we’ve done already.

Beatrixalong

Today it’s all about darts and seams. We’re going to:

  • Sew the bust darts
  • Sew shoulder and side seams
  • Staystitch neckline

So first, fold your front bodice so that the dart markings line up at the side seams and pin. Don’t skip pinning here, it’s super important!! I also find it helpful to press that fold.

Beatrixalong Day 4 Beatrixalong Day 4

And then, starting from the side seam, stitch towards the point of the dart.

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Beatrixalong Day 4

One thing I like to do as I approach the end of the dart (about 1/2″ from the end) is lower my stitch length so it’s teeny tiny, and curve my stitch line slightly so that it starts to run parallel with the fold of the fabric, so that those last two or three stitches just *barely* catch the edge of the fold. This is incredibly hard to photograph, but it helps prevent that little pucker you see at the end of the dart sometimes. Maybe you can see how the stitches run along the fold at the very end in this next photo where I’ve got the dart over my pressing ham:

Beatrixalong Day 4

I also like to carefully tie the dart threads in a little knot, but you have to be really careful not to pull too tight as you tie the knot or you’ll make a little pucker!) when I’m finished rather than backstitching at the end of the dart (a BIG no-no, you’ll get a pucker for sure if you do this).

OK, let’s discuss this pressing ham thingy. You can see my cheap Dritz-brand pressing ham from JoAnn, on the ironing board below. You can see that I’ve got the white side up; the plaid side is for woolen fabrics, and the white side is for cottons, so I use that side for most of my pressing. When you’re pressing darts or any part of a garment that isn’t flat (such as the shoulder or sleeve cap), it’s really helpful to have a pressing ham, so I really recommend that you get one if you plan on sewing garments!

Beatrixalong Day 4

Starting at the point of the dart, press the dart over the end of the ham. This will help make sure that the bust of the bodice has the same curvature as you do. You simply cannot get this same shape by pressing a dart on a flat surface, so I can’t recommend this enough!Beatrixalong Day 4

Next we will sew the shoulder and side seams

I’m not gonna lie to you, I usually don’t pin these two seams, but I’m showing it pinned below anyway. I find that holding it together with my hands (hand-pinning? is that even a thing??) works just fine. Maybe one or two pins on the side seams if you’re worried about seam creep.

Beatrixalong Day 5Beatrixalong Day 5

Then sew them together, backstitching at the beginning and end of each seam, and press those seams. I don’t skip pressing each seam. It makes a difference, believe me.  

Note: If you’d like to try the bodice on at this point to check fit (I highly recommend this), please staystitch the neckline before you try it on to prevent inadvertent neckline stretching. Scroll down to the end of this post for a pic.

{I recommend doing this before finishing the seams, but I forgot to staystitch in the correct order for these photos…sorry for any confusion.}

Once you check your fit, make any necessary adjustments before moving on!

Beatrixalong Day 5

Finish your seams

Now it’s time to finish your seams using your favorite seam-finishing method. You can refer to the Seam Finish Appendix included in your pattern for some suggested finishes. If you’d like to see some photos of a few of those finishes, check out my Super Seams post. Here’s a zig-zag finish:

Beatrixalong Day 5

Beatrixalong Day 5

And here’s the one I use most frequently, the overlock stitch from my serger:

Beatrixalong Day 5

Beatrixalong Day 5

Staystitch the neckline

Staystitching is something that can really be done as soon as you cut your pieces out (many people recommend this), but in the pattern I recommend doing it right after you sew the shoulder seams. I realize this is a rather liberal view, but the point is to stabilize the neckline before you do any fit-checking, which can stretch out that neck even if you’re really careful. I like to do it after the shoulder seams just because then you can do the entire neckline all in one go (I completely respect your right to disagree with me on this; I am admittedly a Flaming Staystitching Liberal). For staystitching, I sew 1/8″ from the neckline edge with a normal machine stitch. Don’t use a basting stitch — you don’t want to gather, just stabilize.

Beatrixalong Day 4

OK, let’s review today’s assignment:

  1. Sew bust darts
  2. Sew shoulder seams and side seams
  3. Staystitch neckline and try it on to check fit
  4. Finish your seams

And here’s your extra credit assignment:
5. Post a photo (crappy phone pics are fine) to Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr showing me hard evidence you’ve done something from today’s sewalong post with the tag #beatrixalong. If you blog about it, post a link in comments.

Go to Day 5

Remember, you can sign up to receive my blog posts via email here so you won’t miss any of the sewalong posts!

Beatrixalong Day 3: Cut and Prep

Day 3 of the #Beatrixalong! Hope you’re having fun!

If you’re just joining us, we’re sewing my newest pattern, Beatrix. You can find the introductory post here with basic info and a timeline for the sewalong. And here are Day 1 and Day 2 if you want to go back and see what we’ve done already.

Beatrixalong

Here’s the plan for today:

  • Cut out your fabric,
  • Transfer markings, and
  • Prepare pattern pieces for sewing

Let’s start with cutting out the fabric

Now that we’ve made a muslin and adjusted for fit, we can confidently grab sharp things and cut the REAL FABRIC. Following the cutting diagrams on Page 6 (note: View B cutting diagrams are on page 7, but we’re making View A in this sewalong), lay your pattern pieces out on folded fabric. Please take special note of the hints for cutting pieces out of directional prints and flowy/drapey fabrics. In this photo, the fold is on the bottom and the selvages are together on the top:

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I prefer to cut my fabric out using a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat. This is fast and accurate, and doesn’t require any pins, but it can be dangerous (seriously) so please be careful if you try this and never cut towards yourself, EVER. Hold the pattern pieces and fabric in place with some sort pattern weights (coffee mugs, metal washers, expired 9-volt batteries…OK maybe not the batteries but you get the picture) and cut away. Alternatively, pin your pattern to the fabric and use your best fabric shears to cut cut cut.

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Cut those little triangle notches on the sleeves, neckline at center front (CF), and armholes as you go if you’re using shears, or snip them out with shears as soon as you’re done if you’re using the rotary cutter. You’ll be glad you did this later, trust me.

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Now take an inventory of your pattern pieces and use that numbered list provided on page 6 to make sure you’ve got everything.

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Here’s a closeup of facings and interfacing for the facings:

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Remember to mark your sleeves so you can tell left from right, particularly if you’re using fabric where it’s hard to tell right side from wrong side, like mine. I used Wonder Clips to help me keep track, but a safety pin on the right side of the fabric works just fine. Even if it doesn’t matter which side is which, you need two mirror image sleeves, one left and one right.

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Next, transfer your markings from the pattern to the fabric

Mark your darts, using a ruler to keep the dart lines straight. I use a pin to mark the very end of the dart rather than make a dot at the end; sometimes my marking pen doesn’t disappear very quickly and I don’t like having a dark dot there when I’m finished.

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After you’ve added the dart markings, fold the front bodice along the centers of the darts to make sure they line up horizontally. This is pretty important if the darts will be visually obvious relative to the print, such as in the case of stripes or other geometric patterns on your fabric. The only exception would be if you really do need your darts at different heights due to bust asymmetry; if that’s the case you should put your darts where you need them, but I’d recommend avoiding a print that will highlight the differences in dart height.

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Next up, mark the fold lines on each back bodice, again use a ruler to make sure they are straight and the correct distance away from CB:

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Finally, prep your pattern pieces

Use your iron to press the fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the facings and back bodice pieces. Although I didn’t show it here, I recommend you use a scrap of fabric as a pressing cloth; if the iron is too hot the fusible glue on the interfacing can sometimes seep through the interfacing and stick to the bottom of your iron, ACK!

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Also: we all know that “pressing” means just setting the iron down on the fabric, and not dragging it back and forth across the fabric, right? You’re not ironing here!

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Don’t forget to fold that 1/4″ along the back bodice center edge towards the interfacing and press it down.

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When you’re finished your back pieces should look like this!

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OK, let’s review today’s assignment:

1. Cut out your pieces
2. Transfer markings
3. Add interfacing to the necessary pieces

And here’s your extra credit assignment:
4. Post a photo (crappy phone pics are fine) to Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr showing me hard evidence you’ve done something from today’s sewalong post with the tag #beatrixalong. If you blog about it, post a link in comments.

Go to Day 4

Remember, you can sign up to receive my blog posts via email here so you won’t miss any of the sewalong posts!

Beatrixalong Day 2: Trace and Muslin

Hello! It’s Day 2 of the #Beatrixalong! How’s it going so far??

If you’re just joining us, we’re sewing my newest pattern, Beatrix. You can find the introductory post here with basic info and a timeline for the sewalong. And here’s Day 1 if you want to go back and see what we did yesterday!

Beatrixalong

Based on the measurements you took yesterday, you should have a good idea of what size Beatrix you’ll need to make. Today we’re going to:

  • Trace your pattern pieces and
  • Sew a muslin

First, let’s trace your pattern pieces!

Lay your pattern pieces out on a nice flat surface and place a piece of tracing paper* over them. Add pattern weights (or coffee mugs. or your rock collection. or whatever you have handy) to hold everything in place. Using a pencil (or colored pencil, like Tashina’s using below) and a ruler to help you draw nice straight lines, trace around each pattern piece to get the size you need, including all of the dart lines, notches, and other markings like the fold arrows. Don’t forget the fold lines in the back too! It’s a good idea to do this quickly, but don’t be sloppy. If these pattern pieces end up working out for you, you’ll be glad you took a few extra minutes to mark everything carefully.

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You’ll need to trace the following pieces for the #Beatrixalong: Front Bodice, Back Bodice, Short Sleeve, Front Facing, and Back Facing.  I also usually cut out the Button Placket Interfacing  (I fold down my size from the XXL) and the Button Template right from the paper printout; you don’t need to trace those.

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A few more things to keep in mind as you trace:

  • we’ll be using the short sleeve for this sewalong, but if you’d rather make the 3/4-length sleeve that is just fine too.
  • you’ll need to follow the curved hem for View A, but again, if you want to trace the View B cutting lines (at the hem and Center Back), those might come in handy later.

Finally, label your piece with the pattern name, pattern piece, and size for easy reference later.

*Swedish Tracing Paper is available at Organic Cotton Plus and WAWAK; please read this post if you want to know more about why and how I trace patterns this way. There’s a variety of other tracing paper options: I’ve heard of people using freezer paper (available at the grocery store), non-fusible interfacing (Pellon 830 “Easy Pattern” is great), and even asking for exam table paper used in doctors’ offices.

Now it’s time to make a muslin!

I strongly recommend making a muslin. A muslin is a test-run of the Beatrix, with (or without, as shown below) sleeves. If you’re worried about your shoulders or arms (broad shoulders, wide arms), I recommend adding the sleeve to the muslin. If you aren’t worried about the fit through the sleeves, just make a bodice muslin. The key here is to do this quickly, so that if you need to adjust or make another muslin, it won’t take hours and hours. But do take some extra time to get the right fit NOW so you don’t waste fabric on a version that doesn’t fit you. Once you get the fit right, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can make more Beatrixes for yourself that fit and flatter your body without having to fuss.

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This sewalong is a great opportunity to post photos of your muslins (remember to tag #beatrixalong so I’ll see them) and get some feedback from your fellow sewing-mates. I’ll try to weigh in whenever I can.

So, go ahead and take a look at the “getting a good fit” section at the beginning of the pattern for the rough instructions on how to construct a muslin, and use your FRONT BODICE and BACK BODICE to whip up a quick muslin using the instructions there.

My general guidelines for making a muslin:
• use an inexpensive woven fabric, such as unbleached muslin or an old sheet
• use cotton thread
• use a basting stitch to sew all seams
• skip backstitching at the beginning and end of each seam

Those last three are important because you want the ability to tear out the seams (literally rip them apart with your hands) and readjust or re-sew as quickly as possible. Finally, don’t sweat your sewing technique right now. If you don’t sew these darts perfectly or you attach the sleeve without puckers, it’s not a big deal. Remember, this is just to check fit, this is not something that will be worn. Repeat after me: a muslin is just a tool.

Once you’ve made your muslin, it’s time to evaluate the fit from the top down:

  • Look at the shoulders. Do they look like they’re the right width?
  • Look at the dart and make sure it points toward your bust apex (the “top of the mountain” if you catch my drift, note that this is not aways the same thing as your nipple). The dart should end 1/2″ to 1″ from your bust apex.
  • Look at the bust. Does it feel comfortable and fit without pulling or neckline gaping?
  • Look at the neckline; does it look the way you want it to? Remember it will be 1/4″ bigger all the way around once the facings are attached, and feel free to take your shears and cut that 1/4″ off around the muslin neckline to really help you visualize. Gaping necklines often indicate more room is needed for the bust, FYI.
  • Move your arms around a bit. Do you feel like you have enough room to move your arms? It’s VERY important to remember that the sleeve seams will make the armholes 1/2″ bigger all the way around than they are right now, so go ahead and cut that 1/2″ off around the armholes if you want to check, or attach a quick muslin sleeve if you’re nervous about the sleeve).
  • Does it fit through the waist and hips?
  • Look at the hem and see if it lands where you want it to. Remember it will be 1/2″ shorter once hemmed.

If the answer to any of these questions is NO, you might want to make some adjustments. Note that while I would *LOVE* to demonstrate all these adjustments for you for Beatrix, I’m going to have to just provide you with some resources for now. My hope is to put together a Fit series on the blog that will address some common adjustments at some point in the near future, but for now, I’m going to lean on some of the awesome resources online and link to them here. And if you have a problem that isn’t addressed here, google it! You will be amazed at all the links and videos you can find online!!!

Here are just a few awesome linkadoos to help you with adjustments:

Full Bust Adjustments: Megan Nielsen’s FBA / Tilly and the Buttons’ Bust Adjustments / Christine Hayne’s Emery FBA

Small Bust Adjustments: Megan Nielsen’s SBA / Tilly and the Button’s Bust Adjustments / Christine Hayne’s SBA 

Shorten/Lengthen Dart: Jess will post a tutorial at some point . . .  stay tuned

Raise/Lower Dart: Megan Nielsen’s dart tutorial

Shorten/Lengthen Top: Oliver+S’ How to lengthen/shorten a pattern

Adjust shoulder fit: Sewalongs.com’s Hawthorn shoulder adjustment / About.com’s Shoulder Adjustments / Curvy Sewing Collective’s Narrow Shoulder Adjustment

Hollow Chest adjustment (usually for neckline gaping when an FBA isn’t needed): Phat Chick’s Hollow Chest Tutorial 

Adjust sleeve for wider arms: Curvy Sewing Collective’s Sleeve Adjustment

Play around with your muslin until it fits the way you want it to, taking notes along the way. Once you have a muslin you are happy with, DON’T FORGET TO MAKE THE CORRESPONDING CHANGES TO YOUR PATTERN PIECES, RETRACING THEM IF NEEDED. Then you’ll be ready to cut into your fabric with confidence!

And now I want to just talk to those of you with Obsessive Personalities: It’s OK if your muslin is not PERFECT. Sewing clothes is a learning process, so if you have a muslin that fits pretty well and you’re starting to obsess over really minor fit details, it might be time to just let it go. Apparel fabrics are almost always more forgiving than muslin is, so some little issues might even disappear completely when you use real fabric. If you find yourself falling down the Fit Rabbithole, it’s time to give yourself a reality check: sometimes it’s better just to cross the finish line than to run the race perfectly.

OK, let’s review today’s assignment:

1. Trace the pattern pieces in your size onto tracing paper
2. Sew a muslin
3. Make adjustments to fit
4. Make changes to pattern pieces

And here’s your extra credit assignment:
Post a photo (crappy phone pics are fine) to Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr showing me hard evidence you’ve done something from today’s sewalong post with the tag #beatrixalong. If you blog about it, post a link in comments.

Go to Day 3

Remember, you can sign up to receive my blog posts via email here so you won’t miss any of the sewalong posts!

Beatrixalong Day 1: Measure and Print

Welcome to the first official day of my #Beatrixalong! So excited to have you here (stalking the sewalong, or maybe even joining us)! I can’t wait to share some of the things about this pattern that make it unique and super fun to sew.

If you’re just joining us, we’re sewing my newest pattern, Beatrix. Take a look at this post for an intro and for preparation guidance, and for a timeline for the sewalong. Remember: you can always work at your own pace. We’ll take it slow, but feel free to take it even slower, catch up later, or work ahead if you just need to get sewing!!

Beatrixalong

Today we’re going to:

  • choose your size
  • print out your pattern pieces, and
  • tape your pattern pieces together

Let’s choose your size!

First, we need to take some good measurements so we can figure out what size you need. Whaaaat??? Notice I didn’t say “Hey just go ahead and choose the size you usually wear!” I want to make sure we understand something here: you NEED to measure yourself before you sew. Your measurements are numbers and yes, they might evoke negative feelings for you (they do for me; I’m still nearly 15 pounds heavier than before I had Hugo), but it’s time to turn that thinking around. Whether you’re 15 pounds, 50 pounds, or 5 pounds over the weight you’d like to be, that doesn’t change the fact that your clothes need to fit. Measuring will allow you to make something that fits you (in fact, it’s technically a custom-fit garment), and when that happens you will look GOOD. Well-fitting clothes are flattering and empowering. If you try and stuff yourself into the size you want to be, you will look like a sausage. So measure to Empower, ladies!!!

A few measuring tips:

  • If possible, measure in the morning; by the end of the day, gravity has taken its toll on your body and you are not only shorter, but wider.
  • Wear your best-fitting (and ideally, supportive) undergarments when measuring. This is SO IMPORTANT!
  • Have someone help you take these measurements. When your arms are relaxed at your sides instead of trying to hold up the tape measure, you’ll get a more accurate measurement.
  • Do not pull the tape measure as tight as it will go. The tape measure should fit as loosely around your body as possible without falling down.

Start with your upper bust. Place the tape measure around your torso, right under your armpits and over the top of your bust. The tape measure should form a loop that is more or less parallel to the floor, but if it’s angled up a little in the front to clear the top of your bust, that is fine. Write this measurement down.

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Now measure your bust. Place the tape measure around the fullest part of your bust. Write this measurement down.

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The bust and upper bust are not only the numbers we will use to select your SIZE, but decide whether you need the A/B or C/D front bodice. Subtract your upper bust from your bust measurement. If there is more than 2″ of difference, use your Upper Bust measurement to select your size from the Size Chart, and use the C/D front bodice. If there is 2″ or less difference, use your Bust measurement to select your size from the Size Chart, and use the A/B front bodice. Note: Both the Size Chart and Finished Measurements for Beatrix can be found here (click and then scroll down).

Example 1: Your upper bust is 38″ and your bust is 43.” That puts you in both sizes XL (for upper bust) and XXL (for bust) on the size chart. You would pick XL because we’re using the Upper Bust to select your size, and you will use the C/D bodice because there’s more than 2″ difference between your bust and upper bust.

Example 2: Your upper bust is 38″ and your bust is 38.” That puts you in both sizes XL (for upper bust) and L (for bust) on the size chart. You would select L because we’re using your Bust to select your size, and you will use the A/B bodcie because there’s less than 2″ difference between your bust and upper bust.

Example 3: Your upper bust is 38″ and your bust is 40.” That puts you in size XL on the size chart. You’d probably be fine with the A/B front bodice, but you could also try the C/D bodice if you like; it will have more ease but since you’re at the lower end of size XL, you might not need it. Keep reading for more help deciding…

Now we’re going to measure your waist and hip and compare them to the Size Chart and Finished Measurements to make sure we’ve got the right size. For your waist, place the tape measure around the smallest part of your waist, and write this measurement down. It’s important to note that this measurement is usually taken WELL ABOVE THE BELLY BUTTON, and that unless you wear high-waisted pants, this is not where the waistband of your pants are. Most pant waistbands sit at the “low waist” which is different than the “natural waist” that you are measuring right now.

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Now measure your hip. This should be around the widest part of your booty, below your hip bones. Write this number down.

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The reason I’ve asked you to take these last two measurements is to check them against the size you’ve selected (see: Size Chart and Finished Measurements for Beatrix, click and scroll down). If they land in the range for your size, great. You’re all set. But if they’re both outside of the range for the size you’ve already picked out, especially your hip, you may need to either take the pattern in a bit (I’ll talk about this tomorrow) or let it out.

But before you panic, take a look at the Finished Measurement Chart (link above). I designed Beatrix to have a decent amount of ease (extra room), especially in the C/D bodice, so as long as you have at least 2-3″ of ease around the waist and hip, you should be just fine. If it’s a LOT more than 2-3″ extra, you might want to take the sides in below the bust. The point is: you want to choose your size based on your upper bust and bust so you get a nice fit through the bust and shoulders, but still check the waist and hip against the size you choose. The waist and hips are much easier to add/subtract as we go!!!

Next, let’s print and assemble your pattern pieces!

Using the printing guide on Page 1 of your pattern, print just the pages you need for the bodice (either A/B or C/D) you’ve selected. VERY IMPORTANT: CHECK THE SCALE MARKS ALONG THE SIDE TO MAKE SURE YOU’VE PRINTED AT 100%. Now use a scissors or paper cutter/trimmer to take off the print margins on the top and left sides of your printouts:

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Now place the pages together (there’s an assembly diagram on page 5) so that the circles in the corners line up nicely. If you go from left to right and top to bottom, like you’re reading a book, each page you set down will cover up the print margin from the previous page:

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Finally, tape it all together, making sure the edges stay straight!

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OK, let’s review today’s assignment:

1. Measure yourself and choose a size
2. Print out and assemble your pattern pieces

And here’s your extra credit assignment:
3. Post a photo (crappy phone pics are fine) to Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr showing me hard evidence you’ve done something from today’s sewalong post with the tag #beatrixalong. If you blog about it, post a link in comments.
4. Extra Extra Credit: Have you picked out your fabric yet? Post a photo!

Go to Day 2

Remember, you can sign up to receive my blog posts via email here so you won’t miss any of the sewalong posts!

Are you ready for a Beatrixalong?

Beatrixalong

The Beatrix Sewalong is now underway!
If this is your first time landing here, it’s not too late to join in. We’re taking a full eight days to sew Beatrix, and I’ll put links to each new post here as we move through the week. There’s a bunch more info at the bottom of this post if you scroll down.

Meanwhile, here’s the schedule:
I’ve mapped this out so we can work slowly, taking about 30-60 minutes each day. Work ahead if you like!

Day 1: Friday, July 10 Measure and Print
Day 2: Saturday, July 11
Trace pattern and Make a muslin
Day 3: Sunday, July 12
– Cut and prep
Day 4: Monday, July 13
Sew darts, shoulders seams, and side seams
Day 5: Tuesday, July 14
– Sleeves
Day 6: Wednesday, July 15 –
 Prep and attach facings
Day 7: Thursday, July 16 –
Hemming and button placket finishing
Day 8: Friday, July 17
– Buttonholes and buttons

Now here’s the original post:
Let’s have a Beatrix Sewalong!!! I’m making a new Beatrix top for summer, so I’m taking some photos along the way so I can post them for a sewalong. This may seem like it would be an easy thing to do but already I’m realizing it’s a pretty major undertaking so….we’ll see how this goes. I used to host the Spring Top Sewalongs, but those were really unstructured as far as what people made, so I’m a little intimidated by this one if I must be honest. I’m also soooo nervous right now; lots of people have purchased the pattern (THANK YOU!!!) but I’ve only seen one or two finished versions so far so I’m biting my nails waiting to see what people think. Ack. It’s nervewracking.

Anyway, I’ll be running the #beatrixalong from this Friday, July 10th through Friday, July 17th. The sewalong will consist of a series of blog posts but also your photos of your tops in progress on the social media venue of your choice. I would really love it if this sewalong could be interactive, so I’m going to try to not only give an “assignment” for each day, but also reply to comments and questions in each post as much and as quickly as possible so that if you have a question, you can have answers.

I’m going to make a short-sleeved View A as shown in the image at the top of the post. This is the simplest version of the pattern (View B has more pieces) so it’s a great place to start if you’re new to garment sewing, and the short sleeve is perfect for summer!

If you’re going to sew along with me, here’s a few things you can do before Friday:

Sign up to receive my blog posts via email: You can use this handy signup form to get all my blog updates directly in your inbox. (You can also sign up for notifications anytime by using the little form at the top right of the blog.)

Buy the pattern: Here it is in my pattern shop! Download and save it to your computer.

Gather your materials: fabric, lightweight fusible interfacing, six buttons (1/2″ or 3/8″ are a nice size), and some thread. You can see the suggested fabrics, materials list, and yardage chart (look at View A, short-sleeve, for the yardage needed for this one) by going to the Beatrix shop page and clicking on the “materials” tab.

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Just a quick note about fabric selection: If this is your first time making a Beatrix top, I’d recommend not only making a muslin before you cut into any lovely apparel fabric (I’ll talk about making a muslin on Day 2), but also starting with fabric that isn’t your most very favorite and best. Even when I’m confident about what size I need in a pattern, I like to make my first version of that pattern with fabric I’m not completely in love with, just in case it doesn’t come out exactly as planned. I posted a couple of years ago about My Top Five Fabrics for Clothing if you’d like to explore your options.

Gather your equipment: You’ll need a sewing shears, sewing machine and needles, pins (I also like wonder clips), a seam ripper, a fabric marking pen or chalk, iron and ironing board for the actual sewing part. For cutting, I like to use a rotary cutter, ruler, and mat, but you can definitely get by with just your shears. You’ll also need a measuring tape, paper-friendly scissors (or trimmer) and tape to assemble the pattern, and a pencil and tracing paper to trace your pattern pieces.

Get your space ready: replace your needle, thread your machine (bonus points if you clean it out too), and clear a cutting space. Set up your iron and ironing board close by. If there’s any way to keep this space cleared out for a few days so you can sew from start to finish, even better.Made By Rae prepare your sewing space

Wash your fabric: If you plan to wash and dry your finished top, you’ll need to wash and dry your fabric before you start. Use a serger or zig-zag stitch along the cut edges of your fabric to prevent it from fraying during washing!

Read the pattern instructions: It’s always a good idea to give the instructions a good read-through before you get started!Made By Rae Beatrix sewing pattern

There’s no need to print out your pattern pages yet; I’m going to discuss how to print and assemble your pattern pages once we figure out what size you need.

If you’re sewing along with me, please take photos as you go and post them to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #beatrixalong! That makes it easier for everyone to participate and talk together as we sew!

And be sure to comment here to let me know you’re joining me. Let’s discuss: Do you have any general questions? What fabric have you picked out for your Beatrix?