Staystitching is Important


Attention, everyone, this is a sewing PSA. Staystitching is a garment-sewing technique that is really important. I am sharing this with you because when I started sewing, many years ago, I did not know what staystitching was, but even if I had, I probably would have skipped it. Now that I am older and wiser, I want to share this nugget of wisdom with you.

If you’ve ever sewn one of my women’s patterns (specifically for woven fabrics, such as Ruby, Beatrix, or Gemma), you may have noticed a step that instructs you to staystitch, followed by the words “IMPORTANT: DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.” I’m guessing most people ignore this, mostly because if I didn’t know better, I probably would.

I’ve mentioned before that my mom taught me how to sew, but knowing how stubborn and headstrong I was as a child,* I doubt once she communicated the fundamentals to me that I spent much time listening to any further details. Details like: be careful about skipping steps that might initially seem unnecessary, because you may regret it.

In addition, my younger sister Elli took a 4-H sewing class from a very strict and anal retentive seamstress, and her experience left a strong impression on me. I remember the jumper she was working on taking her the better part of a year to complete, which seemed like utter torture to me. It made sewing seem so un-fun. As a result, I took an alternate approach with a more carefree sewing attitude: skip all but the most essential steps, and see what happens. In some cases, I discovered it didn’t really matter that much (three rows of gathering stitches vs. two or even in some cases — GASP — ONE.), but in other cases, I’ve discovered that taking a little extra time to add a seam finish or in this case, staystitch, can make a big difference.

*I can picture my mom thinking, “Just as a child…?” as she reads this.

So…what IS staystitching?
Staystitching is a line of stitching added to the edge of a piece of fabric (often along a curved edge such as a neckline or an armhole, but not always) that stabilizes the fabric so that it won’t stretch out while it’s being sewn. Additionally, if you’re making a piece of clothing, staystitching prevents the edges from stretching out if you try it on to check fit. The staystitching lines in the photo below are around the armholes and neckline of my chambray Gemma tank.


How and when do you staystitch?
To staystitch an edge, sew along the edge of the fabric, about 1/8″ away from the edge, using a normal straight stitch. Earlier patterns of mine said “using a regular length or slightly shorter than normal length stitch,” but I’ve since decided that a shorter stitch actually stretches out the fabric too much, so I now recommend a regular length stitch such as 2.5-3 mm.

As for when to staystitch, I think there are two schools of thought. The stricter approach is to staystitch edges after you cut out your fabric pieces, but before you do any sewing. I feel this is only necessary when sewing with a really unstable or slippery fabric. The other approach, which I prefer, is to staystitch any curved edges such as necklines or armholes after shoulder or side seams are sewn, but before facings or bindings or sleeves are attached. I take this more moderate/less strict approach because in most cases, woven fabrics are stable enough to sew some of the seams before staystitching without stretching out the garment significantly. Additionally, staystitching goes much faster when you can do a whole armhole in one go, instead of, say, having to staystitch the front armhole separately from the back armhole due to the shoulder seams having not yet been sewn.

That said, I can appreciate that some sewists would disagree and say that it’s better to be safe than sorry. I almost always favor the quick and easy sew, as long as it doesn’t sacrifice good construction technique.

I’ve probably utterly confused some of you, and if that’s the case, my recommendation would be just to try staystitching the next time you sew a piece of clothing. It definitely make more sense if you’ve got the garment in front of you, to be sure.

So, what say ye? Are you a Die-hard Staystitch-er? Or do you play it fast and loose and skip it? Have I convinced anyone to change your short-cutting ways?

Green Striped Cleo Skirt

Cleo Skirt | View B

Oh Nani Iro double gauze, how I love you so. I sewed this delightful fabric into a Cleo skirt (the sewing pattern I’m currently working on, yay!!) earlier this summer. I la-la-love it. Double gauze is so crazy comfortable and soft, and these stripes look like they were painted on by hand. This skirt has inseam pockets which seem more and more critical to me in a garment the more I sew, plus a flat-front with elastic-back waistband, so it’s quite comfortable to wear. New favorite skirt alert!

Cleo Skirt

The “midi” length falls below the knee, resulting in something that gives me strong flashbacks of the skirts my mother wore to church in the summer back in the 80’s along with a large perm and sandals, even more so when I wear it with my chambray Gemma tank. I am admittedly confused by the word “midi.” Has this word been around a very long time? It seems to have popped up in the last couple of years, and the first time I heard it I had to look it up. I suppose I risk sounding incredibly stupid by admitting that, but there it is.

Cleo Skirt

This version will be “View B” of the Cleo skirt pattern, with View A sporting cut out pockets and a band along the hem ala the Flying Crane skirt. If you got my fall pattern preview newsletter back in September, you’ll have seen a more thorough description plus more photos of Cleo already (you can sign up for my email updates here, by the way). If not, rest assured you’ll see more posts of this pattern very soon!

Cleo Skirt

Let me tell you how long it takes to make a sewing pattern: forever. I previewed this skirt pattern on Instagram back in February (though I’ve been working on this design since early 2013…yes, 2013), and if you asked me in February when this one would be ready, I probably told you late spring. But then there was Gemma, and Isla, and now I’m serious, this pattern will happen next. I do feel a bit badly since I know some of you have been excited for this pattern for a long time and probably feel a bit impatient. If so, you have a good sense for how long it takes me to make a pattern. So I have a question for you: do you prefer when pattern designers surprise you with a design once it’s ready so that you can sew it right away? I feel like a lot of the big indie pattern designers keep everything very secret until they are absolutely ready to a launch. Or do you enjoy seeing the designs while they are in progress? As a sewing pattern consumer, I can see benefits to both approaches, but as a pattern designer I wonder if it would be better if I took the Super Secret approach. What do you think?

Posted in Cleo

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

It’s Friday, friends. And what a week. Let’s talk about something fun, like this cheerful knit top I made for Clementine!

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

I started with my Flashback Skinny Tee pattern in a size 7/8 (how is she so big? WAAAAAH *weeps into coffee cup*), cut off the bodice halfway between the armpit and the hem and added a gathered skirt to the bottom. I made the skirt twice as wide as the bodice and about 11″ tall. Everything else is exactly the same as the original Flashback pattern (cuffs, neckband, fit, etc). I’ve made Flashbacks with skirts before (here and here), but as dresses instead of a top.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

This awesome fabric is a Monaluna knit in Groovy Lotus and I love how it has a very Scandinavian-esque vibe, kind of like something you would find in Hanna Andersson. I’ve always loved the feel and modern designs of Monaluna fabrics (owner Jennifer Moore is a friend and so lovely), so I almost can’t believe this was the first time I sewed with one of the knits. Verdict? Nice and soft, nice amount of stretch, yet still very easy to work with. Love that it’s 100% organic, too! So nice that I went out and bought a bunch more from her shop last month when she had a knits sale (hint: get on the shop email list!).

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

And here is my little goofball illustrating her favorite poses:


Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Some serious walk-off fodder here.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

And…cross-eyed. That’s my little lady.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend, everyone!

Jess’ Boatneck Washi Maxi Dress + how to

Washi Boatneck

When I posted my boatneck maxi version of the Washi Dress a while ago, I promised to share the version that Jess made last summer that inspired me to make mine. This fabric is “Sinister Swarm” rayon from Anna Maria Horner’s Field Study collection of a few years back.

Washi Boatneck Maxi

I just love this dress! It’s stunning and flowy and it looks fantastic on Jess. I definitely recommend using rayon if you want to try a boatneck maxi version of Washi because it definitely makes the long skirt drape nicely in addition to being super comfortable to wear.

Washi Boatneck

If you want to make your own, here’s a quick how-to!

How to make a Boatneck Washi

You will need:
1 yard of extra fabric if you’re also making a maxi version (optional!)
swedish tracing paper
clear ruler + pencil
Washi Dress Pattern

First you’ll need to trace a new Front Bodice Piece with the following modifications:

1. Extend the center front (fold) line up 4″ at the top, then square the corner at the top. This corner needs to be 90 degrees so that it doesn’t create a peak or a dip when it’s cut on the fold.

2. Mark the midpoint of the shoulder edge. This will be the new neck edge of your pattern piece. From this point, measure out 2 1/4″ along the top of the shoulder and mark. The new shoulder line will now extend a little past the previous shoulder edge of the pattern.

3. Draw a new armhole and neckline. For the armhole, draw a smooth line that eventually meets up with the original armhole close to the sleeve notch marking. For the neckline, connect the new neckline shoulder point with a curve to meet the center front at a 90 degree angle.

In this photo, the green lines are the original pattern piece tracings, with mods shown in pink.

Washi Dress with boat neck

Next, use the new Front Bodice as a template to modify the top part of the Back Dress, making sure to change the neckline and armhole in the same manner as shown above. You want to make sure front and back match!

Now you’re ready to cut out your pieces and assemble your dress using the Washi Dress instructions.

To make the boatneck into a maxi, follow my Washi Maxi Dress Tutorial to lengthen and slightly widen the Front Skirt and Back Dress.

To add a lining, follow the Washi Dress Bodice Lining Videos for instructions on how to use my “sausage” lining method for this. If you wish to line the entire dress, the Maxi Dress tutorial linked above has notes about how to do that (we lined just the bodice for this dress and my Observer maxi dress.)

Even with the added width in the skirt, I’ve found that leaving side slits from just below the knee down to the hem makes walking a lot easier in such a long Washi Dress. Here’s a great tutorial to make side slits.

Washi Boatneck

I know that’s a ton of details to apply to one pattern modification. Honestly it’s almost entirely a new dress pattern, so I’d really only recommend this if you really feel comfortable hacking patterns and you’ve made the Washi Dress before! Please leave a comment or send me an email if you have any questions or need clarification. And as always, I love to see what you’re making with my patterns. The #washidress tag on Instagram is full of awesome versions of Washi!

Washi Boatneck Maxi

Bamboo Shibori Isla

Shibori Isla Top

Look, a new Isla top for me!

Shibori Isla Top

I bought this bamboo shibori from Fancy Tiger Crafts in the summer when we were churning out Islas in the studio. It’s a 95% bamboo rayon / 5% spandex  jersey that is so flowy and comfortable!! Fancy Tiger still has it in stock (this is navy) as well as a lovely gunmetal color (Shop link here. Full disclosure: FTC has been a sponsor of this blog in the past, also: Jaime and Amber are friends). Hart’s Fabric also has something very similar (maybe even the same?) in a few other colors; I ordered a couple yards of the indigo color from them. The faux-shibori thing is pretty hot right now!

Shibori Isla Top

This fabric was a bit more expensive than your average rayon knit, and the quality definitely shows in person. I’m already impressed with how it feels and how little it has pilled up just during wear. Confirming yet again my theory that paying more for knits is worth it.

Shibori Isla Top

And finally, here’s how I’m wearing my Islas as the weather cools off: under a cardigan. The perfect fall combo.

Shibori Isla

Posted in isla