Tuesday, May 23, 2017

63: Fashions in the Thirties

The Charles Sheeler: Fashion, Photography, and Sculptural Form

Running through July 9, 2017 at the Michener Museum in Doylestown, PA, this show presents photographs and garments from the 1930s. 

This design seems ageless.
Nowhere have I seen a better example of clothing reflecting the age in which the clothing was worn. Although beautifully cut and sewn, this excellently presented clothing brings to mind the drabness and depression of the era.

Oh my! Something needs to go.
This is a black dress, lightened in PhotoShop
to show the detailed sewing.

High style in the 30s!


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2017. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

62: Pricing

How much should one charge? What is one's time worth?
How does one make sure one's business will make a profit? 

Here in this post is pricing information from Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry, now on sale for 20% off  its list price until Saturday, May 20, 2017. 

Use coupon code:  booksale

Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry is an upgrade of Design Room Techniques, the introductory sewing book for the Continuing Professional Education program offered previously at the two universities in Philadelphia that have fashion programs

While the book is on backorder, the other books on my website, The Basics for Drafting & Fitting Pants and Skirts and Six High-End Zipper Sets (which contains the zipper sets presented in Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry), are also on sale for 20% off their list price. 

Before determining the wholesale price one should charge for one's sewn product one should determine how much one needs to make an hour. Use this chart to do that.
Complete this chart to determine how much you need to make an hour.
If you are manufacturing, this is the amount you must add to the expenses
of running your operation in order to meet your personal expenses.

It is very important to remember to pay yourself. It has been estimated that one needs
at least $90,000 to start a clothing manufacturing business. Knowing just how much one
needs out of that money to meet personal expenses, then subtracting that amount from the
start-up funds may be one of the smartest things an entrepreneur can do when
thinking about starting a business.

Below are two charts that show how to determine both the cost of producing a garment, and a third chart that show how to determining the wholesale price of the garment.
Sewing procedures involved in making the garment need to be timed. This chart shows
how to determine the time needed to make a blouse.

(Chart 3-9, page 34, Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry)
The fabric and notions' cost needs to be determined. Years ago some companies tripled
the total cost of materials used in the making of a garment to give the wholesale price.
Now the price is often whatever the market will bear.

(Chart 3-10, page 35, Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry)
Use this chart to determine the wholesale price for the sewn product.

(Chart 3-12, page 37, Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry)

.40x = 28.50
x = 28.5/.4 = $71.20

In the chart above is an example of how to use a company’s percentage markup to determine a garment’s wholesale price. This company’s cost of materials is 40% of the wholesale price.

Determining wholesale prices:
If the company’s mark up (the reciprocal cost) is 60% of the wholesale price, then the cost of materials is 40% of the wholesale price.

For example: let’s say the cost of the materials needed to make a blouse is $28.50, 40 percent of the total wholesale cost. Divide $28.50 by .4 to give the wholesale price of the blouse, $71.20,

To determine the reciprocal price subtract $28.50 from $71.20 to give $42.70, the additional costs involved with manufacturing the blouse and running the business


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2017. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by, and is the exclusive right of
Laurel Hoffmann.

Monday, February 20, 2017

61: Mummers' Costumes

Some had it especially good!
The Mummers’ Parade on New Year’s Day here in Philadelphia is a tradition. Much loved are the string bands who now parade in Manayunk a month or so later, to the great joy of Philadelphians. The Manayunk, located on the banks of the Schuylkill River, is a neighborhood in the northwestern section of the city of Philadelphia.

The weather was unseasonably warm, Saturday, February 20, 2017, and it was the beginning of Presidents’ Weekend, so everyone came out in a festive, holiday mood, many dressed for the occasion. Granted it was a bit early to celebrate madri gras, but nobody cared.

Sixteen string bands participated in the parade.

Pretzels, a Philadelphia tradition, are sold
as we wait for the parade to begin.
Dressed and waiting for the parade to begin.

Here they come!


The bands played old traditions:
Oh Them Golden Slippers, She'll be Coming Around the Mountain,
all to a four-beat march. 

The bands sold beads which help to defray the costs involved with the costumes.
The children loved the beads and all the fun.

Dress and ready!

 One of the banner holders told me that most bands have one person who makes all the band members' costumes. It takes her a full year to do this. Looks to me as though sewing all these costumes would take a year at the very least.
I found this theme unusual. 

This was a very warm day. But New Years was chiller.
What looks like flesh is actually fabric.

The themes are quite versified.


Many families involve younger members of their families,
passing down their participation in the string band of their choice.

Onlookers joined in, often dancing with the leaders of the bands.

Women were well represented
in the bands. Years ago no women
were allowed in the Mummers' parades.


This band has a Chinese dragon theme, 
probably a tribute to Philadelphia's Chinatown.

I thought the band with the best costumes is this one that had a colonial theme, well suited for Philadelphia. 

Rear view of the costumes.

After marching these two members of the
band posed for me. 
That's the end, folks!
Hope you enjoyed this parade as much as I did. 
Bye for now,
published books


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2016. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

60: Winding Bobbins While Sewing

Many sewing machines can wind bobbins as the machine sews. This is done all the time in industry as it saves considerable time. The bobbin usually winds faster than expected.

Here is how it is done.
The spools are placed on the machine as shown in the first picture below. The black thread will be used to sew. The brown thread will be wound on the bobbin.

The machine is threaded with the black thread on the spool on the left.
The bobbin will be wound with the brown thread on the right.

The machine, threaded for sewing and for winding the bobbin.

The picture on the left shows the top of the machine. The thread that will be wound on the bobbin is placed as instruction in the sewing machine's manual, exactly as it would be if the machine were only to wind the bobbin.

The bobbin winding can be ignored as the machine sews because
the machine will stop winding the bobbin when the bobbin is fully wound.

Published books: www.ContemporaryFashionEducation.com 
Phone: 215 884 7065

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2016. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

59: Shira Cuts

Shira is back! Remember Shira? The little doll who designed her Bat Mitzvah dress?

Shira starts to cut her full-length, lined skirt. See Shira cut her skirt live.

She’s at it again! This time she has designed and is making a full-length lined skirt with an invisible zipper set. In this post Shira shows how to correctly cut fabric. 

12-inch shears are used
in industry to cut fabric.
They are slid on the table
as the fabric is cut.

Shira is using 12-inch shears, as done in high-end designing departments. Note that she slides the shears along on the table as she cuts.

Sandwiching difficult fabrics
between tracing paper makes
for accurate cutting.
Note that the pins  are back
from the edges of the pattern.

The lining and the shell’s fabrics have been plied so as to speed the cutting. To ensure accurate cutting the fabric is sandwiched between tracing paper. The tracing paper was first spread out over the table, then first the lining, and then the self-fabric was laid over the tracing paper. Finally the pattern was laid on top. Because the pattern was not cut out, there was no need to lay tracing paper over the underlying plies.

Shira cuts from right-to-left, as done in the industry.
Her fabric is sandwiched between underlying tracing paper
and the pattern which has not been cut.

This diagram shows how one cuts
from right-to-left.
If left-handed, one cuts from
left-to-right, of course.
Left-handed 12-inch shears
are apparently not manufactured.
But I believe one can
buy left 10-inch shears.

If the fabric is off grain, use the instructions in this diagram to straighten it.

Note that Shira is cutting from left-to-right, as done in industry.

Her fabric is on grain. But if the fabric had been off grain she would have had to straighten it.


Bye for now,
published books


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2016. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

58: Fabric Tricks

Shown almost finished is a Christmas present, a dress and bonnet, for a dear friend’s baby girl. 

Above is an almost finished dress and bonnet for a dear friend’s baby girl.

The ensemble was cut and trimmed entirely from
one piece of fabric, shown here.
 One might think two coordinating fabrics and trim were used to make this garment, but that is not the case. The dress, its lining, and its trim were cut from one piece of fabric, shown on the left.

Since most fabrics have no right or wrong side it’s one's choice as to which side is chosen to be the right side. Many fabrics can cut so that one side presents itself as the garment’s principle fabric, and the other side as trim, or as done here, as the lining.

Either side of the fabric could have been considered the right side. If I had wanted to make a very dressy garment the shiny side might have been the better choice to present on the right side of the garment.

The dress and bonnet were made to be worn with the
sweater I had already knitted. Since the sweater had a
matt finish I chose the fabric's matt finish as the side of
the fabric to be the face.
But I was making an outfit for a baby and wanted a dress that would coordinate with the sweater I had already knitted.  So I chose to use the matt side of the fabric for the face (right side).

Since I planned to line the dress I decided that the shiny side would show on the inside of the garment. This meant that I would cut two plies at once. Actually I cut through four plies of the fabric when I cut the side front and back patterns for the dress.

Taping tracing paper to the
front pattern, folding on the
center front line, then tracing
the front pattern onto the
tracing paper ensures that the
finished garment will look

The front dress pattern presented the usual problem. The pattern was only half of the front.

So before I cut the dress I taped tracing paper to the front dress pattern, then folded the taped tracing paper on the center front line over the pattern.  I then traced the front dress pattern so as to have a complete front. This ensured that the dress front and its lining would be cut correctly.

IMPORTANT: This should ALWAYS be done with patterns that are shown in the pattern packets as being cut on the fold. No one in the industry EVER cuts a pattern on the fold. There are just too many things that can, and WILL go wrong if one cuts on the fold.

Note that I also reduced the princess seam to 3/8 inch, the neckline to 1/4 inch, the shoulder seam to 1/2 inch, and added 1/8 inch to the back seam so as to set the zipper into a 3/4 inch seam allowance. There is no point in cutting seams on a 5/8 inch seam allowance and then trimming them back after the seam is sewn. It makes far more sense to mark a new cutting line, being sure to mark the new cutting lines with the use of a ruler for straight seams, and curved drafting tools for curved seams. One then sews the seams, using the gauge on the sewing machine to ensure that the seams are sewn perfectly on gauge.

ALWAYS, before cutting any fabric, mark the direction you plan to cut the garment on the wrong side of the fabric down the selvage, or next to the selvage, with arrows pointing the direction the garment will be cut.  This prevents any possibility of shading in the finished garment.

The just published Six-High-End Zipper Sets
presents how industry's top seamstresses set
beautiful, professional zippers in record time.
The lapped hand-pricked zipper was set first.

Once the garment was cut the next step was to set the zipper, always the first step, or the first possible step when sewing a garment. This took only a few minutes as I used the high-end method industry’s top seamstresses use to set professional zippers, presented in the 100 plus pages of my just published,  Six High-End Zipper Sets. 

Since the teeth marks were 3/8 inch from the inside
edge of the selvage's fringe, I could cut the selvage the
correct width without first marking a cutting line.

The trim was made from the fabric’s selvage. I measured 3/8 inch from the inside of the selvage’s fringe. Since there were teeth marks from the weaving, 3/8 inch from the inside of the selvage’s fringe, all I needed to do was to cut along the teeth marks. I then sewed the selvage’s fringe to the front piece’s princess seams before sewing the side front pieces to the front piece.Finally I sewed the side-front princess seams to the front princess seams, sewing in the previous stitching made when I sewed the trim to the front princess seams.

Purchased trimming roses and hand embroidered stems
were added to give some glamour to the dress.
Note the selvage's fringe in the princess seam, on the left.
The dress seemed a little dull. So I sewed little roses were purchased from Joanne’s Fabrics onto the front of the dress, then embroidered the stems with back stitching.
The shell's hem hangs on the lining, eliminating the need to hand hem.
The garment is encased (clean finished as they say in the industry) preventing the need to overcast the seams.

The hem was easy. I don't care to hand hem, I don't like hand hemming to show, as it most likely would in this fabric. I  prefer not to overcast seam allowances.  I like to produce a high-end garment and to get done as quickly as possible, so encasing the dress with the lining was the perfect solution. I cut the lining 3/4 inch shorter than the shell, allowing the shell’s hem to hang on the lining. The shell's hem is sewn to the lining's hem on a 3/8 inch seam allowance, then pressed open so that the shell's hem seam allowance lies down into the hem and the lining's seam allowance lies up.

Notice that the right armhole and both side seams are not yet sewn. All that is still needed is to wrap the right front armhole across the front of the dress and to wrap the right back armhole across the back of the dress, sew the armhole, and pull the entire dress through the tunnel. Next finish the right side seam, then the right side of the hem, finish most of the left side seam, leaving approximately 4 inches of the left seam open, finish the left side of the hem, and finally hand sew the left side seam’s opening closed.

The entire pull-through process is presented and diagrammed, step-by-step in the last four of the thirty-six chapters in  Design Room Techniques, an encyclopedia of over 400 pages of step-by-step fully-diagrammed high-end sewing information that is available from my website. The book also contains all the zipper sets in Six High-End Zipper Sets.


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2016. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

57: Fabric Jams

Fabric jams in the race!

All is going well. You are sewing easily and quickly, when all of a sudden the fabric jams in the race!


The zigzag plate and foot.

The answer is simple: when one uses a zigzag plate and foot the zigzag plate's wide opening and the open width of the zigzag foot makes it easy for fabric to jam down into the race through the zigzag plate's opening.

What is the solution?

This problem can be quickly solved by changing the sewing machine’s zigzag plate and foot to a straight stitch plate and foot before sewing straight seams..

However, many home sewers prefer not to change the plates and feet on their sewing machines when they sew straight seams. They have found they can sew straight seams with zigzag feet and plates. Changing the foot and plate takes time, and is aggravating. This is the reason many home sewing machines now are sold with just a zigzag plate and foot. Straight-stitch feet and plates may not even be available for many home sewing machines.

The straight-stitch  plate and foot

Where can one buy a
straight-stitch foot and plate? 

The straight-stitch plate has a
small hole that prevents jamming.
Straight-stitch feet and plates can be ordered for some sewing machines. Unfortunately straight stitch plates are not manufactured for many home sewing machines. However, if one uses a straight stitch foot, even if one does NOT use a straight-stitch plate, much of the jamming problem can still be eliminated.

Not the greatest foot to use when straight-stitch sewing. But it will prevent jamming.
Sometimes straight-stitch feet can be bought on E-bay. It is difficult to find a true straight-stitch foot with a 1/4 inch prong. But there are straight-stitch feet now manufactured for quilting that have 1/8 inch prongs.

It is also possible that one might find a straight-stitch foot with a 1/4 inch prong at a yard sale or at a sewing machine dealer.


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2016. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.