Sunday, June 30, 2013


Here are more fashions from the Pakistani wedding, featured in Post 7- Pakistani wedding-clothing.html.


The bride’s hands were painted with henna for the wedding ceremony.
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia online:

The name henna also refers to the dye prepared from the plant and the art of temporary tattooing based on those dyes. Henna has been used since antiquity to dye skin, hair, and fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool, and leather. The name is used in other skin and hair dyes, such as black henna and neutral henna, neither of which are derived from the henna plant.[3][4]

Historically, henna was used for cosmetic purposes in the Roman Empire, Convivencia-period Iberia and Ancient Egypt, as well as other parts of North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Near East and South Asia. It was also popular among women in 19th century Europe. Today, bridal henna nights remain an important tradition in many of these areas.


The book I bought to experiment with henna is The Art of Henna, by Pamela Nichols. It gives step-by-step instructions on how to apply the dye, which, within a reasonable time disappears.

The Bride's Wedding Dresses 



The bride also wore the traditional white gown to symbolize the couple's new life here in the USA.  The gray-maroon dress on the right is included in this post, even though it wasn't worn, as it is a Moroccan wedding dress now out of style.

To see the belly dancer's costume please visit my business Facebook page where I've posted the video I took of her dancing at the reception. Please excuse that the video is sideways. It enabled a closer view.

This has been a fun post to put up.
But I have to go now,
Laurel published books
 P:215 884 7065, F:215 884 3727, C:610 908 7222

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Many people are aware that the industry sews without pinning. It's true, a considerable amount of sewing can be done on gauge without pinning. In fact, pinning where it isn’t needed, can distort the sewing and waste a lot of time. Sewing without pinning is especially effective when sewing long straight, or gently curved seams. Once learned this is a very fast way to achieve beautiful, precision sewing.

Here are the secrets to successful sewing without pinning:

1.  The pattern must fit before the fashion fabric is cut.
2.  The pattern’s seam allowances need to be modified so no trimming is needed after the seam is sewn. (See Post 18 REDUCING SEAM ALLOWANCES)
3. The fabric must be cut correctly.
4.  Notches must be cut, with just a snip of the shears, no deeper than 1/8 inch to help with controlling the seam as it is sewn.
To see video please visit
In this video Shira shows how to sew edge-to-edge, notch-to-notch, the way seams are sewn in industry.  Notice that Shira stops in the midst of sewing the seam, adjusts the top ply, makes sure the top notch lies directly over the bottom notch, before finishing the seam.  
Shira is making sure the edge of the seam allowance is running along the gauge on the machine. This is extremely important as sewing on gauge ensures that the garment will fit correctly.
Shira is wasting no time with pinning or removing pins.

Correctly sewn the top ply at either end of the seam is not even 1/16 inch shorter or longer than the bottom ply. The top long edge of the seam lies edge-to-edge to the long edge of the bottom ply. The seam allowance measures the exact amount drafted on the pattern.
In industry pattern makers check the seam allowances on the sample garments with transparent rulers to make sure the seams have been sewn on perfect gauge.  This is extremely important as it ensures that the garment will fit.

Essential to successful sewing is the gauge. Using a gauge eliminates the need to mark sewing lines on the fabric. If the sewing machine does not have a gauge, one can be put on the machine. Cut a small piece of masking tape. Tape it to the machine as shown in the diagram on the left.  Measure and mark the gauges from the sewing machine's needle.
Also extremely useful is the straight stitch foot and plate. Their use prevents the fabric from jamming down in the race (the race encases the bobbin and bobbin case). Unfortunately straight stitch plates are no longer manufactured for many home sewing machines.  However, using just the straight stitch foot will help to prevent the fabric from jamming in the race. The plate shown in the diagram is from my 260 Pfaff. Plates vary in shape, depending on the machine.  If you have an older machine you may be able to purchase a straight stitch plate. It is worth the money. Straight stitch feet can be purchased on line below.

The zigzag plate is standard on today’s home sewing machines. The zigzag foot is excellent for finishing many seam allowances, especially if a very small width is used – as is done in France.  Unfortunately the zigzag foot and its plate have become the standard foot and plate used in home sewing here in the USA. That’s not the case in industry where precision sewing is essential.  In industry the straight stitch foot and plate are standard.
Straight stitch feet and others can be purchased from If you decide to order, please enter the brand and model number of the machine you are purchasing the foot for.

This is the Straight Stitch Foot 45321 - old style Singer  

pd60-45321 $8.99

Here are two other feet you might consider purchasing that I find essential when sewing.
I love the adjustable zipper foot. Set to the left of the needle it sets zippers; set to the right it makes cording. It should be used with a straight stitch plate.




I use the buttonhole foot when I make buttonholes.  This foot is used with the zigzag plate.
More later,
Link for Laurel's books on Amazon
P:215 884 7065, F:215 884 3727, C:610 908 7222


Thursday, June 20, 2013


Here are some of the high-end cutting procedures used in industrial couture
See the video of Shira, my young protégé, cutting with 12-inch shears
About notches

Because the industry sews the seams edge-to-edge, notch-to-notch, marking and cutting notches correctly is extremely important. Notches should be marked with just a straight line in the center of the triangle on home sewing patterns. Cut notches no deeper than 1/8 inch.


NEVER cut fabric on the fold for these reasons:


Unless the fold of the pattern is perfectly aligned with the fabric’s fold, the cut fabric piece will have lost or gained a triangular wedge down its center, distorting the entire piece. Cutting on the fold can increase the width of the fabric piece at the fold by 1/8 inch or more, depending on the thickness of the fabric.
If the underlying ply of fabric is off-grain the piece cut from it will be off-grain.
Most layouts on the open produce tighter layouts than they would on the fold. This saves fabric and money.

Patterns are laid one direction

To ensure that there will be no shading in the finished garment one side of the fabric is chosen to be the face. The direction the fabric will hang is also determined. To make sure all pieces will be cut the same direction arrows are sometimes chalk marked on the selvage on the wrong side of the fabric.

Difficult fabrics are often cut between two plies of tracing paper

Students often ask, But won’t cutting through paper dull the sheers? The answer is, Of course! But what did you buy them for? Shears can be sharpened. What matters is that you produce beautiful clothes.

In this photo embroidered silk has been laid over tracing paper. A scarf pattern that has not been cut has been laid over the embroidered silk. The patterns for a picture hat will be laid on the remaining fabric. When the hat patterns were added this proved to be a very tight layout. As long as the patterns do not overlap, a layout is not too tight.
Careful cutting yielded not only the scarf and hat, but also the hat’s trim.


The garment pieces are cut from right-to-left if right-handed, left-to-right if left-handed

Block out (industrial jargon meaning to cut around the garment piece so it can be separated from the rest of the layout) one of the pieces, then turn the block as you cut so that you continually cut from right–to-left. Slide the shears on the table as you cut. This gives momentum and speeds the cutting.

 See the video of Shira, my young protégé, cutting with 12-inch shears

Design room personnel use 12-inch shears
Contact  if you should decide to buy a pair. Please let her know you found her through this blog. Consider also buying a pair of little snips, used throughout the industry to snip threads.


 More later,

Monday, June 17, 2013


Recently Laura Nash questioned the perceived value of a PDF pattern vs a printed pattern on The American Sewing Guild's LinkedIn site.

Here is a new comment that has just been posted  on the website.
Note that Celeste states at the end of her comment that For a dress this does not seem to be a good idea, much too large.

There is also the flip side to that argument. I just worked with my friend who put out a book on embellishing fleece. She included patterns for many of the items in the book. After going back and forth it was decided that offering the patterns on a CD in the book was much more cost effective for both her and the customer. The customer only has to print out the pieces they want. They don't have to pay for all the paper that would have the other patterns.
When designing the pattern pieces she included symbols to match up so the pieces were the proper size. There is the possibility that you have an older printer that doesn't print properly but that usually is not a problem. I would rather print out my pattern and tape together than trace out the correct one from multi-size pattern. Easier to make mistakes there.
There is the technology to have patterns printed to your size which I have tried. It is costly and I still had to make alterations for it to fit me properly.
I have found that most of the items using PDF files for printing are for smaller items, such as purses, hats, etc. For a dress this does not seem to be a good idea, much too large.
By Celeste Breen

Here are the three comments that were posted about this issue...

This is the comment I posted:

1. Since the PDF would need to be printed, and most people using the PDF would be using a printer that prints 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper, the entire pattern would need to be taped together. This is a recipe for disaster as lining up the edges of the sheets of paper, unless done with extreme care, could easily throw the pattern's grain, seam alignments and fit way off.

2. If the grade-rule measurements used to develop the pattern are very similar to the basic grade-rule measurements used to develop the big four pattern companies: McCalls, Butterick, Vogue, and Simplicity, then the fit corrections needed to correct a PDF should be very similar to those needed to correct the big four companies. However, if the pattern maker is using a different grade-rule entirely, one could find the PDF requires extensive pattern work that is quite different than usually needed.

Laura NashLaurel, I do believe that there is a big risk with quality when printing and taping a PDF. It seems to be a very popular option though, and I continue to wonder why. Thanks for your thoughts.

Theresa Metevia-KrentI agree with Laura. Printers can distort dimensions and then your pattern will be a bit off. If pieces are then taped together a bit inaccurately you introduce yet another distortion. Depending on how many pieces you need to put together, the difference between what the pattern is supposed to be, and what you end up with, could be quite significant. It would depend on how important accuracy is in what you are making. In the world of mechanical engineering it is called tolerance build up. I personally feel like this is one more way industry is trying to boost their own profits by offloading more work to the customer, which will ultimately cost the customer much more in time (to assemble the pattern) and material (paper & ink). Not fair, in my opinion. With the technology available today, what the pattern companies should be doing is using our measurements to create a custom fit full size patterns on tissue paper which they mail to us once printed. That is something I would pay more for because I would know it has a better chance of fitting me accurately than some splice job I do with my home printer. And I don't have to waste my time being frustrated. I can get down to doing what I enjoy which is sewing.

Link for Laurel's books on Amazon
P:215 884 7065, F:215 884 3727, C:610 908 7222

Thursday, June 13, 2013


This post presents how to modify seam allowances.
Modified seam allowances are used in high-end designing departments and throughout the industry.


Marking patterns with varying seam allowances ensures faster, more accurate sewing, saves fabric, time, and effort, giving more professional results.  Cathy, Contemporary Fashion Education student demonstrates by modeling a blouse she made using these procedures. Cutting and sewing on the traditional 5/8 inch seam allowance, then trimming the seams after sewing means cutting the garment twice.

In the diagrams below are some suggested seam allowances:

At the end of this post is a list of preferred seam allowances used in industry
If one traces the patterns as the seams are modified then the original printed pattern is left intact and can be easily referenced. Tracing paper, available at any art supply store, works really well. I buy the 50 yard 36 inch wide yellow canary. White is too opaque.
Tape the pattern to the work surface. Lay a sheet of tracing paper over the pattern. Tape the tracing paper to the work surface. Then trace the straight and cross-grain from the underlying pattern to ensure the tracing paper can be easily put back in place over the printed pattern if that should need to be done later.
Use a transparent ruler to mark the modified seam allowances. marking very short sections of the cutting line.

To reduce 5/8 inch seam allowances:
For a 1/4 inch seam allowance, remove 3/8 inch.
For a 3/8 inch seam allowance, remove 1/4 inch.
For a 1/2 inch seam allowance, remove 1/8 inch.
To increase 5/8 inch seam allowances:
For a 3/4 inch seam allowance, add 1/8 inch.

Curved seams that have stress, such as princess seams MUST have a seam allowance of 3/8 inch. Curved seams that do NOT have stress such as collars are usually given a seam allowance of 1/4 inch, but if the fabric frays easily use a 3/8 inch seam allowance.
Collars are given a 1/4 inch seam allowance on all seams.

Waistbands are usually given a 3/8 inch seam allowance on the waistband at the waist  A waistband must always have at least a 3/8 inch seam allowance at the waist as a 1/4 inch seam allowance is not strong enough to support the skirt. Other seams in the waistband usually are given a 1/4 inch seam allowance, but may have a 3/8 inch seam allowance.

SEAM ALLOWANCES used in the industry
 1/8 inch  Placket set’s lapel edge in knits. 
1/4 inch  Used in curved and/or difficult areas with no stress such as collars, neck, sleeveless armholes, cuffs, lapels and center front openings. 
3/8 inch   Used in curved and/or difficult areas with stress such as armholes with sleeves, sleeve caps, cuffs at the sleeve edge when finishing by sewing in the crack, waistbands at the waist, crotch curves, side seams in knits, some silky fabrics, invisible zipper sets in knits, and garments sewn on overlocks/overedgers. Some manufactured men’s suits have a 3/8 inch seam allowance on all seams. The industry uses a 3/8 inch seam allowance on fake fur, which is sewn on a mock-safety stitch. 
1/2 inch  Shoulder and side seams. Armholes that will be finished with serging. 
5/8 inch  Occasionally used in seams and zipper seams.  
3/4 inch  Zipper seams. Better garments’ side seams to allow for possible alterations. 
1 inch  Hems in budget and moderately priced garments. 
2 inches  Hems in better women’s garments. 
2 1/2 inches  Hems in better men’s pants. 
Seams that sew to each other almost always have the same seam allowance.

More later,

Laurel published books

Saturday, June 8, 2013


What are women who sew making? Here are a few answers.
This post features members of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the American Sewing Guild modeling clothes at their annual fashion show.





Hope you enjoyed the show. I’ve chosen the best of the pictures I took. There were many more impressive outfits. This is a very creative membership.
Bye for now,