*Knitting/Sewing Tips

Over the years I’ve come across some very useful knitting and sewing ideas worth sharing. Here they are:




  • Elastic Inserts Waist of pants too small?
    Here’s how to give increased girth and flexibility at the same time to the waist of pants (or to a fitted skirt)
  • Flat Fly Front (Sandra Betzina) A very simple way of putting in a fly front on pants.
  • Wide Brim Summer Sun Hat I came across a set of instructions for drafting a pattern for a wide-brim sun hat. I gave them a try. The hat turned out surprisingly well. So I’ve provided the original instructions along with the modifications I made.

I’ve been teaching a class on constructing a Jean Jacket (V1036 – Sandra Betzina’s Today’s Fit  – Out of Print Pattern, too bad!). I’ve come across a number of items that are helpful:

  • Armani Jackets: The Inside Story – an article from Threads Magazine deconstructing an Armani Jacket. Lots of useful ideas here for making a jacket. The article has information on sleeve headers, interfacings, …
  • Hidden Zippered Pockets: The Jean Jacket has two shallow outside pockets which aren’t much use for anything but carrying a Kleenex. In  my jackets I’ve inserted hidden zippered pockets between the front facing/side front lining panel which are large, and secure, enough to carry some ID, a credit card, even keys. My instructions are based on Kenneth King’s process described in Cool Couture. I’ve added a zipper to the hidden pocket.
  • Sleeve Header: These are Kenneth King’s instructions for inserting a sleeve header essential for producing a smooth sleeve/shoulder line. The above article on Armani Jackets offers another method.
  • Shoulder Pads: Shoulder Pads shouldn’t be left out – they give a smooth line to the shoulder area of any jacket. The article on the Armani Jacket has some instructions for making your own. There are many different ways of constructing shoulder pads, I’ve been using this version I took from Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Sewing, 1979, pp. 376-277.
  • Hong Kong Seam Finish – In the Jean Jacket the sleeve cuff is on the inside of the sleeve and is used to enclose the sleeve and lining together at the bottom of the sleeve. In order to get a nice finish on the inner edge of the cuff I used a Hong Kong Seam Finish – a bound edge that is very easy to hem to the lining so that edge barely shows. I used the lining fabric to create the Hong Kong Seam Finish.

Here are more useful links for sewing techniques used in constructing a jacket:

Sewing Curves

Top Stitching

Richard The Thread (this is the only source I could find for ice wool/woven lambswool for sleeve headers – by far the best material for this job – expensive, but it shapes wonderfully well and a yard will last 30 years!)

Finishing Textile Art:

  • Adding Borders and Piping – I usually finish a textile art piece with a narrow inner border, a narrow piping, and a wider outer border/frame. Here are the instructions I handed out to a class recently describing how I do this: https://jmn111.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/creating-borders.pdf
  • Adding Borders and Piping II – This second version of the process is a recent adaptation for the adding of borders and piping to a textile panel. I think I prefer it, because there seems to be less tightening of the panel itself as a result of the sewing:
  • Pillowcase Turn – Sometimes I finish a piece with what’s called a “pillowcase turn” – laying the backing right sides together on the front of the textile art, sewing a 1/4″ seam around three sides and including the corners of the fourth side leaving an opening so I can turn the whole thing inside out, press, then hand stitch the opening closed. Here are Susan Brubacker Knapp’s instructions for doing this: https://jmn111.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/pillowcaseturn.pdf
  • Hidden or Knife Edge Binding – This is a binding applied only on the back of the quilt and the open edge hand stitched in place. Here are instructions I found online from “Bloomin’ Workshop”: https://jmn111.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/knife-edge-binding.pdf
  • My Instructions for a Hidden Binding for a Watercolour Panel – My method for doing a hidden binding are slightly different:

Zippered Bags:

I make zippered bags two ways – one using zipper tape which gives a very nice finish to the bag. I also make bags using zippers.

I prefer using zipper tape because it simplifies the process.

I purchase my zipper tape from The Zipper Lady who sells the tape by the yard in a gazillion colours – she also sells zipper pulls.

She has video demonstrating how to put the slides onto the tape.

Here’s another set of instructions for making embroidered zippered bags.

Further instructions for sewing zippered bags.

Seat Belt Covers:

I’ve made ~40 pairs of seat belt covers this fall – women drivers find them useful, particularly short women! The soft padded moveable cover prevents the seat belt cutting your neck when wearing t-Shirts and other low neck garments.

Here’s a link to a blog post where I describe how I made them:

Quilting In The Hoop:

I do all my own quilting using my embroidery machine to quilt blocks individually, as well as quilting edge-to-edge when a quilt calls for it. Quilting blocks is relatively straightforward. Edge-to-edge quilting in the hoop is a bit more complicated because it often requires some precise calculating and nesting of the design.

The instructions I’m sharing are for quilting blocks. Sometime, I may get around to preparing instructions for edge-to-edge quilting in the hoop.

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