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Tools for Teaching

Helpful tools and techniques that can be read online or printed in pdf form to assist in teaching.

  • Basic Sewing Machine Parts

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    Basic Parts of a Sewing Machine



    While all sewing machines have the same basic parts, it is a good idea to refer to the manual for your specific machine to see where each part is located and what it looks like.

    1. Hand Wheel - Used to manually raise and lower the needle

    2. Stitch Selector – Turn this dial to select the desired stitch

    3. Bobbin Winder – Used to wind the bobbin

    4. Tension Dial - Adjusts the tension of the stitches

    5. Take up lever/thread guide – The take-up lever is located behind the thread guide on this machine. The take up lever, moves the thread up and down as it feeds through the sewing machine.

    6. Reverse Lever – Allows for reverse stitching to lock stitches at beginning and end of seams

    7. Presser Foot Lifter – Lifts the presser foot up and down

    8. Needle – Needles come in various sizes, according to fabric weight

    9. Presser Foot – The presser foot holds the fabric in place against the feed dogs. The feed dog is directly under the presser foot it has little "teeth" that grab the fabric and move it through the sewing machine.

    10. Throat Plate – The throat plate has various lines on it marking seam widths. Align fabric with the desired seam width to keep the seams straight.

  • Sewing Equipment

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    Sewing Equipment

    Straight Pins: Used to secure the pattern pieces to the fabric for cutting and to hold fabric pieces together for sewing.

    Pin Cushion: Small cushion used for storing pins.

    Scissors and Shears: Scissors are 6" or shorter and shears are 6 1/2" or longer. Scissors come in a variety of sizes and are generally used for trimming seams and smaller areas. Shears have larger, often bent, handles and longer blades to make it easier to cut through layers of fabric.

    Ruler or Yardstick: Used to measure fabric, hems, etc. Rulers are usually 6" – 12" and a yardstick measures 1 yard or 36".

    Cloth/Soft Tape Measure: A flexible measuring tool, generally 60" in length. Used for measuring around the body.

    Hem Gauge: A 6" metal ruler with a sliding guide used for accurately marking hems, tuck, pleats, buttonholes.

    Seam Ripper: Small sharp hand-held sewing tool used to rip out basting stitches and sewing mistakes.

    Fabric Marking Pens & Chalk: Used to transfer important pattern markings to the fabric.

    Sewing Machine Needles: Needles that are used only in sewing machines. A variety of sizes and types are available for different techniques and fabrics.

    Hand Sewing Needles: Needles that are used when sewing by hand. A variety of sizes and styles are available for different sewing needs.

    Needle Threader: Used for easily inserting the thread through the eye of a needle. It has a small "handle" (usually metal or plasic) with a thin wire attached to it.

    Thimble: A small cap that slips over your finger. It is used to help push the needle through fabric while hand sewing.

  • Fabric Facts

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    Fabric Facts

    Fabric is sold by the yard and is displayed on bolts or tubes. Bolts of fabric are folded with the selvedges together and wrapped around a cardboard rectangle or bolt. Tubes of fabrics are a continuous single layer of fabric wrapped around a tube.

    Look at the end of the bolt, or on a hangtag on the tube for important information about the fabric. Fabric width, fiber content, care instructions, manufacturer and price per yard will all be found here.

    Fabric Terms:

    Selvedge – the finished edges of the fabric.

    Cut edge – the edges of the fabric where the fabric has been cut from the bolt.

    Lengthwise grain – Threads running lengthwise along the length of the fabric parallel to the selvedge.

    Crosswise grain – Threads running across the fabric from selvedge to selvedge.

    Bias – 45 degree angle from the cut edge to the selvedge. The fabric easily stretches along the bias.

    Fold – the folded edge of the fabric opposite the selvedge.

    Right side of print fabric – the printed sided of the fabric that will be the outside of your garment.

    Wrong side of print fabric – the back of printed fabric that will be on the inside of your garment.

    Right and Wrong side of solid fabric – There are small pinholes along the selvedge of the fabric. The holes will be pushed out or create a rough edge along the right side of the fabric and will be pushed in or smooth along the wrong side of the fabric.

  • Glossary of Terms

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    Glossary of Terms

    Bias - Any diagonal direction. Fabrics stretch in the bias direction.

    Bias Tape - A finishing trim that is made from fabric strips cut along the bias grain. Because fabric cut on this grain has a great deal of stretch, the tape fits smoothly around curves without adding unnecessary bulk.

    Single-fold bias tape - Actually has two folds – one running along each long edge of the tape. When single-fold bias tape is used to finish neckline or armhole edges, it is stitched to the garment edge with right sides together, and then it is turned to the inside of the garment and stitched again. The tape never shows on the outside of the garment.



    Double-fold bias tape – Single fold tape with an additional lengthwise fold. This fold is slightly off center, making one side just a little bit wider than the other. It's used to encase raw edges, creating a decorative finish that is visible on both the inside and outside of the project.



    Box pleats - A pleat style featuring two straight fabric folds facing in opposite directions.



    Double Stitched Seam - The seam is stitched and finished all in one step: Stitch a plain seam; stitch again, 1/8" away, within the seam allowance using a straight or zigzag stitch. Trim close to the second row of stitching; press seam flat to set the edges. Often used on sheer fabrics.

    Edge stitching - An extra row of stitching that appears on the very edge of a garment, usually 1/8" or less from a seam line, fold line or finished edge. Thread color always matches the fabric color.

    French Seam - A narrow finished seam with a couture look, where the raw edges are completely encased inside the seam allowances: With wrong sides together, stitch a 3/8" seam; trim the seam allowances to a scant 1/8" and press open. Fold the fabrics right sides together along the stitching line and press. Stitch ¼" away from the fold; press seam allowance flat, then to one side. Often used on sheer fabrics.

    Gathers - A fashion detail that provides fullness in garment areas such as the waistline, the cuff of a full sleeve, or a sleeve cap. Also used to create ruffles, such as those found on decorative pillows.

    Inverted pleat - A pleat style featuring two straight fabric folds that face each other, forming a pleat underlay. Often used at the center front or center back of a garment.



    Knife pleats - A pleat style featuring fabric folds all facing the same direction. Also called straight pleats.

    Pleats - Fabric folds that control fullness in a garment. Variations include box, inverted and knife pleats.

    Self-Fringe - A trim created, usually on loosely woven fabrics, by pulling out the crosswise yarns along the edge of a garment so that the remaining lengthwise yarns create a fringe effect. Once the desired amount of fringe is created, a line of stitching just above it secures the fringe form additional unwanted raveling.

    Topstitching - An extra row of stitching on the outside of a garment along or near a finished edge, usually as a decorative effect, but sometimes functional as well, such as on a patch pocket or pleat. Can be done in matching or contrast thread.

    True Bias - The diagonal edge formed when a fabric is folded so that the lengthwise and crosswise grains are aligned. True bias occurs at a 45-degree angle, and woven fabrics have the greatest amount of stretch along the true bias.



    Underlining - A layer of fabric that is sewn as one with the fashion fabric, wrong sides together. Underlining serves as a buffer between the fashion fabric and inner details like interfacing, zippers and more that are stitched to the underlining rather than the fashion fabric.

    "With Nap" - Refers to a fabric that has a texture or design that must run in one direction on the finished garment. Fabrics with a nap can look different depending on which way you hold them, though sometimes the difference might be a very subtle variation in color. Examples of "with nap" fabrics include velvet and corduroy, satin, knit fabrics and toile designs.

    "Without Nap" - Refers to fabrics that do not have a particular one-way texture or design. If you are unsure whether your fabric has a nap, use the "with nap" layout.

  • Trims and Tapes Glossary

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    Trims and Tapes Glossary

    Single Fold Bias Tape

    How it's Made: Fabric is cut on the bias grain (45 degree angle) into strips. Raw edges are folded under lengthwise on either side of the strip.

    Width: 1/2" finished

    Uses:

      • Single fold bias tape is often used to finish armholes and necklines, as an alternative to flat facings. This type of facing works well on children's apparel, since construction is fast and easy. Bias tape launders well, as an added bonus.

      • Lightweight and easy to apply, single fold bias tape is ideal for creating casings. The tape is applied to the wrong side of the garment and stitched in place, forming a channel for narrow elastic and drawstrings.

      • Add single fold bias tape to the outside of a garment as an accent or trim.

    How to Apply:
      • When used as a facing, open one edge of the tape and apply to armhole or neck edge with right sides together. Stitch in a 3/8" seam. Press seam open, then turn the tape to the inside of the garment, encasing the seam allowances. Stitch close to the remaining folded edge, through all thicknesses, to permanently secure the facing.

      • When used as a casing, place the tape along the line indicated on the pattern for the casing. Stitch close to each folded edge to secure.

      • When used as trim, place on the right side of the garment as desired and pin in place. Stitch close to each folded edge to secure.



    Double Fold Bias Tape

    How it's Made: Fabric is cut on the bias grain (45 degree angle) into strips. Raw edges are folded under lengthwise on either side of the strip. The strip is then folded lengthwise, just slightly off center.

    Width: 1/4" finished

    Uses:

      • Binding for seam edges and hems – the double fold of the tape encases the raw edge for a clean, tailored finish.

      • Narrow double fold bias tape is a great alternative to cording or ribbon for tie ends and drawstrings.

    How to Apply:

      • You will notice that double fold bias tape is folded just off-center. When using it as a binding, be sure to wrap the tape around the edge to be bound, being sure that the raw edge touched the center fold and the slightly wider half of the tape is on the wrong side of the fabric. Stitch close to the edge of the tape on the right side, sewing through all thicknesses. Having the slightly wider half of the tape on the wrong side ensures that it is caught in the stitching.

      • When using double fold bias tape in place of cord or ribbon, stitch the open long edge of the tape closed, stitching close to the edge.



    Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape

    How it's Made: Fabric is cut on the bias grain (45 degree angle) into strips. Raw edges are folded under lengthwise on either side of the strip. The strip is then folded lengthwise, just slightly off center.

    Width: 1/2" finished

    Uses:

      • Binding for seam edges and hems – the double fold of the tape encases the raw edge for a clean, tailored finish.

      • Double fold bias tape is a great alternative to cording or ribbon for wider tie ends and drawstrings.

    How to Apply:

      • You will notice that double fold bias tape is folded just off-center. When using it as a binding, be sure to wrap the tape around the edge to be bound, being sure that the raw edge touched the center fold and the slightly wider half of the tape is on the wrong side of the fabric. Stitch close to the edge of the tape on the right side, sewing through all thicknesses. Having the slightly wider half of the tape on the wrong side ensures that it is caught in the stitching.

      • When using double fold bias tape in place of cord or ribbon, stitch the open long edge of the tape closed, stitching close to the edge.



    Wide Single Fold Bias Tape

    How it's Made: Fabric is cut on the bias grain (45 degree angle) into strips. Raw edges are folded under lengthwise on either side of the strip.

    Width: 7/8" finished

    Uses:

      • Single fold bias tape is often used to finish armholes and necklines, as an alternative to flat facings. This type of facing works well on children's apparel, since construction is fast and easy. Bias tape launders well, as an added bonus.

      • Lightweight and easy to apply, single fold bias tape is ideal for creating casings. The tape is applied to the wrong side of the garment and stitched in place, forming a channel for elastic and drawstrings.

      • Add single fold bias tape to the outside of a garment as an accent or trim.

    How to Apply:

      • When used as a facing, press tape completely open; fold in half lengthwise and then press. Apply to armhole or neck edge with right sides together. Stitch in a 3/8" seam. Press seam open, then turn the tape to the inside of the garment, encasing the seam allowances. Stitch close to the remaining folded edge, through all thicknesses, to permanently secure the facing.

      • When used as a casing, place the tape along the line indicated on the pattern for the casing. Stitch close to each folded edge to secure.

      • When used as trim, place on the right side of the garment as desired and pin in place. Stitch close to each folded edge to secure.



    Double Fold Quilt Binding

    How it's Made: Fabric is cut on the bias grain (45 degree angle) into strips. Raw edges are folded under lengthwise on either side of the strip. The strip is then folded lengthwise, just slightly off center.

    Width: 7/8" finished

    Uses:

      • Binding for quilts, blankets and heavy fabrics – the double fold of the tape encases the raw edge for a clean finish.

      • Double fold bias tape is a great alternative to cording or ribbon for wide tie ends and drawstrings.

    How to Apply:

      • You will notice that like double fold bias tape, quilt binding is folded just off-center. When using it as a binding, be sure to wrap the tape around the edge to be bound, being sure that the raw edge touched the center fold and the slightly wider half of the tape is on the wrong side of the fabric. Stitch close to the edge of the tape on the right side, sewing through all thicknesses. Having the slightly wider half of the tape on the wrong side ensures that it is caught in the stitching.

      • Miter corners to maintain a sharp angle when binding quilts and blankets. To form the miter, make a diagonal fold in both sides of the binding at the corner, tuck the folds to the inside and slip stitch the resulting opening at the corner to close.

      • When using quilt binding in place of cord or ribbon, stitch the open long edge of the tape closed, stitching close to the edge.



    Hem Facing

    How it's Made: Fabric is cut on the bias grain (45 degree angle) into strips. Raw edges are folded under lengthwise on either end of the strip.

    Width: 1-7/8" finished

    Uses:

      • To finish a hem, especially useful for a curved hem

      • Lightweight and easy to apply hem facing is also used for creating casings. The tape is applied to the wrong side of the garment and stitched in place, forming a channel for elastic and drawstrings.

    How to Apply:

      • Press open one edge of the tape. Apply tape to hem with right sides together and stitch in a 3/8" seam. Press seam open, then turn tape to the inside, encasing the seam allowances. Slip stitch or machine stitch hem tape to inside of garment, stitching close to the remaining folded edge of the tape.

      • When used as a casing, place the tape along the line indicated on the pattern for the casing. Stitch close to each folded edge to secure.



    Maxi Piping

    How it's Made: Fabric is cut on the bias grain (45 degree angle) into strips. Strips are then wrapped around cotton cording and stitched closed, close to the cording.

    Width: 1/8" wide with 3/8" lip

    Uses:

      • Encased in seams as an accent.

      • Applied along the edge of a garment, such as a skirt hem, to provide a decorative finish.

    How to Apply:

      • When inserting piping, place the piping on the right side of the fabric, placing it along the seam line so that the cord of the piping is on the inside (toward the garment) and the lip is on the outside (toward the seam allowance). Be sure that the edge of the lip is 1/4" away from the edge of the seam allowance. Baste in place. Pin the garment sections with right sides together; the piping will be in between the fabric layers. Using a zipper foot, stitch in a 5/8" seam, stitching as closely as possible to the cord of the piping. When the garment is right side out, only the corded part of the piping will show.

      • When applying piping to the edge of a hem, turn up hem allowance as directed and press. Place the piping along the wrong side of the garment, with the cord portion running along the folded edge. Using a zipper foot, edge-stitch the piping to the hem, stitching through all thicknesses. Trim any excess hem allowance to the width of the lip. Slip stitch the lip in place for a neat finish.



    Blanket Binding

    How it's Made: 100% polyester woven edge satin strips are folded in half. Strips are straight weave, not on the bias grain.

    Width: 1-1/2" to 2" finished

    Uses:

      • Binding for blankets– the fold of the satin strip encases the raw edge for a clean finish.

    How to Apply:

      • Slip over raw edge of the blanket, being sure that the raw edge touches the fold. Extend 1" beyond the blanket. Stitch close to woven edge, sewing through all thicknesses. Stitch again 1/4" from first row of stitching. Fold in ends and hand tack in place.



    Soft & Easy Hem Tape

    How it's Made: 100% polyester woven edge fabric strips include sewing guidelines woven in.
    Width: 1/2" finished
    Uses:

      • Seam stay and reinforcement strips.

      • Hem finish – hem tape helps blend the gap between one layer of fabric and two layers (second layer is formed by folding up the hem allowance). When pressing the finished hem, this eliminates unsightly ridges on the outside.

    How to Apply:

      • When using hem tape to reinforce a seam, center the tape over the seam line. Stitch the seam as directed, stitching through the tape as well. The tape will help stabilize the seam, especially on shoulder seams of knit tops.

      • When using hem tape to finish a hem, lap the wrong side of the tape 1/2" over the right side of the raw edge of the hem. Edge stitch tape to fabric. Turn up hem as directed. Hem stitch free edge to inside of the garment.



    Iron On Hem Tape

    How it's Made: 100% polyester woven edge fabric strips include two rows of adhesive on the wrong side of the tape.

    Width: 1/2" finished

    Uses:

      • Hem finish – hem tape helps blend the gap between one layer of fabric and two layers (second layer is formed by folding up the hem allowance). When pressing the finished hem, this eliminates unsightly ridges on the outside.

    How to Apply:

      • When using hem tape to finish a hem, lap the wrong side of the tape 1/2" over the right side of the raw edge of the hem, with adhesive side down. Iron with firm pressure for 10 seconds (wool setting, with steam) to activate the adhesive and bond the tape to the fabric. Turn up hem as directed. Hem stitch free edge to inside of the garment.

     

    Flexi-Lace Hem Tape

    How it's Made: 100% nylon decorative lace hem finish, suitable for all fabrics.

    Width: 3/4" finished

    Uses:

      • Hem finish – hem tape helps blend the gap between one layer of fabric and two layers (second layer is formed by folding up the hem allowance). When pressing the finished hem, this eliminates unsightly ridges on the outside. Especially great for lightweight fabrics that drape.

      • Decorative accents.

    How to Apply:

      • When using lace hem tape to finish a hem, lap the wrong side of the tape 1/4" over the right side of the raw edge of the hem. Edge stitch lace hem tape to fabric. Turn up hem as directed. Hem stitch free edge to inside of the garment.

      • Use lace as a decorative accent by edge stitching along both sides of lace hem tape as desired on the outside of the garment.

    Flexi-Lace Hem Facing

    How it's Made: 100% nylon decorative lace hem finish, suitable for all fabrics.

    Width: 1-3/4" finished

    Uses:

      • Hem finish – hem tape helps blend the gap between one layer of fabric and two layers (second layer is formed by folding up the hem allowance). When pressing the finished hem, this eliminates unsightly ridges on the outside. Especially great for lightweight fabrics that drape.

      • Decorative accents.

    How to Apply:

      • When using lace hem tape to finish a hem, lap the wrong side of the tape 1/4" over the right side of the raw edge of the hem. Edge stitch lace hem tape to fabric. Turn up hem as directed. Hem stitch free edge to inside of the garment.

      • Use lace as a decorative accent by edge stitching along both sides of lace hem tape as desired on the outside of the garment.



    Soutache Braid

    How it's Made: rayon narrow rounded braid has a sewing ditch running up the center of the braid.

    Width: 3/32" finished

    Uses:

      • Accent trim and scroll motifs.

      • Tie ends, drawstrings and lacing.

      • Button loops.

    How to Apply:

      • For accent trim and scroll motifs, place soutache braid as desired and pin in place. You can also use a light fabric spray adhesive to hold the braid in place as you sew. Machine stitch braid to garment, stitching through the center ditch.

      • Thread braid through casings and grommets for drawstrings or lacings. Apply as directed in pattern when using as tie ends.

      • Cut small pieces of soutache to form individual button loops. Follow pattern instructions for correct cutting and placement.



    Middy Braid

    How it' Made: rayon narrow flat braid.

    Width: 1/8" finished

    Uses:

      • Accent trim.

      • Tie ends, drawstrings and lacing.

      • Button loops.

    How to Apply:

      • For accent trim, place soutache braid as desired and pin in place. You can also use a light fabric spray adhesive to hold the braid in place as you sew. Hand tack in place, or machine stitch to garment, stitching through the center.

      • Thread braid through casings and grommets for drawstrings or lacings. Apply as directed in pattern when using as tie ends.

      • Cut small pieces of middy braid to form individual button loops. Follow pattern instructions for correct cutting and placement.



    Twill Tape

    How it's Made: cotton or polyester is woven with a distinct diagonal rib, for exceptional strength.

    Width: 1/4" – 2"

    Uses:

      • Seam stay and reinforcement strips.

      • Seam finishing – use twill tape to bind seams on jackets, coats and mid to heavy weight fabrics.

      • Decorative trim.

      • Tie ends and drawstrings.

    How to Apply:

      • When using twill tape to reinforce a seam, center the tape over the seam line. Stitch the seam as directed, stitching through the tape as well. The tape will help stabilize the seam, especially on shoulder seams of knit tops.

      • Wrap twill tape around the raw edge of seam allowances to encase the raw edge. Stitch close to the tape edge, being sure to catch both edges of the tape securely.

      • Twill tape is slightly flexible, making it ideal for accenting straight and slightly curved edges. Place as desired on the outside of the garment and stitch in place by machine, stitching along both edges of the twill tape.

      • Use twill tape in place of fabric or ribbon ties and drawstrings. Be sure to knot ends or use a seam sealant to prevent fraying.



    Rick Rack

    How it's Made: 100% polyester flat braid is woven into a zig zag pattern.

    Width: Baby (1/4" wide) – Jumbo (approximately 1- 1/4" wide)

    Uses:

      • Decorative Trim.

    How to Apply:

      • Rick rack can be placed on the right side of the garment as desired, with great results. The zig zag shape is extremely flexible, so it can follow straight or curvy lines to create a wide range of shapes and motifs. Place as desired and pin, baste or use washable spray adhesive to help hold rick rack in place. Stitch up the center of the rick rack.

      • Rick rack can also be used as an insertion trim, a fun accent for armholes, necklines, pockets and hems. Place the center of the rick rack over the seam line on the right side of the fabric. Pin the garment sections with right sides together; half of the rick rack will be in between the fabric layers. Stitch in a 5/8" seam. When the garment is right side out, only half of the rick rack will show.



  • The Pattern Tissue and Guide Sheet

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    The Pattern: Tissue and Guide Sheet

    The Pattern Tissue

    The pattern pieces are printed on large sheets of tissue paper. These large sheets are then folded so that they fit neatly into the envelope. There can be up to four pieces of tissue in a single pattern envelope, depending on how many items are in the design and how many pattern pieces are included.

    When you unfold the tissue paper, you'll find several different shapes, which are the pattern pieces. You will need to cut these pieces apart, which also makes them easier to work with. Cut around each piece, just outside the solid line; you will not need the excess tissue that is left over.

    After the pattern pieces are separated, you'll be able to use them to cut the fabric for the item you are sewing. For example, if you are making a pair of pull-on drawstring pants to lounge around in, you'll have a pattern piece for the legs and another for a drawstring. If you are making a collared shirt, you'll have separate pieces for the front, the back, the sleeves, the cuffs, the collar, etc. – you get the idea. Every item in design will have the necessary pattern pieces included in the envelope.

    Each item in a design is assigned its own view letter such as A, B, C, etc. These letters are printed on the pattern pieces, so you can easily see which ones you will need to make a particular item. For example, if you are making item view A, you will only need the pattern pieces that are marked view "A". These view letters correspond to the instructions on the guide sheet.

    Printed along with view letters on pattern pieces are piece names such as Front, Back, Sleeve, etc., further identifying them. There will also be various markings such as dots and notches, which are explained and referred to on the guide sheet in the instructions. All of this cross-referencing makes it easy to match pattern pieces to instructions while you are sewing.

    The Guide Sheet

    This is exactly what its name implies – a how-to guide for a particular pattern. When you open up the guide sheet, you'll see a wealth of information that can seem intimidating at first glance. Let's break it down, step by step:

      1. Front and Back Views: these line drawings show the front and back of each item in the design, in precise detail. Each item is assigned a view letter such as A, B, C, etc. This makes it easy to refer to each view throughout the guide sheet and corresponds with the view letters printed on the pattern pieces as explained above.

      2. Piece List: this section of the guide sheet shows you in miniature all pattern pieces that have been included. In addition to the pattern pieces, there is also a list of the pieces, in numerical order. The list gives the piece name (as explained above) and number of each piece, as well as which views need that piece to make the finished item. This makes it easier to find the pieces you are looking for.

      3. General Directions: this section is standard on all Simplicity patterns. This gives some basic guidance as to the markings or symbols you will find on pattern pieces, as well as standard sewing basics. We will get into more detail on markings and sewing instructions in Part 4.

      4. Cutting Layouts: these show how to place your pattern pieces on your fabric. Each view gets its own unique cutting layout, since each view is unique. Like the pattern pieces themselves, look for the cutting layout that corresponds with the view you are making.

      5. Sewing Directions: when you are ready to sew, follow these directions, which show you in greater detail how to actually sew and construct the item you are making. The sewing instructions, like everything else in the pattern, are arranged by view letter – this helps you to find the instructions that will matter to you. Included in the sewing directions are illustrations to the left of the steps, giving you a picture that helps to clarify and correspond with each step in the instructions. The instructions and illustrations are both numbered; this not only helps you sew the pieces together in the right order, but it also matches up the right picture its corresponding step. For example, if you are working on step 6, the illustration that goes with it will be marked with a 6 as well. The sewing directions are designed to take you all the way from start to finish in a specific order, until you have a completed project in your hands!


  • Simplicity Fit Brochure
  • Tips for Pressing

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    Tips for Pressing

    Why do so many sewing steps include instructions to press?
    The fastest way to improve your sewing skills is to learn the proper pressing techniques. Pressing blends and sets your stitches, eliminates or reduces bulk in some areas and helps create a garment that lies flat and falls properly when you wear it.

    What's the difference between "pressing" and "ironing?"
    When you "press," you move the iron across the fabric by lifting it up and putting it back down in an overlapping pattern. When you "iron," you slide the iron across the fabric with a back-and-forth motion. Ironing may stretch or distort the fabric; pressing won't.

    Can I wait until I finish my garment before pressing it?
    No. The rule of thumb is "press as you go." And it's important to remember that you NEVER, NEVER cross one seam with another without first pressing the original seam open or to one side, per the sewing instructions.

    You can minimize the number of times that you have to go back and forth between sewing machine and ironing board by organizing your sewing. For example, you can work on different sections of the garment, going as far as you can on each part UNTIL the instructions tell you to press. Then take all the sections to the ironing board at the same time, and press everything that needs it.

    Is there a correct way to press a seam?
    This easy, three-step pressing technique will magically improve your sewing skills:
      1. Press the seam flat along the stitching line to blend the stitches.
      2. Press the seam allowances open or to one side, as indicated in the pattern instructions.
      3. Press the seam or detail area from the right side. If necessary, protect the fabric with a press cloth.


    How much pressure should I apply when pressing?
    Generally, light to moderate pressure is sufficient if your iron is at the correct temperature. Too much pressure can cause the cut edge of a seam to make a "bad impression" on the right side of your fabric. If you use too much pressure when working on velvet or other nap fabrics (corduroy, velour, etc.) you may flatten the nap. Also, if you press too hard on the right side of your fabric you may scorch it or make shine marks. Using a press cloth can help to avoid this problem. It's also a good idea to "test press" on scraps of your fabric to be sure you are using the optimum iron temperature and pressure.

    What kind of pressing equipment do I need?
    Start with a good dry/steam iron and a sturdy ironing board with a clean, padded surface. The fabric guide on your iron is helpful for choosing the proper temperature setting. There are lots of special pressing aids on the market, but you can create easy substitutes for many of these items. For example, a man's handkerchief or a square of your fashion fabric makes a good press cloth. For pressing seams open on long cylindrical sections (think sleeves, pant legs, tie belts, etc.), make your own seam roll by placing a magazine on top of a piece of muslin, rolling the two up tightly together and securing the ends of the muslin with a few rubber bands.

  • What is Seam Allowance?

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    What is a seam allowance?

    A seam allowance is the distance between the seam line (where you stitch to join two or more pieces of fabric) and the cut edge of the fabric.



    How much seam allowance is there in a garment?
    Simplicity's standard seam allowance is 5/8" (1.5cm). When the seam allowance is more or less than 5/8" (1.5cm), the amount is specified both on the pattern piece and in the sewing instructions.

    Why is 5/8" (1.5cm) the standard seam allowance?
    A 5/8"(1.5cm) seam allowance provides enough "extra" between the seam line and the cut edge of the fabric to make sure that you will safely "catch" the pieces that you are joining together. This is particularly important when working with fabrics that ravel easily. A 5/8" (1.5cm) seam allowance is also easier to work with when pressing a seam open or topstitching it for a finishing touch. Finally, it also provides you with a small amount of "letting out" space if you should need to make your garment just a little bit looser.

    When is the seam allowance not 5/8" (1.5cm)?
    To make your sewing easier on very small items such as doll clothes, on small detail pieces such as belt carriers and in larger areas where you would need to trim away the excess seam allowance, we typically reduce the seam allowance to 3/8" or 1/4"(1.3cm or 6mm). But, as we said before, when the seam allowance is other than 5/8" (1.5cm), the amount is specified both on the pattern piece and in the sewing instructions.

    What if I need to make a smaller seam allowance?
    On most fabrics, if we have indicated a 5/8"(1.5cm) seam allowance, you can stitch as much as 1/4"(6mm) closer to the cut edge and still have an adequate seam allowance. By doing this, you will make your garment a little bit bigger, either in circumference or length, depending on where the seams fall. CAUTION: If you are working on a fabric that ravels easily, it may not be wise to adjust to a smaller seam allowance, especially if the seam is in an area of high stress such as an armhole or fitted bodice side seam.

    Remember that if you change the seam allowance in one place on the garment, you will have to do it on the corresponding sections. For example, if you change the side seam allowance at the underarm on a bodice, you will also have to change the underarm seam allowance on the sleeve or armhole facing.

    Is the seam allowance ever more than 5/8" (1.5cm)?
    Occasionally there will be a specific reason for using a larger seam allowance, such as 3/4" (2cm) or 1" (2.5cm). One example is on a garment with a very fitted bodice where, because of its close-to-the-body fit, special adjustments may be necessary. We will always tell you when we have done this on a pattern.

    Do I have to follow the seam line exactly?
    Yes! If you want a professional look to your garment, it is important that your stitches be straight, not wobbly or wavy. If your seam lines are uneven, your garment won't hang properly and it probably won't fit well, either. If you have trouble keeping your stitching straight, use the guidelines on your presser foot or throat plate to help you. (If you're not familiar with this feature, check your sewing machine's manual.) You might even want to practice sewing on scraps of fabric or on a piece of typing paper. (For the latter, you don't even need to thread your machine. The needles holes in the paper will tell you how well you are doing!)

  • Working with Knits

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    Working with Knit Fabrics

    Knit fabrics have become a staple in sewing, combining comfort and easy care with style. Choosing the right knit and proper handling and sewing techniques are the key to getting beautiful, professional results. Below you will find more about the construction, handling and sewing of knits.

     
    If you find these tips helpful, you will love the Simplicity Fabric Guide, an exciting 176-page reference guide to fabrics of all types. With over 500 full-color photos and illustrations, this is an essential tool to anybody who is passionate about sewing, quilting or creative arts.


    Knit Fabric Construction

    Knitted fabrics are woven from a continuous length of yarn that is manipulated into interlocking loops to create a flat fabric. The looped construction provides the fabric with much more give and flexibility than its more rigid woven cousins. There are two types of machine knitting construction: WEFT and WARP

      WEFT KNITTING was developed to copy the look of hand knitting and employs a continuous length of yarn to form crosswise rows of loops that interlace row by row to produce a flat fabric. Weft knit fabrics include:

    Jerseys or Plain Knits have a flat surface that looks like a series of interlocking V-shapes (knit stitches) on the front, backed with short, horizontal loops (purl stitches)



    Double Knits are made on a special interlock machine that uses two yarns and two sets of needles to draw the loops through from both directions. The result is a thicker, firmer, more stable knit the resists runs.



    Rib Knits are made with alternating sets of knit and purl stitches in the same row. On the surface of the fabric the knit stitches form a raise vertical ridge while the purl stitches recede. The number of knit and purl stitches in the pattern determines the width of the ridges. Ribs provide a snugger fit than other knit and are often used at cuffs, necklines and hems.



      WARP KNITTING can only be accomplished by machine and utilize multiple yarns that are wound parallel to one another on a warp beam. As the yarns feed into the machine they form loops in the lengthwise direction. Each yarn is controlled by its own needle and progresses in a zig zag pattern, interlocking with the other yarns as it moves along the length of the fabric. Warp knit fabrics include:

    Tricot Knits have more stretch in the crosswise direction and has a fine crosswise rib on the wrong side of the fabric.



    Raschel Knits have a textural appearance and can be made with varying weights of yarn. A fine chain of yarn usually runs the length of the fabric, stabilizing the more openly knit textured yarns. Sweater knits are often this type of construction.



    Using the Pick-A-Knit® Rule

    Because knit fabrics have give, garments made from knits usually stretch enough that no closures (zippers, buttons, etc.) and fitting darts and seams are needed. Patterns for knit garments generally use what is called the Pick-A-Knit® Rule, which is a guideline for how much stretch is needed in the fabric to obtain the construction and fit intended. The Pick-A-Knit® Rule is found on the back of the envelope, and looks similar to a ruler:



    Take your fabric and place it at the beginning of the black area of the guide. Pull the fabric from the end of the black area until the end of white area of the guide. This is the amount of stretch the fabric will need for that pattern. If your fabric doesn't stretch to the end of the white area, the fabric is not suitable for that particular garment and may not fit as designed. The Pick-A-Knit® Rule may vary from pattern to pattern, so always test the stretch of your fabric before cutting and sewing.

    Layout and Cutting Tips

      Use a double thickness cutting thickness layout, except for sweater knits which require a single thickness layout.
      Use a "with nap" cutting layout. Knits frequently have one-way shading that may not be discernible until the garment is finished. Many knits also have directional motifs or knit-in designs.
      Always position the pattern pieces so the greatest amount of stretch goes around the body.
      Use pattern weights rather than pins for sweater knits.
      Choose a lightweight nonwoven or stretch interfacing. Avoid fusibles, which do not give with the knit fabric. When applying interfacing to knits, apply to facings rather than the body of the garment.
      Use scissors or a rotary cutter for cutting knits.


    Needle and Machine Settings

      Use a ballpoint or stretch needle in a medium weight size: 75/11 HS to 90/14 HS (Schmetz) or 11 to 14 Yellow Band (Singer). Using a standard needle may result in skipped stitches.
      Use a narrow zig zag or stretch stitch, which will give with the fabric when wearing.
      Decrease the pressure of the presser foot for heavier knits; increase the pressure for lightweight and tricot knit.
      Sergers are a great way to sew knit fabrics – the stitching has inherent give and the seam allowances automatically get trimmed to a neat, narrow finish.


  • What is Stay Stitching

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    What is stay-stitching?

    Stay-stitching is a line of straight stitches that prevents curved or bias edges, such as necklines, shoulders and waistlines, from stretching out of shape as they are handled during sewing and pressing. The pattern instructions will tell you where to stay-stitch and the illustrations on the pattern's instruction sheet will show you which way to stitch. Stay-stitching is always done from the outer or wider edge in towards the center or narrower edge. The only exception is a "V" neck, where the stay-stitching goes from the point of the "V" up to the shoulder edge.

    Where should I do it?
    Stay-stitch 1/8" (3mm) inside of the seam allowance, between the seam line and the cut edge. On a standard 5/8" (1.5cm) seam allowance, this distance is ½" (1.3cm) from the cut edge.

    Can I omit it?
    It's not a good idea! We recommend it for areas that are prone to stretching. Stay-stitching takes only a few minutes to do. The rewards are a lifetime of stretch-free wear and a garment that will look more professional. Once you have transferred your pattern markings and removed the tissue, do all of your stay-stitching. Remember...you don't have to stay-stitch every seam—just where it is indicated.

    Do I have to remove the stay-stitching after I sew the seam?
    No. Stay-stitching remains in the garment as a permanent aid to prevent stretching and buckling. Because it is in the seam allowance between the seam line and the cut edge, it will be invisible on the finished garment.



  • Interfacing

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    Interfacing

    What is interfacing?
    Interfacing is an extra layer of fabric that provides shape and support in detail areas of the garment. Interfacing is frequently used in collars, cuffs, lapels, necklines, pockets, waistbands and opening edges.

    How do I choose an interfacing?
    The two basic types of interfacings are sew-in and fusible. Both are available in woven, knitted and nonwoven versions, and in a variety of weights, ranging from heavy to sheer weight. The rule of thumb is that the interfacing should always be slightly lighter in weight than the fashion fabric.

    Choosing between a fusible and a sew-in interfacing is really a matter of personal preference. In general, fusibles provide slightly crisper results. Because fusibles "set" the yarns, they're an excellent choice for fabrics that fray. However, some fabrics do not react well to fusibles. This group includes metallics, beaded, sequined or re-embroidered fabrics, rayon and acetate velvets, most brocades, fake furs, leather, vinyl and openwork fabrics, such as lace and mesh. Always test the fusible interfacing on a scrap of the fashion fabric before you begin to be sure it works and that you like the results.

    Most people think of fusibles as easier to use and they are, as long as you take time to follow the manufacturer's fusing directions carefully.

    Do you have any tips for getting a good bond with a fusible interfacing?
    A successful bond is the result of the optimum combination of steam, pressure and time. Start by reading the instructions that come with your choice of fusible interfacing, then test-fuse, using scraps of interfacing and fashion fabric:

    1. Check your iron setting. "Wool/steam" is generally recommended but irons can vary. You may need to set yours higher or lower to find the proper fusing temperature.
    2. Place the interfacing fusible-side-down on the wrong side of your fashion fabric. Cover the area to be fused with a press cloth. Although some moisture is needed, the pressing cloth should not be soaking wet—just dampened or misted.
    3. Move your iron over the area being fused by lifting the iron up and putting it back down in an overlapping pattern. Use downward pressure and count for the recommended time (usually 10-15 seconds). Count "1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, etc." so you know you aren't scrimping on the required time.
    4. Cooling time is as important as fusing time. Let everything cool completely before handling.
    Once the interfaced fabric is cool, check the bond. First, try to pull the layers apart. Next, roll the interfaced fabric over your hand, then fold it half. When you do this, make sure you are satisfied with the way it looks and the way it feels.

    If you're not satisfied with the results, here are some things to try:
    1. Go through the entire fusing process twice, first on the wrong side and then on the right side of the garment section.
    2. If you need more pressure, try lowering your ironing board. You'll be exerting more pressure as you lean over.
    3. Instead of buying exactly the amount of interfacing that the pattern calls for, buy several yards of varying weights and types. This way, if your first choice doesn't work, you'll have others on hand to experiment with.
    Roll it


    Fold it


    Feel it


  • Making a Bound Buttonhole

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    Making a Bound Buttonhole

    Bound buttonholes give a polished look to coats and jackets that quietly proclaims tailoring expertise. To insure perfect results, make a trial buttonhole on the same number of fabric layers as your garment for practice.

    Step 1: Mark buttonhole position and length on WRONG (interfaced) side of fabric. Thread-trace buttonhole position, extending the thread tracing beyond end markings. The thread-traced markings should resemble a ladder.

    Step 2: Cut a self fabric strip for patch on straight grain, measuring 2" (5cm) wide and 1" (2.5cm) longer than the measurement of the buttonhole. Mark a center line along the length of the strip. With RIGHT sides together, baste center of strip along buttonhole marking, extending ends 1/2" (1.3cm) beyond end markings.

    Step 3: On WRONG side, mark lines 1/8" (3mm) above and below buttonhole marking, using transfer pencil.

    Step 4: Using a small machine-stitch, start sewing along one long side of the buttonhole, following pencil lines, being careful to end stitching exactly at thread-traced ends. Do not stitch across ends, back-stitch or pivot at corners. Bring thread ends to WRONG side and tie in a knot.

    Step 5: Snip between the two stitching lines and clip diagonally to corners, as shown. Be careful not to clip through machine stitching. Add a dot of seam sealant (such as Fray CheckTM) to corners, and allow to dry.

    Step 6: Pull patch through opening to WRONG side of front. This opening should form a perfect rectangle. Roll edges of opening between your fingers until each seam is at the edge of the opening. Press so that none of the patch shows on the OUTSIDE.

    Step 7: To form buttonhole lips, fold each long side of the patch over the opening, so that the folds meet exactly at the center.

    Step 8: On OUTSIDE, whip-stitch buttonhole lips together along fold lines and press in place. Whip-stitches should remain in place until garment is completed.

    Step 9: To secure buttonhole lips and keep them from shifting, with front RIGHT side up, fold it back out of the way until you can sew the end of the patch and the triangle (formed by clipping corners in step 5) together. Using small machine stitches, stitch across the base of the triangle, catching patch. Trim end to 1/4" (6mm). Repeat on other end.

    Step 10: Stitch horizontal seam allowance of buttonhole and patch together, just inside the original stitching. Trim patch to 1/4" (6mm). Repeat on other seam.

    Finishing Your Bound Buttonhole

    Step 11: Transfer buttonhole markings to the WRONG (interfaced) side of front facing, and thread-trace markings, same as for bound buttonhole (see step 1). Cut a bias patch of silk organza or lightweight matching fabric 2" (5cm) wide and 1" (2.5cm) longer than the measurement of the buttonhole. Mark a center line horizontally along the patch. With RIGHT sides together, place patch on facing, over thread-traced markings and baste (see step 2).
    Step 12: Using small stitches, start stitching at the middle of one side, stitching a scant 1/8" (3mm) from center basting and tapering stitching at ends. Take one stitch across the end, pivot and continue along remaining side. Overlap stitches at starting point. Remove basting.

    Step 13: Slash between stitching lines, being careful to not clip stitching at ends. Add a drop of seam sealant (such as Fray CheckTM) to ends of opening, and allow to dry.

    Step 14: Pull patch through to WRONG side. Gently "snap" along the bias of patch to create a smooth slit opening. Press. If you prefer, trim edges of patch to within 1/4" (6mm) of opening.

  • How to Insert an Invisible Zipper

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    How to Insert an Invisible Zipper

    Unlike traditional zippers that have exposed teeth, invisible zippers are designed with coils that run the length of the zipper tape and roll inward, with the coils concealed by the zipper tape. The result is a no-show opening that, when closed, looks like a continuous seam, without any top-stitching or fabric lapped over to cover zipper teeth. This gives a clean and refined finish to special occasion garments, dresses and suit skirts and pants.

    Some sewing machines come with special rolling zipper feet, designed exclusively for inserting invisible zippers. Here is an easy method that gives professional results, without any special equipment – all you need is a standard zipper foot.

    Step 1: Open the zipper and press the tape flat. Do NOT press the coils. Position the open zipper face down on the RIGHT side of the fabric, with the coils running along the seam line and the tape within the seam allowance. Pin in place.

    TIP: You may want to hand-baste the zipper in place to ensure it does not shift during machine stitching, until you get comfortable with the technique.
    Step 2: Starting at the upper edge of the garment, uncurl the coil in front of the presser foot. With your zipper foot positioned on the LEFT side of the needle, stitch along the tape as close as possible to the coils, all the way to the slider. Back-stitch to reinforce stitching.
    Step 3: Position and pin the other half of the zipper tape in the same manner. Move zipper foot to the other side of the needle and make sure that the lower edge of the garment is even. Uncurl coil and stitch in place as for the first side.
    Step 4: Close the zipper and check that it is invisible from the OUTSIDE. Pin the LEFT side seam together below the zipper, pinning to the end of zipper stitching. Pull the free end of the zipper tape away from the seam allowance. Using your machine's regular zipper foot, finish stitching the seam, overlapping the stitches at the bottom of the zipper.
  • Sewing Pleats

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    Sewing Pleats

    Pleats are a popular garment detail, lending visual interest and controlling the fullness in a garment. These fabric folds add motion and fun to a skirt, whether they run its entire length, or decorate only the lower hemline edge. Pleats can be soft or crisp, pressed or unpressed. Basic formations include the knife pleat, the box pleat and the inverted pleat. While pleats aren't difficult to sew, professional results require accuracy in cutting, marking and stitching. The effect is created by the use of multiple folds, so remember that if any of these important steps is "off" by even 1/8" on each fold of an 8-pleat skirt, the distortion is also multiplied and the result is a waistline that is a full inch too small or too large at the waistline.

    Marking:

      • Use your scissors to snip-mark the pleat lines within the seam allowance.

      • Use straight pins to mark the remainder of each pleat line. By using two different types of pins (or pins with two different colored heads), mark solid lines with one pin type and mark the broken lines with the other.

      • Crease fabric along the solid line, press lightly and remove the pin. Bring the pressed edge to meet the broken line and pin the pleat in place.

      • Form all pleats in the same fashion. Machine baste across the top of the pleats.

    Pressing:

      • Careful pressing is the key to great-looking pleats. Once they are formed and basted into place, always use a press cloth or a scrap of your fashion fabric.

      • Cut a strip of brown paper bag, inserting it between the garment and the unbasted fold of each pleat as you press.

      • For soft pleats: Cover pleats with a dry press cloth. Hold the iron 2" to 3" above the fabric and apply a bit of steam only, without resting the iron on the fabric.

      • For crisp pleats: Cover pleats with a dry press cloth. Use ample steam and the full pressure of the iron. Since the garment is not yet hemmed, press lightly to within 8" of the hemline. After hemming, press this lower area thoroughly as well. Let garment dry completely before handling to allow the pleats to set.

    Topstitching and Edge stitching:

    Topstitching and edge stitching are used to hold pleats in place and to accentuate the pleat detailing. On a skirt, topstitching usually begins at the waist and extends down to the hip area, through all layers.

    For fabrics that do not crease well, edge stitching is recommended below the hip, catching in only the fold of the pleat in your stitching. Use edge stitching on garments that will be machine laundered rather than dry-cleaned; this makes the re-pressing of the pleats much easier.

    To give topstitching and edge stitching the look of one continuous line, do the edge stitching first, stitching below the hipline to within 8" of the hemline. Then, beginning stitching at the waistline, topstitch to the hip area, carefully overlapping the start of the previous stitching. After the garment is hemmed, complete edge stitching.



    Hemming:

    If a seam falls at the inside fold of a pleat, follow these steps for a smooth, flat finish:

      1. Clip the seam allowance to the line of stitching at the top of the hem allowance.

      2. Press the seams open below the clip and trim them to ¼".

      3. Finish the raw edge of the hem allowance. Hem the garment.

      4. Working on the inside of the garment, edge stitches the pleat folds within the hem allowance to keep it flat. Once the garment is hemmed, re-press the lower edges of the pleats.




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