Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tracing those crazy patterns

Tracing patterns can be tedious and time consuming. There are many ways to do this and definitely more than one right way. This is the way that I currently do this. My methods have evolved and changed as I see or read about how others do this.

Below are my favorite tracing and for lack of a better term "project prep tools". The one thing that is not included in the picture is a huge role of tracing paper about 24 1/5 inches wide. For most projects, the simple tracing paper works fabulously and is easy to see through.


Using the Ottobre patterns, the sheet letter and color are identified in the directions. Numbers along the bottom of the sheet in the desired color mark the location of the pieces on the sheet. I reference the directions a lot to match the shape of the piece I am tracing.

Once I locate the pattern piece, I cover it with the tracing paper. Because I am miserly, I am careful about where I locate the tracing paper to save room for other pattern pieces thereby conserving tracing paper. WATCH OUT when you do this so that you preserve enough space between pattern pieces for the seam allowance (x2) or any miserly attempts are lost.

Notice the blue Scotch tape. If you have never used Removable Scotch Tape before prepare yourself because it is dreamy. I am once again a conservationalist and use pieces over and over again. (Because small pieces of tape line my studio, they tend to stick to my clothes when I don't realize it. The hitch-hikers have found their way to my office where I now have a small stash of removeable tape.)

removable tape

saved removable tape

When tracing straight lines I use the straight edge clear ruler. This helps me follow the line of the size I am tracing. Because most lines are actually curved, I couldn't live without my French curve.

Tracing straight

Tracing curves

Every pattern piece has a grain line. Do not untape the tracing paper until the grain line is traced (with the straight ruler). Check the magazine or directions for any other marks on the pattern piece before removing the removable tape. Marks that show as tics I trace with a ruler extending through the seam allowance (even though the seam allowance isn't marked yet). Pattern pieces that are cut on the fold, I leave an extra inch or two of paper extending past the fold line. This way when I cut the fabric, I can accurately place the fold line and weight it.

labeling pattern

Leaving extra paper on fold line

Generally, I trace all of the pieces, label them, then use the most amazing tool (Removable Rotary Guide Arm [RRGA])- to cut the pieces out with the seam allowance. (The only place that I have found this tool - RRGA - for sale is at Charlie's E-Z Mat Cutters http://www.matandquiltcutters.com/). Previously, I measured the seam allowance every inch or two with the small clear ruler then connected the dots using the curved ruler.

Depending on what I am sewing, the fabric etc... I vary the seam width. If I am sewing woven fabric for an adult, I use a 5/8" seam allowance. If I am sewing for a young person (less than 5), I will often use a 3/8" seam allowance. I have started to keep samples on my peg board of swatches with different seam allowances. This makes adjusting the seam allowance with the RRGA easier especially when I am sewing seams on the serger.

Setting seam allowance

Once I have the seam allowance set on the RRGA, I place the black arm on my pencil line and the blade on the outside of the pattern piece to cut the paper.

Please let me know if you have any questions or something doesn't make sense. Hopefully, I can clear it up.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thumb cuff

Please be patient with me, although I read a few zillion blogs daily, I have never attempted to actually post one or much of anything online.  If this tutorial for thumb cuffs doesn't make any sense, feel free to let me know.  I had forgotten how tricky this is so I took lots of pictures to help explain it.

Here is where we are going:


1) To start with you will need to know how wide you want the cuff (distance around the wrist). How long the cuff should extend down the hand.  How much space to leave for the thumb.  In this example, I saved two inches for the thumb hole.  The cuff should also be long enough to extend over the hand and attach to the end of the sleeve plus the hem.  You can leave extra length and cut it off when you attach it to the sleeve.

2)The cuff will be made using two identical pieces. To get the size of each piece: Cross grain direction - take half of the circumference + seam allowances on both sides; Grain direction - twice the length from the finshed hem location of the sleeve to where you want the cuff to rest on your hand. Be prepared to do at least one practice cuff.

Thumb hole

3) This one is shown where the thumb hole will be and the fold line marks the end of the cuff.

You may not want to mark it up as much as I have here, but good marking will help a lot.

cut and mark two halves of the cuff

4) With right sides of the two halves together, on one side, sew the center of the cuff together between thumb holes.

sew centerthumb cuff 010
4) Fold along the fold line, right sides together. Stitch the thumb holes together on each of the separate halves.

fold on fold line right sides togethere

sew thumb hole on each half separately right sides together

6) Turn the cuff right side out through the tunnel between the fold and the thumb seams.
turn right side out

7) With right sides together sew from the end of the thumb hole (which isn't a hole right now) to the end of the cuff on both halves. Shown in orange.

sew last ends right side together

8) Yeah! Hopefully it worked!
right sides together with thumb hole

9) With right sides together, sew the other side of the cuff the whole way. The fold will need to be unfolded. Marked in orange.

sew other side right sides toghether

10) Turn the right side out again and hopefully, you have something that looks like this (and probably neater).

Yeah!  It worked.

thumb cuff 024

11) Attaching the cuff to the sleeve is kind of interesting. I machine basted the location of the hem fold on the sleeve. Sew the cuff to the sleeve so that it lies flat when the hem is folded up. I would recommend basting this so that you can make sure that the thumb hole is aligned properly. Fold the hem up and use a cover stitch or double needle to sew the cuff and hem in place. I think I turned the whole sleeve inside out so that I was stitching inside the sleeve on the right side of the fabric. It was like sewing inside of a tunnel, but I took my time and it came out ok.

thumb cuff 025

You can see two sets of stitiching here. One is attaching the cuff to the end of the sleeve and the other is the double needle stitching from the right side.

thumb cuff 026

Here is the finished cuff.