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SPAGHETTI BIAS – shaping and application

The bias has been prepared (see previous post) and the dress marked and is ready for the bias shaping and application. Start the application process at the center back of the dress. Using glass head pins, pin the bias to the skirt following the scallop shape and then shaping the loop area (see video). As you pin around the skirt, ensure that the outside edges of the bias are flat and smooth against the fabric.

The inside of the loops will need to be pulled in such that the bulk is distributed evenly. Thread a needle with a contrast thread and do a running stitch around the inside of the loop. Pull the thread so that the inside loop gathers in and will sit flat against the fabric. Then pin to secure.

When the beginning point is reached, cut off the excess spaghetti bias and tuck the cut end underneath the spaghetti bias loop to hide the cut ends (see video). With all the bias pinned in place, get the washable glue and glue underneath the bias to secure. Finger press the bias to the glue to secure. Carefully work around the skirt. To dry the glue more quickly, it can be pressed from the inside of the skirt using NO STEAM – only the dry iron.

Once the glue is dry, the bias is ready to stitch to the skirt. Decide if a decorative stitch will be used (blanket stitch, etc.) or if it will be straight stitched. Use 60 wt. thread, size 70 needle and an open toed foot. If using the blanket stitch, a 2.5 stitch length and a 1.0 – 1.5 stitch length is recommended.

Cut strips of Sulky Super Solvy and pin behind the area that will be stitched. Stitch around the inside and outside of the spaghetti bias with the stitch desired. Then soak the dress in cold water to remove any blue wash-out marker as well as the stabilizer and allow to dry.

The video showing the process can be viewed on YouTube. This technique can be used on so many different projects – pillowcases, tea towels, etc. Have fun trying this on your next project!

Happy Stitching,


Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

SPAGHETTI BIAS – use, design & how to make spaghetti bias

Spaghetti bias is a great way to jazz up an outfit with very little expense. I’ll be sharing how to use spaghetti bias, how to create a design for a hem application as well as how to make your own spaghetti bias.

The above examples are my Bee-Utiful Pinafore pattern, available in my Etsy shop. It shows creative uses of spaghetti bias around the hem of the pinafore as well as using it as a leaf in the red/white pinafore.

Spaghetti bias was used above this hemline to create vines and leaves.

In the Suzette pattern, the spaghetti bias was used instead of a sleeve.

It can also be used to make bows as shown in the Sweet Cheeks Diaper Cover pattern.

The demonstration on the video uses the Ready To Smock Bishop pattern dress.

To create the design for the hem, you will need to determine what sort of design is desired as well as how many repeats of the design will be done. Find the center front and center back of the skirt and mark with a blue wash-out marker. Then place the CF and CB on top of each other to find the side seams and mark them. You can view my fold and mark process on the YouTube video.

Create a template using paper, pencil and a curved ruler and draw in the type of curve desired. Cut out the curve and then place on top of the skirt and mark each of the scallop designs.

To create bias strips, find the exact bias on the fabric (45º angle from the selvages) and use a rotary cutter, ruler and mat to cut 1-1/8″ strips of bias. Join strips together to get the length needed to go around the skirt.

After strips are joined together, fold the strips with right sides together and sew along the length of the bias with an ACCURATE 1/4″ seam allowance using regular (40 wt.) all purpose sewing thread.

Using the Fasturn tool (see video for visual instructions) turn the spaghetti bias right side out. Let it rest for a bit to allow the bias to relax – it was stretched a bit while turning. Then lightly steam ensuring that the seam side is rolled slightly to one side of the bias. If the bias will be used only in a straight fashion, you can give it a hard press using press bars.

Part 2 for how to apply the bias strips will be coming soon!


Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Gifts For The Seamstress – Scissors & Rulers!!!

The ultimate seamstress gift is a great pair of scissors. Gingher scissors are among my favorite and I have a nice collection of them – everything from the 8″ dressmaker shears to the 4″ designer embroidery scissors. The nice thing about the Gingher scissors is their customer service. I’ve had some of these scissors for many, many years, and have sent them back to Ginger regularly for service. Any Gingher scissors can be sent back to Gingher in Greensboro, NC along with a check for $15 and they will sharpen, oil & service them and they will be returned about a week later as good as new! (You can click on any of the links below to view the products mentioned.) Of course, the video presentation with explanations can be seen on YouTube!

An 8″ pair of dressmaker shears is the most frequently used scissors. These are also available as left hand scissors.

If cutting has become difficult due to weaker hands or constant use, the 8″ spring action shears are a great choice.

7″ scissors sit next to my sewing machine, though some prefer to use the nippers next to their machines. Both work well.

Pinking shears aren’t a necessity, but they do come in handy for using as a seam finish for seams inside a wool jacket or something similar when you don’t want to overcast.

The tiny snips are wonderful for hanging around your neck for traveling – they are readily accessible.

The 4″ kindergarten scissors are also great for travel or for keeping in your lap while working on a project. The blunt ends are a much better choice than the embroidery scissors as they won’t pick you. I also use these exclusively for trimming fabric from behind lace. The blunt ends work well because you don’t end up with a pointed scissors end inadvertently catching a hole of the lace and cutting it accidentally.

A particularly lovely gift of scissors would be one from one of the designer scissors series that Gingher comes out with from time to time. The green print set is called “Sara” and I have the 8″ dressmaker shears as well as the 4″ embroidery shears. I also have the 5″ “Tessa” scissors. The designer series come out as a limited edition collection from time to time.

The other scissors that I really like is the Dovo scissors. These scissors have teeny, tiny serrated blades that grip the fabric so that it doesn’t slide away. My favorite set is the set of 3 gold-plated embroidery scissors (far left) that my husband gave me. ❤️ These are generally available at specialty heirloom shops.

Along with scissors, rotary cutters and self-healing mats are a great addition to the sewing room. I use both scissors as well as rotary cutters, depending on the project and my mood at the time. These also come in a variety of sizes. The smaller mats work well for small projects and for travel while a larger mat is wonderful to use on top of a cutting table. Mine is 36″ x 72″.

Rulers and measuring tapes are a necessity for any seamstress. Having a basic measuring tape in the sewing room, and then a retractable tape to carry around in my purse is always best. Then rulers, which there are a plethora to choose from, are wonderful to have as well. Heavier rulers like the 6″ x 24″ size work well to use with the rotary cutters. A lighter weight 2″ x 18″ ruler with a grid is also a necessity for me. Quilters will use a wider variety of rulers than someone that sews clothing.

French curve rulers and seam allowance rulers (far right) are wonderful for anyone doing a lot of changes to patterns or someone delving into pattern drafting.

Magnetic pin cushions have to be one of the best inventions ever!!! I have several in my sewing room – one next to the sewing machine, one on my cutting table, one next to my iron, etc. I like the ones with the cover because they work so well for traveling – even from room to room. Of course, spilled pins are a thing of the past with these! I also use glass head pins and not the pins that come with the cushions. You can iron over a glass head pin, but ironing over a pin with a plastic head can melt the plastic and cause havoc with a project.

Unfortunately, seam rippers are a necessity in the sewing room for those mistakes that happen from time to time. The Clover one is a brand that has a nice shape and sharp cutter. A seam ripper with a magnifier works well for those that need a little help seeing the tiny stitches.

If buying sewing notions for the seamstress is totally out of your comfort zone, hand creams are always a welcome choice. Keeping the hands soft is imperative so that fragile fabrics won’t snag on hang nails or callouses. I like to use Camille Beckman’s Glycerine Therapy at night and then use the Nutrogena Hand Cream throughout the day, supplementing with Earth Theraputics Cuticle and Nail cream as needed.

I hope that this has provided you with plenty of gift ideas for the seamstress in your life. You will never go wrong purchasing a quality item that will be well loved and used!!!


Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Heirloom Sewing 101 – Gathering Lace and Application

There are a couple different ways to gather lace for attaching to flat lace. Both render slightly different results. The top of a lace edging will have “header” threads. These are threads that can be pulled to gather up the lace. The majority of heirloom sewists will pull the top thread, which is generally the strongest thread, to gather the lace. This works, but can be a challenge when zigzagging to the flat lace or entredeux since there will be places where the lace wants to fold over and likely will be stitched in with that fold.

The other method is something that I learned when taking a class from Debbie Glenn, and that is to pull ALL the header laces. This results in gathered lace with the entire header thread being smooth and flat, much like a ribbon, and makes both the gathered lace look prettier (no folds or puckers) and is easier to stitch to the flat lace or entredeux.

The picture above shows the different results. The lace on top has only the top header thread pulled while the lace on thee bottom has all the header threads pulled. You can see how flat the header area is on the lower lace, making it so much easier to stitch the gathered lace to another lace. The top thread has gathers, but also has areas where the lace creates a fold/pucker that is difficult to work around and NOT get caught when stitching it to another lace.

To pull all the threads, begin by pulling the top thread, then locate another heavier thread and pull it, etc. There will likely be some very fine header threads, I tend to pull those in pairs (see video).

To join the gathered lace to another lace, use either 60 wt. Mettler thread or 80 wt. Aurifil or Madeira Cotona thread. The machine needle can be a 60 or 65 Schmetz Microtex needle if using the 80 wt. thread, or a 65 or 70 Schmetz Microtex needle if using thee 60 wt. thread. A universal needle can also be used.

For better viewing, it is advisable to use extra magnification. I like to use the Mag Eyes for this. The lens come in different strengths and it is easy to use especially if you already wear glasses. You can purchase extra lens in different strengths to use for different projects. I prefer to use the largest magnification to get the best results.

Set the machine to a zigzag stitch with a length of 1.0 and a width that is wide enough to encompass the header threads of both laces. You will likely need to hand crank the sewing machine to get the correct setting before starting to sew.

Be sure and give this a try – you will be glad that you did!


Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Heirloom Sewing 101 – Joining Lace To Lace

This simple tutorial goes along with my YouTube video about joining flat lace to flat lace. It’s a simple process. The first thing that you want to do is to starch the laces. I prefer to plan ahead and cut the lace lengths needed (cut about 2″ longer than what the finished length will be) and then place the lace in the bathtub on top of a white towel and starch – REAL starch, NOT Mary Ellen’s Best Press – them until they are dripping wet. Then I hang them over the shower bar to dry – it only takes about an hour and it keeps the iron from getting gunked up.

Once the laces have dried, give them a press. If pressing them makes them too soft to work with, repeat the process.

To join the laces, you will want to use lightweight thread & machine needles – Aurifil 80 weight thread or Mettler 60 weight thread can be used. With the 80 weight thread, a size 60/8 or 65/9 Microtex or Universal needle should be used. With the 60 weight thread, a 65/9 or 70/10 Microtex or universal needle should be used. The 60 weight can also be used for construction. The 80 weight is only for lace joining – it is not strong enough for construction

It is most helpful to use either an edge-joining foot or an open toed foot for joining laces. Try them out and see which one works best for you. Both can be seen in action on the video along with the end results.

When joining flat laces, set the machine to a zigzag stitch with a stitch length of 1.0 and a width wide enough that both header threads of the lace will be encased (shown in red).

If trying the different feet for this technique still results in difficulties, you can try using OESD Wash-Away Tape behind the lace. This will hold the lace in place as well as stabilize behind the laces for stitching. The end results will be slightly different than stitching without the stabilizer (seen on video), but if it is the way that you can make it work for you, then use it.

You can join as many laces together as needed for your fancy band. For more detailed French Machine Sewing techniques, I do have a book available (with bonnet pattern) in my Etsy shop.

Below I will add links to some of the products that I use, should you need any of these.

Aurifil 80 weight thread

Mettler 60 weight thread

Schmetz 10/70 Microtex Needle

Faultless Heavy Starch

Edge Joining Foot

I hope you’ll enjoy trying out some French Machine sewing!


Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

My Stitching Spot – Lighting and Magnification

I wanted to share with you some of the items in my stitching spot that have made my stitching so much easier and more enjoyable. Over the years, my eyes have “matured” and I have needed to accommodate that and make some adjustments. I suspect that there are others that may benefit from some of the same stitching “aides”.

My desire is to have a calm, peaceful and comfortable spot for stitching. Of course, it also needs to have excellent lighting as well as sufficient magnification for whatever project I may be working on.

My living room has wonderful lighting when the sun is shining. However, on cloudy days or in the early morning or late evening, the lighting isn’t sufficient for stitching. Needless to say, I don’t plan to slow down on my stitching projects, so, thanks to wonderful technology and sewing aides, I have been able to continue stitching along happily.

The first sewing aide that is used quite regularly is my magnification lamp. It is a floor model with adjustable arms and a swivel head. I purchased this many years ago when I was having difficulty with shadow work embroidery – getting back into the EXACT same hole with the needle. This exact model isn’t still available, but there are newer ones that are new, improved and will work fabulously for any seamstress!

These lamps for for magnification for handwork, but if magnification isn’t needed, but excellent light is required, these fit the bill – they can be adjusted to be overhead. The ability to wheel this lamp from room to room makes it a wonderful choice for anyone! I love the clean white color, but it seems silly of me to buy yet another one just for a different color. 😜

Floor lamp with magnification Of course, there are many models at different price points – just make sure that what you are looking at has enough magnification and lighting for your needs!

The next item that is invaluable to me is actually 2 items – my Ipad Pro and the stand for it! I have linked to both of these, but if you already own an Ipad or tablet, just make sure that the stand will accommodate the size that is needed. It is wonderful to have the adjustable stand and the gooseneck allows it to flex forward any way that is needed for optimal viewing.

The Ipad is wonderful! The ability to zoom in closely in order to see stitches as large as needed!!! I use this all the time for smocking picture smocking designs. I also like the fact that the lighting/brightness can be adjusted – I keep it set higher than average so that there is plenty of contrast.

Of course, no room is complete without music – at least, not as far as I’m concerned. I have 2 fabulous Sonos speakers that provide whatever type of music I’m in the mood for at the time. They connect to Pandora, my own music library, etc. Having a husband that loves technology and loves a good sound system is a real bonus!!! I have a pair of these in my sewing room as well.

Then there are the stitching necessities – the sewing caddy, a pattern that I sell in my Etsy shop, is always with me when I’m stitching. I carry it from room to room and it holds my scissors, pins, needles, rulers, marking tools, etc.

The current project I’m smocking uses beads, which make any project so elegant! I have the most wonderful way to manage the beads while smocking. I have a gift card tin that I have fitted with a tacky mat. The beads stay put until you remove them – even if you drop the tin!!!

This little tin works great for carrying your work around from room to room or even for traveling since the beads stay stuck to the mat. This was one of my best finds in recent years! Of course, smocking with beads requires a milliner needle. I found that the size 8 milliner needles worked best with 3 strands of floss and the size 11 beads.

When smocking with beads, you want to add the bead when you meet up with the final pass on a smocking design. So, in the picture below, the cable row was smocked first, then the 2-step trellis. When the trellis stitch meets the cable row, add a bead there. The bead at the lower point of the trellis will be added on the next row of smocking.

This bonnet matches the Wee Care gown that I finished recently. I will share the smocking design for you to download.

Be sure to pleat half rows for these tiny Wee Care gowns! I used DMC#818 for this gown. The video for this post can be viewed on YouTube.

Happy Stitching!


Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Wee Care Sew-Along 3

This segment of the sew-along will cover putting on the bias band, tying off for smocking and then designing the scallop hem design.

Before attaching the bias band, finish the backs of the gowns. It is recommended that you turn in a narrow hem that is approximately 1/4″ finished – wide enough to sew a snap onto. Next, count pleats between the front armhole seams to find the center of the gown and mark the center with a blue wash-out marker.

Cut bias band 1-1/8″ wide and about 1-1/2″ longer than needed. Mark the band at each end with the finished neckband size and also mark the middle of the band.

With right side facing up, tie a knot in the top 2 pleating threads. Pull the knot to the fabric. Pin the bias band (right sides together) at each end and at the center.

Sew the bias band to the gown with a basting stitch (see video). The stitching line should be between the top 2 pleating threads. If it needs any adjusting, fix and re-baste. Then sew on top of the basting thread with a 2.0 stitch length. Stitch again a scant 1/4″ away from the first stitching line. Cut away excess fabric at the second stitching line.

Fold the bias band to finish the neckline (see video), trimming the bias band if needed.

To create the scalloped hem, measure across the width of the gown at the hem. Cut a length of freezer paper the same length as the width of the gown hem. The length can then be cut into 6″ wide strips so that you can practice with 3 strips of freezer paper as you design the hem.

Fold the freezer paper in half to find the center, then fold in half again – those folds represent the side seam of the gown. Watch the video to see how simple it is to create pretty scallops.

Link to video:

Stay tuned for the next lesson, which will be the Madeira hem application. This can be done with a sewing machine that has a pin-stitch or a second method that doesn’t require a pin-stitch will also be shown – that one requires a double hem-stitch needle. Be sure to have your supplies ready for this segment. You will need a blue wash-out marker, water soluble thread, water soluble stabilizer, #110 needle, #80 weight thread, and the kindergarten scissors (optional, but very helpful).

Water soluble thread Vanish Lite

Water soluble stabilizer Sulky Fabri-Solvy

Blue Wash-out Marker

Freezer Paper

Kindergarten scissors

#110 Schmetz needle

Schmetz double wing needle (if your machine doesn’t have a pin-stitch)

Long tweezers

Point Pusher with Ball End

80 weight thread – Aurifil or Madeira Cotona

60 weight mettler thread

Schmetz #70 microtex needle

Sulky Fabri-Solvy or other water soluble stabilizer

Double Hemstitch needle (for technique if you don’t have a pin-stitch on your machine)

Enjoy putting on the bias band and designing your unique hem scallop!!!


Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Wee Care Gown Sew-Along

I’m going to do a SAGA Wee Care gown sew-along for all those that wish to participate. The Wee Care gowns are the tiny bishop gowns used at the hospitals as infant demise gowns. It’s a beautiful expression of love and caring for the precious little ones that don’t make it and the families are so appreciative. I make so many of these each year, and I thought it would be a nice way to share some of my tips and techniques.

I will be sharing how I put together this gown. I use the SAGA Wee Care gown pattern by Nancy Newell and I cut the gown out using the NO side seam method.

Download and print your pattern, gather your supplies and be sure to watch the YouTube video.

I’m providing links to the supplies that I use and recommend, though feel free to substitute if you have different preferences. Just click on the blue words and it will take you to the website.

Gingher Pocket (Kindergarten) Scissors

Mettler 60 wt. thread

Madeira Cotona or Aurafil 80 wt. thread

Point Pusher with Ball End

Imperial Batiste

Schmetz 70 Microtex Needle

Schmetz 110 Jeans Needle

Schmetz Double Hemstitch Needle

Long Tweezers

Sulky Fabri-Solvy

Water Soluble thread

I will be sharing videos of how to insert the sleeves, sew the bias band on as well as how to create an easy Madeira hem – with or without hemstitching. I particularly like this hem treatment to embellish a boy’s gown. Of course, the same techniques can be used on another project – Easter dresses, tea towels, quilts, etc. Lots of options! So, even if you aren’t creating a Wee Care gown, learn the technique and use it elsewhere. Of course, the tiny gowns are a great way to practice and perfect different techniques while blessing a family.

Join the fun and enjoy the process! Hopefully you’ll learn something new or different!

Keep on stitching!


Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.


A beautiful hemline is a lovely way to compliment a bodice – smocked, embroidered, tucked, etc. There are so many ways to embellish a hem. Some are more time consuming and difficult, others are quicker and easier (relatively speaking). This post will address some of the many options of interest to anyone that enjoys heirloom sewing. Hopefully it will inspire some creative thinking for your next sewing project!

A smocked bishop dress is deserving of a beautiful hem treatment. This hem was stitched with a pin-stitch, done by hand and then embroidery was added above the hem. While I nearly always will choose a machine method of hem finishes, I do love hand-work and wanted to test the waters with a hand, pin-stitch. With a small sized bishop dress, this didn’t take too long. This is a cost effective treatment and only requires a lightweight thread for the pin-stitch. Any book on heirloom techniques will include instructions for this stitch.

For reference, this dress was made from Imperial batiste. The smocking design is a variation of Ellen McCarn’s “Cary Anne” smocking plate – I made a few changes. Contrary to the opinion of many heirloom stitchers, it IS possible to do a hand pin-stitch on a poly/cotton fabric. Because of the easy care of this fabric, this dress is likely to get more wear than one that requires special laundering as well as ironing.

As mentioned, my “go-to” methods are almost always a machine method and I love including color in the hem and bodice of a dress.

Scalloped hems always look beautiful!!! Of course, they are more work and will take more time. The finished result is always worth the extra effort! This dress has a scalloped, contrast hem that is machine pin-stitched. Machine pin-stitching also takes time, but goes much more quickly than doing it by hand. Pintucks and embroidery above the hem elevate the design, making it even more beautiful. Pintucks are an easy way to embellish a hem and no additional cost is incurred!

This pattern is available in my Etsy shop.. The fabric for this dress is satin batiste – both the white and the yellow fabric. It is dreamy to work with and creates a keepsake heirloom.

This dress is similar to the yellow/white dress above, but a little quicker to complete. This is a Madeira hem in a contrast color that is machine pin-stitched to the skirt. It has hand embroidered shadow work above the hem – both of these elements are repeated in the bodice.

This dress is made from Imperial batiste for the easy-care that the fabric offers. Because of that, it was worn often, washed frequently and still looks beautiful. As you can see, the machine pin-stitching can also be done effectively on a poly/cotton blend. The pattern and instructions for this dress is available in my Etsy shop.

This is another example of a contrast hem – a shadow Madeira hem, done by machine. The technique for this hem is a bit different. A heavy contrast fabric (hot pink) is used underneath the batiste skirt to shadow through as a pastel pink. This method is much quicker and easier than the previous 2 dresses shown and only requires a pintuck needle and foot and a wing needle. The dress features hand embroidery above the hem. The contrast fabric and embroidery are repeated on the dress bodice.

For an heirloom look with less hours invested, this style will fit the bill. This dress is also made from Imperial batiste, so another easy care dress that should get worn frequently. The pattern is available in my Etsy shop.

Shown below is the same hem technique done with a simple scallop design and with silk ribbon embroidery at the peaks. It is such a versatile technique!

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This is yet another dress using the same technique.

Swiss batiste blue dress with lace.

Satin batiste lace dress with lace overlay bodice, sleeves and a lace scalloped hem.

Pima cotton lawn dress with lace bodice and hem.

It goes without saying that you can never go wrong with a traditional heirloom dress and LOTS of lace! Each of these examples show how the lace hem is a repeat of the lace bodice.

The blue dress is a basic yoke dress using heirloom techniques to add lace. The white dress is a basic yoke dress, smocked, and with heirloom techniques to add a lace overlay bodice, lace sleeves and a scalloped lace hem. This dress was featured in Sew Beautiful magazine several years ago. The pink dress is a pattern available in my Etsy shop.

Sometimes a single lace edging is sufficient as a hem. This adds a touch of elegance without taking away from the dress bodice embroidery and the lace sleeves. This vintage inspired dress pattern is available in my Etsy shop.

To create an heirloom dress with lots of appeal and a little less expense, ribbon can be used in the hem and bodice paired with lace for a stunning dress. This is a great way to learn and use heirloom techniques without breaking the bank! These dresses are made of Swiss batiste, ribbon and lace. It does not require a lot of fabric and could also be made with Imperial batiste if easy care and savings is a factor.

With Easter fast approaching, consider a beautiful hem to compliment whatever you might be creating for someone special!!! You can’t go wrong!

Happy Stitching,



Professional looking results – isn’t that what everyone desires? Besides good sewing techniques, pressing, or lack of pressing, as you sew can make the difference between quality, couture/custom looking garments and a “home-made” looking garment. While the thrill of creating in front of the sewing machine is great fun, pressing each step of the way is absolutely necessary to create a polished looking garment. So, what kind of aides/tools are there to help create a fabulous finished garment?

A good iron and ironing board is needed for good pressing results. The iron does not necessarily need something expensive, but it is imperative that it has good steam capabilities. The ironing board is easily modified in order to obtain better pressing results. Ironing boards typically come with a shiny, heat resistant cover or a thin cotton cover. Neither of those will produce great results!!! Better results are achieved when these are replaced. The best ironing board cover will include several layers of natural fabrics. Begin with a thick 100% wool cover on top of the ironing board. This can be as simple as an old wool blanket (I have my dad’s old army blanket under mine – that horrible green!) cut to the size of the ironing board. If the wool is thin, use 2 layers. On top of that place a layer of 100% cotton batting – the kind you use for quilting. Again, this is cut to the size of the ironing board top. The final layer is the cover, which should be 100% cotton – white twill (think denim) works well and can easily be made.

Making your own ironing board cover is as simple as placing the ironing board on top of the fabric on the floor, tracing around it and adding to this measurement all around to handle the board depth (usually 1″) and then extra (3″ – 4″) in order to have the cover wrap underneath the board. Finish the outer edges by adding a casing and insert string or elastic so that the cover can be cinched up tightly – much like a bottom sheet of a bed.

As pretty as the designed covers are, they are not always the best choice. Print fabrics present the risk of having any colors from a transfer to the garments while pressing. White fabric looks crisp and eliminates that risk. The layers offer necessary padding and the cotton & wool retain heat & steam to improve the pressing process. The top cover is easily removed for cleaning!

Pressing vs. Ironing. Whenever sewing a garment, seams need to be pressed as they are sewn. Do NOT skip this step and wait until the garment is finished to press it – that will never render professional results. Ironing is a motion where the iron glides back and forth over the fabric. Pressing is an up and down motion on the fabric, lifting the iron to move from one section to another. It does not distort any of the fibers or stretch them out. Seams should be pressed, not ironed! The seam should first be pressed as it was sewn to meld the thread into the fabric. Then it can be pressed open or to the side, as needed, with whatever is being sewn. The last step is to press from on the right side of the fabric. The extra step takes seconds and makes a difference in the finished garment.

Pressing direction. Seams are typically pressed open. Seams that are sewn together (serged, French seams, etc.) will be pressed towards the back of the garment as it is worn. Darts are pressed down or towards the center if it is a vertical dart. Armhole seams are pressed towards the sleeve.

Pressing and/or ironing on the front of the fabric has the potential to cause problems, particularly with dark fabrics, fabrics with texture,etc. In these cases, use a pressing cloth if it is absolutely necessary to press on the front of the fabric to avoid any problems.

Pressing cloth. A good pressing cloth can save the day with many fabrics. It offers a protective layer between the iron and the garment. If possible, have several in different fabrics. A silk organza (100% silk) is nice for delicate fabrics and for times when it is necessary to see what you’re pressing. Also, a linen (100% linen) one is nice to have. Having both a lightweight, handkerchief linen as well as a heavier linen one is ideal. A linen kitchen towel works well for a heavier linen. These should have finished edges so that they can be washed as needed. Dish towels work great for a heavier linen cloth.

Hams/ham holder and sleeve rolls. These are invaluable pressing aids. The ham has nice curves that allow you to press curved areas nicely, such as darts or necklines and armholes. If the seam goes around a curve, it ought to be pressed with a curved pressing aide. A ham holder is a great way to keep the ham upright while pressing around the neckline and shaping the collar. The sleeve roll can also be used around necklines and armholes, though it may be a bit more challenging. It is great to slide into small places that need a good press, such as the sleeve. Both the ham and the sleeve roll will have one side with wool and the other side with muslin. The wool side should be used for pressing wools and the muslin side for pressing cottons and linens.

Clapper. This is a wooden shaped board that is used to set the seams. The wood draws the heat out of the garment quickly, which helps set the seam and sets the press. They frequently will have grooves along the sides for fingers in order to keep a good grip on the block. This is also available as a combination clapper with a point press.

Seam Stick. Again, this is another wooden tool for pressing seams and works fabulously for pant legs and long sleeve seams. Because the edge is curved, the seam is pressed without leaving an imprint of the seam allowance on the right side of the fabric since only the seam itself sits on the stick. Because it is wood, it also draws the steam out of the garment fabric quickly, giving a nice, hard press to the seam. These can be purchased in shorter and longer lengths and some are available with a cover.

Tailor Board. This board is also wood and has lots of curves and a nice point in order to get into tight places, such as collars, cuffs, etc. Dritz has a great blog post/tutorial on how to use this with garments and all the different curves and angles. For coats or blazers, this tool is invaluable!

Sleeve Board. This is exactly what it says – a narrow ironing board that will fit inside sleeves in order to press them. Because of the small size, it also works well for children’s clothing, dolls, etc. If using this, padding it in the same as the ironing board is a good idea.

Needle Board. This is an expensive, specialty tool and is only needed when pressing fabrics such as velvet or velveteen. The needles provide depth and protects the fabric pile from being crushed when pressing the seams.

Obviously, there are many more pressing aides that can be used, though they may be less utilized. Some things that come to mind are protective fingertip covers, pressing mitt, Rajah cloth, mini iron, an iron finger, pressing sticks, etc. If you have the space and the disposable income, these are also nice to have. The latest rage seems to be wool mats. I haven’t seen the need for these and they seem to have some drawback. I suspect that quilters find more use for that than someone constructing garments.

Many of these pressing aides can be made, particularly if you have access to woodworking tools. Any wood items ought to be made from untreated hardwoods. There are plenty of patterns/tutorials online for most of them and a quick google search will render a plethora of results.

If some of these tools are unfamiliar to you, there are numerous YouTube tutorials on how to use them. Seeing the tools in use can be enlightening. Many of these pressing aides will be like a microwave – when they first came out, many didn’t see the need for them, but once you have one, you cannot imagine living without one. 😊

Links to some of the tools shown:

Pressing clapper

Tailor’s ham

Ham holder

Point Presser/Clapper

Clover Mini Iron

Sleeve Roll

Sleeve Board

Tailor Board

Rajah Pressing Cloth

Iron Fingers

Happy Pressing!!!