Buttons and buttonholes


I’m working on my True Bias Yari jumpsuit, and this morning hit a critical point. Buttons!


And buttonholes. I think the buttons are a focus for this pattern, and how well they work to purpose is critical. I decided to use 6 buttons, instead of 5. I never feel locked-in by button placements suggestions. What matters is how it works on me 🙂


After I decided on my button (which will be revealed with the post on the finished garment), I moved on to the buttonholes themselves.

I always put together a test piece, built exactly like the area in which I’ll put a buttonhole. Outside, interfacing, facing, edge-stitching, the whole ball of wax. For this garment, which I’m sewing in Essex linen, I decided on a rounded-end buttonhole, with a wider stitch (1) to add a little chunkiness (appearance) and (2) to protect the inherent loose weave of the linen (utility). At the same time, I tested the presser foot pressure (released for linen) and the upper thread tension (also released).


When I first starting using my Juki HZL F600, I ignored the optional footplate of the buttonhole presser foot. No more! It really helps the fabric glide, any fabric, and is a terrific option.


Last note on this: I never clip my threads on a buttonhole. Instead I take the front threads to the back and weave everything into the back buttonhole stitching. I just think loose, cut threads on the outside ruin a buttonhole. Finishing them only takes a little time.


Next up: the jumpsuit! Hope everyone enjoys a lovely weekend, Coco

Knits – Finishing an extended shoulder

on emile
Fabric: cotton/lycra jersey from Fabric Mart

It’s almost summertime, and I’ve been sewing sleeveless dresses – but with an extended shoulder. I like the look and coverage that the little bit of added fabric provides. Since I’m doing it sooo much, and because I’m terribly picky about details, here’s my approach.

To give credit where it’s due, I learned this from V9275, the tunic top. I’ve sewn it several times,  and I love how the armhole is finished:

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 5.13.24 PM

My example is my modified version of M6559, sewn 4 times this spring. I just love wearing these dresses around the house, and with a topper, out and about.

Fabric: ITY from Cali Fabrics

Have you ever sewn a short kimono or cap sleeve, and simply run out of fabric and ease to turn the hem at the top of the side seam? Aaargh…Here’s a rescue approach.

  • My pattern draft has a 5/8″ hem allowance for the armhole hem and a funky extension to where it meets the side seam. The Vogue pattern uses the same approach.I mark my seams, and then serge all the way around the armhole after I’ve joined the shoulders:


  • The markings are important, because I stitch the ‘wing’ on my sewing maching, and then clip to the pivot where the armhole and side seam meet.

sew and pivot

  • Next step, I sew the side seam. I serge mine, and I turn the armhole seam allowance out of the way at the top (see, that clip is really needed).

side seam

  • A little trimming and pressing,

trimmed pivot


  • And look how nice the armhole hem allowance looks!

trimmed and ready

  • I topstitch the hem very close to the edge, working from the inside,

ready to stitch

And I love the finish.


I hope this is useful, maybe it will save someone from under-arm-seam-crunch frustration!

Bye for now – Coco

McCalls 6559 Spring floral


Spring is definitely here! All the palms and trees are blooming (pollen season), and the birds appear to be having lots of fun 🙂 In the same spirit, I picked up this pretty ITY from Fabric Mart for a spring dress. OK, another spring dress!


I don’t sew or wear a lot of blue. In my closet I have a cobalt jacket and my recent pink/blue tropical dress. However, I’m coming around to the notion that some blues are really pretty with white hair.

Note: I’m working with my camera and Gimp software to learn how to remove color casts, such as yellow, from my pics. My hair is so white, I think it’s impacting all the hues in my photos. I’ll get there!

I love this dress pattern, especially with the extended shoulder that I added this spring.

M6559 lines-side

That little bit of extra coverage on my upper arm makes a big difference to me.


Sewing notes:

  • ITY is stretchy! I staystitched the neckline, front and back, and used strips of tricot knit fusible on the shoulders, to tame it.

strips and neckline

  • I used self-fabric binding on the neckline, 1 1/2″ wide strips cut across the horizontal of the fabric.


finished binding

  • And to prevent irritation from the shoulder seam, I pressed it to the back and topstitched it. Now it’s really stable!

finished shoulder

  • All of the detail sewing – shoulders, sleeves, neckline – was done on the sewing machine. But I simply serged the long seams. That felt really good…


About ITY knit: I love the vibrance of color on this fabric. It doesn’t fade, and it takes a lot of wear. Also, although it may seem unnecessary, it benefits from lots of pressing during the sewing process. Actually, I press every seam or detail that I sew, over and over again, to sink the threads and allow the fabric to recover. Speaking of which, ITY will drop – I always hang an ITY garment for a day or so before I hem it, whether it’s a dress, top, or pants. The best thing – you can just fold it up on the shelf or in a drawer or in a suitcase. It doesn’t wrinkle!

Parting shot: I think buying stuff from Wawak is more fun than buying makeup and nail polish!

Yes, there’s a red jacket in my future, and what a find – a 6″ metal ruler. All the markings on my plastic one are long gone, but I find a 6″ ruler to be indispensable when I’m sewing. Also, check out those buttons. They’re 5/8″ Toronto horn buttons, and they fit perfectly over a #4 snap on fleece jackets. A nice button can be hard to find, and Wawak has a great selection.


Ciao! Coco

Knit fabric – playing with ponte

model 1

I love knit fabric! and feel very confident sewing jersey in all kinds of blends – rayon, cotton, polyester, and so on. But, ponte knits have stumped me at times. It’s an interlock double knit. A bit different, and I’ve had some magnificent failures, mostly due to my lack of practice with this fabric.

One thing I learned early on is that ponte di roma tends to come in two blends, poly/nylon/lycra and rayon (viscose)/nylon/lycra. I will never sew the poly blend again – did it once – it was awful, unpredictable, crazy stretchy, and not fun.  So I stick with the rayon blend. Having several nice pieces in my stash, I decided to get with the program. I.e., work with ponte, learn how to sew it, and understand the designs with which it works best. Time for a sacrifice with a couple yards of ponte from Fabric Mart.

I chose to use Burda Style 01/2018 #119. size 36 (it’s pretty boxy). It’s a hooded jacket, with a front zipper, and curved hems. I really like this pattern! and think it would be lovely in pink sweatshirt fabric. Check out that pleated dropped sleeve…

Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 6.28.45 PM-side

I modified my pattern to move the side seams to the outside, but kept everything else. I’ll use it again, but my focus here was on the fabric, not the pattern.

Sewing notes:

  • Technicalities: I used a size 80 universal needle in my sewing machine, and size 90 in my serger. I released the presser foot pressure on my sewing machine, since ponte is a bit thick, and used longer stitch, 2.8, and 3.0 for topstitching.
  • Also,  I sewed all my seams on the SM, and serged the seam allowances to finish. Ponte wants to stretch at the serger.
  • The pleated sleeve on my jacket – so easy., what a great design detail. I stitched the pleats down a bit to avoid ‘ballooning’ at the seamline.

sleeve pleats

  • I decided to stabilize curves and critical straight edges with knit tricot interfacing. On curved edges, I cut the interfacing across the horizontal, the stretchy pitch of the interfacing (neckline and curved hems). On straight edges (front edges, shoulders, and the straight edges of the hem), I used interfacing cut on its grain which has almost no stretch. On the pic below, the shoulder interfacing is cut on the grainline, while the interfacing on the neckline is cut horizontally.

stabilize 1

  • I drafted front and back neckline facings, also stabilized with interfacing. The facings a look so nice – no exposed seam lines, tape, or serging where the hood is attached to the jacket.

front inside

back inside

  • Some results! The front edges are super nice, no waving, and I could easily have inserted a zipper.


  • The lined hood is lovely and not too heavy for the jacket.


  • This curved hemline is so pretty and reflects a lot of trial runs. In the end, I stabilized the edges, turned them up 3/8″, and topstitched them. Note: the pattern has bound hemline edges. I can’t imagine doing that with sweatshirt or any other fabric!

curved hem 1

stabilize 2

  • The sleeves – I ran out of fabric, so I just worked with the cuff and shortened sleeves.  The pattern has the sleeve gathered into a cuff, usual for a ‘sweatshirt’ style. And it worked out really well.

gathered cuff

  • Out of curiosity, I did two more tests: a cuff the same length as the sleeve edge, on the left, and a cuff with the sleeve edge stretched to fit. Interesting.

straight fit-side

  • On to buttonholes – a hoodie has them on the underside so that a cord can be inserted. I got the best results by using a piece of mid-weight non-woven fusible interfacing over the area on the inside, and stitching with the fusible facing the needle and the fabric against the feed dogs. Buttonholes in ponte are iffy anyway, because they tend to stretch out and take on an urban decay look.


Last shot – I always have the TV in the background in the loft, usually a movie I’ve watched a gazillion times.

model 2

I’m really glad I did this, all 4 days of it! But there’s a payoff 🙂 And I hope you find this useful,

For now, Coco

Sewing with poly fleece


I feel a bit bad – I just posted a jacket in sherpa poly fleece without any sewing notes. But the post would have been very long. Poly fleece can be challenging!

By itself, poly fleece has no vertical stretch, but it does have generous mechanical stretch (and decent recovery) horizontally. I would not touch poly/lycra fleece!




I haven’t worked with fleece for a couple years. My last project was a coat, which I love wearing. It’s a combo of many designs and always gets nice comments.


Things I’ve learned – some basics:

  • Spend time with fabric scraps. Work out tension, stitch length, and presser foot pressure ahead of time, on both the sewing machine and the serger.
  • Staystitch any edge with even a hint of a bias cut.
  • Baste seams before stitching them. I find that the top seam allowance wants to move away from the needle otherwise.
  • A seam ripper will not save you with fleece 🙂 The stitches get really sunken in the fabric, it’s just not easy to get at them.

More tips:

  • Use a ballpoint needle. Fleece is a knit and doesn’t ravel, but a very small puncture in fleece will be a hole very quickly. I use a 90/14 ballpoint needle, big enough to pierce the fabric and grab the bobbin thread.
  • Presser foot: I decrease the pressure, from it’s normal setting of 5, to 3. This lets the fleece move smoothly under the presser foot.
  • I don’t use a walking foot, because it does not move forward nicely on fleece. I find that my 1/4″ presser foot is great. A wider foot tends to grip and compress the fabric a little too much.
  • Stitch length. I use 3.2 for seams and 3.4 for topstitching (my usual settings, for knits and cottons, are 2.6 and 2.8).
  • Fleece serges beautifully! and serged edges look very finished. But I do the seams on the sewing machine. A serged seam in fleece loses its flexibility and can be disappointing.

A bit more:

  • I find that placing pins on an angle with a seam works best and prevent the fabric from sliding out of alignment. True with many fabrics.


  • I use 1/4″ twill tape, sewn in the seam allowance of the back shoulder, to stabilize the shoulder seam. Sewn on the wrong side, it does not show in the finished shoulder.


  • Pockets get a similar treatment, so that the top of the pocket will not be stretched out by use. I sew the twill tape on the wrong side along the pocket edge that will be folded in and topstiched. This really works!



  • Clip curves as usual, but be careful not to go too far with those snips. I made pockets for my jacket, although I did not use them. Nevertheless, those rounded corners, clipped and basted, were much more friendly than they would have been without some love.


  • I’m generous with topstitching. It shows so well on fleece and can be a design element all by itself. It also works to stabilize the fabric and the lines of the garment.


Hope this is helpful!

And here’s a great site for sewing with fleece, on Craftsy, Tips for Sewing with Fleece.

Bye for now! Coco

Edited to add (thank you, Margene!): I drafted and attached a back neckline facing in cotton broadcloth, instead of turning under the back collar seam with hand-stitching. The woven fabric stabilizes that part of the neckline beautifully – I think it would have been very stretchy otherwise, since it’s cut across the grain. It just peeks out in the upper part of the last photo.